MLB Power Rankings: An Updated Look at Where All 30 Teams Stand

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistAugust 22, 2016

MLB Power Rankings: An Updated Look at Where All 30 Teams Stand

0 of 30

    Russell Lansford/Getty Images

    With little more than a month remaining in the 2016 MLB regular season, plenty still needs to be figured out before the postseason begins.

    For the second consecutive week, the top five spots in these rankings went to the same five teams, as the Chicago Cubs, Texas Rangers, Washington Nationals, Toronto Blue Jays and Cleveland Indians continue to represent the cream of the crop. 

    A bit further down, the Seattle Mariners maintained their strong play to push into the top 10, and the Kansas City Royals are suddenly back in the playoff picture thanks to an eight-game winning streak.

    Meanwhile, the Baltimore Orioles and San Francisco Giants continued to struggle. As a result, they no longer have the privilege of calling themselves division leaders.

    As always, one thing remains true: These rankings are a fluid process, with teams moving up or down based on where they ranked the previous weekIf a club keeps winning, it will keep climbing—it's as simple as that.

30. Atlanta Braves (45-79, Previous: 29)

1 of 30

    Matt Kemp
    Matt KempBrett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 1-5

    The Atlanta Braves currently hold a four-game lead over the Minnesota Twins in the hunt for the worst record in baseball and the No. 1 overall pick in next year's draft.

    Speaking of No. 1 overall picks, the Dansby Swanson era began in Atlanta last week after the Braves traded Erick Aybar to the Detroit Tigers and called up the top selection in the 2015 draft to replace him. The 22-year-old is 4-for-16 with a double so far, earning his first start out of the leadoff spot in the lineup on Sunday.

    The Braves still need to decide on a starter for Thursday's game after optioning Tyrell Jenkins to the minors. John Gant is an option currently on the MLB roster, while Aaron Blair, Matt Wisler and Casey Kelly could get the call from Triple-A.

     

    Hitter of the Week 

    • LF Matt Kemp (8-for-25, 3 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R)

     

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Rob Whalen (L, 6.0 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K)

29. Milwaukee Brewers (53-70, Previous: 30)

2 of 30

    Keon Broxton
    Keon BroxtonDylan Buell/Getty Images

    Last Week: 1-6

    The Milwaukee Brewers had another tough week in the win-loss column, suffering series defeats at the hands of the Chicago Cubs and Seattle Mariners.

    Speedy outfielder Keon Broxton continues to impress, though. After breaking camp with the starting center field job, the team optioned him back to the minors with a .125/.253/.188 line on July 3.

    Since being recalled on July 25, the 26-year-old has put up a .361/.465/.667 line with 11 extra-base hits and 10 stolen bases over 87 plate appearances.

    "It’s just being confident, man. That’s a big part of this game. If you don’t really have confidence in yourself, you’re going to struggle a lot," Broxton told Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "I’ve kind of developed a pretty good confidence in myself, and trust and a belief in myself to be able to do this, and it’s helped out a lot."

     

    Hitter of the Week

    • CF Keon Broxton (8-for-23, 3 HR, 4 RBI, 4 R, 3 SB)

     

    Pitcher of the Week

    • RP Carlos Torres (3 G, 3.0 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K)

28. Minnesota Twins (49-75, Previous: 25)

3 of 30

    Brian Dozier
    Brian DozierRick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 2-4

    The Minnesota Twins closed out last week with a four-game sweep at the hands of the Kansas City Royals, as the struggles continued for the AL's worst team.

    It has not showed up in the win column, but the experience that rookies Max Kepler, Jorge Polanco, Jose Berrios and J.T. Chargois are getting should pay dividends in the long run.

    Polanco in particular has quietly been terrific, hitting .304/.347/.429 with 10 extra-base hits and 11 runs scored in 34 games. He's taken over as the Twins' primary shortstop and No. 2 hitter since they moved Eduardo Nunez at the deadline.

    The Twins look to play spoiler this coming week with series against a pair of contenders in the Detroit Tigers and Toronto Blue Jays.

     

    Hitter of the Week

    • 2B Brian Dozier (7-for-26, 1 2B, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 5 R)

     

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Ervin Santana (W, L, 14.0 IP, 9 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 16 K)

27. Los Angeles Angels (52-72, Previous: 28)

4 of 30

    Matt Shoemaker
    Matt ShoemakerDenny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 3-4

    The Los Angeles Angels split a four-game series with the streaking Seattle Mariners last week before dropping two of three to the New York Yankees over the weekend.

    The club was busy with transactions over the weekend, designating Johnny Giavotella for assignment, optioning Ji-Man Choi to the minors and placing Yunel Escobar on the seven-day concussion disabled list. Replacing those three on the roster were Kaleb Cowart, A.J. Achter and C.J. Cron, respectively, as the Angels will now carry an extra pitcher while welcoming Cron back to the starting lineup and plugging in Cowart in place of Escobar at third base.

    Albert Pujols is not anywhere close to having the best year of his career, but he's been hot of late and has 36 RBI in 34 games since the All-Star break.

     

    Hitter of the Week

    • DH Albert Pujols (8-for-27, 1 2B, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 4 R)

     

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Matt Shoemaker (W, 7.0 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K)

26. Oakland Athletics (53-71, Previous: 22)

5 of 30

    Kendall Graveman
    Kendall GravemanJon Durr/Getty Images

    Last Week: 1-5

    The Oakland Athletics climbed four spots in last week's rankings, but a rough showing in their latest week of action sends them tumbling back down to No. 26 this time around.

    After the Texas Rangers swept them to start the week, they were only able to win one in their three-game series with the Chicago White Sox over the weekend. Their lone victory of the week was impressive, though, as Kendall Graveman tossed the first shutout of his career with a two-hit, no-walk performance on Friday.

    Following the game, first baseman Yonder Alonso gushed to reporters about Graveman's success:

    We're seeing a guy grow. We're seeing a competitor, a guy pounding the strike zone, getting a ton of ground balls. It's a lot of fun. He pitches quick, uses the zone. You know there's a good chance you're going to have some action when he's out there. This is the best I've seen him. I couldn't be more excited for him.

    In other news, infield prospect Chad Pinder made his MLB debut on Saturday, and he'll get a long look at second base down the stretch.

     

    Hitter of the Week

    • LF Khris Davis (7-for-23, 3 2B, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 5 R)

     

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Kendall Graveman (W, 9.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K)

25. Arizona Diamondbacks (51-73, Previous: 24)

6 of 30

    Robbie Ray
    Robbie RayJoe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 3-4

    It's all about the future in what has been a trying season for the Arizona Diamondbacks, so standout performances from young, controllable pieces such as Yasmany Tomas and Robbie Ray are a welcome sign.

    The 25-year-old Tomas now leads the team with 25 home runs after socking four more last week, and 12 of those have come in the second half, the second-highest total in the NL.

    Meanwhile, Ray is now 3-3 with a 3.16 ERA, 1.055 WHIP and a .216 opponent's batting average in seven second-half starts, and he turned in the best single-game performance of his career on Saturday. Facing off against the San Diego Padres, the 24-year-old left-hander allowed just one hit—a solo home run to Patrick Kivlehan—while striking out a career-high 13 over seven innings.

    "Aggressive, used his breaking ball enough to keep them off balance. Just a dynamic fastball, moved it around, did a wonderful job," manager Chip Hale told reporters of Ray following that game.

     

    Hitter of the Week

    • LF Yasmany Tomas (7-for-27, 1 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 9 RBI, 7 R)

     

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Robbie Ray (2 W, 12.0 IP, 9 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 18 K)

24. San Diego Padres (53-71, Previous: 27)

7 of 30

    Clayton Richard
    Clayton RichardAndy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 3-4

    After the Tampa Bay Rays swept them, the San Diego Padres managed to save face by taking three of four from the Arizona Diamondbacks to wrap up the week.

    The revolving door of a starting rotation continues to spin, as 14 different pitchers have started at least one game for the Friars this season.

    They're currently going with a six-man staff of Luis Perdomo, Edwin Jackson, Christian Friedrich, Paul Clemens, Jarred Cosart and Clayton Richard. From that group, only Rule 5 pickup Perdomo was part of the Opening Day roster, and he leads the team with 106.2 innings of work.

    On the offensive side, second baseman Ryan Schimpf continues to show impressive pop. The unheralded 28-year-old tallied two doubles and two home runs last week, bringing his season totals to 12 doubles and 14 home runs in just 204 plate appearances.

     

    Hitter of the Week

    • 2B Ryan Schimpf (5-for-23, 2 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 3 R)

     

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Clayton Richard (L, 6.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 5 K)

23. Philadelphia Phillies (58-67, Previous: 19)

8 of 30

    Maikel Franco
    Maikel FrancoEric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 2-4

    Following series losses to the Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals last week, the Philadelphia Phillies drop into the bottom third of the rankings after entering the week with a solid 8-4 record in the month of August.

    The Phillies were surprise contenders early on and have played some quality baseball all year, but they remain more focused on developing its young talent than anything else.

    Jake Thompson will be a big one to watch over the season's final weeks. The right-hander has been hit hard so far with an 8.79 ERA and 1.605 WHIP, but he has a legitimate No. 2-starter ceiling and little left to prove in the minors. He'll be pitching for a spot in the 2017 rotation down the stretch.

     

    Hitter of the Week

    • 3B Maikel Franco (9-for-23, 2 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 4 R)

     

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Jeremy Hellickson (W, 7.0 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 8 K)

22. Tampa Bay Rays (52-70, Previous: 26)

9 of 30

    Chris Archer
    Chris ArcherAnthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 5-1

    The Tampa Bay Rays have gone 14-9 in their last 23 games, and they followed up a sweep of the San Diego Padres at the start of last week by taking two of three from a very good Texas Rangers team.

    Brad Miller continued his breakout season last week, adding three home runs and eight RBI to his impressive season totals. He's now hitting .266/.322/.529 with 23 doubles, 25 home runs and 60 RBI, and that .529 slugging percentage is good for 13th among qualified AL hitters.

    "The biggest thing is you've got to be comfortable," Miller told Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. "I wanted to go up there and have a free mind and just say, 'OK, hit the ball hard,' where I'm focusing on the pitcher rather than focusing on what I'm doing, and that has allowed me to kind of run with that."

    The Rays dug themselves too big of a hole to contend for a playoff spot, but they'll be in a great position to play spoiler in a tightly contested AL East.

     

    Hitter of the Week

    • 1B Brad Miller (8-for-21, 2 2B, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 4 R)

     

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Chris Archer (W, 7.1 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K)

21. Cincinnati Reds (53-70, Previous: 23)

10 of 30

    Brandon Finnegan
    Brandon FinneganDavid Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 5-2

    At 21-13, the Cincinnati Reds have the second-best record in the NL since the All-Star break, and they've put up an impressive plus-47 run differential during that span.

    They stayed hot last week with a series win over the Miami Marlins, and they took two of the first three games in their four-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The late surge won't be enough to push them into postseason contention, but it's something to build off of looking ahead to the 2017 season.

    While the starting rotation ranks 24th with a 4.91 ERA on the year, returns to health from Anthony DeSclafani and Homer Bailey along with the continued above-average production of Brandon Finnegan and Dan Straily have left the staff as a legitimate strength.

    With Robert Stephenson, Cody Reed, John Lamb and eventually Amir Garrett also eyeing rotation spots for 2017, the Reds will have some decisions to make, and how their pitchers perform the rest of the way could go a long way in determining next year's rotation.

     

    Hitter of the Week

    • 3B Eugenio Suarez (13-for-26, 5 2B, 2 RBI, 2 R)

     

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Brandon Finnegan (W, L, 12.1 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 5 BB, 11 K)

20. Chicago White Sox (59-64, Previous: 20)

11 of 30

    Chris Sale
    Chris SaleSteve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 3-3

    The Chicago White Sox split the week with a series loss to the Cleveland Indians and a win over the Oakland Athletics, leaving them five games under .500 in their pursuit of a winning record for the first time since 2012.

    Chris Sale (24 GS, 15-6, 3.15 ERA, 1.026 WHIP) and Jose Quintana (25 GS, 10-9, 2.84 ERA, 1.117 WHIP) each had another strong week as they continue to jostle for position in the AL Cy Young race. Early Wynn (1959), LaMarr Hoyt (1983) and Jack McDowell (1993) are the only players in White Sox history to win the award, but there's a reasonable chance that a fourth name will be added to that list this year.

    A groin injury to Miguel Gonzalez has opened the door for Anthony Ranaudo to prove he deserves a longer look as a potential rotation candidate in 2017. He's in line to make two starts this coming week.

     

    Hitter of the Week

    • 1B Jose Abreu (6-for-20, 1 2B, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 6 R)

     

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Chris Sale (W, 8.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 8 K)

19. Colorado Rockies (60-64, Previous: 21)

12 of 30

    DJ LeMahieu
    DJ LeMahieuRon Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 4-2

    The Colorado Rockies may not be bona fide contenders in 2016, but they've proven time and again they are capable of beating anyone on any given day.

    That was evident last week when they picked up series wins against the Washington Nationals and Chicago Cubs, who were ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the previous edition of these rankings, respectively.

    Another big week from second baseman DJ LeMahieu has pushed him into a tie with Daniel Murphy in the NL batting title race, with both players carrying a .345 average into play on Monday. Charlie Blackmon (.321, fourth) and Carlos Gonzalez (.320, tied for fifth) are also in the top five in that category.

    Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post backed away from the idea of calling LeMahieu one of the game's most underrated players, instead preferring to call him "one of the elite second basemen" in the league.

     

    Hitter of the Week

    • 2B DJ LeMahieu (14-for-24, 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 9 R)

     

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Jorge De La Rosa (W, ND, 14.0 IP, 10 H, 6 ER, 5 BB, 10 K)

18. New York Mets (62-62, Previous: 15)

13 of 30

    Yoenis Cespedes
    Yoenis CespedesEric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 3-4

    The New York Mets welcomed Yoenis Cespedes and Asdrubal Cabrera back from the disabled list last week, while Neil Walker also returned to action after missing four games with lower back stiffness.

    "He is so dangerous in the middle of our lineup and makes such a big difference. It's nothing against anybody else, but he's tough to replace. It's nice to have him back," manager Terry Collins said of Cespedes on Saturday, per ESPN.com's Adam Rubin.

    A win on Sunday Night Baseball gave the Mets a four-game split with the San Francisco Giants and brought them back to .500 on the year, as they sit 4.5 games back with three teams to pass in the wild-card standings.

    The pitching staff remains a clear strength, but any hopes that Zack Wheeler would be providing a second-half spark were dashed when he suffered a mild flexor strain in his right elbow, according to Mike Puma of the New York Post.

     

    Hitter of the Week

    • LF Yoenis Cespedes (5-for-13, 1 2B, 3 HR, 5 RBI, 3 R)

     

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Noah Syndergaard (2 W, 13.2 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 14 K)

17. Pittsburgh Pirates (62-59, Previous: 16)

14 of 30

    Andrew McCutchen
    Andrew McCutchenGary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 3-3

    Despite injuries to the starting rotation and a down season from star center fielder Andrew McCutchen, the Pittsburgh Pirates remain just three games back in the race for the second NL wild-card spot.

    To McCutchen's credit, it appears things have started to click for him as of late. He's hitting .283 with an .858 OPS in August, during which time he has more walks (13) than strikeouts (10), and he's returned to the No. 3 spot in the lineup.

    Meanwhile, rookies Jameson Taillon (11 GS, 3-2, 3.00 ERA) and Chad Kuhl (7 GS, 3-1, 3.62 ERA) have been huge in the starting rotation. However, ace Gerrit Cole has been shelled this month with a 5.40 ERA, 1.938 WHIP and a .366 opponent's batting average in four starts.

    A lot needs to fall into place for the Pirates to earn their fourth straight playoff berth, but they're not finished by any means.

     

    Hitter of the Week

    • CF Andrew McCutchen (8-for-24, 1 3B, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 3 R)

     

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Jameson Taillon (ND, 6.0 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 5 K)

16. Miami Marlins (65-59, Previous: 17)

15 of 30

    David Phelps
    David PhelpsDavid Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 4-3

    The Miami Marlins dropped significantly in these rankings last week, due as much to their on-field performance as to the losses of Giancarlo Stanton and Adam Conley to injury. Though Stanton is a huge loss, filling out the rotation behind ace Jose Fernandez was a far bigger concern with Conley joining Wei-Yin Chen on the disabled list.

    Swingman David Phelps took one of those spots, and he's gone 2-1 with a 1.31 ERA and 1.016 WHIP in four starts, as his versatility has made him one of the most valuable players on the roster.

    "Anything we've asked him to do, he's been able to do," manager Don Mattingly told reporters after Phelps worked six scoreless innings in his latest start.

    The Marlins currently trail the St. Louis Cardinals by 1.5 games for the second NL wild-card spot.

     

    Hitter of the Week

    • LF Christian Yelich (7-for-27, 3 HR, 5 RBI, 4 R)

     

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP David Phelps (2 W, 11.1 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 17 K)

15. New York Yankees (63-60, Previous: 13)

16 of 30

    Gary Sanchez
    Gary SanchezGary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 3-3

    An influx of young talent has sparked the New York Yankees in August, as they've gone 11-8 on the month and remain in the wild-card hunt even after selling at the trade deadline.

    After what felt like decades as one of the team's top prospects, catcher Gary Sanchez is finally getting an extended look at the MLB level, and to say he has impressed would be an understatement. The 23-year-old is hitting .386/.435/.789 with five doubles, six home runs and 12 RBI in 15 games since being recalled from the minors on Aug. 3.

    "When I came up, my mentality was to work hard," Sanchez told reporters. "They have given me the opportunity to play every day, which I really enjoy. It’s given me an edge and it’s giving me good results right now."

    The Yankees will never completely blow up their roster to rebuild, but the promotion of Sanchez along with Aaron Judge and Tyler Austin signals a changing of the guard as they start to work more young talent into their core.

     

    Hitter of the Week

    • C Gary Sanchez (11-for-21, 2 2B, 4 HR, 6 RBI, 4 R)

     

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Masahiro Tanaka (W, 7.2 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 9 K)

14. Detroit Tigers (65-59, Previous: 12)

17 of 30

    SP Anibal Sanchez
    SP Anibal SanchezRick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 2-5

    The Detroit Tigers surged up the rankings with a 10-1 stretch of games that included an eight-game winning streak, but they've followed that up with a 4-10 performance that has them once again trending in the wrong direction.

    Having the Kansas City Royals sweep them last week was a big blow, as their lead over the Royals for second in the AL Central has now shrunk to just one game.

    Consistency at the back of the starting rotation remains one of the biggest issues, with Anibal Sanchez serving as the model of inconsistency.

    Here's a look at his last three starts:

    • Aug. 7 vs. NYM: 8.0 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 10 K
    • Aug. 12 vs. TEX: 4.0 IP, 8 H, 8 ER, 2 BB, 4 K
    • Aug. 17 vs. KC: 7.0 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 8 K

    Sanchez is capable of being an X-factor in the team's hunt for a playoff spot if he can avoid starts where it looks like he's pitching batting practice.

     

    Hitter of the Week

    • RF J.D. Martinez (13-for-26, 3 2B, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 6 R)

     

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Anibal Sanchez (ND, 7.0 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 8 K)

13. San Francisco Giants (68-56, Previous: 9)

18 of 30

    Johnny Cueto
    Johnny CuetoLance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 2-5

    The San Francisco Giants struggled through another rough week, as the Pittsburgh Pirates swept them before they split a four-game series with the New York Mets.

    Their 11-23 record since the All-Star break remains the worst in baseball during that span, and they've steadily slid down these rankings as a result after briefly holding the No. 1 spot.

    Last Tuesday marked the first time since May 10 that they did not hold at least a share of the NL West lead, and they enter the week trailing the rival Los Angeles Dodgers by a half-game.

    Those two teams kick off the upcoming week with a huge three-game series in Los Angeles, as the Giants look to get things headed back in the right direction after Noah Syndergaard and the Mets shut them out Sunday night.

     

    Hitter of the Week

    • CF Denard Span (13-for-28, 2 2B, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 3 R)

     

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Johnny Cueto (W, 7.0 IP, 8 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K)

12. Baltimore Orioles (67-56, Previous: 8)

19 of 30

    Kevin Gausman
    Kevin GausmanTommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 1-5

    The Baltimore Orioles slide outside of the top 10 in these rankings once again after closing out a bad week with three straight losses to the Houston Astros.

    Their defeat Saturday moved them to a season-high 2.5 games back in the AL East standings, and they now trail both the Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays in the division. They are also 6-11 in their last 17 games and have won consecutive games just once during that span.

    The trio of Kevin Gausman, Yovani Gallardo and Dylan Bundy has been pitching well of late, but Chris Tillman has fallen off dramatically, and deadline-addition Wade Miley (4 GS, 0-2, 9.53 ERA) has been crushed his last two times out.

    Things don't get any easier this coming week with a four-game home-and-home series with the Washington Nationals and then three games with the Yankees on the road.

     

    Hitter of the Week

    • 1B Chris Davis (5-for-19, 5 HR, 5 RBI, 6 R)

     

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Kevin Gausman (W, 6.2 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 8 K)

11. Kansas City Royals (64-60, Previous: 18)

20 of 30

    Alex Gordon
    Alex GordonBrad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 7-0

    The 2016 season has been a trying one for the reigning World Series champions, but the Kansas City Royals are once again getting hot at the right time. After sweeping the Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins last week, they're now 13-2 in their last 15 games and have clawed to within 3.5 games of the second AL wild-card spot.

    Danny Duffy and Ian Kennedy have turned into a stellar one-two punch atop the rotation, and Yordano Ventura is also throwing the ball better of late with a 3.00 ERA and .212 opponent's batting average in seven starts since the All-Star break.

    A leaky starting rotation was their biggest problem when they were at their worst this season, and it's now perhaps the main reason they have been able to push back into the playoff conversation.

    Getting Alex Gordon going at the plate could be huge as well after he turned in a monster performance last week.

     

    Hitter of the Week

    • LF Alex Gordon (9-for-23, 2 2B, 5 HR, 8 RBI, 10 R)

     

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Ian Kennedy (2 W, 14.2 IP, 9 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 11 K)

10. Houston Astros (64-60, Previous: 14)

21 of 30

    Alex Bregman
    Alex BregmanTommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 3-3

    The Houston Astros bounced back from dropping a two-game series to the St. Louis Cardinals to take three of four from the Baltimore Orioles, leaving them 3.5 games back with three teams to pass for the second AL wild-card spot.

    After a rocky start to his big league career, Alex Bregman has caught fire with a .328/.370/.567 line over his last 15 games that includes seven doubles, three home runs and 13 RBI.

    The Astros also promoted Cuban star Yulieski Gurriel over the weekend, a little over a month after signing him to a five-year, $47.5 million deal.

    He was 1-for-2 with a walk in his debut on Sunday and could serve as the team's primary designated hitter the rest of the way with the potential to make a huge impact.

     

    Hitter of the Week

    • 3B Alex Bregman (11-for-28, 2 2B, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 6 R)

     

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Mike Fiers (W, 7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K)

9. St. Louis Cardinals (66-57, Previous: 11)

22 of 30

    Jedd Gyorko
    Jedd GyorkoBenny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 4-1

    Jedd Gyorko and Brandon Moss leading the offensive attack and Seung Hwan Oh closing out games in the ninth inning.

    Exactly how you expected the season to go, right, St. Louis Cardinals fans?

    Gyorko (20 HR, 298 PA) has the fewest plate appearances of anyone in baseball with at least 20 home runs, while Moss (23, 327 PA) ranks second. They've made a huge impact without being everyday guys for much of the year.

    Meanwhile, Oh has converted 12 of 13 save chances with a 2.22 ERA, 0.822 WHIP and 12.2 K/9 since taking over closer duties from a struggling Trevor Rosenthal at the beginning of July.

    Those three players were expected to be role players this season, but they've been as important as anyone on the roster to the club's success in 2016.

     

    Hitter of the Week

    • 2B Jedd Gyorko (5-for-22, 1 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 5 R)

     

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Mike Leake (W, 7.0 IP, 7 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 8 K)

8. Seattle Mariners (66-57, Previous: 10)

23 of 30

    Felix Hernandez
    Felix HernandezKelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 4-3

    The Seattle Mariners improved to 14-6 with a plus-20 run differential in the month of August following a four-game split with the Los Angeles Angels and a series win over the Milwaukee Brewers last week. They've been playing as well as any team in the AL in recent weeks, and a return to form by ace Felix Hernandez could be enough to push them over the top.

    Even before missing nearly two months with a calf injury, King Felix did not look the same this year, as his walks were up considerably and he was having trouble pitching beyond the sixth inning due to high pitch counts. Things have seemingly clicked since the calendar turned to August, though, as he's gone 3-0 with a 2.73 ERA and 0.977 WHIP in four starts, two of which saw him go eight innings.

    "He's rounding into Felix form," manager Scott Servais told reporters after his most recent start. "It lifts your team up, no doubt."

    The Mariners enter the week six games behind the Texas Rangers in the AL West and one game back for a wild-card berth.

     

    Hitter of the Week

    • C Mike Zunino (6-for-15, 2 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 3 R)

     

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Felix Hernandez (2 W, 14.2 IP, 11 H, 4 ER, 5 BB, 16 K)

7. Los Angeles Dodgers (68-55, Previous: 6)

24 of 30

    Justin Turner
    Justin TurnerJayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 3-3

    The Los Angeles Dodgers were unable to fully capitalize on another poor week from the San Francisco Giants, but they still took over the NL West lead by a half-game heading into the upcoming week.

    The Dodgers took two of three from the Philadelphia Phillies to open the week but dropped two of three to a Cincinnati Reds team that is playing as well as anyone right now.

    Provided everything goes as planned, Rich Hill will finally make his Dodgers debut on Wednesday, according to Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register. A 78-pitch simulated game on Thursday brought up no new issues with the blister that has kept Hill sidelined since July 17, and the Dodgers are now set to see their prized deadline addition in action.

    Ace Clayton Kershaw also took a big step forward on Saturday, throwing his first bullpen session since suffering a herniated disk in his back in June. There's still a chance he could return in September if he continues to progress as hoped.

     

    Hitter of the Week

    • 3B Justin Turner (7-for-25, 2 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 4 R)

     

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Julio Urias (W, 6.0 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K)

6. Boston Red Sox (69-54, Previous: 7)

25 of 30

    Rick Porcello
    Rick PorcelloWinslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 5-2

    A win in a makeup game over the Cleveland Indians, a two-game sweep of the Baltimore Orioles and a four-game split with the Detroit Tigers leave the Boston Red Sox just a half-game back in the AL East standings.

    Rick Porcello was terrific once again last week, and he has to be considered a legitimate AL Cy Young candidate at this point. The 27-year-old is 17-3 with a 3.22 ERA, 1.042 WHIP and a .232 opponent's batting average on the year, and he's been trending in the right direction over the past several weeks.

    In his last five starts, he's 4-1 with a 2.08 ERA, 0.692 WHIP and .167 opponent's batting average, going at least seven innings in all five games.

    His continued dominance will be key since the starting rotation remains an area of inconsistency for the Red Sox heading into the stretch run.

     

    Hitter of the Week

    • DH David Ortiz (11-for-22, 2 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 6 R)

     

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Rick Porcello (W, 7.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 K)

5. Toronto Blue Jays (70-54, Previous: 5)

26 of 30

    Marcus Stroman
    Marcus StromanRick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 3-3

    The Toronto Blue Jays enter the week with a half-game lead over the Boston Red Sox in the AL East standings, and they'll be looking to pad that advantage during their upcoming homestand.

    The team made a move Sunday that may seem strange on the surface, optioning All-Star Aaron Sanchez down to Single-A Dunedin, according to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca. He has been the team's best starter at 12-2 with a 2.99 ERA, but he has also already reached a career high with 156.1 innings of work.

    Sending Sanchez down frees up a roster spot that skipping him in the rotation would not, and his next start is scheduled for Aug. 31 against the Orioles, per Davidi, so it's simply a temporary move.

     

    Hitter of the Week

    • C Russell Martin (9-for-24, 1 2B, 4 HR, 7 RBI, 5 R)

     

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Marcus Stroman (ND, 7.1 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 9 K)

4. Cleveland Indians (71-51, Previous: 4)

27 of 30

    Trevor Bauer
    Trevor BauerKen Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 4-3

    The Cleveland Indians hold a seven-game lead in the AL Central, but the Kansas City Royals are charging hard with an eight-game winning streak heading into play on Monday.

    The starting rotation that has been such a strength for the Indians all season has faltered a bit in August, and the team as a whole has a 5.08 ERA this month. However, the offense has picked up much of the slack with 111 runs scored, tops in the AL since the beginning of the month.

    They've received contributions from up and down the lineup all year, but has there been a better offseason addition than Mike Napoli? On a one-year, $7 million deal, Napoli has given the Indians the right-handed power bat they've been in need of for years, hitting .260/.346/.514 with 20 doubles, 29 home runs and 87 RBI.

    The last Indians player to put up a 30-homer, 100-RBI season from the right side of the plate was Juan Gonzalez in 2001.

     

    Hitter of the Week

    • RF Lonnie Chisenhall (6-for-16, 1 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 2 R)

     

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Trevor Bauer (ND, 8.0 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 13 K)

     

3. Texas Rangers (73-52, Previous: 3)

28 of 30

    Adrian Beltre
    Adrian BeltreIsaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 4-2

    The Texas Rangers swept the Oakland Athletics before dropping two of three to the Tampa Bay Rays over the weekend, but that was still good enough to maintain a six-game lead over the Seattle Mariners in the AL West.

    The Rangers signed Carlos Gomez to a minor league deal last week after the Houston Astros released him, and the hope is that he can fill the void left by the fractured forearm Shin-Soo Choo suffered earlier this month. Gomez was hitting just .210/.272/.322 in 323 plate appearances, but he's the type of player who could benefit greatly from a change of scenery.

    Meanwhile, left-hander Derek Holland is set to be activated from the disabled list to start Tuesday against the Cincinnati Reds. The 29-year-old has been sidelined since June 20 with shoulder inflammation, and he's capable of being a real difference-maker if he is in fact back to 100 percent.

     

    Hitter of the Week

    • 3B Adrian Beltre (7-for-22, 1 2B, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 3 R)

     

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Cole Hamels (W, 7.1 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 10 K)

2. Washington Nationals (73-50, Previous: 2)

29 of 30

    Reynaldo Lopez
    Reynaldo LopezTommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 4-3

    The Washington Nationals rebounded from a series loss to the Colorado Rockies to take three of four from the Atlanta Braves over the weekend, holding their lead over the Miami Marlins in the NL East at 8.5 games.

    Bryce Harper finally showed some signs of life at the plate last week, and getting him back to producing at anything close to his normal level would be huge.

    Lucas Giolito receives far more attention, but fellow pitching prospect Reynaldo Lopez looks like he'll make the bigger impact in 2016 following a dominant start against the Braves on Thursday. The 22-year-old struck out 11 and allowed just four hits and two runs (one earned) over seven innings of work, giving the bullpen a much-needed rest.

    "He was dynamite," manager Dusty Baker told reporters of his young starter following that outing.

    With Joe Ross still nursing shoulder inflammation, Lopez will stick in the rotation for the time being with a chance to prove himself.

     

    Hitter of the Week

    • Bryce Harper (11-for-27, 2 2B, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 6 R)

     

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Reynaldo Lopez (W, 7.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 11 K)

1. Chicago Cubs (78-45, Previous: 1)

30 of 30

    3B Kris Bryant
    3B Kris BryantBilly Hurst-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 5-2

    The Chicago Cubs swept a four-game series with the Milwaukee Brewers before dropping two of three to the Colorado Rockies over the weekend. The Rockies may not finish 2016 with a winning record, but they can hang their hats on taking two of three from the Cubs both times the clubs met this year.

    At any rate, the Cubs still look like the class of the league, and Kris Bryant appears to have emerged as the favorite for NL MVP honors after another huge week that included a five-hit, two-homer game on Thursday.

    He's now hitting .300/.392/.565 with 29 doubles, 31 home runs, 83 RBI and an NL-high 99 runs scored while continuing to play solid defense wherever he's asked to play between third base and the corner outfield spots.

    The biggest threat to him winning the award appears to be teammate Anthony Rizzo, which could perhaps split some votes and make Daniel Murphy the choice. But for now, Bryant looks like the leader in the clubhouse.

    Props to Trevor Cahill for a terrific spot start in the first game of a double-header with the Brewers on Tuesday. 

     

    Hitter of the Week

    • 3B Kris Bryant (14-for-29, 1 2B, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 9 R)

     

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Trevor Cahill (2 G, 1 GS, 2 W, 9.2 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 7 K)

     

    All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com, unless otherwise noted. Hitter and pitcher of the week stats cover games played from Monday, Aug. 15 through Sunday, Aug. 21.