Stanton's power plays big in latest Rankings

August 29th, 2017

With five weeks remaining in the regular season, the American League Wild Card race is just as murky as it has been throughout August -- lots of contenders, no true favorite, with several teams simultaneously attempting to climb over the .500 mark and gain ground in the race.
Last week, the Angels had moved into that coveted second Wild Card position. This week, it's the Twins behind the front-running Yankees, with six teams within three games of the second spot. The Rangers and Royals, though two games under .500 and playing mediocre ball of late, are still just three games back.
In the National League, the Wild Card race is a little more defined, in that fewer teams can be considered legitimate contenders. But keep an eye on the emerging Marlins, who, while not in a division race, could make a climb for the Wild Card. They've been on such a hot tear that a five-game deficit doesn't seem that insurmountable. Consider this stat: Since May 28, the Nationals are 49-33, and the Marlins are 49-34.
Biggest jump: Hellooooo, Marlins! This would be a good time to talk about , whose home run barrage is a big reason why Miami is now two games above .500 at 66-64 and have jumped eight spots in our rankings, from 20 to 12. Stanton hit his 50th homer on Sunday; no one else has more than 37. A few fun facts about those 50 dingers: Stanton has hit 25 at home and 25 on the road; he has hit 26 with an exit velocity of 110-plus mph, and 21 of them have a projected distance of 425 or more feet. (Apropos of nothing, the Marlins have been on a tear since it was announced Derek Jeter is part of the new ownership group. Hmm.)

Biggest drop: The Angels dropped five spots and our now out of the top 10; they were No. 8 last week, and No. 13 this time. They're 5-5 in their past 10 games. Despite falling on trying times, the Angels are still within striking distance of the second Wild Card spot at one game back.
Power Rankings Top 5
1. Dodgers (1 last week)
The Dodgers suffered their first series loss since early June when they dropped two of three to the Brewers at home, but all that did was knock their win-pace down a couple of pegs, from 116 (which would tie the record-holding 2001 Mariners) to 114. How impressive is the Dodgers' pace? They play in the same division as two of the best teams in the National League and still could have the division title wrapped up less than two weeks from now.

2. Nationals (3)
The Nats received a boost with the return of Max Scherzer, who was true to his word that his disabled-list stint would be brief. Scherzer allowed one run in a landslide win over the Marlins on Monday, adding to a nice stretch for the Nats' starting staff. In their past 19 games, Nats starting pitchers are 9-5 with a 2.36 ERA and are averaging 6 1/3 innings per start. Nats starters have thrown 790 2/3 innings this season, second-most in the Majors, behind only the Giants.
3. Indians (4)
They were already making a push to creep up in our Power Rankings, and three straight shutouts over the Royals pretty much sealed that deal. Dating back to July 21, only the Dodgers (25-8) have a better record in the Majors than Cleveland (26-11). In that span, Indians starters are 21-5 with a 2.96 ERA.

4. Astros (5)
Houston had had few challenging times through the first four months of the season, but it seems to be catching up to them a bit lately. They're still in firm control of the AL West lead, and it's a matter of when, not if, they celebrate the division title. But the next three weeks could take a bit of a toll. What is now being called the worst flooding in the history of the country, Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey has also displaced the Astros, who will have one and possibly two "home" series in Tampa Bay this week before heading out on their normally scheduled three-city road trip to the West Coast. That's potentially 21 days away from home. A 13 1/2-game lead in the division should help push them through this.

5. Red Sox (2)
The Red Sox's skid was enough to knock them out of the top two spots, but it wasn't enough to drop them from the top five. They have three wins in their past eight games and just pulled out of a four-game losing skid that included a sweep by the Orioles. The Sox still have a relatively firm hold on the AL East following their win over the Blue Jays on Monday, padding their lead in the division to 3 1/2 games ahead of the Yankees.
The rest of the top 20
6. Cubs (6)
7. Yankees (7)
8. Diamondbacks (11)
9. Rockies (9)
10. Twins (10)
11. Brewers (13)
12. Marlins (20)
13. Angels (8)
14. Mariners (15)
15. Cardinals (12)
16. Orioles (19)
17. Rangers (14)
18. Rays (18)
19. Royals (16)
20. Pirates (17)