Just three weeks remain in the MLB regular season. This is the home stretch, the final push. Some teams are just looking to hold onto division leads while others are looking for a strong run to secure a better playoff seed or just to play in October at all. And then there’s the teams in full evaluation mode.
Each Monday during the 2020 season, 110 Sports is breaking down where things stand with power rankings of all 30 teams. Let’s jump right to this week’s installment:
30) Pittsburgh Pirates | 13-26 | Last week: 30
First baseman Josh Bell continues to struggle mightily at the plate and is now back below the Mendoza line again. Not much has changed for the Pirates.
29) Boston Red Sox | 14-28 | Last week: 29
The Red Sox dealt away pieces at the trade deadline and unsurprisingly have continued to struggle since, posting a 2-5 record to start the month. Outfielder Alex Verdugo has been one bright spot, hitting .311 with an .873 OPS this year.
28) Texas Rangers | 13-26 | Last week: 26
The Rangers curiously held on to Lance Lynn at the trade deadline and have lost every game they’ve played since. Three key injured players — Corey Kluber, Jose Leclerc and Danny Santana — won’t return this season. One positive: Infielder Isiah Kiner-Falefa is experiencing an impressive breakout season, hitting .295 with seven stolen bases.
27) Arizona Diamondbacks | 15-26 | Last week: 24
The D-backs have lost 15 of their last 17 games. They traded Starling Marte to the Marlins. Despite first baseman Christian Walker backing up his 2019 breakout and Zac Gallen’s continued success, it’s been ugly for Arizona. There’s just not much else to say.
26) Kansas City Royals | 14-27 | Last week: 25
The Royals dealt closer Trevor Rosenthal to the Padres prior to the trade deadline and lost six consecutive games to begin September. One positive note: After posting a 7-14 record and 4.19 ERA last year, starter Brad Keller has been incredible this year, compiling a 3-1 record and posting a 1.93 ERA in five starts.
25) Los Angeles Angels | 17-25 | Last week: 28
It doesn’t erase the team’s highly disappointing season, but the Angels have won five in a row and eight of their last 11 games. The fact that the team is still eight games under .500 despite that recent success reveals just how poorly things were going. Mike Trout hit his 300th career home run this past week, passing Tim Salmon for the most in franchise history. Trout also has 201 career steals, making him the fastest player in MLB history to reach 300 career home runs and 200 stolen bases. Dylan Bundy is continuing to pitch very well, posting a 2.49 ERA and striking out 55 batters in 50 ⅔ frames to date.
24) Washington Nationals | 14-25 | Last week: 20
The Pirates are the only NL team with a worse winning percentage than the Nationals, who despite taking two of three games from the Braves over the weekend have still lost eight of their last 10 games. The Nats’ great core of Juan Soto, Trea Turner, Max Scherzer and Patrick Corbin (with Stephen Strasburg out for the year) hasn’t been enough without production from their supporting cast.
23) Detroit Tigers | 18-20 | Last week: 21
The Tigers still hold an outside shot of making the playoffs, but four losses in their last five games certainly isn’t helping matters. Outfielder Victor Reyes is having an impressive season, hitting .318 with four homers, seven doubles and two triples.
22) Baltimore Orioles | 19-21 | Last week: 23
The Orioles are holding on to their playoff hopes after taking three of four games from the Yankees over the weekend. Jose Iglesias’ season continues to defy all logic: the career glove-first shortstop hasn’t smacked a home run but is hitting .396 with a .955 OPS. Rookie Ryan Mountcastle has played well since getting the call, hitting .333/.397/.549 with three homers in 15 games. The bad news: breakout outfielder Anthony Santander has landed on the IL with an oblique injury that will likely be season-ending.
21) Seattle Mariners | 18-22 | Last week: 27
This is absolutely wild: the Mariners have won five games in a row — and 10 of their last 13 — and are all of the sudden just three games back of the Astros for a playoff spot with 20 games to go. Third baseman Kyle Seager is experiencing a resurgent year and just moved into fourth place on the Mariners’ all-time hit list. The only names ahead of him: Ichiro Suzuki, Edgar Martinez and Ken Griffey Jr. Lefty Marco Gonzales is having a great year atop the team’s rotation, posting a 3.09 ERA through seven starts.
20) Cincinnati Reds | 18-23 | Last week: 16
The Reds, clearly believing they still have a decent shot of making the playoffs, acquired reliever Archie Bradley and outfielder Brian Goodwin prior to the trade deadline. But they went 3-4 this past week and are quickly running out of time to get something going. Free agent signing Mike Moustakas still hasn’t heated up at the plate, hitting .190 in his last seven games and .232 with three longballs on the season.
19) Milwaukee Brewers | 18-21 | Last week: 19
The Brewers remain just outside the playoff field but haven’t been able to gain any real traction. Milwaukee designated veteran first baseman Justin Smoak for assignment and claimed slugger Daniel Vogelback off waivers from Toronto. Reliever Josh Hader’s impressive hitless streak to begin the season ended this past weekend against the Indians at 11 ⅔ innings.
18) Colorado Rockies | 20-20 | Last week: 13
The Rockies took two of three from the Dodgers over this past weekend but have still lost five of their last nine games. Daniel Bard has been a quality reliever for the team this year, posting a 3.50 ERA in 18 innings and taking over as Colorado’s closer. The Rockies hold about a 40% chance of making the playoffs.
17) New York Mets | 19-22 | Last week: 18
The Mets have won four of their last five games but still sit three games under .500 and fourth in the NL East standings. On the plus side, Fangraphs still gives the team a roughly 50% chance of playing come October. Jacob deGrom continues to dominate and appears well on his way to a third straight Cy Young award. The right-hander induced 35 swinging strikes, the most of any pitcher since at least 2008, and struck out 12 in a dominant start against the Phillies on Sept. 6, lowering his season ERA to 1.69. Also worth noting: the incredible season of Dominic Smith, who ranks fifth in baseball with a .646 slugging percentage along with a .327 average and MLB-leading 15 doubles on the year.
16) San Francisco Giants | 20-21 | Last week: 22
The Giants have won five of their last seven games and remain in the playoff hunt. The team exploded for 23 runs at Coors Field on Sept. 1 and has a number of hitters performing at a high level, from Brandon Belt (1.117 OPS) to Mike Yastrzemski (8 HR) to Donovan Solano (.344 AVG) to Alex Dickerson (3 HR on Sept. 1) to Wilmer Flores (.877 OPS). San Francisco’s team OPS of .794 ranks sixth in all of baseball. A pitching staff that’s posted an ERA near 5.00 is the concern.
15) Miami Marlins | 17-18 | Last week: 17
Trade deadline addition Starling Marte is off to a strong start with his new team, hitting two home runs in his first five games as a Marlin. Miami has gone 2-3 to start September, though, and now sits a game under .500. The back end of the current NL playoff field isn’t exactly sporting great records, though, so the Marlins remain in contention with less than three weeks to play in the regular season.
14) St. Louis Cardinals | 17-15 | Last week: 14
With three straight wins against the Cubs to close out this past weekend, the Cardinals are just 1.5 games back in the NL Central standings and two games over .500. At 39 years old, Adam Wainwright continues to turn back the clock, tallying a 4-0 record and 2.68 ERA, the ninth-best among NL qualifiers, in just over 40 innings. Lefty Kwang-Hyun Kim has also been incredible, but he’s now sidelined with a kidney ailment. Paul Goldschmidt still leads baseball in OBP (.462) while Brad Miller, who didn’t even make the team’s opening day roster, is hitting .307 with a 1.036 OPS. It hasn’t been pretty, but the Cardinals remain a likely playoff team at this point.
13) Chicago Cubs | 23-18 | Last week: 10
With a dominant outing (1 ER, 11 K, 0 BB in 7 IP) against the Cardinals over the weekend, Yu Darvish continued to build his Cy Young case. The right-hander’s 1.44 ERA is tops in the National League. Behind Darvish, though, rotation troubles have arisen. Jon Lester posted a 1.06 ERA in his first three starts this season. His ERA in five starts since: 9.26. Collectively, as MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian noted, Cubs starters posted a 2.55 ERA through their first 16 games. In their next 22 contests, through Sept. 6, that mark was 6.48 with Darvish removed. One positive offensive note: outfielder Ian Happ has been the team’s best hitter this year. The 26-year-old has 12 homers and is tied for third in MLB in OPS (1.062). The Cubs closed out the weekend with three straight losses to the Cardinals, who they lead in the NL Central by only 1.5 games.
12) Philadelphia Phillies | 19-17 | Last week: 15
Despite two losses to close out the weekend, the Phillies have been one of the hottest teams in baseball, winning 10 of 11 contests immediately before that. First baseman Rhys Hoskins is heating up at the plate with four homers in his last seven games while Zack Wheeler has fared exceptionally well in his first season with the team, pitching to a sensational 2.20 ERA and 4-0 record in seven starts. Joe Girardi’s club now has a nearly 90% chance of making the playoffs, per Fangraphs.
11) New York Yankees | 21-19 | Last week: 9
Where to start with the Yankees? Gio Urshela and Jonathan Loasisiga hit the injured list as the team’s injury woes have continued, though Gleyber Torres was activated from the IL. Catcher Gary Sanchez is hitting just .130 on the season and has been temporarily benched by manager Aaron Boone. The team lost three of four to the Orioles over the weekend, has now dropped six of its last eight games, and sits alone in third place in the AL East standings behind Tampa Bay and Toronto. As Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe pointed out, the Yankees are 7-0 against the Red Sox this year but 14-19 against everybody else. There’s certainly cause for concern about this team.
10) Houston Astros | 21-19 | Last week: 8
Astros pitchers allowed 31 earned runs in 31 ⅔ innings as they were swept in a four-game set against the Angels over the weekend. Two key players, Jose Altuve (knee sprain) and Lance McCullers (neck nerve irritation), landed on the IL in the last few days. A key five-game series versus Oakland is ahead this week. The Astros currently sit 3.5 games behind the A’s in the AL West standings.
9) Toronto Blue Jays | 22-18 | Last week: 11
Thanks in large part to the Yankees’ recent slide, the Blue Jays are now in sole possession of second place in the AL East standings and have a roughly 85% chance of making the playoffs, per Fangraphs. With an 8-5 mark in their most recent four series, in which they faced the Red Sox, Orioles and Marlins, the team isn’t on fire, per se, but they’re doing enough. One discouraging development: outfielder Teoscar Hernandez, who’s broken out to the tune of a .308/.358/.637 batting line with 14 homers and five steals, is expected to miss “serious time” due to an injury in his rib area.
8) Minnesota Twins | 25-17 | Last week: 7
The Twins seem to have gotten back on track following a rough patch, winning five of their last six games after dropping six straight. The team’s offense has been decidedly middle of the pack after an incredible 2019 campaign, but the return of Josh Donaldson from injury could play a big role in helping improve upon that. Starter Randy Dobnak continues to amaze, with a 6-2 record at 2.72 ERA this season despite just 21 strikeouts in nearly 40 innings.
7) Atlanta Braves | 24-16 | Last week: 12
What a week it’s been for the Braves offensively. On Sept. 1, Marcell Ozuna hit three home runs. The next day, Adam Duvall hit three homers. Then, after an off day, Ronald Acuña Jr. hit three longballs on Sept. 4. Acuña Jr. now has 18 career leadoff home runs, the most in franchise history. He is 22 years old. Add this into the fun: Freddie Freeman had played over a decade in the majors without hitting a grand slam. Then he hit two in one series against the Nationals this past week. Atlanta has won six of its last eight games and leads the NL East by three games.
6) Cleveland Indians | 25-15 | Last week: 5
The Indians have won eight of their last 11 games, including four of their last five, and sit half a game back of the White Sox for the AL Central lead. With 10 whiffs in five innings against Milwaukee, Shane Bieber has now logged double digit strikeouts in six of his nine starts this year. His season numbers: 7-0 record, 1.25 ERA, 57.2 IP, 94 K/14 BB. Rookie Triston McKenzie has also been incredible, logging a 1.69 ERA in his first three major league starts.
5) Oakland Athletics | 23-14 | Last week: 3
The A’s returned to play on Friday after a positive COVID-19 test paused their season. The team dropped two of three to the Padres over the weekend and has now lost four of their last five contests with a key five-game series against the Astros on tap for this week. Shortstop Marcus Semien, who hasn’t played in over a week due to a side injury, is slated to rejoin the starting lineup soon, though third baseman Matt Chapman exited Sunday’s game with a right hip strain.
4) Chicago White Sox | 26-15 | Last week: 4
The White Sox took care of business over this past weekend, sweeping the Royals in a four-game series. The team now holds a 0.5-game lead over the Indians and 1.5-game lead over the Twins with just under a third of their regular season schedule to play. First baseman José Abreu has become the first player in franchise history with a 20-game hitting streak that included at least 10 home runs. Veteran left-hander Dallas Keuchel has been sensational this season, pitching to a 6-2 record and 2.19 ERA.
3) San Diego Padres | 25-17 | Last week: 6
The Padres haven’t slowed down, winning five of their last seven games. Starter Zach Davies has posted an exceptional 2.23 ERA in eight starts this season. Fernando Tatis Jr. is tied with Mike Trout atop MLB’s home run leaderboard with 15 longballs. San Diego isn’t catching the Dodgers in the NL West standings but is set to make the playoffs for the first time since 2006 and has the roster of a legitimate World Series contender.
2) Tampa Bay Rays | 28-13 | Last week: 2
The Rays are 16-4 in their last 20 games and have upped their AL East lead to 5.5 games. Veteran starter Charlie Morton has returned from injury. And shortstop Willy Adames is having a breakout year at the plate, hitting .302/.376/.548 with five homers and 12 doubles. Fangraphs now gives Tampa Bay a nearly 98% chance of winning the division.
1) Los Angeles Dodgers | 30-12 | Last week: 1
At this point I’d be shocked if any team other than the Dodgers is No. 1 in these rankings at all this season. Despite two recent losses to the Rockies, Dave Roberts’ club has won 12 of its last 16 games and now has a run differential approaching 100 (the closest teams are both +53). Clayton Kershaw recently became the third-youngest pitcher in MLB history to reach 2,500 strikeouts. He’s the only left-handed pitcher ever with 2,500+ strikeouts and a sub-3.00 career ERA. Kershaw is 5-1 with a 1.50 ERA and once again right there in the running for NL Cy Young. Another impressive arm to note: 26-year-old Tony Gonsolin has a microscopic 0.76 ERA and 0.72 WHIP in 23 ⅔ innings this season.