MLB Power Rankings: Pirates jump over Red Sox, Braves, Rays
1. Pittsburgh Pirates (67-44, previously No. 5) – The Pirates had the best week of their entire season, as they took four-of-five from the first place Cardinals thus moving into first place in the NL Central and giving them the best record in the National League. The Bucs’ pitching was the key as in its four wins they held the Cardinals to just seven runs. Pittsburgh will host the Marlins before traveling to Colorado next weekend as it looks to maintain its lead in the division.
2. Boston Red Sox (68-45, previous No. 2) – Boston had a successful homestand winning five of seven games and has now won seven of its last 10 overall, to hold a one-game lead over the Rays for first place in the AL East. Since the All-Star break in games the Red Sox have won they’ve scored an average of six runs per game, compared to just 1.66 in losses. Boston will hit the road for 16 of its next 19 games, beginning in Houston Monday night.
3. Atlanta Braves (67-45, previous No. 6) – The hottest team in baseball might be Atlanta as it has won 10straight games following sweeps of the Cardinals, Rockies and Phillies. Its lead in the NL East has now grown to 12.5 games. Pitching has led the way for the Braves, as their staff is second in the NL in team ERA at 3.28. Atlanta will look to extend its lead in the division as each of its next 14 games come against NL East opponents.
4. Tampa Bay Rays (66-45, previous No. 1) – When a team drops out of the top spot in the rankings and down to No. 4 you would think it had a poor week, but that wasn’t the case for the Rays as Tampa still went 4-2. They remain a game back of the Red Sox in the AL East. Tampa’s pitching is obviously carrying the load, but its offense was poor in the past week. In six games played, they averaged just 2.33 runs per game. The Rays will look to get their offense going on a five-game West Coast trip taking on the Diamondbacks and Dodgers.
5. St. Louis Cardinals (65-45, previous No. 3) – The good news for St. Louis is that it’s won three of its last four. The bad news is that the Cards had lost seven straight games prior to that run and fell out of first place in the NL Central. St. Louis certainly let out its frustration in its last three wins, outscoring opponents 38-5 in those three games. The Cardinals will look to overtake the Pirates for first place with 10 straight home games beginning Monday against the Dodgers.
6. Detroit Tigers (64-45, previous No. 7) – Detroit has won eight in a row and nine of its last 10 to build a three-game lead over the Indians in the AL Central. The Tigers have a plus-137 run differential, which leads the American League and is second in all of baseball. The Tigers’ winning streak will be put to the test this week with a 10-game road trip against the Indians, Yankees and White Sox.
7. Oakland Athletics (64-47, previous No. 4) – It’s hard to fathom how the team leading the AL West could drop three spots in the rankings, but the A’s have lost four of their last five games. Lucky for them, the A’s still hold a 2.5 game lead over the Rangers even though Texas took two-of-three over the weekend. The Athletics’ pitching staff has been as advertised this season as they are tied for second in the AL in team ERA at 3.61. Oakland will hit the road for six games this week taking on the Reds and Blue Jays.
8. Texas Rangers (62-50, previous No. 12) - After going through a rough two weeks, the Rangers seem to have gotten back on track by winning six of their last 10, including taking two-of-three from the first place Athletics over the weekend. Despite getting good pitching, Oakland’s offense is what is holding Texas back as it is only averaging 4.26 runs per game, which comes in ninth in the AL. The Rangers will continue their 11-game road trip with games against the Angels and Astros this week.
9. Cleveland Indians (62-49, previous No. 11) – Cleveland has won nine of its last 10 to remain in second place in the AL Central, which features three of the hottest teams in the AL of late. Aside from a 10-0 loss to the Marlins Saturday, the Indians held their opponents to just 10 runs in nine games, which is a welcomed sign as its team ERA is 4.03, ninth in the AL. Cleveland opens the week with a pivotal four-game set with the Tigers before hosting the Angels next weekend.
10. Cincinnati Reds (61-51, previous No. 8) – After being in the top five in the rankings for much of the season, the Reds are beginning to stumble. Losers of seven of their last 10, the Reds now trail the Pirates by 6.5 games in the NL Central. Cincy was outscored by the Cards 31-13 over the weekend. The Reds will look to get back in the NL Central race with five straight home games beginning with the Athletics on Tuesday.
11. Los Angeles Dodgers (61-49, previous No. 10) – The Dodgers have won four in a row and eight of their last 10 to extend their lead in the NL West to 5.5 games. Its road record has been pretty impressive as the Dodgers are 30-24 on the road, which is the second-best road record in the NL behind the Cardinals. Los Angeles will look to boost its road mark with a four-game set in St. Louis beginning Monday.
12. Baltimore Orioles (61-51, previous No. 9) – It seemed like Baltimore might be making a push towards the top of the AL East, but things haven’t gone so well of late for the O’s as they’ve dropped two straight and six of their last 10. Even though Baltimore improved its pitching at the trade deadline, it is still near the bottom of the AL in team ERA at 4.36. The Orioles will begin an eight-game West Coast trip starting Tuesday in San Diego.
13. New York Yankees (57-53, previous No. 13) – Time might be running out for the Yankees as they are now 9.5 games behind the Red Sox in the AL East. Offense usually isn’t an issue for the Yankees, especially playing in Yankee Stadium, but this year New York has only managed 3.82 runs per game, which is third to last in the AL. New York will play three games in Chicago against the White Sox before returning home for seven straight.
14. Kansas City Royals (56-62, previously not ranked) – Kansas City has emerged as one of the hottest teams in the AL, winners of nine of its last 10 to jump into the rankings at No. 14. Its pitching has led the way as they have the second best team ERA in the AL at 3.58. Now just 7.5 games out in the AL Central, the Royals are back in the hunt and have games against the Twins and Red Sox this week.
15. Arizona Diamondbacks (56-55, previous No. 14) – Arizona has lost two straight and six of its last 10 to remain in second place in the NL West. In losing two-of-three to the Red Sox over the weekend the Diamondbacks did not look like a second place team, making a number of errors and having some very poor at-bats. After a long road trip, Arizona will return home for eight straight games.
16. Washington Nationals (54-57, previous No. 15) – Despite winning six of their last 10 games, the Nationals are now 12.5 games behind the Braves in the NL East as Atlanta has been the hottest team in the Senior Circuit of late. Pitching has been the key for the Nationals as in their last five wins they’ve held opponents to one run or less. A nine-game homestand beginning with the Braves Monday night is on tap for Washington.
17. San Diego Padres (52-60, previous No. 20) – Even though the Padres have won seven of their last 10 they still trail the Dodgers by double-digits in the NL West. In its last 10 games, San Diego has held opponents to just 15 total runs. The Padres will host Baltimore for two games before hitting the road for six.
18. Colorado Rockies (52-57, previous No. 16) – In what once was a tight NL West race, the Dodgers have separated themselves from the pack and now the Rockies find themselves 10.5 games back. The Rockies’ pitching is what has held them back as they have the worst team ERA in the NL at 4.32. Colorado will wrap up its East Coast trip with three games against the Mets beginning Tuesday.
19. Seattle Mariners (52-59, previous No. 17) – Once thought as a major strength, the Mariners’ starting pitching as not lived up to the hype, as they are currently 19th in all of baseball in starter’s ERA at 4.04. In being swept by the Red Sox they allowed 21 runs in three games. The Mariners will open a six-game homestand beginning with the Blue Jays Monday night.
20. Philadelphia Phillies (50-60, previous No. 18) – Philadelphia has lost five in a row and nine of its last 10 to fall pretty much out of the playoff race. In five straight losses the team has averaged just 2.4 runs per game. The Phillies will host the Cubs for three games beginning Tuesday.
*Stats and records through Sunday, Aug. 4
Follow Metro sports writer Ryan Hannable on Twitter @hannable84