It was a huge week of Major League Baseball with several top tier teams squaring off to see where they stacked up late in the season. As a result, a couple of teams had their spots in the ranking shaken up. We officially have less than a month left of the regular season. Let’s take a look at how every team stacks up heading into the final month.
1. San Francisco Giants
- Ranking Last Week: 1
- Record: 87-50
- Record Last Week: 3-4
For the first part of this week, it felt very likely that the Giants would lose their grasp on the top spot in the power rankings for the first time since I started doing them.
The Dodgers are hot on their tail, ready to capitalize on any mistake that they make. San Francisco started off their week by taking on a fellow division leader in the Milwaukee Brewers, a potential look ahead to a playoff matchup. The Giants did not have a showing to remember as they dropped the first 3 games of the series at home before salvaging the final game to avoid a sweep.
That is obviously a massive disappointment for Giants fans, but they did not have any time to sit around and think about as the Dodgers were coming to town for a 3 game series over the weekend. With the standings as close as they are, for all intents and purposes this series was for the #1 spot in the power rankings. The Giants were able to flush that Brewers series right away and get focused on what matters as they took 2 out of 3 in their final meeting with the Dodgers, which included them putting up 6 runs on Cy Young candidate Walker Buehler on Sunday Night Baseball in Game 3.
Even with a rough start to the week, the Giants absolutely still deserve the top spot on this list without question. They have what should be a fairly easy week coming up with 3 games in Colorado against the Rockies, and 3 games in Chicago against the Cubs. Anything less than 5-1 should be considered disappointing for a Giants team with this amount of talent.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers
- Ranking Last Week: 2
- Record: 86-51
- Record Last Week: 5-1
The Dodgers had a perfect opportunity to take over that first spot in the power rankings, but they were just not able to get it done.
They are still playing very good baseball of late, just not quite good enough to move up. They started off by taking care of business against the NL East leading Atlanta Braves with a 3 game sweep to cool them down. Their pitching absolutely suffocated the high powered Braves, letting up only 8 runs in 3 games. LA is going to need Cody Bellinger to wake up at some point, as his average sits around .170 in this injury riddled 2021. He has the talent to put the Dodgers over the edge, we just have not seen it yet this year.
The Dodgers were hoping to ride the high of their series sweep into San Francisco with their final meeting of the season against the Giants, but were unable to perform to their expectations. It was an odd stretch of emotions for SS Trea Turner, who went from having the go ahead RBI in Game 1, to losing the game on a throwing error, to leading off the next game with a HR. Baseball can be very weird and humbling in that regard. After losing Game 1, the Dodgers would win Game 2 before ultimately losing the series. It was a prime opportunity for the Dodgers to do what they have been trying to do for weeks now, and they squandered that chance. With no more games left against the Giants, they will have to try and do it themselves.
Los Angeles has a big week against teams currently in the Wild Card race right now, and that could really shake things up depending on how that goes.
They will begin with 4 games in St. Louis against the Cardinals, who are right on the outside looking in at the moment. They will then return back home for 3 games against the San Diego Padres. The Dodgers have a much tougher schedule this week than the Giants, and if they were to have a better week than the Giants, they could find themselves moving up to that top spot.
3. Tampa Bay Rays
- Ranking Last Week: 3
- Record: 86-51
- Record Last Week: 4-3
Tampa Bay is likely not moving out of this spot for the foreseeable future, as they have a very comfortable lead in the American League right now.
The Rays now sit 35 games over .500 after losing the top 3 members of their 2020 rotation. It’s going to be fascinating to see how the movie about them is made, similar to “Moneyball”. It’s become unfathomable at this point. They started off with 4 games against their AL East rival Boston Red Sox in Tampa Bay, and they took the first 2 games before losing the last 2. If you had told the Rays going in that it would be a split, they probably wouldn’t be too upset. Losing the last 2 after winning the first 2 is a tough pill to swallow though.
Next up was the Minnesota Twins, the biggest disappointment of the 2021 season without a doubt. Nelson Cruz got another chance to take on his former team, and the Twins were able to steal a game with the Rays taking the other 2. All things considered, there’s really nothing to be upset about or worry about for the Rays. The Red Sox are far more desperate than they are, so it’s understandable they came out with a little more energy. Of course you want to sweep every series, but the Twins winning one game is not a problem.
The Rays will get another shot against the Red Sox to start off their week with 3 games in Fenway and an 8 game lead over them in the division.
It would take an all-time September collapse for the Rays to not be AL East champs this year. We’ve seen crazier things happen involving the Rays in 2011, so I will never say it’s a given. After the Red Sox series to start the week, the Rays will travel to Detroit for 3 games with the Tigers. Tampa Bay can’t take that series lightly, the Tigers play very competitive baseball. That has “trap series” written all over it.
4. Milwaukee Brewers
- Ranking Last Week: 7
- Record: 84-54
- Record Last Week: 5-2
There’s something going on in Milwaukee right now, and they have gotten the full attention of the baseball world following their performance this week.
They are a team that for a long time it has been known they will likely win their division, but it was tough to tell whether that was because their division was weak or because they were a very talented team. They had the opportunity to play on the big stage taking on the #1 team in the power rankings on the road for 4 games to begin the week. They made a statement in that one, taking the first 3 games of the series before losing the final one. Just a sensational performance by everyone involved in this one.
It’s very easy to fall flat on your face after an emotional series win like that. You can get too high after and come crashing back down to earth for a reality check, instead, the Brewers channeled that energy for an improbable series win at home vs the St. Louis Cardinals. It’s not improbable THAT they beat the Cardinals, it’s improbable HOW they did. After losing the first game 15-4, they won Game 2 before a miraculous Game 3 that saw Daniel Vogelbach hit a walk-off Grand Slam while trailing by 3. That’s the moment every kid dreams of right there, and it put an exclamation point on this fantastic week of baseball.
For the majority of the season, the Dodgers and Giants have been considered the class of the National League.
The Brewers are just a few games behind them, and simply aren’t out of the race for the top seed in the National League. They will begin their week by hosting the playoff contending Philadelphia Phillies for a 3 game set, before traveling to Cleveland with 3 against the Indians. The Brewers went 5-2 against teams that are better than both of these two, so there’s no signs that they are going to slow down this week.
5. Houston Astros
- Ranking Last Week: 4
- Record: 79-57
- Record Last Week: 2-4
It was a bit of a week to forget for Houston, who finds themselves sliding down a spot this week as a result.
They hold a 4.5 game lead in their division, but they still haven’t quite been playing up to the talent on their club. I don’t know if something just isn’t 100% clicking, if they have taken their foot off the gas, or whatever it may be, it just hasn’t been good enough lately. They started off losing 2 out of 3 in Seattle against the Mariners, and they were shutout in back to back games in the process. For an offense with this much firepower, that should never happen.
They continued their week with some interleague play as they went to San Diego to take on the Padres, only to find the same result as they did in Seattle. Going on the road to take on teams that are in the playoff hunt is not easy, so this week is not anything to press the panic button for in Houston. Perhaps if there is a “wake up call” button that would be better? Houston is still very much a top tier team in the American League, they just haven’t quite given themselves as much separation as they would like.
They will once again get the Seattle Mariners to start off the week, this time in Houston. Seattle only trails the AL West by 4.5 games, so this is pretty much their best chance at making things interesting going forward. The Astros will wrap up their week with 3 games at home against the Los Angeles Angels. 6 straight home games against divisional opponents could put the Astros back on track, or it could be the start of a close AL West race down to the wire between Houston, Seattle, and even Oakland.
6. Chicago White Sox
- Ranking Last Week: 6
- Record: 79-58
- Record Last Week: 3-2
It was an odd week in general for Chicago, who was given a rare week with 2 off days.
The White Sox at this point are pretty much just competing for seeding in the American League playoffs at this point. The AL Central race is over, and they will likely end up taking on the winner of the AL West in the first round. Still, you’d like to see them have a bit of a better showing this week. They started off with taking both games at home against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Anything else would have likely resulted in them moving down.
The Kansas City Royals, however, gave Chicago a bit of trouble.
The White Sox went down there and lost 2 out of 3 to end their week on a not great note. Divisional teams love playing spoiler and the it’s not like the Royals’ roster is a dumpster fire, you just expect a little bit more from Chicago in that situation. That wasn’t enough to drop them down the rankings, but it was interesting to see. The Sox have major pitching questions at the moment with Lucas Giolito on the IL, Carlos Rodon “doesn’t feel right”, and Dallas Keuchel has been struggling a lot.
They have a tough stretch ahead with 2 teams that are currently fighting for their Wild Card lives as they travel to Oakland for 3 games with the A’s before returning home to take on the Red Sox in Chicago. While the White Sox struggling this week likely wouldn’t affect the playoff picture that much, they could see themselves slide a bit down the rankings if they have some trouble putting things together this week.
7. New York Yankees
- Ranking Last Week: 5
- Record: 78-58
- Record Last Week: 2-4
After ripping off 13 straight wins, the Yankees cracked the Top 5 in the ranking last week for good reason. This week, they weren’t exactly able to live up to the hype that they set for themselves. They still currently sit in the top Wild Card spot, but that is a very fluid situation there. New York struggled heavily with the Angels, dropping the first 2 games before salvaging a win in the series. It can’t get worse than that this week, right?
Well, the Baltimore Orioles have something to say about that.
Somehow, someway, the Orioles came into New York and took 2 out of 3 against the Yankees. I would lose all of the credibility that I had if I kept the Yankees in the Top 5 after losing a series to the Orioles. When fighting for your playoff lives, that is an embarrassing series to lose, no questions asked. It’s not just that they lost, it’s how they lost too. Letting up 4 runs in the 7th inning to Baltimore is a kick in the gut. That’s not a good way to build momentum up.
The “series of the week” if you might say will be a very fascinating one, as the Yankees take on the Toronto Blue Jays for 4 games in New York. The Blue Jays are only 4 games back in the Wild Card hunt, and this series could really reshape the playoff picture. Following the Toronto series, the Yankees will travel across town for a 3 game series with the Mets, who aren’t quite out of this thing yet either. It’s a big week in the Bronx to see if the Bombers can shake off last week.
8. Boston Red Sox
- Ranking Last Week: 10
- Record: 79-60
- Record Last Week: 4-3
All things considered, this was a pretty good week for Boston.
After holding the division lead for the majority of the season, they have already dealt with a major collapse that saw Tampa Bay take a commanding lead in the division. With that being said, most meltdowns usually result in the team falling out of contention. That isn’t the case here as the Red Sox hold the last playoff spot currently. They started off the week with a tough task in going down to Tampa Bay for a 4 game set, and rebounded nicely after losing the first 2 games by winning the final 2. I think everyone in that clubhouse is satisfied with a split.
Boston then got to come back home for a 3 game set with the Cleveland Indians. They took care of business in that series winning the first 2 games before dropping the Sunday afternoon finale. Nick Pivetta was unable to start that game as a result of being placed on the COVID-IL, so we’ll give Boston a pass for that one having to string together a pitching plan on short notice.
It’s going to be a very, very tough week for the Red Sox.
They start off by getting another crack at the Rays for 3 games before heading to the Southside to take on the White Sox for 3 games. This can absolutely be looked at as a make or break week for Boston. It’s a great way to see how they stack up with 2 of the best 3 teams in the American League. With the Wild Card race having more teams jumping in, they will at the very least need to go .500 or better this week to be satisfied.
9. Toronto Blue Jays
- Ranking Last Week: N/A
- Record: 73-62
- Record Last Week: 5-1
For the first time since I have been doing these power rankings, the Toronto Blue Jays have made an appearance.
Toronto was a team that had many on board before the season as a result of all of their young talent, but could not quite put it together at the start. They have upgraded their pitching rotation with Jose Berrios, Robbie Ray has been pitching like a Cy Young contender, and they still have the perennially underrated Hyun-Jin Ryu. Toronto is very much alive and started off their week taking 2 out of 3 against the Orioles.
They put the world on notice this weekend with a 3 game sweep against the Oakland A’s, including one of the more dramatic games we have seen this year. Trailing 8-4, Bo Bichette hit a Grand Slam to tie the game, the A’s scored 2 in the Top of the 9th only to see former A’s infielder Marcus Semien hit a walk-off 3 run HR for Toronto. It was madness in the great white north, and Toronto all of a sudden has Wild Card fever. Shohei Ohtani (and Salvador Perez?) may have leapfrogged Vladdy Jr. for HR’s, but he still leads the league in average and is having an unbelievable season.
MARCUS SEMIEN— Barstool Sportsbook (@BSSportsbook) September 4, 2021
THE BLUE JAYS WALK IT OFF
Toronto has a massive opportunity to show they are serious about this playoff push as they have a 4 game set in New York against the Yankees this week.
If they were to win that series, they will be right on the doorstep of that Wild Card game. After that, they will finish off the week with 3 against Baltimore. The Blue Jays are the most dynamic team on this list, they could find themselves in front of the Yankees depending on how the week goes, or off the list entirely.
10. Seattle Mariners
- Ranking Last Week: N/A
- Record: 75-62
- Record Last Week: 5-1
For the second straight spot in the rankings, we have a team making its debut. Seattle has been hovering around this spot for a while now, but finally had some teams in front of them struggle enough to allow them to hop into the Top 10.
No one expected Seattle to be a contending team this year, but they have done a great job at making themselves relevant and trying to end their MLB worst postseason drought. Seattle took on the AL West leading Astros to start of the week, and took care of business taking 2 out of 3 games to start the week off.
They had to then take on the Diamondbacks for the 3 games, who have been playing a lot better baseball of late than they had been for the majority of the season. That did not matter to Seattle as they took all 3 games in that series, which was an absolute necessity given how close this Wild Card race is. The Mariners don’t have the most flashy roster as Mitch Haniger and Kyle Seager are the only hitters with more than 16 HR’s, and Chris Flexen is the only starter with an ERA under 4. Somehow, they just manage to get it done.
Weirdly enough, they will have the same exact schedule this week as they had last week, except for the locations. Instead of playing Houston in Seattle to start the week, they will play them in Houston. Instead of playing Arizona in Arizona to end the week, they will play them in Seattle. It’s probably fair to say the Mariners and their fans would be content with another 5-1 performance.