Power Rankings: New team in the Top 5

September 7th, 2020

With the top two teams in each division getting an automatic berth to the postseason, some of those races might appear to be already decided – at first glance.

But take a closer look at some of the teams we may not be giving a lot of attention, due to their sub-.500 records. The Mariners, for example, are 18-22, but, after winning five in a row, they’re only three games behind the Astros for second place in the American League West.

The Marlins, who have been pretty steady all season despite not playing as much as most other clubs, are also hanging in there in the National League East, lagging behind the second-place Phillies by only a 1 1/2 games. And the Mets are just behind Miami, 2 1/2 games out of second place.

In the NL Central, the Brewers, who are three games under .500, aren’t that far behind the second-place Cardinals. They’re 2 1/2 back entering their off-day Monday.

Biggest jump: The Cardinals jumped four spots, from No. 18 to No. 14. While most teams are two-thirds through the schedule, the Cardinals actually just reached the halfway mark on Saturday. Starting Monday, they have 26 games over 21 days, and that doesn’t even include two games in Detroit that need to be rescheduled. So here’s a hat tip to the Cardinals for winning enough to stay in contention, despite the upheaval this season.

Biggest drop: The Rockies dropped four, from No. 14 to No. 18. Several Rockies regulars are struggling, and the team is still searching for some consistency after laboring to string together wins. They have lost 17 of 26.

1. Dodgers (30-12; 1 last week)
The first team in baseball to reach 30 wins, the Dodgers recently matched their best 40-game start in franchise history. They also started this way through their first 40 in 1888, 1955 and 1977. Additionally, they became the fifth team in the expansion era (since 1961) to win at least 30 of its first 40 games. The other four: the 1984 Tigers (won the World Series); 1998 Yankees (won the World Series), 2001 Mariners (lost the ALCS); and the ’77 Dodgers (lost the World Series).

2. Rays (28-13; 2)
The Rays are in a favorable position as the baseball schedule whittles down to its final three weeks. Tampa Bay has no more games with the Blue Jays or Yankees, but those two teams play each other 10 times over the next 2 1/2 weeks. All the Rays have to do is keep winning at a decent clip and hope the Jays and Yanks come close to splitting their games, and Tampa Bay should be able to coast to the AL East title. The Rays also play only one team the rest of the season currently playing at a .500 clip or better – the Phillies, whom they host the final weekend.

3. A's (23-14; 3)
By midweek, we’ll probably know much more about how the AL West will shake out. The Astros and A’s will play five games in the next four days, and if the A’s win three or more, it’s realistic to assume they’ll be on their way to winning the division. Oakland has played only five games in the past week and a half, and of those five games, it won only one. That’s only slightly better than the Astros, who just got swept in four games in Anaheim. So this week should be interesting.

4. Padres (25-17; 5)
Since there’s no such thing as too much information about Fernando Tatis Jr., let’s use this space once again to gush about the Padres’ wunderkind. Tatis is tied with Mike Trout for the Major League lead with 15 home runs, the most by any player 21 years or younger in his team’s first 42 games of the season in the modern era.

5. White Sox (26-15; 6)
Who could have guessed when this season started the most competitive division in baseball would be the AL Central? The race is still tight, even with the White Sox rolling. Over the past three weeks, dating back to Aug. 16, the Sox are tied with the Dodgers for the best record in baseball at 16-4. José Abreu is batting .386 (32-for-83) with 10 homers and 28 RBIs during a 20-game hitting streak, the longest active streak in baseball. And still, with all the winning, the White Sox still hold only a half-game lead on the Indians and a 1 1/2-game lead over the Twins. This will be a fun one down the stretch.

The rest of the field of 30:

6. Twins (25-17; 7)
7. Indians (25-15; 4)
8. Braves (24-16; 10)
9. Cubs (23-18; 9)
10. Yankees (21-19; 8)
11. Phillies (19-17; 13)
12. Astros (21-19; 11)
13. Jays (22-18; 12)
14. Cardinals (17-15; 18)
15. Marlins (17-18; 17)
16. Reds (18-23; 16)
17. Brewers (18-21; 15)
18. Rockies (20-20; 14)
19. Mets (19-22; 19)
20. Orioles (19-21; 21)
21. Tigers (18-20; 22)
22. Giants (20-21; 20)
23. D-backs (15-26; 24)
24. Nationals (14-25; 23)
25. Angels (17-25; 28)
26. Mariners (18-22; 27)
27. Royals (14-27; 26)
28. Rangers (13-26; 25)
29. Red Sox (14-28; 29)
30. Pirates (13-26; 30)

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