Griff’s MLB Power Rankings – 14
Both AL/NL wildcard races promise to go down to the wire
A close examination of this week’s MLB standings shows the National League maintaining its advantage in interleague play, at a surprising plus-29 games over the traditionally strongerAL. The NL Central which had been struggling as a division early on, propelled by the early-season failures of the Cardinals and the Cubs, has bounced back and is just a combined 3-games below .500. The two powerhouse divisions, the AL and NL East have combined to go 110 games above .500 while the two Central Divisions together are minus-101. The 5-team combined standings as based on won-lost outside their divisions (through Aug. 30) are as follows:
1-AL East +76 … 2-NL East +34 … 3-NL West -2 … 4-NL Central minus-3
5-AL West minus-7 … 6-AL Central minus-98
Major League Baseball remains the most evenly balanced of major North American pro sports, from top-to-bottom. As such, Power Rankings can change quickly. Through Wednesday, there were just four teams with win-percentage over .600, four teams at or under the .400 mark and an amazing 22 teams in the middle range at .401-.600. However, with “white flags” clearly being waived in several markets, there will inevitably become wider separation in the standings between have and have-not win-percentages over the last month.
Griff’s Power Rankings – Edition 14
Numbers in parentheses are Edition 13 power rankings.
A couple of mile-high fans raced onto the field to make contact with RF Ronald Acuna Jr. before being taken down and dragged off by security at Coors. Punishment should be immediate and stiff. At old Shea Stadium, invading fans would be held in a jail cell visible from the concourse and were very publicly roughed up by New York’s finest as shocked fans exited. That, my friends, was a deterrent.
Teams like the Jays complain about injuries that have befallen them lately, but consider the Dodgers have 17 IL players, with 13 being pitchers and 12 on the 60-day. Luckily, they have 1B Freddie Freeman and IF/OF Mookie Betts and lots of money.
The question is “Can the O’s talented bullpen withstand the loss of CL Felix Bautista for the rest of the season.” RH Yenier Cano has been great in a setup role, but he has also logged more innings than ever. Their young lineup continues to impress.
The loss of LH Shane McClanahan and SS Wander Franco was expected to halt the Rays train but they find other ways to get it done … as they always do. Can they cobble together enough wins for another month and into Rays October? Time will tell.
The hottest team in baseball led by the game’s hottest player CF Julio Rodriguez has taken control of the AL West taking advantage. of the soft part of their schedule to vault through August. After trading CL Paul Sewald, the M’s have given higher leverage to RH Andres Munoz and his 100+. Solid move.
Just ended a 9-game win streak, in which they scored 64 runs. Combine that with a healthy rotation of RH Brandon Woodruff, RH Corbin Burnes and RH Freddy Peralta. The Brewers have not been below .500 since an April 1 opening day loss.
The return of LF Michael Brantley and with 2B Jose Altuve demonstrating why he’s a Hall-of-Famer, both help, but the offence goes whenever DH Yordan Alvarez and RF Kyle Tucker are contributing and leading the way. It’s a 3-team race in the West.
The Phils under MGR Rob Thomson are, for the second year in a row, proving to be a second-half juggernaut. 1B/DH Bryce Harper with his 300 career homers is a clubhouse leader coming back from injury, while RF Nick Castellanos has become the player that they thought they signed.
The Achilles Heel looked like would be the bullpen, post-trade deadline, and that is reflected in 25 saves and 25 blown saves (obviously not all those in the 9th inning). The loss of sensational rookie 3B Josh Jung has hurt. Are 27-30 in last 57 games.
10-Blue Jays (8)
The Jays are in the midst of a soft 15-game stretch in which they play teams with losing records, including a trio of upcoming 3-game series vs. teams ranked 27-29-30. Need SS Bo Bichette and 3B Matt Chapman to return fresh for the stretch. Loss of RH Erik Swanson hurts but the return of RH Chad Green will help.
The Snakes have slithered their way back into the wild-card race, bouncing back from a 9-game losing streak to win 12 of the last 17. RH Zach Gallen and RH Merrill Kelly are solid at the top of the rotation and five relievers have multiple saves.
Were 10 games below .500 on June 8, but regrouped to go 44-26 in their last 70, getting as close as 1.5 games to the Brewers on Aug. 8. A key to the rotation was to be RH Marcus Stroman who is back on the IL, as they stage a drive for division/wild-card.
Nobody knows how good the Twins really are because the rest of the division is 102 games under .500. But that weakness will allow them to host a 3-game series and set up their rotation in advance. 2B Edouard Julien is making his mark.
If the Reds stay the course and survive the growing pains of this young, athletic roster, they have a future competitive window that is opening, during which they will be a true player in the NL Central. The resurgence is led by SS Elly de la Cruz, 2B Matt McLain and some talented young pitching.
15-Red Sox (15)
Bad news continues for the Sox, as talented CF Jarren Duran will undergo toe surgery and be out for the year. That 2B Trevor Story is back is good, but it’s been a slow recovery on the field, hitting .206 with one homer and a .546 OPS in 17 games.
An amazing stat is the Giants starting pitchers averaging just 4.2 innings per outing. That allows the bullpen to post a 45-26, 3.83 ERA record, with 45 saves. The Giants future leader is switch-hitting C Patrick Bailey, 24, throwing out 33% of base-stealers.
They offer the same recipe every season … special young pitching combined with not enough hitting. The game’s best hitter, 2B Luis Arraez has seen his average drop to .350 with 32 walks and 31 strikeouts. Arraez was hitting .401 as late as June 25.
The Josh Donaldson era ended with his release. That move was accompanied by a Tweet that sounded an awful lot like a retirement announcement. Have not been in last place this late in any season since 1982 when Don Mattingly was a rookie.
Are looking good for ’24, with solid young talent like SS CJ Abrams, C Keibert Ruiz and RF Lane Thomas. MGR Dave Martinez signed an extension and they are headed in the right direction. With a bargain-basement payroll have moved ahead of the Mets.
The lone offensive bright spot, with 1B Josh Naylor on the IL, is all-star 3B Jose Ramirez. MGR Terry Francona, is leaning towards retirement. Can rely on a solid bullpen and young starters…RH Gavin Williams, RH Tanner Bibee, LH Logan Allen.
Online fire sale in progress out of Anaheim as virtually all the hyped trade-deadline acquisitions are on waivers and available. Halos went all in to impress DH Shohei Ohtani so he would consider them in free-agency and now … not so much.
With a staff led by Cy candidate LH Blake Snell and all-stars like 3B Manny Machado, SS Xander Bogaerts, RF Fernando Tatis Jr. and LF Juan Soto, there must be something very wrong in clubhouse chemistry. Secnd half surge has not happened.
The Mets are the other New York team in their division basement. The NYC teams are 1-2 in opening day payroll, combining to pay $608.3M for combined 125-142 record. Disaster began when CL Edwin Diaz injured himself celebrating at WBC.
Third in the division but 24th in the power rankings is not a good combination. AL Central boasts three of worst five teams. SS Javier Baez is going to need an influx of help next year, with DH Miguel Cabrera and RH Eduardo Rodriguez to be gone.
Burnaby (BC) native LF Tyler O’Neill returned to lineup July 20 and seems part of Cards’ future. How can team with 1B Paul Goldschmidt and 3B Nolan Arenado not be dominating its division? Replaced SS Paul DeJong with 2020 pick SS Masyn Wynn.
Injured SS Oneil Cruz was 2022’s version of Reds’ sensation Elly de la Cruz with larger than life skills and a rocket arm … however he has only played 98 MLB games, including just 9 this year before being sidelined. Are clearly building for the future.
The only way the Rox get highlights on TV is with those idiot fans swarming the field to hug Braves RF Ronald Acuna Jr. Pay attention to SS Ezequiel Tovar, OF Nolan Jones (25) and C Elias Diaz and you can navigate this order for nine innings.
28-White Sox (28)
Long-time executives, VP Ken Williams and GM Rick Hahn took the fall for this steaming 2023 mess, but traded players describe a clubhouse bereft of chemistry and discipline. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Very good talent that underperformed.
The A’s have 15 players on 40-man roster that are 25-years or younger. This club is already mathematically eliminated from the AL wildcard race and is ranked ahead of the Royals only because of the strength of the division in which they compete.
This team has some position player talent, led by SS Bobby Witt Jr. who, if he remains healthy, is a superstar. Witt has 27 homers, 38 steals and 82 RBIs in 132 games. One emerging starter is LH Cole Ragans. Hall-of-Fame C Sal Perez needs change of scene.