Home Featured 9/21 MLB Power Rankings: Yankees do a 180, Reds making a late-season run while Blue Jays hit a rough patch

9/21 MLB Power Rankings: Yankees do a 180, Reds making a late-season run while Blue Jays hit a rough patch

by Chris Brown

Eight-plus weeks of regular season baseball down, one to go. Seven MLB teams have locked up playoff spots, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty up in the air entering the final full week of September. 

For the final time during an unprecedented 2020 regular season, let’s jump into 110 Sports’ power rankings of all 30 teams:

30) Pittsburgh Pirates | 15-38 | Last week: 30

First baseman Josh Bell has shown some signs of life at the plate lately, hitting .333 in his last 14 games, but it’s still been an extremely disappointing season for the 2019 All-Star. The Pirates have lost 12 of their last 13 games.

29) Boston Red Sox | 20-34 | Last week: 27

The Red Sox finally snapped their 12-game losing streak against the Yankees with 10-2 victory on Sept. 20. J.D. Martinez homered in the contest, but it’s still been a highly disappointing season for the veteran DH/outfielder, who’s hitting .205 on the season and leading manager Rob Roenicke to say of his struggles, “It’s baffling to our hitting coaches, it’s baffling to us, and I’m sure it is to him also.” Third baseman Rafael Devers has been a bright spot in a highly disappointing season for Boston, hitting .283 with 11 home runs.

28) Texas Rangers | 19-34 | Last week: 28

The Rangers are limping to the finish line with a 7-13 record in September. Lance Lynn has allowed three runs or fewer in 11 of his 12 starts this season and holds a 2.53 ERA with one outing remaining. It still doesn’t make sense to me that the Rangers held onto him at the trade deadline. 

27) Arizona Diamondbacks | 20-34 | Last week: 29

Back on Aug. 18, the D-backs were above .500 at 13-11. Since that date the team has gone 7-23. Third baseman Eduardo Escobar has fallen off dramatically at the plate after hitting 35 home runs in 2019. The 31-year-old’s OPS for the season stands at .569, more than 250 points lower than last season. On the bright side, Zac Gallen, one of the most exciting young pitchers in the game, bounced back after a rough patch with a strong outing over the weekend.

26) Washington Nationals | 20-32 | Last week: 26

Last season the Nationals started 19-31 and went on to win the World Series. The team’s record through 50 games this season: 19-31. Something tells me we won’t be witnessing a repeat in this 60-game regular season. The Nats have dropped six of their last nine contests. Starter Patrick Corbin, who finished 11th in Cy Young balloting last season, has stumbled to a 4.76 ERA and even worse 5.35 xERA this year.

25) Kansas City Royals | 21-32 | Last week: 25

In the last few weeks, the Royals lost seven straight games, then won six in a row before dropping four of five contests this past week. Outfielder/DH Jorge Soler may not make it back before season’s end due to an oblique strain. On a positive note, 24-year-old starter Brady Singer has found another level of late as he’s now sitting on a 16-inning scoreless streak. 

24) Detroit Tigers | 22-30 | Last week: 24

Veteran manager Ron Gardenhire abruptly retired this past weekend, citing health concerns. The 62-year-old former AL Manager of the Year finishes his managerial career with 1,200 victories, which ranks 64th all-time. Bench coach Lloyd McClendon will serve as acting manager the rest of the way. It’s been a better than expected season for Detroit, though the team has posted a 6-14 record in September.

23) Baltimore Orioles | 23-31 | Last week: 23

The Orioles have unquestionably outperformed expectations this season in many regards, but the team is limping to the finish line with 10 losses in their last 13 games. The team’s offense has fallen off, scoring two or fewer runs in nine of its last 12 contests, and shortstop Jose Iglesias is dealing with a wrist injury. There have been a few recent bright spots, though, including the emergence of rookie outfielder/first baseman Ryan Mountcastle and a dominant outing on Sunday from John Means, who became the first Orioles pitcher with 12+ strikeouts and zero walks in a game since 2007.

22) Seattle Mariners | 23-30 | Last week: 22

The Mariners, just two games back of the Astros one week ago, lost five of their six games this past week to fall four games behind Houston. After an outstanding start to the season, veteran third baseman Kyle Seager has come crashing back down to earth at the plate with a .136 batting average in September. A playoff upset doesn’t appear in the cards for Seattle.

21) Los Angeles Angels | 23-31 | Last week: 21

The Angels went 3-3 this past week and are now guaranteed their fifth consecutive losing season. On the plus side, Albert Pujols passed Wille Mays for sole possession of fifth on the all-time home run list and Jared Walsh continues to make a great impression as the team’s starting first baseman. Walsh tallied a run scored and RBI in nine consecutive games, the longest streak in MLB history by a rookie since RBI became an official stat in 1920. The team’s playoff odds are under 1%, per Fangraphs.

20) Colorado Rockies | 23-29 | Last week: 17

The Rockies started the 2020 season with a highly impressive 11-3 record. Since then the team has simply been bad, posting a 12-26 mark, and their playoff odds are down to roughly 2%, per Fangraphs. The team parted ways with 35-year-old Wade Davis over the weekend after he surrendered 10 earned runs in 4 ⅓ innings this season. The former lockdown closer has lost roughly five miles per hour on his four-seam fastball in the last five years. 

19) New York Mets | 24-29 | Last week: 19

The Mets’ playoff outlook just keeps getting more bleak. The team has dropped five of its last eight games and will need to win out the rest of the way to post a winning record. On the bright side, Jacob deGrom’s hamstring injury doesn’t appear serious and rookie left-hander David Peterson (career-high 10 K vs. ATL on Sept. 19) has emerged as the lone bright spot behind deGrom in the team’s rotation.

18) San Francisco Giants | 26-26 | Last week: 16

The Giants clobbered the A’s 14-2 on Sept. 20 but have gone 3-5 in their last eight contests and thus continue to hang around .500 and the NL postseason field cutoff. Kevin Gausman has been a pleasant surprise for the team this season, pitching to a solid 3.76 ERA and strong 1.08 WHIP in nine starts. Star outfielder Mike Yastrzemski is dealing with a mild calf strain and the team is surely hoping to have him back in the lineup for most of the final week of the regular season.

17) Philadelphia Phillies | 27-26 | Last week: 13

After dropping five of six games, the Phillies took three of four from Toronto over the weekend to get back to over .500. Rookie infielder Alec Bohm (.366 AVG) has really impressed this season and leads baseball in hits (30) this month. The big concern right now is Bryce Harper’s status after the star outfielder exited early on Sept. 20 with back stiffness.

16) Toronto Blue Jays | 27-26 | Last week: 10

The Blue Jays have hit a rough patch, dropping six straight and falling back to .500 for the first time since late August before salvaging the final game of a four-game set against Philadelphia over the weekend. Toronto has fallen into the final Wild Card spot in the American League but is still nearly assured of a playoff spot. Breakout outfielder Teoscar Hernandez was activated from the IL this past week but closer Ken Giles returned to the injured list with a recurrence of an elbow issue that’s plagued him most of the season. 

15) Milwaukee Brewers | 26-26 | Last week: 18

The Brewers have won four straight, including a three-game weekend sweep of the Royals, to improve to .500 on the season and to the edge of the playoff picture. Daniel Vogelbach is hitting .417 with three homers and 10 RBI in his first 11 games with the team, leading pitcher Josh Lindblom to refer to him as the conductor of the club’s “positivity train.” One other note: He’s not going to win the award, but Corbin Burnes absolutely belongs in the conversation for the NL Cy Young award. The right-hander posted an 8.82 ERA last season but has allowed three earned runs or fewer in seven straight starts since joining the team’s rotation on a full-time basis last month. His ERA for this season: 1.77. He’s also tallied 83 strikeouts in 56 innings. A crucial road series against the Reds is up next for Milwaukee. 

14) Houston Astros | 27-26 | Last week: 14

The big news for the Astros this past week was that ace Justin Verlander, out for most of the season with a forearm injury, won’t be rejoining the team down the stretch but rather will undergo Tommy John surgery. It’s a strong possibility that the reigning AL Cy Young winner could miss all of the 2021 season, and will be 39 years old by the start of the 2022 campaign. Houston will head into the playoffs with an undoubtedly weaker top of the rotation than last season, when Verlander and Gerrit Cole led the way. Jose Altuve was activated from the IL this past week. The team took the final two games of a three-game set against Arizona to end the weekend for its first back-to-back victories since Sept. 2 and 3 and sits four games ahead of Seattle for the second spot in the AL West standings.

13) Miami Marlins | 28-25 | Last week: 15

It’s looking more and more like the Marlins will be heading to the postseason for the first time since their 2003 World Series Championship season. Aside from a few poor outings, 24-year-old starter Pablo Lopez has been great this season, posting a 3.96 ERA in 10 outings. Don Mattingly’s club is three games over .500 and now holds a roughly 85% chance of making the playoffs, per Fangraphs.

12) Cincinnati Reds | 27-27 | Last week: 20

The Reds have kicked things into full gear down the stretch, winning seven of their last eight games to improve to .500 on the season and, like the Brewers, pull themselves into a Wild Card spot. Trevor Bauer (1.80 ERA) is right in the mix in the NL Cy Young race, Luis Castillo has a 1.23 ERA in September and Sonny Gray is set to return from the IL on Tuesday. Those top three starters would make the Reds a challenging opponent in a Wild Card series. A huge three-game home series against Milwaukee is on tap for this week.

11) St. Louis Cardinals | 26-24 | Last week: 12

The Cardinals took four of five from Pittsburgh over the weekend and are holding onto the second spot in the NL Central standings despite the recent success of the Reds and Brewers. Right-hander Dakota Hudson is done for the regular season with a forearm strain. In more positive pitching news, Jack Flaherty righted the ship after a horrible outing with 11 strikeouts over six one-run frames on Sept. 20 and Adam Wainwright continues to defy father time, with his 2.87 ERA ranking 10th in the National League.

10) Cleveland Indians | 29-24 | Last week: 9

The Indians stopped their eight-game skid by taking three of four games against the Tigers this past weekend. Zach Plesac threw the 101st immaculate inning in MLB history on Sept. 18 and has been outstanding through his first seven starts this year, posting a 1.85 ERA, 0.78 WHIP and 50/4 K/BB ratio through just under 50 frames. José Ramírez is also having a great season, tallying 13 homers and 10 steals to date. A Wild Card spot for this team is by far the most likely scenario, but with that pitching staff the Indians could certainly be dangerous in the postseason, particularly if they build up some momentum this final regular season week. 

9) Chicago Cubs | 31-22 | Last week: 8

Kyle Hendricks has been outstanding down the stretch, posting a 1.21 ERA in September. The team lost a key piece of its bullpen this past week in Rowan Wick, who’s sidelined with an oblique strain and could very well be out the rest of the season, including the postseason. The Cubs are a near-lock to win the NL Central and have been victorious in five of their last seven games. 

8) Atlanta Braves | 31-22 | Last week: 6

Max Fried and Cole Hamels both returned from the IL this past week to give Atlanta’s rotation a much-needed boost heading into the postseason. Freddie Freeman is second in the NL in average (.346), OBP (.464) and is tied for the league-lead in RBI (48), making quite the compelling case for league MVP. Meanwhile, Adam Duvall’s sensational September has continued, as the outfielder is up to 11 home runs for the month and 16 on the year, tying the league lead. There’s really no doubting that the Braves have one of the best — if not the best — offense in baseball at this point.

7) Minnesota Twins | 33-22 | Last week: 5

The Twins clinched back-to-back postseason appearances for the first time since 2009-10 with a win over the Cubs on Sept. 19. With just five contests remaining on its schedule, Minnesota sits two games back of the White Sox for the AL Central lead. Michael Pineda has compiled a strong 3.18 ERA and 21/4 K/BB ratio in four starts since returning from suspension and center fielder Byron Buxton is hitting .271 with a surprising 12 homers on the season.

6) New York Yankees | 31-22 | Last week: 11

It’s hard to describe in just one paragraph how much of a complete 180 this team has made in the last week-plus. The Yankees started the season 16-6, then went 5-15 to fall back to .500 before winning 10 of their last 11 games. Gio Urshela, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton are all back. The club’s recent 10-game winning streak was their longest since 2012 and the Yankees clinched their 28th straight winning season, the second-longest such streak in MLB history. The Yankees’ 19 homers in their series against Toronto this past week set a new major league record, as did their six-plus longballs in three straight games. DJ LeMahieu leads baseball in average (.361) while Luke Voit is baseball’s home run leader with 21. It’s been a wild path, but the Yankees are right back to where everyone expected they would be: one of the most feared teams in baseball entering the postseason. The Padres’ win over the Mariners on Sept. 20 guaranteed the team its 22nd postseason appearance since 1995. 

5) Oakland Athletics | 33-20 | Last week: 7

The A’s clinched a playoff spot over the weekend and are heading to the postseason for the sixth time since 2012. Only the Dodgers have more postseason appearances in that span. Starter Chris Bassitt has been outstanding this season, posting the fifth-best ERA in the AL (2.57) in 10 outings while young lefty Jesus Luzardo has posted a solid 3.86 ERA in 11 starts. Third baseman Jake Lamb now has more hits in five games with Oakland than he had with Arizona before the team designated him for assignment on Sept. 10.

4) Tampa Bay Rays | 35-19 | Last week: 4

The Rays clinched their sixth postseason appearance since 2008 this past week, the fourth-most of any MLB team in that stretch, and are a near-lock to clinch the AL East title at some point this week. Kevin Cash’s team has won seven of its last 10 games and possesses quality depth which could prove to be crucial in the postseason. 

3) San Diego Padres | 34-20 | Last week: 2

The wait is over for the Padres, who officially clinched a playoff berth on Sept. 20 for the first time since 2006. The last time San Diego made the playoffs Dave Roberts was the team’s starting left fielder and Mike Piazza was behind the plate. This team has been one of the most exciting to watch in baseball this year and undoubtedly has the makeup of a World Series contender. Tommy Pham and Eric Hosmer are both now off the injured list, Manny Machado (.980 OPS) is having a monster season, Dinnelson Lamet (2.07 ERA) is dealing and Chris Paddack may have turned a corner. What an incredible season.

2) Chicago White Sox | 34-19 | Last week: 3

The White Sox, who haven’t finished above .500 since 2012, became the first American League team to clinch a playoff spot this past week and will appear in the postseason in 2020 for the first time in 12 years. Jose Abreu’s sensational season has continued, as he’s up to 18 homers (trailing only Luke Voit in the majors) and an MLB-high 53 RBI. Veteran lefty Dallas Keuchel returned from the IL with a strange but effective start over the weekend to lower his season ERA to 2.04. This is going to be an incredibly fun team to watch play in the postseason.

1) Los Angeles Dodgers | 38-16 | Last week: 1

The Dodgers took two of three games against the Padres this past week to become the first team in baseball to clinch a playoff spot. The team is heading to the postseason for the eighth consecutive year — the third-longest streak in MLB history — and expectations are as high as they could be for the best team in baseball, which has won five of its last six games. The Dodgers tallied their 100th home run of the season on Sept. 19 in their 53rd game, surpassing their total from the entire, 162-game 1988 campaign. Justin Turner is back from injury and hitting well, Mookie Betts is tied for the NL home run lead (18) and Clayton Kershaw (2.15 ERA, 59/8 K/BB ratio in 54 ⅓ IP) has continued to dominate. Cody Bellinger also appears to be heating up at the plate and right-hander Tony Gonsolin has a 1.51 ERA through six starts this year.

Photos by Keith Allison / Wikimedia Commons (LeMahieu), Hayden Schiff / Flickr (Votto), All-Pro Reels / Flickr (Hernandez)

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