MLB Power Rankings: Where All 30 Teams Stand as Playoff Race Hits Breaking Point

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistSeptember 17, 2018

Boston Red Sox players celebrate their 4-3 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays in a baseball game at Fenway Park, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018, in Boston. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Elise Amendola/Associated Press

There are just two weeks left in the 2018 MLB regular season, and several division titles and playoff spots are still up for grabs.

Barring a collapse of epic proportions, it looks like the Houston Astros, New York Yankees and Oakland Athletics will join the Boston Red Sox and Cleveland Indians in clinching postseason berths on the American League side of things.

However, there are still six teams fighting for five spots in the National League.

The Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers are both close to locks for a playoff spot, but the NL Central title could come down to the wire. The Atlanta Braves have pulled away from the Philadelphia Phillies in the NL East, but the Los Angeles Dodgers and Colorado Rockies are tied atop the NL West standings, and whoever fails to capture the division crown will have to contend with the St. Louis Cardinals for the final wild-card spot.

At any rate, our weekly power rankings remain a fluid process. Teams will rise and fall based on where they were ranked the previous week. If a team keeps winning, it will keep climbing—it's as simple as that.

Here's where all 30 teams stand:

 Updated Rankings 
1img Boston Red Sox (103-47)img
2img Houston Astros (94-55)img
3img Oakland Athletics (90-60)img
4img Milwaukee Brewers (85-65)img1
5img Chicago Cubs (87-62)img1
6img New York Yankees (91-58)img2
7img Tampa Bay Rays (82-66)img
8img Los Angeles Dodgers (82-68)img3
9img Atlanta Braves (83-66)img1
10img Cleveland Indians (83-66)img2
11img St. Louis Cardinals (82-68)img2
12img Colorado Rockies (82-67)img
13img Seattle Mariners (82-67)img
14img Washington Nationals (76-74)img4
15img Arizona Diamondbacks (78-72)img1
16img Philadelphia Phillies (76-72)img1
17img Pittsburgh Pirates (74-74)img
18img Los Angeles Angels (74-76)img2
19img New York Mets (69-80)img
20img San Francisco Giants (70-80)img
21img Toronto Blue Jays (67-82)img
22img Minnesota Twins (68-81)img
23img Cincinnati Reds (64-86)img2
24img Detroit Tigers (61-88)img1
25img Texas Rangers (64-85)img1
26img San Diego Padres (60-90)img
27img Kansas City Royals (52-97)img2
28img Miami Marlins (58-91)img1
29img Chicago White Sox (59-90)img1
30img Baltimore Orioles (43-106)img

           

Teams That Impressed

Juan Soto
Juan SotoMitchell Leff/Getty Images

The Boston Red Sox became the first team to 100 wins and the first team to clinch a playoff spot last week, sweeping the Toronto Blue Jays before taking two of three from the New York Mets.

The franchise record for wins in a season stands at 105 and was set all the way back in 1912 when Smoky Joe Wood and Tris Speaker led the team to a World Series title.

Meanwhile, the Houston Astros kept pace with a 5-1 week of their own, sweeping the Detroit Tigers and taking two of three from a fading Arizona Diamondbacks squad.

The Astros now hold a 4.5-game lead in the AL West standings, as they look to wrap up a second consecutive division title.

While those two teams had strong weeks and remain perched atop our weekly power rankings, the Washington Nationals might have had the best week of any team.

A three-game sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies and a weekend series win over the Atlanta Braves provided a glimpse of what could have been for a Nats squad that entered the season with title aspirations, only to slip to a distant third in the NL East for much of the year.

Rookie outfielder Juan Soto had another big week at the plate, going 11-for-28 with four home runs and three stolen bases as he tries to cement himself as NL Rookie of the Year favorite. His surprise breakout as a 19-year-old has provided some welcome optimism for a team in flux.

The Tampa Bay Rays continued their red-hot play, scoring series wins over a pair of playoff-bound teams in the Cleveland Indians and Oakland Athletics. If only there was another month in the regular season, they might have time to push their way into the wild-card picture.

They now have an 11-3 record and a plus-32 run differential in September.

The Kansas City Royals are headed for a last-place finish in the lowly AL Central, but they managed to avoid the 100-loss mark for the time being with a 5-2 week that included series wins over the Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins.

The Royals have not lost 100 games since 2006—the third of three-straight season they reached the century mark.

             

Teams That Disappointed

HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 16:  Ketel Marte #4 of the Arizona Diamondbacks can't make the catch on a pop fly by Carlos Correa #1 of the Houston Astros in the eighth inning at Minute Maid Park on September 16, 2018 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Gett
Bob Levey/Getty Images

The New York Yankees suffered series losses to the Twins and Blue Jays last week, and with that, their lead in the wild-card standings has shrunk to 1.5 games over the Athletics.

The right to host that one-game playoff game has actually been of little consequence since its implementation in 2012, with the road team holding a 7-5 edge. Still, no one wants to travel to a hostile environment with their season on the line.

The Cleveland Indians also stumbled to a 2-4 record, though it's tough to say the week was a disappointing one, as they officially clinched a third straight AL Central title on Saturday.

With the division race essentially decided for much of the season and a 6-9 record in September, it will be interesting to see if the Tribe can dial up the intensity in October.

While both of those teams are still headed to the playoffs, a 2-5 week for the Arizona Diamondbacks may have spelled the end of their postseason hopes.

The D-backs entered September with a one-game lead in the NL West, but a disastrous 4-11 record this month has dropped their playoff odds to a minuscule 2.2 percent, according to FanGraphs.

Big changes are coming to their core group during the next two offseasons, and with a relatively thin farm system, their window might close as quickly as it opened.

The Miami Marlins (2-5) and Baltimore Orioles (2-4) were the only other teams to drop both of their series last week.

             

MVPs of the Week

Hitter: Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles Dodgers

Stats: 9-for-21, 1 2B, 5 HR, 9 RBI, 7 R

After a rough month of August when he hit .260/.296/.429 with three home runs in 81 plate appearances, Yasiel Puig has caught fire at the plate for the Dodgers.

The polarizing 27-year-old is hitting a gaudy .367/.457/1.000 with six home runs and 11 RBI in 12 games so far in September, and with the Dodgers chasing both an NL West title and a playoff spot in general, those contributions have been that much more important.

"I feel good at the plate," Puig told reporters. "I'm trying to look for good pitches to hit and trying to hit the ball in the air, like my teammates and my coaches talked to me. They told me I needed to stop hitting ground balls."

Apparently, it's just that simple.

Puig has had his ups and downs since taking the league by storm as a rookie back in 2013, but he's still a dynamic talent capable of carrying a team for stretches when he's hot.

This latest hot streak is coming at the perfect time with the Dodgers tied atop the NL West.

           

Pitcher: Chris Stratton, San Francisco Giants

Stats: 1 GS, W, 9.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K

The San Francisco Giants pitching staff ranks third in the majors with 15 shutouts, but it took until Sept. 14 for the starting staff to record its first complete game shutout when Chris Stratton silenced the Rockies' potent offense.

That performance also helped snap a brutal 11-game losing streak.

Stratton, 28, has quietly put together a decent season for a disappointing Giants squad, going 10-9 with a 4.66 ERA, 1.35 WHIP and 104 strikeouts in 135.1 innings.

He turned some heads last season when he posted a 3.68 ERA over 58.2 innings of work that included 10 starts and three relief appearances, and he's making a strong case of late to be part of the 2019 rotation.

Over his last five starts, he's gone 2-2 with a 2.10 ERA, 0.73 WHIP and a stingy .168 opponents' batting average.

                 

Video Highlights of the Week

Longest Home Run: Trevor Story, Colorado Rockies (471 feet)

Another week, another tape-measure home run from Trevor Story.

After launching a 505-foot blast two weeks ago—the longest home run of the season—Story again recorded the longest home run of the week with this 471-foot shot off Matt Koch.

With that, Story also set a Rockies franchise record for shortstops with his 33rd long ball of the season, surpassing the previous mark set by Troy Tulowitzki in 2009.

Story now has five of the longest home runs of the season, according to the Statcast leaderboard, including another deep one off Koch that checked in at 459 feet.

In fact, Koch has now served up four of the blasts on that list. Franchy Cordero hit a 489-foot bomb off him on April 20, and Story's teammate Nolan Arenado connected on a 464-footer in the same game that Story hit his 471-footer.

                   

Best Defensive Play: Mitch Haniger, Seattle Mariners

This is not the first time Mitch Haniger has delivered the defensive play of the week.

The 27-year-old is enjoying a breakout season at the plate, hitting .282/.363/.493 with 34 doubles, 25 home runs and 89 RBI, and he earned his first All-Star nod this summer.

He's also made an impact with his glove in right field.

While he likely won't unseat Mookie Betts for Gold Glove honors, his 4 DRS and 11 outfield assists (tied with Andrew Benintendi for the AL lead) have made him an asset defensively.

"We get all excited about his bat and the power and the quality at-bats, but he can defend, he can throw, he runs the bases well. He's a heck of a player," manager Scott Servais told reporters.

This highlight-reel catch carried some added significance, as it was the final out of a 3-2 victory over the New York Yankees, with the tying run on first base at the time.

It doesn't look like the Mariners are going to snap a playoff drought that stretches back to 2001, but the breakout performance of Haniger has been one positive takeaway from the season.

               

Must-See Upcoming Matchup

Colorado Rockies vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (Monday-Wednesday)

Walker Buehler
Walker BuehlerRob Leiter/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Dodgers hold a 9-7 advantage to this point in their season series with the Colorado Rockies, and the two teams are set to meet for the final time this coming week.

This time around, with the division lead on the line, Dodger Stadium should have a playoff atmosphere.

The Dodgers rotation is lined up well, with Hyun-Jin Ryu (12 GS, 4-3, 2.42 ERA), Clayton Kershaw (23 GS, 8-5, 2.51 ERA) and Walker Buehler (20 GS, 7-5, 2.88 ERA) as the scheduled starters.

The Rockies just faced Kershaw (W, 6.0 IP, 6 H, 2 ER) and Buehler (L, 6.0 IP, 6 H, 4 ER) earlier this month, but they haven't seen Ryu yet this season.

Colorado will counter with Jon Gray (28 GS, 11-7, 4.80 ERA), Kyle Freeland (30 GS, 15-7, 2.96 ERA) and Tyler Anderson (30 GS, 6-9, 4.82 ERA) on the mound.

Gray (ND, 4.0 IP, 4 H, 2 ER), Freeland (W, 6.0 IP, 4 H, 1 ER) and Anderson (L, 2.2 IP, 5 H, 3 ER) were the starters for the Rockies last time the two teams met, so the Dodgers lineup will be plenty familiar with all three pitchers.

After struggling to an 11.64 ERA in five starts prior to his last outing, Anderson tossed six strong innings in a tough-luck loss to the Giants on Friday, and he'll look to keep things going in a positive direction in what could be a decisive third game of the series.

     

All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted.

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