The final three weeks of the regular season are always a blast -- arguably more interesting than the postseason because of the amount of teams still in the fight.
It looks like the playoff spots in the American League are all but accounted for, but check out the National League, where the Central and West divisions are fully up for grabs and the Wild Card race could very well come down to the final day.
This week’s edition of the Rotoworld MLB Power Rankings reflect all of the potential chaos …
Last Week: 1
The Red Sox lost the first two games of their three-game weekend series against the Astros before winning in walk-off fashion on Sunday night, with Mitch Moreland delivering an RBI single to left field in the bottom of the ninth. J.D. Martinez slugged his 40th home run of the season in that one and drove in four of Boston’s six runs. The 31-year-old slugger has an outside shot at winning the first true Triple Crown, encompassing all players from both leagues, since Mickey Mantle did it in 1956. Martinez currently ranks second in batting average (.331) behind teammate Mookie Betts (.342), second in home runs (40) behind Khris Davis (41), and first in RBI (121).
2. Houston Astros
Last Week: 2
The defending World Series champions have won eight of their last nine games and nearly swept the Red Sox this past weekend at Wrigley Field. Alex Bregman is batting .356/.453/.652 in 161 plate appearances since July 31. His season OPS is up to .959 and he currently leads all major leaguers in extra-base hits, helped by his 30 home runs and 49 doubles. The sky would seem to be the limit for how good the 24-year-old third baseman can be. Justin Verlander struck out 10 batters over seven innings to earn a win Monday in his first game back at Detroit’s Comerica Park. The veteran right-hander is 15-9 with a 2.72 ERA and 258/35 K/BB ratio in 195 innings.
3. New York Yankees
Last Week: 3
The Yankees won two of three over the weekend at Seattle’s Safeco Field and then earned a 7-2 victory in Monday night’s series opener against the Twins, with Gary Sanchez delivering three hits, including a mammoth 460-foot home run in the top of the sixth inning. It was his first three-hit game since April 16. Sanchez has been one of the biggest fantasy busts of the 2018 season, but the power-hitting 25-year-old catcher can get hot in a hurry and is certainly capable of making noise down the stretch and into the playoffs. New York is currently three games up on Oakland for the top American League Wild Card spot. Aaron Judge (wrist) is finally taking batting practice.
Last Week: 4
Oakland took two of three from the Yankees last week before earning a three-game weekend sweep against the Rangers. Injuries have killed the Athletics’ rotation depth, but the early-August acquisition of Mike Fiers continues to pay big dividends. The veteran right-hander is 4-0 with a 2.94 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, and 35/6 K/BB ratio in 33 2/3 innings (six starts) since the A’s plucked him away from the Tigers for a pair of minor leaguers. Ramon Laureano has stacked up a couple years' worth of highlight-reel plays in center field and is getting it done with the bat too, boasting a .292/.373/.539 slash line through his first 102 plate appearances as a major leaguer.
5. Chicago Cubs
Last Week: 5
Around a couple of rainouts, the Cubs have dropped three consecutive games, including a 3-2 loss to the hard-charging Brewers on Monday night at Wrigley Field. Chicago’s lead over Milwaukee in the National League Central is down to just one game, and the Cardinals sit just 3 1/2 back. Kris Bryant went 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored in his first game back from the disabled list on September 1, but he’s batting .250 with a .678 OPS in 29 plate appearances since. The star third baseman, who’s been battling a left shoulder issue since June, last homered back on July 20. He has 11 home runs and a career-low .845 OPS in 85 total games this year.
6. Milwaukee Brewers
Last Week: 7
Milwaukee has won four straight, including a big 3-2 victory over the Cubs on Monday night at Wrigley Field that moved the Brewers to within one game of first place in the National League Central standings. Lorenzo Cain had four hits in that one and is now batting .311 with a .403 on-base percentage in 553 plate appearances this season. Throw in his excellent defense in center field and the impact he makes as a baserunner, and you can put together a strong case that he should be one of the favorites for National League MVP. Christian Yelich has stayed hot too, with a .354/.409/.667 batting line over his last 259 plate appearances dating back to July 8.
7. Cleveland Indians
Last Week: 6
Cleveland lost in walk-off fashion on Monday night at Tampa Bay, with Corey Kluber lasting just 1 2/3 innings in one of the worst outings of his career, but Jose Ramirez continued his campaign for American League MVP honors in the defeat, hitting a double and stealing two bases. He owns a tremendous .972 OPS with 37 home runs, 98 RBI, 32 stolen bases, and 97 runs scored in 141 games this season, and he’s played plus defense at third base. The 25-year-old will shift over to second base on Tuesday night with August 31 waiver trade deadline acquisition Josh Donaldson taking over at the hot corner. Jason Kipnis will work into the mix in center field.
8. Atlanta Braves
Last Week: 8
Atlanta won three of four over the weekend in Arizona and topped the Giants 4-1 in Monday night’s series opener at San Francisco’s AT&T Park. Sean Newcomb started that one and allowed just one run on three hits over six innings while moving to 12-8 on the season and lowering his ERA to 3.82. Ozzie Albies had two hits and scored two runs, giving him 95 runs for the year. The Braves’ bullpen has been a little shaky lately, but Arodys Vizcaino’s expected return on Friday should help. He had a 1.65 ERA in 32 2/3 innings before landing on the disabled list July 14 with a right shoulder injury. This team is five games up on first place in the NL East.
9. St. Louis Cardinals
Last Week: 9
The Cardinals dropped the first two games of their three-game weekend series against the Tigers before winning 5-2 on Sunday behind another strong start by John Gant, who scattered two runs over 6 2/3 innings to lower his season ERA to 3.16. St. Louis then earned a big 8-7 victory over the Pirates on Monday night, with Matt Adams belting a go-ahead three-run homer in the bottom of the eighth inning. Entering play on Tuesday, the Cardinals are two games up on the second National League Wild Card spot and 3 1/2 games back of the Cubs for first place in the National League Central. They will close the season with a three-game set at Wrigley Field.
10. Colorado Rockies
Last Week: 10
The Rockies have won seven of their last nine and are currently a game-and-a-half up on the Dodgers in the National League West standings as they seek their first division title in franchise history. German Marquez was terrific Monday in a 13-2 rout of the third-place Diamondbacks, striking out 11 batters over seven innings. He now has 195 strikeouts in 171 1/3 innings this year. The last six starting pitchers to record 200 or more strikeouts at age 23 or younger: Luis Severino, Jose Fernandez, Noah Syndergaard, Clayton Kershaw, Felix Hernandez, and Yovani Gallardo. And how about Trevor Story? His second-half surge could lead to NL MVP consideration.
11. Los Angeles Dodgers
Last Week: 11
The Dodgers took two of three from the National League West-leading Rockies over the weekend before falling 10-6 to the lowly Reds in Monday night’s series opener at Great American Ball Park. Entering play on Tuesday, Los Angeles is a game-and-a-half back of Colorado for first place in the division and two games behind the Cardinals in the hunt for the second National League Wild Card spot. That’s despite a +128 run differential, the best in the National League. Kenley Jansen has been sharper lately, though he did not travel to Denver due to lingering concerns over his heart condition. He’s expected to have another heart procedure this winter.
12. Tampa Bay Rays
Last Week: 14
Ji-Man Choi hit a walk-off two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning Monday night against the Indians as the Rays won their fourth game in a row. They’re now 25-11 since August 1 and 17-3 since August 19. In a different division, in a different league, we might be talking about a postseason-bound Tampa Bay team. But as it stands here on Tuesday afternoon, the Rays are 18 1/2 games back of the first-place Red Sox in the American League East and 7 1/2 games behind the Athletics for the second American League Wild Card spot. Rays pitchers have combined for a 3.68 ERA this season, which currently ranks fifth-best among all major league teams.
13. Seattle Mariners
Last Week: 12
The Mariners dropped two of three to the Yankees over the weekend and are now 24-33 since July 4, one of the worst records in Major League Baseball over that span. Entering play on Tuesday, the M’s sit 10 1/2 games back of the Astros for first place in the American League West standings and 7 1/2 games behind the Athletics for the second American League Wild Card spot. The postseason dream is probably dead for this team, and the frustration boiled over into a clubhouse brawl last week. Kyle Seager, often celebrated for his consistent offensive production, holds a career-low .215 batting average and .265 on-base percentage in 138 games.
14. Arizona Diamondbacks
Last Week: 13
With their 13-2 blowout loss to the Rockies on Monday, the Diamondbacks are now 2-7 in September and 23-24 since the All-Star break. They’ve fallen 3 1/2 games back of first place in the National League West standings and four games out of the hunt for the second National League Wild Card spot. The bullpen, which was great in the first half, has suddenly begun to collapse here in the most crucial stretch of the season. Brad Boxberger and Archie Bradley have surrendered a combined 29 runs in 32 1/3 innings since July 20. Yoshihisa Hirano, signed to a two-year, $6 million contract this winter out of Japan, might be the new closer in Arizona.
15. Philadelphia Phillies
Last Week: 15
Since sweeping a four-game set from the Marlins at the beginning of August, the Phillies are 11-20 and haven’t won a series. As it stands here on Tuesday afternoon, they are five games back of the Braves for first place in the National League East standings and also five games behind the Cardinals for the second National League Wild Card spot. Oh, and Monday’s series opener against the Nationals had to be postponed because the infield at Citizens Bank Park was not covered during a torrential downpour over the weekend. This was looking like it could be a magical season in Philadelphia, but it’s now headed toward a pretty disappointing finish.
16. Washington Nationals
Last Week: 16
Washington has completed only three games in the last week due to weather-related postponements, and it’s looking like Thursday’s scheduled makeup game against the Cubs at Nationals Park might have to be called off due to Hurricane Florence. Such is life for this 2018 edition of the Nationals. They are eight games back of the Braves in the National League East standings with just 19 games to play. Victor Robles, who outranked Juan Soto on every top-100 prospect list leading into the year, is just 1-for-10 since getting called up to the majors last Tuesday. Soto, meanwhile, is gunning for a top-two finish in the NL Rookie of the Year voting.
17. Pittsburgh Pirates
Last Week: 17
The Pirates won five straight games last week against the Reds and Marlins before blowing a late lead in Monday night’s series opener against the Cardinals and ultimately suffering an 8-7 defeat. Trevor Williams entered Monday’s outing at St. Louis with a tremendous 0.66 ERA over his last nine starts, but he surrendered four earned runs over five innings in a no-decision. Chris Archer, acquired from the Rays at the July 31 trade deadline for Austin Meadows, Tyler Glasnow, and Shane Baz, is 1-2 with a 5.24 ERA and 1.46 WHIP through his first seven starts (34 1/3 innings) with Pittsburgh. Gregory Polanco is done for the year with a bone bruise in his left knee.
18. Los Angeles Angels
Last Week: 19
It was announced last Wednesday that Shohei Ohtani has new damage in his right ulnar collateral ligament and that Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery has been recommended, but the 24-year-old two-way star is continuing to serve as the Angels’ DH and is batting a whopping .478 with a 1.729 OPS, four home runs, 11 RBI, three stolen bases, and nine runs scored in six games (27 plate appearances) this month. He won’t pitch again this year and likely won’t pitch in 2019, but Ohtani has certainly bucked the critics who thought he wouldn’t be a high-impact offensive player in Major League Baseball. He could be your AL Rookie of the Year.
19. San Francisco Giants
Last Week: 18
Yuck. The Giants have lost nine straight and are now a season-worst nine games under .500 and 12 games back of first place in the National League West. They were 6 1/2 back on August 31, before trading veteran outfielder Andrew McCutchen to the Yankees for infielder Abiatal Avelino and right-hander Juan De Paula. Though it’s not like keeping Cutch around would have changed this team’s fate. Buster Posey needed season-ending surgery on August 27 to repair a torn labrum and impingement in his right hip, and Jeff Samardzija (shoulder) and Johnny Cueto (elbow) are both done for the year. Madison Bumgarner has turned in two duds in a row.
20. New York Mets
Last Week: 21
The Mets have won six of their last eight games. That includes a 10-5 victory over the Phillies on Saturday in which Noah Syndergaard surrendered a career-worst 12 hits and five walks before taking a 103.7 mph line drive to the lower right rib cage in the top of the seventh inning. He was pulled from the game immediately, but X-rays turned up negative and it sounds like the 26-year-old right-hander will be fine to make his next scheduled start on Friday against the Red Sox. Jacob deGrom’s next start is set for Tuesday versus the Marlins, after he was scratched Sunday due to inclement weather and Monday’s game got postponed. His ERA sits at 1.68.
21. Toronto Blue Jays
Last Week: 22
Rowdy Tellez was called up to very little fanfare on September 4 after spending the last two years slashing a combined .245/.316/.376 in 945 plate appearances at Triple-A Buffalo, but the 23-year-old former top prospect has absolutely mashed since pulling on a Blue Jays uniform. He hit six doubles over his first three major league games, becoming the first American League rookie with six doubles in a three-game span since Joe DiMaggio in 1936. And then on Saturday, he slugged his first career major league home run off Indians starter Adam Plutko. Tellez lost his mom to brain cancer last month. Regression is undoubtedly coming, but it’s a nice story.
22. Minnesota Twins
Last Week: 20
The Twins took two of three from the Royals over the weekend before losing 7-2 in Monday night’s series opener against the Yankees. They are 4-12 since August 24 and a season-worst 13 games under .500. This would be a nice time to work Byron Buxton back into the mix -- to get him some low-pressure exposure and set him up to be a big contributor in 2019 -- but Twins general manager Thad Levine announced last week that the 24-year-old former top prospect would not be receiving a September callup. Minnesota is also currently without 25-year-old third baseman Miguel Sano, who hasn’t appeared in a game since injuring his left knee last Tuesday.
23. Cincinnati Reds
Last Week: 24
The Reds moved to 5-0 against the Dodgers this season with a 10-6 victory in Monday night’s series opener at Great American Ball Park. You can probably do the quick math, but that gives Cincinnati a 57-83 record against everybody else. Scooter Gennett went 4-for-5 with three RBI singles in that win on Monday and is now batting .320 with an .871 OPS in 139 games this season. Clearly his 2017 was no fluke. Eugenio Suarez belted his 32nd home run of the year on Monday, lifting his season OPS to .924 and his RBI total to 101. The Reds can hit, but they need to spend the winter improving a pitching staff that currently ranks 24th in combined ERA (4.76).
24. Texas Rangers
Last Week: 23
The Rangers got swept by the A’s over the weekend before rebounding for a 5-2 victory over the Angels on Monday night in Anaheim. Joey Gallo drove in three runs in that one and currently has 35 home runs and 85 RBI in 134 games this season. That gives the 24-year-old slugger back-to-back 35-homer campaigns. The only other active players with with multiple 35-homer seasons before the age of 25, per ESPN: Mike Trout, Giancarlo Stanton, Manny Machado, and Albert Pujols. A big focus for the Texas front office this offseason will be adding rotation help, as Rangers starters have produced a combined 5.42 ERA in 2018, second-to-last in the majors.
25. Detroit Tigers
Last Week: 25
The Tigers rattled off four straight victories last week against the Cardinals and White Sox, but they fell 5-2 in Sunday’s series finale versus St. Louis and lost 3-2 to the Astros and Justin Verlander on Monday. They’re almost certain to finish with 90-plus losses for a second straight season. Perhaps the most interesting story out of Motown from the last week was the altercation between Fox Sports Detroit television broadcasters Mario Impemba and Rod Allen. Per reports, Allen assaulted Impemba from behind and began choking him because of a disagreement over a chair in the broadcast booth. The longtime partners were suspended for the rest of the year.
26. Miami Marlins
Last Week: 26
The Marlins lost the first two games of their three-game weekend series against the Pirates before getting rained out on Sunday afternoon. Inclement weather also led to a postponement of Monday night’s series opener versus the Mets. There’s your weather update. Now let’s talk about 23-year-old right-hander Sandy Alcantara, acquired from the Cardinals over the offseason as part of the trade package for Marcell Ozuna. Alcantara worked seven scoreless innings in a win over the Phillies last Wednesday and is now 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA through his first two major league starts. Baseball America ranked him the No. 70 prospect in the sport leading into the year.
27. San Diego Padres
Last Week: 28
Top prospect Francisco Mejia was promoted from Triple-A El Paso last Tuesday after batting .328/.364/.582 with seven home runs, eight doubles, and 23 RBI over 31 games in the Pacific Coast League. He got his first start Thursday and homered in his first two plate appearances, becoming the first Padres rookie to accomplish that feat. The 22-year-old should split time behind the plate with Austin Hedges for what remains of the 2018 regular season, and he might also get a start or two per week in the corner outfield. One of those two could be dealt this offseason as the Padres look to improve a starting rotation that currently ranks 27th in combined ERA (5.20).
28. Chicago White Sox
Last Week: 27
The White Sox have lost six straight games and scored a total of 13 runs across those six losses. Top outfield prospect Eloy Jimenez could certainly help this struggling offense, but White Sox general manager Rick Hahn announced last week that the 21-year-old would not be getting a September callup. Jimenez batted .337/.384/.577 with 22 home runs and 75 RBI in 108 games this season between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte. More disappointing than that news was the revelation that top pitching prospect Michael Kopech needs Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery. The 22-year-old right-hander will miss the entire 2019 season.
29. Kansas City Royals
Last Week: 29
Kansas City is playing better ball to close out an ugly 2018 season, largely due to surprise performances from a trio of rookie starters. Jorge Lopez, acquired from the Brewers on July 28 as part of the Mike Moustakas trade, carried a perfect game into the ninth inning Saturday in a 4-1 victory over the Twins. Brad Keller has gone seven-plus innings in three of his last five outings and boasts a 3.14 ERA in 120 1/3 total innings this season. Jake Junis worked eight innings in Monday night’s 3-2 win against the White Sox. He pitched his first career complete game at the end of August and holds a 2.15 ERA over his last seven starts covering 46 innings.
30. Baltimore Orioles
Last Week: 30
The Orioles have lost four straight games and eight of their last nine. That includes a three-game weekend sweep at the hands of the Rays, the Orioles’ 18th sweep this season of two games or more. A couple of positives: Jonathan Villar, acquired from the Brewers on July 31 as part of the Jonathan Schoop trade, is batting .285/.357/.431 with six home runs, 19 RBI, 12 stolen bases, and 20 runs scored in 35 games with Baltimore. Alex Cobb, signed to a four-year, $57 million contract in March, has rebounded after a rough first half to deliver a 2.67 ERA over his last 10 starts covering 64 innings. He had a 6.67 ERA through his first 16 starts with the O’s.