National League Power Rankings 2.0

Brendan "Seven Costanza" Welshoff
Head of MLB/Podcast Host

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Opening Day has come and gone and we have enough baseball to give a reaction. Each week, we’ll be breaking down the MLB in two installments of Power Rankings. For the American League, click here and make sure to check back every Monday for the BRKDWN’s Power Rankings.

1. Los Angeles Dodgers (8-2)

The Dodgers are unsurprisingly atop the National League power rankings in this second edition after our first week of games. The team is loaded from top to bottom and if this first week-plus of games tells us anything, it’s that the Dodgers are still the team to beat. If there were any mild concerns, it’s the health of Mookie Betts and Cody Bellinger in the short term, but even then it doesn’t seem to be anything that Los Angeles can’t overcome with their supreme depth. One storyline to watch for in the near term is the looming potential discipline of Trevor Bauer who is currently under MLB investigation for use of a foreign substance.

2. San Diego Padres (7-3)

It only took a little over a full week to convince me that the Padres are in fact, legit — and fun — to watch. The only thing keeping them from the top spot is their division rival, and even then it’s almost a 1-1A situation. San Diego fans everywhere held their collective breath when it was announced Fernando Tatis sustained a shoulder injury. However, after a further diagnosis it sounds like the catalyst for the Padres will be good to go sooner rather than later. Tatis’ health will need to be monitored moving forward, however. Tatis will be needed for the long haul if this team is going anywhere in the postseason.

3. Cincinnati Reds (6-3)

I don’t want to overreact, but I’m about to overreact. The Reds had very little fanfare heading into Opening Day, but it’s hard to ignore how hot of a start this team has gotten out to offensively. Castellanos is clearly the heart and soul of this lineup, and as long as he can continue to rake, this team will be tough to put away. Some early hiccups from Amir Garrett can be worrisome, but when he is on he’s as dominant as any closer in baseball. The rotation has shown some cracks, but have been good enough when they have to be. The division Cincy plays in should offer Reds fans optimism, however, and it’s because of that and this offensive barrage they’ve put on that has me feeling good ranking them third for this installment.

4. Milwaukee Brewers (5-4)

Keeping it in the central division, the Brewers look a lot better than their 5-4 record indicates. The pitching and defense of this team will shape how their season plays out, and with such a winnable division, don’t be surprised if the Brew-crew can take over. Burnes and Woodruff have been as advertised, but it’s the re-emergence of the once-mainstay Freddy Peralta that offer the most optimism. Again, it’s easy to overreact, but if Milwaukee can play to its strengths of pitching and defense, the hitting will be there enough for them to steal some games this year.

5. Philadelphia Phillies (5-3)

Philadelphia is a team I am regularly perplexed by. The team’s offense will always be its calling card, and to start 2021, nothing has changed. Contributions from Realmuto are encouraging after coming off of a lost Spring Training, but the team collectively has been solid. Pitching on the other hand was the biggest question mark about Philly, but through this limited sample size, it looks to be the biggest improvement. Wheeler and Eflin look good to start and the bullpen seems to be holding up its end of the bargain. The competition will only get tougher in the brutal NL East, however.

6. San Francisco Giants (5-3)

The Giants are a team that is playing above, or at least at expectations. There’s nothing too flashy about this team, but they should be improved from a season ago. Early contributions from Evan Longoria definitely help and it’s nice to see the veteran off to a hot start. I don’t expect the Giants to finish this high in the league because of the presence of many better teams in the National League, but for right now, they’re showing they won’t be an easy team to beat.

7. Atlanta Braves (4-4)

Atlanta started the season poorly, but are currently winners of four straight. The pitching seems to have stabilized for the most part, and as long as that holds up, Atlanta should be able to once again reclaim the top status in the east. For now, however, it’s hard to excuse a poor opening, even if it is April. Atlanta will not have the luxury of running into routine three or four game losing streaks over the course of the season. Atlanta fans can only hope this is a blip in the radar.

8. St. Louis Cardinals (5-4)

The Cardinals have looked mediocre at best. With a minus 5 run differential, it’s clear that the offense needs to improve. St. Louis will have some time to sort this out, but they can’t afford too long as the Brewers and Reds both look more explosive through the first week and a half. Nolan Arenado has been as advertised, but the pitching rotation will need to solidify behind Flaherty for it to be in contention.

9. Chicago Cubs (4-5)

Chicago is lucky to be this high in this power rankings. The Cubs look like a team without direction and after losing two straight to the Pirates it adds more fuel to that fire. The pitching is mediocre, but the offense is stagnant. Javier Baez is coming off of a putrid 2020 campaign, and while he leads the Cubs in almost every hitting category, it’s not close to what he’s capable of. The Cubs’ problems lie deeper than just one player, however, and will need to collectively get better at the plate to give this team a chance to compete.

10. Miami Marlins (2-6)

The Marlins could have at least one more win, but a freak no-call on Michael Conforto’s hit-by-pitch walk-off will keep their record where it’s at. The interesting thing about Miami is that their starting rotation leads the league with a 2.01 ERA. The bullpen on the other hand over three runs higher, and it’s tough to win games when you can’t close them out. Offensively, it’s nice to see guys like Jazz Chisholm contribute early, but if Miami wants to keep its Cinderella story going, they’ll need to improve in the bullpen.

11. New York Mets (2-3)

The Mets have only played five games due to Covid protocols to begin the season, but in the five games we’ve seen, it’s not looking like any amount of money can change the culture that is the New York Mets. I’m old enough to remember this team mock-celebrating a World Series in March and considering the premature hype that surrounded the Mets, it’s also a bit premature to assume this team is ready for the big stage. Condolences to Jacob deGrom — he deserves so much better than this dumpster fire offense.

12. Arizona Diamondbacks (4-6)

There’s not much to say about the D’Backs. The team’s pitching is the worst in the league, but the main reason why they may not have a snowball’s chance in Phoenix has to do with what little offense they have outside of Ketel Marte. With Marte now injured, it’s even harder to foresee this team contending at all.

13. Colorado Rockies (3-6)

Colorado is playing Colorado baseball in that they will hit the piss out of the ball but won’t limit other teams from doing the same. The pitching once again is atrocious and there’s little reason to expect they’ll right the ship in 2021 as long as the current ownership is intact. Colorado easily could be the worst team in the MLB, but because they can put up runs they’re saved a bit.

14. Washington Nationals (1-5)

I may be overreacting to the poor start by the Nats, but it’s at least somewhat justified considering how bad they’ve looked as a team. It’s easy to use Covid as the excuse for why this team looks like the puppy who lost its way but if anything their 1-5 start has only shed unwanted light on how little depth Washington has in place. Covid or no Covid, the Nationals have been exposed as a team with lackluster reinforcements and in a long season, they’ll likely need them again down the road.

15. Pittsburgh Pirates (3-6)

This team is bad. Nothing has looked good and aside from a couple of fluke wins over the Cubs, Pittsburgh looks like it’s in for a long season. The saying is “it’s lonely at the top,” but after 2021, the Pirates may be saying the opposite. 


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