Power Ranking the 5 Hottest Teams in Baseball Right Now
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Hot streaks make for a compelling September every baseball season.
Teams in playoff contention can assert themselves in their respective division title or wild-card races. Fans of those clubs worried about whether or not their team can hang on through September get some relief.
But hot Septembers are even more dramatic for teams fighting for a playoff spot, especially those who appeared to be playing for next year, but now find themselves in a race for the postseason.
There are a handful of clubs that could have been on this list as well, and their fans will likely speak out in the comments. But those clubs are warm.
Let's also make sure to tip a cap to the San Diego Padres, who are 8-2 in their past 10 games. In September thus far, they're 9-5. And in the second half of the season, the Pads have a 37-23 record. But they're not in contention for the playoffs, so their hot streak goes relatively unappreciated.
However, the following five teams will not go unappreciated. As of Sept. 17, these are the five hottest teams in MLB, and here's how we rank them.
5. Philadelphia Philllies
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It's difficult to call a team that lost three of four games to the worst team in baseball "hot."
Yet even after losing two consecutive games over the weekend (Sept. 15-16) to the Houston Astros, the Philadelphia Phillies are still 7-3 in their last 10 games and have a 10-5 record thus far through in September.
That surge put the Phillies back in the NL playoff race, pulling them to within three games of a wild-card bid and reviving what appeared to be a lost season.
Losing its past two games has slowed Philadelphia's momentum, however. The Phillies are now four games out of the wild-card race with 15 games remaining in the regular season and have four teams to overcome in the standings for the NL's last playoff spot.
But to even put themselves in such a position at the end of the season has been impressive.
4. Los Angeles Angels
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Winning six of their past 10 games and compiling a record of 10-5 so far in September, the Los Angeles Angels are still in the race for a wild-card bid in the AL.
As play began on Sept. 17, the Angels are 2.5 games away from the AL's second wild-card spot, 1.5 games ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays and two games over the Detroit Tigers.
Albert Pujols hasn't given the Angels an offensive boost this month, batting .226 with a .696 OPS. But Torii Hunter is hitting .333 with three home runs and 14 RBI in September while Erick Aybar is batting .407 with a .925 OPS.
On the pitching side, Jered Weaver has a 1.46 ERA in his two September starts, while Zack Greinke has a 1.61 mark in three starts to help provide the pitching advantage most expected from the Angels.
If the Angels can continue their hot play in a three-game series this week (Sept. 17-19) against the Texas Rangers, they could be in the playoff race until the end of the season.
3. Atlanta Braves
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The Atlanta Braves went into September with a strong hold on one of the NL's two wild-card playoff spots. Nothing has happened to change that.
As of Sept. 17, the Braves have a seven-game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL wild-card standings. Their place in the postseason is virtually assured.
After an impressive three-game sweep over the Washington Nationals over the weekend (Sept. 14-16), Atlanta has won seven of its past 10 games and has a 10-5 record in September. The Braves may even have an outside chance at an NL East title, now just 5.5 games behind the first-place Nats.
Kris Medlen has been a big part of Atlanta's late-season success, allowing three earned runs in 22 innings during his three September starts. That includes a 13-strikeout performance against the Nats on Friday (Sept. 14), during which he allowed one run.
But the Braves bullpen has been a lockdown unit in the season's final month. Craig Kimbrel, Peter Moylan and Eric O'Flaherty haven't allowed an earned run in September, while Luis Avilan has given up one run in eight appearances.
2. Milwaukee Brewers
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Another NL team whose season appeared to be finished in August (if not earlier) yet has played itself into the wild-card race with a sizzling September is the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Brew Crew is 7-3 over its past 10 games with a record of 11-4 in September. That's boosted Milwaukee to within 2.5 games of the NL's second wild-card bid.
If the Brewers can stay hot and in contention for a playoff spot, they will have earned it. Milwaukee's next 10 games are against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Washington Nationals and Cincinnati Reds.
It's difficult to imagine the Brewers wouldn't be the NL's second wild-card team if they can get through that stretch successfully, but how the St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers play will obviously play a role in determining that.
Getting back into playoff contention has also surely boosted the MVP chances of Ryan Braun. In September, he's batted .328/.382/.574 with four home runs and 11 RBI. For the season, Braun leads the NL with 40 home runs, a .602 slugging percentage and .989 OPS.
1. Oakland Athletics
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The Oakland Athletics feel like the reason this slideshow was put together in the first place.
The A's have been blistering hot and currently hold the second-best record in the American League. They're 8-2 in their past 10 games and have a 10-5 mark 17 days into September.
But let's zoom out a bit further. Oakland is 41-19 since the All-Star break. A team typically goes a long way with a .683 winning percentage.
The A's face a brutal 10-game road trip beginning Tuesday (Sept. 17), however. Oakland plays the Tigers, Yankees and Rangers on this swing.
Those last two series could be particularly important, as they'll influence the team's place in the AL West and wild-card standings. The Tigers need to win every game they can as well, locked in a battle with the White Sox for the AL Central title. All three teams have played the A's evenly this season.
But those three teams should probably be more worried about facing the A's at the end of the season than the other way around. A green-and-gold buzzsaw is coming to town.
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