Griff’s MLB Power Rankings – 15
Injuries down the stretch become factors
It’s crunch time in the MLB regular season, with contending teams not just looking at making the playoffs, but, potentially, whether they can earn a bye, or who might become their first-round opponent. If the season ended after Saturday’s games, these are the results.
AL Byes: O’s and Astros … AL Wild Card Series: Jays at Twins; M’s at Rays.
NL Byes: Braves and Dodgers … NL Wild Card Series: D’backs at Brewers; Cubs at Phillies.
On the outside looking in: Rangers, Marlins, Reds, Red Sox and Giants.
A closer examination of the MLB standings shows the National League maintaining its advantage in this year’s interleague play, at a surprising plus-29 games above .500 over the AL. The NL Central which had been struggling as a 5-team group early on, has bounced back and is now 2-games above .500. The two powerhouse divisions, the AL and NL East have combined to go 121 games above .500. Here are the overall 5-team division standings based on won-lost outside their groupings (through Sept. 9):
1-AL East +86 … 2-NL East +35
3-NL Central +2 … 4-NL West Minus-8
5-AL West minus-17 … 6-AL Central minus-98
Major League Baseball remains the most evenly balanced of major North American pro sports, from top-to-bottom. How balanced is MLB? Through Saturday, there were just four teams with win-percentage over .600, four teams at or under the .400 mark and 22 teams in the middle range at .401-.600.
Griff’s Power Rankings – Edition 15
Numbers in parentheses are from Edition 14 power rankings.
Clearly should be early betting favourites for the World Series. Seven players with 20-plus home runs and 273 HR team overall. A Top 4 rotation of RH Spencer Strider, RH Bryce Elder, RH Charlie Morton and LH Max Fried. Likely MVP RF Ronald Acuna with 35 HR and 64 SB.
The O’s boast a young, emerging, balanced lineup with 8 hitters 50-plus RBIs. They re-acquired former CL Jorge Lopez with the IL loss of CL Felix Bautista. It’s likely RH Yenier Cano will remain the 9th inning guy. RF Anthony Santander has emerged as an elite mid-order bat.
Obvious concern about UT Mookie Betts leaving the park on crutches Thursday. Impressive team offence ranks NL 2nd in most categories – all, of course, to the Braves. Legal problems for LH Julio Urias and 10-players languishing on 60-day IL make this an amazing, resilient story.
How long can the Rays continue before the loss of LH Shane McClanahan and SS Wander Franco begins to affect them. Luckily RH Tyler Glasnow has returned to his old self, while 3B Isaac Paredes surprises with his power production. Quiet fade by LF Randy Arozarena.
RF Teoscar Hernandez is turning it on just in time to help CF Julio Rodriguez keep baseball’s hottest team hot. Teo last 24 games, .398 average, 8HR, 26RBIs, as M’s have gone 16-8. Are riding new CL Andres Munoz and his 100+ heat. Best Top-4 rotation in AL.
Amazing team total of 16 homers in 3-game series vs. Rangers, led by five bombs from future Hall-of-Fame 2B Jose Altuve. DH Yordan Alvarez and RF Kyle Tucker lead the way, but even with return of RH Justin Verlander these ‘Stros don’t seem as unbeatable as last year.
A solid Top 3 rotation of RH Corbin Burnes, RH Brandon Woodruff and RH Freddy Peralta lead the way … as had been the pre-season prediction, while all-star CL Devin Williams helps cover up a mediocre lineup led by SS Willy Adames and LF Christian Yelich. Cubs, Reds chasing.
The Phils have surged in the second half for the second year in a row, behind a stout starting rotation, plus re-emergence to form of its stars, DH/1B Bryce Harper and SS Trea Turner, who has gone from being booed lustily to cheered loudly at Citizens Bank Park.
9-Blue Jays (10)
The Jays have relied on five Baby Bisons to help carry them during a soft 15-game stretch in which they have played all teams with losing records. The return of injured SS Bo Bichette (now) and RH Erik Swanson (soon) are essential as the quality of the opponent ratchets up.
If the Braves and Dodgers did not exist, CF/1B Cody Bellinger might be leading MVP candidate. Were 10 games below .500 on June 8, but have regrouped, even with the loss of RH Marcus Stroman. The addition of 3B Jeimer Candelario has helped them challenge for the division.
The Rangers won 12 of 14 games right after their deadline acquisitions -- RH Max Scherzer and the group from the Cards. Moves were made to nail down the West. Hmm! MGR Bruce Bochy’s bunch had a 3.5 game lead, Aug. 15. Since then, have gone 4-16 and sit 4th in the wild-card.
The Snakes have slithered their way back into wild-card race going 16-8 after slumping as a team. 1B Christian Walker (30HR, 91 RBIs) has fringe-MVP numbers and OF Corbin Carroll will be high on most rookie-of-the-year ballots. Have bullied Rox, Nats, Tigers, Royals going 20-5.
Offer up the same recipe every season … eye-opening pitching with not enough offence. Acquisitions of 1B Josh Bell and 3B Jake Burger solid deadline moves, while people overlook the excitement that is CF Jazz Chisolm, plus the game’s best hitter, 2B Luis Arraez.
Much is made of the number of talented young players on the roster. Reds have 27 players 26-years-old or younger with 9 of those young position players combining for 694 hits, 91 homers and 90 steals. The youth movement is led by SS Elly de la Cruz, 2B Matt McLain and others.
Word to the wise. Don’t try and finish as the final wild-card, thinking the Twins will be a pushover as the worst division champion. Nobody knows how good the Twins really are because the rest of the division is 106 games under .500. The pitching is short-series dangerous.
16-Red Sox (15)
Facing the Red Sox lineup with a pitching staff sprinkled with southpaws is an advantage. Consider lefty swingers 3B Rafael Devers, 1B Tristan Casas, LF Mas Yoshida, RF Alex Verdugo and C Reese McGuire. Have used 32 pitchers -- 16 starters. SS Trevor Story is back, slowly.
Are going young, which means they will be playing hard until the end of the season and, thus, will be dangerous. 1B Anthony Rizzo is out for the year, CF Harrison Bader was claimed on waivers and 3B Josh Donaldson was released. RH Gerrit Cole looks like AL Cy guy.
Breathing wild-card fumes. For those that were stunned by the Bay Area G1 HR debut by SS Paul DeJong after let go by Jays, he is now .208 in 13 games, a homer, 5 RBIs, zero walks and 16 Ks. Another former Jay, RH Ross Stripling left as a free agent and is 0-5, 5.29 ERA in 78.1 IP.
MGR Terry Francona made it official, this will be his last year. Mississauga’s Naylor bothers, 1B Josh and C Bo are big parts of the Guardians future. Three good young starters in RH Gavin Williams, RH Tanner Bibee and LH Logan Allen. 3B Jose Ramirez has 5th 20HR-20SB season.
Yes, they have a lineup of marquee hitters that should make them better than they showed, but consider the Pads have show only 19 games started by pitchers under 30-years-old, an area they will need to work on with LH Blake Snell moving on. A second half surge did not happen.
If my Angels season-ticket renewal arrived in the mail, I would re-consider re-upping for ‘24. First, they traded away young prospects to acquire veterans for the stretch drive then waived all of those veterans. Then lost the pitching side and likely the heart of DH Shohei Ohtani.
They have a plan and the Mets don’t seem to, which is why Nats rank ahead of New Yorkers in these power rankings. Eight of 9 position players in their regular lineup are between 22 and 28-years-old. Good young talent like SS CJ Abrams, C Keibert Ruiz and RF Lane Thomas.
The Mets are 8-26 vs. the six teams currently that are leading their division, which demonstrates how far they have to climb. The 21-year-old C Francisco Alvarez is a player to build around. SS Francisco Lindor and CF Brandon Nimmo are also keepers.
Injured SS Oneil Cruz was 2022’s version of Reds’ sensation Elly de la Cruz with larger-than-life skills and a rocket arm. Nine of 14 current position players have less than one full year of service time. They are clearly building for the future – but have been for a while.
Tigers are less than a year away from being mediocre. Third in the division but 25th in the power rankings is not a good combination. AL Central boasts three of the worst six teams in MLB. They can trade some of their pitching depth in the off-season, but will still have a long way to go.
Buried themselves early in the season dropping to 27-43 on June 16. Since that time are 36-36 and in the last 10 games are 7-3. How can a team with 1B Paul Goldschmidt and 3B Nolan Arenado not be contending in this division?
Following Jays trip to Denver, it seems the biggest advantage the Rockies have at home is the mile-high and thin air getting in the head of opposing pitchers. They think they have to change their approach and repertoire because the ball doesn’t break as much. That never works.
28-White Sox (28)
The Sox have big problems looking ahead to ’24, beginning an unexpected rebuild under a new front office group. Players that have been traded 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 the 40-man roster that are 25-years-old or younger. This club has already been mathematically eliminated from the AL wildcard race and is ranked ahead of the Royals only because of the better strength of the division in which they compete.
Team has position player talent, led by SS Bobby Witt Jr. who, if he remains healthy, is going to be a superstar. Witt has 28 homers, 38 steals and 85 RBIs. An emerging pitching hope is LH Cole Ragans. Future Hall-of-Fame C Sal Perez needs change of scene more than change of position.