MLB Power Rankings: Who Has the Inside Track on a Playoff Spot?

James Shim@shimmersiamCorrespondent IAugust 21, 2012

MLB Power Rankings: Who Has the Inside Track on a Playoff Spot?

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    With a little over a month left in the MLB regular season, teams are still vying for a playoff spot.

    Whether it may be for the divisional lead or the wild-card race, every regular season game heading into the playoffs gains a little bit of more importance.  

    As the clock winds down, which teams have a guaranteed spot in the playoffs and which teams are still fighting for a chance to get into the postseason? 

    With that said, here's a list of the updated MLB power rankings. 

30. Houston Astros (39-83)

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    Owners of the worst record in baseball, ESPN reported that the Houston Astros fired third-year manager Brad Mills, as well as two members of the coaching staff. Mills went a franchise worst 56-106 last year, and didn't do so great of a job this year. 

    Losing 30 out of 36 games since the All-Star break, a managerial change won't help turn this season around. 

    Ranking in the bottom half of essentially every statistical category, it's clear that the Astros are the worst team in baseball this season. 

29. Chicago Cubs (47-43)

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    Going 1-5 this past week, the Chicago Cubs continue to have a season to forget.

    They rank last in offense, as they have scored a league-worst 448 runs so far. With that in mind, they've also allowed 542 runs. So not much is going well on both sides of the ball for this ball club. 

    With 142 strikeouts in the month of August, the Cubs have also gone winless (0-10) on the West Coast this season. 

    Well, at least they're on the verge of re-signing their young star Starlin Castro. 

28. Colorado Rockies (46-73)

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    Although they possess one of the worst pitching staffs in baseball, the Colorado Rockies have gone 6-4 in their last 10 games. As a team, they give up an ERA of 5.41, which ranks last in the league.

    As of late, the Rockies have found ways to win, and a lot of credit can go to their bats, as they have been batting .310 in the month of August. 

    Since being on the DL on May 31 due to a groin injury, it will be interesting to see if Troy Tulowitzki will come back for the final month and finish off an ugly season. 

27. Minnesota Twins (50-70)

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    20 games below .500, having lost nine of their last 10 games, the Minnesota Twins are on a five-game losing streak. 

    It's been a dreadful season in Minnesota as they are sitting dead last in the AL Central. This past weekend, they were swept by the Seattle Mariners, and went 0-10 with runners in scoring position on Sunday. 

    On the bright side, Justin Morneau looks to be back in top form, hitting for .348 in the month of August with a on-base percentage of .405. 

26. Cleveland Indians (54-67)

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    Another rough August for the Cleveland Indians, as they are currently in the midst of a five-game losing streak. 

    To make matters worse, in their last two road trips combined, they're 1-14. 

    As opponents have been batting .300 against the Tribe in the month of August, there's not much to get excited about in the city of Cleveland. 

    10-26 since the All-Star break, it seems that the Indians haven't found their groove since. 

25. San Diego Padres (53-70)

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    Huston Street has found himself on the DL once again, but the San Diego Padres' offense looks to be coming alive. 

    Finally snapping a five-game losing streak, the Padres have scored seven runs in the past two games, as Chase Headley is leading the charge, batting .313 for the month of August. 

    With really no shot at the postseason this year, the Padres can look towards the future, as they were sold for close to $800 million to a group that included PGA star Phil Mickelson. 

24. Milwaukee Brewers (54-66)

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    Although the Milwaukee Brewers do not have a chance at the postseason this year, their one bright spot this season has been Ryan Braun. 

    Braun is on pace for a 40 home run and 25 stolen bases type of year. He is currently four home runs shy of his career mark of 37, and has 20 stolen bases for the year thus far. 

    Braun should be an MVP candidate despite the fact that his team is not in postseason contention. 

    Even though the Brewers offense has been solid, their pitching has been struggling. In his past two starts, Randy Wolf allowed a combined 20 hits, which both resulted in losses. 

    Although the the Brewers have a record of 35-28 at home, they are 19-38 on the road. 

23. Kansas City Royals (54-66)

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    Although they are third place in the AL Central, the Kansas City Royals are nowhere close to a playoff spot. 

    They have gone on a nice run, going 7-3 in their last 10 games, as they are also on a three-game winning streak.

    Pitcher Jeremy Guthrie has led the staff, as he is unbeaten in his past three starts, and has not allowed a run in his 22 2/3 innings pitched. 

    Even with their hot play as of late, they remain 11 games behind for the divisional lead and 11.5 games behind for the Wild Card.

    It seems unlikely that they can sneak their way into the playoffs this season. 

22. Miami Marlins (55-67)

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    Last in the NL East, there's not much to be excited about in Miami.

    In Ozzie Guillen's first year as manager, the Miami Marlins have struggled and haven't contended for much of the year. 

    With Giancarlo Stanton returning from the DL in the month of August, shortstop Jose Reyes and Stanton have essentially carried this team as both have been hitting over .300. 

    Besides Stanton and his productive bat, not much has been productive in South Beach this season. 

21. Philadelphia Phillies (56-65)

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    The Philadelphia Phillies have disappointed many this season, as many of their stars have been sidelined with injury. Their star power on offense have struggled, and their top aces in the pitching staff have struggled as well. 

    The Phillies will not win the NL East divisional title for the first time since 2006, but with Roy Halladay bouncing from shoulder injury, it should be good news for next year.

    However, they've also traded Hunter Pence, Shane Victorino and Joe Blanton so this team may have a new makeup next season. 

    Pitcher Kyle Kendrick has been on fire as of late, pitching at least seven innings without allowing a run in back-to-back starts. 

20. Toronto Blue Jays (56-65)

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    Although injuries have been a major problem for the Toronto Blue Jays this season, their starting rotation has also caused problems. 

    With a team ERA of 4.58, they've lost seven of their last 10, and have fallen out of playoff contention.

    While the Blue Jays have been forced to use their Triple-A prospects because of injuries, one bright spot comes in Brandon Lyon, who has been dominant since joining Toronto. In 11 innings pitched, he has struck out 22 while walking only one in 11 innings pitched. 

    The Blue Jays however find themselves in the bottom of the AL East once again. 

19. New York Mets (57-64)

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    After a strong first half of the season, the New York Mets have been 11-26 since the All-Star break and find themselves completely out of the postseason hunt. 

    The Mets' struggles have landed them 18 games behind the Nationals in the NL East, and with they way the Nationals have been playing, it does not seem like the Mets can make a comeback this season. 

    Despite great performances from R.A. Dickey and David Wright, it looks like the Mets will miss the postseason once again. 

18. Seattle Mariners

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    The Seattle Mariners find themselves only six games out of .500. They've won seven of their past eight games, and are currently on a five-game winning streak. 

    Although their offense has been lackluster, Felix Hernandez has helped win games by posting terrific numbers across the board and having another terrific season. 

    As they are eight games out of the wild-card race, the Mariners would need a serious run to climb to the top of the leaderboard. 

    Winning their past 12 out of 13 games at Safeco Field is a good start. 

17. Boston Red Sox (59-63)

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    The Boston Red Sox have underachieved this season, and it looks like they won't be able to turn their season around. 

    In a report released by Yahoo! Sports Jeff Passan, it states that: 

    Boston Red Sox players blasted manager Bobby Valentine to owners John Henry and Larry Lucchino during a heated meeting called after a text message was sent by a group of frustrated players to the team and ownership in late July.

    The Red Sox have not showed up when it matters most, as they have won just eight of their 24 contests against divisional rivals New York and Baltimore this season.

    Boston will also be without Carl Crawford, as it was announced late Monday that he would be receiving Tommy John surgery. 

    The Red Sox are currently 7.5 out of the wild-card race, and if their underlying performance continues, they can kiss the postseason goodbye. 

16. Arizona Diamondbacks (62-59)

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    Currently riding a four-game winning streak, the Arizona Diamondbacks are quietly making a playoff push. 

    Four-and-a-half games out of the NL West lead and five games out of the Wild Card, the Diamondbacks have found themselves in the playoff hunt. 

    The D-backs' next seven games are against the lowly Marlins and Padres at home. They have a shot to close the gap in both the divisional race, as well as the Wild Card if they can pull out some wins. 

    Over the next week-and-a-half, they will also face both the Dodgers and Giants, which will both be key series in the race for the NL West title.  

15. Los Angeles Angels (62-60)

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    With the lineup producing as well as it ever has, the starting rotation for the Los Angeles Angels has fallen apart and led to disappointment.

    Besides possibly Jered Weaver, the Angels' rotation has not lived up to its hype, as they are currently in a four-game losing streak.  After going 2-5 this past week, they are nine games behind Texas for the AL West. Perhaps, the Angels have set their sights on the Wild Card, where they are only 4.5 games behind. 

    Zack Grienke and Dan Haren continue to disappoint, and if the Angels rotation can't get it together, this very talented team may find itself out of the playoff race. 

14. Detroit Tigers (64-57)

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    The Detroit Tigers currently stand second in the AL Central, a game-and-a-half behind the White Sox, and two games out of the Wild Card. 

    Luckily for Detroit, the White Sox have been struggling so losing two out of three games against the Orioles did not hurt them too much. 

    With Miguel Cabrera having another phenomenal year, he has put his name in as a MVP candidate. 

    However, if the Tigers want to make the postseason, Cabrera and the rest of his team need to take advantage of the struggling White Sox, and take the divisional lead from them while they can. 

13. St. Louis Cardinals (65-56)

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    The St. Louis Cardinals cannot seem to close the gap in the NL Central, as they trail both the Reds and the Pirates. Eight-and-a-half games out of first in the division, the Cardinals need to start winning close games if they want to gain any ground. 

    Even though the Cardinals are only two games out of the Wild Card, they have a 13-21 record in games decided by one run and a league worst 3-9 in extra innings. 

    Jaime Garcia returns to the Cardinals' rotation, which should give them an extra boost. More importantly, the Cards need to buckle down and not give away more close games. With every game gaining importance in the playoff race, losing close games could keep them out of the playoffs. 

12. Oakland Athletics (65-55)

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    Jumping past the Angels for second in the AL West, the Oakland A's have put themselves in good position. 

    While they may not catch the Rangers for first in the AL West, they're only a half game out of the AL Wild Card race. 

    Currently on a four-game winning streak, the A's look to keep their momentum going to claim a wild-card spot or overtake the Rangers and the division title. 

    The Athletics' starting rotation is starting to get hot, as they are ranked in the top 10 in almost every pitching category. If they can maintain their pitching, the Athletics could prove to be dangerous down the stretch. 

11. Baltimore Orioles (66-55)

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    Exciting times have arrived for the city of Baltimore. The Baltimore Orioles are very much in the playoff hunt, as they hold on to the last wild-card spot and trail the Yankees by six games in the division. 

    Miguel Gonzalez has stepped up in the starting rotation, as he has posted a 1.93 ERA in his past two starts. 

    Winning five of their last seven, the Orioles have been in the race through timely pitching and hitting. If they continue to play on a high level, they may find themselves in the postseason for the first time since 1997. 

10. Chicago White Sox (65-55)

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    Currently on a three-game losing skid, the Chicago White Sox are barely holding on to the AL Central lead, as they try hold off the Detroit Tigers.

    Paul Konerko has returned from a concussion, and contributed immediately by hitting a home run. Adam Dunn is also having a good year as he hit a major league-leading 35th home run on Saturday. 

    Pitcher Jose Quintana also continues to have a great year, with a 2.76 ERA in 104 1/3 innings pitched.

    As the Tigers trail the White Sox by only a game-and-a-half, this division may come down to the end of the season before we find out a divisional champion. 

9. San Francisco Giants (66-55)

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    When Pablo Sandoval came back from the DL to join the San Francisco Giants lineup, it seemed that the Giants had a roster with good hitters from Brandon Belt, Buster Posey and Melky Cabrera. That is, until Melky Cabrera was suspended after testing positive for testosterone. 

    Melky was having a career year, batting a career high .346 batting average to go along with 60 RBIs. An important piece to the offense, the loss of Cabrera certainly hurts, especially in a division race that is separated by only a half game. 

    With an important series this week with the Dodgers, the Giants must find someone to fill in the shoes left by Cabrera. 

    Going 5-5 in their past 10 games is not going to help them. 

8. Pittsburgh Pirates (67-54)

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    Although trailing the Reds by six-and-a-half games in the NL Central, the Pittsburgh Pirates hold on to the second wild-card spot in the National League. 

    MVP candidate Andrew McCutchen has been among the best players in all of Major League Baseball, as he has carried the Pirates offense for most of the season. 

    A.J. Burnett has been phenomenal this season, going 15-4 and establishing himself as an ace for this roster. 

    With their role players stepping up as well, the Pirates may challenge the Reds for the division. However, with a grasp on the Wild Card, you've got to believe that the Pirates may be content with the Wild Card. 

    The Pirates have a relatively easy schedule ahead of them, as they have three games against the Padres and three against the Brewers. During this time, the Pirates look to close the gap in the divisional race, as well as increase their lead in the Wild Card.  

7. Los Angeles Dodgers (67-55)

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    The Los Angeles Dodgers and their acquisitions before the trade deadline look to be paying off. Hanley Ramirez is hitting .343 in the month of August, and has hit three home runs in his past four games. 

    Although the offense for the boys in blue have struggled for most of the season, Matt Kemp is back in full force from his hamstring injury. Along with that, the new additions of Hanley Ramirez and Shane Victorino are starting to jell nicely. 

    The Dodgers have gone 7-3 in their last 10 games, as they took over the Giants for the NL West lead. 

    They look to increase that lead in the upcoming three game series against the Giants this week. 

6. Tampa Bay Rays (67-54)

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    The Tampa Bay Rays are in the thick of it once again. 

    Holding the top wild-card spot in the American League and trailing the Yankees by five games, the Rays are in the playoff discussion once more. 

    They're coming off a four-game sweep of the Angels and their pitching staff is looking dominant as ever. Led by David Price, who is having himself a Cy Young type of year, the Rays rank in the top five in ERA, WHIP and BAA. 

    The Rays may have more late season magic in them, as they look to continue to ride their momentum. 

5. Atlanta Braves (70-51)

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    In Chipper Jones' farewell season, the Atlanta Braves have gone 19 games over .500 and yet, it is still not enough for a divisional lead. 

    With Jones hitting .313 this season, the Braves currently hold the top spot in the Wild Card. 

    Despite a shaky pitching staff, Tim Hudson has been an unquestionable ace and has helped lead this team to an incredible season. 

    If it wasn't for the Nationals and their remarkable season, the Braves would be sitting in first place, atop the NL East. 

4. Texas Rangers (70-50)

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    The Texas Rangers continue to dominate the AL West, and it seems like they'll run away with the division title. 

    Although their starting rotation has been shaky and sometimes ineffective, Matt Harrison has been huge for the Rangers. Harrison has gone 14-7 this season, and has established himself as the top ace as the rotation has been struck with injuries. 

    As they continue to pile up wins, and wait for Josh Hamilton to get back into form, the Rangers will once again pose to be a very dangerous threat come October. 

    With the AL West title in the palm of their hands, will the Rangers overtake the Yankees for the No. 1 seed in the American League come season's end? 

3. New York Yankees (72-49)

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    With ace CC Sabathia battling injury on the disabled list, Hiroki Kuroda has stepped up, compiling a 1.39 ERA  since the All-Star break. 

    Ichiro has also been coming along, as he has been hitting .322 in his tenure with the New York Yankees

    With a star-studded lineup, the Yankees have been able to overcome adversity this season, especially the loss of Mariano Rivera. 

    As the postseason comes rolling along, you can expect the Bronx Bombers to be in serious contention for the World Series. 

    Leading the league in home runs doesn't hurt either. 

2. Cincinnati Reds (74-48)

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    Even without Joey Votto, the Cincinnati Reds seem to find a way to win as manager Dusty Baker seems to get the best out of his lineup from top to bottom. 

    Johnny Cueto keeps setting the tone as the staff ace with a NL best 16 wins. Not to mention, Mat Latos has also been great, going 9-1 with a 3.02 ERA since the month of April. 

    With the whole lineup contributing, the addition of Votto will only make this team more dangerous, as they look to run away with the NL Central. 

1. Washington Nationals (75-46)

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    The Braves have been making a run at the Washington Nationals for the NL East lead, going 18-8 since late July. However, the Nationals have made a run of their own going 20-7 during that same time. 

    With a major league best 75 wins, the Nationals have rode their incredible pitching staff to a great season. 

    Ranking first in all of the major pitching categories, the Nationals hope their pitchers will show up big come playoff time. 

    The only question is, will they stick to their decision to shut down Strasburg or let him play in the postseason?