Major League Baseball as it stands right now, two weeks until September, feels like three elite teams vs. each other — and everyone else.
The Los Angeles Dodgers, Houston Astros and New York Yankees are without question the best teams in baseball at this juncture. The room between the three of them isn’t much, but the gap between them and the other 27 teams seems a bit more sizable.
That’s not to say someone can’t get hot in October and wipe away all of them, but if you’re betting on a World Series right now, the wise choice is some combination of those three teams.
We’ll see at least one version of a possible World Series preview this weekend as the Yankees visit the Dodgers for three games starting Friday in L.A. The Astros, meanwhile, are hoping they can beat up on the Tigers and the Angels after a rough patch last week that saw them lose five in a row after rising to No. 1 in these very MLB Power Rankings.
Speaking of the Power Rankings: I can’t keep the Astros No. 1 after such a showing, so we’ve got a new No. 1 team this week. Below you’ll find that and how I view all 30 teams.
THE TOP 10
1. New York Yankees (83-42; last week: 3)
Welcome back to No. 1, Yankees. The Bombers have won six of their last eight games, including a four-game series split against a good Indians team over the weekend. Luis Severino is on his way back, which is probably the biggest question about the Yankees. But this is a team that has proven time and time again this season it can win no matter who is injured. If it reaches Full Voltron Capacity in October, watch out.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers (82-44; last week: 2)
People like to make jokes about the Dodgers losing the World Series — like they’re the Buffalo Bills of baseball, but you might not want to fall into the same ol’ punchlines this year. This Dodgers team is deeper and better prepared for October than what we’ve seen in the past few years. Clayton Kershaw is pitching great, but he’s not the only one. With Hyun-Jin Ryu and Walker Buehler alongside him in the rotation, they stand ready to stop the jokes.
3. Houston Astros (79-45; last week: 1)
Tough week for the Astros — whose five losses came against the A’s (OK, fine) and the White Sox (eek). The Astros are a team that can rattle off winning streaks quite well, but the opposite is also true, which is what we saw last week. Perhaps they — like everyone else in baseball — can find their winning ways in Detroit.
4. Minnesota Twins (76-48; last week: 5)
The Twins looked like they were teetering in recent weeks and they needed something to re-establish themselves as one of the AL’s best teams. They got it. They won five of six last week against the Rangers and Brewers, retaking the lead in the AL Central and letting the Indians know they aren’t dead.
5. Atlanta Braves (74-52; last week: 6)
The Braves have to start the week feeling good about the fact that they took two of three from the Dodgers over the weekend. L.A. is the team that most stands in the way of Atlanta getting to the World Series. Message sent.
6. Cleveland Indians (74-51; last week: 4)
The Indians entered last week back among the top teams in the league after beating the Twins and getting back to the top of the AL Central. But in a week where they had to take on the Yankees and Red Sox, things didn’t continue on the same path. They went 3-4 against Boston and New York. Not the end of the world, but certainly a step backward.
7. Oakland A’s (71-53; last week: 8)
The A’s just keeping piling up wins despite having a roster the common baseball fan doesn’t know very well. It’s a familiar story in Oakland. Despite the lack of names, they’ve got the sixth-best ERA in baseball, which helped them take three of four from the Astros.
8. Tampa Bay Rays (73-52; last week: 7)
The Rays and the A’s are very similar and those similarities could see them competing for a wild card down the stretch. As it sits, the Rays are pitching better than the A’s (second-best ERA in baseball) but their offense (which is 19th in runs scored) needs to step it up.
9. Washington Nationals (67-56; last week: 11)
For as bad as the start of the season was for the Washington Nationals, they’re getting back to where plenty of people thought they could be. This is their first time in our Top 10 in months and it’s because they’ve steadily improved. It’s not a streaky fluke. They’re 43-23 since June 1 and look like legit playoff contenders.
10. St. Louis Cardinals (65-57; last week: 13)
As always, the NL Central deserves as asterisk that basically denotes: This place is wild and rankings could change every day. Right now, it’s the Cardinals ahead of the other NL Central teams in the Power Rankings. They’re tied atop the division standings with the Cubs, but the Cubs getting swept by the Phillies gives the Cards an edge this week.
11. Chicago Cubs (66-58; last week: 9) 2-4
12. Boston Red Sox (66-59; last week: 14)
13. Philadelphia Phillies (64-60; last week: 15)
14. New York Mets (64-60; last week: 10) 3-3
15. Milwaukee Brewers (64-60; last week: 12)
It feels like a good time of the year to start thinking about playoff odds. And some of you fanbases aren’t gonna want to what’s coming next, so I apologize in advance. (I don’t, actually). The defending champion Red Sox are at just 7.1 percent, according to Fangraphs’ projections, while the Cubs are the most likely of this bunch at 75.3 percent. Sprinkled in the middle we find the Phillies (9.6 percent), Brewers (25.2 percent) and Mets (42.6 percent).
IT’S NOT LOOKING GOOD
16. San Francisco Giants (63-62; last week: 16)
17. Arizona Diamondbacks (62-63; last week 17)
18. Los Angeles Angels (62-64; last week: 20)
19. Texas Rangers (60-64; last week: 18)
20. San Diego Padres (58-65; last week: 21)
Quite honestly, the Giants and Diamondbacks are the only teams here with even an outside chance of the postseason — since that NL wild-card race is so jumbled. It doesn’t look good for either, but the Giants and their roller-coaster summer started going in the right direction again over the weekend as they beat the D-backs in three out of four games. They’re above .500 and 3.5 games out from the second wild-card spot.
IT’S PRETTY MUCH A WRAP
21. Cincinnati Reds (58-65; last week: 19)
22. Colorado Rockies (57-67; last week: 21)
23. Chicago White Sox (55-68; last week: 23)
24. Seattle Mariners (52-73; last week: 25)
25. Toronto Blue Jays (52-75; last week: 24)
The Rockies, who still aren’t going anywhere meaningful, have won four games in a row, while the Rangers have lost four in a row. The Reds have had a tough go of it, getting swept by the Nats last week, and the Mariners have, at least, beat the Blue Jays and Tigers in consecutive series. The White Sox managed to beat the Astros a couple times last week, which is commendable.
26. Pittsburgh Pirates (51-72; last week: 25)
27. Miami Marlins (45-78; last week: 26)
28. Kansas City Royals (44-80; last week: 27)
29. Baltimore Orioles (39-85; last week: 29)
30. Detroit Tigers (37-84; last week: 30)
The teams down here have a combined losing streak from 16 games — including the Orioles, who have lost seven in a row. In other words: They haven’t won since our last power rankings, and now have the most losses in MLB.
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