2023 MLB Power Rankings: Week 9

Rangers surge to No. 2 with great month of May, while Cubs stumble.

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?

We have passed Memorial Day and are just into June, which means teams are settling into (or realizing) what they will be this season. One thing is clear: MLB is top-heavy and bottom-heavy at this point. There are probably five teams that have proven to be significant contenders, while there are about the same number locked into the lottery for next year’s draft.

The Tampa Bay Rays continue to hold down the No. 1 spot in our MLB Power Rankings, but there is a new No. 2. That is because that team had to make people believe a little more than others that it deserved a place near the top.


Movin’ On Up


Texas Rangers

Record: 35-20

Rank change: +3 (5 to 2)

It is hard to classify the Texas Rangers as a Cinderella team this season because there were some expectations for the Lone Star State’s other team to do well after some major acquisitions the last two offseasons.

But the fact that they have ascended to No. 2 in our Power Rankings is surprising. The Rangers are coming off a 6-3 road trip and an 18-9 mark in May, going 4-2 against the Baltimore Orioles and Detroit Tigers in the last week. And it is because of their starting pitching — without Jacob deGrom. As their new ace recovers from right elbow inflammation (and who is scheduled to become a dad), the rest of the Rangers’ rotation has been more than holding their own. That starts with Nathan Eovaldi. A much less heralded offseason signing, Eovaldi just completed the month of May 4-0 with a 0.96 ERA in 37⅔ innings covering five starts with nine walks and 31 strikeouts. His magnificent May has him with a 7-2 record and 2.42 ERA in 11 starts, including two complete games.

Not far behind Eovaldi are Jon Gray (5-1, 2.81 ERA), Andrew Heaney (4-3, 3.76 ERA) and Martín Pérez (6-1, 4.43). Dane Dunning has stepped up in deGrom’s absence with a 4-1 record and 2.06 ERA in 13 appearances, including five starts. The Rangers have the sixth-best ERA in MLB at 3.68. The only issue so far has been the bullpen, with is 24th in MLB with a 4.44 ERA. But that is something that can be fixed.

Offensively, the Rangers lead MLB with a .272 batting average and 6.29 runs per game. Combine that with their starting pitching and it is easy to see why the Rangers are a team to watch out for, especially when deGrom returns. While second baseman Marcus Semien (.295/.366/.485 slash line) and shortstop Corey Seager (.319/.380/.564), who recently returned from an injury, are the household names leading the way, young third baseman Josh Jung is fulfilling his promise by slashing .295/.341/.531 with 12 homers and 37 RBIs. He is second on the team to Adolis García’s 14 homers and fourth in RBIs (Garcia has 49).

June figures to be a key month for the Rangers and they will have the advantage of playing most of it at home. After taking Thursday off, the Rangers face the Seattle Mariners and St. Louis Cardinals at home before a quick trip for three games against the Tampa Bay Rays in what should be an entertaining battle. Then it is back home for a series against the Los Angeles Angels and Toronto Blue Jays. A trip to play the New York Yankees also looms late in June.


Hittin’ The Skids


Chicago Cubs

Record: 24-31

Rank change: -5 (17 to 22)

It seems the magic fairy dust that the Chicago Cubs were sprinkled with for the first month and a half of the season has worn off.

The Cubs were swept by the Cincinnati Reds in three games but then took two of three from the Rays, the No. 1 team in our Power Rankings. Those mixed results do not portend a contender, but instead, a team that still needs work. There was a stretch of May in which they lost seven of eight and that was before the Reds series.

While being solid offensively — they are 11th in OPS with a slash line of .254/.333/.412 — the Cubs’ downfall is pitching. They are middle of the pack with a 4.23 ERA. Marcus Stroman, Justin Steele, and Drew Smyly have held down the rotation as others, most notably Jameson Taillon, have struggled. The bullpen has its ups and downs as well. Michael Fulmer, once considered a closer, has a 7.36 ERA, while another late-inning stalwart, Brad Boxberger, is at 5.51.

That inconsistency teamwide has dropped the Cubs into a tie for last place in the National League Central, 4½ games off the pace of the Milwaukee Brewers and percentage points behind the Cardinals and their awful start.


Week 9 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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