Power Rankings: Astros reclaim top spot

September 24th, 2018

All we ask, as baseball fans, is for a handful of division and/or Wild Card races to still be undecided heading into the final week of the season.
Are you having fun yet, Brewers/Cardinals/Cubs/Rockies/Dodgers/A's fans?
A week is a short span of time, but given how close things are, and the head-to-head matchups that are on deck, fans in multiple cities have reason to be just a bit on edge.
So grab your rally caps, Milwaukee. Pray to the baseball gods, St. Louis. Wear the lucky underwear, Denver. If you have those go-to superstitions that help you through these stressful times, fish 'em out of the closet. The next seven days should be a blast.
Biggest jump: Dodgers (remaining schedule: 3 at AZ; 3 at SF)
The Dodgers jumped three spots, from No. 9 to No. 6. Los Angeles got through a recent seven-game stretch against two tough opponents -- St. Louis and Colorado -- with a 6-1 mark, and it followed that by winning two of three over last-place San Diego. Winners of nine of their past 11, Dodgers starters have a 2.17 ERA, allowing 15 earned runs over 62 innings over that stretch.
Biggest drop: Cubs (remaining schedule: 4 vs. PIT; 3 vs. STL)
The Cubs dropped two spots, from No. 5 to No. 7, but truthfully, that's based less on performance and more on the simple fact that there are several teams worthy of top-five status, and limited spots available (five, coincidentally). The Cubs, winners of six of their past nine, will carry a magic number of five into their seven-game homestand with the Pirates and red-hot Cardinals.
Power Rankings Top 5
1. Astros (2 last week, clinched playoff spot) (remaining schedule: 3 at TOR; 4 at BAL)
Houston reclaims the top spot in the rankings due to a scorching September, which has produced, so far, a 16-4 record. The Astros have reached 98 wins for just the third time in franchise history, joining the 2017 club (101 wins) and the '98 Astros (102). While many Houston hitters are playing through nagging ailments, first baseman Yuli Gurriel has provided steadiness in the middle of the order. He recorded a hit in all nine games of the Astros' recently completed homestand, batting .432 (16-for-37). Also, he has multiple hits in four straight games, batting .556 (10-for-18).

2. Red Sox (1, clinched American League East)
With a week to go in the season, the Red Sox will ponder a series of hard-hitting questions: How early in the week can they lock up home-field advantage throughout the postseason? Which day will they set a franchise record for wins? Who's going to win the AL MVP Award, J.D. Martinez, or ?

OK, so maybe the questions aren't so hard-hitting. The point is, with the division wrapped up and home-field advantage all but a sure thing, the only thing left for Boston to do is make sure it maintains some level of focus and intensity to carry into the postseason.
3. Yankees (3, clinched AL Wild Card spot)
That gif-grabbing, meme-making Didi Gregorius slide into home as the Yankees were walking off the Orioles -- and clinching their Wild Card spot -- is now a viral sensation for different, unfortunate reasons. Turns out, that slide tore cartilage in Gregorius' right wrist and may have knocked him out for the rest of the season. Meanwhile, the Yanks may have wrapped up a playoff spot, but they still have plenty to play for. Home-field advantage in the AL Wild Card Game is still very much in play, and if the Yankees are to hang on to their slim 1 1/2-game lead over the A's in that category, they're going to need to play well during a tough season-ending road trip through Tampa Bay and Boston.

4. Athletics (4) (remaining schedule: 3 at SEA; 3 at LAA)
The A's have won a mind-boggling 60 of their past 85 games, which, over a full-season span, would equate to a 114-win season. They're also 31-13 in one-run games, and they have a valuable weapon in , who has five homers, 13 RBIs and 15 runs scored in his past 16 games, and 45 homers on the year. With 119 RBIs, Davis is just five behind Martinez for the Major League lead.

5. Indians (6, clinched AL Central)
Small sample size alert: Newly acquired third baseman Josh Donaldson is making progress at the plate as he works to fortify a playoff-bound lineup, after missing large chunks of time this season with injuries. Donaldson, who was hitless in Sunday's finale with the Red Sox, had four hits in 10 at-bats, including a solo homer, in the first two games of that series. and have cooled offensively after dominating for much of the year, and the Tribe could benefit from Donaldson's presence, a veteran with postseason experience.

The rest of the Top 20
6. Dodgers (9 last week)
7. Cubs (5)
8. Braves (7)
9. Brewers (8) (remaining schedule: 3 at STL; 3 vs. DET)
10. Rays (10) (4 vs. NYY; 3 vs. TOR)
11. Cardinals (12) (3 vs. MIL; 3 at CHC)
12. Rockies (11) (4 vs. PHI; 3 vs. WAS)
13. Mariners (15)
14. D-backs (13)
15. Phillies (14)
16. Pirates (17)
17. Nationals (16)
18. Angels (18)
19. Mets (19)
20. Blue Jays (20)