2022 MLB Power Rankings: Week Nine

Hope for the Rangers, dismay for the Angels.

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.

With Memorial Day in the rearview mirror, we’ve hit the unofficial start to summer. That means we’re past the early-season rollercoaster and we’ve seen enough of each team to know which ones should be on our radar for September, and which ones should start thinking about 2023.

The Dodgers are exactly what we expected them to be: a juggernaut on both sides of the ball. The Yankees have solidified their identity as the team to beat in the AL, but the Astros aren’t far behind them. The Mets continue to grind out wins despite injury setbacks.

The Padres, Brewers, Rays, Cardinals, Jays, and Giants round out our top 10, although the Twins and Red Sox may break in before long. All of these are teams we expected to be strong at the beginning of the season, and their quality is showing through.

This week’s risers include one of those quality teams, and another that has potential but needs to prove itself over the next month. Our slider has the talent to contend in October, but is suffering through one of the worst funks of any team in the 2022 season.

 

On the Rise

 

The Texas Rangers

Record: 24-26

Rank Change: +3 (21 to 18)

Opponents Since Last Ranking: Athletics (three games), Rays (two games)

The Rangers have a lot of good hitters, and they all found their power stroke in the past two weeks. Since May 27, they boast a 157 wRC+ and .884 OPS with 25 extra-base hits, including 11 home runs. To contextualize that stat: they notched roughly 20% of their total extra-base hits for the season in their past four games.

The most heartening change is that Marcus Semien is showing signs of life. He picked up eight hits in 35 plate appearances this past week, including his first two home runs as a Ranger. Nathaniel Lowe also broke out of a terrible slump and gathered eight hits and a home run of his own in the four-game stretch. Corey Seager contributed three long balls as well, and veterans Kole Calhoun and Mitch Garver are quietly putting together strong seasons. They hold a 124 and 113 wRC+, respectively.

Martín Pérez is the highlight of the pitching staff. He’s allowed only one earned run in his past three starts and holds a 1.42 ERA for the season. Glenn Otto bounced back from a rough outing in Boston on May 14 and held opponents to four earned runs in his next three starts.

There’s still a lot to be skeptical of. The aggregate stats of this team are not pretty, and they just dropped two games in a row to the Rays. Still, the Angels are in freefall (more on that below), and if the Rangers can take more strides forward with their bats while their pitchers compete, they might just sneak into contention.

The Toronto Blue Jays

Record: 30-20

Rank Change: +3 (12 to 9)

Opponents Since Last Ranking: Angels (three games), White Sox (two games)

There’s not a lot that needs to be said about the Blue Jays other than they are a very good baseball team, and they’ve played the way we expect them to over the past two weeks. They’re riding an eight-game win streak and have won 12 of their last 15.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. struggled through those games, hitting just .184 with four extra-base hits, but his teammates more than picked up the slack. Bo Bichette and George Springer started playing up to their All-Star potential, and Alejandro Kirk is proving himself to be an offensive weapon. While their overall stats may not pop, Santiago Espinal, Teoscar Hernández, Matt Chapman, and Lourdes Gurriel have all contributed.

The starting rotation has also rounded into shape. Since May 16 (the start of Toronto’s surge), Kevin Gausman, Yusei Kikuchi, and Hyun Jin-Ryu all hold an ERA under 3.00 in three starts a piece. Alec Manoah has fully blossomed into an ace, outshining his teammates with a 1.98 ERA on the season.

The Yankees have had Toronto’s number in head-to-head games so far, but that could easily change in their next series. Toronto-New York matchups are must-watch TV for the rest of 2022.

 

In a Slide

 

The Los Angeles Angels

Record: 27-25

Rank Change: -4 (7 to 11)

Opponents Since Last Ranking: Blue Jays (three games), Yankees (three games)

The Angels find themselves on the opposite end of the spectrum from the Blue Jays. They have now lost eight games in a row and been swept in consecutive series. Perhaps they’re all distracted by the continuing fantasy football slap saga, but probably not.

A more likely explanation for the plunge is the Halos’ struggles on the mound. In the course of the Angels’ past three series, the pitching staff holds a collective ERA of 6.39 and 1.52 WHIP. Not a single member of the starting rotation made it through multiple starts cleanly.

After a strong start to the year, Noah Syndergaard’s ERA has ballooned with several rough outings. Shohei Ohtani struggled against the Blue Jays and only made it through three innings against the Yankees, giving up four earned runs in the process. Even Patrick Sandoval, who had been rock solid through his first seven games, got shelled by Toronto on May 29.

Offensively, the Angels are still managing a respectable 118 wRC+ throughout their slide, but they were dominated by the Yankees pitching staff. They were outscored 17-3 in the course of the three-game series, and Jameson Taillon took a perfect game into the eighth against them last night.

Those struggles can be partially explained by regressions from Taylor Ward and Mike Trout, as well as the absence of Anthony Rendon due to injury. They were also unlucky enough to encounter two elite teams right as they hit a slump.

The Halos have already proven they have the talent to compete this year, but Joe Maddon will have his hands full getting them out of the trough they’ve dug into. They’ll hope a series with the limping Phillies will help them get back on track.

 

 

Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

Colin Fong

Colin lived near Cooperstown and collected signatures from Hall of Famers for his Dad's collection every summer as a kid. He thought it was super boring at the time, but thinks it's incredibly cool now. He's an A's fan and loves writing about the beautiful, absurd, infuriating, and inspiring world of baseball.

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