MLB Power Rankings: Phillies, Yankees fight for first, Blue Jays wilt; Who's your team's MDP? (2024)

By Rustin Dodd, Chad Jennings and Kaitlyn McGrath

Every week,​ we​ ask a selected group of our baseball​ writers​ — local and national — torank the teams from first to worst. Here are the collective results.

You’ve heard of Most Valuable Player. That one is easy. Take a look at the most productive players on each team, and you’ll likely find the team’s MVP. But what about “Most Defining Player” or, as we like to call it, the MDP? This is the player that best encapsulates, explains, or, yes, defines his team’s season as a whole.

To pay tribute to the legendary Reggie Jackson, this is the player that stirs the drink — or perhaps the player who is the reason the drink is not being stirred, as the case may be. In any case, let the MDP debate begin.

1. Philadelphia Phillies

Record: 52-26
Last Power Ranking: 2

Most Defining Player: DH Kyle Schwarber

The vibes are still good in Philadelphia, and the vibesiest player on the vibesiest team in the National League is undoubtedly Schwarber, who happens to be one of the most beloved teammates in the game. The Athletic’s Matt Gelb dived into the essence of Schwarber this past week. The story is worth a read. “You just never know what someone’s thinking, right?” Schwarber told Gelb. “I’m not afraid to talk to people.” It’s not all vibes, either. Schwarber is raking, too, entering Monday with a 138 OPS+, 17 homers and a league-high 56 walks. — Rustin Dodd


2. New York Yankees

Record: 52-28
Last Power Ranking: 1

Most Defining Player: RHP Luis Gil

The best team in the American League could be easily defined by one of its two superstar outfielders (Aaron Judge, Juan Soto) or even its homegrown shortstop (Anthony Volpe), but perhaps the greatest Yankees achievement to this point has been separating themselves despite being without Gerrit Cole for nearly three months. In his place, the Yankees found a different ace in 26-year-old Gil, who has been among the best starters in the American League.

The Yankees have some questions in the bottom half of their lineup and on the right side of their infield — and now they have to make up for injuries to Anthony Rizzo and Giancarlo Stanton — but their rotation has been steady, and now that Cole is back from the IL, the team has two aces instead of one. — Chad Jennings

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3. Baltimore Orioles

Record: 49-29
Last Power Ranking: 3

Most Defining Player: SS Gunnar Henderson

The Orioles are young, fun, and hit many home runs. No one better represents that ethos than Henderson, their 22-year-old shortstop, who is also young, fun, and hits a bunch of home runs. The Orioles are an offensive powerhouse with a winning formula to do damage — and a lot of it, even if they were just swept by the Astros. Heading into play on Monday, they led the majors in home runs with 125 — 10 more than the Yankees — and they’re also averaging an MLB-best 5.23 runs per game.

Henderson has emerged as the Orioles’ offensive leader and is putting together an MVP season. He leads all qualified batters with 5.4 fWAR, while his 24 home runs are behind only Aaron Judge for the MLB lead. Baltimore is poised to be one of the most exciting teams to watch in the second half, and Henderson is a big reason why. — Kaitlyn McGrath

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4. Los Angeles Dodgers

Record: 49-31
Last Power Ranking: 4

Most Defining Player: DH Shohei Ohtani

It’s not just that Ohtani seems to define any room he steps into, it’s that his MVP-caliber production will be even more important while Mookie Betts is on the injured list … and that Ohtani has been so good at the plate that it highlights the great chasm between the Dodgers’ stars and the bottom of their lineup. Ohtani entered Monday leading the league in runs scored, home runs, batting average, slugging and OPS. He also leads the NL in bWAR despite not having pitched an inning. Can he win the MVP as a full-time DH? Yes, it appears he can make a case. — Dodd

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5. Cleveland Guardians

Record: 50-26
Last Power Ranking: 5

Most Defining Player: LF Steven Kwan

Despite an uncharacteristically vulnerable rotation, the Guardians have maintained control of the American League Central. Their bullpen has been tremendous — Emmanuel Clase could easily be their defining player — but they’re also averaging more than five runs per game, which is almost a run per game more than last season. A driving factor in that offensive improvement is Kwan’s OPS jumping almost 300 percentage points. He’s flirting with a .400 batting average, he’s walked more than he’s struck out, and on Sunday night, he reached a career-high for home runs in a season with seven. Kwan, José Ramírez, Josh Naylor and David Fry (for the first two months, anyway) have kept the Guardians’ offense humming to remain atop a surprisingly competitive division. — Jennings

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6. Atlanta Braves

Record: 43-33
Last Power Ranking: 8

Most Defining Player: 1B Matt Olson

Olson, 30, finished fourth in NL MVP voting last season while posting one of the best seasons of his career. He clubbed 54 homers, led the league in RBIs and was worth more than 7.0 WAR, according to Baseball-Reference. Olson hasn’t been bad this season. He’s just much closer to average, posting a .784 OPS while entering Monday with 12 homers. The same, obviously, is true of the Braves, who are sailing toward the postseason without Ronald Acuña Jr. but not exactly performing as the best version of themselves. Look a little closer, though, and Olson has been much better in June. He entered Monday slashing .276/.329/.513 during the month. Maybe the Braves will follow suit and heat up this summer. — Dodd

MLB Power Rankings: Phillies, Yankees fight for first, Blue Jays wilt; Who's your team's MDP? (5)

Christian Yelich has put together a strong season in 2024, posting some of his best numbers in recent years. (Michael McLoone / USA Today)

7. Milwaukee Brewers

Record: 46-33
Last Power Ranking: 7

Most Defining Player: LF Christian Yelich

Before this season, it was easy to discount the Brewers, who had traded their ace, lost their manager to a division rival and saw their shutdown closer land on the IL. But even with mounting injuries, the Brewers have persevered with their signature pesky quality and have quietly been one of the league’s best teams. Yelich can probably relate to being discounted. After his career-best seasons in 2018-19, the left fielder saw a significant decline in his performance through 2020-22, which invited questions about the potential looming end of his career. But after returning from an early-season back injury in May, Yelich has put together a strong season, posting some of his best numbers since 2019, with a 149 wRC+ in 52 games. Yelich may not be the slugger he previously was, but like the Brewers, he shouldn’t be so easily forgotten. — McGrath

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8. Seattle Mariners

Record: 45-36
Last Power Ranking: 6

Most Defining Player: RHP Logan Gilbert

When you think of the Mariners, the first thought that likely comes to mind is elite pitching. That’s been the M.O. for Seattle for a while now and this year has been no different as the Mariners have used their seventh-ranked pitching staff to climb to the top of the AL West standings. Among their elite class of pitchers, no one stands out more than Gilbert, who threw eight scoreless innings in his recent win on Saturday against Miami.


In 16 starts, Gilbert has a 2.71 ERA and, as of Monday, leads all qualified pitchers with 106 1/3 innings pitched. In fact, along with innings pitched and ERA, Gilbert sits in the top 10 in AL in WHIP (0.89, 1st), opponents batting average (.195, 4th) and strikeouts (99, 6th). If the Mariners can hold off the surging Astros and hang onto the top spot in the division, it’ll be because of their pitching staff, and Gilbert stands to be the best among them. — McGrath

9. Minnesota Twins

Record: 43-35
Last Power Ranking: 10

Most Defining Player: 1B Carlos Santana

The Twins season has been a bit of a rollercoaster. They got off to a dreadful start and then rode a few hot streaks — with a couple of dips in between — to return to contention status. One reason for their streakiness? The lineup’s frustratingly slow start. But the bats have come around over the last two months and only the Yankees have outscored the Twins since April 21, according to our Aaron Gleeman. Perhaps surprisingly, Santana best represents the Twins’ turnaround. As Gleeman wrote, “He got off to the slowest of the Twins’ many slow starts, batting .133 through the team’s first 20 games, which raised questions about the 38-year-old possibly being washed up. Instead, he’s batted .276/.356/.524 in 51 games since, leading the Twins with 11 homers and 35 RBIs.” The next question is, can the Twins — and Santanta — sustain this pace? — McGrath

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10. Boston Red Sox

Record: 43-36
Last Power Ranking: 11

Most Defining Player: RHP Tanner Houck

Really, you could take your pick of any player who’s been a lot better than expected: Jarren Duran should be an All-Star. Wilyer Abreu is a Rookie of the Year candidate. Rob Refsnyder is a productive middle-of-the-order bat. Connor Wong is one of the top offensive catchers in the league. David Hamilton has been a quality everyday shortstop. All are reasonably definitive, but we’ll go with Houck, an unexpected but undeniable ace for a rotation that was expected to be a weakness and has instead been a strength. He’s also the only Red Sox starter who’s stayed healthy and active all season, and the team’s ability to weather a constant storm of injuries — to Trevor Story, Triston Casas, Vaughn Grissom, Lucas Giolito, Garrett Whitlock, etc. — has been a key characteristic a roster that continues to outperform expectations. — Jennings

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11. Houston Astros

Record: 38-40
Last Power Ranking: 16

Most Defining Player: LHP Josh Hader

Without checking his numbers, what kind of year is Hader having? Not a good one, surely. He got off to a miserable start to the season — his first in Houston — and as he struggled, so did the Astros. Even now, his overall numbers (3.63 ERA) are not nearly what he or the team expected. But for the past month and half, Hader has been quite good. He had only two saves in April, but he already has four in June, and he’s pitched to a 1.80 ERA with 30 strikeouts and only three walks since the first week of May. He’s been the Hader of old, and as he’s gotten going, the Astros have gotten back in the hunt. Their overall record still isn’t as good as they expected, but they had a winning May and are one of the winningest teams in June. If you dismissed the Astros early — as some of us did here at Power Rankings — it might be time to think again. — Jennings

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12. San Diego Padres

Record: 42-41
Last Power Ranking: 12

Most Defining Player: DH/3B Manny Machado

Machado, 31, has almost been the definition of league average this season. He has a 99 OPS+ and has been worth 0.3 WAR — in part because he’s provided negative value on defense when he’s been at third base. He also has just seven home runs while grounding into a league-high 14 double plays. The Padres have a litany of problems. They could use some more production in the outfield at times. Their defense is below average as a whole. But they have a lot of talented players and are once again a very average outfit. Machado has perhaps been the face of the problem, leaving everybody wanting more. — Dodd


13. Kansas City Royals

Record: 43-37
Last Power Ranking: 9

Most Defining Player: LHP Cole Ragans

Bobby Witt Jr. is the Royals’ best player, Salvador Pérez is their anchor, and Seth Lugo is the offseason addition making an unexpected bid for the All-Star Game. The fact they’re far more competitive than expected can be attributed to any of the above, but their sudden rise feels best wrapped up in the arrival of Ragans in a 2023 trade that sent reliever Aroldis Chapman to Texas. Ragans arrived in Kansas City with a 5.32 career ERA in the majors, yet he’s become one of the best young starters in the American League this season, fueling not only the Royals’ short-term success but also their long-term potential. As of Monday — when we vote for these Power Rankings — Ragans also hadn’t picked up a win in more than a month, reflective of the Royals’ more recent stumble. — Jennings

14. St. Louis Cardinals

Record: 40-37
Last Power Ranking: 14

Most Defining Player: RHP Sonny Gray

Gray has been so good that he’s kept Cardinals fans from melting down amid mediocre seasons from Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado and a disappointing start from Jordan Walker, who was quickly demoted to Triple A this spring. That has to count for something, right? Gray continued his mastery on Sunday, taking a perfect game into the seventh inning in a victory over the Giants. Gray improved to 9-4 while lowering his ERA to 2.81. At age 34, he’s still one of the best starters in the National League. — Dodd

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Can Corbin Carroll shake off the sophom*ore slump he’s currently mired in? (Geoff Burke / USA Today)

15. Arizona Diamondbacks

Record: 38-40
Last Power Ranking: 14

Most Defining Player: CF Corbin Carroll

This year, have you found yourself saying, “What the heck happened to the Diamondbacks, who rode a hot streak last October to the World Series before falling to the Texas Rangers?” Similarly, have you also found yourself wondering, “What the heck happened to Carroll, who enjoyed a memorable 2023 by earning his first All-Star bid en route to winning National League Rookie of the Year honors?” Indeed, the disappointing sophom*ore slump from Carroll, who has a .618 OPS and just two home runs in 76 games, reflects Arizona’s overall underwhelming season. The team has been hampered by injuries, including to catcher Gabriel Moreno, who landed on the IL with a thumb injury last week, and inconsistencies across the roster. After a year to remember for Carroll and the D-Backs, this one may go down as a year to forget. — McGrath

16. Texas Rangers

Record: 37-41
Last Power Ranking: 17

Most Defining Player: LF Evan Carter


During last year’s championship run, Carter was an unmistakable bright spot. He made his big-league debut in September, thrived down the stretch and remained productive through the World Series. He was not necessarily the Rangers’ best player, but he was an important piece of the puzzle. This year has been a different story. Not only has Carter’s offensive production plummeted (.633 OPS) but he’s played only 45 games because of injury. Underperformance (Adolis García, José Leclerc) and injury (Max Scherzer, Josh Jung, Jacob deGrom) have been defining characteristics of this Rangers team as they’ve so far failed to put up much of a title defense. The good news: They’re not completely out of the hunt just yet, and there’s still time for Carter and others to be healthier and more productive entering the second half. — Jennings

17. New York Mets

Record: 37-39
Last Power Ranking: 23

Most Defining Player: SS Francisco Lindor

Are the 2024 Mets good enough to do something? They were 11 games under .500 as recently as June 2 and a deadline sell-off seemed more likely than not. But after winning 11 of 13 this month, they’re back in the thick of the wild-card race in the extremely soft middle of the National League. The Mets have some talented players. They can disappear for stretches, and in a season positioned to be a reset of sorts, they’ll probably never be as good as fans would like. But they’ve proven they can be pretty good. In that way, they’re a lot like their starting shortstop, who leads the club in bWAR (2.4, as of Monday) and is having another good season while still only posting a 115 OPS+. Lindor is a good player. At some point, will it be enough? — Dodd

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18. Chicago Cubs

Record: 37-42
Last Power Ranking: 20

Most Defining Player: SS Dansby Swanson

The Cubs signed Swanson, 30, to a seven-year, $177 million contract before last season because of his Gold Glove defense and winning track record. At some point, though, intangibles only mean so much. Swanson entered Monday slashing .214/.286/.368 — even after his bat showed some signs of life this month. Swanson is not the only face of mediocrity; Cody Bellinger’s production has also dipped in his second year in Chicago. Yet if the Cubs want to stay in the wild-card hunt this summer, they desperately need more from Swanson. — Dodd

19. Tampa Bay Rays

Record: 39-40
Last Power Ranking: 21

Most Defining Player: RHP Aaron Civale

The Rays have a well-earned reputation for getting the most out of their pitchers, and their ability to do so year after year has kept them competitive — excellent, even — despite a notoriously low payroll within baseball’s most notoriously difficult division. But this season has been a different story, and the Rays’ fall is best exemplified by Civale, the 29-year-old former Guardians starter acquired at last year’s trade deadline and now having the worst year of his career. Even after a gem on Sunday, he has a 5.20 ERA. (He had a 3.77 ERA during his five years in Cleveland.) Still feeling the effect of multiple rotation injuries (most notably to Shane McClanahan), the Rays don’t have a single starting pitcher this season with an ERA below 4.00. — Jennings


20. Cincinnati Reds

Record: 37-41
Last Power Ranking: 19

Most Defining Player: SS Elly De La Cruz

I know, I know, this one is obvious, but even when consulting with our local expert C. Trent Rosecrans, he concurred that the only choice to define the Reds season was De La Cruz, who is second on the team with 13 home runs and a .786 OPS. Like the Reds, there have been flashes of brilliance and the potential is there. Like the Reds, even amid struggles, he commands attention. De La Cruz leads the way for the Reds’ baserunning brilliance with 37 of the team’s total 108 stolen bases. The Reds haven’t been consistent this season amid raised expectations, but they’re still hanging in the crowded NL wild-card race, and, like De La Cruz, they are worth keeping an eye on in case they do something great. — McGrath

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21. Pittsburgh Pirates

Record: 37-41
Last Power Ranking: 24

Most Defining Player: RHP Paul Skenes

If we’re truly thinking about what defines this season for the Pirates, it’s hope for the future and no one embodies that optimism as much as Skenes. At 22, the right-hander is already performing like an ace through his first eight starts, six of which have been of the quality variety. His season ERA is 2.14 and in his most recent start, he held the Rays to one run over seven innings with eight strikeouts. He’s striking batters out at a 33.7 percent clip while walking just 4.4 percent. He’s been in the majors for a little more than a month, yet he’s already made a strong case to be selected for his first (of I’m sure many) All-Star Games. Skenes has already ascended to must-watch status, and if the Pirates can build around him, perhaps they soon will, too. — McGrath

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22. Washington Nationals

Record: 38-40
Last Power Ranking: 25

Most Defining Player: LHP MacKenzie Gore

Gore, the third overall pick in the 2017 draft, was a regular on top prospect lists during the final years of last decade. Then he came to the Nationals in August 2022 in a blockbuster trade that sent Juan Soto to San Diego. The deal was a centerpiece of Washington’s rebuild — and now things are finally starting to look more hopeful. Gore has a 3.49 ERA in 15 starts, helping boost a rotation that has kept the Nationals in the playoff hunt. And if you look a little closer, he’s been even better than you probably think. He has a 2.83 FIP while striking out 11 batters per nine. Still only 25 years old, Gore is under club control for three more years after this season. — Dodd

23. San Francisco Giants

Record: 37-42
Last Power Ranking: 18

Most Defining Player: LHP Blake Snell


The Giants have made a recent habit of missing on the biggest free-agent targets and then either moving to the next tier or waiting out the market, as they did this past offseason with Matt Chapman and Snell. Chapman has been a solid contributor, mixing his usual sterling defense with league-average offense. Snell, however, has continued the ignominious trend of disappointing free-agent signings in San Francisco. When he’s been healthy enough to pitch, he’s allowed 25 earned runs in 23 2/3 innings. But mostly, he hasn’t been healthy. Snell is in the process of trying to return from a groin injury that’s derailed his year. It’s not going well.

Beyond Logan Webb and Jordan Hicks, the Giants’ rotation is a mess — and Hicks, a converted reliever, has already surpassed his career high for innings. Snell has an opt-out after this season. If he can’t get healthy, he may not want to use it. — Dodd

24. Detroit Tigers

Record: 36-42
Last Power Ranking: 22

Most Defining Player: 1B Spencer Torkelson

There was a stretch in the middle of May when it seemed Torkelson might be getting hot. He had an .893 OPS while getting a hit in 12 of 13 games, including a stretch with three home runs in seven games. Less than a month later, the former No. 1 overall draft pick was demoted to Triple A. It’s been that way for the Tigers as a whole. Especially early in the season, there was cause for hope in Detroit. The Tigers weren’t leading the division, but they were legitimately in the hunt, and the top of their rotation was especially strong. Today, though, their top three starters remain good — especially Tarik Skubal — but little else has kept pace as the Tigers have fallen back to .500 through a bumpy past month or so. Offense outside of Riley Greene has been a significant problem. — Jennings

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25. Toronto Blue Jays

Record: 35-43
Last Power Ranking: 13

Most Defining Player: RF George Springer

The Blue Jays are having an almost inexplicably disappointing season, one that just got worse after they were swept for the second straight series and lost their No. 1 hitting prospect to an 80-game PED suspension. They’ve been one of the worst-scoring teams in the majors, averaging 3.84 runs per game (27th), while their 67 total team home runs rank 28th. Perhaps no player represents their offensive struggles as much as Springer, whose production has dropped off a cliff compared to his prime All-Star years. Through 70 games, the 34-year-old right-fielder is hitting .191 with a .567 OPS. He has five home runs this season, two of which came in his first two games. In fact, per OPS, Springer has been the second-worst qualified hitter in the majors this year. If the Blue Jays are going to turn their spiraling season around, they need Springer (and others) to be much better than they’ve been. — McGrath

26. Los Angeles Angels

Record: 31-46
Last Power Ranking: 26

Most Defining Player: 2B Brandon Drury


This team used to have Shohei Ohtani, and now its primary DH is Willie Calhoun. Mike Trout is hurt, and so center field belongs to Mickey Moniak. Former top prospect Jo Adell is in right field and batting below .200. Calhoun, Moniak and Adell are three of the five Angels regulars with negative fWARs this season. Most disappointing might be second baseman Drury, who would have been a valuable trade chip last summer or this offseason (he had a 2.7 fWAR last year), but the Angels didn’t sell, and now Drury has a minus-0.6 fWAR with some of the worst offensive numbers in the sport. The Angels need a reboot, but even their best trade chips — outside of perhaps 34-year-old starter Tyler Anderson — could be relatively underwhelming targets on the open market. — Jennings

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27. Oakland Athletics

Record: 29-52
Last Power Ranking: 27

Most Defining Player: LHP JP Sears

One of the worst teams in baseball can’t possibly be defined by one of its standout players, and so we can’t justify closer Mason Miller, designated hitter Brent Rooker or center fielder JJ Bleday as a player to exemplify Oakland’s season. But the A’s are interesting in that, within all of this losing and long-term uncertainty, they have intriguing players who could stick around long enough to be a part of a franchise resurgence. Sears fits within that. He has a losing record with a 5.04 ERA this season, but is still relatively young (28) with enough good stretches to suggest he can be a viable big-league starter going forward (he had a 4.25 ERA before a disastrous start over the weekend). There’s reason to be at least a little bit intrigued by the A’s, even if their future is unclear and their current results are uninspiring. — Jennings

28. Miami Marlins

Record: 27-51
Last Power Ranking: T-28

Most Defining Player: LHP Jesús Luzardo

Luzardo began the year as the Opening Day starter for his hometown team. He was expected to front the rotation, and, at worst, be a possible trade chip to help facilitate another rebuild in Miami. But things have gone pretty poorly. Luzardo has a 5.00 ERA in 12 starts, and he now finds himself on the 60-day IL after sustaining a lower back injury. It wasn’t the only bad news of the week: The Marlins also lost starting pitcher Braxton Garrett to the 15-day IL because of a left forearm flexor strain. And to make matters worse, they joined the Rockies as the only two teams in the NL with 50 losses. — Dodd

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29. Colorado Rockies

Record: 27-51
Last Power Ranking: T-28

Most Defining Player: 1B/DH Kris Bryant

The Rockies play in the great city of Denver. Their stadium, Coors Field, is a beautiful place to watch a game. Their City Connect jerseys are awesome. For these reasons, it’s a bummer that the Rockies are again on pace to finish last in the NL West for the fourth straight season. There have been some good Rockies stories this season. Cal Quantrill is pitching well in his first season with the team and could be dealt to a contender, while shortstop Ezequiel Tovar is having a breakout season. But those are too uplifting to encapsulate the state of the club. The only player who does their season justice is Bryant, whose steep decline over the last two seasons has also been a drag to watch. Bryant has been far from the MVP he was in 2016 for a while, but this season, he was hitting .186 with a .586 OPS in just 24 games between two IL stints. His latest injury has his return unclear. To turn the page on this forgettable era of Rockies baseball, the club may need to find a way to get out from under his seven-year, $182 million contract. — McGrath


30. Chicago White Sox

Record: 21-59
Last Power Ranking: 30

Most Defining Player: LF Andrew Benintendi

It has been a historically poor season for the White Sox, who remain on pace to lose over 100 games. The high point of their season may be seeing what return they manage to get for the players they sell off at the trade deadline, including Luis Robert Jr. At least then, White Sox fans may be able to muster a small sliver of hope for the future. As for who best represents the White Sox’s dismal season? There are plenty of names to choose from, though the precipitous decline of Benintendi since he signed his five-year, $75 million deal before the 2023 season seems to best correspond with the White Sox’s bleak performance. Benintendi’s minus-2.0 bWAR ranks as the worst in MLB and as ESPN’s Bradford Doolittle points out, he could be on pace for a historically bad season — much like his team’s. — McGrath

(Top photo of Vladimir Guerrero Jr.: Cole Burston / Getty Images)

MLB Power Rankings: Phillies, Yankees fight for first, Blue Jays wilt; Who's your team's MDP? (2024)
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