It's clinching season! [MLB Power Rankings]
Nearly all the playoff spots are locked up, and by this time next week, they will be. But for now, we're still a little bit curious about how things will shake out. If you're a fan of one of the 5 teams that have already clinched a playoff spot (Red Sox, Athletics, Braves, Cardinals, Dodgers), then I congratulate you. If you're a fan of one of the 15 teams that are already mathematically eliminated, then there's always next year. For the rest of you who are still in limbo, let's see where your team lands.
Without further ado, here are your MLB Power Rankings for week 25:
1. Boston Red Sox (95-62) [Last week: 1]
Eric: So, beards are now the reason the Red Sox are winning? Is there a group of media more willing to give in to narratives than Boston’s? If they didn’t blow it in 2011, fried chicken and beer would’ve been a rallying cry.
Pat: If you had told me before the season that the Red Sox would win the AL East handily and finish with 95+ wins, I'd say you're crazy. Crazy has never felt this good.
2. Oakland Athletics (93-63) [LW: 3]
Eric: Congrats on the division title. Please fix your sewage problem before the playoffs.
Pat: Apparently Moneyball is working again, because the A's are one of the best teams in baseball, despite a payroll that is among the bottom 4 in baseball.
3. Atlanta Braves (92-63) [LW: 2]
Eric: Freddie Freeman will probably never be a huge power guy, but if he keeps posting .390 OBP’s he’ll be one of the best first basemen in the game.
Pat: A month ago, I thought the Braves would be the first to clinch. They finally did it, but it took a bit longer than I expected.
4. Detroit Tigers (91-65) [LW: 5]
Eric: If it weren’t for narratives that calcified back in June, Miguel Cabrera’s injured and ineffective September would make a dent in his MVP case. It won’t of course.
Pat: While I sympathize with the Trout for MVP crowd, I have no real problem with Cabrera winning it. He's pretty freaking amazing.
5. St. Louis Cardinals (91-65) [LW: 4]
Eric: The Cardinals are almost half a run better at scoring than the second best offense in the National League.
Pat: After a solid stretch for nearly the full season, closer Edward Mujica has been pretty shaky in September, giving the Cardinals one more thing to worry about heading into the playoffs.
6. Los Angeles Dodgers (90-66) [LW: 7]
Eric: To me, the pool controversy is simple. If you don’t want a team celebrating by jumping in your pool, don’t let them clinch in your ballpark.
Pat: Adrian Gonzalez is quietly having exactly the kind of season you'd expect from him, and the kind of season that the Red Sox were counting on when they signed him to the 7-year deal a few years ago.
7. Cincinnati Reds (89-67) [LW: 8]
Eric: Continuing the “Wow, Billy Hamilton” theme, he is only one steal away from ranking in the top 25 in the NL. He’s played 14 games total.
Pat: The Reds are turning it on at the right time, and they're 7-3 in their last 10 games.
8. Pittsburgh Pirates (89-67) [LW: 6]
Eric: Jason Grilli better get back into game shape quickly. He’ll need to take over the closing job again with Melancon struggling.
Pat: Their +42 run differential is only one run better than the Rays, who have the worst run differential among likely playoff teams. Don't expect the Pirates to win a series. Or even the one-game wild card playoff, really.
9. Tampa Bay Rays (86-69) [LW: 9]
Eric: All of Tampa’s regular hitters have at least a 100 OPS+ except Jose Molina, who is of course in there for his defense. There are no stars except Longoria, but the offense gets it done.
Pat: The Rays have won three straight, and although the AL East is already wrapped up, they're in the driver's seat for the Wild Card.
10. Cleveland Indians (86-70) [LW: 10]
Eric: Not surprisingly, their cake schedule down the stretch has carried them into a Wild Card position.
Pat: They've won 4 in a row, and took over the 2nd wild card spot. As Eric said, their remaining schedule is remarkably easy, so they should stay there.
11. Washington Nationals (84-72) [LW: 12]
Eric: The Navy Yard is five blocks or so from Nationals Park. The parking lot was used as a command center and family reunion spot during last week’s shooting. The tribute emotions were very real this past week for the Nationals. That was their neighbors affected by the tragedy. Also, this week ended their slim playoff hopes, but I’d be lying if I said I cared about what happened.
Pat: Technically, they're still not mathematically eliminated from the wild card. But realistically, they played their way out of it a long time ago.
12. Texas Rangers (84-71) [LW: 11]
Eric: The Rangers are 14-2 against the Astros, 11-4 against the Angels, and 12-7 against the Mariners this year, and 47-58 against everyone else. Luckily for them, they end with seven at home against the Astros and Angels. Unlucky for them, they have lost the Wild Card lead.
Pat: They'll need to count on a stumble from the Rays, since the Indians' easy schedule makes it unlikely for them.
13. Kansas City Royals (82-73) [LW: 15]
Eric: They probably won’t make it, but seeing meaningful baseball, and walk-off grand slams, in Kansas City this late in the season is pretty damn cool.
Pat: Eric Hosmer, Billy Butler, Salvador Perez and Alex Gordon make up a nice little core for the KC offense.
14. New York Yankees (82-74) [LW: 14]
Eric: Let me now add my tip of the cap to Mariano Rivera for an incredible career. See you in five years for your Hall induction speech.
Pat: Congrats to Mo on a great career. It's a shame knowing we'll never see him in the playoffs again.
15. Baltimore Orioles (81-74) [LW: 13]
Eric: The Orioles are the only team with five players that have played 150+ games this season. It shows, as the lineup looks completely worn down.
Pat: Chris Davis' incredible season was fun to watch, but it looks like it will be all for naught, as the O's go back to their postseason-missing ways.
16. Arizona Diamondbacks (79-76) [LW: 16]
Eric: Patrick Corbin had a very good year, but Wade Miley is the only other starter with an ERA+ over 100 this season.
Pat: The Diamondbacks are a few players away from being a solid playoff contender. Let's see if they make the right moves in the offseason, unlike that Justin Upton trade.
17. Los Angeles Angels (76-79) [LW: 17]
Eric: Mike Trout eclipsed 10.0 WAR (per Fangraphs) this week. The other players that have back-to-back seasons of 10+ WAR: Cobb, Ruth (5 times), Hornsby (twice), Williams (twice), Mantle, Mays, Bonds (four consecutive years).
Pat: The Angels are another team that turned it on a bit recently, but it was too little, too late.
20. San Francisco Giants (72-84) [LW: 18]
Eric: Buster Posey fractured a finger early this month, and it’s clearly affected him. He’s hit just .135 this past two weeks.
Pat: The Giants struggled this year as much as any defending champ that I can remember in a while.
22. Philadelphia Phillies (71-84) [LW: 19]
Eric: The interim tag has been taken off Ryne Sandberg, and he’ll be the manager in 2014. Good luck.
Pat: Chase Utley had a solid season but at age 34, how many more of those can we expect from him?
21. San Diego Padres (72-83) [LW: 20]
Eric: Health has always been a concern for Andrew Cashner, but the arm was always there. He’s been healthy this year, and thus very good, sporting a 3.09 ERA.
Pat: Only the White Sox and Marlins have scored less than the Padres this year. Sure, their home park is a factor, but they need to figure out how to score some more runs.
19. Toronto Blue Jays (71-84) [LW: 21]
Eric: Jose Reyes does not have a triple this year. That wasn’t in the plan before the season started.
Pat: There are lots of things that didn't go according to plan for the Blue Jays. This entire year was a disaster for them.
23. Colorado Rockies (71-86) [LW: 22]
Eric: The Rockies OPS at home: .802. On the road? .679. Just another year in Colorado.
Pat: The Rockies have some good young talent, and Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki are two of the best players in baseball. They really need to improve their pitching moving forward.
18. New York Mets (71-84) [LW: 23]
Eric: It may seem meaningless, but props to David Wright for working to come back for the end of the season. It gives Mets fans someone to watch as they limp towards the end of another difficult year.
Pat: Wright has been the class of this organization for pretty much his entire career. I'm torn between whether I'd like to see him be a career Met, or move on to a better place.
25. Seattle Mariners (68-88) [LW: 24]
Eric: The Mariners scored 619 runs last season. This year, a seemingly improved lineup has scored…600 runs with six games to play.
Pat: Raul Ibanez put up some remarkable power numbers for someone in his 40s.
24. Milwaukee Brewers (69-86) [LW: 25]
Eric: Jonathan Lucroy has quietly have one of the better offensive years for a catcher this season: .280/.339/.455.
Pat: If Ryan Braun comes back strong next year, they could have a pretty solid offense. The goals this offseason should be pitching, pitching and pitching.
26. Minnesota Twins (65-90) [LW: 26]
Eric: I got nothing.
Pat: They've lost 4 straight. Yup, still a bad team.
27. Chicago Cubs (65-91) [LW: 27]
Eric: The Cubs have the second worst OBP in baseball, which feels more like the Jim Hendry era than the Theo Epstein era.
Pat: Despite being near the bottom in almost every offensive stat, the Cubs are somehow tied for 7th in the league with 170 HR.
28. Chicago White Sox (61-94) [LW: 28]
Eric: After Saturday’s game, I feel this is apt again – Free Chris Sale!
Pat: Fantasy baseball tip, for those of you still alive in your league's playoff: Pick up pitchers who are facing the White Sox.
29. Miami Marlins (57-99) [LW: 29]
Eric: Media reports are that Jeffrey Loria is trying to control everything and making life miserable for his baseball executives. Is anyone really surprised?
Pat: This team really sucks to watch with Jose Fernandez shut down for the year.
30. Houston Astros (51-105) [LW: 30]
Eric: The butt slide just says it all about the Astros this year.
Pat: The Astros have now lost 9 straight games, and... well, they're just awful.
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