2021 MLB Power Rankings: May Edition

Updated: 4 days ago

Another month means another edition of our MLB power rankings. The red hot Rays stand at the top of our rankings, while other teams crack our top ten after an impressive month. Come see where your favorite team ranks on the May edition of The Intermission’s MLB power rankings.


(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

By: Thomas Gotzamanis and Lucas Reyes


1. Tampa Bay Rays (35-20)


Previous Rank: 9


The Rays caught fire in May going on a 12 game winning streak which saw them rise to the top of the AL East. The team has been clicking on all levels. The offense picked it up after a bit of a sluggish start, and the pitching ranks near the top 10 in almost every pitching category. This team is looking just as dangerous as their World Series squad last year, so teams in their tracks better watch out. -T


2. San Diego Padres (34-21)


Previous Rank: 2


Heading into May, San Diego was doing nothing more than floating just over .500. However, the moderate start was thumped by a ridiculous month of May which saw Fernando Tatis Jr. finally take off after a rocky start. The Padres slugger jumped back into MVP talks through a dazzling performance led by his nine home runs during the month. It seems as if the Padres have it figured out now, and are ready for a big fight in a tough NL West. - L


3. Chicago White Sox (33-21)


Previous Rank: 8


After a sluggish start to the year from White Sox ace Lucas Giolito, he has picked it up immensely in May. He brought his ERA down from 4.97 to 3.73 after three quality starts. The fact that the White Sox have been this good despite Giolito not pitching like an ace for a lot of the year shows how scary this team really is. -T


4. San Francisco Giants (34-20)


Previous Rank: 4


For the second straight month, the Giants grab the fourth position in these rankings, not surprising anyone (right?). San Francisco’s pitching has been electric since opening day and has no signs of slowing down after a terrific May. Offensively, the team has also been very good, and an unfathomable resurgence from the aging, yet beloved backstop in Buster Posey has given the Giants the boost they needed to sustain their early-season success. - L


5. Los Angeles Dodgers (33-23)


Previous Rank: 1


Who would have guessed that the Dodgers would be third in the NL West going into June? Not me, that’s for sure. The team is still playing well despite many key injuries, and the addition of Cody Bellinger returning to the lineup after a two-month absence could reignite this offense that’s been not as offensively productive as they’d hoped to be. -T


6. Boston Red Sox (32-21)


Previous Rank: 5


Boston’s hot start has stood the test of time two months into the season, and a top-six ranking after May should have people wondering if this team is more of a postseason threat than initially thought. The Red Sox have slugged their way here all season, and May was no different. Boston put up 140 runs over the month thanks to contributions coming from all over the lineup, and it doesn’t look like they plan on slowing down. - L


7. St. Louis Cardinals (30-24)


Previous Rank: 20


Pitching has been the key to the Cardinals’ success this season. The bullpen has been extremely effective in slamming the door, converting 19 of 22 save opportunities this season. Tyler O’Neill has also enjoyed a nice breakout season, hitting 12 home runs with a .274/.308/.593 slashing line. -T


8. Chicago Cubs (30-23)


Previous Rank: 23


The Cubs were seen as an afterthought heading into this season, but a 9-2 run to cap off the month of May could be a sign we were all deluded. A remarkable season from Kris Bryant has been the leading force of this early success, as the star third baseman carries an OPS over 1.000 and is looking a lot like the man who won MVP back in 2016. - L


9. New York Mets (26-20)


Previous Rank: 13


Francisco Lindor’s struggles at the plate have continued. The star shortstop ended May with a .198 batting average. Despite this, the Mets have still found ways to win games, mostly thanks to great pitching from Jacob deGrom and Marcus Stroman. They have a combined 1.68 ERA this season. -T


10. Milwaukee Brewers (29-25)


Previous Rank: 7


The same usual suspects are providing the Brewers with the jolt needed to stay afloat in a division that is gaining traction toward the top. The one-two punch of Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes remains elite, Josh Hader has been lights out with a 0.79 ERA, and while Christian Yelich hasn’t been his MVP self, he’s still Christian Yelich. While the production dropped a bit for Milwaukee in May, they’re still doing relatively well and have a good shot at winning this division if things really come together. - L


11. Toronto Blue Jays (27-25)


Previous Rank: 11


Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has been playing like the best player in baseball over the first two months of this season. He has a .337/.441/.663 slashing line to go along with a league-leading 16 home runs and 42 RBIs. Semien also enjoyed an insane May which saw his batting average rise from .211 to .300 while also hitting nine home runs. If the Jays can figure out their issues in the bullpen, this will be one dangerous team to look out for. -T


12. New York Yankees (29-25)


Previous Rank: 16


A very solid month of May proved to the baseball world that there was no need to freak out over a 6-11 start for New York, as baseball can just be weird like that. For the Yankees, this success has been led by a pitching staff that has been dominant. They ended the month with under 200 runs given up to that point, with Gerrit Cole’s blazing start combined with a great season from Corey Kluber being the main story behind this performance. Also, Aaron Judge was on a tear in May, as he ended the month batting .300 with a .951 OPS for the season. Getting swept by Detroit to end the month does tank their positioning by a spot or two, but overall good work by the Bronx Bombers. - L


13. Oakland Athletics (31-25)


Previous Rank: 3


Ever since going on a 13-game winning streak in April, the Athletics have essentially been a .500 team since, managing to not string together more than three wins in a row in May. Matt Olson has been great, hitting 13 home runs along with 33 RBIs this season. While they do stand atop the AL West right now, it’s hard to say if this team has what it takes to hold off the Astros for the division lead this year. -T


14. Houston Astros (29-24)


Previous Rank: 10


The team takes a few steps back not because they did badly, but others just showed out a little more in May. Regardless, the Astros are still a great team and their +57 run differential at the end of the month is no fluke. Houston has seen quality work from their rotation, but it’s the offense that has done most of the talking so far. Yuli Gurriel did cool down from an insanely torrid April, as expected, but he still ended May with a .891 OPS and has been the best hitter on a lineup loaded with threats. -L


15. Cleveland Indians (29-24)


Previous Rank: 19


With slugger Franmil Reyes hitting the IR, the Indians continue to look for answers offensively to shoulder some of the run-production load for Jose Ramirez and Eddie Rosario. The team still ranks second in the AL Central behind the White Sox, so a big 4-game stand against them to end the month should give us a good idea of where Cleveland stands in the AL Central. -T


16. Miami Marlins (24-28)


Previous Rank: 22


While the Marlins ended the month sitting at a rather uninspiring record of 24-28, this team isn’t as bad as you may be led to believe. The pitching Miami has rolled out this season has shockingly been lights out, and it’s been a matter of consistent output from the entire staff. Trevor Rogers finished the month with an eye-popping 1.87 ERA and didn’t see that number eclipse two during the entire month of May. However, if Miami can’t get their bats to roll around and begin losing even more in June, don’t expect this positioning to hold up a month from now. - L


17. Seattle Mariners (28-27)


Previous Rank: 17


The Mariners are in an odd position where they’re trying to shuffle up-and-coming prospects with veterans around in their lineup. They’ve had their ups and downs, going from an 0-6 streak two weeks ago to finishing off the month with a 6-1 record. Don’t expect much from this team as they're still deep in the rebuilding process right now. -T


18. Atlanta Braves (25-26)


Previous Rank: 12


Atlanta has yet to be over .500 so far this year, and it’s been two months. This isn’t what people were expecting from a team that was one win away from a World Series berth in 2020, but reality has been cold to Braves fans. What hasn’t been cold, however, is Ronald Acuna Jr. Despite cooling down a little in May, the Venezuelan slugger ended the month with a .998 OPS and smashed eight homers during the month. This breakout season has kind of been the lone bright spot for Atlanta so far, and they need to turn it around. - L


19. Philadelphia Phillies (25-29)


Previous Rank: 15


The Phillies bullpen continues to be an issue. To end the month, the pen blew two saves and had multiple losses. The Phillies are still in a position to contend right now even with their subpar under .500 record; it’s just a matter of if they can get past their issues now. -T

20. Kansas City Royals (26-26)


Previous Rank: 6


Kansas City is quickly sliding back to reality, as their 15-9 April start has fallen apart since then. The team went 11-17 in May and are looking more like the Royals we expected out of them. That being said, the team is no longer terrible, and they can flex on everyone that they get to have Danny Duffy and his 1.94 ERA (yes you read that correctly) while nobody else can! For whatever that’s even worth. - L


21. Detroit Tigers (22-32)


Previous Rank: 29


The Tigers have slowly started to play good baseball in May. Over the last three weeks, they have put together a 12-7 record, including a sweep of the New York Yankees. After having the worst rotation in baseball last season with a 6.36 ERA, this young pitching staff led by Spencer Turnbull, Casey Mize, and Tarik Skubal has been impressive, ranking 12th in the majors with a 3.77 ERA. -T


22. Washington Nationals (21-29)


Previous Rank: 25


Things are looking rather slow in the nation’s capital, and it’s starting to look like the 2020 hangover is hanging around a little too long. Washington hasn’t seen much success so far despite another dazzling start to the season from Max Scherzer, who’s already racked up over 100 strikeouts early on. The bats have been rather quiet, though, and a spark from Juan Soto will be crucial unless they want to be sellers at the deadline. While Soto has been good, he hasn’t been Juan Soto, and a slugging percentage under .500 is quite unlike him. - L


23. Cincinnati Reds (24-28)


Previous Rank: 21


Despite having two MVP candidates on their team -- Nick Castellanos and Jesse Winker-- the Reds just haven’t been able to put it together. This is mostly thanks to subpar pitching. The team ranks dead last in the majors in ERA (4.97) and runs allowed (5.3). If the Reds want to be able to contend in an NL Central division that’s still wide open, they’ll need to do something to fix their pitching woes. -T


24. Los Angeles Angels (24-30)


Previous Rank: 14


With Mike Trout gone for some time, and the pitching being the equivalent of the remains of an abandoned dump, things look bad for the Angels. A 12-18 record in May is far from encouraging, and things get harder for them as the lineup hasn’t seen the consistency that was once expected. The Halos have allowed the third-most runs in the majors, which reflect on issues that have plagued this team for years. For now, they can at least enjoy the legend of Shohei Ohtani. - L


25. Minnesota Twins (22-31)


Previous Rank: 24


Injuries continue to drain this roster. The Twins have 15 players on IR, including Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, and Michael Pineda. Things are starting to spiral out of control for the Twins, and they have to hope they can put it together quickly before it gets too late. -T


26. Texas Rangers (22-33)


Previous Rank: 27


Texas sucks, and that’s not a surprise. Despite enjoying a breakout season from Adolis Garcia, who crushed 11 long balls in May, things have gone bad during the month. An 11-17 record for a month isn’t indicative of good things, and it’s likely going to be a year where the Rangers hang around the bottom of these rankings. - L


27. Colorado Rockies (20-34)


Previous Rank: 30


The Rockies are a mess. They were shut out three times in their series against the New York Mets and Pittsburgh Pirates. The even worse news is that their star shortstop Trevor Story was placed on the injured list with elbow inflammation. While this does open up some playing time for former top prospect Trevor Rodgers at the position, things are not looking good in Colorado right now. -T


28. Pittsburgh Pirates (20-33)


Previous Rank: 28


The Pirates look really bad lately, and it’s not a surprise as the roster just lacks impact on all fronts. Adam Frazier has been their best player so far, and while hitting well over .300 and getting on base at a high rate is good, it doesn’t really make for enjoyable baseball since he doesn’t hit for power and the rest of the team is quite barren. An 8-20 record in May is atrocious, but that’s the current reality for Pittsburgh. - L


29. Arizona Diamondbacks (19-36)


Previous Rank: 18


It’s hard to believe this team was above .500 going into May. The Diamondbacks fell apart this month. Arizona totaled only four wins in May, finishing with a horrible 4-25 record for the month (which also included a 13-game losing streak). The only bright spot for Arizona is the emergence of 2017 first-round pick Pavin Smith, who’s hitting .289/.337/.447 with 19 extra-base hits to go along with some nice defensive versatility. -T


30. Baltimore Orioles (17-37)


Previous Rank: 26


We knew this team would be bad, but this just looks like they haven’t gotten better at all since their tumultuous 47 win season in 2018. The Orioles managed to lose 14 straight games and went 5-23 in May. Not much more needs to be said other than John Means deserves better than whatever Baltimore is surrounding him with. Hopefully for the O’s things get a little better sooner than later. - L