Power Rankings: Big leaps with week to go

September 21st, 2020

Some of the postseason picture has been settled, but with so many spots still up for grabs, the upcoming final week should be compelling until the end.

These teams are in: the A’s, Rays, Yankees, White Sox, Twins, Dodgers and Padres. That leaves nine more spots to fill with six or seven games remaining on each team’s schedule. The Astros, with a four-game lead over the Mariners for second place in the American League West, are close to being a lock. And the Braves should have few issues nabbing the top spot in the National League East, with the Marlins and Phillies fighting it out for second place.

The NL Central continues to be the most fascinating race, one that could go down to the last day of the season with three teams -- the Cardinals, Reds and Brewers -- jockeying for second place.

If the postseason began today, the Indians and Blue Jays would be the two AL Wild Card teams, and the Phillies and Reds would have those spots in the NL. But things can and probably will get jumbled in the NL, given the Brewers and Giants are lurking, only a game behind in the loss column.

On to the rankings …

Biggest jump: The Yankees (No. 9 to No. 4) and the Reds (No. 19 to No. 14) each jumped five spots. The Yankees ended a 10-game winning streak with their loss to the Red Sox Sunday, but they moved from the eighth seed to the fifth seed in the AL during their surge.

As for the Reds, they had a nice week, pulling off the expected -- a sweep over the last-place Pirates -- while also enjoying a slightly less likely outcome by taking two of three from the playoff-bound White Sox.

Biggest drop: The Phillies dropped a modest three spots, from No. 13 to No. 16. It should be noted that the Phillies rebounded nicely after losing eight of 11, reeling off three wins against the Blue Jays before dropping the finale on Sunday.

1) Dodgers (38-16; 1 last week)
The Dodgers are on the cusp of clinching their eighth consecutive National League West title. In the divisional era (since 1969), only the Braves (14) and Yankees (9) have had longer streaks. Here’s a Dodgers pitcher to keep an eye on: right-hander Tony Gonsolin, who struck out 10 Rockies hitters over five innings on Sunday. In seven starts this year, he’s allowed five earned runs over 35 2/3 innings, good for a 1.26 ERA.

2) Rays (35-19; 2)
The Rays’ bullpen has thrown 12 consecutive scoreless innings and, unsurprisingly, owns one of the lowest ERAs in baseball. On Saturday, Ryan Thomson became the 12th different pitcher to record a save for the Rays, tying the MLB record set by the 1973 Rangers. Offensively, it looks like Brandon Lowe is hitting a stride after a rough stretch in which he logged three hits over 12 games. In his past 12 games, he’s 14-for-40 (.350) with three homers.

3) Padres (34-20; 3)
The Padres beat the Mariners in extra innings on Sunday to clinch their first postseason berth since 2006. Now can we start talking about Manny Machado as NL MVP? The third baseman is tied for the NL lead with 16 homers, matching Adam Duvall and Mookie Betts, and he’s third with 46 RBIs, behind Freddie Freeman and Marcell Ozuna, each with 48.

4) Yankees (31-22; 9)
The Mariners’ loss Sunday clinched a postseason spot for the Yankees, who have benefitted from a string of good pitching performances this month. Notably, J.A. Happ has enjoyed a stunning turnaround, posting a 1.99 ERA over his past five starts. He allowed seven earned runs over 31 2/3 innings, with three walks and 33 strikeouts in that span.

5) A’s (33-20; 4)
Oakland's hopes to clinch the AL West title was thwarted by a major pitching stumble on Sunday vs. the Giants, a rarity during this strong September. Prior to their 14-2 loss to the Giants, A’s pitchers had allowed four runs over five games, spanning 42 innings, and they had three shutouts during that stretch.

The rest of the field of 30:

6. White Sox (34-19; 5 last week)

7. Twins (33-22; 6)

8. Cubs (31-22; 7)

9. Braves (31-22; 8)

10. Indians (29-24; 10)

11. Astros (27-26; 12)

12. Blue Jays (27-26; 11)

13. Marlins (28-25; 15)

14. Reds (27-27; 19)

15. Cardinals (26-24; 14)

16. Phillies (27-26; 13)

17. Giants (26-26; 16)

18. Brewers (26-26; 17)

19. Mets (24-29; 18)

20. Mariners (23-30; 20)

21. Rockies (23-29; 21)

22. Angels (23-31; 25)

23. Tigers (22-30; 23)

24. Orioles (23-31; 22)

25. Nationals (20-32; 24)

26. Royals (21-32; 26)

27. D-backs (20-34; 27)

28. Red Sox (20-34; 28)

29. Rangers (19-34; 29)

30. Pirates (15-38; 30)