MLB Power Rankings: Week 22

·16 min read

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Welcome to the NBC Sports EDGE MLB Power Rankings, a weekly feature that will run every Tuesday through the end of the 2022 regular season. These rankings are not fantasy-driven in any way, though I do tend to sprinkle in fantasy-relevant nuggets here and there. Who's hot, who's not, who to watch -- 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: 92-42
Last Week: 1

They fell 7-4 to the arch-rival Giants on Monday, but the Dodgers' magic number to clinch the NL West title is already down to eight with the Padres suffering a Labor Day shutout loss versus the Diamondbacks. After two more games against San Francisco comes a three-game weekend set at San Diego's Petco Park. They can lock up the division on enemy turf, with more than three weeks left to play in the regular season schedule. Time to get healthy and prepare for a deep postseason run.

2. Houston Astros
Record: 87-48
Last Week: 3

Hunter Brown pitched brilliantly in his MLB debut on Monday night against the Rangers, scattering three hits and one walk over six scoreless innings as the Astros earned a 1-0 shutout victory at Minute Maid Park. Brown, a former fifth-round pick who just turned 24 years old, worked his way into September callup consideration with a 2.55 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, and 134/45 K/BB ratio in 106 innings this summer at Triple-A Sugar Land. He should get another rotation turn next week at Detroit.

3. New York Mets
Record: 85-50
Last Week: 2

After winning two of three in a marquee series against the Dodgers to open last week's slate, the Mets promptly dropped two of three over the weekend to the last-place Nationals. That's baseball. Max Scherzer made an early exit from Saturday's game, a 7-1 loss, because of fatigue along his left side. Remember that he missed nearly seven weeks between mid-May and early July due a left oblique strain. The hope for now is that the veteran righty will be able to take his next turn Friday at Miami.

4. Atlanta Braves
Record: 84-51
Last Week: 4

Riding a five-game winning streak, and currently undefeated in September, the Braves are suddenly just one game back of the Mets for first place in the National League East standings with right around four weeks left to play. That deficit was up at seven games as recently as August 10. Now comes a lengthy eight-game West Coast road swing for the defending World Series champions -- 2 @ OAK, 3 @ SEA, 3 @ SF -- as they try to turn this late surge into a fifth straight division title.

5. St. Louis Cardinals
Record: 79-56
Last Week: 5

Jack Flaherty showed pretty well in just his fourth MLB start of the year Monday against the Nationals, tallying six strikeouts over five innings of one-run ball. He got zero runs of support and the Cardinals fell 6-0, finally losing a touch of ground to the Brewers in the NL Central hunt for the first time in essentially a full month. They still haven't suffered consecutive losses since late July and are 7 1/2 games up on Milwaukee as of Tuesday afternoon. Flaherty might actually be a weapon again too?

6. New York Yankees
Record: 81-54
Last Week: 6

Aaron Judge launched a go-ahead two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth inning Monday as the Yankees won 5-2 in their series opener against the visiting Twins. Judge is up to 54 home runs on the season -- seven away from tying Roger Maris for the AL record and eight away from breaking it -- but he sure is shouldering a heavy load right now in the Bronx. New York's lead on first place in the AL East rose to as high as 15 1/2 games in the middle of July. It now stands at just five games.

7. Seattle Mariners
Record: 76-59
Last Week: 9

Seattle had rattled off seven consecutive wins versus the Guardians and Tigers before getting outlasted 3-2 on Monday against the White Sox. Robbie Ray is in the midst of a dominant stretch at the top of the Mariners' rotation, boasting a 1.38 ERA with 44 strikeouts over his last 39 innings (six starts) dating back to the beginning of August. His season ERA was 4.11 at the end of the July, but it's currently down to 3.45 after he delivered six scoreless frames in a win at Cleveland on Saturday.

8. Toronto Blue Jays
Record: 75-59
Last Week: 11

It was a statement-making Monday for the Blue Jays, who rolled into Camden Yards and swept a doubleheader from the Orioles. Bo Bichette went 3-for-5 with two RBI in the early tilt and then enjoyed his first career three-homer game in the nightcap, hitting one to left, one to right, and one out to dead-center. In less than 12 hours, his season OPS jumped from .741 to .766. As of Tuesday afternoon, the Jays are in control of an AL Wild Card spot and 5 1/2 games back of first place in the AL East.

9. Tampa Bay Rays
Record: 75-58
Last Week: 10

Winners of six of their last seven games and 12 of their last 15, the Rays continue to put pressure on the Yankees at the top of the American League East. And it's mind-boggling that they've staged this run without the presence of franchise cornerstone Wander Franco, who has been on the shelf since before the All-Star break because of a fractured right hamate bone. The 21-year-old shortstop suffered yet another setback while playing in a rehab game with Triple-A Durham on Monday.

10. San Diego Padres
Record: 74-62
Last Week: 8

Having dropped the final two games of their three-game weekend series against the Dodgers before then getting shut out by the visiting Diamondbacks on Monday, the Padres will enter play on Tuesday with just a two-game lead over the Brewers for the third NL Wild Card spot. Sean Manaea is going to be skipped on his next turn through the rotation after getting hammered for eight earned runs over 4 1/3 innings Saturday in Los Angeles. He has a brutal 9.21 ERA across his last six outings.

11. Philadelphia Phillies
Record: 73-61
Last Week: 7

On the wrong side of a weekend sweep at San Francisco, and with just one win over their last seven games, the Phillies need to step on the gas over the final four weeks in order to safely secure an NL Wild Card spot. Despite high payrolls and plenty of top-end talent, they have not been to the postseason since 2011. Zack Wheeler was aiming to return to the rotation Tuesday versus the Marlins, but he is battling renewed discomfort in his right forearm and is now without an exact timetable.

12. Milwaukee Brewers
Record: 71-63
Last Week: 12

They lost three of four at Arizona this weekend, but the Brewers went into Colorado on Monday and mustered a 6-4 win at Coors Field to regain some ground in the NL Wild Card race. It would appear that the Cardinals have the NL Central all spoken for, so Milwaukee probably only has one avenue to a postseason spot. Which means outlasting the Phillies and Padres. Christian Yelich has shown a little more life lately with a .308 batting average and .837 OPS in his last 72 plate appearances.

13. Cleveland Guardians
Record: 69-64
Last Week: 13

It took 10 innings, but the Guardians finally put a halt to what was a five-game losing streak with their 6-5 win over the Royals on Monday in Kansas City. They'll enter the middle game of that three-game set at Kauffman Stadium with only a one-game lead over the Twins for first place in the American League Central. And now the White Sox are suddenly just two games back. It might be the only divisional race that goes down to the wire, assuming the Yankees don't fully blow their AL East lead.

14. Minnesota Twins
Record: 68-65
Last Week: 14

Minnesota briefly grabbed a share of the AL Central lead on Sunday before falling 5-2 to the Yankees on Monday and watching the Guardians pull out a 6-5 extra-innings win at Kansas City. As the old cliche goes, the Twins control their destiny in the division with a whopping eight remaining games against Cleveland and six against the third-place White Sox. Maybe at some point Byron Buxton can join back in on the fun. He's still in rehab mode from a hip strain that sent him to the IL on August 23.

15. Chicago White Sox
Record: 68-67
Last Week: 16

Not packing it in just yet, the White Sox have won five of their last six games with the help of a couple of truly dominant pitching performances. Dylan Cease came within one out of a no-hitter on Saturday against the Twins, ultimately working nine shutout innings in what was a 13-0 victory. Lance Lynn then yielded just one unearned run with 11 strikeouts Monday in a 3-2 defeat of the Mariners. As of Tuesday afternoon, Chicago is only two games back of the American League Central lead.

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16. Baltimore Orioles
Record: 71-64
Last Week: 15

Baltimore fell 5-0 in Sunday's series finale against the A's and dropped both halves of Monday's doubleheader versus the visiting Blue Jays to slide 4 1/2 games back of the third AL Wild Card spot. This is the Orioles' first losing steak of more than two games since the calendar flipped to July. Gunnar Henderson sure looks like he belongs, though. The 21-year-old top infield prospect got the call from Triple-A Norfolk last Wednesday and has recorded at least one hit in six of his first seven MLB games.

17. San Francisco Giants
Record: 65-68
Last Week: 17

After closing out August on a season-high-matching seven-game losing streak, the Giants have delivered four straight wins to begin the month of September. They swept the Phillies over the weekend and out-slugged the rival Dodgers on Monday night. Carlos Rodón was brilliant again in Sunday's series finale versus Philly, recording 10 strikeouts across six scoreless frames. It was his ninth 10-plus strikeout game of the year, tying Tim Lincecum and Jason Schmidt for the franchise record.

18. Boston Red Sox
Record: 67-69
Last Week: 18

While there are far more interesting personnel decisions on the docket this winter, the Red Sox got one item out of the way late Monday in signing Enrique Hernandez to a one-year, $10 million contract for 2023. Hernandez missed more than two months of action this year between early June and mid-August due to a hip flexor strain, and he hasn't been particularly impactful when healthy. But he put up strong numbers for the Sox in 2021 and was a key cog in their surprise ALCS appearance.

19. Arizona Diamondbacks
Record: 65-69
Last Week: 19

Providing hope that a push into contention might be coming in 2023, the Diamondbacks have won 10 of their last 13 games going back to August 23. Zac Gallen has been in the thick of this late-season burst and could make some history when all is said and done. Including his seven shutout frames Sunday afternoon against the Brewers, the 27-year-old right-hander has gone 41 1/3 straight innings without allowing a run. It's the eighth-longest scoreless innings streak in the live-ball era.

20. Los Angeles Angels
Record: 59-76
Last Week: 22

Shohei Ohtani is pretty much guaranteed to finish second to Aaron Judge for the 2022 AL MVP Award, but the two-way sensation continues to keep that debate somewhat alive and relevant. He had his sixth multi-homer game of the year on Monday in the Angels' 10-0 blowout win over the Tigers, tying Troy Glaus for the franchise record. Ohtani is up to 32 home runs, to go along with a rising .898 OPS, and he has also pitched to a 2.58 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, and 181/33 K/BB ratio in 136 innings.

21. Texas Rangers
Record: 58-76
Last Week: 20

The most shameful element of the Rangers' active nine-game losing streak, their longest losing streak of the season, is that there is a top offensive prospect waiting in the wings at Triple-A Round Rock who could certainly help the cause. Josh Jung returned to action in the Arizona Complex League in late July, five months removed from surgery to repair a torn left shoulder labrum, and has since posted nine home runs and 29 RBI in 29 minor league games. Guess we'll see him next spring?

22. Miami Marlins
Record: 55-78
Last Week: 21

Not only are the Marlins on a season-worst seven-game losing streak, but they haven't scored more than two runs in any of their last eight games. They carry the fourth-lowest total of runs scored (471) among all 30 major league teams over the course of the entire year, sitting ahead of only the Pirates, Athletics, and Tigers. And that's despite the fact the Fish lead all big league clubs in stolen bases with 109. Miami's pitching staff -- specifically Sandy Alcantara -- deserves a whole lot better.

23. Chicago Cubs
Record: 56-78
Last Week: 23

Willson Contreras missed the Cubs' entire three-game weekend series against the rival Cardinals due to renewed discomfort in his left ankle, and Chicago predictably got swept right out of Busch Stadium by the current NL Central leaders. There is chatter that St. Louis might be among the likelier destinations for Contreras when he reaches free agency this winter. Wouldn't that be something? The heir to Yadier Molina's nearly two-decade reign coming directly down from Wrigleyville.

24. Colorado Rockies
Record: 57-79
Last Week: 24

Another standout prospect from the 2019 MLB Draft -- that class continues to bear more and more fruit -- Michael Toglia got the call to Colorado last Tuesday after posting an .852 OPS with 30 home runs and 83 RBI in 114 games this summer between Double-A Hartford and Triple-A Albuquerque. And the 24-year-old has since registered an .808 OPS through his first seven games (26 plate appearances) at the MLB level while also making a couple of fine defensive plays at first base.

25. Kansas City Royals
Record: 55-81
Last Week: 25

He is doubtful to finish any higher than third in the 2022 AL Rookie of the Year balloting, but Bobby Witt Jr. has been all that fantasy managers could ask for in his first major league campaign -- at least from a counting-stats perspective. The 22-year-old is up to 26 stolen bases on the season and slugged his 20th home run this past Saturday in Detroit, becoming just the fifth first-year player in MLB history to achieve a 20/20 campaign. Granted, his on-base percentage (.290) needs work.

26. Cincinnati Reds
Record: 53-79
Last Week: 27

Spencer Steer is among the handful of September callups that deserve attention in mixed fantasy leagues. He doubled, homered, and drew two walks in his major league debut last Friday against the Rockies, exactly one month after the Reds acquired him from the Twins as part of the Tyler Mahle trade. A third-round pick in the 2019 MLB Draft out of the University of Oregon, Steer had posted an .879 OPS with 23 home runs in 106 games this summer between Double-A and Triple-A.

27. Detroit Tigers
Record: 51-84
Last Week: 26

As the Tigers play out the string on a horribly disappointing 2022 season, they can at least point to Riley Greene's resurgence as a reason to feel better about the future. The 21-year-old center fielder had fallen into a deep second-half slump, but he just put together a 13-game hitting streak and is batting .375/.444/.589 across his last 63 plate appearances. Spencer Torkelson, on the other hand, has recorded just one hit in 12 plate appearances since his return to the majors last Thursday.

28. Pittsburgh Pirates
Record: 49-84
Last Week: 28

Better late than never, the Pirates finally opened a team Hall of Fame this weekend at PNC Park and inducted 19 members in the inaugural class. Dave Parker, Bill Mazeroski, and Steve Blass, the only living inductees, were present for the ceremony. Also enshrined: Jake Beckley, Ray Brown, Max Carey, Roberto Clemente, Oscar Charleston, Fred Clarke, Josh Gibson, Ralph Kiner, Buck Leonard, Danny Murtaugh, Willie Stargell, Pie Traynor, Arky Vaughan, Honus Wagner, Lloyd Waner, and Paul Waner.

29. Oakland Athletics
Record: 50-85
Last Week: 29

Ken Waldichuk worked 4 2/3 innings of one-run ball with six strikeouts in his MLB debut last Thursday at Nationals Park, and now he'll get a chance to play spoiler in the NL East race in his second MLB outing this Wednesday versus the visiting Braves. Acquired from the Yankees before the August 2 trade deadline as part of the return for Frankie Montas and Lou Trivino, the 24-year-old left-hander had pitched to a 2.84 ERA and 137/36 K/BB ratio in 95 minor league innings this season.

30. Washington Nationals
Record: 48-87
Last Week: 30

What's gotten into the Nationals? They just won their first series since April against an NL East opponent, beating the Mets in 7-1 fashion on both Saturday and Sunday. And the Nats have now suddenly won six of their last eight games overall after also snagging a 6-0 shutout victory over the Cardinals on Monday afternoon. They're the first team in MLB history to put together three straight games with victories by six-plus runs against teams with a 30-plus advantage in the win column.