The final month of the MLB season promises to be an exciting one with 18 teams still within five games of a postseason spot.
The American League wild-card race, in particular, is shaping up to be a thrilling ride with eight teams within three games of a playoff berth.
Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton is also chasing history after he launched his 50th home run of the season. He's been on a torrid pace since the All-Star break with 24 home runs in 41 games.
For now, just remember these rankings are fluid and teams rise and fall based on where they were ranked the previous week. If a team keeps winning, it will keep climbing—it's as simple as that.
Here's a look at where all 30 teams stand:
Arizona Diamondbacks (Up 4 Spots)
A week of games against the New York Mets and San Francisco Giants proved to be just what the doctor ordered for a Diamondbacks team that had been mired in a 4-11 rough patch.
After taking three of four from the Mets and sweeping the Giants, the team is now back in the No. 1 wild-card spot with a 1.5-game lead over the Colorado Rockies and a five-game cushion over the Milwaukee Brewers.
On Thursday, Robbie Ray made his first start since being hit in the head with a line drive on July 28 and looked sharp, allowing two hits and one run while striking out nine in five innings.
"Thankfully, it was kind of just like almost a two- to three-week break for me where I was able to rest," Ray told reporters. "It allowed me to come back fresher than I was when I left. I mean, obviously, if you take two weeks off from throwing, you're going to feel pretty good. I definitely feel fresh."
With Patrick Corbin (6 GS, 4-2, 2.52 ERA) and Taijuan Walker (5 GS, 1-2, 3.58 ERA) both throwing the ball well in August and Ray now back in the mix, the D-backs rotation looks as strong as any in baseball top to bottom.
They take on a pair of tough division foes this coming week with three games each against the Dodgers and Rockies, but they finally have some momentum on their side.
Miami Marlins (Up 4 Spots)
The Miami Marlins have been steadily climbing into the NL wild-card picture over the past few weeks with a 13-3 record in their last 16 games.
They have won five consecutive series during that span and are 4.5 games back in fourth place in the NL wild-card standings.
Not surprisingly, Stanton has led the way with a ridiculous August, hitting .394/.482/1.000 with 17 home runs and 35 RBI in 110 plate appearances.
The entire lineup has been productive outside of catcher J.T. Realmuto (.180 BA, .568 OPS), who appears to be hitting the wall in what had been a breakout offensive season.
While the starting rotation continues to do just enough to get by, the bullpen has managed to pick up the slack.
Brad Ziegler has worked 12 scoreless innings and converted all nine of his save chances since taking over the closer's role, while the setup duo of Kyle Barraclough and Drew Steckenrider has been lights out.
A three-game series against the Nationals in D.C. kicks off the upcoming week before they head back home to host the Phillies.
Oakland Athletics (Up 4 Spots)
A three-game sweep of the Texas Rangers over the weekend is enough to vault the Athletics ahead of some of the other also-ran teams near the bottom of the rankings.
With the Los Angeles Angels and Seattle Mariners both battling for a wild-card spot and the Houston Astros trying to hold on to the best record in the AL, the A's will be in a great position to play spoiler over the season's final month.
Perhaps the biggest positive this month has been the performance of rookie third baseman Matt Chapman.
The 24-year-old is hitting .301/.372/.566 with 10 doubles, four home runs and 15 RBI in 24 games in August as he tries to stake claim to the everyday third base job for next season.
Boston Red Sox (Down 3 Spots)
The Red Sox jumped up to No. 4 in our rankings last week after series wins against the St. Louis Cardinals and rival New York Yankees.
However, after splitting a four-game series with the Cleveland Indians to begin last week, they were swept by the Baltimore Orioles over the weekend and that was enough to drop them three spots.
With that, their lead in the AL East standings has shrunk to just 2.5 games over the Yankees.
Should the Red Sox hold on to win the division, a first-round matchup with the Indians looks like a real possibility, and that will raise some interesting questions about ace Chris Sale.
Sale is having a brilliant season, but he's been absolutely shelled in two starts against the Tribe.
- Aug 1: 5.0 IP, 8 H, 7 R, 7 ER
- Aug 24: 3.0 IP, 7 H, 7 R, 6 ER
His 2.88 ERA on the season is more than a half-run higher as a result of those two games, as he's pitched to a 2.32 ERA in his other 24 starts.
Looking at the big picture, getting consistent production from the rest of the rotation and jump-starting an offense that was limited to four runs in three games over the weekend looks like a far more pressing concern.
With a 33-32 record away from Fenway Park this season, this week's road trip to take on the Blue Jays and Yankees will be a crucial stretch if the Red Sox hope to maintain AL East superiority.
Kansas City Royals (Down 3 Spots)
The Kansas City Royals used a 33-19 record in June and July to climb back into the postseason picture after a rough start, but their playoff hopes are fading fast.
They were shut out three games in a row while being swept by the Indians over the weekend, and they're now 9-16 with a minus-45 run differential in August.
They will ride a 34-inning scoreless streak into the upcoming week, the longest streak in franchise history.
"Guys are just trying to do a little too much," second baseman Whit Merrifield told reporters. "We all know we're struggling. Guys want to step up and spark the team. We know we haven't scored a run in however long it's been. I think guys are trying to take it upon themselves a little too much and just trying to do a little too much."
The Royals are still just 2.5 games out in the wild-card standings.
However, that's far enough back for them to be trailing five teams in a historically crowded postseason picture, and there's little in the way of momentum on their side entering September.
MVPs of the Week
AL MVP: CF Byron Buxton, Minnesota Twins
Stats: 11-for-33, 1 2B, 5 HR, 10 RBI, 9 R
After being demoted to the minors last summer, Byron Buxton returned to the majors when rosters expanded in September and hit .287 with a 1.011 OPS and 17 extra-base hits in 113 plate appearances to close out the year.
Some expected that to be the springboard to a long-awaited breakout, and while that didn't happen, things are again starting to click for the former No. 1 overall prospect.
Buxton is hitting .330/.362/.649 with eight home runs and 21 RBI in August, and much of that power production came last week.
The 23-year-old enjoyed the best single-game performance of his career Sunday when he went 4-for-5 with three home runs, five RBI and four runs scored in a 7-2 victory.
"It's neat to watch him make plays in center field look easy, and watch him take easy swings that [go] over the fence," starter Kyle Gibson told reporters. "He's really coming into his own."
NL MVP: LF Rhys Hoskins, Philadelphia Phillies
Stats: 10-for-26, 1 2B, 6 HR, 15 RBI, 7 R
Rhys Hoskins is making this whole major league baseball thing look pretty easy.
The rookie slugger is just 18 games into his MLB career and already has 11 home runs after another impressive showing last week.
All told, he's hitting .297/.408/.828 with nearly as many walks (11) as strikeouts (13), always an impressive feat when talking about a middle-of-the-order power hitter.
Hoskins is no stranger to watching balls fly over the fence, as he slugged 67 home runs the past two seasons in the minors.
Gordie Jones of CSN Philly offered up the following precautionary tale:
"According to Elias, his 11 homers have come faster than anyone in modern major-league history (64 at-bats). The previous best was 81 trips, by Shane Spencer (1998-99) and Gary Sanchez (2015-16), both with the Yankees.
"Sanchez's career is, like Hoskins', very much a work in progress, but Spencer's seven-year tenure offers evidence that all of us might want to pump the brakes on Hoskins-mania. After that promising start, he managed just 48 more homers."
Still, it's hard not to get excited about the type of player Hoskins could become for the rebuilding Phillies.
Stats of the Week
Let's dive into some of the better nuggets from around the league.
We'll start with Stanton, who became the first NL player to hit 50 home runs since Prince Fielder back in 2007.
He's the fastest to 50 since Barry Bonds in 2001 when he set the MLB record with 73 long balls.
Digging a bit deeper, Stanton also hit his 14th home run in a 20-game span Thursday, joining Troy Tulowitzki (August/September 2010) and J.D. Martinez (June/July 2015) as the only players to hit that many over a 20-game span in the past 10 years.
He's now on pace for 63 home runs entering the week.
Not to be outdone, Phillies rookie Hoskins set a record with his 11th home run in his first 18 games for a new MLB record.
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
If Hoskins homers at this rate the rest of the season and plays every game, he'd finish the season with 37 home runs (he debuted on Aug. 10)2017-8-27 20:43:26
Not too shabby.
Manny Machado also became just the second player in Orioles history with multiple walk-off home runs in a six-day span, joining Fred Lynn (May 10/11, 1985).
On the pitching side, Craig Kimbrel will become just the sixth pitcher in MLB history with seven consecutive 30-save seasons with his next save.
He will join Mariano Rivera (9, 2003-11), Trevor Hoffman (8, 1995-02), Jonathan Papelbon (7, 2006-12), Troy Percival (7, 1998-04) and Robb Nen (7, 1996-02).
And we'll finish with this because it makes me laugh:
Ben Harris @byBenHarris
Nick Pivetta just attempted the world's least effective pickoff move https://t.co/VTYNcAfJbs2017-8-27 19:04:43
Have a good Monday, everyone.
Must-See Upcoming Matchup
Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees (Thursday-Sunday)
The Red Sox have taken four of six from the rival Yankees already this month, and the two clubs are set to meet for their final four head-to-head games later this week.
The two teams are separated by just 2.5 games in the standings right now, so it could legitimately be a battle for first place.
The pitching matchups will be Sonny Gray vs. Eduardo Rodriguez in Game 1, Masahiro Tanaka vs. Doug Fister in Game 2, Luis Severino vs. Drew Pomeranz in Game 3 and Jaime Garcia vs. Chris Sale on Sunday Night Baseball in the finale.
Baseball's biggest rivalry has been injected with some new life this season as both teams are contending for the first time in years.
With impressive young cores on both sides, expect this to be the norm going forward.
Looking for someone to yell at about where your favorite team was slotted in the latest rankings? I'll meet you in the comments section.