Home Featured 8/17 MLB Power Rankings: A’s jump into top three while Baltimore’s rise and Boston’s slide continue

8/17 MLB Power Rankings: A’s jump into top three while Baltimore’s rise and Boston’s slide continue

by Chris Brown

Over two-thirds of MLB teams are already one-third of the way through the 2020 regular season. The hot starts that have continued to this point are really starting to take on a new level of meaning. The same can be said for the cold starts that have shown no signs of stopping themselves.

Each Monday during the 2020 season, 110 Sports is breaking down where things stand with power rankings of all 30 teams. Let’s get right to this week’s installment:

30) Pittsburgh Pirates | 4-14 | Last week: 30

The Pirates only played two games this past week due to COVID-19 postponements, splitting the first two games of a four-game set in Cincinnati. Infielder Erik Gonzalez has surprised with a .349 average and .907 OPS to start the season. First baseman Josh Bell, an All-Star last year, is still struggling at the plate, slashing .203/.243/.304.

29) Seattle Mariners | 7-16 | Last week: 29

Aug. 15 was the eight-year anniversary of Felix Hernandez’s perfect game, the most recent in MLB history. What a joy King Felix was to watch in his prime. But wait, we’re supposed to be talking about this year’s Mariners? They’ve dropped five in a row and 12 of their last 15 games. Not as fun.

28) San Francisco Giants | 8-15 | Last week: 24

The Giants continue to be not a good Major League Baseball team, with losses in 11 of their last 14 games. Two of the only bright spots continue to be infielder Donovan Solano (.403 AVG) and outfielder Mike Yastrzemski, who looks like a bona fide star. The 29-year-old is hitting .305/.430/.634 with five homers, six doubles, and three triples through 23 games.

27) Boston Red Sox | 6-16 | Last week: 21

It’s hard to watch the Red Sox right now. Boston has dropped seven games in a row and recently allowed eight or more runs in six straight games for the first time in franchise history. The Red Sox have collectively posted an MLB-worst 6.45 ERA in the month of August. That’s pretty much all you need to know at this point.

26) Kansas City Royals | 9-13 | Last week: 28

The Royals continue to be … not horrible. Mike Matheny’s squad has been decidedly middle of the pack in both runs scored and team ERA in August. Kansas City won four of the six games it played against the Twins in a 10-day stretch. That’s not nothing.

25) Los Angeles Angels | 7-15 | Last week: 20

With home runs in five of the team’s six games during their most recent homestand, Anthony Rendon appears to be just fine following a really rough start. What’s not fine is the Angels overall. Despite a surging Anthony Rendon and Mike Trout and an incredible stretch from Dylan Bundy, the Angels have lost four in a row and seven of their last nine contests. If things don’t turn around in a hurry, the hole may simply be too big to dig out of.

24) Detroit Tigers | 9-10 | Last week: 25

After a surprising 9-5 start, the Tigers are falling back down to earth. Detroit is now in the midst of a five-game skid and has dropped to below .500 for the first time since immediately after the first game of the season. First baseman C.J. Cron is set to undergo season-ending knee surgery. Tigers pitchers have also posted an ugly 5.85 ERA in August, with Matthew Boyd (10.24 ERA) continuing to struggle mightily.

23) Toronto Blue Jays | 7-10 | Last week: 19

Fernando Tatis has appropriately received a ton of attention, but Bo Bichette is another young shortstop off to an incredible start offensively. The 22-year-old is hitting .361 with a 1.063 OPS, five homers, and four steals through 14 games, but landed on the IL on Aug. 16 with a sprained right knee. That’s a massive blow to a young team still trying to find its rhythm. Blue Jays pitchers have posted a 4.45 ERA in August, which certainly isn’t helping matters.

22) New York Mets | 9-14 | Last week: 18

The Mets now sit alone in the cellar of the NL East after getting swept by the Phillies over the weekend. As MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo recently wrote, the team’s starting rotation is being held together with Scotch tape at the moment. Stephen Matz has given up 23 earned runs in 23 innings, Rick Porcello has a 5.76 ERA, Michael Wacha remains sidelined and Jacob deGrom’s status is unclear after he missed his last scheduled start due to neck tightness. Not great.

21) Miami Marlins | 9-6 | Last week: 22

Like with the Tigers, things seem to be appropriately regressing for the Marlins, who’ve now lost five of their last seven contests. One positive note: right-hander Pablo Lopez, who posted a 5.09 ERA in 2019, seems to have figured something out. The 24-year-old has pitched to a sensational 2.25 ERA with 19 strikeouts to four walks in 16 innings to begin the season.

20) Texas Rangers | 10-10 | Last week: 26

The Rangers have really started to find some traction, winning seven of their last nine games. Lance Lynn continues to dominate (1.11 ERA, 36 K in 32.1 IP), throwing a two-hit complete game at Coors Field. On the offensive end, 25-year-old Isiah Kiner-Falefa has impressed at third base with a .290 average and five steals, while Todd Frazier has continued his resurgence to the tune of a .317/.394/.524 batting line.

19) Arizona Diamondbacks | 11-11 | Last week: 23

The D-backs are up to the .500 mark for the first time this season following four straight wins, including a sweep of the Padres. With an average of 8.2 runs per game in its last six contests, the team’s bats appear to finally be coming alive after an extremely rocky start. In fact, Arizona has scored the second-most runs of any NL team in the month of August. The outfield trio of David Peralta, Starling Marte and Kole Calhoun have each posted an OPS north of .900 in the month thus far. There’s reason for optimism here, particularly with starter Zac Gallen (2.74 ERA) pitching so well.

18) Washington Nationals | 8-11 | Last week: 14

After exiting following just one inning in his return to the mound, Stephen Strasburg is on the IL with an unclear return timeline due to a recurring hand issue (carpal tunnel neuritis). The team’s No. 3 hitter, Starlin Castro, is also on the injured list after breaking his right wrist. Things aren’t going great for the defending World Series champs. On the bright side, star outfielder Juan Soto has quickly made up for lost time to begin the year, hitting .425 with six home runs in his first 11 games. 

17) Baltimore Orioles | 12-9 | Last week: 27

Despite a series loss to the Nationals this past weekend, the Orioles have kept up their strong start to the 2020 campaign, winning seven of their last nine games. The projected worst team in baseball has plenty of unsung heroes who’ve helped them score the fourth-most runs in the AL to date, but let’s highlight outfielder Anthony Santander and shortstop Jose Iglesias. Santander, who entered 2020 with a career .720 OPS in the majors, is tied for fourth in the AL with seven homers and is first in the league with 22 RBI. Iglesias, meanwhile, has been known for years as a glove-first, poor hitting player, but is slashing as sensational .400/.414/.564 through 55 at-bats.

16) Milwaukee Brewers | 10-10 | Last week: 16

The Brewers took three of four from the Cubs over the weekend to move to .500 on the season. After a very slow start at the plate, the team’s bats appear to be coming alive, registering 22 hits in the team’s last two games. 

15) Philadelphia Phillies | 8-9 | Last week: 15

To be honest, I still have no idea what to make of the Phillies, who sit in the middle of the NL East standings at 8-9 and in the middle of these power rankings. In its most recent two series, Joe Girardi’s club got swept by the Orioles at home and then proceeded to sweep the Mets at home for the first time in five years. What I do know: Bryce Harper (4 HR, 1.165 OPS) and J.T. Realmuto (8 HR, 20 RBI) are off to sensational starts, while top prospect Alec Bohm was recently promoted and could certainly make an immediate impact offensively. And Aaron Nola is dealing to a 2.05 ERA and 37 strikeouts in 26 ⅓ innings. The talent is there.

14) St. Louis Cardinals | 4-4 | Last week: 17

Playing in their first game in 17 days on Aug. 15, the Cardinals came out of the gates ready to go, sweeping a Saturday doubleheader against the White Sox before falling in the final game of the series. Top outfield prospect Dylan Carlson got the call and could provide a much-needed boost to the team’s offense in a very busy rest of season schedule for St. Louis.

13) San Diego Padres | 11-12 | Last week: 11

I’d be remiss if I didn’t start this paragraph with the 21-year-old tied for the MLB lead in home runs, Fernando Tatis. The young star is hitting .300/.382/.678 with nine homers, five doubles, 20 runs, 20 RBI and five steals through 23 games. Ok, enough with that fun, because the Padres have lost five straight and were swept by the Diamondbacks over this past weekend, falling below .500. Closer Kirby Yates is sidelined and dealing with bone chips in the back of his elbow and San Diego’s pitching staff has struggled to the tune of a 5.18 August ERA. It’s not time to hit the panic button for one of the more popular sleeper teams this year, but it is cause for some concern.

12) Cincinnati Reds | 9-11 | Last week: 13

The Reds went 2-2 this past week before a positive COVID-19 test forced the postponement of the team’s Saturday and Sunday games against the Pirates. Sonny Gray is still dominating to the tune of 45 strikeouts with a 2.05 ERA through 30 ⅔ frames, but I’m still waiting on a talented team to kick things into gear. The bullpen’s 6.23 collective ERA certainly isn’t helping matters.

11) Chicago White Sox | 11-11 | Last week: 12

Shortstop Tim Anderson is back after an IL stint and hitting .333/.373/.583 on the season, while outfielder Eloy Jimenez is tied for fourth in the league in longballs after homering in four of his last five games. There’s little doubting the abilities of that offense, as evidenced by the back-to-back-to-back-to-back home runs the team hit Sunday, but Lucas Giolito’s early-season struggles could prove to be a concern.

10) Colorado Rockies | 13-8 | Last week: 9

The Rockies’ incredible start has slowed significantly, with the team dropping five of its last seven contests. Reliever Jairo Diaz has struggled mightily of late, leading manager Bud Black to say he will no longer use a designated closer. In more encouraging developments, Charlie Blackmon (.446 AVG) is continuing to hit like there’s no tomorrow and former highly-regarded prospect Garrett Hampson (.882 OPS) appears to be breaking out at the plate while playing all over the field.

9) Houston Astros | 11-10 | Last week: 10

With five victories in its last six games, Dusty Baker’s team may be turning a corner after a rocky start. Then again, those wins came against the Giants and Mariners. The team’s starters, including 23-year-old Christian Javier (2.91 ERA), have fared better of late, and 2019 AL Rookie of the Year Yordan Alvarez was activated after missing time due to undisclosed reasons and homered in his first at-bat of the season. It’s not all good news, though, as Alvarez is now day-to-day with knee discomfort while Michael Brantley landed on the injured list with quad discomfort and Jose Altuve’s (.184/.253/.310) slow start has continued, leading him to ask to be lowered in the lineup.

8) Atlanta Braves | 13-10 | Last week: 6

The Braves are really banged up right now. Ozzie Albies and Matt Adams are expected to remain sidelined for the foreseeable future and star outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. is now on the IL with left wrist inflammation. While depth concerns remain in the rotation, Max Fried has continued to step up big in the absence of Mike Soroka, pitching to a 1.24 ERA in five starts.

7) Cleveland Indians | 13-9 | Last week: 7

The Indians made a strong statement by optioning Mike Clevinger and Zach Plesac to their alternative training site after the pair violated health and safety protocols. That being said, those are significant losses to a pitching staff that’s posted the second-best ERA (3.00) in MLB this season, but has relied on that success to win despite a poor offense. Cleveland’s offense has posted a .642 OPS, the second-worst in baseball, and there’s few signs that things will be trending up soon in that department. On a positive note, Shane Bieber has continued to dominate. His 54 strikeouts through five starts are tied for the third-most in the Divisional Era.

6) Tampa Bay Rays | 14-9 | Last week: 8

Following an early rough patch, Kevin Cash’s team has more than righted the ship, winning eight of their last nine games to move into a close second behind the Yankees in the AL East standings. While he’s still not pitching deep into games, Blake Snell is pitching well (2.08 ERA, 20 K in 13 IP). Offensively, the team’s middle infield duo of Brandon Lowe (7 HR) and Willy Adames (.899 OPS) have helped power an offense which ranks fourth in the American League in runs scored in August.

5) Chicago Cubs | 13-6 | Last week: 4

David Ross’ team entered their weekend series with Milwaukee with the best record in baseball. Regression was destined to come eventually, and the team dropped the final three games of a four-game set to the Brewers, all by one run. There’s still plenty to be encouraged by, as Yu Darvish took a no-hitter into the seventh inning in his last start and is sporting a sensational 1.88 ERA with 27 strikeouts in 24 frames. The team also still holds a 3.5-game lead in the NL Central.

4) Minnesota Twins | 14-8 | Last week: 3

With a 1.100 OPS in his last seven games, Nelson Cruz certainly isn’t slowing down. The Twins rebounded somewhat from four straight losses with a 4-2 record this past week. Josh Donaldson’s (calf strain) return doesn’t appear imminent, but Minnesota still has plenty of offense, including from center fielder Byron Buxton, who’s slashing .260/.264/.580 with five home runs and 10 RBI in his last 15 games.

3) Oakland Athletics | 16-6 | Last week: 5

For the second week in a row, the A’s lead baseball (tied with the Dodgers) in wins at the start of the week. This past week, Oakland became just the fourth team in the modern era to win back-to-back games despite trailing by three or more runs in the ninth inning or later. Matt Olson (8 HR) is raking despite a low batting average, while outfielders Robbie Grossman, Ramon Laureano, Mark Canha and Stephen Piscotty make up the top four on the team in OPS. The A’s have now won 13 of their last 15 games and earned themselves a spot inside the top three.

2) New York Yankees | 15-6 | Last week: 2

It’s been quite the last week or so the Yankees, who’ve seen three star players — Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge and DJ LeMahieu — land on the injured list. Despite those losses, the team has won five games in a row and seems to have high-level replacements all the way around. Gio Urshela is continuing to back up his 2019 breakout and Luke Voit is also hitting well. Outfielders Mike Tauchman and Clint Frazier have also seen success in limited at-bats. A few other reasons to remain high on the Yankees: closer Aroldis Chapman is set to be activated from the IL on Monday and Gerrit Cole can’t seem to lose. The star right-hander has now won 20 straight regular-season decisions, tying Roger Clemens for the longest such streak in AL history.

1) Los Angeles Dodgers | 16-7 | Last week: 1

I haven’t moved the Dodgers out of the No. 1 spot in these rankings since the season began, and I simply still see no reason to. Dave Roberts’ team has won five straight and easily leads the NL in victories. Mookie Betts’ recent three-homer game tied him with Johnny Mize and Sammy Sosa for the most such contests (six) in MLB history. Betts is 27 years old, and reached the feat in nearly half as many games as Mize and Sosa. Cody Bellinger is still struggling at the plate despite a few recent homers, but that only goes to show how this team isn’t reliant on all its top stars to be firing on all cylinders to succeed.

Photo by Al Case / Flickr

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