There’s not much drama atop the ol’ MLB Power Rankings these days. The Boston Red Sox have been No. 1 for weeks and — spoiler alert — they’re still No. 1. The bigger subplot this week is between the Houston Astros and Oakland Athletics.
It feels odd enough that we’re typing that sentence in the days before September, but it’s a testament to just how surprising the A’s have been this season. They caught the defending World Series champs in the AL West standings this weekend, winning two of three against the Astros, and have been neck-and-neck since.
Could Oakland overtake Houston in the Yahoo Sports power rankings too? Not quite. But they’re getting closer. One member of our panel of power rankers gave the A’s a third-place vote, but that wasn’t enough to get them into the top 3, which has been the Red Sox, Yankees and Astros for most of the season.
If the A’s keep playing well (they’ve shut out the Rangers on back-to-back nights) and the Astros keep fumbling (they’re 8-9 in August), Houston might have something bigger to worry about than its spot in the power rankings. Elsewhere in our power rankings this week, the Cardinals are surging in the NL while the Nats are waving the white flag.
1. Red Sox (88-39; last week: 1)
We’re starting to run out of ways to tell you the Red Sox are dominant. Consider this, though: The team hasn’t lost a series since the start of July. They also have the most runs scored and the second-lowest ERA in the majors. They’re really good.
2. Yankees (79-46; last week: 2)
The Yankees picked the perfect time to open up their wild-card lead. The team won’t play a club above .500 until Sept. 3. That gives them an opportunity to build up some more breathing room.
3. Astros (76-50; last week: 3)
Injuries have pushed the Astros to just about even with the Athletics. Getting Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve back might be just what they need to push past Oakland down the stretch.
4. A’s (76-50; last week: 4)
As more eyes have turned to the A’s, the team has only gotten better. They’ve improved their winning percentage in each month since May. The team won at a .680 clip in July, and is up in the .700 range in August. That trend doesn’t seem sustainable, but it would be foolish to doubt the A’s now.
5. Cubs (71-53; last week: 5)
The Cubs added Daniel Murphy from the Nats in an effort to distance themselves from the rest of the National League. Hours later, they lost Yu Darvish for the rest of the season with an elbow issue. We still think the Cubs are the best team in the NL, but not by much.
6. Indians (73-52; last week: 6)
Cleveland is finally playing the way everyone expected at the beginning of the season. After not posting a winning percentage above .600 in any month, the team is winning at a .700 clip in August. Looks like they’re peaking at the right time.
7. Mariners (72-55; last week: 7)
Robinson Cano can’t help the Mariners if they make the playoffs because of his PED suspension, but he can help them get there. In his first six games since returning to the lineup, Cano has hit .346 with a clutch home run that helped the Mariners topple the Astros on Monday.
8. Braves (70-55; last week: 9)
The Braves and Phillies play each other seven more times in 2018, meaning things should remain exciting for both fan bases as the season winds down. And if no clear victor has been settled by the final weekend of the regular season, the two teams will go at it with the NL East on the line.
9. D-backs (70-56; last week: 11)
Can the Diamondbacks hold off both the Rockies and Dodgers to claim the NL West? Arizona has gone 15-9 against those two clubs, which explains their division lead. It also helps that they’ve taken 10 out of 14 games against the Padres.
10. Brewers (70-58; last week: 8)
The Brewers picked a bad time to collapse. The team has been a below .500 team in the month of August. Their fall has coincided with the rise of the Rockies and the Cardinals, leaving the Brewers with a tenuous grasp on their wild-card spot.
11. Cardinals (70-57; last week: 14)
Here they come. The Cardinals have been one of baseball’s best teams in August, hovering around an .800 winning percentage during the month. They also managed to pick up Matt Adams from the Nationals, which could prove to be the deciding factor in an extremely tight wild-card race in the NL.
12. Phillies (68-57; last week: 10)
13. Rockies (68-57; last week: 12)
14. Dodgers (67-60; last week: 13)
The National League is nuts right now, and these three look to be in the thick of things through the end of the regular season. Different directions here, though. The Dodgers, after lots of trade-deadline excitement, have been in a rut lately because of injuries and bullpen woes. The Rockies, meanwhile, have made statements by sweeping the Braves and winning three of four from the Dodgers. The Phillies, meanwhile, are holding steady despite losing three of five against the Mets last week.
15. Pirates (63-64; last week: 16)
16. Rays (65-61; last week: 18)
17. Angels (63-64; last week: 19)
Fun fact: If the Rays were in the NL, they’d be in the thick of the wild-card race, ahead of even the Pirates. In the top-heavy AL, they’re 10.5 games back from a playoff spot.
18. Giants (62-65; last week: 18)
19. Nats (63-63; last week: 15)
With Tuesday’s news — the Nats selling off Murphy and Adams, signaling that they’re waving the white flag; the Giants likely to lose Buster Posey for the season to hip surgery — the 2018 season is just about finished for these two. They can put up some fight still, no doubt, but their wild-card hopes are pretty much over.
20. Twins (60-65; last week: 20)
21. Blue Jays (57-69; last week: 21)
22. Rangers (56-72; last week: 22)
23. Reds (56-70; last week: 23)
24. Mets (55-70; last week: 25)
25. Tigers (52-74; last week: 24)
26. Padres (50-78; last week: 26)
27. Marlins (50-77; last week: 27)
28. White Sox (47-78; last week: 28)
It’s time to start looking for silver linings or hope for next year for these teams. That could the Reds sweeping the Giants over the weekend or the Michael Kopech getting his big-league call-up for the White Sox.
29. Royals (38-88; last week: 29)
30. Orioles (37-89; last week: 30)
Forty wins. One of these days, Royals and Orioles. One of these days.
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