The trade deadline is a week behind us, and some teams’ moves have bared more fruit than those of others thus far. The Cubs have remained on fire, while other teams like the Red Sox, Indians and Giants have continued to slow down ever since the All-Star Break. How much impact did those trends have on this week’s rankings? Well, you’re about to find out.
30. Atlanta Braves (41-70, previously 30) – The Braves acquired Padres OF Matt Kemp just hours after we posted last week’s edition of the rankings, a very interesting and unexpected move to say the least. In other news, the Braves are the first team to reach 70 losses on the season.
29. Minnesota Twins (45-66, previously 29) – Could the Twins become the spoilers of the 2016 AL Central race? They took three of four from the division leading Cleveland Indians last week, good enough to help Detroit gain four games in three games in the standings amidst an 8 game win streak. They now get to face the Astros, a team clinging on to dear life in the playoff picture, for a four game series at home.
28. Tampa Bay Rays (45-65, previously 28) – The post Matt Moore era of Rays baseball began with a 3-4 stretch amidst a 10 game home stand for Tampa. If saying goodbye to Moore wasn’t hard enough, prospect Lucius Fox (yes, that’s actually his name) who the Rays acquired alongside Matt Duffy from the Giants in that trade, is now injured.
27. Arizona Diamondbacks (45-66, previously 27) – Arizona was outscored 32-8 as the Washington Nationals swept them in three games last week. They were able to take care of a Brewers squad that is now without Jonathan Lucroy and Will Smith, but they still remain at 21 games under .500 sitting at last place in the NL West.
26. Oakland Athletics (48-63, previously 23) – Whatever was in the water in McCovey Cove has now made its way across the San Francisco Bay over the shores of Oakland. The Athletics find themselves in the midst of a 2-8 stretch, dropping two of three to the Angels last week before getting swept by the Cubs in three games at home over the weekend. Their stretch won’t get any easier as they will host the Orioles for a difficult four game series this week.
25. Cincinnati Reds (45-65, previously 26) – The Reds were able to get the best of their division rival St. Louis Cardinals by taking two out of three from them at home earlier in the week before losing two of three to Pittsburgh over the weekend. On the darker side of things, life without slugger Jay Bruce has officially begun as he was shipped off to the New York Mets last Monday.
24. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (49-62, previously 24) – After a dramatic Albert Pujols walk-off homer last Wednesday night, the Angels proceeded to lose four in a row, blowing a 5-2 lead on Thursday before getting swept by the Mariners in three games. The Tim Lincecum experiment appears to be over in Anaheim, as he was demoted to the minors after allowing six runs in the first inning of Friday night’s loss.
23. San Diego Padres (48-63, previously 25) – Matt Kemp has been shipped off to the Braves, and San Diego was unable to take advantage of the lowly Phillies coming to town this week. With essentially every piece that was supposed to make the Padres so great last season now gone, there isn’t much to cheer about in America’s Finest City.
22. Milwaukee Brewers (49-60, previously 21) – Milwaukee’s NL West road trip did not go quite as planned, dropping three game series to both the struggling Diamondbacks and Padres. With Jonathan Lucroy and Will Smith now shipped off to Texas and San Francisco, respectively, everything the Brewers do from here on out will be done with the intent of preparing for next season.
21. Philadelphia Phillies (52-61, previously 22) – It was a successful week against the NL West for Philadelphia, catching the Giants at just the right time to rough up Madison Bumgarner and take the three game series 2-1 before doing the exact same to the Padres over the weekend (not the Bumgarner part, obviously). The Phillies will look to continue their dominance of the NL West as they get set for a difficult three game series against the Dodgers this week in Los Angeles.
20. Chicago White Sox (53-58, previously 19) – The White Sox did absolutely nothing at the deadline last Monday, and they haven’t done much exciting stuff on the field of late either. The Sox dropped two out of three against the red-hot Tigers this week and then suffered a similar fate against the Orioles this weekend, allowing three homers to Manny Machado in the first 3 innings of Sunday’s 10-2 debacle against Baltimore. They’ve only won three of their last 10 contests heading into the week.
19. Kansas City Royals (53-58, previously 20) – The Royals were able to get a bit of their mojo back with a 2-1 series win over the Toronto Blue Jays this week to dethrone them from first place in the AL East. Kansas City SP Yordano Ventura got his first win since June in Sunday’s 7-1 rout of the Jays.
18. New York Yankees (56-66, previously 18) – The dominoes just keep falling in the Bronx. Last Monday, Andrew Miller was traded to the Indians and Carlos Beltran to the Rangers. On Friday, Mark Texiera announced his retirement from baseball at the end of the season. Then on Sunday, the sports world was in for a shock as it was announced that Alex Rodriguez will retire immediately after this Friday’s contest. It’s hard to say what the future will have in store for the Yankees aside from some serious rebuilding.
17. Pittsburgh Pirates (55-54, previously 16) – It appears that the Pirates are truly surrendering in 2016 after they failed to win a series against the Braves before taking two of three from the Reds over the weekend. Not only is Mark Melancon gone, but so is Francisco Liriano, who was dealt to the Blue Jays at the buzzer last Monday. With the Cubs on a seven game winning streak, Pittsburgh is now 13.5 games out of first in the NL Central.
16. Houston Astros (57-54, previously 12) – It was yet again about as bad of a week as possible for Houston, who was already clinging on for dear life in the playoff race entering a difficult stretch against Toronto and Texas. After beating the Jays in the opener of the four game series, they proceeded to lose the next three. The dagger though was the series loss to the Rangers over the weekend, which put Houston 7.5 games out of first place in the AL West as the Mariners passed them up for 2nd place with their sweep of the Angels. Houston is now 2-8 in their last ten games.
15. Colorado Rockies (55-56, previously 15) – Trevor Story being out for the season due to injury was the last thing Rockies fans wanted to hear this week, but that doesn’t change the fact that Colorado continues to own the best record in the majors since the All-Star Break and was able to get above the .500 mark in August for the first time in six years with a win over Los Angeles last week. Even without Story, Rockies fans can rejoice that they still have Nolan Arenado strong and healthy, tied with Story for now with an NL leading 27 homers on the season.
14. New York Mets (57-54, previously 14) – The only reason the Mets are left in playoff contention is because the majority of other NL playoff contenders aside from the Cubs and Nationals aren’t playing so great right now either. That does not change the fact though that New York will have to step up in due time if they intend to defend their NL East title. Their ability to slow down the Tigers with a 3-1 victory on Sunday should give them a nice boost of confidence as they prepare for a seemingly simple three game series against Arizona this week.
13. St. Louis Cardinals (58-53, previously 13) – The Cards didn’t have it so easy against the lowly Reds last week, and the woes continued this weekend as they dropped a three game series to the MLB worst Atlanta Braves at Busch Stadium. St. Louis has lost six of their last ten and would be out of playoff contention if the postseason was to begin today.
12. Seattle Mariners (57-53, previously 17) – Seattle capped a solid 5-2 week with a three game sweep of the Angels at Safeco Field over the weekend. The Mariners have now overtaken the Astros for second place in the AL West, but faces a difficult week ahead as they take on the surging Tigers for a three game series beginning tonight.
11. Miami Marlins (59-52, previously 11) – Ichiro Suzuki became the newest member of the 3,000 hit club on Sunday afternoon, crushing a triple off the right field wall at Coors Field in the win against the Rockies. The Marlins may only be 4-6 in their last ten games, but they maintain the second wild card spot by one game over the St. Louis Cardinals for now.
10. Boston Red Sox (60-50, previously 8) – Man oh man are the Red Sox a mess all of a sudden. Other than their 9-0 victory over the Dodgers on Friday night, Boston did not have things go their way this week. After only splitting their last two series against the Angels and Mariners, the Sox completed their west coast road trip by getting shutout by Dodgers rookie Ross Stripling on Saturday before David Price collapsed in a 8-5 loss Sunday afternoon at Chavez Ravine. Boston is now only 10 games over .500 and has fallen out of the 2nd wildcard seed.
9. Detroit Tigers (61-50, previously 10) – The Tigers continue to roar, taking their win streak all the way to 8 game last week before losing to the White Sox on Thursday. A series win against the Mets only helped Detroit gain more ground in the AL Central, as they are now a mere two games back of Cleveland in the division.
8. Cleveland Indians (62-47, previously 4) – Where’d that division lead go? The Indians continue to tumble with a 2-5 week, losing three of four to the lowly twins before only taking one game against the Yankees over the weekend. They now face a difficult two-game series against the Nationals in our nation’s capital.
7. Los Angeles Dodgers (62-49, previously 7) – Josh Reddick and Rich Hill are now Dodgers as of the trade deadline, while it appears that the Yasiel Puig era may have simultaneously come to an end as he was demoted to the minors last Monday. LA was only able to take one against Colorado last week in the mile high city before getting blown out of the water by Boston on Friday night, but a shutout performance by Ross Stripling followed by a slug-fest off David Price on Sunday gave the Dodgers the series win over the Red Sox. Adrian Gonzalez hit his 300th homer in the process. LA is now only one game back of the Giants for the NL West lead.
6. San Francisco Giants (63-48, previously 6) – A one game division lead is not what the Giants wanted to see as they prepare to take on the Marlins and Orioles this week. Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto collapsed against the Phillies last week in a series loss before recently acquired Matt Moore turned things around on Thursday with an extra-innings win. Saturday’s game against the Nationals took another positive turn for the Giants as Matt Cain and company handed Stephen Strasburg just his 2nd loss of the year and Eduardo Nunez became the first Giant to have two triples and a double in one game since Will Clark in 1991. Then on Sunday, Bumgarner pitched eight innings of two-hit one-run baseball but got the loss, as the Giants couldn’t get a run across the plate. Bumgarner has yet to post a win in the 2nd half.
5. Toronto Blue Jays (63-49, previously 9) – Toronto was able to take a brief lead of the AL East with a 3-1 series win over the Astros last week before dropping two of three to the Kansas City Royals over the weekend. Edwin Encarnacion now has 30 homers on the season and the addition of Francisco Liriano should pay dividends for Toronto as they enter the stretch run. Toronto’s pitching staff for that matter may be one of the most underrated in all of baseball. Their 72 quality starts is tied for the best in all of baseball, also posting a 4th best .240 BAA and .121 WHIP.
4. Baltimore Orioles (63-47, previously 5) – Baltimore has continued to ride the long-ball to the top of the AL East standings, as Manny Machado had three homers in the first three innings of Sunday’s win over the White Sox. On the other hand, Steve Pearce’s elbow injury could pose a hole in the Orioles’ outfield if it is a indeed a long-term injury. With a one game lead over Toronto, the O’s head out to the Bay to take on the A’s and Giants this week.
3. Texas Rangers (65-47, previously 2) – The Rangers have built their AL West lead back up to seven games, thanks to a 2-1 series victory over the Astros in addition to some sluggish play from Houston earlier in the week. Jonathan Lucroy homered twice on Sunday and Carlos Beltran has provided some great offense for the Rangers as well since being acquired at the deadline. It’s still far too early to jump to any final conclusions, but with the offense as hot as it is and the rotation healthy, look for Texas to go far as we approach the fall.
2. Washington Nationals (66-45, previously 3) – The Nationals completed a dominant 5-1 week, sweeping the Diamondbacks before taking two out of three from the Giants at home over the weekend. Stephen Strasburg recorded only his second loss of the season in a 7-1 Giants blowout on Saturday night, but Tanner Roark looked dominant as he recorded the shutout win as he out-dueled Madison Bumgarner on Sunday. Washington has now built their division lead to seven games over the Marlins. Next up is a two game series against the slumping Indians at home, followed by some more relief with a series against the lowly Braves.
1. Chicago Cubs (69-41, previously 1) – Seven straight wins for the Cubs keep them right where they were last week at the No. 1 spot in our rankings. A sweep of the Marlins followed up by a sweep of the A’s this weekend has given them an 11.5 game lead in the NL Central. Jake Arrieta is back to his normal self after a mid-season slump and Javier Baez continues to be a force at the plate. There is no question that the Cubs are and will remain the team to beat for the foreseeable future.
Biggest Jump: Seattle Mariners (+5)
Biggest Drop: Cleveland Indians, Houston Astros (-4)
Featured photo courtesy of SI.com