2022 MLB Power Rankings: Week Eight

Dodgers return to #1, Red Sox surge.

Every week, the PL team publishes an update to our power rankings, reviewing the biggest risers and fallers of the past seven days. As always, the full rankings can be found at the bottom of this article…but where’s the fun in that.

Newsflash – with most teams having played about 45 games, the season is almost 30% through. Let’s get right into it: this week, we feature a number one reclaiming the throne and the biggest single-week jump thus far.

(Note: A slightly abridged article this week – we’ll be back in full next Friday)

 

Return of the Dodgers

Los Angeles Dodgers – #1 (30-14, +1):

Los Angeles returns to the top of our rankings after a three-week demotion to #2. Yes – the Yankees still have a better record, boasting an MLB-best .711 winning percentage, a good 30 points above the Dodgers at .682. However, LA is simply trouncing the Yankees – as well as every other team in the league  – in run differential, and that coupled with an 8-2 run over their last ten games is more than enough to move them to the top of our list.

Los Angeles is simply the best team in baseball right now. Their run differential sits – through only 45 games – at an absurd +114. The Yankees are a valiant second-place at +78, and no other team is above +47. How have they accomplished this? By simply having both the best offense and the best pitching staff in the league . The Dodgers’ lineup averages 5.7 runs a game, outdistancing the Giants at 5.2. The competition on the other side of the ball is tighter, but LA (3.1 runs allowed per game) still beats out Houston and NYY at 3.2. Returning briefly to the Dodgers record; based on that ridiculous run differential, the team’s expected record is 33-11 – a full three games better than their already-impressive season.

This team is clicking on all cylinders right now. Mookie Betts has broken out of his April slump with a vengeance, hitting .355 with nine home runs and 1.167 OPS since the start of May. Freddie Freeman and Trea Turner are both hitting more like themselves as well, batting .323 and .305, respectively.

It’s not all sunshine and roses – ace Clayton Kershaw is still on the IL, and Max Muncy is likely headed there as well (although hopefully some time off will help diagnose his .160 batting average on the year). Walker Buehler has been solid, but not as dominant as last year. Regardless, this team keeps rolling, and it is hard to imagine what could knock them off their path right now.

 

Top Risers

Boston Red Sox – #13 (21-23, +8):

Two weeks ago, in the Week Six edition of these rankings, I wrote that the Red Sox were teetering on the edge of a precipitous drop on our list. The team had one of the worst records in baseball, with only the on-paper talent of the club keeping them above water in our rankings, a buoy which wouldn’t persist much longer.

Well, they don’t need the buoy any more. The Red Sox are the hottest team in baseball at the moment, reeling off four straight series wins – including against the Astros and White Sox – as they begin to resuscitate their season. Why the sudden turnaround from the team that had a worse record than the Orioles as recently as May 15? Put simply, the players that made up that figurative buoy – talented hitters producing far below their capability – have all seemingly figured it out at once, resulting in a two-week offensive onslaught in which Boston – as a team – has hit .310 with a .920 OPS and lead the league in almost every offensive category.

The story (ahem) of the hottest lineup in baseball has to start with the hottest hitter in baseball – second baseman Trevor Story. In his first 32 games in Boston after signing a six-year, $140 million contract, Story hit a single home run while slashing .205/.293/.320. In the seven games since that point, he posted video game numbers to the tune of seven home runs, a 1.463 OPS, and the most RBIs (21) in a seven-game span in Red Sox history.

Somehow, Story’s production has competition for best on team, let alone in the league. Designated hitter J.D. Martinez has been just as unstoppable, slashing .640/.700/.760 over that same seven-game span while hitting .443 in the month of May. Rafael Devers has also continued his terrific season, batting .376 in May with seven home runs of his own.

Story’s resurgence seems to have invigorated the rest of the previously-struggling bottom of the lineup, as guys like Kiké Hernández (2 HR, .821 OPS) and Christian Vázquez (.385 AVG) have gotten hot as well. Even Franchy Cordero, who Boston DFA’d at the end of last season, got the hitting bug as he crushed a walk-off grand slam against the Mariners on Sunday.

The Sox are still not nearly as complete of a team as the Dodgers or the Mets (at least when healthy) – the starting rotation has slowed from their strong start to the year, and Boston leads the league in blown saves. But they can hit, and hit, and hit – if they stay hot, I wouldn’t want to face them.

 

Week Eight Power Rankings:

Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

Ethan McCollister

Diehard Red Sox fan. Vermonter in Philly. Harvard alum. Cat dad. In Chaim we trust...but I miss Mookie.

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