MLB power rankings: AL team’s rise from the ashes looks to be real deal

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OK, we’re in.

With four seasons of at least 97 losses since 2018, the Kansas City Royals were placed on extended probation in USA TODAY Sports’ power rankings. A couple astute signings here, a little hot streak there? Nope, that wouldn’t be sufficient to convince the rankings cabal of their legitimacy.

But we’ve seen enough.

Nearly 50 games into the season, the Royals are 29-19. Their plus-55 run differential is better than the Braves and Brewers and Cubs, to name just a few. They’re playing .500 on the road, dominating at home.

And now the Royals slide up two spots to No. 8, their highest ranking since, surely, trucking the Mets with five runs in the 12th inning of World Series Game 5 in 2015. (If any of you sickos actually track the weekly rankings, do let us know).

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Sure, things can still go sideways. But with Salvador Perez and Bobby Witt Jr. producing like MVPs, Seth Lugo pitching like a Cy Young winner and a young lineup in full bloom, the Royals are in the high-rent district until further notice. They’ve earned that much.

A look at ths week’s rankings:

1. Los Angeles Dodgers (-)

Walker Buehler rounding into form, with six shutout innings in just 78 pitches.

2. New York Yankees (+3)

Pretty good year when ’20-game winner Clarke Schmidt’ seems like a decent possibility.

3. Philadelphia Phillies (+1)

9-3 against NL East palookas New York, Washington and Miami.

4. Baltimore Orioles (-2)

With five leadoff homers, Gunnar Henderson nearly halfway to Brady Anderson’s single-season record of 12.

5. Atlanta Braves (-2)

Suddenly, they have a pair of three-game losing streaks this month.

6. Cleveland Guardians (-)

Pitching-centric? Hey, they trail only the Yankees in runs scored among AL teams.

7. Milwaukee Brewers (-)

3-3 since Rhys Hoskins got hurt.

8. Kansas City Royals (+2)

Seth Lugo has posted consecutive starts with at least 10 strikeouts.

9. Chicago Cubs (-1)

Shota Imanaga threatening to force statisticians to carry ERA out to the thousandths.

10. Seattle Mariners (-1)

Sterling rotation gets stiff test with four games at Yankee Stadium.

11. Minnesota Twins (-)

Perhaps the streakiest club in the majors – including 0-5 mark vs. first-place Cleveland.

12. San Diego Padres (+2)

Hall of Famer Yu Darvish? Notches 200th career win between NPB, MLB.

13. Tampa Bay Rays (+2)

At 25-23, are they finally above .500 for good?

14. Texas Rangers (-2)

AL’s best offense in championship season merely middle of the pack … at least for now.

15. Detroit Tigers (+1)

Is Javy Baez’s nice weekend simply a tease?

16. Boston Red Sox (-3)

Might find out who they are in nine-game stretch vs. Rays, Brewers, Orioles.

17. San Francisco Giants (+4)

Luis Matos: 30 at-bats, 17 RBI.

18. Arizona Diamondbacks (-1)

Corbin Carroll’s .191 batting average is second-worst among qualified NL hitters.

19. Houston Astros (+5)

‘Don’t let us get hot,’ they warned. (Narrator: You did, in fact, let them get hot).

20. New York Mets (-2)

Edwin Díaz has blown three straight leads, and now his closer role is ‘fluid.’

21. Pittsburgh Pirates (+2)

Paul Skenes kickstarts three wins in four games at Wrigley Field.

22. Cincinnati Reds (-3)

After hot start, Spencer Steer in a 13-for-90, one-homer rut.

23. Washington Nationals (-3)

Phillies sweep shows how far they have to go.

24. Toronto Blue Jays (-2)

Looks increasingly like they’ve dug too big a hole.

25. St. Louis Cardinals (+1)

Tyler O’Neill blasts a homer at Busch Stadium – in win for the other team.

26. Oakland Athletics (-1)

Back to earth after losing last eight games of road trip.

27. Los Angeles Angels (-)

Series win against Rangers is their first against a team with winning record.

28. Colorado Rockies (-)

Drop to 5-22 at San Francisco since 2021.

29. Miami Marlins (-)

Sixto Sanchez has a 19.80 first-inning ERA in five starts.

30. Chicago White Sox (-)

Out-homered 8-1 at Yankee Stadium. Yeah, that tracks.

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