MLB Power Rankings: Why it's time to stop questioning the Guardians, plus Astros continue surge (2024)

MLB Power Rankings: Why it's time to stop questioning the Guardians, plus Astros continue surge (1)

The Guardians continue to be one of baseball's best teams... even if they're not quite No. 1 this week

By Matt Snyder

1 min read

MLB Power Rankings: Why it's time to stop questioning the Guardians, plus Astros continue surge (3)

Remember the 2021 Giants? That season was obviously a bit weird as it was the first full one since we dealt with COVID-19, but if you recall, not a ton of people thought the Giants would be strong contenders heading into the season.

Then they started playing the games. And winning. And winning. And winning some more. They were 50-26 in late June before a four-game losing streak. Many people thought, "OK, here's where the regression kicks in."

Only the Giants had other ideas. They ripped off wins in eight of their next 10 games en route to a ridiculous 107 wins. Only 18 teams in the history of baseball have won 107 games in a season and the Giants heard all season about how they weren't actually that good.

The 2024 Cleveland Guardians have entered that territory for me. No, I'm not suggesting they are taking 107 games. I remember it was about mid-June of 2021 when I said I'm done questioning the Giants and they are highly ranked until they prove they don't deserve it.

The Guardians are 52-30 and have earned the right to stop being questioned. They have seamlessly adjusted from a legend in the dugout in Terry Francona to a rookie manager in Stephen Vogt. The have one of the best all-around players in baseball in José Ramírez. They have a middle-order slugger in Josh Naylor. They have an average fiend who is upping his power game and becoming one of the league's premier leadoff men in Steven Kwan. They have the best bullpen in baseball by a mile (the gap in ERA from the Guardians to the second-place Dodgers is over a half run). They also rank very highly in several team defensive stats, such as defensive efficiency and defensive runs saved. They run the bases well, scoring toward the top of the league in extra-bases taken.

And so many little things in between.

All of this has added up to help overcome a rotation that has struggled. The Guardians have a strong lead in the AL Central and while it certainly isn't insurmountable at six games, I've long since quit questioning the 2024 Guardians, much like the 2021 Giants.

Biggest Movers

4 Padres

7 Rangers

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Teams

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1 Phillies They've already dealt with injuries to Trea Turner and JT Realmuto. Now it's Bryce Harper and Kyle Schwarber. Fortunately, both injuries here seem minor. And even in a week that seemed lackluster by the lofty standards of the 2024 Phillies, they had a winning record and didn't lose a series. -- 55-29
2 Guardians Through Tuesday, I was set to finally push the Guardians up into the No. 1 spot. They had earned it with consistent winning all season and then by taking two games in Baltimore. They must have sensed it, because then the Guardians dropped four of five to close the week. I get it. Taking the mantle in my Power Rankings carries a ton of prestige and not every team can deal with it. On a serious note, I was pretty disappointed that they dropped these games. My intro above would've matched perfectly with them sitting at No. 1. 2 52-30
3 Orioles Confirmed Home Run Derby participant Gunnar Henderson has 26 home runs at just past the halfway point. The only Orioles to ever reach 50 homers in a season are Chris Davis (53 in 2013) and Brady Anderson (50 in 1996). If I drop the criteria to 45, it only adds Frank Robinson, Mark Trumbo and Jim Gentile to the mix. 1 53-31
4 Dodgers A seven-run inning in extras is hilarious. Might've been even better if they won the series, but still! Anyway, there's an argument they should be second or even first, but that ain't happening here until the rotation gets a lot healthier. 1 52-33
5 Yankees A tale of two starts for Gerrit Cole. He looked absolutely awful against the Mets and there had to be concern he was still hurt. Sunday, he seemed mostly like himself -- especially with the fastball velocity being back. Encouraging, even amid the Yankees overall playing poorly right now. 2 54-32
6 Brewers Heading into the year, I thought the NL Central would be the closest race and include the most teams legitimately in said race late into the season -- maybe even all five teams into September. Halfway home and the Brewers lead by 6.5 games and they've already put three teams at least 9.5 out. 1 50-35
7 Braves Eight games seems like a huge deficit, but the Braves still have 10 head-to-head games left against the Phillies, starting with three this coming weekend in Atlanta. If they sweep, all of a sudden the East seems workable. 1 46-36
8 Twins Byron Buxton just got hot, Carlos Correa is having a much better year, Royce Lewis is healthy (at least for now), Carlos Santana has been swinging it well for weeks and Jose Miranda looks great. This gives a decent idea of how the Twins could be dangerous in the postseason, if they manage to make it. 2 47-37
9 Royals A 5-2 week including taking three of four from the impressive Guardians at home might be just what the Royals needed. Have they ended their tailspin? 2 47-39
10 Padres The Padres had won nine of 10 before Sunday's loss, but they can't be expected to sweep the Red Sox in Fenway. Overall, the Padres seem to have steadied themselves and this past week did so without Fernando Tatis Jr. 4 46-42
11 Astros The rotation remains worrisome, but Luis Garcia has started a rehab assignment and Hunter Brown has a 1.47 ERA in his last seven starts. And after the horrible start, the Astros could well be in first by the All-Star break. 1 43-41
12 Red Sox Tanner Houck had allowed two homers all year -- in 103 1/3 innings -- before Saturday. He allowed three in 4 1/3 innings Saturday. Maybe it was just temporary regression. 4 44-39
13 Mariners I know the rotation might be the most important thing in the playoffs, but watching the Mariners leaves a knee-jerk reaction that the offense is just so bad that they can't possibly make a deep playoff run. We'll see what Jerry Dipoto has up his sleeve in the next month. 4 47-39
14 Cardinals The Cardinals have the worst record among teams in a playoff position right now and they are three games over .500. I'm sad. I really thought we'd get a shot at a losing record for a playoff team, but it seems we're starting to see some separation. 1 43-40
15 Mets Even if the Mets end up being sellers (which doesn't appear to be likely right now), youngsters at the MLB level like Mark Vientos and Francisco Alvarez give plenty of optimism for the near future. What a fun run the offense is having. -- 41-41
16 Rays Rather quietly, the Rays have won four straight series against not-terrible teams (Twins, Pirates, Mariners, Nationals). 3 42-42
17 Diamondbacks So much for what looked like a productive offseason in building a strong rotation. Eduardo Rodríguez still hasn't pitched and Jordan Montgomery remains broken. -- 41-43
18 Pirates I was asked on a radio spot this week to pick a team that "no one is thinking about" who could pull a 2023 Diamondbacks. I said the Pirates, so I'm putting it on record here: It's not a ridiculous assertion. Obviously the odds are against it, but I can squint my way there. 2 40-43
19 Giants They entered last week having lost five in a row and looking every bit that bad. Then they went home and went 5-2, including taking two of three from the Dodgers. It was like two different teams. That's baseball for ya. 4 41-44
20 Nationals The Nats dropped five of six to close their road trip. Still, they have an opportunity before the All-Star break to prove they belong in the NL wild-card race, as their next 11 games come against the Mets (seven) and Cardinals (four). 2 39-45
21 Reds Noelvi Marte is back from his suspension and Matt McLain has started doing baseball activities in trying to return from injury. It's possible the Reds get everyone right down the stretch and make a run, but they keep digging their own hole. -- 39-45
22 Blue Jays The Jays have four at home against the Astros before concluding the first half on the road in Seatte, San Francisco and Arizona. I'll wager that road trip buries them and by the All-Star break we're talking about the Jays as heavy sellers. 2 38-46
23 Rangers Tell the truth, Rangers fans: How many of you thought last October something like, "just win the World Series and I don't even care how next year goes." Yeah, this is the price you pay and it is WELL WORTH IT. 7 38-46
24 Cubs Remember when a few people felt sorry for David Ross? He's making over $2 million this season to sit at home and not deal with this mess of an organization. He's laughing all the way to the bank. 2 39-46
25 Angels Kudos to the Angels for a season-high six-game winning streak. They finished June 15-11, which is much better than they should be, given the current roster. 1 36-47
26 Tigers Jack Flaherty has 115 strikeouts against 14 walks in 89 innings this season. The Tigers are moving themselves firmly into non-contender status, so Flaherty might be a hot commodity on a possibly-dry trade market. 1 38-46
27 Marlins Look, Tanner Scott is great -- other than that dreadful walk rate -- but it's probably a bad sign when a reliever leads your team in WAR. 1 30-54
28 Athletics Man, remember when the A's climbed to .500 at 17-17? They are 13-39 since then. 1 30-56
29 Rockies The Road Rockies lost two of three to the pathetic White Sox and are now 12-31. Never change, Road Rockies. Never change. -- 29-55
30 White Sox This is Chris Getz's first trade deadline as the man in charge and it's a big one. Garrett Crochet and Luis Robert might be incredibly attractive on the open market, but Crochet is under team control through 2026 and Robert has club options through 2027. Is Getz willing to pull the trigger and tell the fans they are punting through 2026? -- 24-62

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MLB Power Rankings: Why it's time to stop questioning the Guardians, plus Astros continue surge (2024)
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