MLB Power Rankings: Red Sox, A’s, Braves, Tigers all making a World Series push
1. Boston Red Sox (95-62, previous No. 1) – After a 69-win season and being the laughing stock of the league, the Red Sox are now arguably the best team in all of baseball. With their win over the Blue Jays last Friday night they clinched their first AL East title since 2007 and will now get ready for their first postseason since 2009. The Sox will travel to Colorado and Baltimore this week to close out the season before hosting an ALDS game Oct. 4.
2. Oakland Athletics (93-63, previous No. 3) – By winning 13 of their last 16 games the Athletics have ran away with the AL West after what was a highly competitive race with the Rangers. In their four-game sweep over the Twins this past weekend they outscored them 37-13. Oakland will now get ready for the playoffs and possibly challenge the Red Sox for the best record in the AL with games against the Angels and Mariners this week, all on the road.
3. Atlanta Braves (92-63, previous No. 2) – The Braves became the second National League team to clinch a division last week as they won the NL East, the division they dominated the entire season. Their plus-135 run differential is second in the NL, only behind St. Louis. The Braves now have their eyes set on the NLDS and will begin to prepare by closing the season with games against the Brewers and Phillies, all at home.
4. Detroit Tigers (91-65, previous No. 6) – Detroit is the only team not to clinch its division in the American League yet, but they will do so early this week as they hold a five-game lead over the Indians. The Tigers have won seven of their last 10 games, which enabled them to pull away from Cleveland. In their losses they haven’t been able to score runs as in six of their last seven losses they’ve scored three runs or less. Detroit will close out its season at Minnesota and at Miami.
5. St. Louis Cardinals (91-65, previous No. 4) – The Cardinals have clinched a playoff berth and should be able to wrap up the NL Central in the next few days as they have a two-game lead over the Reds and Pirates. Their plus-166 run differential is tops in the National League and third in all of baseball. St. Louis will close out its season with six straight home games taking on the Nationals and Cubs.
6. Los Angeles Dodgers (90-66, previous No. 7) – The Dodgers became the first team in baseball to clinch their division as they did so in the middle of last week. Their 44-34 road record is the best in the National League and is one of the reasons why they were able to have a remarkable second half to the year and ultimately win the NL West. Los Angels will wrap up its season taking on the Giants and Rockies.
7. Cincinnati Reds (89-67, previous No. 8) – Cincinnati has won five of its last six games, including two-of-three against the Pirates over the weekend and now the two teams are tied for the NL Wild Card lead. Since the new two Wild Card team format was installed last year, it appears the two will play a one-game playoff next week as the next closest Wild Card team is the Nationals, five games back. The Reds will play three games against the Mets before their final weekend series with the Pirates next weekend.
8. Pittsburgh Pirates (89-67, previous No. 5) – By losing six of their last 10 games the Pirates are now tied with the Reds for the Wild Card lead, but they should have no problem getting into the Wild Card play-in game taking on the Reds because of their substantial lead over the Nationals. Dropping three-of-four to the Padres last week hurt their chances at a division title, as they are two games behind the Cardinals, but have the Reds battling as well. Pittsburgh will play three games at the Cubs before their weekend series in Cincinnati, which will likely determine who gets to host the Wild Card play-in game.
9. Cleveland Indians (86-70, previous No. 9) – The hottest team in the American League right now might be the Indians as they have won four straight and eight of 10. If the playoffs were to start today, they would be one of the Wild Card teams as they hold a 1.5 game lead over the Rangers for the final Wild Card spot. Cleveland’s pitching has been the key to its winning streak as they have allowed three runs or less in nine of its last 11 games. The Indians have a favorable schedule this week with a two-game set with the White Sox before ending the season with four games in Minnesota.
10. Tampa Bay Rays (86-69, previous No. 10) – The Rays have turned it on of late by winning seven of their last 10 games to hold one of the two top Wild Card spots in the AL. Tampa has taken the first three-of-four with the Orioles over the weekend and will go for the sweep Monday afternoon. In holding slim leads over the Rangers (1.5 games) and Royals (3.5 games), their games this week against the Yankees and Blue Jays will ultimately determine whether or not the Rays advance to the postseason.
11. Texas Rangers (84-71, previous No. 11) – If the Rangers don’t advance to the postseason they only have themselves to blame as they have dropped seven of their last 10 games and now are 1.5 games out of the final Wild Card spot. Texas’ offense has been the biggest issue as in the month of September they’ve only averaged 3.35 runs per game. Luckily for the Rangers their last week of the season has them with six home games against the Astros and Angels as they hope to sneak into the postseason.
12. Washington Nationals (84-72, previous No. 12) – Washington has won five of its last 10 games, but will miss out of the playoffs primarily because of the dominance of the NL Central as that division will have both of the Wild Card teams. The Nationals offense has performed better of late as they’ve averaged 4.12 runs per game over their last eight games. They will wrap up their season on the road with six games against the Cardinals and Diamondbacks.
13. Kansas City Royals (82-73, previous No. 15) – The Royals are clinging on to a shot at the postseason, but it isn’t looking good as they are 3.5 games out with one week remaining with the Rangers in front of them. As has been the case all season Kansas City has received tremendous pitching as they have allowed 1.9 runs over their last eight games. They will end the year with a seven-game road trip taking on the Mariners and White Sox, but will need help in getting one of the two Wild Card spots.
14. New York Yankees (82-74, previous No. 14) – New York is in an even tougher position than the Royals as they are four games out of the final Wild Card spot, but have the Rangers and Royals in front of them. The Yankees haven’t played well down the stretch, losing six of their last 10 games continuing to not get much offensive output, which has been the case most of the season. The Yankees’ season will conclude this week by hosting the Rays for three games before three games in Houston next weekend.
15. Baltimore Orioles (81-74, previous No. 13) – Being 4.5 games out of the final Wild Card spot with a week remaining and three teams in front of them, the Orioles will most likely miss the playoffs this season. Losing three straight games over the weekend to the Rays really did them in. After their final game with the Rays Monday, Baltimore will end the year with six home games against the Blue Jays and Red Sox.
16. Arizona Diamondbacks (79-76, previous No. 16) – When Arizona looks back on the season they might point to its 35-42 road record as one of the main reasons why they didn’t make the playoffs, especially with their offense, as it’s the fourth-best in the NL averaging 4.33 runs per game. The Diamondbacks will close out the year with a four-game set at San Diego and a weekend series at home with the Nationals.
17. Los Angeles Angels (76-79, previous No. 17) – Injuries were a major problem for the Angels this season, who actually played pretty well during the second half of the year, but a dismal first half did them in. The Angels were fourth in the American League in runs per game with 4.57, despite being without some of their top players for long portions of the season. Los Angels could play a part in the AL Wild Card race as they will end their season hosting the Rangers for three games.
18. San Francisco Giants (72-84, previous No. 18) – The defending World Series Champion Giants did not have the season they would have hoped as going into the final week of the season they are fourth in the NL West and have a minus-63 run differential on the year. Their season will conclude with games against the Dodgers and Padres this week.
19. San Diego Padres (72-83, previous No. 20) – Continuing with the NL West, the division didn’t have the seasons they would have liked, primarily because of the Dodgers running away with the division. Their season will end with four games with the Diamondbacks followed by three with the Padres.
20. Toronto Blue Jays (71-84, previously not ranked) – The Blue Jays make a return to the rankings after a long hiatus. They’ve been plagued by injuries this year, which made it hard for them to get anything going in the competitive AL East. Toronto will wrap up the year with a makeup game with the White Sox, followed by three games in Baltimore and three games at home against the Rays, possibly playing a role in the Wild Card race.
*Stats and records through Sunday, Sept. 21
Follow Metro sports writer Ryan Hannable on Twitter @Hannable84