MLB Power Rankings: Where All 30 Teams Stand with 1 Week to Go

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistSeptember 26, 2016

MLB Power Rankings: Where All 30 Teams Stand with 1 Week to Go

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    Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

    We've arrived at the final week of the 2016 MLB regular season.

    Baseball feels unimportant after the news early Sunday morning that Miami Marlins ace Jose Fernandez had died in a boating accident, but the pennant push continues on.

    The Chicago Cubs, Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers have all clinched their respective divisions on the National League side, leaving a three-team race between the New York Mets, San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals for two wild-card spots.

    On the American League side, the Texas Rangers have clinched the AL West, and the Boston Red Sox have clinched a playoff spot, while the Cleveland Indians' magic numbers sits at one to claim the AL Central crown.

    That leaves the Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles and Detroit Tigers as the leaders in the wild-card standings, with the Seattle Mariners and Houston Astros not out of the running either.

    Meanwhile, non-contenders are taking a long look at some of their young talent while trying to play the role of spoiler, and the Atlanta Braves remain one of the better stories of the second half as they continue to play well.

    At any rate, there was a good deal of shuffling in this week's rankings (like always) as we head down the homestretch.

    One thing remains true: These rankings are a fluid process as teams move 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. Minnesota Twins (56-100, Previous: 30)

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    SP Tyler Duffey
    SP Tyler DuffeyRick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 1-5

    The Minnesota Twins became the first team in baseball to reach 100 losses on Sunday.

    Only one other time since its move to Minnesota in 1961 has the team lost 100 gamesa 60-102 showing from the 1982 clubso the Twins will need to finish strong to avoid surpassing them in futility.

    The monster second-half numbers of Brian Dozier have been the big story in Minnesota from a national standpoint, but looking to the future, the recent play of Byron Buxton also deserves some attention.

    After a .193/.247/.315 start to the year in 218 plate appearances, Buxton is hitting .288/.337/.625 with four doubles, seven home runs, 16 RBI and 16 runs scored over 87 plate appearances in September.

    That could prove to be a jumping off point to a breakout 2017 season for the ultra-talented 22-year-old.

    Hitter of the Week

    • DH Miguel Sano (5-for-14, 2 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R)

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Tyler Duffey (W, 7.0 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K)

    Jose Fernandez career vs. MIN: 2 GS, 0-1, 4.50 ERA, 1.500 WHIP, 5 K, 10.0 IP

29. Arizona Diamondbacks (64-91, Previous: 25)

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    1B Paul Goldschmidt
    1B Paul GoldschmidtJoe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 1-5

    The 2016 season is mercifully coming to a close for the Arizona Diamondbacks, as no team has fallen further from expectations. They're now limping to the finish line with a 2-7 record in their last nine games.

    The struggles from a win-loss perspective have overshadowed breakout seasons from Jake Lamb (.838 OPS, 28 HR, 89 RBI), Yasmany Tomas (.808 OPS, 29 HR, 75 RBI) and Robbie Ray (8-14, 4.77 ERA, 215 K, 169.2 IP), and that trio will play a significant role going forward.

    Zack Greinke will wrap up his first season in a D-backs uniform at 13-7 with a 4.37 ERA and 1.273 WHIP in 158.2 innings. He's not expected to pitch again this year after suffering a right shoulder injury in his last start.

    There's still an abundance of talent on this roster, and how the D-backs approach the upcoming offseason after being so aggressive last winter will be worth watching.

    Hitter of the Week

    • 1B Paul Goldschmidt (9-for-20, 1 2B, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 5 R)

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Zack Greinke (ND, 6.0 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K)

    Jose Fernandez career vs. ARI: 4 GS, 2-2, 4.26 ERA, 0.987 WHIP, 30 K, 25.1 IP

28. Cincinnati Reds (65-90, Previous: 27)

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    LF Jose Peraza
    LF Jose PerazaTroy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 2-4

    The Cincinnati Reds managed to win their weekend series with the Milwaukee Brewers, but that came on the heels of being swept by the Chicago Cubs.

    That wraps up a season of complete head-to-head domination by the Cubs, as they won the season series 13-3 and outscored the Reds by a staggering 125-55 clip over those 16 games.

    Joey Votto now has a ridiculous .407/.496/.645 line since the All-Star break, and he should once again receive some back-end NL MVP support.

    Looking to the future, a .378/.396/.512 line from Jose Peraza in 134 plate appearances since he returned from the minors on Aug. 20 is promising.

    Deciding where the speedy 22-year-old fits best defensively and clearing a path for him to see everyday at-bats will no doubt be on the offseason to-do list. He's seen time at shortstop, center field, second base and left field.

    Hitter of the Week

    • LF Jose Peraza (9-for-23, 1 3B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 4 R)

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Tim Adleman (ND, 6.1 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 5 K)

    Jose Fernandez career vs. CIN: 5 GS, 2-2, 3.72 ERA, 1.276 WHIP, 32 K, 29.0 IP

27. Tampa Bay Rays (65-90, Previous: 23)

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    1B Brad Miller
    1B Brad MillerKim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 1-5

    The Tampa Bay Rays have had as much of a chance to play spoiler as any team in baseball, but they've been unable to make waves in the AL playoff picture.

    Aside from a series win over the Blue Jays in Toronto a couple of weeks back, they've been mostly quiet this month, including a series loss to the New York Yankees and a sweep by the Boston Red Sox last week.

    The team has long been searching for a second power threat to help support Evan Longoria in the middle of the lineup, and few would have guessed that Brad Miller would emerge as that guy in 2016.

    Miller, 26, has posted an .803 OPS with 28 doubles, 30 home runs and 81 RBI after starting the season with just 29 career home runs in 1,243 MLB plate appearances.

    "I don't think anybody penciled in he was going to hit 30 home runs," manager Kevin Cash told reporters. "But we knew this guy could hit and were very confident that he was going to be a big part of our offense. And he's proven to be all of that and more."

    Hitter of the Week

    • 1B Brad Miller (8-for-22, 2 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 3 R)

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Drew Smyly (ND, 6.0 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K)

    Jose Fernandez career vs. TB: 3 GS, 1-2, 3.86 ERA, 1.592 WHIP, 27 K, 16.1 IP

26. San Diego Padres (66-90, Previous: 28)

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    SP Christian Friedrich
    SP Christian FriedrichJake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 4-3

    The San Diego Padres have gone 7-6 in their last 13 games, including 5-2 against the San Francisco Giants, who they just finished splitting their four-game weekend series against.

    That's been enough to throw a wrench into the Giants' pursuit of a wild-card spot, making it a successful couple of weeks for a team in the position of spoiler.

    On an individual level, a breakout season from Wil Myers has been the highlight of the season for the Friars.

    The 25-year-old has posted an .806 OPS with 28 doubles, 28 home runs, 92 RBI and 28 stolen bases, giving the Padres their first 20/20 player since Will Venable in 2013.

    On the pitching side, left-hander Christian Friedrich has turned some heads of late, twirling seven strong innings in two of his last three starts. The 29-year-old has made a strong case to be part of next year's rotation and could be one to keep an eye on as a potential breakout candidate.

    Hitter of the Week

    • 1B Wil Myers (6-for-23, 1 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 6 R)

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Christian Friedrich (L, 7.0 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 6 K)

    Jose Fernandez career vs. SD: 4 GS, 2-1, 1.75 ERA, 0.818 WHIP, 33 K, 25.2 IP

25. Oakland Athletics (67-88, Previous: 22)

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    SP Jharel Cotton
    SP Jharel CottonKelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 1-5

    A 6-1 performance two weeks ago sent the Oakland Athletics climbing, but they slide back down a few spots after the Houston Astros swept them and the Texas Rangers won two out of three last week.

    For an Oakland team that is always looking to get younger and cheaper, strong performances from third baseman Ryon Healy (254 PA, .303 BA, .855 OPS, 12 HR, 33 RBI) and catcher Bruce Maxwell (82 PA, .284 BA, .733 OPS, 1 HR, 13 RBI) should earn them both significant roles in 2017.

    On the pitching side, Jharel Cotton has gone 2-0 with a 1.44 ERA, 0.680 WHIP and 16 strikeouts in 25 innings since being acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers at the deadline and debuting earlier this month.

    "You know they're trying to be aggressive and get on his fastball before he can get to his offspeed stuff, and he just continues to impress all the way around with his composure, the mix of pitches, not afraid of the stage and who he's facing. We have a good one here," manager Bob Melvin told reporters.

    The A's close out their season on the road after wrapping up their home slate at 34-47.

    Hitter of the Week

    • C Bruce Maxwell (5-for-14, 1 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R)

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Jharel Cotton (W, ND, 13.0 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 11 K)

    Jose Fernandez career vs. OAK: None

24. Atlanta Braves (63-92, Previous: 29)

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    1B Freddie Freeman
    1B Freddie FreemanDale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 5-1

    The Atlanta Braves have quietly been playing some good baseball, going 7-1 in their last eight games.

    Josh Collmenter threw seven innings of five-hit, two-run ball last week in his second start with the Braves, and it appears the team may have picked up a useful arm when it acquired the veteran from the Chicago Cubs. He's controllable through next season, so expect him to factor into the 2017 plans in some capacity.

    Then there's Matt Kemp, who has hit a healthy .287/.341/.508 with 13 doubles, 10 home runs and 35 RBI in 50 games since the Braves acquired him.

    The Braves were 37-68 and averaging 3.43 runs per game prior to Kemp's debut on Aug. 2. Since then, they've gone 26-24 and have averaged 5.14 run per game, so he's been a clear difference-maker.

    Turner Field will host its final series this upcoming weekend when the Braves welcome the Detroit Tigers to town. That series could have serious playoff implications if the AL wild-card picture continues to be a jumbled mess.

    Hitter of the Week

    • 1B Freddie Freeman (11-for-22, 3 2B, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 5 R)

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Julio Teheran (W, 7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K)

    Jose Fernandez career vs. ATL: 9 GS, 5-2, 3.22 ERA, 0.938 WHIP, 61 K, 58.2 IP

23. Los Angeles Angels (69-87, Previous: 26)

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    SP Ricky Nolasco
    SP Ricky NolascoRobert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 4-3

    The battle to avoid the AL West cellar rages on, as the Los Angeles Angels have once again climbed to fourth place in the division after taking three of four from the Houston Astros over the weekend.

    Albert Pujols put together another strong week and now has 16 home runs and 58 RBI in 64 games since the All-Star break. Those 58 RBI are good for second in the AL during that span, trailing only the red-hot Hanley Ramirez (62).

    Looking ahead to next season, Ricky Nolasco has been a pleasant surprise since coming over from the Minnesota Twins at the trade deadline.

    The 33-year-old threw seven scoreless innings last time out and now has a 3.60 ERA and 1.092 WHIP in 10 starts with the Angels. He's signed for $12 million next season with a $13 million option for 2018 and could generate some legitimate interest on the trade market or be a key piece of the 2017 rotation.

    The Angels are at home against the Athletics and Astros to wrap up the 2016 season.

    Hitter of the Week

    • DH Albert Pujols (10-for-28, 2 2B, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 5 R)

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Ricky Nolasco (W, 7.0 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K)

    Jose Fernandez career vs. LAA: None

22. Milwaukee Brewers (70-86, Previous: 21)

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    RF Domingo Santana
    RF Domingo SantanaBenny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 2-4

    The Milwaukee Brewers have already clinched a better record than they had a year ago when they went 68-94, though last week was not a good one, as they suffered series losses to the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds.

    This team may still be a couple of years away from returning to contention, but there have been plenty of positive takeaways at the MLB level, and the farm system now ranks as one of the best in baseball.

    Jonathan Villar (.280 BA, .802 OPS, 35 2B, 16 HR, 59 SB) and Chris Carter (.807 OPS, 38 HR, 90 RBI) have both exceeded expectations at the plate, and the team might try to sell high on one or both of them this winter.

    The pitching staff still lacks a present and future ace, but Junior Guerra (20 GS, 9-3, 2.81 ERA) came out of nowhere to emerge as the team's best starter, and Zach Davies (28 GS, 11-7, 3.97 ERA) looks to have a bright future.

    Now for an offseason of Ryan Braun trade rumors...and perhaps finally a trade.

    Hitter of the Week

    • RF Domingo Santana (5-for-21, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R)

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Chase Anderson (W, 5.2 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K)

    Jose Fernandez career vs. MIL: 1 GS, 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1.143 WHIP, 11 K, 7.0 IP

21. Chicago White Sox (74-81, Previous: 20)

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    3B Todd Frazier
    3B Todd FrazierRick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 2-4

    The Chicago White Sox's pursuit of a winning record came to an end Friday when the Cleveland Indians dealt them loss No. 81, but they managed to take the next two games and the series against the AL Central leaders.

    Todd Frazier slugged two more home runs last week, giving him 39 on the year, which is good for sixth in the AL. He also has the most ever by a White Sox third baseman, surpassing the 34 hit by Robin Ventura in 1996.

    A rough start from Chris Sale (4.0 IP, 7 H, 6 ER) snapped a string of six straight starts in which he'd gone at least eight innings; it also dealt a blow to his AL Cy Young hopes.

    He's lined up to pitch again against the Rays on Tuesday and then the Twins on Sunday in the finale, so he has a chance to make a final push for the award. He enters the week at 16-9 with a 3.19 ERA (sixth in AL), 1.025 WHIP (third in AL) and 220 strikeouts (fifth in AL) in 214.2 innings (third in AL).

    The White Sox need three more wins to surpass last season's total.

    Hitter of the Week

    • 3B Todd Frazier (9-for-23, 2 2B, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 7 R)

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Jose Quintana (W, 6.0 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 2 K)

    Jose Fernandez career vs. CWS: None

20. Philadelphia Phillies (70-86, Previous: 24)

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    SP Jerad Eickhoff
    SP Jerad EickhoffDale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 3-3

    The Philadelphia Phillies have already won seven more games than they did a year ago, and they'll be looking to tack on to that total in the season's final week.

    First, they'll need to recover from a 17-0 shellacking at the hands of the New York Mets on Sunday.

    Jerad Eickhoff was a secondary piece of last year's Cole Hamels trade, and he's rarely talked about as one of the game's promising young starters, but the 26-year-old has gone 11-14 with a 3.75 ERA and 1.190 WHIP in a team-high 187.1 innings of work.

    "He always has control of the game. He has good pace. He's got a good breaking ball. He reminds me a little bit of (Roy) Halladay when I played some games behind him," shortstop Freddy Galvis told reporters. "Just the way he throws strikes, his work, his work ethic. The tempo is almost the same, the way he controls the game."

    Galvis has also been a pleasant surprise this season, slugging 25 doubles and 20 home runs after entering the season with just 20 career home runs in 1,153 plate appearances.

    Hitter of the Week

    • 3B Maikel Franco (9-for-25, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 5 R)

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Jerad Eickhoff (W, 7.0 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 6 K)

    Jose Fernandez career vs. PHI: 6 GS, 1-1, 2.88 ERA, 1.019 WHIP, 42 K, 34.1 IP

19. Colorado Rockies (73-83, Previous: 18)

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    2B DJ LeMahieu
    2B DJ LeMahieuRon Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 1-6

    Another team that has come up short in its pursuit of a winning record, the Colorado Rockies endured a tough week, as they dropped two of three to the St. Louis Cardinals and then got swept in a four-game set with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

    DJ LeMahieu rapped out nine more hits last week, giving him 191 on the season to go along with his NL-best .350 batting average. Daniel Murphy (.347 BA) has been sidelined since Tuesday with a strained buttocks, so it will be interesting to see how the NL batting title race plays out.

    Meanwhile, Nolan Arenado leads the NL in home runs (40) and RBI (129). He has the RBI title locked up but will need to hold off Kris Bryant (38) and Chris Carter (38) for the home run crown.

    Rookie German Marquez made his first career start Wednesday, allowing four hits and one run over five innings. The Rockies acquired the 21-year-old from the Tampa Bay Rays in the Corey Dickerson deal, and he's been one of the fastest-rising prospects in the system this year.

    A big three-game series with the wild-card hopeful San Francisco Giants kicks off the week, before the Rockies play three games at home against the Milwaukee Brewers to finish up the regular-season slate.

    Hitter of the Week

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

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP German Marquez (W, 5.0 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K)

    Jose Fernandez career vs. COL: 3 GS, 3-0, 1.35 ERA, 0.800 WHIP, 25 K, 20.0 IP

18. Miami Marlins (77-78, Previous: 19)

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    SP Jose Fernandez
    SP Jose FernandezSteve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 3-3

    The Miami Marlins' on-field performance takes an obvious back seat to the devastating news that ace Jose Fernandez died in a boating accident early Sunday morning.

    Manager Don Mattingly told reporters:

    There was just joy with him when he played. When he pitched, I think that's what the guys would say, too, as mad as he would make you with some of the stuff he'd do, you'd see that little kid you see when you watch kids play Little League or something like that. That's the joy that Jose played with and the passion he felt about playing.

    Sunday's game with the Atlanta Braves was cancelled, but the team will return to action Monday when the New York Mets come to town.

    "There will be a game [Monday]," team president David Samson told reporters. "When the team got together, one of the first things talked about was the way Jose played and the way he was on the field. That is how these guys can honor Jose and all of us can."

    Our thoughts are with his family, friends, teammates and everyone affected by this tragedy.

    Hitter of the Week

    • UT Derek Dietrich (3-for-7, 1 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 3 R)

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Jose Fernandez (W, 8.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 12 K)

17. Pittsburgh Pirates (77-78, Previous: 17)

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    SP Chad Kuhl
    SP Chad KuhlCharles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 3-3

    The Pittsburgh Pirates split last week with a series win over the Milwaukee Brewers and a series loss to the Washington Nationals, leaving one of the most disappointing teams of 2016 at one game under .500 heading into the final week.

    Andrew McCutchen has finally gotten hot, as he's working on a 13-game hitting streak, but it's too little, too late from the face of the franchise who has struggled to perform up to his usual elite level for most of the season.

    Right-hander Ivan Nova has been a nice surprise since coming over in a deadline deal from the New York Yankees, going 5-2 with a 3.49 ERA, 1.129 WHIP and 47 strikeouts to three walks in 10 starts to boost his free-agent stock.

    The Pirates have already opened talks on a potential extension and are trying to come to terms on a new deal before he hits the open market, according to Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

    Hitter of the Week

    • CF Andrew McCutchen (10-for-25, 3 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 3 R)

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Chad Kuhl (W, 6.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K)

    Jose Fernandez career vs. PIT: 3 GS, 2-0, 1.80 ERA, 0.850 WHIP, 24 K, 20.0 IP

16. New York Yankees (79-76, Previous: 14)

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    C Gary Sanchez
    C Gary SanchezPeter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 2-4

    The New York Yankees have essentially fallen out of the postseason hunt after going 3-11 in their last 14 games, leaving them 5.5 games back for the second wild-card spot.

    It's a disappointing slide after such an impressive push to climb back into contention, but at the end of the day, this has been a wildly successful second half for a team that sold at the deadline and added a wealth of young talent in the process.

    Gary Sanchez, a homegrown young talent, has to be considered a legitimate AL Rookie of the Year candidate with his .322/.397/.706 line in 47 games that includes 12 doubles and 19 home runs.

    Detroit Tigers starter Michael Fulmer (25 GS, 11-7, 2.95 ERA) and Cleveland Indians outfielder Tyler Naquin (.900 OPS, 18 2B, 14 HR, 42 RBI) would appear to be his biggest competition.

    The Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles await this coming week, so the Yankees can still play a role in determining how the AL East shakes out.

    Hitter of the Week

    • C Gary Sanchez (6-for-21, 1 2B, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 4 R)

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP CC Sabathia (ND, 7.0 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 2 K)

    Jose Fernandez career vs. NYY: None

15. Kansas City Royals (79-77, Previous: 15)

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    DH Kendrys Morales
    DH Kendrys MoralesPeter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 3-4

    A series win over the Detroit Tigers was a nice way to close out the week for the Kansas City Royals, but it came on the heels of a three-game sweep by the Cleveland Indians.

    That leaves the Royals all but eliminated at six games back in the wild-card standings, as they've stumbled in September after soaring back into contention with a 20-9 month of August.

    Kendrys Morales has been the team's best hitter for much of the year, posting an .807 OPS with 30 home runs and 92 RBI, and that almost certainly means he'll be declining his end of an $11 million mutual option in the offseason.

    Edinson Volquez also has a $10 million mutual option, while Lorenzo Cain and Mike Moustakas are facing free agency following the 2017 season, so the team has some big decisions to make.

    At any rate, the 2016 season has not been the encore performance the Royals were hoping for after their impressive run to a World Series title a year ago, and change is coming one way or another for this team.

    Hitter of the Week

    • DH Kendrys Morales (10-for-28, 1 2B, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 5 R)

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Yordano Ventura (W, ND, 13.0 IP, 19 H, 6 ER, 3 BB, 11 K)

    Jose Fernandez career vs. KC: 2 GS, 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.857 WHIP, 15 K, 14.0 IP

14. San Francisco Giants (82-74, Previous: 13)

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    SP Jeff Samardzija
    SP Jeff SamardzijaJake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 3-4

    A series loss to the rival Los Angeles Dodgers and a four-game split with the San Diego Padres leave the San Francisco Giants clinging to a half-game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals for the second NL wild-card spot.

    The Giants looked like arguably the best team in baseball heading into the All-Star break, but they’ve gone a dreadful 25-41 with a minus-16 run differential in the second half and have struggled to find any semblance of momentum.

    Losing Johnny Cueto to a groin strain has made their task that much more difficult, as he was scratched from his Sunday start and ruled out for Tuesday as well, which is significant.

    "It’s a big deal that Bochy ruled out Cueto to return Tuesday," wrote Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News. "If the All-Star right-hander had been able to make that start, the Giants could have gotten two regular-season outings from him instead of one. He could’ve been lined up to pitch the regular-season finale on Oct. 2."

    The Giants open the week with three games against the Colorado Rockies before closing out the year against the rival Dodgers, who would love nothing more than to drive that final nail into the coffin.

    Hitter of the Week

    • 1B Brandon Belt (5-for-22, 2 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R)

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Jeff Samardzija (W, 7.0 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 9 K)

    Jose Fernandez career vs. SF: 3 GS, 1-1, 4.00 ERA, 1.389 WHIP, 17 K, 18.0 IP

13. Seattle Mariners (82-73, Previous: 9)

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    DH Nelson Cruz
    DH Nelson CruzGary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 3-3

    The Seattle Mariners enter the week 2.5 games back in the wild-card standings, following a series loss to the Toronto Blue Jays and a series win over the Minnesota Twins.

    Ace Felix Hernandez has not been himself for much of the year, pitching to a 4.19 ERA in the second half, but he was sharp his last time out with just two hits allowed in seven scoreless innings. They'll need him pitching up to snuff to have any shot at sneaking into the playoffs.

    Kyle Seager is one home run shy of giving the team three 30-homer players alongside Nelson Cruz (41) and Robinson Cano (33). Plus, all three players could also surpass 100 RBI, as Cano (92) and Seager (96) are closing in and Cruz (100) is already there.

    Those three have been the headliners, but the offense as a whole has been vastly improved this year, with the scoring output improving from 4.05 to 4.71 runs per game.

    A big series with the Astros in Houston kicks off the season's final week, and then they head home to host the Oakland Athletics, who they've gone 10-5 with a plus-22 run differential against so far this year.

    Hitter of the Week

    • DH Nelson Cruz (6-for-22, 2 2B, 4 HR, 8 RBI, 5 R)

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Felix Hernandez (ND, 7.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 4 K)

    Jose Fernandez career vs. SEA: None

12. Houston Astros (82-74, Previous: 12)

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    RF George Springer
    RF George SpringerTroy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 4-3

    The Houston Astros looked poised to make a serious push up the wild-card standings after sweeping the Oakland Athletics at the start of last week, but they followed that up by dropping three of four to the Los Angeles Angels.

    That leaves them three games back with three teams to pass to move into the No. 2 wild-card spot, and one of those teams is the Seattle Mariners, who come to town for a three-game series starting on Monday.

    Joe Musgrove and Brad Peacock have stepped up for the starting rotation in the absence of Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers, and the team suffered another blow over the weekend when closer Ken Giles took a line drive to the wrist in batting practice.

    Jose Altuve has reached the 200-hit mark for a third consecutive season and carries a .337/.395/.536 line with 41 doubles, 24 home runs, 94 RBI and 104 runs scored into the final week of the season.

    It remains a long shot at this point, but Mike Fires lines up to be the starter if the Astros were to reach the Wild Card Round.

    Hitter of the Week

    • RF George Springer (12-for-30, 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 RBI, 2 R)

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Joe Musgrove (W, ND, 12.1 IP, 9 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 8 K)

    Jose Fernandez career vs. BAL: None

11. Detroit Tigers (83-72, Previous: 16)

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    LF Justin Upton
    LF Justin UptonKen Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 4-2

    If any team can break up the AL East postseason party, it's the Detroit Tigers.

    They had a five-game winning streak snapped Saturday and ended up losing their weekend series to the Kansas City Royals with another loss Sunday, but they are still within striking distance at just 1.5 games back in the wild-card standings.

    Justin Upton, who has struggled in his first season with the Tigers after signing a six-year, $132.75 million deal in the offseason, has finally gotten hot with a 1.109 OPS, 10 home runs and 23 RBI so far in September.

    With New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez coming on strong, Michael Fulmer turned in a nice start last time out with seven innings of one-run ball to remain the AL Rookie of the Year front-runner. His 2.95 ERA is tops in the AL, as he just barely qualifies with 155.2 innings of work.

    The Tigers have four games at home against the Cleveland Indians before heading to Atlanta for a three-game set with the Braves to close out the year.

    Hitter of the Week

    • LF Justin Upton (10-for-25, 3 2B, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 6 R)

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Michael Fulmer (W, 7.0 IP, 8 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 9 K)

    Jose Fernandez career vs. DET: 1 GS, 0-1, 7.94 ERA, 1.059 WHIP, 13 K, 5.2 IP

10. St. Louis Cardinals (81-74, Previous: 10)

21 of 30

    SP Carlos Martinez
    SP Carlos MartinezIsaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 3-3

    The St. Louis Cardinals could take only one game from the rival Chicago Cubs in their three-game weekend series, leaving them with a split for the week and a half-game deficit to overcome in the NL wild-card standings.

    Now the Redbirds will head home to take on the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates as they look to overcome their puzzling struggles at Busch Stadium, where they're just 33-41 with a minus-13 run differential on the year.

    Ace Carlos Martinez started Sunday, which means he's lined up for one more regular-season start Friday. That would give him a normal four days of rest going into the Wild Card Round on Oct. 5, assuming the Cardinals advance that far.

    Jaime Garcia has returned to the rotation after a brief demotion to the bullpen, replacing rookie Luke Weaver, and he'll take the ball Monday against the Reds.

    The postseason rotation right now would seemingly be Martinez, Adam Wainwright and rookie Alex Reyes, with Garcia making his case to be the No. 4 guy ahead of Mike Leake.

    Hitter of the Week

    • CF Randal Grichuk (7-for-23, 3 2B, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 6 R)

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Carlos Martinez (W, L, 11.0 IP, 11 H, 4 ER, 7 BB, 12 K)

    Jose Fernandez career vs. STL: 3 GS, 1-2, 5.00 ERA, 1.333 WHIP, 24 K, 18.0 IP

9. Baltimore Orioles (85-71, Previous: 7)

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    1B Trey Mancini
    1B Trey ManciniMatt Hazlett/Getty Images

    Last Week: 3-4

    The Baltimore Orioles have been spinning their tires for the better part of a month, going 15-15 over their last 30 games with a minus-six run differential.

    The AL East-leading Boston Red Sox swept them in a four-game series at the start of last week, but the O's bounced back to take three straight from the Arizona Diamondbacks.

    That leaves the O's with a 1.5-game cushion over the Detroit Tigers for the second wild-card spot.

    Prospect Trey Mancini has made an impact as a late-season call-up, going 5-for-11 with three big home runs to kick off his MLB career.

    "It’s been incredible, you know?" Mancini told reporters. "I could never imagine it happening this way, and it’s still hard to believe. A week ago, I was down in Florida prepared for this, but it’s cool, a week later, with everything that’s happened, to be here in Baltimore and to contribute to it, to a postseason run."

    A road trip to take on the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees is how the Orioles will look to punch their playoff ticket.

    Hitter of the Week

    • 1B Trey Mancini (5-for-11, 1 2B, 3 HR, 5 RBI, 3 R)

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Wade Miley (W, 8.2 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 11 K)

    Jose Fernandez career vs. BAL: None

8. New York Mets (83-73, Previous: 8)

23 of 30

    SP Robert Gsellman
    SP Robert GsellmanBrad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 3-4

    Despite all of the injuries, the New York Mets enter the final week of the regular season with a 1.5-game cushion in the wild-card standings.

    The offense exploded for 17 runs Sunday, overshadowing another brilliant start from rookie Robert Gsellman, who allowed just three hits in seven shutout innings.

    Noah Syndergaard would be the obvious choice to start the Wild Card Game, with Bartolo Colon, Gsellman and Seth Lugo likely making up the rest of the postseason rotation if they were to advance that far.

    That's not exactly a staff overflowing with experience, even with Colon having pitched alongside Cy Young, but sometimes ignorance is bliss, and it's hard to argue with the momentum that New York's unheralded young starters have built down the stretch.

    The Miami Marlins and Philadelphia Phillies make up what's left of the regular-season schedule, with both series coming away from Citi Field.

    Hitter of the Week

    • SS Asdrubal Cabrera (10-for-27, 1 2B, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 5 R)

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Robert Gsellman (W, L, 12.1 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 14 K)

    Jose Fernandez career vs. NYM: 8 GS, 3-0, 1.34 ERA, 0.979 WHIP, 59 K, 47.0 IP

7. Toronto Blue Jays (86-69, Previous: 11)

24 of 30

    SP Marcus Stroman
    SP Marcus StromanGary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 5-1

    The Toronto Blue Jays were fading fast with a 1-6 stretch of games to kick off the month of September, but they've gone 9-6 since and kicked things into gear last week with a series win over the Seattle Mariners and a sweep of the New York Yankees.

    With Marco Estrada battling a herniated disk in his back and the team still being careful with Aaron Sanchez, the rest of the starting rotation needed to step up.

    Marcus Stroman did his part last time out, allowing just one hit over seven scoreless innings, and getting him pitching at a high level would be a huge boon to their October plans. Estrada also threw the ball well Sunday with seven innings of one-run ball.

    Francisco Liriano has also proved to be a huge addition, going 2-2 with a 3.35 ERA in seven starts since coming over from the Pittsburgh Pirates at the deadline, and the starting pitching as a whole once again looks like a strength after a brief bump in the road.

    With a 1.5-game lead for the No. 1 wild-card spot and a three-game cushion in the wild-card standings, the Blue Jays have some wiggle room as they get set to take on the Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox to finish out the year.

    Hitter of the Week

    • RF Jose Bautista (8-for-21, 2 2B, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 5 R)

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Marcus Stroman (ND, 7.0 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 5 K)

    Jose Fernandez career vs. TOR: None

6. Cleveland Indians (90-65, Previous: 5)

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    DH Carlos Santana
    DH Carlos SantanaDavid Richard-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 4-2

    All signs point to the Cleveland Indians being the next team to clinch a playoff spot, as their magic number stands at one to lock up the AL Central title.

    A sweep of the Kansas City Royals last week was followed by a series loss to the Chicago White Sox, and they are now 1.5 games behind both the Boston Red Sox and Texas Rangers for the best record in the AL.

    He won't win the award, but Carlos Santana should get plenty of lower-ballot support for AL MVP, as he boasts an .851 OPS with 34 home runs and 83 RBI.

    They don't get the attention of combinations such as Kris Bryant/Anthony Rizzo or Mookie Betts/David Ortiz, but Santana and Mike Napoli (.812 OPS, 34 HR, 100 RBI) have been one of the most productive run-producing duos in the league.

    The big question here is still the starting rotation with both Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco sidelined, but two solid starts from Josh Tomlin last week were a good sign.

    Hitter of the Week

    • DH Carlos Santana (11-for-24, 3 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 5 R)

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Josh Tomlin (ND, L, 13.1 IP, 10 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K)

    Jose Fernandez career vs. CLE: 2 GS, 1-1, 3.95 ERA, 1.317 WHIP, 19 K, 13.2 IP

5. Washington Nationals (91-64, Previous: 2)

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    C Wilson Ramos
    C Wilson RamosCharles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 3-3

    The Washington Nationals clinched their third NL East title in five years Saturday, and now they'll turn their attention to getting healthy and sorting out the postseason rotation.

    Daniel Murphy has been sidelined since Sept. 20 with a strained buttocks, and the team has no reason to rush him back to action, aside from the fact that his .347 batting average puts him well within striking distance of the NL batting title, as DJ LeMahieu leads the league with a .351 clip.

    While this year's Nationals team has its fair share of stars, there's no question that the NL East championship took a team effort.

    "You can look at everybody on the team and say that guy’s the reason why we’re here. That’s what good teams are about. We’ve got our potential MVP candidate. We’ve got our potential Cy Young award winner. But everybody’s contributed," outfielder Jayson Werth said, per John Perrotto of the Associated Press (via Raycom).

    The big question now is if and when Stephen Strasburg will be available, as he is dealing with a flexor mass strain, and who follows Max Scherzer and Tanner Roark in the rotation if he's unable to go.

    Hitter of the Week

    • C Wilson Ramos (9-for-22, 2 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R)

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Tanner Roark (L, 7.0 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 5 K)

    Jose Fernandez career vs. WAS: 10 GS, 7-0, 0.99 ERA, 0.848 WHIP, 84 K, 63.2 IP

4. Los Angeles Dodgers (90-66, Previous: 6)

27 of 30

    SP Clayton Kershaw
    SP Clayton KershawJayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 6-1

    The Los Angeles Dodgers gave legendary announcer Vin Scully the perfect send-off in his final broadcast at Dodger Stadium on Sunday, delivering a walk-off win to clinch the NL West title.

    Shortstop Corey Seager has long been the favorite for NL Rookie of the Year, and manager Dave Roberts may also be the favorite to take home Manager of the Year honors, as he's guided the team through a record number of injuries.

    "The thing I'm most pleased with is we've made no excuses and we've persevered," Roberts told reporters. "We've got a tough group of players. In life and in sports, there's always talk about accountability and reasons why you don't have success, but our guys don't have that, and I think that's the thing I can hang my hat on."

    Los Angeles can now line up for the postseason, with lefties Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill the likely choices to front the October rotation.

    Behind those two, Kenta Maeda is a safe bet to be the No. 3 guy, with the No. 4 gig up for grabs, as Scott Kazmir, Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson have all returned to action in recent days.

        

    Hitter of the Week

    • C Yasmani Grandal (7-for-17, 1 2B, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 4 R)

        

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Clayton Kershaw (W, ND, 13.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 13 K)

        

    Jose Fernandez career vs. LAD: 5 GS, 4-0, 32.0 IP, 2.25 ERA, 1.250 WHIP, 47 K

3. Texas Rangers (92-64, Previous: 3)

28 of 30

    SP Yu Darvish
    SP Yu DarvishJerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 4-2

    The Texas Rangers became the first AL team to clinch its division Friday with a 3-0 victory over the Oakland Athletics, but they have plenty of play for in the final week with home-field advantage still up for grabs.

    They are tied with the Boston Red Sox for the best record in the AL, and with a 50-25 record at home this season, an extra playoff game in Arlington could make all the difference.

    "It's important to start, no matter who you're playing, at home," third baseman Adrian Beltre told reporters. "Obviously, we went through a tough series with Toronto last year, and we played the last game at their place. Sometimes when you play at your place it's a little easier for you because you get the fans behind you and you're more familiar with the stadium you play in."

    Cole Hamels, Yu Darvish and Martin Perez will likely fill the first three spots in the playoff rotation for the Rangers, but the No. 4 gig is up for grabs.

    Colby Lewis, A.J. Griffin and Derek Holland are options to make what could be a crucial start, and the final week of the season could go a long way toward determining who gets the nod.

        

    Hitter of the Week

    • SS Elvis Andrus (7-for-17, 1 2B, 3 HR, 5 RBI, 5 R)

        

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Yu Darvish (W, 7.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K)

        

    Jose Fernandez career vs. TEX: None

2. Boston Red Sox (92-64, Previous: 4)

29 of 30

    SP Eduardo Rodriguez
    SP Eduardo RodriguezDavid Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 7-0

    The Chicago Cubs are still the best team in baseball and have done nothing to warrant being bumped from the No. 1 spot, but there's no question the hottest team is the Boston Red Sox.

    The Red Sox enter the season's final week riding an 11-game winning streak, which has helped them build a 5.5-game lead in the AL East. They also clinched a playoff spot Saturday night.

    The starting rotation looks dangerous with Drew Pomeranz and Eduardo Rodriguez both pitching well behind the one-two punch of Rick Porcello and David Price, and the offense has been as good as any in baseball all season.

    Boston could also have the MVP, though voters may be torn between Mookie Betts (.321 BA, .906 OPS, 40 2B, 31 HR, 109 RBI, 26 SB) and David Ortiz (.321 BA, 1.039 OPS, 48 2B, 37 HR, 124 RBI).

    Betts is the more valuable player with a complete set of skills and significant defensive contributions, but Ortiz will no doubt gain some sentimental support in his final season.

        

    Hitter of the Week

    • DH David Ortiz (11-for-28, 1 2B, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 4 R)

        

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Eduardo Rodriguez (W, ND, 11.2 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 20 K)

        

    Jose Fernandez career vs. BOS: None

1. Chicago Cubs (99-56, Previous: 1)

30 of 30

    CF Dexter Fowler
    CF Dexter FowlerTroy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 5-1

    The Chicago Cubs crossed "home-field advantage through the National League Championship Series" off their to-do list last week, picking up victory No. 99 and securing a series win over the rival St. Louis Cardinals with a 3-1 triumph Sunday night.

    Jon Lester worked 6.2 scoreless innings in that game, lowering his season ERA to 2.28 and perhaps making him the favorite for the NL Cy Young Award. He bests teammate Kyle Hendricks in several key peripheral stats, including strikeouts (191 to 161), innings pitched (197.2 to 179.0) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.90 to 3.74).

    Jake Arrieta also looked sharp in his most recent start, striking out 10 over seven scoreless innings. That's a good sign heading into the playoffs, as he had been scuffling a bit.

    It's clear at this point that John Lackey will follow that trio in the postseason rotation, but manager Joe Maddon still has some big decisions to make about who fills out the bullpen and bench once October arrives.

    He's also in an interesting position. He has a chance to rest guys, but he also wants to put his best team on the field behind Lester and Hendricks as they continue to build their Cy Young cases.

    Again, it's a good problem to have.

        

    Hitter of the Week

    • CF Dexter Fowler (9-for-23, 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 7 R)

        

    Pitcher of the Week

    • SP Jon Lester (2 W, 13.2 IP, 9 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 12 K)

        

    Jose Fernandez career vs. CHC: 2 GS, 1-1, 13.0 IP, 2.77 ERA, 1.308 WHIP, 21 K

        

    All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted. Hitter and pitcher of the week stats reflect the week from Monday, Sept. 19, through Sunday, Sept. 25.

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