Power Rankings: Team on the rise cracks Top 5

August 28th, 2023

A few postseason races have been decided, but there is still plenty to pay attention to as baseball’s schedule enters its final month.

Of all the still-undetermined positioning, the NL Wild Card race is arguably the most compelling. The Phillies have a 3 1/2-game cushion in the top spot, but five teams -- the Cubs (second spot), D-backs (third), Reds, Giants and Marlins -- are all bunched up, with Miami the furthest away from the third spot at just three games back.

As far as division races go, the AL West has become a bit of a jumble at the top, with the surging Mariners knocking the Rangers out of first place for the first time since April 8, and the Astros not far behind. Check out the Mariners' schedule the final 10 days of the season -- three at Texas, three against the Astros at home and four against the Rangers, also at home.

Grab your popcorn.

Biggest jump: The Brewers (No. 10 to No. 6) and D-backs (No. 17 to No. 13) each jumped four spots. The NL Central-leading Brewers won their eighth in a row after topping the Padres on Sunday, 10-6, to maintain a four-game lead in the NL Central.

Biggest drop: The Giants dropped four spots, from No. 12 to No. 16. Even with their victory over the Braves on Sunday, they are 6-14 since Aug. 5.

Power Rankings Top 5:

1. Braves, 84-45 (1 last week)

The Braves entered their finale with the Giants on Sunday on quite a roll -- one they’ve been riding for quite some time, winning 12 of 15 to reach a season-high 40 games over .500. They averaged 6.5 runs per game during that stretch, and the pitching staff, which had some issues for about a month prior to this block of time, posted a 2.49 ERA over those recent 15 games. The NL East race is long over; now it’s just a matter of whether the Braves can surpass their franchise record of 106 wins, which they set in 1998.

2. Dodgers, 80-49 (2)

Mookie Betts’ homecoming trip to Boston grabbed headlines even before the series started; by the time it ended, it’s fair to say even his most adoring Beantown fans were not sad to see him go. Betts batted .467 (7-for-15) over the three-game set at Fenway, and he’s riding a 15-game hitting streak, the longest active streak in baseball. The Dodgers took two of three in Boston, improving to 21-4 in August. Like the Braves, the Dodgers need not bother with scoreboard-watching for the remaining month of the season. In a year that was supposed to showcase at least two other clubs challenging for the NL West title, Los Angeles is pacing for another double-digit lead en route to another division win.

3. Orioles, 81-49 (3)

Baltimore dropped the series finale at home against the Rockies on Sunday, 4-3, which narrowed their lead in the AL East division to two games over the Rays. They’re only one victory away from clinching a winning season, and they’re two wins away from matching their season win total from 2022 (83). Even with the loss Sunday, the O’s have won seven of nine games and scored 56 runs during that stretch -- 6.2 runs per game.

4. Mariners, 74-56 (6)

Late-season surges are nothing new for the M’s, who swept the Royals on Sunday to take sole possession of first place in the AL West. They are a season-high 18 games over .500 and have won 19 of 24 games in August. Two things have erupted recently -- the attendance at T-Mobile Park and Julio Rodríguez’s production. More than 125,000 fans packed the ballpark for the weekend series with the Royals, and J-Rod is batting an AL-best .406 with an MLB-best 25 RBIs over 21 games in August.

5. Rays, 80-52 (4)

The Rays have won 11 of their past 15 games, including two of three against the Yankees at home over the weekend. They gained a game on the division-leading O’s, but they have a challenging schedule ahead of them. Twenty-four of their final 30 games will be against teams currently .500 or better. Mark your calendars: The Rays will play the Orioles in Baltimore Sept. 14-17. Tampa Bay is 3-6 vs. Baltimore this season.

The rest of the field of 30:

6. Brewers (10)
7. Rangers (5)
8. Astros (7)
9. Phillies (9)
10. Blue Jays (8)
11. Cubs (11)
12. Red Sox (14)
13. D-backs (17)
14. Twins (13)
15. Reds (15)
16. Giants (12)
17. Marlins (16)
18. Yankees (20)
19. Angels (19)
20. Guardians (22)
21. Padres (18)
22. Nationals (24)
23. Tigers (23)
24. Mets (21)
25. Pirates (25)
26. Cardinals (26)
27. White Sox (27)
28. Rockies (28)
29. Royals (29)
30. A’s (30)

Voters: Will Leitch, Alyson Footer, Anthony Castrovince, Paul Casella, Mark Feinsand, Nathalie Alonso, Mike Petriello, Sarah Langs, Arturo Pardavila, Andrew Simon, David Venn, Sweeny Murti, Doug Gausepohl, Travis Miller