MLB Power Ratings

By Eric Luchetti and Pat DeCola

After a bit of a shakeup at the top of the rankings, the Yanks and Rays hold strong with not much separating the two AL East powerhouses. The Padres take a slight dip but remain the NL’s best team, a spot which they could hold onto as the Braves and Phillies battle for NL East supremacy. All this and more in this week’s Power Rankings.

RK     Team       REC     CHG     
1     Yankees      81-50       –     

The Yankees’ best starter in August? Ivan Nova. Sure, it’s only been 11 innings in two starts, but his insertion into New York’s rotation has been a breath of fresh air for the league’s best team.

2     Rays      81-50         +1

Things looked to be swinging Boston’s way after a tough loss to the Red Sox on Friday. But after two statement wins to finish out the weekend and take the series, Tampa Bay can stop sweating as the Sox are fading in the rearview mirror.

3     Rangers      74-57     +3

The only loss in the four-game Minnesota beatdown last week was charged to Cliff Lee (1-4, 6.20 ERA in August). This is concerning for the Rangers and their prized acquisition.

4     Padres      76-54      -2

The Padres have lost four straight heading into the week, but the MLB’s best pitching staff (1st ERA, 2nd Ks, 1st WHIP) has almost assured that the Friars have their ticket stamped for October.

5     Twins      75-56       -1

Tough week. Luckily for them, MLB’s most consistent offense (1st in batting average and hits) has built enough wiggle room to not feel the heat as they head into the week with a 4 1/2-game lead over Chicago.

6     Reds    76-55         +2

The Reds are showing no signs of slowing down behind Joey Votto (.325 AVG, 32 HR, 93 RBI), one of three legitimate Triple Crown threats in the National League.

7     Braves    76-55        -2

A sign of things to come? The Braves blew a 10-run lead to the surging Rockies last Wednesday.

8     Phillies    73-58        +1

The Phils, winners of three straight heading into Monday, have only three games left with the Braves and are running out of time to take over first place in the NL East.

9     Giants    72-60        +3

The Giants’ starting pitching needs to buckle down these last five weeks if they want to keep playing in October.

10     Red Sox     74-57      +1

Boston desperately needed a sweep at Tampa Bay, but managed to win just one. A trip to Baltimore will have to be a consolation prize. Keep an eye out for a Manny return to Fenway in a Sox uni on Friday. A ‘White’ one, that is.

11     White Sox    71-60      -2

Ken Williams and the White Sox finally got the man(ny) they wanted. Will Manny Ramirez see a September surge like he did in ’08 when he hit .370 with 8 home runs and 28 RBIs after his trade to the Dodgers?

12     Rockies        69-61      +2

Does this team have another miracle run in them like they did in 2007? If Carlos Gonzalez has anything to say about it they will, as he is quietly sneaking up on Albert Pujols and Votto in batting average (.326), home runs (29) and RBI (90).

13     Blue Jays     68-63      -3

Toronto manages a 9-6 record against the Rays, Yankees, and Red Sox in the month of August, yet remains 12 games out in the division race. Needless to say, Cito Gaston could probably use a hug.

14     Cardinals      69-60      -3

In a week when Triple Crown candidate Albert Pujols joined the 400 club, the Cardinals went 2-5 against the Pirates and Nationals. That does not bode well for a club trying to catch the Reds.

15     Dodgers         68-64      –

It is the end of an era for Manny Ramirez in Los Angeles. His ejection after one pitch on Sunday was the final chapter in his tumultuous tenure with the Dodgers, as he will suit up this week for Ozzie Guillen and the White Sox.

16     Marlins         65-65      +2

The Marlins enter this week in the middle of the pack in major hitting categories (.257 AVG — 17th, 125 HR — 13th, 558 RBI — 16th) and major pitching categories (3.97 ERA — 13th, 942 Ks — 13th, 1.34 WHIP — 16th). It’s no surprise that this team has been right around .500 for the majority of the season.

17     Athletics         65-65    -2

As of Monday, Oakland sits 7 1/2 games behind the Rangers. It could be done, right? Sure, if Dallas Braden (3-2, 2.19 ERA, 2 CG in August) continues to pitch like Cliff Lee, and vice versa.

18     Tigers        65-66       +1

The Tigers keep their man in Johnny Damon, but still sit 10 games behind Minnesota. So much for that pennant race he thought he was in.

19     Mets        65-66         +1

I don’t think anyone would have imagined that R.A. Dickey (2.57 ERA) and Mike Pelfrey (13 wins) would be leading the Mets in ERA and wins heading into September. This might be a good indication of why the Mets continue to hover around .500.

20     Brewers        62-69    +1

Hall of Famer-to-be Trevor Hoffman finished off the Brewers’ three-game sweep of the Pirates with his 599th save.

21     Astros        60-71      +1

The Astros took five of seven on the road last week, including a four-game sweep of the Phils and J.A. Happ’s strong performance against his former club’s ace, Roy Halladay.

22     Angels        64-68      -6

Los Angeles will be happy to know that it has just one series left against an AL East opponent. The Halos went 3-12 against the Rays, Jays, Sox and O’s in August — including two sweeps at the hands of Baltimore.

23     Nationals        57-75    –

The team showed some fight against the Cardinals, winning three of four, but losing Stephen Strasburg is a huge blow to the immediate future for the Nats.

24     Royals        55-76       –

If we had known that Bruce Chen would be the Royals’ wins leader as the calendar turns to September and not Zack Greinke, we would be two very rich men. To his credit, Greinke has twice as many punchouts.

25     Cubs        56-76        +3

The Cubs are 4-2 under interim skipper Mike Quade but just 3-9 against the feeble Pirates, a club they are hosting for three games to start off the week.

26     Diamondbacks    53-79    –

Barry Enright (5-2, 2.44 ERA) has been a pleasant surprise for the D-backs, who haven’t had a lot to be pleased with in a season where they find themselves more than 25 games under .500.

27     Indians        53-78       –

The trade of Kerry Wood was made in order to clear some space in the bullpen for younger guys such as Chris Perez, who is five of six in save opportunities since Wood’s departure.

28     Orioles       48-83         1

Disregard Jeremy Guthrie’s April and June (0-7) and he has put together a nice little season. Unfortunately for the O’s de facto ace, those months do count, and he sits at 8-13.

29     Mariners       51-80      4

Is King Felix’s exceptionally strong Cy Young case despite having a 10-10 record more of a testament to how dominating he has been or how bad the Mariners really are?

30     Pirates       43-88         –

Daniel McCutcheon looked like a legitimate starter in his win against the Cards on Wednesday night as he tossed six scoreless innings and allowed just three hits. Unfortunately, as with most of the Pirates’ young pitchers, his career line (3-7, 4.99 ERA, 1.54 WHIP) might suggest otherwise.