Two surprising streaks are still active (LA and CLE) as we move into mid-September. Cleveland has overtaken the top spot this week and will look to tie the Moneyball A’s with their 20th straight win tonight. The Los Angeles Dodgers have managed to lose the #1 ranking and dropped all the way down to #4 this week after hitting 11 straight losses. St. Louis made the largest jump from last week, moving up 2 spots as they battle for a NL Wild Card spot or NL Central title. Let’s take a look at this week’s Power Rankings…(Current FanGraphs playoff percentages listed after record).
1. Cleveland Indians (88-56) (100%) Last Week: 2 – The Streak. Cleveland has rattled off 19 wins in a row to overtake the #1 spot. They are now an astonishing 41-16 in the 2nd half of the season. Led by their starting pitching (34-7 since All Star break), Trevor Bauer is now 9-0 in his last 10 starts and Carlos Carrasco has a 0.62 in his 4 starts during The Streak. They have outscored their opponents 132-32 and will look for win #20 tonight as Corey Kluber takes the mound. After gaining 15.5 games on the Dodgers over the last 17 days, the Indians are just 4 games out of the best record in baseball. Is this real?
2. Washington Nationals (88-55) (100%) Last Week: 3 – Washington became the first team to clinch a playoff berth this season and has won 6 of their last 7 games. Gio Gonzalez cruised to his 14th victory last week and will look for number 15 tonight. He currently has a 2.50 ERA and 1.14 WHIP for the season as the Nationals starting pitching has been brilliant since the All Star break. Their team ERA of 3.29 leads the NL after the break.
3. Houston Astros (86-57) (100%) Last Week: 4 – Houston put together a little streak of their own, winning 7 in a row. However, they have dropped their last 4 and are now trailing Cleveland by 1.5 games for the best AL Record. Their schedule ahead looks tough as they face off against a few teams chasing the final Wild Card spot (LAA, SEA, TEX) before taking on the Red Sox to end the season. Justin Verlander will start tonight as he looks to build off of his impressive debut last week.
4. LA Dodgers (92-55) (100%) Last Week: 1 – Yikes. The Dodgers have now dropped 11 in a row and 16 of their last 17 games. Clayton Kershaw has the lone win during that stretch as he now sits with 16 wins this season. He’ll look to get the Dodgers back on track tonight. The offense has only been able to put up an average of 2.7 runs per game during their slide as their potentially historic season has all but been crushed.
5. Arizona Diamondbacks (83-61) (100%) Last Week: 5 – The Diamondbacks had their win streak snapped at 13, but have continued to impress. Sweeping the Dodgers twice in a 2-week span warrants national attention as the all but certain Wild Card team will not be an easy one to beat in the playoffs. Since his injury scare, Robbie Ray has won 4 straight while pitching 25.1 innings and striking out a whopping 45. Also of note, J.D. Martinez hit 7 homeruns last week and now has 21 homers in his first 171 at bats (46 games) with Arizona.
6. Boston Red Sox (81-62) (100%) Last Week: 7 – The good? Chris Sale was dominant once again on Sunday en route to his 16th win of the season in a 9-0 victory. The bad? Rick Porcello lost his 17th of the season last night. Not quite the year the reigning Cy Young winner was hoping for. However, Sale and Drew Pomeranz look to be a solid 1-2 punch come October. Boston still has a 3 game cushion over the Yankees and will now be battling with Houston and Cleveland for home field advantage.
7. NY Yankees (78-65) (98%) Last Week: 8 – New York has put together 3 straight wins and has won 7 of their last 9. Their offense has averaged over 7 runs per game over their last 9. Gary Sanchez joined Aaron Judge in the 30 homerun club in a 16-7 pounding of the Rangers over the weekend. Judge and Sanchez each had 2 homeruns in the game, bringing Judge up to 41 homeruns in his rookie season. Steroids aside, it’s not a bad thing to be in the same conversation as Mark McGwire (only other rookie to hit 40).
8. Chicago Cubs (77-66) (82%) Last Week: 6 – A weekend series sweep dealt by the hands of the Brewers has brought the NL Central race closer again. The Cubs offense has been nowhere to be found in their last 8 games. They have scored 3 or less in 7 of them, including 2 shutouts. With 7 games left against St. Louis and 4 against Milwaukee, the Cubs will have their fate in their own hands. Let the playoff race heat up.
9. Colorado Rockies (79-65) (87%) Last Week: 9 – The Rockies were able to hand the Dodgers a 4 game sweep over the weekend and have won 7 of their last 8. They now have a 3.5 game gap between them and the Cardinals for the final Wild Card spot. Nolan Arenado has heated up in his last 5 contests, reaching base 14 times in his last 5 games and hitting 3 homeruns (11 RBI’s). His season RBI total now sits at a league leading 123. The Rockies have 3 more games against Arizona after last nights win, and are within reach of the top Wild Card spot.
10. Minnesota Twins (74-69) (45%) Last Week: 10 – Minnesota is still hanging onto an AL Wild Card spot in September. That is not something I expected to say this season. Even with a rough patch as of late, the Twins are a strong contender in the playoff race. Jorge Polanco has quietly been a star for the Twins since August 1st, posting a .348 average with 30 RBI’s and 22 extra base hits. They’ll need more of those numbers from their whole offense to hold off the remaining teams in the hunt.
11. LA Angels (73-70) (30%) Last Week: 11 – The Angels remain just 1 game behind the Twins for the final Wild Card spot in the AL. They’ll face a tough schedule ahead as they face Houston 6 times and Cleveland/Texas/Seattle 3 times each. The addition of Justin Upton has so far proven to be a boost. Upton’s 2 run double on Sunday proved to be the game winner. He now has 8 runs and 5 RBI’s in his first 9 games with LA.
12. St. Louis Cardinals (75-68) (24%) Last Week: 14 – Winners of 9 of their last 11, the Cardinals are very much in the NL Wild Card hunt and could still give the Cubs a run for their money. In baseball, September is the best time to get hot and the Cardinals are not an exception. The St. Louis rotation has been solid in the month of September so far, and the Cardinals have a team leading ERA of just 2.22 so far.
13. Milwaukee Brewers (75-69) (8%) Last Week: 12 – After being swept by the dreadful Cincinnati Reds, Milwaukee was able to sweep the Cubs in a crucial weekend series. They sit 2.5 games back of the Cubs now with 18 to play, including a 4 game series at home against Chicago. Zach Davies leads the MLB in wins with 17 and will look for his 18th this Saturday at Miami.
14. Texas Rangers (72-71) (11%) Last Week: 15 – Even after trading their ace pitcher at the deadline, the Rangers are still in the hunt. They will now turn to their prize return from the Darvish trade in hopes of a boost. Outfielder Willie Calhoun could make his debut on Tuesday. Calhoun is just 5’8″, yet he managed 31 home runs and 93 RBI’s in 128 games this season at Triple-A.
15. AL Wild Card Chase Teams – I debated for a while on which team to slot in the final spot. None of them blew me away as of late so we’ll go with a 4-way tie for #15. The Royals (3.0 GB), Orioles (3.5 GB), Mariners (3.5 GB), and Rays (4.0 GB) are all still in the hunt but none of them have been able to make a surge yet. Stay tuned.
How’d we do with our rankings this week? Let us know your thoughts in the comments…