MLB power rankings: Dodgers live the high life again atop NL West

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They had a forgettable offseason, lost their starting shortstop to a season-ending knee surgery and deploy myriad unproven and discarded players throughout their lineup and bullpen.

Yet here come the Los Angeles Dodgers, anyway.

Aiming for their 11th consecutive playoff berth, the Dodgers have shaken off an uninspired start to maintain their usual perches: Firmly atop the National League West and heading north in USA TODAY Sports’ power rankings.

In winning five of six games in a 10-day span against the San Diego Padres, the Dodgers have built a three-game lead over the Arizona Diamondbacks and, perhaps more significantly, reasserted their edge over their neighbors to the south, who surprised them in the 2022 NL Division Series.

So far this year, the new-look Dodgers are maintaining order. Dustin May, back from Tommy John surgery, has given up two or fewer runs in seven of his eight starts. Future Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw might be the best pitcher in the NL so far. Mookie Betts shrugged and moved to shortstop a few days a week to lessen the loss of Gavin Lux.

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And when rookie James Outman (.909 OPS) and veteran Jason Heyward (.804 OPS) are both providing production to the outfield mishmash, the equation can’t help but work for now: The Dodgers are 26-15, have the best NL run differential (+56) and are up to fourth in this week’s rankings:

1. Tampa Bay Rays (-)

A brutal week: Lose Drew Rasmussen, perhaps for the year, and cough up two games to Yankees.

2. Atlanta Braves (-)

Suddenly, Mike Soroka – who hasn’t pitched since 2020 – looking like an immediate need rather than a luxury.

3. Baltimore Orioles (-)

Big Tyler Wells – the man stands 6-8 – pitching more and more like a horse.

4. Los Angeles Dodgers (+1)

First five batters in order all OPS-ing better than .800.

5. Toronto Blue Jays (-1)

Sweep of Atlanta further illustrates power of AL East.

6.  Texas Rangers (-)

Nathan Eovaldi runs scoreless streak to 28 2/3 innings, best in majors this year.

7. Milwaukee Brewers (-)

Christian Yelich, on pace for 30 homers, hasn’t hit more than 12 in a season since his 44-homer 2019 season.

8. Minnesota Twins (+2)

Joey Gallo: Nine homers, .909 OPS.

9. Arizona Diamondbacks (+2)

Lourdes Gurriel Jr.’s .308 average in the NL’s top 10.

10. Pittsburgh Pirates (-2)

Have lost 11 of last 13.

11. New York Yankees (+4)

Sweeping A’s, splitting with Rays is just what they need to do.

12. Boston Red Sox (-)

Kenley Jansen notches 400th save, then blows two shots at No. 401

13. San Diego Padres (-4)

1-6 since Crying Kershaw meme, 0-5 against Dodgers

14. Houston Astros (-1)

David Hensley, one of Jose Altuve’s replacements, batting .137.

15. Seattle Mariners (-1)

Bryce Miller: Three starts, one earned run in 19 innings.

16. New York Mets (-)

Justin Verlander makes Citi Field home debut Tuesday.

17. Los Angeles Angels (+1)

Mickey Moniak finally recalled, promptly gets four hits in first eight at-bats.

18. Philadelphia Phillies (+1)

Can’t avoid magnetic pull of .500 – yet suddenly just five games behind Atlanta.

19. Chicago Cubs (-2)

Outscored 27-4 in two losses at Minnesota.

20. Cleveland Guardians (-)

Josh Naylor hits go-ahead eighth-inning three-run homers on consecutive days.

21. Miami Marlins (-)

Eury Perez’s debut was cool; the old Sandy Alcantara (4.91 ERA) would be even better.

22. San Francisco Giants  (-)

Casey Schmitt’s dazzling debut can’t roust club from .500 stupor.

23. Detroit Tigers (-)

Alex Faedo’s quality start hopefully a harbinger.

24. Cincinnati Reds (+1)

Top prospect Elly De La Cruz has .956 OPS at Class AAA Louisville.

25. St. Louis Cardinals (-1)

After a week in DH purgatory, Willson Contreras returns to catcher Monday.

26. Washington Nationals (-)

CJ Abrams emerging as their Mr. Clutch.

27. Colorado Rockies (-)

Always more fun to instigate a benches-clearing incident when you win.

28. Chicago White Sox (-)

Yoan Moncada back, Elvis Andrus to IL, Liam Hendriks’ rehab stint continues.

29. Kansas City Royals (-)

Staff ERA balloons to 5.44.

30. Oakland Athletics (-)

The record: 9-33. The run differential: -156. Number of ‘binding’ sites now ID’d in Las Vegas: 2.

This post appeared first on USA TODAY