So this is the end — of the regular season at least. What happens in October, like every other MLB season, is anyone’s guess.
When this short, weird, completely unique baseball season started, our Power Rankings started with one simple yet baffling question: Which teams are good? Unlike in years past, we didn’t get to see teams play other divisions so our basis of comparison wasn’t exactly complete.
Now, as we enter the postseason, seeing these teams finally play outside their division is one of the most interesting storylines. Yet, in our final regular-season installment of the Power Rankings, we’ve circled back to the original questions: Which teams are good? Which teams aren’t? And which teams are we still not sure about?
Sixty games really isn’t enough to tell for some teams. We know the Dodgers are good — maybe even great — but after that, there’s no right answer. Time to let October decide.
But in the final week of September, here’s how I see all 30 MLB teams:
I’M CONFIDENT THESE TEAMS ARE GOOD
1. Los Angeles Dodgers (39-17; last week: 1) — The Dodgers have hit the most homers in baseball this year. They have the best ERA. They’re second in runs scored. But how about this? There’s not a meaningful category where they have a losing record. No opponent. No month. No split. They’re 6-5 in one-run games, 12-3 in interleague games, 2-0 in 7-inning games and an impressive 16-1 in games decided by more than five runs. They’re No. 1, no question.
2. Tampa Bay Rays (37-20; last week: 4) — The Rays don’t wow you with any one stat. The pitching is good. Their offense is fine. They find ways to win. Pressed to find the most interesting thing about these Rays, it’s probably that they beat the Yankees eight times in 10 games — something that directly resulted in the position they’re in.
3. Minnesota Twins (35-22; last week: 6) — When you think of the Twins, you think about that exciting offense, but this year it’s a little different. They’re tied for fifth in homers but rank 16th in runs scored and 21st in on-base percentage. It’s actually the pitching carrying the load.
4. San Diego Padres (34-22; last week: 3) — The Padres pitchers continue to be impressive, but if they lose Mike Clevinger for October, as reports suggest they could, that could be a tough blow for a team that is perhaps the most exciting in the league.
5. Oakland A’s (34-21; last week: 5) — The A’s have the best bullpen in the game this season, which isn’t too surprising when you consider the A’s always seem to eke out some advantage that levels the field with the big-market clubs.
6. New York Yankees (32-24; last week: 7) — If the postseason were a survivor pool and I drew the Yankees, I’d feel OK about that all things considered. Health woes, once again, have made them look more like some rag-tag Rebels than the fully functioning Death Star, but it’s not hard to imagine the Yankees going on a run in October.
7. Atlanta Braves (34-22; last week: 9) — Nobody has scored more runs this season the Braves. Only one team has a higher ERA among their starting pitchers than the Braves. That’s the Tigers and that’s not great.
8. Chicago White Sox (34-22; last week: 2) — The White Sox picked a bad time to get cold. They’ve fallen out of first place in the division and got schooled this week by the Indians. Makes you wonder what October could bring.
9. Cleveland Indians (32-24; last week: 11) — Likewise, the Indians taking four straight against the White Sox makes you wonder if they could be a dangerous team once these playoffs start.
10. Chicago Cubs (32-24; last week: 8) — The Cubs’ pitching has been better than expected this season and done a good job of hiding the real problem: Their offense performs more like a team that doesn’t deserve a postseason spot. They’re 20th in runs and 17th in on-base percentage.
11. Toronto Blue Jays (29-27; last week: 10) — The Blue Jays are going to the playoffs barring any extraordinary development, but this should be concerning: They’re 10-12 in September.
HONESTLY, I STILL DON’T KNOW
Nearly 60 games in and I still don’t know about these teams. I still don’t think the Giants are good, but it’s hard to argue with the results. I still think the Astros have the parts to be good, but it’s hard to argue with the results (and the injuries). The Phillies (and their ugly bullpen) are trying not to fumble the bag while the Brewers are trying to sneak in the playoffs. The Reds are making a move, the Cardinals are holding steady and the Marlins — incredibly — are still there, man.
Still, it’s hard to 1) see any of these teams making an October run or 2) being head-and-shoulders better than the others here. The Reds have the most talent and pitching that could flourish in October, so that’s why they’re in the top spot.
12. Cincinnati Reds (29-28; last week: 16)
13. St. Louis Cardinals (27-26; Last week: 17)
14. Houston Astros (28-28; last week: 14)
15. Miami Marlins (28-28; last week: 13)
16. Milwaukee Brewers (27-28; last week: 18)
17. Philadelphia Phillies (28-29; last week: 12)
18. San Francisco Giants (28-27; last week: 15)
THESE TEAMS ARE DEFINITELY NOT GOOD
There’s no need to pile on down here. Half of this tier knows they’re not great and don’t need us telling them any further. Instead, some kudos — to the Angels for at least getting closer to .500; to Mariners for the hanging in the playoff hunt; to Royals and Orioles for being better than expected; to the Mets for not being as much of a disaster as the could have been. That’s all the kudos I have.
19. New York Mets (25-31; last week: 19):
20. Los Angeles Angels (26-31; last week: 25)
21. Seattle Mariners (25-31; last week: 21)
22. Baltimore Orioles (23-33; last week: 22)
23. Kansas City Royals (23-33; last week: 24)
24. Colorado Rockies (24-31; last week: 20)
25. Washington Nationals (23-33; last week: 26)
26. Detroit Tigers (22-32; last week: 23)
27. Arizona Diamondbacks (22-34; last week: 28)
28. Boston Red Sox (22-34; last week: 29)
29. Texas Rangers (19-37; last week: 27)
30. Pittsburgh Pirates (17-39; last week: 30)
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