Baseball isn’t exactly a sport where there are large tides of change among the best teams. Especially not in August.
But after a week off — sorry, vacation calls — there are some changes in this week’s MLB Power Rankings. Most importantly, we have a new No. 1 team. You can probably guess who it is.
We also have a new team to break into the top four, which has mostly been the same for the past couple of months. We have a team that was nearly left for dead showing up in the Top 10 and we have a lot more postseason hopes looking dashed than we did even two weeks ago. And we have the first team to reach 80 losses.
Here, my friends, is how I see all 30 teams in MLB this week.
THE TOP 10
1. Houston Astros (77-41; last week: 2)
Our new No. 1? The team that finally lost for the first time in August on Sunday — and it was considered one of the biggest betting upsets in 12 years. The Houston Astros, who had looked unbeatable since Zack Greinke came to town, showed us once again just how dangerous they can be. They’re not necessarily No. 1 because Greinke or Yordan Alvarez or any one player. They’re here because they’ve shown once again that when they’re hot, they’re the toughest team to beat in baseball. The rest of the league better hope that’s not the case in October.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers (79-41; last week: 1)
The Dodgers didn’t fall down to No. 2 because of anything they did necessarily. Heck, they’ve only lost three times in the past two weeks. They’re still quite good. Their 3.29 team ERA is still the best in baseball by a wide margin and their league-leading 67 quality starts prove their starting pitching is a force that should be feared.
3. New York Yankees (77-41; last week: 3)
The Yankees have the same record as the Astros, in case you’re wondering how good they are. They’ve also only lost three games in the past two weeks and that includes significantly less trade-deadline fireworks than Houston. If they get Luis Severino back and he’s effective, that could be a game-changer in the AL World Series race.
4. Cleveland Indians (71-47; last week: 5)
The Indians are back atop the AL Central standings. Well, they’re sharing the spot with the Twins, who had been keeping it warm all season. Cleveland won three of four over Minnesota in a weekend series to make the AL Central race look like the best in baseball this fall.
5. Minnesota Twins (71-47; last week: 4)
The Twins are still a good team, but the momentum has been swiped from them. Nelson Cruz’s injury surely won’t help matters either. The most important things for the Twins right now is keeping it together until he returns and not falling apart now that the Indians have caught them.
6. Atlanta Braves (70-50; last week: 6)
The Braves have the most desirable seat in the NL East — looking down at all the madness. They have a 6.5-game lead that could hold if the Nats, Mets and Phillies keep beating up on each other. The bigger question: Can their pitching hang against the Dodgers in October?
7. Tampa Bay Rays (69-50; last week: 9)
The Rays are hangin’ tough. They’re not an elite AL team, but there’s little reason to doubt they can’t be a force down the stretch and even tough to beat in a one-game wild card — because it would be a surprise at this point if they caught the Yankees.
8. Oakland A’s (67-51; last week: 8)
The A’s are basically the West Coast version of the Rays. So everything above, but about the AL West and the Astros.
9. Chicago Cubs (64-54; last week: 11)
The NL Central teams — like their AL counterparts — will be the race to watch as we head to October. The Cubs sit atop the throne now, but don’t have nearly the cushion that the Braves do. The Brewers and Cardinals aren’t far behind.
10. New York Mets (61-57; last week: 19)
Is this over-reactionary? Probably. The Mets are hot, but the rest of the third-tier NL teams aren’t really jumping up and taking the final top 10-spot either. Now, the Mets could very well be on a Giants-like tear that ends with a Giants-like fall back to Earth. But for now, they’re on fire.
11. Washington Nationals (62-55; last week: 13)
12. Milwaukee Brewers (62-57; last week: 10)
13. St. Louis Cardinals (61-55; last week: 12)
14. Boston Red Sox (62-58; last week: 7)
15. Philadelphia Phillies (60-58; last week: 14)
The Nats, Brewers, Cardinals and Phillies aren’t doing enough to establish themselves as great teams. All year, they’ve shown flashes of being good, but they’ll need to go on a run if they’re going to the challenge the Dodgers and Braves for a chance to be an elite NL team. As for the Red Sox, they were on a steady climb for a while, but they’ve only won three games in the past two weeks. Ouch.
IT’S NOT LOOKING GOOD
16. San Francisco Giants (59-60; last week: 15)
17. Arizona Diamondbacks (59-59; last week 17)
18. Texas Rangers (59-58; last week: 18)
19. Cincinnati Reds (56-60; last week: 22)
20. Los Angeles Angels (58-61; last week: 16)
If you’re holding onto playoff hopes down here, bless your heart and your fandom. The D-backs and Giants, realistically aren’t out of it and as weird as the middle-class of the NL has been this season, there’s a shot. But it’s not a good one. As for the Reds, they’re not going to challenge for a playoff spot, but they’re at least a team that is showing a lot of potential for the future.
IT’S PRETTY MUCH A WRAP
21. San Diego Padres (55-62; last week: 20)
22. Colorado Rockies (53-65; last week: 21)
23. Chicago White Sox (52-64; last week: 24)
24. Toronto Blue Jays (49-72; last week: 28)
25. Seattle Mariners (48-71; last week: 23)
Down in the land of hopes dashed, the Mariners and Padres can still remember the months when they were pretty good. The White Sox and Blue Jays are thinking about the future. And the Rockies? Well, next year can’t come soon enough.
26. Pittsburgh Pirates (48-69; last week: 25)
27. Miami Marlins (44-73; last week: 26)
28. Kansas City Royals (43-76; last week: 27)
29. Baltimore Orioles (39-78; last week: 29)
30. Detroit Tigers (35-80; last week: 30)
The Tigers are the first team to lose 80 games, which can be considered a win for the Orioles who were expected to be the worst. Meanwhile, the Pirates — who weren’t bad at one point — are 2-10 in the last two weeks and are now hanging out down here in the basement.
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