MLB Power Ratings

By Eric Luchetti and Pat DeCola

The National League is becoming a six-horse race down the stretch while the American League is looking more and more like a matter of which team from the East will settle for the wild card. All this and more in this week’s Power Rankings.

RK     Team     REC     CHG
1     Yankees    77-48         –     

The Yankees keep rolling, despite losing A-Rod and Lance Berkman to the DL. Heralded pitching prospect Ivan Nova made his major-league debut Monday.

2     Padres    74-49          –

The Padres continue to win without one of their top pitchers of recent memory, Chris Young, who is hoping to return in September.

3     Rays    77-48          –

Last week’s sweep of Texas was impressive, but a follow-up split with Oakland was not. Joe Maddon’s club will be prepping itself for a weekend showdown with Boston at the Trop.

4     Twins    72-53          –

The separation in the Central continues, with Minnesota taking a five-game lead into the week. A four-game set in the Texas heat will prove to be a tough task, however.

5     Braves    73-52          +1     

The addition of Derrek Lee was supposed to take the sting out of the Chipper Jones injury; unfortunately the 2005 batting champ is hitting just .091 with the Braves after three games.

6     Rangers    70-54         -1

The Rangers own MLB’s lowest magic number (32) as we head into August’s last full week. Cliff Lee owns the lowest self-confidence level right now after giving up four homers and surrendering eight runs in a loss to the Orioles.

7     Phillies    70-54     –

Roy Oswalt (3-1, 2.43 ERA for the Phils) has been philthy since joining the Phillies, who boast the third-best record in the NL since the break (23-13).

8     Reds    72-53     +2

Joey Votto (.323, 29 HR, 86 RBI) is chasing down a triple crown and the bottom has yet to fall out for the Reds, who had extended their NL Central lead to 3 1/2 games heading into this week.

9     Red Sox     72-54       -1

Clay Buchholz might be one of the most under-the-radar Cy Young candidates of all time. If he keeps up his torrid pace, he just might win this thing. Wouldn’t it be a shame if he couldn’t even demonstrate his skills in October?

10     Blue Jays   65-59        +1

Brandon Morrow followed up what is in the running for the best start of the year (Aug. 8) with a four-inning performance. Fantasy baseball owners nationwide lament.

11     Cardinals    68-54        +1

Is this team built for the postseason? Since the All-Star break the Cardinals are 13-3 against teams in contention; unfortunately they are 7-10 against everyone else.

12     Giants        70-56        +1

Tim Lincecum, Barry Zito and Matt Cain are a combined 1-8 since the beginning of August. That won’t get it done for a team built around pitching.

13     White Sox    67-57     -4

While the ChiSox rank in the top nine in all major offensive categories, their shaky pitching might keep them out of the postseason. If only they had a former Cy Young winner on the staff. Jake Peavy, where art thou?

14     Rockies        64-60         –

Carlos Gonzalez (.315 AVG, 25 HR, 72 RBI, 19 SB) continues to be one of baseball’s best-kept secrets.

15     Dodgers      63-62         –

The Dodgers are hoping to make a late run behind the rejuvenated Ted Lilly (4-0, 1.29 ERA, 0.57 WHIP since joining the Dodgers).

16     Angels       62-64         –

Los Angeles is going through a rough patch, losing two of three to the Jays, BoSox, and Twins in consecutive series. But sometimes things have to get worse before they get better — they start the week with three vs. the Rays, then can breathe a little with sets against the Orioles and Mariners.

17     Tigers       62-63         +2

Don’t let the 9-9 record fool you. Max Scherzer has 10 quality starts since being recalled from AAA Toledo on May 30, lowering his ERA from 7.29 to 3.73.

18     Marlins      62-61        +3

The Fish won five straight before Sunday; unfortunately that gets them only one game above .500 on the season.

19     Athletics       61-62        -2

Oakland is being thrown around as a potential franchise for relocation to Las Vegas. Might not be such a bad idea for a team that seems to be losing its traction after making the playoffs just once since a 2003 collapse against Boston.

20     Mets    62-62        -2

Story of the year for the Mets: Johan Santana heads into this week with the NL’s ninth-best ERA (2.94) yet is only two games over .500 (10-8).

21     Brewers       59-65        +1

The Brewers took four out of five against the Cardinals and Padres last week behind the red-hot bats of Ryan Braun (.389 AVG, 2 HR, 5 RBI) and Casey McGehee (.368 BA, 2 HR, 7 RBI).

22     Astros       55-69        -2

The youth movement and energy that came after the trades of Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt might be starting to wear off as the Astros finished the week losing four of seven to the Mets and Marlins.

23     Nationals       53-72        –

All the attention in D.C. is on the right forearm of Stephen Strasburg and whether or not to put the phenom on the shelf for the remainder of 2010.

24     Royals       53-72       +4

Might as well play for moral victories at this point — the Royals won two of the three extra-inning, one-run games against the White Sox in a span of 24 hours over the weekend.

25     Mariners       49-76        –

Well, on a positive note, Ichiro looks poised to complete a 10th consecutive season of batting over .300. Unfortunately, the Mariners haven’t reached the playoffs since that streak started.

26     Diamondbacks    49-76    -2

Pitching is clearly the issue for the D-backs, who rank 30th in ERA and 29th in saves.

27     Indians       50-74        –

The Indians’ leader in batting average, home runs, RBI, OBP, and hits? Shin-Soo Choo. That’s about all the analysis we can give on this one.

28     Cubs      52-74        -2

One of the greats managed his last game on Sunday. Sweet Lou Pineilla is likely headed to the Hall of Fame with his 1,835-1,713 career record with the Yankees, Reds, Mariners, Devil Rays and Cubs. We will miss you, Lou.

29     Orioles       44-81        –

Those lovable O’s might have gotten their best win of the year in the aforementioned “Cliff Lee Batting Tee Experience” game. O’s rookie Josh Bell made history by hitting his first two major-league home runs in the same game off a former Cy Young winner, becoming just the second player in history to do so.

30     Pirates       41-84         –

Trivia time. Who leads his team with a 4.92 ERA (based on qualifying innings) and seven wins halfway through August? If you guessed Paul Maholm, you are correct — unfortunately you are probably also a Bucs fan.