MLB Power Rankings: Where All 30 Teams Stand with 5 Weeks to Go

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistAugust 29, 2016

MLB Power Rankings: Where All 30 Teams Stand with 5 Weeks to Go

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    Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

    The push for the MLB playoffs is now in full swing with roughly five weeks remaining in the regular season.

    Whether a team is contending for a postseason spot or looking to play spoiler while evaluating its young talent, the month of September is always an exciting one.

    For the first time in several weeks, we have a new team inside the top five of our MLB power rankings, as two of the league's elite posted 2-5 records this past week to open the door for the Los Angeles Dodgers to climb.

    The Houston Astros and Kansas City Royals also stayed hot to move inside the top 10, while the Miami Marlins, Seattle Mariners and St. Louis Cardinals all ran into trouble with a pair of series losses.

    At the bottom of the rankings, a winless week by the Minnesota Twins leaves them just 1.5 games up on the Atlanta Braves and within striking distance of claiming the No. 1 pick next June if they continue to struggle.

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

30. Minnesota Twins (49-81, Previous: 28)

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    Brian Dozier
    Brian DozierDale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 0-6

    The Twins' losing streak stands at a season-high 10 games entering the week, and they've been swept in three consecutive series.

    The Detroit Tigers and Toronto Blue Jays outscored them by a combined 57-33 last week, and the starting rotation has not posted a quality start since Aug. 21, when Ervin Santana allowed two runs (one earned) over seven innings of work.

    Santana cleared trade waivers last week, according to Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, and he remains a candidate to be dealt ahead of the Aug. 31 waiver deadline.

    The Twins will look to get back in the win column this coming week on the road against the Cleveland Indians and then at home versus the Chicago White Sox.

    Hitter of the Week

    • 2B Brian Dozier (9-for-27, 3 2B, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 8 R)

    Pitcher of the Week

    • ...yikes

29. Atlanta Braves (48-83, Previous: 30)

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    Matt Wisler
    Matt WislerBrett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 3-4

    A four-game split with the Arizona Diamondbacks and a series loss to the San Francisco Giants proved to be enough to pull the Braves ahead of the struggling Twins and out of the No. 30 spot.

    Starting for the first time in nearly a month after being demoted to the minors, Matt Wisler allowed just two hits and one run over eight innings Thursday.

    It's been an up-and-down year for the 23-year-old, who had a 3.16 ERA through his first 11 starts and then a 7.71 ERA over his next 10 to book a trip back to Triple-A. He still has a chance to be a big part of the team's future plans, though.

    The big question this coming week will be whether 19-year-old second baseman Ozzie Albies is among the team's September call-ups, as that would give him a chance to further work with future double-play partner Dansby Swanson.

    Hitter of the Week

    • 1B Freddie Freeman (9-for-28, 3 2B, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 8 R)

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Matt Wisler (W, 8.0 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 4 K)

28. Milwaukee Brewers (56-74, Previous: 29)

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    Orlando Arcia
    Orlando ArciaDylan Buell/Getty Images

    Last Week: 3-4

    The Milwaukee Brewers swept a three-game series with the Colorado Rockies to begin last week before having the favor returned by the Pittsburgh Pirates in a four-game set.

    After starting his MLB career with a 10-for-70 (.143 BA) showing, prized shortstop Orlando Arcia rattled off a modest five-game hitting streak that included his first home run Friday before going 0-for-3 on Sunday.

    He'll continue to get a long look the rest of the way and should have every chance at winning the everyday gig from the onset in 2017.

    Meanwhile, the Brewers are now just a half-game ahead of the Cincinnati Reds in the battle to avoid the National League Central cellar.

    Hitter of the Week

    • SS Orlando Arcia (7-for-22, 2 2B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 3 R)

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Zach Davies (W, 6.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 8 K)

27. San Diego Padres (55-75, Previous: 24)

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    Luis Perdomo
    Luis PerdomoJake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 2-4

    The San Diego Padres were swept by the Chicago Cubs to begin last week, but they bounced back nicely to take two of three from a contending Marlins team.

    Luis Perdomo twirled the first complete game of his young career against the Marlins on Sunday, as he followed up seven innings of five-hit, one-run ball in his previous start with an even better showing.

    The 23-year-old has been something of a project this year, as he was selected in the Rule 5 draft and asked to make the jump from High-A to the majors. Injuries forced him into a starting role, and he's now 6-6 with a 4.71 ERA in 15 starts, showing flashes of a potentially bright future.

    "Early in the season, he could have thrown that well and still given up four runs," manager Andy Green told reporters. "But now, he's learning every facet of the game. I think you look at him that way, and it's exciting."

    Perdomo induced six double plays Sunday, helping limit his pitch count to just 99 pitches.

    Hitter of the Week

    • 2B Ryan Schimpf (7-for-16, 1 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 5 R)

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Luis Perdomo (W, 9.0 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 3 K)

26. Tampa Bay Rays (55-74, Previous: 22)

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    Corey Dickerson
    Corey DickersonKim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 3-4

    No team in baseball will be better positioned to play the role of spoiler than the Tampa Bay Rays, with the other four teams in the American League East all battling for a playoff spot and a month of divisional play waiting to close out the year.

    They were at it again last week, proving to be a tough draw in splitting a four-game series with the Boston Red Sox before dropping two of three to the Astros over the weekend.

    Saturday marked the end of an era for the team when it released outfielder Desmond Jennings.

    The organization's No. 1 prospect and the No. 6 prospect in all of baseball prior to the 2010 season, per Baseball America, Jennings was never able to live up to lofty expectations as injuries derailed him time and again.

    Still, his mix of power, speed and defensive ability was enough for a 13.2 WAR during his seven seasons with the team, good for the 11th-highest career total in franchise history.

    Hitter of the Week

    • DH Corey Dickerson (8-for-24, 4 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 6 R)

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Jake Odorizzi (W, 7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 4 K)

25. Cincinnati Reds (55-74, Previous: 21)

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    Anthony DeSclafani
    Anthony DeSclafaniCharles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 2-4

    Among my notes for the Cincinnati Reds this past week was this simple proclamation: "Anthony DeSclafani is really good."

    The 26-year-old tossed his first career shutout against the Diamondbacks on Saturday, and he's now 8-2 with a 2.95 ERA and 1.155 WHIP in 15 starts after getting a late start to his 2016 season due to an oblique injury.

    "He challenges hitters in the strike zone, and he doesn't fall into the muscle-head mentality that when he gets into trouble that he's just going to try to throw the ball by the hitter or try to throw his hardest, nastiest slider," manager Bryan Price told reporters. "He's a pitcher in every sense of the word."

    With team control through the 2020 season, he'll be an integral part of the Reds' rebuilding efforts in the years to come.

    Hitter of the Week

    • RF Scott Schebler (10-for-23, 1 2B, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 6 R)

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Anthony DeSclafani (W, 9.0 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K)

24. Arizona Diamondbacks (55-76, Previous: 25)

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    Paul Goldschmidt
    Paul GoldschmidtRichard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 4-3

    The Diamondbacks may not be playing for a postseason spot over the season's final month, but manager Chip Hale could be managing for his job.

    Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports acknowledged the possibility that Hale could be cut loose at season's end, identifying Walt Weiss as a potential target to replace him. The current Rockies manager is in the final year of his contract, and he has ties to both Tony La Russa and Dave Stewart, provided they remain in the front office.

    Back to the on-field product, the team managed to split a four-game series with the Braves last week before taking two of three from the Reds.

    Rookie starters Braden Shipley (ND, 7.0 IP, 4 H, 1 ER) and Archie Bradley (W, 6.0 IP, 5 H, 2 ER) both threw the ball well in their most recent starts, and their continued development will be one of the biggest things to watch for a non-contending club in September.

    Hitter of the Week

    • 1B Paul Goldschmidt (9-for-24, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 7 R)

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Braden Shipley (ND, 7.0 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 1 K)

23. Philadelphia Phillies (60-70, Previous: 23)

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    Jerad Eickhoff
    Jerad EickhoffBill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 2-3

    It's not what anxious fans will want to hear, but it sounds like the Philadelphia Phillies will hold off on calling up any more top prospects when rosters expand in September.

    That's according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer:

    When rosters expand Thursday, no touted prospects will join the Phillies. Instead, [they] will add to a bullpen that has been used with greater frequency as the rotation fails.

    The front office has prioritized the minor-league pennant races. The young players, team officials believe, are better suited to play meaningful baseball.

    That gives shortstop Freddy Galvis one final month to prove he belongs in the team's long-term plans in some capacity, as he'll almost certainly be supplanted as the everyday shortstop by No. 1 prospect J.P. Crawford at some point next season.

    The Phillies are now 4-7 in their last 11 games since sweeping the Rockies. The 74-win mark would give them their best record since finishing 81-81 in 2012, and they'll need to go 14-18 the rest of the way to get there.

    Hitter of the Week

    • SS Freddy Galvis (4-for-16, 2 2B, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R)

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Jerad Eickhoff (W, 6.0 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 2 K)

22. Los Angeles Angels (56-74, Previous: 27)

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    Albert Pujols
    Albert PujolsRick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 4-2

    Since battling through an 11-game losing streak earlier this month, the Los Angeles Angels have gone 7-5 in their last 12 games, including series wins over the Blue Jays and Tigers last week.

    Albert Pujols continued to swing a hot bat last week, and he's now posted an .821 OPS with 10 home runs and 41 RBI in 40 games since the All-Star break.

    Those 41 RBI are tops in the AL in the second half, and his 101 RBI on the year are tied for second in the league. He can thank Mike Trout and his .431 on-base percentage for a good chunk of those, as he's driven Trout in a whopping 25 times on the year.

    The 36-year-old slugger also moved into sole possession of 10th place on the all-time home run list when he took Marco Estrada deep Wednesday for No. 584 of his storied career.

    Hitter of the Week

    • DH Albert Pujols (10-for-25, 1 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 3 R)

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Matt Shoemaker (W, 6.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K)

21. Oakland Athletics (57-73, Previous: 26)

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    Sean Manaea
    Sean ManaeaNeville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 4-2

    The Oakland Athletics climb five spots after picking up series wins against a pair of contenders last week in the Indians and Cardinals.

    With 10 rookies on the active roster and more likely on the way once rosters expand later this week, the final month will be all about in-house talent evaluation.

    Third baseman Ryon Healy, starter Sean Manaea and reliever Ryan Dull have been the standouts among that group so far, and all three should figure prominently into the team's 2017 plans.

    Manaea in particular is turning heads in the second half.

    The 24-year-old has pitched to a 3.14 ERA and 1.064 WHIP with six quality starts in his last nine games after starting the year with a 5.85 ERA over his first 11 starts.

    Hitter of the Week

    • 3B Ryon Healy (10-for-21, 5 2B, 2 RBI, 4 R)

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Sean Manaea (W, 7.0 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 K)

20. Colorado Rockies (62-68, Previous: 19)

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    Nolan Arenado
    Nolan ArenadoBenny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 2-4

    The Rockies recovered from being swept by the Brewers to take two of three from the Washington Nationals over the weekend. However, their hopes of finishing with a winning record took a hit, as they are now six games under .500.

    Nolan Arenado continues to rake, as he enters the week with a .937 OPS, 35 home runs and 111 RBI.

    He'll have an entire month to try to surpass last season's career bests of 42 home runs and 130 RBI. If he leads the NL in home runs and RBI again this year, he'd be the first player to pull that off in consecutive seasons since Cecil Fielder did it in 1990 and 1991.

    Meanwhile, Jon Gray turned in another impressive start last week (6.0 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 10 K), and he continues to look like the closest thing the Rockies have had to an ace since the Ubaldo Jimenez era came to a close.

    Hitter of the Week

    • 3B Nolan Arenado (12-for-24, 1 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 5 R)

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Jon Gray (ND, 6.0 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 10 K)

19. Chicago White Sox (63-66, Previous: 20)

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    Carlos Rodon
    Carlos RodonBruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 4-2

    Give the White Sox credit—they easily could have rolled over after falling under .500 and more or less dropping out of the playoff hunt.

    However, they've continued to battle, and they are now 6-2 in their last eight games after taking three of four from a good Mariners team over the weekend.

    Carlos Rodon has once again been plagued by inconsistency this season, but he's found his groove in August, going 3-0 with a 1.47 ERA, 1.011 WHIP and a .212 opponent's batting average over five starts.

    Manager Robin Ventura had nothing but good things to say while talking to reporters following Rodon's most recent start:

    Carlos is really evolving. As he goes along, he just seems to be getting better -- there's more confidence there. He's learning a lot about himself as well, going through these. He gets extended somewhat, he's in there for a while, he's seeing these guys the third time around, which is good for him. He has the stuff to be able to do that and continue to do that, really. The future's really bright for him.

    The future does indeed look to be a promising one for the 23-year-old southpaw.

    Hitter of the Week

    • DH Avisail Garcia (8-for-22, 3 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 5 R)

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Carlos Rodon (2 W, 12.2 IP, 8 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 10 K)

18. Miami Marlins (67-63, Previous: 16)

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    Jose Fernandez
    Jose FernandezSteve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 2-4

    The Marlins peaked at seven games over .500 earlier this month.

    However, they've gone just 7-10 since that peak and have fallen out of the second NL wild-card spot in the process.

    They're still very much in the playoff hunt at just 1.5 games behind the Cardinals for that final postseason berth, but the loss of Giancarlo Stanton and continued struggles from the starting rotation could prove too much to overcome.

    The team dropped series to the Royals and Padres last week, and it has an even tougher road ahead this coming week with a road trip to take on the New York Mets and Indians.

    Hitter of the Week

    • 3B Martin Prado (8-for-24, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 1 R)

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Jose Fernandez (W, 7.0 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 9 K)

17. New York Mets (66-64, Previous: 18)

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    Noah Syndergaard
    Noah SyndergaardLance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 4-2

    The Mets walked away with a good result in the win-loss column last week, picking up series wins over the Cardinals and Phillies.

    The injury bug continued to rear its ugly head, though.

    Yoenis Cespedes (quad) and Neil Walker (back) both sat out Sunday's game after flareups of the injuries that sidelined them earlier this month, per MLB.com's Troy Provost-Heron, while Asdrubal Cabrera left Sunday's game with a knee injury after a collision at first base.

    A strained patellar tendon in that same left knee cost Cabrera time earlier this month, and he had been on a tear since returning, going 15-for-33 with four doubles and three home runs in nine games.

    A big week lies ahead as the Mets host the Marlins and Nationals, the two teams they're chasing in the NL East standings.

    Hitter of the Week

    • SS Asdrubal Cabrera (12-for-22, 4 2B, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 5 R)

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Noah Syndergaard (W, 7.0 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K)

16. Pittsburgh Pirates (67-61, Previous: 17)

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    Gregory Polanco
    Gregory PolancoJeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 5-2

    A series loss to the Braves to begin the month of August dropped the Pirates to .500 on the year and left them sixth in the NL wild-card standings.

    However, they've gone 14-8 to claw back into contention and sit just a half-game behind the Cardinals for the second NL wild-card slot.

    Similar to the under-the-radar addition of J.A. Happ last summer, the Pirates look to have pulled off another heist with the acquisition of Ivan Nova, who has gone 4-0 with a 2.87 ERA and 0.989 WHIP in five starts since joining the team.

    "They brought me here for a reason, to help them win games," Nova told reporters Sunday. "You have to make sure that's your main focus on the mound. The days I have had [in Pittsburgh] have been great so far."

    The Pirates have 34 games left on their schedule, and 18 of them are against the Brewers, Reds and Phillies. All things considered, they appear to be in a good position to make a strong push for that final playoff spot.

    Hitter of the Week

    • RF Gregory Polanco (9-for-28, 3 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 6 R)

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Ivan Nova (2 W, 15.0 IP, 9 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 10 K)

15. New York Yankees (67-62, Previous: 15)

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    Gary Sanchez
    Gary SanchezGary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 4-2

    The Gary Sanchez era has begun with a bang in the Bronx.

    The 23-year-old catcher and longtime top prospect is hitting .425/.489/.938 with eight doubles and 11 home runs in 90 plate appearances since being recalled from the minors earlier this month.

    "It's as good as I've seen to start a career," New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi told reporters.

    The impact he's made at the plate has been at least part of the reason the Yankees have managed to stay in the playoff hunt, even after selling off some key pieces at the trade deadline.

    The team picked up two more series wins last week, besting the Mariners and Baltimore Orioles, and it enters the week 3.5 games out of a wild-card spot and 6.5 back in the AL East.

    Hitter of the Week

    • C Gary Sanchez (12-for-23, 3 2B, 5 HR, 9 RBI, 7 R)

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Masahiro Tanaka (W, 7.0 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K)

14. Detroit Tigers (69-61, Previous: 14)

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    Justin Verlander
    Justin VerlanderRick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 4-2

    The Tigers posted a winning record last week, but it could have been even better, as they followed a sweep of the Twins by dropping two of three to the Los Angeles Angels.

    Justin Verlander continued to pitch like an ace with another terrific outing last week, while the young trio of Michael Fulmer (5 GS, 3.24 ERA), Matt Boyd (4 GS, 2.52 ERA) and Daniel Norris (4 GS, 2.91 ERA) has performed well behind him this month.

    All told, the team ranks sixth in the majors with a 3.72 ERA in August. As the high-powered offense continues to produce, the Tigers have a chance to be awfully dangerous if they keep throwing the ball the way they have of late.

    They enter the week 4.5 games back in the AL Central and two games behind the Orioles for the second AL wild-card spot.

    Hitter of the Week

    • 1B Miguel Cabrera (10-for-23, 4 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 4 R)

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Justin Verlander (W, 7.2 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 8 K)

13. St. Louis Cardinals (68-61, Previous: 9)

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    Carlos Martinez
    Carlos MartinezJeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 2-4

    The Cardinals fall out of the top 10 after a brief one-week stay following series losses to the Mets and Athletics, and their lead for the second NL wild card has been trimmed to just a half-game by the hard-charging Pirates.

    The pitching staff has suffered through some ups and downs this season, and that has made the contributions of Alex Reyes (6 G, 1 GS, 14.0 IP, 0.64 ERA, 17 K) and Luke Weaver (15.0 IP, 3 GS, 1-1, 3.60 ERA) over the last month all the more important.

    It may be a challenge to integrate the duo into the team's 2017 plans, with Lance Lynn also set to return to the mix after missing this season with Tommy John surgery. It's a good problem to have, but one that will need to be sorted out nonetheless.

    For now, the focus remains on securing a postseason berth for the 13th time in the past 17 seasons.

    Hitter of the Week

    • CF Randal Grichuk (7-for-21, 2 2B, 3 HR, 3 RBI, 3 R)

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Carlos Martinez (W, 8.0 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 5 K)

12. Seattle Mariners (68-62, Previous: 8)

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    Robinson Cano
    Robinson CanoCaylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 2-5

    The Mariners were one of the hottest teams in baseball for much of August, but they ran into some trouble last week with series losses to the Yankees and White Sox.

    They're now tied for second in the AL West with the Astros, and both teams sit three games back in the wild-card standings.

    Robinson Cano hit his 30th home run of the season Sunday, with Nelson Cruz already eclipsing that mark earlier this month and sitting at 32 home runs on the year.

    It's the first time since 2006 (Richie Sexson 34, Raul Ibanez 33) that the team has had multiple 30-homer players.

    Taking it a step further, if Kyle Seager can hit six more before season's end, it will be the first time since 1997 (Ken Griffey Jr. 56, Jay Buhner 40, Paul Sorrento 31) that three Mariners have reached that mark.

    Hitter of the Week

    • 2B Robinson Cano (12-for-26, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 5 R)

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Felix Hernandez (W, 7.1 IP, 8 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K)

11. San Francisco Giants (71-59, Previous: 13)

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    Matt Moore
    Matt MooreJayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 3-3

    The Giants dropped two of three to the rival Dodgers at the start of last week, but they recovered to take two of three from the Braves and avoid falling any further back in the NL West standings.

    The Giants enter the week with a three-game cushion in the wild-card standings, but they're still eyeing a division title, and the Dodgers' lead stands at just two games.

    Madison Bumgarner entered the month having pitched at least six innings in 20 of his 22 starts on the year, but he's been limited to five innings three times in August.

    That included his previous two starts leading up to his latest outing Sunday, and a solid performance (7.0 IP, 5 H, 3 ER) has to be a positive sign as the team gears up for the stretch run.

    Meanwhile, deadline pickup Matt Moore flirted with a no-hitter against the Dodgers on Thursday, and he has a chance to be a significant X-factor in September.

    Hitter of the Week

    • 2B Joe Panik (6-for-16, 1 2B, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 5 R)

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Matt Moore (W, 8.2 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 7 K)

10. Baltimore Orioles (71-59, Previous: 12)

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    Manny Machado
    Manny MachadoKenny Karst-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 4-3

    The Orioles took three of four in their home-and-home series with the Nationals, but they were unable to carry that momentum into the weekend, as they dropped two of three to the Yankees.

    Dylan Bundy has faltered a bit after a dominant stretch, posting a 7.53 ERA in his last three starts, and now it's Kevin Gausman who has taken the lead role in the starting rotation.

    The 25-year-old is working on a modest 13.2-inning scoreless streak, and he's gone 4-2 with a 2.45 ERA and four quality starts in August.

    "That's about as good as I've seen him," manager Buck Showalter told reporters after Gausman picked up the win Sunday, his first road win of the season.

    The Orioles sit three games back in the AL East standings with a two-game lead over the Tigers for the second AL wild-card spot.

    Hitter of the Week

    • 3B Manny Machado (13-for-33, 2 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 7 R)

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Kevin Gausman (2 W, 13.0 IP, 13 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 11 K)

9. Boston Red Sox (72-58, Previous: 6)

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    Dustin Pedroia
    Dustin PedroiaMark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 3-4

    The Red Sox split a four-game series with the spoiler-driven Rays before dropping two of three to the streaking Royals over the weekend.

    Dustin Pedroia stole the show offensively last week, rattling off 11 hits in 11 straight at-bats to fall one shy of the MLB record held by three different players.

    "It's a crazy game," Pedroia told reporters after the streak was finally snapped. "We've faced some pretty good pitchers. It's just one of those things. You're locked in. The guys I've faced, those guys are really tough, so you just have hot streaks."

    Meanwhile, the Red Sox's pitching continued to be an issue, specifically the relief corps bridging the gap from starter to closer Craig Kimbrel. That will need to be sorted out as they try to stake their claim to the AL East title.

    Hitter of the Week

    • 2B Dustin Pedroia (15-for-25, 2 2B, 3 RBI, 5 R)

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP David Price (2 W, 14.0 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 15 K)

8. Houston Astros (68-62, Previous: 10)

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    Alex Bregman
    Alex BregmanThomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 4-2

    A five-game losing streak earlier this month dropped the Astros to just one game above .500, but they've come roaring back to go 7-2 since.

    That includes series wins over the Pirates and Rays last week, and they are back to within three games of a wild-card spot as a result.

    Alex Bregman continues to swing a hot bat, as he's reached base safely in 22 of the past 23 games, and he's played a key role in the team's recent resurgence. He's also drawn rave reviews for his defense at third base, a position he's learning on the fly.

    "For him to move to a new position and be that good that quickly, yeah, it's surprised me," general manager Jeff Luhnow told Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle. "He's made some plays that very few third basemen in the big leagues with five years' experience can make."

    The Athletics and Texas Rangers await this coming week as the Astros try to keep things rolling.

    Hitter of the Week

    • 3B Alex Bregman (7-for-23, 2 2B, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 7 R)

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Dallas Keuchel (W, 7.0 IP, 9 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K)

7. Kansas City Royals (68-62, Previous: 11)

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    Edinson Volquez
    Edinson VolquezBrad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 4-2

    The Royals had their winning streak halted at nine games Wednesday, but they still picked up two more series wins last week and are now 17-4 in their last 21 games.

    That impressive stretch has moved them from seven games under .500 to six games over, and they are now just three games back for a wild-card spot.

    Another impressive streak was snapped last week when the bullpen finally allowed an earned run, ending a stretch of 41.1 scoreless innings that was the longest in MLB since 1966, according to Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com.

    That's an even more impressive accomplishment when you consider they did it without Wade Davis, who began a rehab assignment last Wednesday and could return as early as this coming week, per CBSSports.com.

    The Royals have gone an impressive 40-21 at home this year, and they'll welcome the Yankees and Tigers to Kauffman Stadium this week.

    Hitter of the Week

    • SS Alcides Escobar (9-for-22, 4 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 3 R)

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Edinson Volquez (W, 5.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K)

6. Cleveland Indians (73-56, Previous: 4)

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    Corey Kluber
    Corey KluberRick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 2-5

    The Indians' lead in the AL Central standings peaked at 7.5 games, but after series losses to the Athletics and Rangers last week, it's been trimmed to 4.5 games heading into the final days of August.

    A starting rotation that had been one of the best in baseball all season has started to show some cracks this month, as Josh Tomlin (5 GS, 0-5, 10.80 ERA) and Danny Salazar (4 GS, 0-3, 12.41 ERA) have been shelled, while Carlos Carrasco (6 GS, 2-3, 5.20 ERA) has been far from dominant.

    Andrew Miller has been every bit the weapon the team hoped he would be, though, as he's posted a 1.54 ERA and 14.7 strikeouts per nine innings with two saves and four holds in 10 appearances.

    The offense has also picked up some of the slack, hitting .277 as a team and averaging 4.70 runs per game in 27 games this month.

    Hitter of the Week

    • C Roberto Perez (6-for-16, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 2 R)

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Corey Kluber (W, 6.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K)

5. Washington Nationals (75-55, Previous: 2)

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    Trea Turner
    Trea TurnerRon Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 2-5

    For the first time since July, the Nationals authored a losing week, as they dropped series to the Orioles and Rockies.

    Despite that rough patch, their lead in the NL East standings is still eight games.

    Rookie Trea Turner had another big week offensively, and he's now hitting .345/.366/.548 with 20 extra-base hits and 17 stolen bases in 41 games. He's not going to catch Corey Seager in the NL Rookie of the Year race, but he's been a huge midseason addition to the Nats lineup.

    Bryce Harper is a fan, as he gushed about the 23-year-old while talking to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post:

    That's somebody that's super special. We know what we've got in him. I was thinking tonight, imagine if he was up in May, June, and July, or before that. We might have already ran away with this thing and got it going. Having him at the top of the lineup, there's nobody like him. It's a lot of fun to be a part of, a lot of fun to watch. He's going to grow and grow into a greater ballplayer than he already is.

    The Nationals hit the road to face the Phillies and Mets this coming week, and they've gone a combined 17-8 against those two teams so far this year.

    Hitter of the Week

    • CF Trea Turner (16-for-32, 1 2B, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 6 R)

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Max Scherzer (W, 8.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 10 K)

4. Los Angeles Dodgers (73-57, Previous: 7)

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    Julio Urias
    Julio UriasJayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 5-2

    For the first time in several weeks, we have a new team inside the top five.

    Series wins against their biggest rival (Giants) and the No. 1 team in baseball (Cubs) have earned the Dodgers a spot among the league's elite.

    The Dodgers took some guff this offseason for failing to add a front-line starter to replace Zack Greinke, but the fact that they've gone 32-21 since Clayton Kershaw last threw a pitch speaks to an impressive level of pitching depth.

    It also doesn't hurt when rookies Julio Urias (W, 6.0 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 8 K) and Brock Stewart (ND, 5.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 8 K) pitch the way they did last week.

    That said, this is undoubtedly a better team with Kershaw in the mix, and he's set to take another big step toward returning when he faces live hitters in a simulated game Tuesday, per Doug Padilla of ESPN.com.

    Shoutout to Rich Hill as well, who is finally over the blister problem and back to dominating, as he threw six scoreless innings to pick up the win in his Dodgers debut.

    Hitter of the Week

    • SS Corey Seager (11-for-27, 3 2B, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 7 R)

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Julio Urias (W, 6.0 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 K)

3. Toronto Blue Jays (74-56, Previous: 5)

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    Josh Donaldson
    Josh DonaldsonDan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 4-2

    The Blue Jays started last week with a thud as they dropped two of three to the Angels, but they rallied to sweep the Twins in a three-game series that saw them pile up 32 runs.

    That included a three-homer game from Josh Donaldson on Sunday, as he continues to make a strong case to repeat as AL MVP.

    "I think it's one of those things as a baseball player that you want to have happen one day and you don't know if it's ever going to happen," Donaldson told reporters of the three-homer performance. "It's a rare thing, and I was happy to do it after seeing Edwin [Encarnacion] do it last year. It was great."

    He enters the week hitting .294/.407/.578 with 26 doubles, 33 home runs and 91 RBI, and his .984 OPS is substantially higher than the .939 mark he posted a year ago.

    The Blue Jays will take on the Orioles and Rays on the road this coming week as they cling to a two-game lead in the AL East standings.

    Hitter of the Week

    • 3B Josh Donaldson (9-for-23, 5 HR, 10 RBI, 9 R)

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP R.A. Dickey (W, ND, 12.2 IP, 12 H, 7 R, 5 ER, 5 BB, 7 K)

2. Texas Rangers (77-54, Previous: 3)

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    Cole Hamels
    Cole HamelsPeter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 4-2

    The Rangers hosted the Indians last week in a clash of what many consider the two best teams in the AL, and they walked away as winners of three out of four, outscoring the Indians 18-1 in those three victories.

    With eight shutout innings of two-hit ball Thursday, Cole Hamels may have moved into the lead in the AL Cy Young race.

    The left-hander is now 14-4 with an AL-best 2.67 ERA and 167 strikeouts in 168.2 innings of work. As the Rangers have dealt with injuries to the starting rotation all season, his steady performance has been crucial.

    Speaking of those injuries, Derek Holland returned to the rotation last week with a pair of quality starts, as he allowed eight hits and two earned runs while striking out 10 in 12 innings of work.

    He has a chance to be a significant X-factor behind Hamels and Yu Darvish in the rotation.

    Hitter of the Week

    • CF Ian Desmond (6-for-22, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 4 R)

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Cole Hamels (W, 8.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 K)

1. Chicago Cubs (82-47, Previous: 1)

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    Kris Bryant
    Kris BryantCaylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 4-2

    The Cubs dropped two of three to the Dodgers over the weekend, but that's not enough to drop them from the top spot in the rankings.

    Even with that series loss, they wrapped up their West Coast road trip at 5-4. Now they're headed back to Wrigley Field, where they've gone an impressive 45-19 on the year.

    Kris Bryant continued to bolster his case for NL MVP honors with another big week, and he's now hitting .305/.398/.588 with 31 doubles, 35 home runs and 89 RBI.

    He's been nothing short of spectacular in August with a .385/.459/.750 line that includes nine home runs and 21 RBI. He's put some distance between himself and teammate Anthony Rizzo, as well as the rest of the crop of NL MVP candidates, in the process.

    A struggling Jason Hammel might be the biggest cause for concern right now, as he made it just 2.1 innings in his latest start after allowing 10 hits and 10 runs (six earned) over 3.1 innings in his previous start.

    Hitter of the Week

    • 3B Kris Bryant (9-for-21, 2 2B, 4 HR, 6 RBI, 8 R)

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Jake Arrieta (W, 8.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 6 K)

    All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted. Hitter and pitcher of the week stats cover games played from Aug. 22 through Aug. 28.

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