Welcome back to the MLB Power Rankings! We have a new # 1 after the Red Sox have just refused to stop winning, and have made it just about impossible not to bump them up to the top spot with how good they've been over the past month. The Yankees and Cubs stayed put, but the A's are nipping at both, as they cracked the top 5 for the first time this season. The Phillies and Brewers both jumped up a couple of spots and find themselves back in familiar positions well-within the top 10. The Dodgers stayed firmly in the top 10 as well, and were joined by division foe Arizona as the D-Backs sit atop the NL West tied with LA. The Rockies stayed pat, as the NL has tight, intriguing, races going in each division. Before we get to the rankings, same disclaimer as always, these are the top 20 overall teams regardless of league or division standings, the top 10 are not necessarily the picks to make the post-season, etc., and the rankings fluctuate based off how teams are trending as of late with their play. Without further ado, let's get to it, here's the latest edition of the 'MLB Power Rankings': 1 BOSTON RED SOX (79-34) ⥣
The Red Sox are back atop the rankings for the first time in a couple of months as they've not just pulled away from the Yankees in the AL East (9.5 game lead), but now sit 8 games better than the Astros for the best record in baseball. They are a remarkable 23-5 in their past 28 games. They rank near the top in virtually every batting category in the AL and are 2nd in team-ERA. Nobody is playing better baseball.
2 HOUSTON ASTROS (71-42) ⥥
The Astros finally relinquished their hold on the top spot in the power rankings, as the red-hot Red Sox just keep winning. A 4-6 stretch in their past 10 games has kept the door open for the sizzling Athletics in the difficult AL West. Their team-ERA now sits above 3.00, but they are still tops in the majors - 0.40 better than the 2nd ranked Red Sox.
3 NEW YORK YANKEES (68-42) -
The Yankees are dealing with injury issues, and the scorching-hot play of the 1st place Red Sox. Despite their continued hold on the 3rd-best record in baseball, they are starting to fade out of the picture in the division-race in the East. Despite the issues, they are still 3rd in the AL in team-ERA and well-ahead of the rest in the power categories. Their 175 home runs are still 20 better than the next closest club.
4 CHICAGO CUBS (64-47) -
Not much to report from Wrigley as the Cubbies continue to sit atop the NL Central with the best record in the NL. Despite owning 1 fewer victory, they continue to lead the Brewers by a game in the difficult Central. The balance of quality starting pitching, and balanced-hitting doesn't appear to be going anywhere. Both the Cubs and Brewers beefed up at the trade deadline and have anchored themselves in for a season-long pennant race.
5 OAKLAND ATHLETICS (67-46) ⥣
Aside from the Boston Red Sox, nobody has been playing better baseball over the past month of the season than the A's. They currently have the longest winning streak in all of baseball at 6-straight victories, are 12-5 since the All-Star break, and are 26-8 overall in their past 34 games. They've now passed the Mariners in the AL West and AL Wild Cards standings, and both the Astros and Yankees should take notice - it wasn't that long ago that this team was 41-38 and completely out of the post-season picture. They deservedly crack the top 5 this week.
6 PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES (63-48) ⥣
Five straight wins have helped the Phillies rebound nicely from a 4-game losing streak and an overall stretch of mediocre play (6-8 during a 14-game July stretch). They lead the Braves by 1.5 in the NL East and start a big series in Arizona tonight. A solid rotation and timely hitting continue to be a winning recipe for the Phils.
7 MILWAUKEE BREWERS (65-50) ⥣
The Brew Crew ended the first half on a down-note after 6 straight losses - including 5 in a row to the Pirates. The Crew has recovered nicely since the break, however, and are 10-8 overall since the All-Star break, including a recent 5-3 road trip to San Fran and LA. Christian Yelich now leads the NL in hitting, and the Brewers seem back on-track to battle the Cubs down the stretch for the NL Central crown.
8 LOS ANGELES DODGERS (62-51) ⥥
The Dodgers continue to sit atop the NL West, which has become a very competitive division. The D-Backs sit even with LA at the moment atop the division, as LA is 5-5 overall in their past 10. They won the Manny Machado sweepstakes, and it remains to be seen if his addition will be enough to keep the Rockies and D-Backs at bay.
9 CLEVELAND INDIANS (61-49) ⥥
The Indians remain in the top 10 of the power rankings, and there doesn't appear to much going on in the AL Central to change that. While the Indians are well behind the other division leaders, as well as the Yankees, they have a strangle-hold over the weakest division in baseball, 9 games clear of the Twins. They are tied for 2nd in the league in HRs and are in 2nd in hitting. Barring a total collapse, it feels safe to pencil the Tribe into the AL playoffs.
10 ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS (62-51) ⥣
Welcome back to the top 10 Arizona. It's been an up-and-down season thus far for the D-Backs. They jumped out to a quick start (19-7), then had a horrendous stretch in May (3-14) and have steadily recovered over the past couple of months to find themselves deadlocked with the Dodgers atop the NL West. Not surprisingly, both the Dodgers and D-Backs sit at 1 and 2 in the NL in team-ERA, and if the D-Backs are to reach the postseason for the second consecutive season, the pitching will be a large part of the equation.
11 SEATTLE MARINERS (64-48) ⥥
Oh the Mariners. They were the most surprising club of the first-half of the season and had a strong hold on the second wildcard spot in the AL for months. However, the continued hot-play of the A's, coupled with their struggles since the All-Star break (3-7 in their past 10; 6-9 overall), have now pushed Oakland 2.5 games ahead of them in the West. The post-season is still within reach, but they will need to turn it around in a hurry to keep up with the A's and Astros.
12 ATLANTA BRAVES (60-48) ⥥
The Braves have been about as inconsistent as anyone over the past couple of weeks. They relinquished their lead atop the NL East to the Phillies before the break, dropped to just 7 games above .500, then won 5 in a row, and are now sitting back at 12 games over .500. The lineup continues to lead the way - Freddie Freeman (.316/18HR/69RBI; .525 slugging) is a legitimate MVP contender, but the pitching needs to improve a bit (7th in the NL in ERA; 10th in saves), and could be problematic down the stretch.
13 COLORADO ROCKIES (59-52) -
The Rockies maintain their spot in the power rankings this week. Their hot streak heading into the All-Star break has cooled a bit, but they still find themselves right in the thick of things in the NL West, as they trail the Dodgers and D-Backs by just 2.0 games. 3rd baseman Nolan Arenado continues to put-up MVP-caliber numbers (.306/29HR/81RBI) and the bullpen continues to be a strong-point.
14 ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (58-54) ⥣
After dropping out of the top 15 in the last edition of the power rankings, the Cardinals have managed to sneak their way back in, thanks to a little 4-1 stretch in their past 5 games. They were able to take 2 of 3 from the Pirates in PIttsburgh, and are hanging around in the NL Wild Card picture, 4.0 games back of the Braves for the second Wild Card spot.
15 WASHINGTON NATIONALS (57-54) ⥥
16 PITTSBURGH PIRATES (57-55) ⥣
17 SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS (57-56) ⥥
18 TAMPA BAY RAYS (56-56) -
19 MINNESOTA TWINS (52-58) ⥣
20 LOS ANGELES ANGELS (55-58) ⥥
The Nationals find themselves right at # 15 in this week's power rankings, as they were unable to make a decision on whether they were "sellers" or "buyers" at the trade-deadline. Unable to ship Bryce Harper, and unable to acquire anyone else, the deadline kind of happened to Washington, and a return trip to the postseason now seems less and less likely this season. The Pirates went out and got Chris Archer from the Rays, but you feel their rare 5-game sweep of the Brewers right before the All-Star break gave this club a little bit of false hope about their post-season possibilities. Tampa stays pat, as it's been admirable that they've managed a .500 season to this point, considering how difficult not jus the AL East, but American League in general has been. The Twins and Angels flipped spots at the backend of the rankings, but neither figure to be in the playoff mix anymore for this season. The Angels will try again next year, as Mike Trout will be one year closer to free agency.
Thank you for following @steemsports and you can find me @thesportsguy