Another week, another edition of the MLB Power Rankings. The cycle goes on and on.
Not much changed this week, but one team that was all but dead cracked the top 10 for the first time since Spring. Meanwhile the wildcard race has been crowded in both leagues, and it’s hard to gauge which squads in each cluster will wind up playing baseball in October and which ones will not. Without further delay, here’s how the teams stack up.
30. Atlanta Braves (48-83, previously 30) – Matt Kemp’s game winning home run against the Giants was his 23rd all time against San Francisco, the most of any active player in the big leagues. Unfortunately, that was overshadowed by a 13 run debacle on Sunday in which the Braves’ surrendered eight runs in one inning.
29. Minnesota Twins (49-81, previously 29) – The Twins joined the Braves in the 80-loss club courtesy of a 10 game losing streak that has yet to come to a halt. It is the longest skid of the season for Minnesota.
28. Arizona Diamondbacks (55-76, previously 28) – The Diamondbacks blew out the Reds with an 11-2 win on Sunday, and it might be the jolt they need as they travel to San Francisco for a two game mini-series this week. After that it’s on to Colorado and Los Angeles to complete the eight game NL West road trip.
27. Tampa Bay Rays (55-74, previously 25) – Matt Duffy has been a solid addition to the Rays since being acquired for Matt Moore at the deadline, but he wasn’t enough for Tampa to overcome Houston this weekend, dropping two of three games against the Astros. Sunday was a nice change from the first two games though, as Chris Archer recorded 10 strikeouts while the Tampa Bay bats came to life with three homers.
26. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (56-74, previously 27) – The Angels have won consecutive series by the score of 3-2 against playoff contenders Detroit and Toronto, and you had to love that reaction from that kid who got the Mike Trout autograph before Sunday’s contest. Otherwise, it’s hard to believe that this team has only a -35 run differential yet is all the way down in the AL West cellar – a telling statistic of the Angels’ pitching woes.
25. Oakland Athletics (57-73, previously 26) – Two straight impressive wins over the Cardinals on the road, including a comeback win on Saturday, give the A’s something to smile about and it may also give them the title of spoiler. As a result of Oakland’s upset series win, St. Louis is only half a game ahead of Pittsburgh for the final wild card spot in the National League.
24. Milwaukee Brewers (56-74, previously 23) – Getting swept by the Pirates at home over the weekend was not the Brewers’s plan, as they have now lost four straight. At least we got to see reliever Tyler Cravy get his first career hit on Saturday, which happened to be a monster home run to left field.
23. San Diego Padres (55-75, previously 24) – Spoiler alert x2. Of course the Padres always want to crush your hopes and dreams when they can’t be relevant, and they may have just done that by taking two of three from Miami over the weekend. The Padres’ victories have resulted in the Marlins falling behind the Pirates in the wildcard race just as it looked the Fish would finally break through in 2016.
22. Cincinnati Reds (55-74, previously 22) – Pitching has been a serious problem for the Reds of late, allowing 18 runs last Monday and 9 runs on Sunday. They still are playing much better baseball than they are in the 2nd half, but this team is proof that hitting is just half the equation. We should point to the fact that the Dodgers, a first place team, have scored just two more runs than the Reds, a last place team, on the entire season. The only difference is that LA actually has some arms.
21. Philadelphia Phillies (60-70, previously 21) – Quite honestly, the Phillies are lucky to not be a last place team. Their -138 run differential is higher than that of any other last place team in the majors. The wrinkle is that the Braves have a -164 run differential, and they also play in the AL East.
20. Colorado Rockies (62-68, previously 19) – Taking two of three from the Nationals was a nice little confidence booster for the Rockies, but it’s just hard to see them recover from their awful stretch just after they got back to .500 briefly. On the brighter side, Nolan Arenado was 4-4 with his 35th home run of the season on Sunday.
19. Chicago White Sox (63-66, previously 20) – A 6-2 stretch has helped the Sox gain some ground in the AL Wild Card race, especially considering they took the series against the Mariners at home this weekend. Plenty of work and some good luck is still required though if Chicago hopes to salvage their once promising season, still 7.5 games of a wildcard spot.
18. New York Mets (66-64, previously 18) – Many folks thought the Mets would be done in by their stretch that saw them play the Giants and Cardinals, but instead they salvaged a split with San Francisco, took two of three in St. Louis, did the same against Philadelphia and are still alive in the wildcard race, albeit on the outside looking in by a few games. Alejandro de Aza has shined over the past week, highlighted by that phenomenal catch he made in St. Louis to rob Matt Carpenter of a homer.
17. Miami Marlins (67-63, previously 13) – The absence of Giancarlo Stanton is beginning to show its effect more and more on the Marlins, who have now dropped all the way back to just four games over .500 and behind the Pirates in the wildcard chase. In of their last four losses, they have scored two runs or less. Certainly they just ran into the red-hot Royals at just the wrong time, but a series loss to the Padres over the weekend was a blown chance to keep up the pace with San Francisco and St. Louis.
16. New York Yankees (67-62, previously 17) – So, Gary Sanchez is amazing, and the Yankees are only 3.5 games out of the wildcard despite being sellers at the trade-deadline. It’s safe to say that this is becoming one of the most bizarre seasons of all time for one of the most storied franchises of all time, especially if they somehow sneak into the postseason against all odds.
15. Detroit Tigers (69-61, previously 14) – A four game win streak came to halt with a less than ideal series loss to the Angels, in which the Tigers lost two straight to end the series. The frustration was visibly evident too on Saturday with Detroit players and coaches getting tossed in a 3-2 loss over being angry with the strike zone. Not the way the Tigers wanted to go out on a week that first showed much promise. They are still just two games out of the wild card, but they now have three teams one game behind them.
14. Houston Astros (68-62, previously 15) – The result of a 7-2 stretch, Houston is now just three games back of the wildcard after almost entirely falling off the map just over a week ago. Defense has been the savior for Houston, as the ‘Stros only tallied more than five runs once in any of their wins since last Monday. They now get a chance to make even more ground with a series against Oakland this week.
13. Seattle Mariners (68-62, previously 10) – The Mariners have once again cooled off a bit, only winning 4 of their last ten and dropping two of three to the struggling White Sox this weekend. As a result, the Astros have now caught Seattle for second place in the AL. The Mariners only won one of their past six games and being an incredibly difficult road series against the first place Rangers this week.
12. Pittsburgh Pirates (67-61, previously 16) – Four straight wins for the Pirates now puts the squad only half a game back of the NL Wildcard, something that we didn’t see coming after the Bucs were swept at home by the Marlins last weekend. It will be interesting to see if they can sustain their momentum however as they travel to Wrigleyville for a tough series against the Cubs this week, who are coming off only their second series loss of the half.
11. St. Louis Cardinals (68-61, previously 11) – It’s not too often that you see a winning 2nd place team 14 games out of first place, but that’s sure enough the case with the Cardinals. Of course, it’s been a bit of a rough week for St. Louis, suffering a 2-4 stretch at home that saw them drop two of three to the struggling Mets before doing the exact same to the lowly A’s. The Cardinals, who have not missed the postseason since 2010, now only have a half game lead for the final wildcard spot.
10. Kansas City Royals (68-62, previously 12) – Raise your hand if you thought the Royals would be in the top 10 of the power rankings two weeks ago……………………yeah, that’s what I thought, but just wow. The Royals made a statement with their series win and Sunday night thrashing of the Red Sox, and have now won 15 of their last 18. They’re only 5.5 games back of the AL Central lead, and wouldn’t that be something if the Royals replicated their 2014 season by rising from the dead and making a deep playoff run? Hey, momentum is everything in baseball
9. Baltimore Orioles (71-59, previously 9) – The Orioles dropped two of three from New York this weekend, but a Tigers series loss helped the O’s maintain their wildcard lead that has been dangerously small of late. Mark Trumbo became the first player to reach 40 homers on the season on Sunday, and Zach Britton continues to dominate, but it’s becoming clear that success can’t be maintained without starting pitching from start to end.
8. San Francisco Giants (71-59, previously 8) – Sunday was a day of first for the Giants: First time scoring eight runs in an inning all year, first home series win of the 2nd half, and the first time any team has had 4 homers and 4 triples in a game since 1900. You also have to feel bad for but applaud Matt Moore for his no hit bid against the Dodgers that came just out short from getting the job done. Two games back of LA, the Giants will take their “hot streak” after so much misery in the 2nd half, but will face a tough 4-game series against the Cubs later in the week.
7. Boston Red Sox (72-58, previously 6) – The Red Sox struggled against the red-hot Royals at home this weekend, and the series loss now puts them two games behind Toronto in the race for the AL East lead. Boston has now lost 4 of 5, but they will get the chance to compensate for that as they take on the lowly Rays this week. Only thing, they two of those losses came against the Rays last week, and both were ugly.
6. Cleveland Indians (73-56, previously 4) – Aside from Friday night, it was a terrible weekend for the Indians in Texas, getting shut out 7-0 on Saturday before failing to score with the bases loaded with one out down a run in the ninth on Sunday. The Indians have now fallen under 20 games above .500, and the AL East lead has shrunk to just 4.5 games. Of course, upcoming series against the Twins and Marlins is a bit of a breather.
5. Los Angeles Dodgers (73-57, previously 7) – What a good time for blue and white teams. The Dodgers, despite two ugly losses immediately following the trade of fan-favorite A.J. Ellis, took back to back series against the Giants and the Cubs at home, and the latter proves that the Dodgers are in fact a serious contender to reach the World Series in 2016. For that matter, Corey Seager became the first rookie in Dodgers history to hit 23 homers in a season. Who ever imagined all this hype would come in a year where the Dodgers were without their ace and had 16 players on the DL? So crazy it’s almost stupid.
4. Toronto Blue Jays (74-56, previously 4) – Hitting continues to be the theme for Toronto’s success, as Josh Donaldson went yard three times Sunday as the Jays swept the visiting Twins. Toronto is now up two games on Boston for the AL East lead, and it looks more and more likely that the division winner banner will be flying north of the border for the second straight season.
3. Washington Nationals (75-55, previously 3) – Stephen Strasburg’s return to the DL after three straight blowout losses was not what the Nationals wanted to see happen entering the stretch run, nor did they want to see their inexplicable NL West woes continue as they dropped two of three to Colorado over the weekend. To show you just how frustrated the Nats have become over the past few days, Bryce Harper was ejected on Saturday, and it was slightly comical to be honest. Nonetheless, they still lead the NL East by eight games.
2. Texas Rangers (77-53, previously 2) – Could the Rangers take over the Cubs for the best record in baseball in the coming weeks? Maybe. They took three of four from the Indians at home this weekend to improve to 24 games over .500, and its certainly hard to see anybody catching them in the AL at the very least. The only serious concern may be Sam Dyson’s seeming inability to close out in pressure situations (as we saw last October), but he was able to escape a 9th inning-bases loaded-one out-jam en route to a 2-1 victory Sunday.
1. Chicago Cubs (82-47, previously 1) – Even with their series loss to the Dodgers, one of the best home teams in all of baseball, the Cubs remain 35 games over .500, which is just remarkable to be quite honest. It’s a testament to just how much work Joe Maddon has done since arriving to the Windy City in the 2014-15 off season, and Kris Bryant continues to put up numbers that make him the front-runner in the NL MVP race. Jake Arrieta may very well be in line for the NL Cy Young as well. For now, the Cubs can just hope they don’t face the Dodgers in October, splitting the season series with them 3-3.
Biggest Jump: Pittsburgh Pirates (+4)
Biggest Drop: Miami Marlins (-4)
Featured image courtesy of Zimbio.com