An excerpt from The Athletic:
It was Father’s Day on Sunday. In case you forgot a gift, this is your reminder, just a little late. We’ve got you covered. We’ll help you give the dad/father figure in your life the gift of a ballplayer they can truly enjoy watching on each club.
That’s this week’s theme on the latest edition of The Athletic’s MLB Power Rankings — to find a current player who best exemplifies Dad Energy, a stylistic mold that fits what your dad would enjoy watching, or just the chance for a quick dad joke. We threw a few curveballs in there to keep you on your toes. Fabian Ardaya will handle the National League duties, and Steve Berman will anchor the American League. Let’s get to it.
Last Power Ranking: 1
As Lindsey Adler wrote, “It will be stag versus stag for the next two weeks, and the Yankees will hope to emerge from this stretch without breaking an antler.” So far, the only cracked antlers are the ones donned by the Rays and Blue Jays (two animals that in real life don’t, um, possess antlers).
Dad’s favorite Yankee: Nestor Cortés’ nasty stuff and thick mustache make him the obvious candidate, but Dad holds a special spot in his heart for DJ LeMahieu because he hits to the opposite field more often (39 percent of the time) than anyone in the game.
Last Power Ranking: 3
Things are already going well on the field for the Mets. You mean to tell me that Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom could be back sooner rather than later? The Mets have a chance to do something special, with some cool moments along the way, like Francisco Lindor getting a chance to play (and homer) in front of his mother for the first time with the club.
Dad’s favorite Met: There are a lot of tempting options, but it’s Chris Bassitt. From the full-bodied delivery to the diverse pitch mix and loopy curveball to his blunt postgame quotes, he’s the kind of ballplayer who would be a favorite for many fathers in Queens.
Last Power Ranking: 2
Well, last week they lost their ace to a flexor strain in his right elbow until probably at least September, had their manager publicly call out the team’s mindset, and their starting left fielder ended a road trip with stitches after running into a wall.
The offense struggled with runners in scoring position again. Now we can add a Mookie Betts injury to the fold. The Dodgers are certainly grateful that Tony Gonsolin and Tyler Andersonhave been such big surprises.
Dad’s favorite Dodger: Well, besides Sandy Koufax. Looking at his stats again last week for the Dodgers’ unveiling of a statue in his honor, and my goodness, it’s a breathtaking display of dominance.
But it’s Freddie Freeman. The guy loves hitting to all fields, taking batting practice with his dad and executing all the baseball cliches your dad has loved since he started watching the sport. When a guy says he’s been in “a .290 grind” in terms of batting average this season, it’s quite notable.
Last Power Ranking: 5
Luis Garcia and Phil Maton threw immaculate innings in the same game against the Rangers last week, and faced the same three batters while they did it. Jayson Stark asked a math/odds expert how unlikely this was, and the odds were 1 in 67.2 million.
Dad’s favorite Astro: Jose Altuve, and not just because he’s been a great player for years. Dad may be upset that he stopped growing after he hit 5-foot-11, but he still enjoys telling people that his height is equivalent to 1.1 Altuves.
Last Power Ranking: 4
Their manager and ace are on the COVID-19 list. MacKenzie Gorelearned just how treacherous Coors Field can be. And yet, the Padres are hovering around first place and demonstrating that all that hype is for good reason. Just have to stay as healthy as pos — oh, no.
Dad’s favorite Padre: All of them! They are the Dads, after all.
But if there’s a serious answer, it’s Joe Musgrove. You root for the hometown kid, the one pacing the club in innings pitched with a six-pitch mix and leading one of the best rotations in baseball.
Last Power Ranking: 7
They couldn’t stop winning games, but now are dropping games to a Cubsteam that couldn’t buy a win? Baseball, funny game, innit? Losses at Wrigley Field notwithstanding, this feels a lot more like the club we all expected to see this year (minus the fact that Ozzie Albies just broke his foot in a strange fashion).
Dad’s favorite Brave: Ronald Acuña Jr., because he should be most people’s favorite player. Few in the sport can be as electrifying as Acuña, and dads can have fun, too, after all.
Ronald Acuña Jr. (Todd Kirkland / Getty Images)
Last Power Ranking: 6
The Blue Jays knew going into the weekend that despite one of the better records in the AL, it was time to start making up ground on the Yankees. Losing two of three to them at home didn’t help. Losing Hyun Jin Ryu for the season wasn’t great either — GM Ross Atkins admitted that they’ll probably look to add a starter at the deadline.
Dad’s favorite Blue Jay: Alejandro Kirk, who’s batting .307 and has more walks (26) than strikeouts (21). Anytime Dad can find a player who allows him to remember Tony Gwynn and say “they don’t make baseball players like that anymore,” he’ll be as happy as he is when he’s allowed to hang out in the garage for eight hours without anyone bothering him.
Last Power Ranking: 8
Reunion tours and last dances aren’t always pretty, and it’s been a rough go of it for Yadier Molina, who landed on the injured list this week because of knees that just haven’t felt right all year. Seeing the Cardinals without Molina behind the plate just feels odd, but having Jack Flaherty back on the mound should be an encouraging sign for St. Louis fans.
Dad’s favorite Cardinal: This goes to the trio of Adam Wainwright, Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina, if for no other reason than those are the three players your father can say with absolute certainty are on the Cardinals, and are Cardinals in perpetuity. Their proximity to your dad’s age compared to their peers helps, too.
Last Power Ranking: T-10
The Giants lost more games over the past few weeks to the Royals — who have been living in the basement on this list — than they have to the Dodgers. Odd. But this has the bones of yet another sturdy ballclub — they just have to keep some of those older bones healthy.
Dad’s favorite Giant: It could very well be a long-tenured Giant like Brandon Crawford or Brandon Belt. It could be Mike Yastrzemski, whose all-around play and defense go beyond the charm that his last name brings. You could cheat and say recent waiver claim Yermín Mercedes, too. (After all, how many Giants have a burger named after them?) Let’s go with Luis González here, though, due to his bat-to-ball skills, line-drive approach and willingness to go in there and pitch when needed.
10. Tampa Bay Rays
Last Power Ranking: 9
Like the Blue Jays, the Rays squandered an opportunity last week to get within spitting distance of the Yankees by getting swept in the Bronx. Commissioner Rob Manfred again called for the Rays to get their stadium situation figured out, and based on a lot of Rays fans’ comments, the biggest problems with Tropicana Field are location, location and location.
Dad’s favorite Ray: The low batting average is an annoyance to dads who miss having Don Mattingly and Wade Boggs in the AL East, but Brett Phillips plays outstanding outfield defense and has a general goofy vibe that Dad can’t resist.
Last Power Ranking: 13
Can’t the Phillies ever just be normal? Think of beat writer Matt Gelb’s health, please. At least for Phillies fans, it’s been on the positive end of things of late.
Dad’s favorite Phillie: Dads love dingers, so let’s give them a beefy slugger. Kyle Schwarber fits the bill, and his winning pedigree of postseason appearances only further boosts his case here. He’ll hit the big home runs everyone loves.
12. Minnesota Twins
Last Power Ranking: T-10
Minnesota lost Royce Lewis for the rest of the season (and, in all likelihood, part of next season) with his second torn ACL, which takes away an option if/when Carlos Correa opts out after this season. But at least for now, the Twins are in first place and Byron Buxton is healthy.
Dad’s favorite Twin: If you took away Luis Arraez’s extra-base hits (even with a double on Sunday, he has only 10), he’d still be batting .312. Or, put it a different way: Rod Carew complimented him on Twitter.