2023 MLB Power Rankings: Week 12

Going streaking: Reds, Giants take elevator up, while Pirates head down

Every week, the Pitcher List team publishes an update to our MLB 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?

All you need to know about whether it is too late to make a move is to look at the National League Central. The lack of a dominant team has been on full display this season. All five teams have been in first place at some point in the season. The latest “it” team is the Cincinnati Reds, who have won 11 straight entering Friday’s series opener against Atlanta.

For perspective, consider that after games on June 9, the Pittsburgh Pirates (33-29) and Brewers (34-30) sat atop the Central at 33-29, while the Reds were third at 29-35, five games behind the co-leaders. Now, the Reds are 1½ games ahead of the Brewers (38-36), while the Pirates (34-40) have reversed course, dropping their 10th straight after Thursday’s 6-4 loss to the Miami Marlins. The Bucs are seven games out of first place. The Brewers have spent 54 days in first place (the last being Sunday), the Pirates 33 days (last a week ago today), the Reds seven (current), the Chicago Cubs three (April 1), and the St. Louis Cardinals two (April 2).

Another team that went streaking also made a big move up. That was the San Francisco Giants, who had their 10-game run come to a crashing halt with Thursday’s 10-0 loss to the San Diego Padres.

Meanwhile, the Tampa Bay Rays remain the No. 1 team, a spot they have held since Week 2 of our Power Rankings.


Movin’ On Up


Cincinnati Reds

Record: 40-35

Rank change: +5 (21 to 16)

The youth movement has made a significant impact in the Queen City. Infielder Elly De La Cruz gets a lot of attention since making his MLB debut on June 6. Rightfully so as one of baseball’s top prospects and with the toolbox he puts on display. But it is not a one-man show for the Reds, who were 26th in the MLB Power rankings four weeks ago.

Left-handed starter Andrew Abbott has been a big surprise by opening his MLB career with three scoreless outings before finally allowing three runs in his latest outing. Right-hander Ben Lively, a 31-year-old who made his MLB debut in 2017 with the Philadelphia Phillies, seems to be establishing himself with a 4-4 record and 4.11 ERA in nine games (seven starts), with 13 walks and 45 strikeouts in 46 innings. They have helped steady the rotation with ace Hunter Greene (right hip pain) and fellow right-hander Graham Ashcraft (left calf contusion) on the 15-day injured list and left-hander Nick Lodolo (left tibia stress reaction) on the 60-day IL.

And you can’t forget about closer Alexis Díaz, who has converted all 20 save opportunities with 55 strikeouts in 31 innings. A young team can quickly have the life sucked out of it if the bullpen falters, especially at the end of games.

Corner infielder Spencer Steer has been one of the mainstays of the offense, slashing .273/.356/.468 with 10 homers and 40 RBIs. Outfielder Jake Fraley has been a nice surprise with a slash line of .270/.358/.465 with nine homers and 44 RBIs.

Manager David Bell now has the challenge of finding playing time for the young players mixed in with the players who were already there (Jonathan India, for example) and the returning veterans (Joey Votto). For once, it is a good problem for the Reds to have.

As for the last week, the Reds swept a three-game weekend series on the road from the Houston Astros, then took three more from the Colorado Rockies.


San Francisco Giants

Record: 42-33

Rank change: +5 (12 to 7)

Are the Giants back? Well, this 10-game spurt certainly put them in a position to be a threat in the NL West. Having disappointed since their 107-win season in 2021, the Giants were treading water before this surge vaulted them ahead of the rival Los Angeles Dodgers and into second place in the West behind the surprising Arizona Diamondbacks.

In seven of those 10 consecutive victories — including a three-game road sweep of the Dodgers — the Giants scored seven runs or more. That is a result of a June slash line of .263/.350/.412 for a team OPS of .762, which is eighth-best in MLB this month. Not that their overall OPS is bad as the Giants’ .745 is 10th in MLB. First baseman LaMonte Wade Jr. is slashing .308/.431/.519 with two homers and 11 RBIs this month, while rookie catcher Patrick Bailey has a .306/.340/.490 line in June. Balance is the name of the game, with five players driving in at least 10 runs this month.

Right-handers Logan Webb (3.11 ERA) and Alex Cobb (3.09 ERA) have been rocks in the rotation, while Camilo Doval has finally grown into a dominant closer, converting 20 of 22 save opportunities and 48 strikeouts in 33⅔ innings.

Now, can the Giants build off that success? They open a three-game series at home against the Diamondbacks, who hold a 3½-game lead over the Giants. It will be another good test for the D’backs, who have won two of three from the Milwaukee Brewers and Cleveland Guardians after dropping three of four to the Philadelphia Phillies.


Hittin’ The Skids


Pittsburgh Pirates

Record: 34-40

Rank change: -9 (13 to 22)

Similar to what the Reds are doing now, the Pirates experienced success ahead of schedule. They won seven straight in mid-April to raise expectations. The surprising part about that is the Bucs did so after star shortstop Oneil Cruz went down with a fractured left fibula and continued to be at or near the top of the Central until the last couple of weeks.

But a team without a lot of depth, the Pirates have had a handful of injuries, particularly pitchers, that slowly put holes in their ship. After that fabulous April, the Pirates went 8-18 in May and are 6-13 in June after Thursday’s loss. The latest blow was outfielder Bryan Reynolds going on the 10-day injured list with a lower-back issue.

Offensively, the Pirates are slashing .221/.305/.351 in June and their OPS of .651 ranks 25th in MLB, dragging down their season number to .710 (22nd). The bullpen, which couldn’t afford injuries, has slumped to a 4.62 ERA, which is 25th in MLB, as the staff as a whole has posted a June ERA of 5.60, next-to-last in baseball.

Still, the Bucs entered last weekend’s series against the Brewers a half-game ahead of the Crew for first place, yet were swept in three games. Their skid continued against the Chicago Cubs, who blanked the Pirates twice in taking all three games, a repeat of the previous week and the beginning of this 10-game streak.

It all led to the precipitous drop in our MLB Power Rankings after being a steady entry in the middle for the past month.


Week 12 MLB Power Rankings

Steve Drumwright

Steve Drumwright is a lifelong baseball fan who retired as a player before he had the chance to be cut from the freshman team in high school. He recovered to become a sportswriter and have a successful journalism career at newspapers in Wisconsin and California. Follow him on Twitter and Threads @DrummerWrites.

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