MLB Power Rankings: Angels take control, Tigers and Giants climb
1. Los Angeles Angels (83-53, previous: 1) – There is no question the Angels are the best team in the game now after they completed a four-game sweep of the A’s over the weekend. They have now won six straight overall and opened a 4.5 game lead in the NL West. As if it wasn’t already clear, Mike Trout is proving why he is the best player in baseball as his 6.6 WAR is the best in MLB. Los Angels will look to continue its momentum as they are set to begin a 10-game road trip.
2. Oakland Athletics (79-58, previous: 2) – After being swept in a four-game series by the Angels over the weekend and being called out by their manager, Bob Melvin, the A’s got things back on track with a win over the Mariners on Monday. Oakland is now 4.5 games back in the AL West, but leading the wild card. Oakland finished August with a 12-15 record, which ended a streak of 14 consecutive months with a winning record. After two more games against the Mariners, they will take on the struggling Astros for three over the weekend.
3. Baltimore Orioles (79-57, previous: 4) – Baltimore continues to run away from the rest of the AL East, as it has opened an 8.5 game lead, the largest division lead in all of baseball. Zach Britton is having a good season at the end of the Orioles’ bullpen, as his 31 saves are fifth in the American League. The one thing to keep an eye on is their starting pitching and if it will be good enough come the postseason. After hosting the Reds for three games, the remainder of their games this season will be against AL East opponents.
4. Washington Nationals (78-58, previous: 3) – The Nationals continue to roll as they now lead the NL East by seven games. Their plus-108 run differential is by far the best in the National League. A balanced attack, both at the plate and on the mound has led Washington the past few months. The Nats are wrapping up a nine-game road trip with a series against the Dodgers before returning home to face the Phillies over the weekend.
5. Los Angeles Dodgers (77-61, previous: 5) – The Dodgers and Giants continue to go back-and-forth in the NL West with the Dodgers clinging to a two game lead. Adrian Gonzalez is quietly having a very productive year at the plate, as his 91 RBIs are the second most in the National League. After two more games against the Nationals, things get easier for L.A. as its next two series are against the Diamondbacks and Padres.
6. Detroit Tigers (75-62, previous: 10) – Detroit has won seven of its last 10 games to climb just a half game behind the Royals in the AL Central. The Tigers’ offense has kicked it into another gear of late as in those last 10 games they have averaged 6.6 runs per game. Their pitching staff continues to be dominant as both Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello have 15 wins, tied for the most in the AL. The Tigers will play three more games with the Indians before a weekend series against the Giants.
7. Kansas City Royals (75-61, previous: 7) – The Royals have fallen off a bit of late as they now only lead the Tigers by half a game in the AL Central. Danny Duffy has emerged as one of the better starters in the entire AL as his 2.42 ERA is third out of all qualifiers. Following two home games against the Rangers, the Royals will be put to the test with a six-game road trip with three games against the Yankees before a battle for first place with Detroit.
8. San Francisco Giants (75-63, previous: 12) – It’s a two-team race in the NL West between the Giants and Dodgers and is sure to be one of the most exciting division races during the final month of the season. Buster Posey is on fire, belting five home runs and totaling 13 RBIs in his last 10 games. San Francisco will take on the Rockies and Tigers, both on the road this week as they look to overtake the Dodgers.
9. St. Louis Cardinals (74-63, previous: 9) – With how poorly the Brewers have played lately, the Cardinals have taken advantage as they now lead the division by one game for the first time all season, which is pretty remarkable considering the talent they have. They have been led by Matt Holliday, as he has 36 RBIs in 40 games since the All-Star break, including 12 in his last three games. St. Louis will play two more games against the Pirates before a battle for first place in a weekend series in Milwaukee.
10. Seattle Mariners (73-63, previous: 8) – No longer would the Mariners make the playoffs if they began today as they trail the Tigers by 1.5 games for the final wild card spot. It would appear that whichever team doesn’t win the AL West will get one of the wild card spots, with the second one still up for grabs. What has gone somewhat unnoticed this season has been the play of Kyle Seager, as his 5.2 WAR is third in the American League. Seattle is at the start of a seven-game road trip, with stops in Oakland and Texas on tap.
11. Milwaukee Brewers (73-64, previous: 6) – Milwaukee is trending in the wrong direction as it has allowed the Cardinals to take over first place in the NL Central, with the Brewers dropping six straight games. The major issue for the Brewers has been pitching and defense as in their three-game sweep by the Giants they allowed 31 runs. The Brewers will finish a series with the Cubs, before a weekend set with the Cardinals as they look to get back on top in the division.
12. Atlanta Braves (72-66, previous: 16) – With the Nationals running away with the division, the Braves have turned their eyes toward the wild card as they are just 1.5 games out of the last spot. Though Atlanta’s offense has struggled as a whole, Justin Upton has stayed hot with 26 home runs on the year, good for third in the NL. The Braves have games against the Phillies and Marlins this week, games they need to take advantage of to get back to the top of the wild card standings.
13. Pittsburgh Pirates (71-66, previous: 13) – The Pirates are sticking around in the NL wild card race as they are two games out of the final spot. Pittsburgh is glad to get outfielder Andrew McCutchen back as his .308 batting average is fourth in the NL. The Pirates are beginning a 10-game road trip with stops in St. Louis, Chicago and Philadelphia.
14. New York Yankees (70-65, previous: 11) – Time is running out for the Yankees as they are definitely out of the running in the AL East and four games out in the wild card. They’ll need to make a run quickly as they have a number of teams ahead of them in the standings. The Yankees hoped to get rookie Masahiro Tanaka back this month, but he was sent back to New York after experiencing arm soreness in Toronto over the weekend. New York is now home for nine straight games as they look to make one last run at the postseason.
15. Cleveland Indians (70-65, previous: 15) – Cleveland’s playoff hopes are also getting slimmer and slimmer by the day as they are 4.5 games out of the wild card hunt with a number of teams in front of them in the standings. The good news is that they have seven straight games at home.
16. Toronto Blue Jays (69-67, previous: 14) – For much of the first half of the season it looked like the Blue Jays had a good chance of making the postseason. But plagued by injuries, it looks pretty grim at this point as they are 5.5 games out of the final wild card spot. Edwin Encarnacion’s power numbers have dropped as he once led the AL in homers, but is now in seventh with 28.
17. Miami Marlins (67-69, previous: 17) – Sitting 5.5 games out of a wild card spot with three teams ahead of them in the standings, it doesn’t look good for the Marlins as they hoped to make a return to the postseason. Besides Giancarlo Stanton at the plate, Miami has received a productive season from starting pitcher Henderson Alverez, as his 2.88 ERA is eighth in the NL. Miami hopes to make one last postseason push, beginning his week with games against the Mets and Braves – all at home.
18. Tampa Bay Rays (67-71, previous: 18) – Tampa Bay and manager Joe Maddon are still holding out hope for a playoff push, despite being 8.5 games out in the wild card. As much as Maddon talks about it, it does seem highly unlikely it will actually happen. Evan Longoria is having a down season as he’s hitting just .254, his worst since 2011.
19. Cincinnati Reds (66-71, previous: 19) – It’s been a year the Reds would like to forget as they are eight games out of first in the NL Central and are in fourth place. The lone bright spot this season has been starter Johnny Cueto, who has a 2.26 ERA, second in the NL and 16 wins, tied for the most in the NL.
20. San Diego Padres (65-71, previous: 21) – San Diego must be kicking itself for what a poor start it got off to as the Padres have looked like a much different team from the first couple months of the year. Tyson Ross’ 2.60 ERA is fifth in the NL entering the final month of the season.
21. New York Mets (64-74, previous: 20) – Already suffering through a rough season, Mets relievers Josh Edgin and Daisuke Matsuzaka were left back in New York as the team departed for Miami due to elbow issues. The Mets are currently 15 games behind the Nationals in the NL East, as they hoped this was the year they would finally make it back to the postseason.
22. Philadelphia Phillies (63-74, previous: 23) – Philadelphia is playing much better of late, as despite being in last place in the NL East, it has won seven of its last 10 games. The biggest came Monday when four pitchers, led by six innings from starter Cole Hamels, no-hit the Braves. It was their first since Roy Halladay’s in the 2010 playoffs. The Phils will continue a six-game road trip with a stop in Washington later in the week.
23. Chicago Cubs (62-76, previous: 25) – It has been a pretty good last couple of weeks for the Cubs as they currently have won six of their last 10 games, but still sit in the basement of the NL Central. With some money available this offseason, the Cubs could make a run at Jon Lester to bolster their starting rotation.
24. Chicago White Sox (61-75, previous: 22) – The White Sox have dropped seven of their last 10 games to fall 13 games out of first place in the AL Central. With star pitcher Chris Sale and his AL leading 2.11 ERA, it will be interesting to see what happens this offseason as many teams will call Chicago looking to make a trade.
25. Boston Red Sox (60-77, previous: 26) – It’s clear the Red Sox have their focus on 2015 as they are letting their young players play, particularly in the starting rotation, as it is being thought the team could go with a six-man rotation for the final month of the season. The Red Sox will look to get Dustin Pedroia back soon as he suffered what is believed to be a concussion over the weekend.
26. Minnesota Twins (60-77, previous: 24) – There really isn’t much to say about the Twins and their season as they enter the final month of the season 15 games out of first place in the AL Central.
27. Houston Astros (59-79, previous: 28) – With Houston having yet another losing season, it shook things up as it fired manager Bo Porter on Monday in addition to bench coach Dave Trembley. Tom Lawless will take over as interim manager. Lawless was working in Houston’s minor league system prior to the promotion.
28. Arizona Diamondbacks (57-80, previous: 27) – Arizona has a minus-100 run differential on the season, which is the worst in the National League and a major reason why it is 20 games out of first place in the NL West.
29. Colorado Rockies (55-83, previous: 29) – The worst record in the National League belongs to the Rockies, who are almost 30 games below .500 on the road this season. The one positive has been Justin Morneau, as his .311 batting average leads the NL.
30. Texas Rangers (53-83, previous: 30) – The Rangers have a minus-132 run differential, which is worst in all of baseball. Despite the poor season, Adrian Beltre is having a productive year at the plate as he’s hitting .324, third in the AL.
*All stats and records are as of Tuesday, Sept. 2.
Follow Metro sports writer Ryan Hannable on Twitter: @RyanHannable