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MLB Power Rankings: There’s a new No. 1 team on our list … who is it?

After a two-week run at the top by the Chicago White Sox, a new team has overtaken the AL Central leaders for the No. 1 spot in our MLB Power Rankings this week.

Will the Los Angeles Dodgers regain their place there after looking more like the team we expected to see in 2021 of late, or will the San Diego Padres turn their own torrid stretch into a move to No. 1? And what about the two hottest teams in the AL East, the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees?

Here is what our eight-voter expert panel decided based on what we’ve seen in the first month-plus of the season. We also asked ESPN MLB experts David Schoenfield, Bradford Doolittle, Joon Lee, Jesse Rogers and Alden Gonzalez to weigh in with one Week 8 observation for all 30 teams.

Previous rankings: Week 7 | Week 6 | Week 5 | Week 4 | Week 3 | Week 2 | Week 1 | Opening Day


1. San Diego Padres

Record: 32-18
Previous ranking: 2

The Padres have been playing good baseball all year, but early on their starters weren’t pitching deep into games and their offense surprisingly wasn’t slugging. It was clear, even as they were winning, that their best baseball was still in front of them. The popular thought at that point: Wait until Fernando Tatis Jr. gets going. Now we know what that looks like. Tatis had eight extra-base hits and four stolen bases in a stretch of six games heading into Wednesday, and the Padres look unbeatable. — Gonzalez


MLB Power Rankings: There's a new No. 1 team on our list ... who is it?

2. Los Angeles Dodgers

Record: 30-19
Previous ranking: 3

The Dodgers are still waiting for Cody Bellinger, Corey Seager and Tony Gonsolin to return, but they’re rolling right along anyway. Sweeping a three-game road series against the Giants while keeping pace and taking Tuesday’s opener against the Astros gave them 12 wins in a stretch of 13 games. Their offense hasn’t yet clicked on all cylinders, but it is doing a better job coming up with timely hits. The starting pitching has been predictably carrying the Dodgers, with Clayton Kershaw, Trevor Bauer, Walker Buehler and Julio Urias all dominating. — Gonzalez


MLB Power Rankings: There's a new No. 1 team on our list ... who is it?

3. Tampa Bay Rays

Record: 31-20
Previous ranking: 10

Never sleep on the Rays. After a sluggish start, Tampa Bay finds itself at the top of the division again competing alongside Boston and New York. The team traded away shortstop Willy Adames and RHP Trevor Richards for reliever Drew Rasmussen and righty J.P. Feyereisen. To replace Adames, the Rays called up Taylor Walls ahead of No. 1 overall prospect Wander Franco, but it’s only a matter of time before Franco finds himself in the majors. — Lee


MLB Power Rankings: There's a new No. 1 team on our list ... who is it?

4. Chicago White Sox

Record: 28-20
Previous ranking: 1

We’ve still got a couple of months to speculate, but the White Sox’s approach to the trade deadline will be interesting. The outfield in aggregate has been so-so this season. That’s a compliment given the long duration of injuries suffered by Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert. Rookie Andrew Vaughn has been non-disastrous defensively in left field and has been heating up at the plate in recent games. Adam Engel is nearing return from a hamstring malady and will help shore up centerfield. When the time comes, the question for GM Rick Hahn will be whether he can bank on the returns of his two young stars in time for October, or if he wants to seek some external insurance, knowing that he has only so much trade fodder and a bullpen that will need some upgrading. — Doolittle


MLB Power Rankings: There's a new No. 1 team on our list ... who is it?

Record: 30-20
Previous ranking: 4

We’re reaching a point in the season where it’s hard to rule out Boston as a legitimate contender for the division. Recent hot streaks from the Yankees and Rays evaporated Boston’s lead in the division, but the consistent output from the offense and strong performances from the back end of the rotation continue to be positive signs. If Nathan Eovaldi and Eduardo Rodriguez turn around their performance, this team will be a force to be reckoned with in the division. — Lee


MLB Power Rankings: There's a new No. 1 team on our list ... who is it?

6. New York Yankees

Record: 28-20
Previous ranking: 8

Corey Kluber‘s injury in his first start coming off a no-hitter isn’t great news, but the team continues to get strong starts from Domingo German, Jordan Montgomery and Gerrit Cole. The offense hasn’t been the juggernaut many expect it to be, but this doesn’t look like the same Yankees team that fans were panicking about a few weeks into the season. — Lee


MLB Power Rankings: There's a new No. 1 team on our list ... who is it?

Record: 30-19
Previous ranking: 5

We’re not quite sure what is in the water in San Francisco, but Buster Posey (34), Brandon Belt (33), Brandon Crawford (34) and Evan Longoria (35) are all producing as if they were in their prime again. Posey specifically looks like an MVP candidate after sitting out the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season. His fresh legs have helped contribute a .194 weighted runs created plus through his first 31 games, ranked third among players with at least 120 plate appearances. — Gonzalez


MLB Power Rankings: There's a new No. 1 team on our list ... who is it?

Record: 27-22
Previous ranking: 6

The defining trait of this year’s Astros might be maddening inconsistency. Call them Team Sisyphus, because every time they push the boulder to the top of the hill, it seems to roll right back over them. Among the paradoxes with this team: Houston is 7-3 against first-place Oakland, outscoring the A’s 67-35. Houston is also a combined 0-5 against the Rockies and Tigers, having been outscored 32-13. The avatar for this quality is Yordan Alvarez. Through his first 33 games, the fearsome slugger was hitting .348/.376/.598. In seven games after that, he went 3 for 26 with one extra-base hit and 13 strikeouts. — Doolittle


MLB Power Rankings: There's a new No. 1 team on our list ... who is it?

Record: 29-22
Previous ranking: 7

Oakland continues ping-ponging this season, starting slow with a 1-7 record before rising up with a 13-game winning streak. They’re currently shuffling in and out of first place in the division alongside the Houston Astros, but the team sports a negative run differential and a mediocre, middle-of-the-pack team ERA. Whether or not this Oakland team should be considered a true contender seems up in the air. — Lee


MLB Power Rankings: There's a new No. 1 team on our list ... who is it?

Record: 24-23
Previous ranking: 9

Toronto struggled against Boston and Tampa, getting swept by the Rays in a four-game series and dropping two of three against the Red Sox. The root of the Blue Jays’ issues stem from a rotation that continues to lean heavily on the success of ace Hyun Jin Ryu. The lack of strong starting pitching, barring a trade or move for another strong starter, may hold this team back from truly competing for the AL East. — Lee


MLB Power Rankings: There's a new No. 1 team on our list ... who is it?

Record: 27-22
Previous ranking: 11

The Cardinals came back to the pack in the NL Central thanks to an offensive drought in which they compiled just a .604 OPS over a one-week span. After a hot start to his season, Nolan Arenado cooled off some with a 2-for-20 stretch. — Rogers


MLB Power Rankings: There's a new No. 1 team on our list ... who is it?

Record: 26-21
Previous ranking: 13

Cleveland’s deep well of injury luck seemed to run dry this week. The loss of slugger Franmil Reyes (oblique) for five to seven weeks is a doozy, as he was the only Cleveland hitter other than MVP candidate Jose Ramirez who’s had a semblance of a good offensive season. The clamoring for prospect Owen Miller became moot when Reyes went down, as Cleveland had no better internal option for a replacement. But the rookie is off to a slow start. Then starter Zach Plesac hurt his thumb while taking off his shirt. (Friends don’t let friends disrobe while angry.) That, too, hits a sore spot on the thin Cleveland 40-man roster as the rotation has been more adequate than the projected outstanding. What might keep the Indians afloat is a near-term schedule that is dominated by the likes of the Tigers, Orioles, Mariners and Pirates.— Doolittle


MLB Power Rankings: There's a new No. 1 team on our list ... who is it?

Record: 26-22
Previous ranking: 16

The Cubs continued a solid month by taking three of four against the Nationals and two of three against the Cardinals. The bullpen keeps surprising while relying on young relievers including Justin Steele, Keegan Thompson and Tommy Nance. — Rogers


MLB Power Rankings: There's a new No. 1 team on our list ... who is it?

Record: 24-25
Previous ranking: 14

Is Austin Riley having a breakout season? He projected as a low-average, low-OBP slugger entering the season, but he’s improved his walk rate, and thanks to a high BABIP, is hitting over .300. He had two two-homer games in three days against the Pirates last weekend, giving him nine home runs. His actual BA is about 60 points higher than his expected batting average, so the rest-of-season projection forecasts a drop in his average. Still, this is a much-improved hitter. — Schoenfield


MLB Power Rankings: There's a new No. 1 team on our list ... who is it?

Record: 22-20
Previous ranking: 12

The Mets are somehow surviving despite a remarkable 16 players on the injured list, giving them what amounts to a Triple-A lineup — and not even a good one. At least Jacob deGrom returned on Tuesday and looked good with one run in five innings (caveat: against the Rockies at Citi Field), but as he was pitching came the bad news that Noah Syndergaard left his rehab start after one inning with right elbow soreness (and a sudden drop in velocity at the end of the inning). — Schoenfield


MLB Power Rankings: There's a new No. 1 team on our list ... who is it?

Record: 24-25
Previous ranking: 17

The Brewers are getting healthy and could be primed for a run considering they haven’t had their full team on the field since Day 1. Kolten Wong spent time on the IL but just came off a hot week, hitting nearly .500, and they also acquired shortstop Willy Adames from the Rays. The return of Corbin Burnes and Christian Yelich from injury make the Brewers a scary team. — Rogers


MLB Power Rankings: There's a new No. 1 team on our list ... who is it?

Record: 24-25
Previous ranking: 19

Have the Marlins found something in 26-year-old right-hander Cody Poteet, who is 2-0 with a 1.06 through his first three major league starts? A fourth-round pick out of UCLA in 2015, Poteet features an average fastball, but has a high-spin curveball, slider and changeup. He averaged just 6.1 K’s per nine in the minors in 2019, but he throws strikes and has looked good so far. — Schoenfield


MLB Power Rankings: There's a new No. 1 team on our list ... who is it?

Record: 24-26
Previous ranking: 15

Bryce Harper had hit just .211/.318/.316 with one home run and 26 strikeouts in 66 plate appearances since getting hit on the wrist and face by Genesis Cabrera back on April 28, and after sitting out two games, the Phillies finally decided to place him on the IL with a forearm contusion. He joins J.T. Realmuto and Didi Gregorius, making for a suddenly depleted Phillies lineup. — Schoenfield


MLB Power Rankings: There's a new No. 1 team on our list ... who is it?

Record: 23-24
Previous ranking: 20

If you take away the Royals’ 11-game losing streak, they are having a great season. Seriously though, you have to give KC credit for bouncing back from the nadir of that skid, which dropped them from seven games over .500 to four under. When they beat the Rays on Tuesday, not only did that snap Tampa Bay’s 11-game winning spree, but it got Kansas City back to break-even. Better news yet: That game also marked the return of shortstop Adalberto Mondesi from a long stay on the IL, and he hit a pair of loud doubles in his season debut — one from each side of the plate. — Doolittle


MLB Power Rankings: There's a new No. 1 team on our list ... who is it?

Record: 20-24
Previous ranking: 21

Juan Soto is drawing walks and getting on base, but he hasn’t been the hitter he was in 2020. Obviously, the shoulder injury could still be affecting his power. One thing: It’s not because pitchers aren’t going after him. 50.7% of the pitches he’s seen have been in the strike zone, which ranks him 190th out of 260 batters with at least 100 PAs. His percentage of pitches in the zone last season was 46.7, so he has been challenged a little more often. — Schoenfield


MLB Power Rankings: There's a new No. 1 team on our list ... who is it?

Record: 21-25
Previous ranking: 18

The Reds sit solidly below the .500 mark after a four-game sweep by the Giants. Losing two of three to Milwaukee — also at home — didn’t help matters. Jesse Winker and Nick Castellanos continue to hit, but pitching is still the main problem. After a rough week on the mound, the Reds staff dropped to the bottom of the league, only ahead of the Angels in all of baseball in ERA. — Rogers


MLB Power Rankings: There's a new No. 1 team on our list ... who is it?

Record: 20-29
Previous ranking: 26

The Twins are showing signs of coming out of their season-long stupor, winning for the fifth time in six games against Baltimore on Wednesday. It’s a start, but Minnesota is only beginning to crawl out of the deep hole it dug for itself. Keying the recent resurgence has been the previously slumbering offense, which put up 6.5 runs during the upswing. Leading the charge has been the unlikely Rob Refsnyder, who would best be described as a kind of journeyman utility four-A type. Now he’s hitting like a combination of Harmon Killebrew and Rod Carew, putting up a .400/.436/657 slash line over his first 12 games for Minnesota. — Doolittle


MLB Power Rankings: There's a new No. 1 team on our list ... who is it?

Record: 22-29
Previous ranking: 25

Throw a lefty against the Rangers, and they look like a playoff team, but they’re 12 games under .500 against right-handed starters. Unfortunately for Texas, there are many more righties than lefties in the league. Even recent scoreless outings from Dane Dunning and Mike Foltynewicz couldn’t quite keep the Rangers out of the AL West basement. — Rogers


MLB Power Rankings: There's a new No. 1 team on our list ... who is it?

Record: 23-27
Previous ranking: 22

A six-game losing streak against the Tigers and Padres dropped the Mariners — perhaps permanently — under .500, although they did rebound this week with the series win over Oakland. On the bright side, their four minor league affiliates are a combined 49-25 entering Wednesday. Taylor Trammell has hit .460 with five home runs and six doubles in 12 games since being sent down. With Jarred Kelenic in left field, there isn’t a spot for him at the moment in the majors … at least until the Mariners decide if they want to trade Mitch Haniger. — Schoenfield


MLB Power Rankings: There's a new No. 1 team on our list ... who is it?

Record: 22-27
Previous ranking: 23

The Angels’ hopes of maintaining relevance until Mike Trout returns — likely at some point after the All-Star break — is to pitch well and play much better defense while also getting some unexpected contributions from their lineup. But what they really need is for Anthony Rendon to get going. The star third baseman, signed to a $245 million contract last offseason, entered Wednesday batting .222/.316/.333 through his first 114 plate appearances. — Gonzalez


MLB Power Rankings: There's a new No. 1 team on our list ... who is it?

Record: 18-32
Previous ranking: 24

The D-backs are in a free fall, having lost 10 consecutive games and 19 of their last 22. Through April, they looked like a promising team that might surprise a lot of people. In May, they’re scoring the second-fewest runs per game and have the sport’s third-highest ERA. Perhaps Carson Kelly‘s return from the injured list might spark them. — Gonzalez


MLB Power Rankings: There's a new No. 1 team on our list ... who is it?

Record: 19-30
Previous ranking: 29

The Rockies have spent years trying to master the art of hitting on the road, where the baseball behaves appreciably different from their home environment in Colorado. Two years ago, Charlie Blackmon began taking a very aggressive batting practice on the first day of a road trip. The year after that, Rockies hitting coach Dave Magadan proposed a more patient approach. The Rockies entered Wednesday with a .574 OPS and a .143 winning percentage on the road. “We’re confronting this thing and trying to be creative in the ways we can figure this out and not have those big home-road splits,” Rockies shortstop Trevor Story said in a story published by The Athletic. — Gonzalez


MLB Power Rankings: There's a new No. 1 team on our list ... who is it?

Record: 17-32
Previous ranking: 26

Baltimore has struggled and is back on the bottom of MLB. John Means continues to look like a Cy Young contender, but aside from Cedric Mullins, the rest of the roster inspires little excitement. When the most exciting thing to look forward to is the countdown clock on the arrival of Adley Rutschman to the majors, things aren’t looking great for the big league club. — Lee


MLB Power Rankings: There's a new No. 1 team on our list ... who is it?

Record: 18-30
Previous ranking: 28

The Pirates had one of those weeks on the mound compiling an ERA just under 10.00 with much of the damage coming in a 20-1 loss to the Braves. Losing eight of their last nine has dropped them even further back at the bottom of the NL Central. — Rogers


MLB Power Rankings: There's a new No. 1 team on our list ... who is it?

Record: 19-30
Previous ranking: 30

As you start to look ahead to the trade deadline, a few Tigers have emerged as interesting candidates. We’ve touched on starter Matthew Boyd before, and while he’s cooled some after a good start, he has to be on the list. Joining him is Michael Fulmer who, like Boyd, has one more year of arbitration eligibility remaining after 2021, but whose 2020 payout is less than half of his lefty teammate. In what might be a classic case of manufacturing value with a role change, Fulmer has become Detroit’s best reliever in terms of performance in leverage spots, consistency and dominance indicators. He’s touched 100 miles per hour as a reliever and, on average, is throwing a full MPH harder than he did as a starter. Also keep an eye on outfielder Robbie Grossman. — Doolittle

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