MLB Power Rankings: Standings with 1 Week Left to Play

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistSeptember 23, 2013

MLB Power Rankings: Standings with 1 Week Left to Play

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    Jim Rogash/Getty Images

    The final week of the 2013 MLB regular season is here, and there are still five playoff spots and two division titles up for grabs, setting up what promises to be an exciting finish to the year.

    The Boston Red Sox, Oakland A's, Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers have claimed their respective divisions, while the St. Louis Cardinals have earned a postseason spot but have yet to clinch the NL Central title.

    The Detroit Tigers are close to clinching the AL Central, and the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates just need to hold off the Washington Nationals to fill out the NL wild-card picture. The AL wild-card picture is far less clear, though, as the Tampa Bay Rays and Cleveland Indians are clinging to spots, with the Texas Rangers, Kansas City Royals, New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles all chasing them.

    For now, here is an updated look at where all 30 MLB teams stand in this week's power rankings, with one more week of jockeying for position left before the postseason gets under way.

30. Houston Astros (51-105, Previous: 30)

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    SP Jarred Cosart
    SP Jarred CosartTom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

    Last Week's Results: 0-7

    vs. Cincinnati Reds (0-3)
    at Cleveland Indians (0-4)

    Team Overview

    A winless week pulled the Houston Astros' loss total to 105 and has put them in position to have their worst record in franchise history, passing last year's 55-107 showing.

    Big picture, however, this season has been a positive step in the right direction. The Astros have stockpiled one of the deepest and most talented farm systems in all of baseball, and the emergence of guys like Jarred Cosart, Brett Oberholtzer and Jason Castro only adds to what should be a dynamic young core within a couple years.

    This Week's Opponents

    at Texas Rangers (3)
    vs. New York Yankees (3)

29. Miami Marlins (57-99, Previous: 29)

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    CF Christian Yelich
    CF Christian YelichElsa/Getty Images

    Last Week's Results: 2-5

    at Philadelphia Phillies (1-2)
    at Washington Nationals (1-3)

    Team Overview

    It's been a long season in Miami, where the Marlins are hitting an MLB-worst .231 as a group and averaging a paltry 3.2 runs per game. That said, there are a number of positive takeaways from this year.

    It's impressive that they were able to hit the reset button after spending big prior to 2012 and fill the cupboard with young talent in the process. Jose Fernandez gives the team a bona fide ace to build around in what has been an impressive young rotation, and the experience that guys like Christian Yelich and Jake Marisnick are getting this season should only help down the road.

    This Week's Opponents

    vs. Philadelphia Phillies (3)
    vs. Detroit Tigers (3)

28. Chicago White Sox (61-94, Previous: 28)

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    SP Chris Sale
    SP Chris SaleJohn Gress/Getty Images

    Last Week's Results: 3-3

    vs. Minnesota Twins (2-1)
    at Detroit Tigers (1-2)

    Team Overview

    The Chicago White Sox check in just ahead of the Astros and Marlins, but they are far worse off from an organizational standpoint looking to the future. They may have more talent at the big league level right now than those two teams, but there's little in the way of building blocks for the future.

    Ace Chris Sale is a stud, but the farm system is thin, and the current roster is short on young talent. Getting out from under some bad contracts over the next few years will give the White Sox a good deal of payroll flexibility, but they need to be able to fill in the gaps with some in-house talent, and it's just not there right now.

    This Week's Opponents

    vs. Toronto Blue Jays (1)
    at Cleveland Indians (2)
    vs. Kansas City Royals (4)

27. Minnesota Twins (65-90, Previous: 27)

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    C Joe Mauer
    C Joe MauerHannah Foslien/Getty Images

    Last Week's Results: 1-6

    at Chicago White Sox (1-2)
    at Oakland Athletics (0-4)

    Team Overview

    The Minnesota Twins will need to win two games this week to improve on last year's record and keep from being passed by the White Sox in the standings to avoid a third straight last-place finish.

    The present is not great, but the future is looking awfully bright.

    Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano highlight what is arguably the best farm system in all of baseball, and both have the potential to be superstars in the middle of the Twins lineup. It will likely be another offseason of stopgap additions and another long year in 2014, but they should start to reap the rewards of their terrific young talent, with plenty more on the way moving forward.

    This Week's Opponents

    vs. Detroit Tigers (3)
    vs. Cleveland Indians (4)

26. Chicago Cubs (65-91, Previous: 26)

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    SP Jeff Samardzija
    SP Jeff SamardzijaBrian Kersey/Getty Images

    Last Week's Results: 2-5

    at Milwaukee Brewers (1-3)
    vs. Atlanta Braves (1-2)

    Team Overview

    The target year for a return to legitimate contention on the North Side has always seemed to be 2015, so another poor season for the Chicago Cubs was no huge surprise. It's all about building from the ground up at this point, and they did some good things this year.

    Jeff Samardzija just passed 200 innings and 200 strikeouts for the first time in his career, and offseason fliers Nate Schierholtz and Dioner Navarro have been great additions. Travis Wood and Welington Castillo have joined the often talked about core of players, while Starlin Castro has raised a good deal of question marks about his future.

    This Week's Opponents

    vs. Pittsburgh Pirates (3)
    at St. Louis Cardinals (3)

25. Seattle Mariners (68-88, Previous: 24)

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    SP Taijuan Walker
    SP Taijuan WalkerOtto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Last Week's Results: 2-5

    at Detroit Tigers (1-3)
    at Los Angeles Angels (1-2)

    Team Overview

    The Mariners will finish 2013 with their fourth straight losing season. They have not been to the playoffs since 2001, but things are headed in the right direction and they could be in a position to surprise a lot of people in 2014.

    A wave of young, high-end minor league talent has taken over the Mariners roster, with Taijuan Walker, James Paxton, Mike Zunino, Brad Miller and Nick Franklin all settling into key roles. Alongside guys like Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma and Kyle Seager, there is plenty of talent in Seattle if it can just fill in the remaining holes in the offseason.

    This Week's Opponents

    vs. Kansas City Royals (3)
    vs. Oakland Athletics (3)

24. Colorado Rockies (71-86, Previous: 23)

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    1B Todd Helton
    1B Todd HeltonDoug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Last Week's Results: 3-4

    vs. St. Louis Cardinals (2-2)
    vs. Arizona Diamondbacks (1-2)

    Team Overview

    The 2013 season marks the end of an era in Colorado, as first baseman Todd Helton announced last week that he'll retire at the end of the season. He's spent the past 17 seasons with the Rockies, piling up 2,514 hits, 368 home runs and a .316/.414/.539 career line.

    Looking to next season, the team will need to continue to look for ways to improve its pitching staff, as the Rockies have the offense to be legitimate contenders. Michael Cuddyer (.334 BA) currently leads the NL batting title race by .005 over Chris Johnson and .010 over Matt Carpenter; he'll look to lock up that honor this week.

    This Week's Opponents

    vs. Boston Red Sox (2)
    at Los Angeles Dodgers (3)

23. Toronto Blue Jays (71-84, Previous: 22)

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    SP Mark Buehrle
    SP Mark BuehrleTom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

    Last Week's Results: 3-3

    vs. New York Yankees (2-1)
    at Boston Red Sox (1-2)

    Team Overview

    It's been a disappointing season for the Toronto Blue Jays—there are no two ways about it. The team entered the year with legitimate title aspirations and will instead need to win three more games just to improve on last year's record.

    That said, the Blue Jays still have a talented group of veterans locked down for at least the next couple seasons. They'll need to add a starter to replace the disaster that was Josh Johnson, but if they can do that and avoid the wave of injuries that has hit them the past two years, they could yet live up to expectations with this group.

    This Week's Opponents

    at Chicago White Sox (1)
    at Baltimore Orioles (3)
    vs. Tampa Bay Rays (3)

22. Philadelphia Phillies (71-84, Previous: 19)

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    2B Chase Utley
    2B Chase UtleyDrew Hallowell/Getty Images

    Last Week's Results: 2-4

    vs. Miami Marlins (2-1)
    vs. New York Mets (0-3)

    Team Overview

    The Phillies got really old really quickly this season, as they have transitioned from perennial contender to a team in desperate need of an overhaul. Re-signing Chase Utley may seem to work against that thinking, but he's been healthy this season and the team's best hitter with a .281/.345/.481 line, so the move makes sense, especially since he's a fan favorite.

    Getting out from under Roy Halladay's contract will help the Phillies as well, but with a thin farm system and just an overall lack of young talent, it will take more than some payroll flexibility to turn this team around. A repeat season from Domonic Brown and the continued emergence of Darin Ruf would certainly help offensively, while Jonathan Pettibone and Ethan Martin will be counted on along with top prospect Jesse Biddle to bring some youth to the rotation.

    This Week's Opponents

    at Miami Marlins (3)
    at Atlanta Braves (4)

21. Milwaukee Brewers (69-86, Previous: 21)

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    SP Wily Peralta
    SP Wily PeraltaMike McGinnis/Getty Images

    Last Week's Results: 4-3

    vs. Chicago Cubs (3-1)
    vs. St. Louis Cardinals (1-2)

    Team Overview

    It's been a rough season in Milwaukee, from the Ryan Braun controversy to the struggles of the pitching staff and everything in between, as a team that made a late-season run at the playoffs in 2012 took a big step backward this season.

    The emergence of Jean Segura and Carlos Gomez, even with their second-half fall-off, is certainly a plus for the offense. On the pitching side of things, Wily Peralta (11-15, 4.37 ERA) has quietly had a solid rookie season, and Tyler Thornburg (2-1, 1.25 ERA) has pitched great in six starts after spending much of the year in the bullpen.

    This Week's Opponents

    at Atlanta Braves (3)
    at New York Mets (4)

20. New York Mets (71-84, Previous: 25)

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    SP Matt Harvey
    SP Matt HarveyRich Schultz/Getty Images

    Last Week's Results: 4-2

    vs. San Francisco Giants (1-2)
    at Philadelphia Phillies (3-0)

    Team Overview

    The New York Mets have pulled even with the Phillies for third place in the NL East after sweeping them in Philadelphia to close out last week. While it's not a postseason trip, that would be a solid takeaway for the team nonetheless.

    Matt Harvey was the story of 2013 before going down with an arm injury, though positive news came on that front last week when it was announced that he would try rehab before going under the knife for Tommy John surgery.

    The Mets could be among the biggest players in free agency this offseason, as it will be an important winter for them.

    This Week's Opponents

    at Cincinnati Reds (3)
    vs. Milwaukee Brewers (4)

19. San Francisco Giants (72-84, Previous: 18)

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    RF Hunter Pence
    RF Hunter PenceStephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Last Week's Results: 3-3

    at New York Mets (2-1)
    at New York Yankees (1-2)

    Team Overview

    The San Francisco Giants looked poised to make a run at defending their title entering the season, as they brought back essentially the same group of players and would have full seasons from Marco Scutaro and Hunter Pence to bolster their offense.

    The offense has indeed been better as a whole, but the pitching staff has struggled drastically and will be in for an overhaul behind Madison Bumgarner and Matt Cain this offseason. Re-signing Pence will be a priority as well, and even with the team scoring more runs as a whole, the offense is still by no means a strength.

    This Week's Opponents

    vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (3)
    vs. San Diego Padres (3)

18. San Diego Padres (72-83, Previous: 20)

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    SP Ian Kennedy
    SP Ian KennedyKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Last Week's Result: 4-3

    at Pittsburgh Pirates (3-1)
    vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (1-2)

    Team Overview

    The Padres currently hold a half-game lead over the Giants for third place in the NL West, and the two teams meet up for three games to close out the season, with at least that on the line to play for. 

    Solid seasons from Jedd Gyorko and Will Venable, alongside guys like Yonder Alonso and Carlos Quentin, have the Padres offense looking decent moving forward. The real question is pitching, as the team lacks a true staff ace and is counting on Ian Kennedy to turn things around at this point. Look for the Pads to try to buy low on a veteran or two in free agency.

    This Week's Opponents

    vs. Arizona Diamondbacks (4)
    at San Francisco Giants (3)

17. Los Angeles Angels (76-79, Previous: 17)

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    CF Mike Trout
    CF Mike TroutLisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

    Last Week's Results: 4-2

    at Oakland Athletics (2-1)
    vs. Seattle Mariners (2-1)

    Team Overview

    Throwing money at the free-agency pool has bought the Los Angeles Angels a huge payroll and back-to-back disappointing seasons, but they are playing much better baseball of late and could yet finish over .500.

    They're 21-8 over their last 29 games and have won four straight series. They'll look to play spoiler to close out the season, meeting up with a Rangers team that has slipped out of the postseason picture for the time being following a disastrous September. After that, the Mike Trout award conversations will commence, as he has actually put up better numbers in several categories than in his outstanding rookie season.

    This Week's Opponents

    vs. Oakland Athletics (3)
    at Texas Rangers (4)

16. Arizona Diamondbacks (79-76, Previous: 16)

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    1B Paul Goldschmidt
    1B Paul GoldschmidtDustin Bradford/Getty Images

    Last Week's Results: 4-3

    vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (2-2)
    at Colorado Rockies (2-1)

    Team Overview

    The Arizona Diamondbacks looked to have a real shot at making a postseason trip early in the season, but they fell off a bit and the Dodgers ran away with things, leaving them playing for a winning record and a second-place finish.

    There are positive takeaways from this season, though, with none bigger than the breakthrough of Paul Goldschmidt to legitimate superstardom. Add the pleasant surprises of Patrick Corbin and Randall Delgado in the rotation and top prospect Archie Bradley knocking on the door, and the team is looking good heading into next season.

    This Week's Opponents

    at San Diego Padres (4)
    vs. Washington Nationals (3)

15. Baltimore Orioles (81-74, Previous: 14)

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    SP Scott Feldman
    SP Scott FeldmanJim Rogash/Getty Images

    Last Week's Results: 2-4

    at Boston Red Sox (2-1)
    at Tampa Bay Rays (0-3)

    Team Overview

    A second straight losing week has the Baltimore Orioles currently sitting 4.5 games back in the AL wild-card race, and their hopes of returning to the postseason are dwindling.

    With a solid offense led by Adam Jones, Chris Davis and Manny Machado and a defense that ranks first in baseball with just 48 errors on the season, the clear culprit is pitching, as consistency from the starting rotation has been hard to come by. Top prospects Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy were expected to help alleviate that problem this season, but that hasn't been the case. Deadline pickups Scott Feldman and Bud Norris haven't been enough either.

    This Week's Opponents

    at Tampa Bay Rays (1)
    vs. Toronto Blue Jays (3)
    vs. Boston Red Sox (3)

14. Texas Rangers (84-71, Previous: 15)

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    SP Matt Garza
    SP Matt GarzaEd Zurga/Getty Images

    Last Week's Results: 3-4

    at Tampa Bay Rays (2-2)
    at Kansas City Royals (1-2)

    Team Overview

    The Rangers held the AL West division lead as recently as Sept. 3, but they have gone a staggeringly bad 4-13 since and find themselves 1.5 games behind the Indians for the second wild-card spot as a result.

    They have the benefit of playing the Astros in Texas to open the week before meeting an Angels team that's playing well right now to decide their season. Deadline pickup Matt Garza has not bolstered the rotation the way many thought he would, and the offense simply doesn't have the firepower to carry the team like it could the past few years.

    This Week's Opponents

    vs. Houston Astros (3)
    vs. Los Angeles Angels (4)

13. New York Yankees (82-74, Previous: 12)

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    2B Robinson Cano
    2B Robinson CanoTom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

    Last Week's Results: 3-3

    at Toronto Blue Jays (1-2)
    vs. San Francisco Giants (2-1)

    Team Overview

    The Yankees are still hanging on in the AL wild-card race, trailing the Indians by four games. They kick off the week with a huge series against the Rays at home before closing out the year on the road against a bad Astros team.

    To even be in this position is impressive given what the Yankees have had to overcome this season, with a myriad of injuries to their lineup and an inconsistent performance from their starting rotation all year.

    Robinson Cano talks will heat up as soon as the season ends, and with a number of other high-profile free agents (Hiroki Kuroda, Curtis Granderson, Phil Hughes), it promises to be a busy offseason for the Yankees.

    This Week's Opponents

    vs. Tampa Bay Rays (3)
    at Houston Astros (3)

12. Kansas City Royals (82-73, Previous: 13)

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    1B Eric Hosmer
    1B Eric HosmerLeon Halip/Getty Images

    Last Week's Results: 4-2

    vs. Cleveland Indians (2-1)
    vs. Texas Rangers (2-1)

    Team Overview

    A 13-7 month of September has the Kansas City Royals 3.5 games behind the Indians in the AL wild-card race. They took a pair of series on the road last week to stay in the hunt, including two of three from the Indians team they're chasing.

    The Royals close out the season against two of the lesser teams in the American League, so they still have a chance, but they'll need the Indians to struggle against two equally poor teams (White Sox and Twins).

    Their offense is finally performing up to the level of their improved starting rotation, and if nothing else, the Royals should be in a better position to contend next year thanks to this strong finish.

    This Week's Opponents

    at Seattle Mariners (3)
    at Chicago White Sox (4)

11. Washington Nationals (84-72, Previous: 10)

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    3B Ryan Zimmerman
    3B Ryan ZimmermanJonathan Ernst/Getty Images

    Last Week's Results: 5-2

    vs. Atlanta Braves (2-1)
    vs. Miami Marlins (3-1)

    Team Overview

    Like the Royals, the Washington Nationals have used a terrific September to make themselves relevant down the stretch, going 16-5 on the month and 30-12 overall since August 9.

    This is how many expected the team to play all year, but a middling offense and weak back end of the rotation kept the Nats from being the legitimate title contenders most viewed them as in April. They're five games out of the wild card, so a lot will have to go right for them to overtake the Reds or Pirates, but it's a positive finish to the season nonetheless.

    This Week's Opponents

    at St. Louis Cardinals (3)
    at Arizona Diamondbacks (3)

10. Tampa Bay Rays (86-69, Previous: 11)

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    SP Alex Cobb
    SP Alex CobbRob Carr/Getty Images

    Last Week's Results: 5-2

    vs. Texas Rangers (2-2)
    vs. Baltimore Orioles (3-0)

    Team Overview

    A sweep of the Orioles to close out the week leaves the Rays with a two-game cushion and the top spot in the AL wild-card race. After one more game with the Orioles, they close out the year on the road against the Yankees and Blue Jays, and they look to be in a good position to hold on and earn a wild-card bid.

    Alex Cobb (2-0, 1.65 ERA, 22 K, 16.1 IP) threw the ball great in two starts last week, but Matt Moore and Jeremy Hellickson both got hit hard, as the rotation remains up and down from week to week. The offense continues to do enough to get by, but no starter is hitting over .270 over the past month.

    This Week's Opponents

    vs. Baltimore Orioles (1)
    at New York Yankees (3)
    at Toronto Blue Jays (3)

9. Pittsburgh Pirates (89-67, Previous: 5)

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    SP Francisco Liriano
    SP Francisco LirianoJustin K. Aller/Getty Images

    Last Week's Results: 2-5

    vs. San Diego Padres (1-3)
    vs. Cincinnati Reds (1-2)

    Team Overview

    It was a rough week for the Pittsburgh Pirates in their quest for the NL Central title. The Pirates dropped three of four to the lowly Padres at home before a huge weekend series with the Reds. They are now tied with the Reds after losing two of three to them over the weekend, with both teams sitting two games behind the Cardinals.

    The Pirates have chance to string together some wins against a poor Cubs team before closing out the year in Cincinnati. The offense stalled last week, while All-Star Jeff Locke continues to get shelled and will almost certainly not be part of the postseason rotation. It looks like Francisco Liriano will get the ball in the Wild Card Game, according to Jenn Menendez of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

    This Week's Opponents

    at Chicago Cubs (3)
    at Cincinnati Reds (3)

8. Cleveland Indians (86-70, Previous: 8)

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    SP Ubaldo Jimenez
    SP Ubaldo JimenezJason Miller/Getty Images

    Last Week's Results: 5-2

    at Kansas City Royals (1-2)
    vs. Houston Astros (4-0)

    Team Overview

    The Indians made the most of their four-game series with the Astros, sweeping them to climb into the No. 2 wild-card spot. Now they need to take care of business against two more subpar teams in Chicago and Minnesota. On the year, Cleveland is 9-6 against the Twins and 15-2 against the White Sox.

    The Indians have used a 15-6 month of September to get to where they are, and they'd head into the postseason as one of the hotter teams in baseball. Ubaldo Jimenez would likely get the ball in the Wild Card Game, as he's gone 5-4 with a 1.65 ERA and 10.2 K/9 over his last 10 starts.

    This Week's Opponents

    vs. Chicago White Sox (2)
    at Minnesota Twins (4)

7. Los Angeles Dodgers (90-66, Previous: 7)

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Last Week's Results: 4-3

    at Arizona Diamondbacks (2-2)
    at San Diego Padres (2-1)

    Team Overview

    The Dodgers clinched the NL West on Thursday. In the process, they became just the fourth team to ever finish a season in first place after being in last place on July 1 or later, according to Their turnaround has been an impressive one, to say the least, but they have their sights set on much more.

    The rotation of Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Ricky Nolasco and Hyun-Jin Ryu was built for a postseason series, and they have plenty of offensive firepower to back that staff. A healthy Matt Kemp could potentially be an X-factor in October after playing in just 69 games so far this season.

    This Week's Opponents

    at San Francisco Giants (3)
    vs. Colorado Rockies (3)

6. Cincinnati Reds (89-67, Previous: 9)

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    SP Mat Latos
    SP Mat LatosMike McGinnis/Getty Images

    Last Week's Results: 5-1

    at Houston Astros (3-0)
    at Pittsburgh Pirates (2-1)

    Team Overview

    After spending the bulk of the season in third place in the NL Central, the Cincinnati Reds finally caught the Pirates this past weekend. They are now just two games behind the Cardinals as well and are playing great baseball right now. They're 13-7 in September and still have a chance at the division title.

    If the Reds can't pass the Cardinals, Mat Latos would likely get the ball in the Wild Card Game. With Homer Bailey, Bronson Arroyo and a healthy Johnny Cueto, the team has enough pitching depth to overcome having to use its ace prior to the NLDS, and its offense remains one of the more complete lineups in baseball top to bottom.

    This Week's Opponents

    vs. New York Mets (3)
    vs. Pittsburgh Pirates (3)

5. Atlanta Braves (92-63, Previous: 4)

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    David Banks/Getty Images

    Last Week's Results: 3-3

    at Washington Nationals (1-2)
    at Chicago Cubs (2-1)

    Team Overview

    After clinching a share of the NL East title on Friday, the Atlanta Braves won it outright on Sunday as they look to start a new streak of division titles. Even with the Nationals streaking right now, the division crown was really never in doubt; the Braves have been in control all season and still hold an 8.5-game lead.

    With Jason Heyward back from a broken jaw, the offense is at full strength once again. The Braves also have perhaps the best bullpen in all of baseball, anchored by the dominant force that is Craig Kimbrel.

    That said, they'll go as far as their relatively inexperienced rotation allows them, with Kris Medlen, Mike Minor, Julio Teheran and then either Alex Wood or Paul Maholm making up the staff.

    This Week's Opponents

    vs. Milwaukee Brewers (3)
    vs. Philadelphia Phillies (4)

4. Detroit Tigers (91-65, Previous: 6)

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    SP Max Scherzer
    SP Max ScherzerLeon Halip/Getty Images

    Last Week's Results: 5-2

    vs. Seattle Mariners (3-1)
    vs. Chicago White Sox (2-1)

    Team Overview

    The Tigers have yet to clinch the AL Central title, with their magic number currently sitting at two. But once the postseason rolls around, it looks like they should be as dangerous as any team out there. They close out the season against two of the worst teams in baseball, and they still have a chance to catch the A's for home field in the ALDS.

    The fifth time was a charm for Max Scherzer, as he finally recorded win No. 20 on Friday. Along with Anibal Sanchez, Justin Verlander and Doug Fister, the Tigers have a playoff rotation that stacks up to anyone. Their offense is not too shabby either, as they rank second to the Red Sox in runs scored and first with a .286 team average.

    This Week's Opponents

    at Minnesota Twins (3)
    at Miami Marlins (3)

3. St. Louis Cardinals (91-65, Previous: 3)

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    1B Matt Adams
    1B Matt AdamsBenny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week's Results: 4-3

    at Colorado Rockies (2-2)
    at Milwaukee Brewers (2-1)

    Team Overview

    The Cardinals look to be in good shape to claim the NL Central title; they hold a two-game lead over the Reds and Pirates, and those two teams still have three games to beat up on each other to close out the season. The Cards clinched at least a playoff spot on Sunday with the Nationals losing to the Marlins.

    Getting Allen Craig back healthy is a priority for October, though Matt Adams is more than capable of filling in for the time being. The biggest question seems to be how they'll stack the playoff rotation behind Adam Wainwright and Shelby Miller, with Joe Kelly, Lance Lynn and Michael Wacha all potential options.

    This Week's Opponents

    vs. Washington Nationals (3)
    vs. Chicago Cubs (3)

2. Oakland Athletics (93-63, Previous: 2)

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    Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

    Last Week's Results: 5-2

    vs. Los Angeles Angels (1-2)
    vs. Minnesota Twins (4-0)

    Team Overview

    The Oakland A's took the AL West lead from the Rangers on Sept. 6 and have not looked back since, going 13-3 and building an 8.5-game lead over Texas. They clinched the AL West title on Sunday even before they beat the Twins to finish off a sweep, as a Rangers loss sealed their second straight division title.

    With Bartolo Colon pitching fantastically in his last five starts (3-1, 0.90 ERA) and the rest of the team's young staff pitching well behind him, the A's look poised to make a postseason run. The offense has been there all season, and Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss, Jed Lowrie and Yoenis Cespedes have all hit well down the stretch.

    This Week's Opponents

    at Los Angeles Angels (3)
    at Seattle Mariners (3)

1. Boston Red Sox (95-62, Previous: 1)

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    Jim Rogash/Getty Images

    Last Week's Results: 3-3

    vs. Baltimore Orioles (1-2)
    vs. Toronto Blue Jays (2-1)

    Team Overview

    The Boston Red Sox clinched their first AL East title since 2007 on Friday, completing an impressive worst-to-first turnaround after finishing 69-93 last season. They'll look to lock down the best record in the American League here in the final week, as they currently lead the A's by 1.5 games for that honor.

    Their offense is the best in baseball and is capable of producing from Nos. 1-9. The pitching staff looks significantly better, with a healthy Clay Buchholz once again fronting a rotation that also includes Jake Peavy and Jon Lester at the top. Throw in a solid bullpen with a lights-out closer in Koji Uehara, and the Red Sox look like the team to beat right now.

    This Week's Opponents

    at Colorado Rockies (2)
    at Baltimore Orioles (3)