Home Featured 9/14 MLB Power Rankings: Twins on the rise, Indians cool off and White Sox crack top 3

9/14 MLB Power Rankings: Twins on the rise, Indians cool off and White Sox crack top 3

by Chris Brown

It’s hard to believe, but two weeks from today the MLB postseason field will be set and the Wild Card series will be just about to kick off. Much of the playoff field in both the AL and NL is already set, but a few spots remain open with everything from powerhouse contenders to rebuilding clubs in the mix. 

There’s no need for any more prelude — let’s jump right into the penultimate regular season power rankings of all 30 MLB teams: 

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

The Pirates have actually held their own against NL opponents, going 12-15. But the team’s interleague record of 2-15 is just plain dreadful. Pittsburgh has been outscored 30-8 in its current four-game losing streak.

29) Arizona Diamondbacks | 17-31 | Last week: 27

The D-backs designated former All-Star Jake Lamb, who was hitting .116 on the season, for assignment. Ketel Marte landed on the injured list with wrist inflammation. Zac Gallen, who’s been outstanding this season, just posted the worst start of his MLB career while Madison Bumgarner has allowed back-to-back homers in three straight starts and looks completely broken. Arizona is 3-10 in September. It’s not a pretty picture.

28) Texas Rangers | 17-30 | Last week: 28

The Rangers won back-to-back games this past week for the first time since mid-August. So there’s that. Chris Woodward’s team has still lost 11 of its last 16 games and veteran shortstop Elvis Andrus landed on the IL with a back strain that will likely be season-ending.

27) Boston Red Sox | 17-31 | Last week: 29

It’s been an ugly season for the Red Sox, but rookie infielder Bobby Dalbec has been a bright spot in September. The 25-year-old became the first player in modern MLB history with a five-game home run streak within his first 10 career games. Dalbec also became just the fifth MLB player ever with six or more longballs in his first 10 games in the majors.

26) Washington Nationals | 17-28 | Last week: 24

The defending world champs started the season with a 76.7% chance of making the playoffs, the best of any NL East team, per Fangraphs. That number now: roughly 1%. Twenty-one-year-old Juan Soto has been simply sensational this season, with his 1.217 OPS easily the best in baseball and his .354 average pacing the National League.

25) Kansas City Royals | 20-28 | Last week: 26

It’s been quite an interesting last few weeks for the Royals: the team dropped seven games in a row before immediately beginning a winning streak that is now up to six games. Starter Brad Keller threw a complete game shutout against the Pirates on Sept. 13 to lower his season ERA to 2.06. Here’s a wild stat: Kansas City entered play Sept. 13 hitting .067 with the bases loaded this season. That would easily be the lowest mark for a team with the bases loaded in MLB history. Outfielder/DH Jorge Soler is on the IL with an oblique strain. Shortstop Adalberto Mondesi, who’s been having a dreadful season, recently tallied a home run and a stolen base in three consecutive games.

24) Detroit Tigers | 20-26 | Last week: 23

There remained for a while a slight opening for the Tigers to potentially play spoiler for a playoff spot, but the team has played its way out of that conversation with 10 losses in its last 13 games. On the bright side, top prospect Casey Mize recently posted the best start of his big-league career to date after a rough first few outings.

23) Baltimore Orioles | 20-26 | Last week: 22

It looked for a moment like the Orioles might catch up to the Yankees for the final AL Wild Card spot, but the team was swept by the Bronx Bombers in a four-game series over the weekend to drop their playoff odds to under 1%. Baltimore scored just three runs total in the series. On the bright side, rookie Ryan Mountcastle continues to impress. The 23-year-old is hitting .347/.415/.569 and recently became the youngest Oriole with a four-hit game since Manny Machado in 2015.

22) Seattle Mariners | 21-25 | Last week: 21

The Mariners went on an incredible run that forced us to acknowledge their relative proximity to the playoff picture. They’ve struggled a bit more of late, though, dropping three of their last five games. Then again, the Astros have too, and Seattle remains just two games behind Houston for the second spot in the AL West. 

21) Los Angeles Angels | 20-28 | Last week: 25

It was quite the past weekend for veteran slugger Albert Pujols, who moved into fifth all-time in doubles on Saturday and tied Willie Mays for fifth all-time in home runs on Sunday with his 660th career longball. Pujols is the only player in MLB history with 660+ home runs and 660+ doubles. In other news, Dylan Bundy’s breakout season has continued, as the right-hander now has a 2.48 ERA and 67 strikeouts in 58 innings this season. The Angels have won eight of their last 11 contests.

20) Cincinnati Reds | 21-26 | Last week: 20

Sonny Gray landed on the injured list with a back strain as the Reds’ playoff chances just keep shrinking. Cincinnati is 6-6 in September, which just isn’t going to cut it as the team tries to come from behind to claim a playoff spot.

19) New York Mets | 21-26 | Last week: 17

The Mets just can’t seem to get any traction — and time is running out. The team hasn’t won more than two games in a row since late August. One player to highlight: first baseman/outfielder Dominic Smith (.328 AVG, 8 HR) has been outstanding this season and currently sports a higher OPS (1.003) than top performers like Fernando Tatis Jr., Tim Anderson, Mookie Betts and Jose Abreu. National League ERA leader Jacob deGrom could very well become just the third pitcher in MLB history to win three Cy Young awards.

18) Milwaukee Brewers | 20-24 | Last week: 19

The Brewers exploded for 19 runs against the Tigers on Sept. 9 but have tallied three runs total in the three games they’ve played since, which is more on par with their offensive struggles this season. Milwaukee hasn’t been able to string more than two wins together since mid-August but still sits just a few games back of both the second spot in the NL Central and a Wild Card spot. Starter Corbin Burnes (1.99 ERA, 64 K in 45.1 IP) has been incredible this season and forms a great duo atop the team’s rotation along with Brandon Woodruff.

17) Colorado Rockies | 21-25 | Last week: 18

The Rockies remain outside the NL playoff field with five losses in their last six games. Charlie Blackmon recently hit just the second-ever walk-off grand slam in franchise history. Of real concern: The team’s 7.47 ERA in September is the worst in baseball.

16) San Francisco Giants | 23-23 | Last week: 16

A positive COVID-19 test from a Giants player led to the postponement of two games this past weekend, but fortunately it turned out to be a false positive, and the team resumed play with a doubleheader on Sunday. With a record around .500, Gabe Kapler’s club remains one of the most likely NL Wild Card teams despite three straight losses. Just a few weeks after the release of Hunter Pence, the Pablo Sandoval era also came to an end this past week as San Francisco released him to clear room for recently-signed first baseman Justin Smoak. 

15) Miami Marlins | 23-21 | Last week: 15

The Marlins have gone 4-2 against the Phillies in an unprecedented seven-game series that concludes on Sept. 14. Rookie Sixto Sánchez, 22, has continued an unbelievable start to his major league career. With seven innings of one-run ball against the Phillies on Sept. 13, the right-hander lowered his season ERA to 1.69 in five starts. He’s gone six or seven innings and allowed two or fewer runs in all but his first outing. Don Mattingly’s club has now jumped the Phillies for the second spot in the NL East standings.

14) Houston Astros | 23-24 | Last week: 10

With nine losses in their last 11 contests, the Astros have really been struggling, as the team is now under .500 and holds just a two-game lead over the Mariners for the second spot in the AL West standings. On the bright side, Alex Bregman has returned from injury and Jose Altuve could be activated from the IL sometime this week. It’s also looking more and more likely that ace Justin Verlander, out most of the season with a forearm strain, could return around the end of the regular season barring any setbacks.

13) Philadelphia Phillies | 23-22 | Last week: 12

The Phillies got swept in a doubleheader by the Marlins on Sept. 13 and have now dropped five of their last seven games and fallen out of the second spot in the NL East standings and into a Wild Card spot. Starter Zack Wheeler (4-0, 2.47 ERA) is temporarily sidelined after suffering a freak fingernail injury putting on jeans. Prized rookie starter Spencer Howard landed on the IL with right shoulder stiffness while star catcher J.T. Realumo and first baseman Rhys Hoskins are dealing with injuries as well. It’s not the best situation.

12) St. Louis Cardinals | 20-20 | Last week: 14

Some days they look like a real contender, other days they look completely lost. The Cardinals have just kept chugging along and are currently .500 on the season, two games ahead of Milwaukee for the second spot in the NL Central. Closer Giovanny Gallegos landed on the injured list. On a more positive note, first baseman Paul Goldschmidt has kept up his strong play and is currently hitting .310/.444/.504 with six homers, seven doubles and 16 RBI. Kwan-Hyun Kim, who’s off to a great start to his major league career, is set to rejoin the team’s rotation after dealing with a kidney issue. 

11) New York Yankees | 26-21 | Last week: 11

The Yankees stopped their incredible collapse — in which they’d lost 15 of 20 games — late this past week with a four-game sweep of the Orioles to shift immediately from a five-game losing streak to a five-game winning streak. That’s not the only good news, as it appears Gio Urshela, Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge could all return to the team’s lineup within the next week. Gary Sanchez (.127 AVG for the season) has continued to struggle, but Luke Voit has continued to mash. The first baseman is tied with Nelson Cruz and Mike Trout for the MLB home run lead with 16.

10) Toronto Blue Jays | 26-20 | Last week: 9

The Blue Jays have won five of their last seven games and received a big boost with the activation of star shortstop Bo Bichette — and closer Ken Giles — over the weekend. A three-game road series against the Yankees is on tap for this week with the second spot in the AL East standings on the line.

9) Cleveland Indians | 26-21 | Last week: 6

The Indians have lost six games in a row for the first time since July 2015 after getting swept by the Twins over this past weekend. The team is essentially guaranteed a playoff spot but now appears unlikely to win the AL Central over the White Sox and Twins. On a much more positive note, near-certain AL Cy Young winner-to-be Shane Bieber just reached 100 strikeouts for the year, making him the fastest pitcher (in terms of innings pitched) to reach that mark in a season in MLB history. The right-hander has struck out eight or more batters in each of his 10 starts, making that the second-longest streak of games with 8+ K to start a season since at least 1901.

8) Chicago Cubs | 28-20 | Last week: 13

Right-hander Alec Mills, a 28-year-old former college walk-on who was a 28th-round pick and is pitching in his first full season in the majors, threw the 16th no-hitter in Cubs history on Sept. 13. How about that? Mills, who had never thrown more than six innings in a game before 2020, walked three batters and struck out just five in a highly improbable performance, lowering his season ERA to 3.93. The Cubs have won five of their last seven contests and hold a four-game lead in the NL Central entering play Sept. 14.

7) Oakland Athletics | 29-17 | Last week: 5

The A’s were dealt a massive blow this past week as third baseman Matt Chapman, a two-time Platinum Glove winner, is set to undergo hip surgery and is out for the rest of the season. The team is reportedly set to sign corner infielder Jake Lamb, who the D-backs designed for assignment on Sept. 10. Starter Sean Manaea is looking like an ace again, allowing no more than one run in each of his last four outings. Oakland’s 6.5-game lead over the Astros is the biggest division lead in MLB.

6) Atlanta Braves | 28-19 | Last week: 7

What a past week it’s been for the Braves, who set a new franchise runs record with a 29-9 win over the Marlins on Sept. 9. Adam Duvall has 10 home runs in his last 14 games. Freddie Freeman is tied for the NL lead in RBI (43, with teammate Marcell Ozuna) and is also second in the league in OBP (.459) and OPS (1.084). He deserves some serious MVP consideration. Ronald Acuña Jr. is having a great season and recently became the first player in MLB history with 75 home runs and 50 stolen bases through his first 300 career games. Ozzie Albies is hitting well in his return from the IL and rookie pitcher Ian Anderson has been outstanding to start his MLB career, posting a 3-0 record, 1.64 ERA and 0.91 WHIP through his first four big league starts. There’s a whole lot to like about this team, particularly on the offensive end. Atlanta leads baseball in runs scored and OPS.

5) Minnesota Twins | 30-18 | Last week: 8

With a 10-2 record in their last 12 games, the Twins are on a roll again. Nelson Cruz sits atop the AL home run leaderboard with Mike Trout and Luke Voit. Kenta Maeda has kept pitching well, with his 2.43 ERA ranking fourth in the AL. Minnesota is fourth in the majors in both OPS and ERA in September. Six Twins hitters have three or more homers in September and four of the team’s five starters have an ERA below 3.60 in the month.

4) Tampa Bay Rays | 30-17 | Last week: 2

The Rays have slowed down a bit, dropping four of their last six games, but are still tied for the most wins in the American League. A fun fact: Tampa Bay made history this past Friday, becoming the first team in the modern era to start nine pure left-handed hitters in a game. There’s mixed news on the injury front, though, as starter Ryan Yarbrough returned from injury but starting first baseman Ji-Man Choi is likely out for the remainder of the regular season due to a hamstring strain.

3) Chicago White Sox | 30-16 | Last week: 4

What a season it’s been for the White Sox, who’ve now won eight of their last nine games and became the second AL team to reach 30 wins on Sunday. The team has three legitimate MVP candidates in shortstop Tim Anderson (who leads the AL with a .362 average), first baseman Jose Abreu (who leads the league with 48 RBI) and outfielder Eloy Jimenez (who leads the league with 19 multi-hit games). The White Sox lead the American League in runs, home runs, batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage in 2020. Lucas Giolito is putting up ace numbers and Alex Colomé has been one of the best closers in baseball, posting a 1.02 ERA and logging 11 saves. The White Sox have secured their first .500 or better season since 2012 and sit atop the AL Central standings.

2) San Diego Padres | 31-17 | Last week: 3

The Padres recently became the second National League team to reach the 30-win mark this season. Seventeen of those 30 victories have been come-from-behind, showing the resilience of this club. Starter Dinelson Lamet has been outstanding, pitching to a superb 2.24 ERA with 68 strikeouts in 52 ⅓ frames to date. First baseman Eric Hosmer landed on the IL with a fractured finger but the team there’s been some optimism that he could return before the end of the regular season. San Diego has won 20 of its last 25 games.

1) Los Angeles Dodgers | 33-14 | Last week: 1

With four losses in their last seven games, the Dodgers have slowed down a bit, but it’s really not all that alarming. Of mild concern are injuries to starters Walker Buehler (blister) and Dustin May (foot), but neither appears severe. The Dodgers lead the Padres by just 2.5 games in the NL West standings heading into a three-game series at Petco Park this week.

Photos by Robert Rescot / Flickr (Abreu) and Andy Witchger / Flickr (Cruz)

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