Home Featured 8/31 MLB Power Rankings: Rise continues for White Sox and Padres, Yankees and Twins fall out of top 5

8/31 MLB Power Rankings: Rise continues for White Sox and Padres, Yankees and Twins fall out of top 5

by Chris Brown

With the trade deadline now upon us, the tiers of MLB teams are only becoming clearer and clearer by the day. Some teams are making big splashes while others are hoping current players will find greater success in month two of the season. And then there are the teams clearly shifting their focus from contending in 2020 to evaluating for the future. 

With all that in mind, and, at the time of this writing, several hours remaining before the trade deadline, let’s take a look at how things measure up right now for all 30 MLB teams:

30) Pittsburgh Pirates | 10-21 | Last week: 30

It’s been mostly more of the same for the Pirates, who dropped four of their seven games this past week. The team dealt speedy outfielder Jarrod Dyson to the White Sox, but closer Keone Kela, who was very likely to be dealt prior to the trade deadline, was placed on the injured list with forearm tightness. One positive development: struggling first baseman Josh Bell has homered in back-to-back games.

29) Boston Red Sox | 12-22 | Last week: 28

At the bottom of the AL East standings, the Red Sox dealt veteran first baseman Mitch Moreland to the Padres on Sunday in exchange for two prospects. Twenty-five-year-old infielder Bobby Dalbec, who was recalled to take Moreland’s spot on the roster, became the first Red Sox player to hit a home run in his major league debut in over 10 years. So there’s that.

28) Los Angeles Angels | 12-23 | Last week: 27

The Angels strung three wins together this past week for the first time this season, but it’s way too little, way too late. The team dealt catcher Jason Castro to San Diego and infielder Tommy La Stella to Oakland over the weekend, and there could be more to come on Monday. On a more positive note, outfielder Jo Adell became the first Angels player to hit each of his first two career homers in the same game in nearly 40 years. 

27) Seattle Mariners | 14-22 | Last week: 29

The Mariners have fared better of late, going 6-4 in their last 10 games. That’s about the biggest compliment I can give the team, though. General manager Jerry Dipoto traded starter Taijuan Walker to the Blue Jays for a player to be named later or cash considerations over the weekend.

26) Texas Rangers | 12-21 | Last week: 24

The Rangers have lost 12 of their last 14 games and are clear-cut sellers at this point. The biggest question surrounding the team right now is if Lance Lynn will still be on it following the trade deadline.

25) Kansas City Royals | 13-21 | Last week: 26

As expected, the Royals, who sit at the bottom of the AL Central standings, have been sellers ahead of the trade deadline. The team, which is 4-8 over the last two weeks, shipped closer Trevor Rosenthal to San Diego and outfielder Brett Phillips to Tampa Bay. In a non-trade-related note, speedy shortstop Adalberto Mondesi is continuing to struggle at the plate. Mondesi is just 2-for-30 in his last seven games and hitting .190 on the year.

24) Arizona Diamondbacks | 14-21 | Last week: 19

Zac Gallen’s impressive performances have continued, as the right-hander now holds the MLB record for most consecutive appearances allowing three earned runs or fewer to begin a career. He picked up the win in his most recent outing on Aug. 28. Unfortunately, that game is the only victory for the D-backs in the last nearly two weeks. The immediate question is if any big pieces now get dealt prior to the trade deadline.

23) Baltimore Orioles | 14-19 | Last week: 22

It is all crashing down for the Orioles, who didn’t win a single game this past week. Brandon Hyde’s club has gone from three games over .500 to five games under .500 in a matter of two weeks and traded starter Tommy Milone and reliever Mychal Givens over this past weekend. It was a fun start while it lasted.

22) San Francisco Giants | 17-19 | Last week: 23

It’s August 31 and the Giants are still hanging around at just two games under .500. In a surprising development, the team has scored the fifth-most runs in the NL in August. San Francisco’s 4.99 team ERA this month leaves plenty to be desired, though.

21) Detroit Tigers | 16-16 | Last week: 25

It’s August 31 and the Tigers are also still hanging around. Ron Gardenhire’s team is coming off a highly improbable weekend sweep of the Twins and has now won five straight contests to get back to the .500 mark. Miguel Cabrera recently became just the eighth player to reach 2,000 hits as a Tiger. Detroit has now won three consecutive series for the first time in over two years and isn’t far out of a playoff spot. I’m still not buying that this is a playoff-caliber team in any sense, but you’ve got to give credit where credit is due.

20) Washington Nationals | 12-19 | Last week: 16

The defending world champions have dropped seven of their last 10 games. They just lost two of three games to the Red Sox. They’ve won just one series all season. It’s just not a pretty picture. In more positive news, Juan Soto now has enough plate appearances to qualify for the league leaderboards, and he leads all of baseball in OPS (1.189). And shortstop Trea Turner is on fire at the plate, hitting .484 with a .529 OBP in his last 15 games. 

19) Milwaukee Brewers | 15-18 | Last week: 18

The Brewers took two of three from Pittsburgh over this past weekend but still really can’t get anything going. This is especially true at the plate, where the team’s .216 batting average in August is the worst in MLB. And the team’s August ERA is only middle of the pack. It’s not a recipe for success, no put it mildly.

18) New York Mets | 15-19 | Last week: 21

After sweeping a doubleheader against the Yankees on Friday, the Mets got swept in a doubleheader against the Yankees on Sunday and have now dropped five of their last eight contests. Steven Matz and Dellin Betances also landed on the IL recently. The Mets now trail the Braves, Phillies and Marlins in the NL East standings.

17) Miami Marlins | 14-15 | Last week: 17

The Marlins’ early success has been a great story, but regression has certainly hit. Now in the midst of a four-game skid, Don Mattingly’s team is below .500 for the first time this season. They’re most certainly still in the playoff race right now, though, so the next few weeks will be interesting to watch.

16) Cincinnati Reds | 15-19 | Last week: 15

I’m still waiting on the Reds to start delivering some results. The team has won four of its last six games, so maybe — just maybe — we’re seeing the start of something. Time is running out though. One name deserving of more attention is outfielder Jesse Winker, who’s tallied 10 home runs and ranks fourth in baseball in slugging percentage (.691) and second in OPS (1.122). 

15) Philadelphia Phillies | 14-15 | Last week: 20

The Phillies appear to be finally kicking things into gear. Joe Girardi’s club has now won five of its last six games to move into second in the NL East standings. Aaron Nola and Zach Wheeler are both pitching well while Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto have kept up their early season production. Consider me cautiously optimistic about this team right now.

14) St. Louis Cardinals | 12-13 | Last week: 13

Perhaps their busy schedule is catching up with the redbirds, who’ve lost five of their last seven games. On a brighter note, veteran starter Adam Wainwright, the oldest player in the National League, celebrated his 39th birthday on Aug. 30 with a complete game, nine-strikeout performance against the Indians to help St. Louis avoid being swept. Despite being a game below .500, the Cardinals are still trailing only the Cubs in their division.

13) Colorado Rockies | 17-17 | Last week: 14

The Rockies have stabilized after a seven-game losing streak, going 4-2 this past week to get back to the .500 mark. The team parted ways with their No. 8 prospect, infielder Terrin Vavra, in a trade to acquire Orioles reliever Mychal Givens over the weekend, a clear sign that they like their chances now. Charlie Blackmon has predictably cooled off after his sensational start, but shortstop Trevor Story is in the midst of another great season, hitting .301 with nine homers and eight steals.

12) Atlanta Braves | 19-14 | Last week: 10

The Braves lost two of three games to the Phillies over this past weekend, but there are some reasons for optimism. Rookie Ian Anderson impressed with six innings of one-run ball against the Yankees and the team acquired journeyman starter Tommy Milone from the Orioles to help out a less than inspiring rotation behind Max Fried. You have to wonder if there’ll be any more significant additions leading up to the trade deadline.

11) Toronto Blue Jays | 18-14 | Last week: 12

The Blue Jays have won five of their last six games and continue to be a very fun team to watch. The club also made a move to help address its greatest need, acquiring starter Taijuan Walker in a trade with the Mariners. The 28-year-old then proceeded to dominate the Orioles in his first outing with his new team. Toronto’s 3.90 ERA in August ranks ninth in baseball and the team is also trailing only the Dodgers, White Sox and Padres in longballs hit in the month.

10) Chicago Cubs | 20-14 | Last week: 6

The Cubs still haven’t been able to get quite back to their early-season winning ways, as they’ve lost four of their last six games. But that doesn’t mean there haven’t been some interesting developments. Yu Darvish continues to make his case for the NL Cy Young Award. The veteran right-hander is now 6-1 on the season with a 1.47 ERA and 10.88 K/9. On Aug. 30, Ian Happ, Kyle Schwarber and Jason Heyward became the first trio of starting outfielders to each hit multiple home runs in a game in MLB history. And the team added lefty-masher Jose Martinez in a trade with the Rays to a group of hitters that’s struggled mightily against southpaws this year. Fangraphs gives David Ross’ club a roughly 70% chance of winning the NL Central.

9) New York Yankees | 19-13 | Last week: 3

The Yankees won both halves of a doubleheader against the Mets on Sunday in extra innings and are now on a three-game winning streak. But the team had lost seven straight contests prior to that and has fallen out of the top spot in the American League East. All the injuries seem to be taking a toll. Aaron Judge is back on the IL after a recurrence of a calf strain and Aaron Hicks exited early on Sunday with an injury. On the bright side, first baseman Luke Voit just keeps on hitting home runs and DJ LeMahieu was activated from the injured list over the weekend.

8) Houston Astros | 19-14 | Last week: 11

Dusty Baker’s club has won four of its last five games, including two games against the A’s before a Sunday COVID-19 postponement. With a .484 batting average, .579 on-base percentage, 1.805 OPS, four homers, five triples and 18 RBI in his last 10 games, young outfielder Kyle Tucker is surging at the plate. With the Athletics’ incredible run slowing just a bit, the Astros have cut Oakland’s AL West lead down to 2.5 games.

7) Minnesota Twins | 20-15 | Last week: 5

I remain confident that the Twins are one of the best teams in the American League, but they’ve certainly hit a bit of a rough patch of late. The team was swept by the Tigers over this past weekend, has lost five games in a row and now trails both the Indians and White Sox in the AL Central standings. Nelson Cruz just keeps hitting, though, as the DH is the first 40-year-old with a share of the MLB home run lead (minimum five homers) since 1958. 

6) San Diego Padres | 21-15 | Last week: 9

The Padres are all in. General manager A.J. Preller was busy over the weekend, acquiring reliever Trevor Rosenthal, first baseman Mitch Moreland and catcher Jason Castro in separate trades before agreeing to a seven-player deal with the Mariners. Shutdown reliever Drew Pomeranz has been activated from the IL, Eric Hosmer’s resurgence has continued and rookie of the year frontrunner Jake Cronenworth has a higher OPS than Mike Trout. This is going to be a fun team to watch down the stretch.

5) Cleveland Indians | 21-13 | Last week: 7

It still remains to be seen what the Indians’ pitching situation will look like after Monday afternoon’s trade deadline. One thing that’s certain is that Cleveland, now tied atop of the AL Central with Minnesota, is a legitimate contender in 2020. Shane Bieber is continuing to build his case for the AL Cy Young Award. The pitching is elite. The offense is lacking — particularly in the outfield. The net result is a very competitive, though flawed, team. 

4) Chicago White Sox | 21-13 | Last week: 8

The White Sox haven’t stopped winning. With rookie of the year candidate Luis Robert’s walk-off, extra-inning homer on Sunday, the team has been victorious in 11 of its last 13 games and now sits tied atop the AL Central standings with the Indians. Shortstop Tim Anderson leads the AL in batting average (.343), Lucas Giolito is coming off a no-hitter and the team just broke their previous franchise record for the most home runs hit in a calendar month (they’re up to 52 with one game to go).

3) Oakland Athletics | 22-12 | Last week: 4

The A’s dropped two games to Houston over the weekend before a positive COVID-19 test from the organization resulted in the postponement of the final game of the weekend series. Despite the recent losses, Oakland is still one of the hottest teams in the American League and is second in the league in wins. The team also added infielder Tommy La Stella from the Angels as an upgrade at second base.

2) Tampa Bay Rays | 24-11 | Last week: 2

The injuries just keep piling up for the Rays, with catcher Mike Zunino injured and starter Ryan Yarbrough becoming the 11th Tampa Bay pitcher to be sidelined by injury since the start of summer training camp. But it just hasn’t seemed to matter. The Rays have now won five straight and 18 of their last 21 games. I’ll repeat: they’ve won 18 of their last 21 games. Second baseman Brandon Lowe just keeps raking. No AL team has more wins. 

1) Los Angeles Dodgers | 26-10 | Last week: 1

I think we’ve clearly reached the point where I don’t have to justify the Dodgers in the top spot every single week. The team’s run differential is +90, Clayton Kershaw’s ERA is 1.80, Mookie Betts is hitting .346 in his last seven games, Cody Bellinger is getting on track after a slow start and the Dodgers just broke the NL record for most home runs in a calendar month. The Dodgers remain the best team in baseball, and it’s not even close.

Photos by Ian D’Andrea / Flickr (Hosmer), Richard Bartlaga / Flickr (Anderson)

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