Red Sox take over #1, build AL East lead [MLB Power Rankings]
We're nearing the home stretch, and while these rankings have no impact on the playoff standings at all, they're still real to me, dammit.
The playoff races are tightening up a bit, and it's really exciting because of baseball's unbalanced schedules. Lots of teams are playing several division rivals in the final month of the season, and it should be really exciting.
Without further ado, here are your MLB Power Rankings for week 23:
1. Boston Red Sox (87-58) [Last week: 2]
Eric: The Red Sox are about to complete a worst to first season in their division. They always had the talent, but last year everything bad that could happen did. This year they’ve had much less bad luck.
Pat: The Sox have won 8 of their last 10, including 3 of 4 against the Yankees, in what was nearly a reverse of the 'Boston Massacre' in 2006.
2. Atlanta Braves (85-57) [LW: 1]
Eric: Getting Jason Heyward back before the postseason will be huge for the Braves. Heyward was hitting the crap out of the ball once he was moved to the leadoff spot.
Pat: The Braves just got swept in Philadelphia, but let's not panic. They're still a lock to win the NL East and they'll be a force in the postseason.
3. St. Louis Cardinals (83-60) [LW: 6]
Eric: Michael Wacha was put back in the rotation this month and is yet to give up a run, giving the Cardinals yet another pitching option.
Pat: The Cardinals have won 3 straight, and have quietly picked up a game and a half lead in the ridiculously competitive NL Central.
4. Oakland Athletics (83-60) [LW: 8]
Eric: Josh Donaldson might be having the best season no one is talking about this year. He’s hitting .297/.372/.496 and a 143 OPS+.
Pat: The A's have won 3 straight and 8 of their last 10, making it very interesting in the AL West.
5. Los Angeles Dodgers (83-59) [LW: 3]
Eric: Matt Kemp might be done for the year, but honestly, that might not be a bad thing. He hasn’t been that great the few times he could play.
Pat: The Dodgers are slipping, with 4 straight losses coming into this week, but they were probably due for a few losses after their historic hot streak.
6. Detroit Tigers (82-61) [LW: 4]
Eric: Even with Justin Verlander not having the greatest year, him plus Scherzer, Fister, and Sanchez is one scary playoff rotation.
Pat: The Tigers have a +161 run differential, second behind only the Red Sox. A lot of that centers around their awesome rotation, and some guy named Cabrera.
7. Pittsburgh Pirates (81-61) [LW: 5]
Eric: The Cardinals swept them, which means they still haven’t gotten win #82, and worse, have to really fight now just to make sure they get a home playoff game.
Pat: The Pirates are now tied with the Reds for the wild card spot, and they need to do whatever they can to avoid a dangerous one-game playoff.
8. Texas Rangers (81-61) [LW: 7]
Eric: Martin Perez has quietly pitched well recently and could become a factor in the Rookie of the Year race.
Pat: Now is a bad time for the Rangers to slow down, since the Athletics are still very much a force and winning the division is a huge advantage.
9. Cincinnati Reds (82-62) [LW: 9]
Eric: Aroldis Chapman was hitting 103 on the gun this week, but how did he end up getting 9 days rest?
Pat: Last night, the Reds pulled out a great walk-off win against the Dodgers, but it was a little concerning that Jay Bruce seemed to be the only one hitting well. Then again, it was Kershaw.
10. Tampa Bay Rays (78-64) [LW: 10]
Eric: Their West Coast roadtrip couldn’t have gone much worse, and now their lead in the Wild Card is looking very tenuous.
Pat: As Eric says, the Rays are leading the Wild Card race, but things are getting a lot closer, with 4 teams now withing 3.5 games of them.
11. Baltimore Orioles (76-66) [LW: 11]
Eric: Every game the Orioles play the rest of the season is against an AL East team. I’m still not sure they’re good enough to make the playoffs, but they are going to get their chances.
Pat: The Orioles are one of those 4 teams within striking distance of the AL Wild Card, and they've got a huge 4-game set with the Yankees that could put one of the two teams out of it.
12. Cleveland Indians (76-66) [LW: 12]
Eric: Michael Bourn for whatsoever hasn’t been running that much, stealing just 22 bags so far this year (with 10 caught stealings).
Pat: Of the teams fighting for a wild card spot, the Indians might have the easiest schedule. If they can avoid a sweep in Kansas City, their final stretch of games could give them a huge chance, with 10 games against the Twins, Astros and White Sox.
13. New York Yankees (76-67) [LW: 13]
Eric: Everyone that said the Yankees had no shot at the playoffs need to go sit in the corner and think about what they’ve done.
Pat: We'll see if the Blue Jays and Giants can play spoiler to the Yankees, who also have an important series with the Rays still on the schedule.
14. Kansas City Royals (75-68) [LW: 14]
Eric: Not dead yet. It’s kind of cool to see meaningful baseball in KC, to be honest.
Pat: They're not dead, but they might be on life support. Their next 6 games are against the Indians and Rangers, and that could determine their fate.
15. Washington Nationals (73-69) [LW: 16]
Eric: The Bryce Harper injury saga feels like a smaller scale version of the RGIII thing. Luckily for the Nationals, no one here is paying attention.
Pat: Tanner Roark might not get a lot more starts in this rotation, but he pitched a hell of a game against the Marlins (yeah, just the Marlins) on Saturday.
16. Arizona Diamondbacks (72-70) [LW: 15]
Eric: Martin Prado is doing about what one would expect: .284/.334/.420. Justin Upton’s OBP and SLG are both better and he’s still four years younger. Just saying.
Pat: Not only are Upton's numbers better than Prado (which shouldn't come as a surprise), that's after a rather rough stretch for Upton. The Diamondbacks should have either kept him, or found a better deal.
17. Los Angeles Angels (67-75) [LW: 18]
Eric: Mark Trumbo is what he is. His on-base skills are terrible, but his power is good enough that he’s a valuable lineup piece.
Pat: The Angels have an awful lot of money wrapped up in guys who were an abject failure in 2013.
18. Toronto Blue Jays (67-76) [LW: 22]
Eric: Melky Cabrera is out for the season after a benign tumor was removed from his spine. It’s been that kind of year for the Blue Jays.
Pat: With 3 games each upcoming against the Red Sox, Rays, Orioles and Yankees, the Blue Jays have a huge chance to play spoiler to some teams hoping to clinch playoff spots.
19. Colorado Rockies (66-78) [LW: 17]
Eric: Tracy Ringolsby argued in a recent column that Jorge de la Rosa should win the Cy Young. That’s a little extreme, since there’s that Kershaw guy, but de la Rosa is having a very good season.
Pat: I don't even know what to say, after reading that someone just tried to make a Cy Young case for Jorge de la Rosa.
20. Philadelphia Phillies (66-77) [LW: 21]
Eric: The Phillies have the second worst run differential in baseball. They’re actually lucky to only 12 games below .500.
Pat: The Phillies are a train wreck of sorts, after being one of the premier teams in baseball for most of the 2000s.
21. San Diego Padres (65-77) [LW: 23]
Eric: The Padres have allowed the second most runs per game in the NL. How does that happen in that ball park?
Pat: In response to Eric's question, that happens when your pitching staff is terrible. That is all.
22. Seattle Mariners (65-78) [LW: 19]
Eric: Danny Farquhar is the latest example that any decent reliever can effectively close.
Pat: The Mariners just hit the -100 run differential threshold. Uh, congrats?
23. New York Mets (64-77) [LW: 20]
Eric: Just get the surgery Matt Harvey. Waiting isn’t going to do anything but delay recovery. Believe me. The O’s went through this earlier in the year with Dylan Bundy. Wasted three months for no reason.
Pat: That Harvey injury is devastating for the Mets. I really don't even know what I'd say to a Mets fan if I actually knew any of them.
24. San Francisco Giants (64-79) [LW: 24]
Eric: Baseball can be both incredible, in that a journeyman like Yusmeiro Petit can vie for a perfect game, and cruel, in that he came so close to doing it.
Pat: This year, two players whose first names began with the letters "Yu" came within one out of a perfect game. Crazy, right?
25. Milwaukee Brewers (62-80) [LW: 26]
Eric: The Brewers are 31-40 both home and on the road. That’s all I got.
Pat: If this team was healthy (and not suspended) for the whole season, their lineup would be really fun to watch. I hope they manage to keep them all together for a while. And also, improve that pitching.
26. Minnesota Twins (61-80) [LW: 25]
Eric: The Twins are last in the league in pitcher strikeouts. Without checking, I’m guessing that isn’t the first time that’s happened in recent years.
Pat: Eric's comment made me curious, so I figured I'd check. And he was right. This will be the 3rd straight year they finish last in strikeouts, and in both 2011 and 2012, they were the only team with less than 1000.
27. Chicago Cubs (60-82) [LW: 27]
Eric: Of their regular players, the leader in OPS+ is Nate Schierholtz (113), and that’s mostly from slugging since his OBP is .307. Not good.
Pat: Anthony Rizzo was supposed to be a heavy-hitting prospect, but his .232/.326/.425 slash line isn't what I'd call impressive.
28. Chicago White Sox (57-85) [LW: 28]
Eric: Adam Dunn is a lot of things, both good and bad, but if he does retire like he’s rumored to be considering, a tip of the cap for a fine career.
Pat: Part of me hopes Dunn sticks around, since he's 2 or 3 seasons away from 500 HR. But then the smarter part of me realizes he'll likely be forced into his retirement before that happens, thanks to his customary sub-Mendoza batting average.
29. Miami Marlins (53-88) [LW: 29]
Eric: Jose Fernandez should be Rookie of the Year, period. You could argue he should finish 2nd in the Cy Young voting.
Pat: I'm calling it. The Marlins will make a World Series appearance in 2015.
30. Houston Astros (47-96) [LW: 30]
Eric: It looks like it’ll be a close call on whether the Astros will lose 110 games or not.
Pat: This team is so bad.
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