Well here we are, folks. The final week of the season. The AL is all but set, the Rays and Yanks just have to figure out amongst themselves who feels like winning the division. As for the National League, it all depends on the wild, wild NL West.
The Giants have a slight lead in the division but the Padres are hot on their tail while jostling with the Braves for position in the Wild Card race. All this and more and this week’s MLB Power Rankings.
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1 Rays 93-63 +1
Still months away from March Madness, but in case you have the fever a little early, the Rays own the league’s best RPI at an impressive .534. Unsurprisingly, they also own the league’s best record.
2 Phillies 94-63 +1
Chase Utley (.330/5 HR/20 RBI in September) and the Phllies (19-5 in September) are doing all they can down the stretch to ensure they reach the World Series for the third consecutive year.
3 Twins 92-64 +1
We’re ready to see a deep postseason run in chilly Minny. The Twins (MLB-best .277 team BA) will be playing October baseball outside this year at the beautiful Target Field.
4 Yankees 93-64 -3
New York is playing under-.500 baseball in September but punched its ticket to the postseason with a convincing extra-inning win at home over Boston in which Mo Rivera was saddled with his third blown save in just over two weeks.
5 Giants 88-68 +2
The Giants proved this past weekend that they can win on the road in a playoff atmosphere, taking two of three against the Rockies.
6 Rangers 87-69 -1
Neftali Feliz (rookie-record 38 saves in 2010) and the Rangers will be partying like it’s 1999 after clinching the AL West and a playoff spot for the first time since last millennium.
7 Reds 87-69 +2
Although he will fall short of the elusive NL Triple Crown, MVP candidate Joey Votto will surely lead his team in Avg. (.326), HR (37) and RBI (111) and more importantly to the postseason for the first time since 1995.
8 Padres 87-69 +2
It looks like the West will come down to the final series of the season, as the Padres head to San Francisco for a three-game set against the Giants.
9 Braves 88-69 -3
The sun may have set on the Braves’ divisional hopes, but they head into the week very much in the wild-card hunt. They’ll need a strong series against Florida to carry their momentum into an end-of-season showdown with Philly.
10 Red Sox 87-69 +1
We were almost ready to believe again, but after a crushing defeat at the hands of the Yanks on Sunday night the book is all but closed for Jonathan Papelbon, his eight blown saves, and the 2010 Red Sox.
11 Rockies 83-73 -3
The Rockies finally ran out of steam, losing five of their last six and all but eliminating themselves from the wild-card hunt.
12 Blue Jays 81-75 +2
Like always, the rebuilding will continue in the offseason. However, there won’t be as much cash to throw around, as Vernon Wells (.270/30 HR/83 RBI) will be making $23 million in 2011 as opposed to $12.5 in 2010.
13 Tigers 80-76 +2
Small consolation, yes, but the Tigers must be content after sweeping the AL Central champs over the weekend, even if the Twins are in rest mode.
14 Cardinals 81-75 -2
Despite the Cardinals’ recent struggles, Albert Pujols (.409 avg., 3 HR, 9 RBI last week) continues to put up MVP numbers.
15 White Sox 83-73 -2
The White Sox can’t place the blame entirely on Manny (15 hits in a ChiSox uni) after seeing Paul Konerko (.382/7 HR/23 RBI in August) hit a paltry .265 in September.
16 Marlins 77-79 +3
Just another middle-of-the-road season for the Marlins who will be looking to offer some rotation support for Josh Johnson (11-6, 2.30 ERA, 186 K). Ricky Nolasco led the team in wins with 14 but isn’t going to turn any heads with a 4.51 ERA.
17 Athletics 77-79 +1
Missing the playoffs is one thing, but the A’s are flirting with finishing with a sub-.500 record for a fourth straight season — all of which have taken place in the Bob Geren era/error.
18 Mets 76-79 +3
New York pitching wasn’t miserable this year, as they’ve racked up the league’s seventh-best ERA (3.73) as the season winds down. Unfortunately, it’s all downhill from there.
19 Brewers 73-82 +4
Heading into this week the Brewers have five guys with 22 or more home runs, one of only five teams to accomplish this over the past three seasons. Unfortunately, nobody else on the club has more than nine.
20 Astros 74-82 -4
Brad Mills has managed to turn around the club’s attitude in the second half of the season, improving 8 games in the win-loss category since the All-Star break all while unloading two perennial all-stars.
21 Angels 76-80 -4
Los Angeles could use some of that old-fashioned Molina charm in 2011 to get back on track. Lucky for them, both Jose and Bengie will be free agents at season’s end.
22 Indians 66-91 +2
Cleveland got next to no production from its center-field spot this season, with its players accumulating stats of .236/4 HR/ 51 RBI.
23 Dodgers 76-81 -1
It has been a quick and painful fall for the Dodgers, who head into this week tied with the Royals and Mariners for the worst September record at 7-16.
24 Cubs 71-85 -4
It was tough to be a Cubs fan this year; however they can take solace in the fact that the Cubs took the season series from the Cardinals, 9-6.
25 Nationals 67-90 +1
Don’t fret, Washington fans, just one more week until you can focus on that other rookie phenom in town. Luckily, there’s a far smaller chance of John Wall needing Tommy John surgery than poor Stephen Strasburg.
26 Diamondbacks 64-92 +2
When all is said and done, Daniel Hudson (7-1, 1.69 ERA, 70 K) might end up having the best numbers of all the pitchers traded this season.
27 Orioles 62-94 –
The Orioles are a combined 29-21 in August and September. Unfortunately, a pre-All-Star-break record of 29-59 renders this statistic meaningless.
28 Pirates 55-101 +2
Don’t look now, but the Pirates are hot; the Bucs have won 7 of 9 heading into this week.
29 Mariners 60-96 –
First in innings pitched and ERA. Second in strikeouts and WHIP. Third in complete games. But for Seattle’s Felix Hernandez, this might not be enough for Cy Young voters to look past his 12 wins.
30 Royals 64-92 -5
Kansas City has allowed greater than 50 runs more than any other American League team in 2010 on its way to another last-place AL Central finish.