With slightly over a month left of regular season baseball, we’re starting to get a general idea of what the postseason picture is going to look like. The Power Rankings are slightly different, as this is more meant to reward the teams that are playing the best right now. There may be some teams that I think are better than teams that will finish above them in the standings, and they’ll get the nod. As for the start of the rankings, we have more of the same.
1. San Francisco Giants
Ranking Last Week: 1
Record Last Week: 4-2
The Giants were dealt a tough stretch of road games against opponents on the east coast, and they have to feel content coming out of the week playing the way that they played. It was not as dominant of a week as they have been having lately, but they won a lot of close games in unfavorable situations. They started off the week by sweeping the descending New York Mets in 3 games. Games 2 and 3 were both 3-2 games, with the dominant Giants bullpen taking over once again. They have the 3rd best bullpen in the league, trailing only Tampa Bay and San Diego. Gabe Kapler has been given what he never had in Philadelphia, and it’s showing.
The Giants then had to head down to another NL East team in the division-leading Atlanta Braves. The Braves were red hot themselves, and they put up a great showing against San Francisco as they took 2 out of 3 games in that series. Of course, Giants fans would like to win every series. With the Dodgers looming, every game is important. With that being said, losing a series to a team of the Braves’ caliber in Atlanta isn’t the end of the world. The Dodgers simply did not do enough this week to jump ahead of them, so the Giants keep their claim on the top spot after a week of solid baseball.
We will be treated to an excellent series between the top two seeds in the National League at the moment with the Giants hosting the Milwaukee Brewers for 4 games this week to get things started. San Francisco took 2 out of 3 in Milwaukee a few weeks back, and they will get the chance to defend their home field against one of the leagues’ best. Their week doesn’t get any easier as the Los Angeles Dodgers will be coming to town for a series that could ultimately decide the NL West when all things are said and done. This is the last time they’ll meet this season.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers
Previous Rank: 2
Record Last Week: 4-2
Speaking of those Dodgers, they had a decent week overall themselves. They had the chance to capitalize on a pedestrian week from the Giants and jump into the top spot in the rankings, but they were unable to do so. The week started off great for Los Angeles after they swept the Padres in a 3 game series that featured A.J. Pollock hitting a walk-off HR in the 16th inning of the 2nd game. The Padres have really been struggling lately, but the Dodgers set themselves up for a chance to really make some noise.
Then, the lowly Colorado Rockies came to town.
The Dodgers, quite frankly, should be ashamed of themselves for this one. Losing 2 out of 3 to the Rockies at home when you’ve been trying so hard to catch the Giants is just brutal. Scoring only 7 runs across the 3 games while facing a pitching staff like the Rockies is a real tough look. They’re obviously still at worst the second team in baseball right now, and they’re going to have a stinker every once in a while. Still, winning that series is a must and every guy in that clubhouse will tell you that. On paper, you can argue the Dodgers are the best team in the league, and they have closed the gap a bit with the Giants. For now, it just wasn’t enough.
Los Angeles has a very difficult week ahead, as they will play two teams that are currently leading their division. They’ll start off with 3 games against the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves, and then they’ll get 3 with the Giants that could potentially flip the script on this NL West Race. Both the Giants and the Dodgers have extremely tough weeks ahead, will the Dodgers do enough to noticeably become better than the Giants?
3. Tampa Bay Rays
Ranking Last Week: 3
Record Last Week: 5
I have not been doing these power rankings for very long, but this is the first time I have even had the thought cross my mind that a team other than the Dodgers and Giants belongs in the Top 2. While I still believe that those two teams are ultimately better in the long run, the Rays have been playing just as well as them for a long time. They ran the table this week, but the uninspiring teams they did it against are where my reservations for moving them up emerge from. They started off getting 2 games in Philadelphia against the Phillies and they won both of those.
Following that, the Rays continued their absolute domination over the Baltimore Orioles this year. A 3 game sweep has made the Rays 18-1 vs the Orioles this year. It doesn’t matter how bad Baltimore is, that is absolutely insane. There’s a reason the Rays have built up the divisional lead in the AL East, and it’s because they take out the trash when the trash smells bad. There are no days off there whatsoever.
Tampa Bay started the week off with a desperate Red Sox team coming to town for a 4 game set. The Red Sox currently hold the second Wild Card spot, but they know if they want to win the division then this series is likely their last chance at making that happen. After that, the Minnesota Twins come to town for a 3 game set. I don’t really expect them to put up much of a fight in this one. With the Dodgers and Giants both having very difficult weeks ahead, Tampa Bay could move into the Top 2 if they have a dominant week.
4. Houston Astros
Ranking Last Week: 4
Record Last Week: 4-2
The rich have gotten richer. Alex Bregman is back, and the already league-leading Astros offense is back in business once again with the All-Star 3B in the mix. Houston slipped down the list last week after a rough showing against the Kansas City Royals, and they had their chance to redeem themselves to start off the week. They did just that after taking the first 2 games following a loss in Game 1.
They would then travel to their inter-state rival Texas Rangers and take the first 2 games before losing Game 3 in a blowout. The Astros did not really do anything to warrant them being moved up or down this week. It’s pretty hard to shake anything up this high when every team except Tampa Bay went 4-2. The Astros maintain a 6 game lead in their division, and I still don’t think they’ve played their best baseball yet. Carlos Correa has made it clear this is his last year in Houston, and that team needs to turn it up a little bit if they want to send him out with a title. They’ve embraced the villain role, which is great for baseball.
Houston will head out west for a 3 game set with the Mariners, who are still hanging around the Wild Card race, to begin the week. Houston took 2 out of 3 against Seattle last time, and Seattle will get their chance to make up for it back home. The Astros will then stay on the west coast and take on the San Diego Padres for 3 games to end their week. With Houston going on the road against two teams in playoff contention, one would think they would be content with another 4-2 week with two series wins.
5. New York Yankees
Ranking Last Week: 7
Record Last Week: 4-2
The Italian Stallions are here, and there’s no going back now. After months of mediocre baseball in the Bronx this summer, the Yankees are alive and well after ripping off a 13 game win streak to put themselves right back in a playoff spot. They had some incredibly impressive wins in the process, and have finally shown the talent that they have. They really wowed me when they went down to Atlanta and took both games from a Braves team that was on a long win streak of their own. I’m not just saying that because it helped the Phillies, but that helped show me what they can really do.
After a quick 2 games in Atlanta, the Yankees went out to Oakland to take on the A’s. Their win streak was snapped at 13 games as they lost the last two games in Oakland. They had bigger hopes after the way the series started, but getting a split in Oakland is still more than ok. Win at home, go .500 on the road. Oldest cliché in the book.
New York’s schedule calms down a little bit this week as they start off with 3 games in Los Angeles against an Angels team that is not in contention. They will then get the pleasure of taking on the Baltimore Orioles for 3 games to wrap up the week. The Yankees could potentially rise even higher, but that would likely be more of a result of the Astros struggling than it would be of the Yankees. If the Yankees again run the table and start to threaten the Rays, it could be a completely different conversation.
6. Chicago White Sox
Ranking Last Week: 5
Record Last Week: 4-2
The White Sox moving down a spot in the rankings really isn’t as much a reflection on them as it is a reflection on the Yankees. The White Sox have one of the most dangerous lineups heading down the stretch with Eloy Jiménez and Luis Robert back, but they still have a couple of questions in their rotation. Dallas Keuchel really should not be pitching in a postseason game, if we’re being honest. Chicago had to head across the border to Toronto to open the week and had a very productive series as they took 2 out of 3 against the Blue Jays. Toronto is a sneaky team that is still lurking around in the Wild Card race, and taking care of business on their home turf is impressive.
The White Sox got to take on their inter-city rival Chicago Cubs this week with the Cubs coming to the South Side this time. After a wild 17-13 win in Game 1, they would drop Game 2 before winning Game 3 13-1. I’m sure they aren’t thrilled with losing a game, but they did score a combined 30 runs in the other 2 games. I think they are more than happy with how that went overall. The AL Central race is all but over, and the White Sox at this point are mostly playing to get their lineup rolling before playoffs and figure out what to do with their pitching staffs.
Chicago has a very light week in terms of teams and amount of games played. They will have an off-day on Monday before the Pittsburgh Pirates come to town, then they will have another off day as they travel to Kansas City for 3 against the Royals. Anything less than 4-1 this week is a bit of a disappointment for the South Side.
7. Milwaukee Brewers
Ranking Last Week: 6
Record Last Week: 3-3
The Brewers didn’t necessarily have a bad week, but their falling down a spot is more of a result of teams around them all having superb weeks. It was very interesting to hear Joey Votto say the Brewers rotation is as good as any rotation he’s ever faced, comparing them to the 2010-2011 Phillies. Brandon Woodruff, Fredy Peralta, and Corbin Burnes all have ERA’s under 2.50 right now. They’re going to be an extremely difficult matchup for a team in the first round of the playoffs. With that being said, the Brewers just haven’t quite been that dominant of late. They remind me a lot of the 2019 Nationals team, and how a team with 3 legitimate aces can make a run. That team won’t dominate a regular season but can dominate the playoffs.
The Cincinnati Reds had for all intents and purposes their last chance at catching the Brewers in the NL Central. The Brewers responded by taking the series and asserting their dominance once again. That lead has now expanded to 8.5 as a result. Unfortunately for the Brew Crew, they may have used up most of their emotion for the week as they dropped 2 out of 3 in Minnesota against the Twins. Really not anything to worry about for Milwaukee, losing a series on the road against an American League team isn’t a big deal. Crazier things have happened, but it’s very unlikely they move out of the 2 seed in the National League.
As mentioned above, the Brewers will head to San Francisco to take on the Giants in a 4 game set. This is a potential NLCS matchup as these two teams have the best records in the league so far. I’m expecting a lot of great pitching and late-game bullpen matchups, which is how these two teams have been so successful. After 4 in San Francisco, the Brewers will head back home to take on the St. Louis Cardinals, who have found themselves back in the NL Wild Card race with the San Diego Padres struggling. The Brewers should really be happy with a split or anything better in their trip to San Francisco. As for St. Louis, their expectation should be to win a series at home. Anything else is a bit of a disappointment.
8. Atlanta Braves
Ranking Last Week: 8
Record Last Week: 2-3
It was a roller coaster of emotions this week for the Atlanta Braves. Their lengthy win streak came to end, but they have built up a respectable cushion in the NL East for the time being. They have a historically good infield that is getting better by the day. They have an entirely new outfield that hasn’t skipped a beat. They got Huascar Ynoa back. They bet on themselves, and it worked. They knew that even when losing Ronald Acuña Jr. and Marcell Ozuna, that they STILL could be better than the Phillies and the Mets. Here we are.
The Braves played in an “unstoppable force meets an immovable object” type of series to get the week going as the New York Yankees came to town. The Yankees took both of those games to cool down the Braves’ fire for a little bit. The Braves then had the tall task of taking on Kris Bryant and the #1 ranked San Franciso Giants. They took the first and last game of that 3 game set to give them a very impressive ending to their week. Losing the series vs the Yankees is a tough way to get your week going, but responding by taking down the best team in the league is an incredible display of resilience. Good teams can flush out whatever happened before and get back to work. Bad teams let the sting of losses linger.
Their week will be another good test of how they stack up with the elite teams in the National League as they will head to Los Angeles to take on the Dodgers for 3 games. After taking 2 from San Francisco, they have to feel very confident going into this. Their week gets a bit easier as they head up to Colorado for 4 games with the Rockies. The Rockies are always a tough team to take on at Coors Field, but the Braves will be bringing their bats out too. The Braves still hold a 4.5 game lead on the Phillies, but a tough start to the week could change that.
9. Oakland A’s
Ranking Last Week: 9
Record Last Week: 2-4
The A’s are an extremely hard team to get a read on. Outside of Matt Olson, they don’t have any above-average hitters in their lineup. Starling Marte has been having a pretty solid season, but he isn’t quite a star. Once again, led they are led by a perennially underrated rotation that has every single starter with an ERA below 4. Their rotation has been so underrated that an entire movie was made around their offense with absolutely no mention of the pitching staff whatsoever.
It really was not an ideal start for the A’s this week, as they dropped both games against the Seattle Mariners. The Mariners are right behind them in the standings, so that one stung a little bit. They proceeded to then lose the first 2 games against the New York Yankees before winning the final 2 to earn a split after Tony Kemp’s 2 run HR in the bottom of the 8th on Sunday Night Baseball. It’s hard to explain why I have the Braves over the A’s, they’re pretty much neck and neck for me. I’ll give the edge to the team that just took down the #1 team on my list, but it’s a coin flip.
Oakland will have an off day Monday, then travel to Detroit for a 3 game set with the Tigers. The Tigers have been a surprise team this year and looks like their rebuild is headed in the right direction. Spencer Torkelson and Riley Green look like they are going to be stars, and Dillon Dingler, the cousin of the host of the Delco Media Group’s Sixers Podcast “The Morey Effect” Chris DiRienzi, is right behind them. This isn’t going to be a walk-in-the-park series, the Tigers can play good baseball. The A’s will finish off their road trip taking on the Blue Jays in Toronto. That’s another team in a similar boat with the Tigers as they’re getting close to relevancy, but they just aren’t quite there yet. Oakland has their work cut out for them, but these are both series that they should expect to win in that clubhouse.
10. Boston Red Sox
Ranking Last Week: N/A
Record Last Week: 4-2
The Red Sox had been playing some awful baseball, but this week was a great step in the right direction for keeping their season alive. Chris Sale has come back looking better than Boston could have expected, and they have needed someone like him this year. It’s looking likely that if the Red Sox were to make the postseason, they would be in a Wild Card game. They need a pitcher they can 100% trust to go up against a Gerrit Cole and Sale can be that guy. Unless they want to start Nick Pivetta.
Outside of Miguel Sanó hitting a 1000 foot HR to Center Field at Fenway Park off Pivetta, it was a pretty good first series for the Red Sox. They took 2 out of 3 very high-scoring games in this series to give them a much-needed series win. They headed to Cleveland for a 3 game series with the Indians and took the first 2 games before dropping the finale. The Red Sox obviously had a meltdown to let the Yankees come all the way back into this thing, but none of that matters anymore. You’re still right in the middle of the race, and there’s still time to get that confidence back.
Boston has a massive 4 game set to start the week at Tropicana Field against the Tampa Bay Rays. If the Red Sox want any hope of winning the AL East, they have to win at least 3 out of 4 in this series. Their season isn’t over if they lose this series, but their division title hopes probably are. After taking 2 out of 3 in Cleveland, the Red Sox will square up with the Indians again at the end of this week in Boston this time. If Boston has a rough time against Tampa Bay, this could be a much-needed sigh of relief knowing you can take care of business here. Boston takes this spot over Cincinnati as a result of them losing both of their series.
Honorable Mention: Cincinnati Reds, Toronto Blue Jays, Seattle Mariners