Power Rankings: 2 fun teams making noise

August 24th, 2020

Among the most interesting teams in baseball right now are the Padres and White Sox, two up-and-coming clubs in the closing stages of long rebuilds pushing for the postseason. They both have rosters mostly filled with players who aren’t that well-known beyond the confines of their local fanbases. But that’s all changing quickly.

The “Slam Diego” Padres are the talk of baseball, partly because of the five grand slams they hit last week, but mostly because of one player: shortstop The 21-year-old is playing flawless defense and is leading the National League in a trio of offensive categories, including homers (12), RBIs (29) and runs scored (29). He’s also fourth in OPS (1.073).

Tatis' manager, Jayce Tingler, aptly summed it up this way: “We've got a No. 1 NFL receiver. We've got a point guard in the NBA. We've got a world class FIFA soccer player, maybe an anchor on a four-by-four Olympic team.”

Meanwhile, on the South Side of Chicago, veteran José Abreu had his way with the Cubs, hitting six home runs in a three-game series at Wrigley Field over the weekend. He hit two Friday, three Saturday and one Sunday, the last of which traveled 449 feet and gave Abreu the American League lead with 11 homers and 28 RBIs.

The “second half” should be fun. On to the rankings…

Biggest jump: The Blue Jays jumped 11 spots, from No. 23 to No. 12. There’s a lot to like about this team, which had won six in a row before losing two of three to the Rays over the weekend. Even in the losses, the Jays were on point with their defense, and several young hitters are starting to emerge. Cavan Biggio is one of them -- he’s 19-for-56 with six doubles, four homers and 16 runs scored in his 16-game on-base streak.

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Biggest drop: The best story in the NL West for a while was Colorado, and its chances to maybe make this a division race with the powerhouse Dodgers. The past week, however, was... not so good. The Rockies have lost nine of their past 10, including a sweep by the Dodgers, and home-and-home sweeps by the Astros. They slipped from No. 8 to No. 21.

Here are the Power Rankings Top 5:

1) Dodgers (22-8, 1 last week)
The Dodgers reached the midway point of their 60-game schedule on Sunday and are the only team in MLB with a winning percentage of .700 or better. Winners of 11 of their past 12, they’ve gotten a boost from , who seems to be getting back on track after a slow start. He’s batting .314 (11-for-35) with six homers and 10 RBIs in his past 10 games, and has four homers in his past five.

2) A’s (20-9, 2)
With their extra-innings win over the Angels on Sunday, the A’s are the first AL team to 20 wins. They’ll spend the next week in the state of Texas, where they’ll play four with the Rangers and three with the Astros, attempting to maintain their very healthy lead in the AL West. Matt Chapman is starting to heat up at the plate -- he has three homers in his past four games and has 15 extra-base hits, including seven homers, and 18 RBIs in his past 15 games.

3) Twins (19-10, 5)
The Twins scored two runs in the first inning of their game with the Royals on Sunday, continuing a season-long trend of putting up crooked numbers early. They have scored an MLB-high 27 runs in the first inning, and they’ve also won 16 of 21 when they score first. And opponents beware: Miguel Sanó is on fire. In a career-high streak of seven consecutive games with an extra-base hit, he has seven doubles and two homers.

4) Yankees (16-9, 3)
Yes, we know the Yankees haven’t played in a while, and that they were swept by the Rays just before their series with the Mets was postponed. But there’s reason for optimism, even with their latest rash of injuries. Aaron Judge is expected back in the lineup on Tuesday when the Yankees open a two-game series in Atlanta, and Luke Voit appears headed for a breakout season. In his past 15 games, he’s slashing .340/.417/.811 with eight homers and 15 RBIs.

5) Rays (19-10, 9)
They’ve been hit by the injury bug as much as any other team -- and in some cases, more -- but that hasn’t affected the Rays in the win column. They continue to be the team no one wants to play, with a lockdown bullpen and defense that makes them a powerhouse in one of the tougher divisions in baseball. Including their win over the Blue Jays on Sunday, the Rays have 13 wins in their past 15 games. Their only two losses in that stretch were against Toronto.

The rest of the field of 30:
6) Cubs (17-10, 4 last week)
7) Indians (17-11, 7)
8) Braves (16-12, 6)
9) White Sox (17-12, 16)
10) Padres (18-12, 10)
11) Astros (15-13, 12)
12) Blue Jays (13-13, 23)
13) Reds (11-15, 14)
14) Cardinals (9-8, 13)
15) Marlins (11-11, 18)
16) Nationals (11-14, 20)
17) Brewers (11-15, 11)
18) Mets (12-14, 21)
19) D-backs (13-16, 17)
20) Phillies (10-14, 19)
21) Rockies (13-15, 8)
22) Orioles (14-14, 15)
23) Rangers (10-17, 22)
24) Angels (9-20, 24)
25) Tigers (11-15, 25)
26) Giants (14-16, 26)
27) Royals (11-17, 27)
28) Red Sox (9-20, 28)
29) Mariners (11-19, 29)
30) Pirates (7-17, 30)

Voters: Alyson Footer, Richard Justice, Anthony Castrovince, Jesse Sanchez, Mark Feinsand, Nathalie Alonso, Mike Petriello, Sarah Langs, Andrew Simon, David Venn