2023 MLB Power Rankings: Week 16

Which teams are on the move after Week 15?

Every week, the Pitcher List 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?

In the latest edition of the Power Rankings before what is likely to be a busy trade deadline week, several teams find themselves at a crossroads. More than 70% of the league currently stands within 5.5 games of a playoff spot, creating a logjam of several potential buyers and only a few sellers. The idea of seeing Shohei Ohtani or someone close to his caliber moved still looks far-fetched, as teams must decide if they are truly contenders or pretenders.

Inside that spectrum of bubble teams, week 16 highlights a couple of squads who entered the season as capital-C contenders, only to rise and fall constantly in the standings, failing to earn a true identity of how they saw themselves. On the rise, the Phillies are finally getting more consistency from their top-heavy roster to occupy the NL’s third wild card spot. On the other hand, the Yankees are in the midst of a brutal stretch, now on the outside looking in for the playoffs.


Movin’ On Up


Philadelphia Phillies

Record: 52-44

Rank change: +4 (13 to 9)


Following an improbable World Series appearance in 2022, the Phillies saw 2023 as a perfect opportunity to seize on that momentum and challenge the mighty Braves and Mets atop the NL East. Signing Trea Turner to a massive contract was the exclamation point for a roster that appeared to be solid at most positions, as even Bryce Harper’s return from TJ surgery was expected to be a quick one. However, the season certainly did not start as planned for Philadelphia, who stared at a sub-.500 record as recently as June 13. After winning the following day, the Phillies have gone 18-10 to solidify their season and return to a playoff path. The past week illustrated how the come is starting to put it all together, even if it is still far from perfect.

After the All-Star break, Philadelphia went a middling 4-3 as part of a tough homestand against the Padres and Brewers, teams who are also in the playoff scrum. The four wins came in consecutive fashion, including three straight comebacks against San Diego, highlighted by Sunday’s walk-off win in the 12th inning. The following day, Aaron Nola tossed one of his best outings of the year, holding the Padres to two earned runs over 7.1 innings. In the middle of that stretch, Kyle Schwarber homered in four occasions, while J.T. Realmuto, Nick Castellanos, and Bryce Harper joined in on the long-ball fun. Even as the bats were completely cooled off by Corbin Burnes to close the series against Milwaukee, there are plenty of positive signs for Philadelphia.

While Philly’s lineup did not earn enough hype like the Padres or other “super teams”, the overall production in 2023 has been subpar. Schwarber’s 26 homers have been offset by his horrid batting average, limiting him to a 106 OPS+, Turner has 21 stolen bases, but his .388 slugging places him among the worst qualified hitters in the NL, Castellanos continues to hit homers at curious times, but his two seasons in the city of brotherly love have to be considered disappointments as a whole, while Harper continues to get on base as a prodigy (.394 OBP), but has seen his power evaporate almost entirely. The overall offensive numbers for the Phillies show a middling offense, one that has seen Bryson Stott become their best hitter, but the recent improvements may be real enough to carry this team.

Since the calendar turned to July, the Phillies are a top-10 offense in terms of homers and OPS, averaging over 5 runs scored per game. This particular style of offense helps any team, but especially one as the Phillies, as they were ideally constructed for power and only enough athleticism to compete in a division full of both.

At the pitching side, Philadelphia’s rotation was supposed to have a clear top 3 in Nola, Zack Wheeler and newcomer Taijuan Walker, but all three have posted middling seasons. Nola is a top-15 pitcher in terms of WHIP, but one-fifth of the hits he’s allowed have been homers. Wheeler is still elite at suppressing homers and striking batters out, but poor fielding behind him has led to an ERA (4.04) more than a full run above his FIP (2.98). Walker is tied for the league lead in wins, but that is mostly the product of run support and sequencing. And yet, if we focus only on July, there are again clear signs of a turnaround, especially for Nola, who has a 24/1 K/BB ratio, even as homers continue to haunt him.

If Philadelphia’s stars have really started to turn the page, there is no reason to believe that they will not be part of the postseason. With the Marlins starting to fade in the NL East and the Reds showing some stop-and-start tendencies as part of their youth, Philly’s experience should represent an important factor in the wild-card chase. As it stands today, Fangraphs gives them a 64% chance of making the playoffs, even as the NL East is completely out of reach. We know that Nola and Wheeler can carry a staff, and that Schwarber’s streakiness can be offset by steady contributions from Harper, Turner and Castellanos, but if the Phillies want to repeat last year’s success, they must find a way to put it all together and again become the team nobody wants to face in the National League.



Hittin’ The Skids


New York Yankees

Record: 50-47

Rank change: -6 (9 to 15)


Opening the second half of the season, the Yankees were scheduled for a trap-game kind of roadtrip, with three games in Colorado followed by three in Anaheim. While New York’s decline as the season has progressed has been evident, it was still improbable for the team to completely capitulate over this span. And yet, we are entering a point of Yankee panic that appears more real and loud than anything we have seen in recent memory. To wit, the Yankees faced a parade of mediocre Rockies and Angels pitchers, only to hit for a collective .210/.298/.317 slash line and lose five of six. This has come after the team fired their hitting coach mid-season, as many fans are now calling for the jobs of manager Aaron Boone and general manager Brian Cashman. How did it get to this point for the mighty Yankees?

While it may seem obvious and simplistic to pinpoint Aaron Judge’s toe injury as the moment the season started to go awry, there is no other way to explain how losing the MVP may have torpedoed New York’s hopes. By the end of May, the Yankees were a respectable 34-24 with still a glimmer of hope towards making a run at the division, with at least the wild card as a fallback option. The slow plunge towards a 16-23 mark coincides with Judge’s fateful play in Los Angeles, as the offense has plummeted, scoring 3 or fewer runs in 21 of those games. Even as the Yankees still have a winning record, they have been surpassed by Boston and now occupy the bottom of the AL East. Becoming the first-ever last-place team with a winning record would be nothing more than a quirk for a franchise desperate for a championship.

Going back to Judge’s injury, he still leads all Yankee position players in WAR despite playing in only 49 games, and it is by a wide margin. Out of all batters with at least 160 plate appearances, only Anthony Rizzo and Gleyber Torres have posted above-average batting lines, and marginally. Rizzo’s disappearance at the plate has been noteworthy, as he has been sort of a reverse José Abreu: zero homers since May, with a .185 average over the past two months. Josh Donaldson has been somehow worse and is now on the 60-day IL. Anthony Volpe, long anointed the heir apparent to Derek Jeter, adds hope for the future, but his .652 OPS suggests that he may be over-matched at the plate. DJ LeMahieu and Giancarlo Stanton continue to be high-priced and injury-prone, suggesting that even an eventual Judge return would not be enough to move the needle.

The Yankees can still claim a top-10 pitching staff, with Gerrit Cole becoming a serious candidate for the Cy Young award, but even that distinction comes with enough warts for the smell test. Similar to Judge’s impact on the offense, Cole has been far and away the most valuable member of the staff, as he is the only starting pitcher with a WAR figure above 0.5 – several Yankee relievers have been among the most valuable bullpen pieces in the sport, including Clay Holmes, Michael King and Wandy Peralta, but this stems mostly from them having to pitch too many innings. The downside of that overwork reared its ugly head in the latest roadtrip, as the bullpen coughed up late leads to lose in extra innings on Sunday and Monday. Adding that Carlos Rodón finally made his debut only to be shellacked in his first two starts, it easy to see why everyone is panicking around the erstwhile Evil Empire.

With the Yankees now looking like underdogs in the playoff race, there is a serious possibility that the three largest payrolls in the sport (including the Mets and Padres) do not play meaningful baseball in October. While that may be a cause for deep offseason analysis, the Yankees as constructed today are unlikely to simply waive the white towel in 2023. Boone’s seat is certainly hot and there is pressure for the front office to do something (anything!) at the trade deadline. A week ago, some speculated that Ohtani could become a Yankee, but that seems almost impossible now – especially when Ohtani terrorized the Yankees over three games, including a Bondsian four-walk game to close the series. In all likelihood, the Yankees will probably pursue a soft retooling like they did in 2016, when they traded Aroldis Chapman mid-season, and hope that Judge’s return revitalizes the offense to possibly make a playoff push. 2016 is also the last time the franchise missed the postseason, and though that seems almost unfathomable in a 3-wild card format, it all points to the Yankees extending their championship drought for another painful year.

Week 16 Power Rankings


Pablo Figueroa

Pablo Figueroa is a Baseball Writer here at Pitcher List, with experience as a writer since 2013. He lives in Aguascalientes, Mexico - proud home of Los Rieleros. When he´s not thinking about baseball , he's a husband, owns two dogs, watches random episodes of The Sopranos , plays padel, and works on his day job to pay the bills.

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