In past years, for a large part of the season, picking a No. 1 team in The Official Power Rankings has been one of the more fun aspects of doing them. At one point in 2016, I believe it was eight weeks straight -- between the Chicago Cubs sitting there with ease to start and end the season for months -- that my No. 1 ranked team went on a losing streak. It was a fun storyline on social media between myself and my loyal readers.
So far in 2021, there's been no drama at the top. Until now.
Through Saturday night, the Los Angeles Dodgers had lost 10 of their last 13 games. As I let that wash over me, I came to the realization that the No. 1 spot this entire season had been the least challenging for me in the Official Power Rankings. Even with the two versions in the spring, I just mindlessly placed the Dodgers at the top and moved on to the actual work. Truth be told, they are probably still the best team in baseball. They also deserve a demotion at this point, even if it's only temporary.
Who takes over?
I thought about the Boston Red Sox. J.D. Martinez, Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts are powering that powerful offense and there have been some nice surprises on the pitching side. Plus, it would be funny to have them at one just about one month after I put them in last as punishment for being swept by the Baltimore Orioles.
Then again, the Texas Rangers just took three of four from them. Do I really want to reward that kind of behavior? Ditto for the Oakland Athletics losing a series to the Orioles this past weekend. I still don't buy the San Francisco Giants or Kansas City Royals as serious threats to the top spot.
If I'm thinking about this being a reward, there's an easy pick here.
The Milwaukee Brewers have gone 6-3 against their fan base's most hated teams (Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals). They swept the San Diego Padres in three games away from home. They just took three of four from the Dodgers. They've been doing this without Christian Yelich. They've been without Lorenzo Cain for a bit. They were missing Kolten Wong for over a week. They went into Sunday with 12 players on the injured list, including two arms from the rotation.
And yet, they are sitting here at 17-11 and with that impressive head-to-head resume.
Do I think they'll play like the best team in baseball moving forward? Nope. That doesn't really matter right now, though. They have earned their spot at the top with this impressive month of play, mostly without one of the best players in baseball.
Take a bow, Milwaukee. It's your time to shine.
|The bloodbath on Sunday really did a number on their run differential. Bad timing, but they still took three of four from the Dodgers just over a week after sweeping the Padres.||2||21-20|
|They'll be back at the top, maybe as soon as next week. They just haven't won a series since April 18.||1||23-18|
|Fernando Tatis Jr. has now played in 163 career games. He has 47 homers and 32 stolen bases. He's still only 22.||1||25-17|
|They should have a relatively easy week coming, getting to face the Tigers for three games and the Orioles for four.||2||25-17|
|They are playing good baseball overall, but the full offensive potential has yet to be unlocked (is it waiting on Jose Abreu to get hot?) and they've lost five of Lucas Giolito's six starts.||--||25-15|
|So Jesus Luzardo fractured his pinky when he accidentally "bumped" it while playing video games, huh? Yeah, I've seen my son "bump" things when he's mad at the game, too.||4||25-17|
|How about these streaky Astros? They went 6-1, then 1-9, then 8-2 before Sunday's loss.||7||24-17|
|Their rotation is in tatters, George Springer finally just got back from injury and several talented offensive players have yet to start hitting this season. And they are 14-12. Sleeping giant?||3||22-17|
|Have they figured out the key to unlock Kevin Gausman's potential? He was good last year and now through six starts in 2021, he's pitched to a 2.04 ERA and 0.91 WHIP with 40 strikeouts in 39 2/3 innings. Remember, all the way back in 2012 he was the fourth overall pick out of LSU. Many people thought he had ace upside.||1||25-16|
|When I said I'm not buying them, I meant as a serious contender for the "best team in baseball" title. I do think they hang around in this AL Central race for a minute, though, maybe even close enough that Dayton Moore decides to be a buyer in July.||1||18-22|
|I don't think their problems run nearly as deep as, say, the Braves. This remains the best team in the NL East, in my humble opinion. They'll only get better with the impending return of Carlos Carrasco.||4||19-16|
|Randy Arozarena has struck out 36 times in 99 at-bats and is only slugging .404. Maybe he'll get really hot soon?||--||23-19|
|Here they come? The Yankees have won five of their last six and climbed all the way back to .500. Of course, they were playing the Orioles and Tigers last week. Bigger tests await them this week with the Astros and Nationals coming to visit.||--||22-19|
|Shane Bieber's strikeout totals by start this season: 12, 12, 11, 13, 9, 11. Absurd.||2||21-18|
|Taylor Trammell doesn't hit much (yet?), but he sure is a joy to watch in the outfield. He gets amazing jumps, covers a ton of ground and can make spectacular plays with the best of 'em.||5||21-21|
|The Nats have won four straight and evened things up at .500 -- good enough for first place in renegade NL East these days -- after a 1-5 start. They haven't really been full strength all season, either.||3||16-21|
|The Diamondbacks have won 10 of their last 13 and are only two games out in the NL West. They were eight games out two weeks ago.||5||18-24|
|Matt Carpenter hit a pinch-hit, three-run home run on consecutive days last week. As far as I could find, that's the first time anyone has done that since integration.||2||23-18|
|If the Angels want to show everyone they can be more than just a few superstars and actually be a contending ballclub, the upcoming stretch will tell us a lot. In the next few weeks, their opponents are the Rays, Dodgers, Astros, Red Sox, Indians, Twins and A's.||4||18-22|
|The scariest moment of the week was seeing The Underrated Bryce Harper get hit in the face. And, yes, I only brought that up so I could try my new bit where I call him The Underrated Bryce Harper. You're going to get tired of it, I promise. I'm not going to let it go.||2||21-20|
|They've won three of four now with Alex Kirilloff powering up for four homers in three games. Is the tide turning?||5||13-26|
|Are they back on track? After their seven-game losing streak, the Reds won series over the Dodgers and Cubs this past week.||2||19-20|
|The Braves started 0-4, but then won four in a row and it looked like a course correction. Then they lost four in a row. They won five of seven and it looked like things were back on track, then they only got one hit in losing both ends of a doubleheader. Then they won three straight and looked right back on track. Now, again, they've lost four in a row. It's getting a bit worrisome, no?||6||19-22|
|Kris Bryant is now hitting .323/.405/.708 and leading the league in extra-base hits. If things continue on this path with him and the Cubs, he'll be the big fish on the trade market in July.||3||20-20|
|Credit where due: A 4-3 week against the A's and Yankees isn't too shabby at all. They were close to a four-game winning streak, if not for A's center fielder Ramon Laureano's heroics on Sunday.||2||17-23|
|Joey Gallo is only slugging .311 and I will not stand for this madness. Surely the world will fix itself and he'll go on a power tear soon.||3||19-24|
|Yes, Trevor Rogers was outdueled by Max Scherzer on Sunday, but the youngster is sitting on a 1.91 ERA and outpitched Corbin Burnes earlier in the week. Keep an eye on him.||2||18-22|
|Through last Tuesday, the Pirates were on a run where they had won 11 out of their last 16. They are nowhere near talented enough to keep playing like that and it's already started to even out. They've now lost four straight.||5||17-23|
|Trevor Story ended his career-long home run drought, and he's now homered four times in his last 10 games. Sunday, though, he also got hit by a pitch in the right index finger and had to leave the game.||1||15-27|
|The Tigers are hitting .195 as a team.||--||15-26|