MLB Power Rankings: Week 18

Drew Silva
Rotoworld

Welcome to the Rotoworld MLB Power Rankings, a weekly feature that will run every Tuesday through the end of the 2019 regular season. These rankings are not fantasy-driven in any way, though I will include nuggets of more abstract fantasy advice here and there inside the individual team write-ups. Who’s hot, who’s not -- that sort of thing. Send any and all complaints to me on Twitter: @drewsilv. Please believe me when I tell you that I do not hate your team.

1. Los Angeles Dodgers
Record: 69-39
Last Week: 1
Will Smith showed that he was ready for his close-up on Saturday, going 3-for-3 with a home run, two doubles, and six RBI in the Dodgers' 9-3 thrashing of the Nationals. Smith went 1-for-3 with a single on Sunday and then doubled and scored the lone run for Los Angeles in Monday's 9-1 series-opening loss to the Rockies. All told, the 24-year-old catcher is batting .343/.400/.800 with four home runs, four doubles, and 12 RBI through his first 12 major league games. He has replaced Austin Barnes as the Dodgers' starting catcher, and there probably won't be any turning back in that regard. Now it's time to beef up that relief corps.

2. Houston Astros
Record: 68-39
Last Week: 3 
The Astros strutted their stuff against a pair of contending teams last week, taking two of three from both the Athletics and Cardinals while opening up an eight-game lead on first place in the American League West standings. They have the best run differential of any American League club at +126 and seem poised to add both a starting pitcher and a left-handed reliever ahead of Wednesday's trade deadline. Top outfield prospect Kyle Tucker is one of the more intriguing trade chips out there. The 22-year-old has batted .298/.374/.576 with 51 home runs and 43 stolen bases in 196 career games at the Triple-A level.

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3. New York Yankees 
Record:
 67-38
Last Week: 2 
The Yankees dropped three of four to the arch-rival Red Sox over the weekend, yielding a combined 38 runs between those three losses. They've given up five or more runs in nine consecutive games and are in clear need of starting pitching help with the July 31 trade deadline fast approaching. Marcus Stroman was known to be a target, but he went to the crosstown Mets on Sunday. Robbie Ray? Mike Minor? Zack Wheeler? Or do the Yankees go big and try to fetch Trevor Bauer or Noah Syndergaard? They have the young talent to make a substantial addition before the clock strikes 4pm ET on Wednesday.

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4. Minnesota Twins 
Record: 64-41
Last Week: 4
The Twins made a splash on the relief market Saturday, acquiring veteran Sergio Romo from the Marlins. Romo, 36, had posted a 3.58 ERA and 17 saves with Miami while holding right-handed batters to a .203/.241/.392 slash line. He could see ninth-inning opportunities in Minnesota in tandem with left-hander Taylor Rogers. Nelson Cruz was just named the American League Player of the Week for July 22-28 after tallying seven home runs and 13 RBI in that seven-game period. The veteran slugger is up to 26 home runs in 78 games this year and currently boasts a .980 OPS, which would be his highest OPS since 2008.

5. Cleveland Indians 
Record: 62-43
Last Week: 6 
Cleveland made a creative multi-player trade on Sunday, landing right-handed reliever Hunter Wood and third baseman Christian Arroyo from the Rays for outfield prospect Ruben Cardenas and international bonus pool money. Wood had registered a 2.48 ERA and 24/7 K/BB ratio in 29 innings of work this season for Tampa Bay and should be a solid addition to the Indians' setup corps. Arroyo has battled a range of injuries throughout his professional career, but the 24-year-old ranked as a top-100 prospect not long ago and he was batting .314/.381/.603 in 134 plate appearances this season at Triple-A Durham.

6. Atlanta Braves 
Record:
 62-45
Last Week: 5 
The Braves are up 4 1/2 games on first place in the National League East, but they have some work to do ahead of Wednesday's 4pm ET trade deadline. Adding a starting pitcher seems like a must, especially after Kevin Gausman got bombed for six earned runs on nine hits -- three homers -- in a 9-4 loss to the Phillies on Sunday. And they probably need another outfielder too, as Nick Markakis suffered a fractured left wrist when he was hit by a pitch on Friday. He is expected to be sidelined through at least mid-September. This can be a dangerous postseason team, but there are some holes on the roster.

7. Boston Red Sox 
Record: 59-48
Last Week: 9 
The reigning World Series champions made quite a statement last week, winning five of seven against the Rays and Yankees while moving just a game back of the second American League Wild Card spot. It's go time in Boston, with Mookie Betts looking much more like Mookie Betts in recent weeks. He's slashing .366/.432/.656 with 31 runs scored in 23 games since the calendar flipped to July. Rafael Devers shows no signs of slowing down either. Since manager Alex Cora moved him into the No. 2 spot in the order on June 25, the young third baseman has batted .381/.430/.771 with 27 extra-base hits in 27 games.

8. Oakland Athletics 
Record: 60-47
Last Week: 8 
The A's lost two of three to the Astros last week and then dropped the first two games of a four-game series against the Rangers before rallying for one-run victories on both Saturday and Sunday. Oakland is doubtful to catch Houston at the top of the American League West standings, but a Wild Card spot is very much in play, especially if front office maestro Billy Beane can spin a few more trades for pitching upgrades. Homer Bailey has turned in two good starts and one awful one since being acquired from the Royals on July 14. Beane got back on the line with Kansas City on Saturday, pulling in setup man Jake Diekman.

9. Tampa Bay Rays 
Record: 60-48
Last Week: 7 
Tampa Bay got hit with some awful news last Thursday, as it was announced that 2018 American League Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell would require arthroscopic surgery to remove loose bodies from his left elbow. He had the surgery on Monday, and while it apparently went smoothly, Snell is expected to be sidelined until sometime in early-to-mid September. Any sort of setback could leave him doubtful for the remainder of the 2019 campaign. Eric Sogard was a nice pickup from the Blue Jays, but what the Rays really need to outlast the other American League Wild Card hopefuls is a proven and reliable starting pitcher. 

10. Washington Nationals
Record: 57-49
Last Week: 11 
Max Scherzer returned to the 10-day injured list on Monday with what's being called a mild rhomboid strain. Scherzer missed almost three weeks between July 6 and July 25 with a very similar injury -- at that time labeled a mid-back strain -- and the Nationals figure to play things a little more cautiously this time around. They lost two of three to the Dodgers over the weekend but rallied for a big 6-3 win over the NL East-leading Braves on Monday, with Anthony Rendon popping a go-ahead grand slam in the bottom of the sixth inning. As it stands here on Tuesday afternoon, Washington is 4 1/2 games back of Atlanta for first place.

11. Chicago Cubs 
Record: 56-49
Last Week: 10 
Kyle Schwarber helped Chicago avoid a three-game weekend sweep in Milwaukee on Sunday as he belted a grand slam and a three-run homer as part of an 11-4 victory. He also hit an infield single and drew a hit-by-pitch, finishing 3-for-3 with seven RBI and four runs scored. This week will be a crucial one for the Cubs, as they'll open a three-game series against the Cardinals on Tuesday night in St. Louis and then host the Brewers at Wrigley Field for a three-game weekend set. As it stands here on Tuesday afternoon, they are tied with the Cardinals for first place in the NL Central and are one game up on the Brew Crew.

12. St. Louis Cardinals 
Record:
 56-49
Last Week: 12
Paul Goldschmidt was named the National League Player of the Week for July 22-28 after tallying six home runs and 13 RBI in seven games. His stretch of six consecutive games with a home run was a career-first, and his season OPS is up above .800 for the first time since early June. If the Cardinals can get more of the same from Goldschmidt down the stretch and Marcell Ozuna is able to return this week without any lasting effects from the fractures in his right hand, the offense should be capable of leading a division title charge. St. Louis will likely add a new face to the rotation before Wednesday's trade deadline to help on the pitching end.

13. Milwaukee Brewers 
Record: 56-51
Last Week: 13
The Brewers dipped their toe into the trade market on Monday, acquiring right-hander Jordan Lyles from the Pirates for relief prospect Cody Ponce. Lyles got off to a very encouraging start this season in Pittsburgh, delivering a 1.89 ERA and 52/16 K/BB ratio over his first 47 2/3 innings, but he went down with a hamstring strain in early June and has allowed 26 runs -- 23 earned -- in 18 innings (five starts) since returning. This is how desperate the rotation situation has become in Milwaukee, with Brandon Woodruff out until mid-September due to an oblique strain and Jhoulys Chacin projected to miss much of July because of a lat strain.

14. Philadelphia Phillies 
Record: 55-50
Last Week: 14
The Phillies added a piece to their starting rotation on Monday evening, acquiring veteran left-hander Jason Vargas from the Mets in exchange for minor league catcher Austin Bossart. It's not the big-name pitching addition that many Phillies fans have been clamoring for, but Vargas has quietly posted a 3.34 ERA across his last 12 starts. He should be an upgrade over Zach Eflin, who has surrendered 27 runs -- 22 earned -- in 15 2/3 innings (four starts) this month. Philly seems certain to grab a reliever or two before Wednesday's 4pm ET trade deadline. White Sox closer Alex Colome is said to be a target.

15. San Francisco Giants 
Record: 54-52
Last Week: 15
The Giants took two of three from both the Cubs and Padres last week and are now 19-5 over their last 24 games dating back to June 30. They're not going to catch the Dodgers at the top of the National League West standings, but they're just 2 1/2 games back of the second National League Wild Card spot and now apparently plan to hold on to staff ace Madison Bumgarner past Wednesday's trade deadline. Does that also mean that veteran relievers Will Smith, Sam Dyson, and Tony Watson are going to stay put? Giants president Farhan Zaidi is in a tricky position in his first year at the helm of this organization.

16. Los Angeles Angels 
Record: 55-53
Last Week: 16
The Angels dropped three of four to the Orioles over the weekend and then fell 7-2 to the Tigers on Monday night. This should have been an easy stretch for the Halos, one that would allow them to gain some ground in the American League Wild Card standings, but they have instead fallen 5 1/2 games back, and the teams directly above them -- Indians, Athletics, Rays, and Red Sox -- all profile better as postseason contenders. The Angels could try to buy at the trade deadline and make a run, but they need multiple pitchers and would probably be better off unloading parts instead. Brian Goodwin and Hansel Robles are drawing interest.

17. Arizona Diamondbacks 
Record: 53-54
Last Week: 17
The Diamondbacks lost 11-6 to the Marlins on Monday while falling back below the .500 mark. They're probably going to be one of the more active sellers ahead of Wednesday's trade deadline, which is for the best in the long term. Getting out from under the $80 million owed to 35-year-old right-hander Zack Greinke should be a goal, and the D-backs can expect a nice return for 27-year-old left-hander Robbie Ray, who is under control through 2020 via salary arbitration. Ray has struck out 173 batters in 129 innings this season alongside a 3.91 ERA, and he went six innings without issuing a walk on Sunday for the first time in two years.

18. Texas Rangers 
Record: 53-53
Last Week: 18
The Rangers will either be one game over .500 or one game under .500 when the trade deadline arrives at 4pm ET on Wednesday. Whatever the case, they're primed for a big sell-off. Mike Minor is the big fish as the owner of a 3.00 ERA and 136 strikeouts in 135 innings (21 starts) this season. He's thrown two complete games and was named an All-Star for the first time in his career earlier this month. And he's locked up through 2020. Cost-controlled reliever Jose Leclerc is also drawing major interest, as is outfielder Nomar Mazara. Hunter Pence seems certain to be dealt to a contender as a veteran on an expiring contract.

19. Colorado Rockies 
Record: 50-57
Last Week: 19
Jon Gray turned in his best start of the season on Monday night at Coors Field, as he tamed the dangerous Dodgers to three hits over eight innings of one-run ball in a 9-1 victory for Colorado. The 27-year-old right-hander has dropped his ERA to 3.88 and he's racked up 134 strikeouts over 132 1/3 total innings this season. Might the out-of-contention Rockies consider trading Gray this week, even though he is under control through 2021? They're known to be shopping closer Wade Davis, in the hope of getting out from under the $20 million remaining on his three-year, $52 million deal. Davis has struggled to a 5.46 ERA through 35 appearances.

20. Cincinnati Reds 
Record: 49-55
Last Week: 22 
The Reds took two of three from both the Brewers and Rockies last week before out-slugging the Pirates in an 11-6 victory on Monday night at Great American Ball Park. They have the second-best run differential in the National League Central at +33 -- better than St. Louis (+19) or Milwaukee (-16) -- and are currently just 6 1/2 games back of first place. But we'll still probably see some from of a sell-off before Wednesday's trade deadline. Yasiel Puig, Raisel Iglesias, Scooter Gennett, and Tanner Roark are among the Cincinnati players drawing heavy interest. It makes sense to deal away anyone with an expiring contract.

21. New York Mets 
Record: 50-55
Last Week: 24 
It's a bit odd that a team sitting five games under the .500 mark has made the biggest trade to date. The Mets acquired Marcus Stroman from the Blue Jays on Sunday, shipping pitching prospects Anthony Kay and Simeon Woods Richardson to Toronto in return. Stroman carries another year of control beyond 2019, so maybe this was a play with 2020 in mind. Or perhaps the Mets will flip Stroman to another team before Wednesday's deadline. They moved Jason Vargas to the Phillies on Monday and are known to be fielding offers for both Noah Syndergaard and Edwin Diaz. Brodie Van Wagenen's strategy is sure hard to track.

22. San Diego Padres 
Record: 50-56
Last Week: 20 
The Padres have stumbled to an 8-16 record since June 30 and logic would have it that they will trade away some players before Wednesday's 4pm ET deadline, but any deal would probably be done with 2020 in mind, not some year in the far future. This team is already exciting and could be very competitive next season with one or two veteran-type additions. There's known to be serious interest in Mets right-hander Noah Syndergaard. That interest extends back to last summer, even. It sounds like dominant closer Kirby Yates will be staying put, as he isn't scheduled to hit free agency until the 2020-2021 offseason.

23. Chicago White Sox 
Record: 46-57
Last Week: 23
Ivan Nova again pitched well on Saturday against the first-place Twins, throwing six innings of two-hit ball in a 5-1 victory for Chicago. It was the only win for the White Sox in that four-game weekend set at Guaranteed Rate Field. Nova threw a complete game against the Marlins last Monday and holds a 3.54 ERA over his last eight starts covering 48 1/3 frames. The 32-year-old right-hander may be of interest to contending teams looking for a veteran innings-eater. We know that closer Alex Colome is drawing interest from a number of postseason hopefuls, including the Nationals and Phillies. He has a 2.27 ERA and 21 saves.

24. Pittsburgh Pirates 
Record: 46-60
Last Week: 21 
The Pirates traded Jordan Lyles to the Brewers on Monday, about four hours before his scheduled start against the Reds, and then watched fill-in Alex McRae get beat up for seven runs -- five earned -- over just 1 1/3 innings in an 11-6 defeat at Cincinnati. It was the ninth straight loss for the Pirates, who are now 10 1/2 games back in the National League Wild Card race. The big question right now in Pittsburgh is whether hard-throwing left-handed closer Felipe Vazquez is going to be traded before Wednesday's deadline. There is known to be serious interest from the Dodgers, but the asking price remains lofty.

25. Seattle Mariners 
Record: 46-63
Last Week: 25 
The Mariners swept a four-game weekend series against the Tigers and have now won five straight. With a successful night Tuesday in Arlington, Texas, they'll match their longest winning streak of the season. That other six-game winning streak stretched from April 6-11 and launched the Mariners out to a 13-2 start, the best record in baseball at the time. Since then, they have gone 33-61. It's looking like outfielder Domingo Santana may be shaping up as Seattle's best trade-deadline chip. He slugged his 20th home run of the season on Sunday versus Detroit and is drawing reported interest from the Rays and Indians.

26. Miami Marlins 
Record: 41-63
Last Week: 26
The Marlins beat down the Diamondbacks by a score of 11-6 on Monday and have now won five of their last six games, but their young rotation is about to face a big test with the Twins coming to town on Tuesday. Zac Gallen will pitch the opener, followed by Sandy Alcantara and Jordan Yamamoto. Those three pitchers are probably in the untouchable realm with the trade deadline fast approaching, but look for the Marlins to continue shedding any sheddable pieces over the next 24 hours. Veteran reliever Sergio Romo was traded away this weekend, and infielders Starlin Castro and Neil Walker could soon be out the door too.

27. Toronto Blue Jays
Record: 41-67
Last Week: 27
Top infield prospect Bo Bichette made his major league debut on Monday night against the Royals and singled to left field in his very first at-bat before ultimately finishing 1-for-4 in the Blue Jays' 7-3 victory at Kansas City. Bichette got the call to essentially replace utilityman Eric Sogard, who was traded to the Rays on Sunday. The 21-year-old son of Dante Bichette put up a .321/.380/.515 batting line over 323 career minor league games while tallying 37 home runs and 73 stolen bases. He should be a good one. Toronto's lineup on Monday also featured Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Cavan Biggio. Bank on the pedigree.

28. Kansas City Royals 
Record: 40-68
Last Week: 28
The Royals dropped three of four to the Indians over the weekend and then lost 7-3 to the Blue Jays on Monday night. They've already traded Homer Bailey and Jake Diekman to the Athletics, and they sent catcher Martin Maldonado to the Cubs. Terrance Gore went to the Yankees on a waiver trade. Next on the chopping block will probably be Billy Hamilton. The 28-year-old former top prospect has batted just .211/.275/.264 in 290 plate appearances this season with Kansas City, but he's a tremendous defensive center fielder and he remains a dangerous baserunner. Hamilton would be a nice bench piece for any contender.

29. Baltimore Orioles 
Record: 35-71
Last Week: 30 
If you need yet another indication that there's something fishy going on with the baseball, the last-place Orioles set a new MLB record on Saturday with their 10th consecutive multi-homer game as a team. Trey Mancini seemed to be falling out of favor on the trade market as he slumped through the early part of July, but the 27-year-old outfielder has gone deep seven times in his last 12 games and his season OPS is back up to .873. With one more home run, he'll set a new career high. But it's likely that he'll do so wearing a different uniform. Jonathan Villar is also drawing heavy interest, as is closer Mychal Givens.

30. Detroit Tigers 
Record: 31-71
Last Week: 29 
We have a new team here at the bottom of these weekly Rotoworld MLB Power Rankings. The Tigers have really perfected this tanking thing, as they haven't strung together consecutive wins since late May and own a hideous 9-39 record since the beginning of June. And the major league roster figures to get a whole lot worse this week, as Matthew Boyd, Nicholas Castellanos, and Shane Greene are all squarely on the trade block. Buck Farmer has quietly become a sought-after trade candidate as well. The 28-year-old right-hander boasts a 1.15 ERA with 18 strikeouts over his last 15 2/3 innings out of the Detroit bullpen.

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