MLB Power Rankings: Braves and Dodgers ruling dog days of summer
1. Atlanta Braves (72-46, previous No. 3) – Atlanta is by far the hottest team in baseball as it has now won 15 of its last 16 games, including 14 in a row before falling to the Marlins Saturday night. With their winning streak the Braves have opened up a commanding 14.5 game lead in the NL East with their pitching leading the way. In the 14 straight wins, their pitching has held opponents to three runs or less in 11 of those games. The Braves will continue a long homestand with games against the Phillies and Nationals this week.
2. Boston Red Sox (71-49, previous No. 2) – Despite a 3-4 record this past week on the road, the Red Sox actually increased their lead in the AL East to three games over the Rays. Boston’s offense has continued to be one of the best in the league as it is second in the AL in runs per game with 5.04, but it’s seen it’s pitching suffer of late as the Sox are now seventh in the league in team ERA with a 3.88 mark. The Red Sox will close out their 10-game road trip with a three-game set in Toronto before returning home for a weekend series with the Yankees.
3. Pittsburgh Pirates (70-47, previously No. 1) – Even though the Pirates have lost three games in a row, they still maintain a three-game lead in the NL Central and the second-best record in the National League. In their three losses they were outscored 19-7, which doesn’t go along with how they’ve played overall this season, as their team ERA of 3.16 is the best in the NL. A critical three-game set with the Cardinals is on tap this week as the Cards are seeking revenge after Pittsburgh took four-of-five two weeks ago.
4. Detroit Tigers (69-47, previous No. 6) – Detroit has won eight of its last 10 games and has opened up a seven-game lead over the Indians in the AL Central. In six of the Tigers’ eight wins they have held opponents to three runs or less, which has them leading the AL in runs allowed per game, allowing just 3.82. Detroit will close out its road trip with a three-game series with the White Sox, before hosting the surging Royals for five games next weekend.
5. Texas Rangers (68-50, previous No. 8) – Texas is arguably the hottest team in the American League as the Rangers have won seven in a row and nine of their last 10 to overtake the Athletics for first place in the AL West. In its seven wins, Texas has averaged six runs per game and is peaking at just the right time in the year. The Rangers will close out a weekend series with the Astros Monday, before returning home for eight straight games.
6. Los Angeles Dodgers (67-50, previous No. 11) – The Dodgers made another big jump in the rankings and now are in the top 10 for the first time all year. Los Angeles has won five straight and nine of its last 10 to lead the NL West by 7.5 games. As a whole the Dodgers have received good pitching all season long, and now their bats are starting to heat up as they are currently seventh in the NL in runs per game, averaging just over four. The Dodgers will host the Mets for three games before a seven-game East Coast trip with stops in Philadelphia and Miami.
7. St. Louis Cardinals (67-50, previous No. 5) – St. Louis has fallen out of the top-five for the first time this season as it has lost six of its last 10 games, including four straight this week to remain in second place in the NL Central behind the Pirates. The Cardinals offense has been quiet of late as in their last seven games they have only averaged 3.29 runs per game. Overall for the year, they lead the NL in runs per game at just under five. St. Louis will look to get things going again beginning with a big three-game set with the Pirates, with first place on the line, starting Tuesday in Pittsburgh.
8. Oakland Athletics (66-50, previous No. 7) – For the first time in roughly a month the Athletics are no longer leading the AL West. Oakland has dropped seven of its last 10 with its pitching not getting the job done. This had not been the case for the majority of the season as the A’s pitching staff ranks third in the AL in team ERA at 3.64. Oakland will finish off a weekend series in Toronto Monday before returning home to host Houston for three games.
9. Tampa Bay Rays (66-50, previous No. 4) – A few weeks ago the Rays were the talk of baseball as they briefly lead the AL East and couldn’t seem to lose. Things aren’t going as well for Tampa now as the Rays have lost seven of their last 10 and five in a row to now trail the Red Sox by three games in the AL East. The Rays will look to snap their losing streak by returning home for six straight against the Mariners and Blue Jays.
10. Cincinnati Reds (65-52, previous No. 10) – Playing away from home has really hurt the Reds this season as they have a 28-32 mark on the road, compared to 37-20 at home. Cincinnati currently sits in third place in the NL Central trailing the Pirates by five games. With just over two months left in the year the Reds are certainly in striking distance, they just need to get hot at the right time. This coming week would be a good time with games against the Brewers and Cubs, but all of them will come on the road.
11. Baltimore Orioles (65-52, previous No. 12) – Baltimore refuses to go away in the AL East as it trails the Red Sox by just 4.5 games. For the Orioles to get over the top and make a push for the division title, their pitching will need to pick it up a notch, as they are currently 11th in the AL in runs allowed per game at 4.27. The Orioles will wrap up a West Coast trip with three games against the Diamondbacks before returning home to take on the Rockies next weekend.
12. Cleveland Indians (63-55, previous No. 9) – The Indians have lost seven of their last 10 and now have fallen seven games behind Detroit for first place in the AL Central. Their losing streak was magnified as they suffered a four-game sweep at the hands of the Tigers as Detroit was able to distance itself for the first time all season. The Indians will have to get things back on track on the road as they will play nine straight away from home beginning with three games against the Twins.
13. Kansas City Royals (61-54, previous No. 14) – Kansas City is playing its best baseball of the season and is now in the playoff mix. The Royals have won seven of their last 10, including taking three-of-four from the Red Sox over the weekend. KC’s pitching has been dominant all season as it is second in the AL in team ERA, posting a mark of 3.56. The Royals will now host the Marlins for three games as they look to cut into the Tigers’ division lead even more.
14. Arizona Diamondbacks (59-57, previous No. 15) – There hasn’t been much the Diamondbacks can do of late as the Dodgers have been playing stellar baseball the past few weeks to open up a 7.5 game lead in the NL West. The next week to 10 days will be extremely important for Arizona as it’s next three series’ are against the Orioles, Pirates and Reds – three of the best teams in all of baseball.
15. New York Yankees (59-57, previous No. 13) – For the first time in quite some time the Yankees might not be playing for anything in the final month of the season. New York has lost six of its last 10 and now trails Boston by 10 games for the AL East lead. Offense has been the issue for the Yankees this year as they have only averaged 3.79 runs per game, the second fewest in the AL. New York will host the Angels for four straight beginning Monday and then travels to Boston for a weekend series with the Red Sox.
16. Washington Nationals (57-60, previous No. 16) – The Nationals have won three games in a row, but still trail the Braves by double-digits in the NL East. Washington’s offense has been its biggest flaw as the Nats have only averaged 3.78 runs per game, the third worst in the NL. They will host the Giants for three games, before embarking on a 10-game road trip beginning Friday in Atlanta.
17. Colorado Rockies (55-64, previous No. 18) – Colorado has won three games in a row, but overall it has lost six of its last 10 games to sit in third place in the NL West – trailing the Dodgers by 13 games. Offensively, the Rockies have actually performed quite well as they average 4.28 runs per game, the fourth best mark in the NL. The Rockies will finish off their long road trip with games against the Phillies and Marlins this week.
18. Seattle Mariners (54-63, previous No. 19) - The Mariners have played much better baseball the past month or so, but they still trail the Rangers by 13.5 games in the AL West. Their pitching has held them back all season long as they rank in the bottom third of the AL in team ERA posting a 4.26 mark. Seattle will begin a nine-game road trip starting Tuesday in Tampa.
19. San Diego Padres (53-64, previous No. 17) – In what was once a competitive NL West, the Dodgers have separated themselves, which leaves the Padres 13 games out of first place. Their 3.91 runs per game fall just below the league average of 4.04. San Diego will now take on the Rockies before a four-game weekend series against the Mets.
20. Los Angeles Angels (53-63, previously not ranked) – With the roster the Angels have, many expected this season to go a lot better, but with injuries and players underperforming Anaheim likely won’t be seeing October. Their pitching has not been up to par allowing 4.71 runs per game, the third worst mark in the AL. The Angels will finish off a seven-game road trip with four games against the Yankees starting Monday.
*Stats and records through Sunday, Aug. 11
Follow Metro sports writer Ryan Hannable on Twitter @hannable84