As recently as a month ago, it looked as if no team would be able to surpass the Yankees in the race for the best record in the American League.
That has changed. The Astros, who have won four in a row and are 7-3 in their past 10, own the best record in the AL at 75-41, and, having beaten the Yankees 5-2 in the season series, would have homefield advantage in the ALCS, should the two teams meet.
Meanwhile, the list of contenders in the American League Wild Card race runs six deep; every non-first-place team with a winning record either occupies one of the top three spots or is within two games of moving into that space.
The White Sox are the furthest out, but are only two games out of the third spot. The Orioles -- who are threatening to win a playoff spot after a long rebuild (one that some of us thought was still in progress), are 1 1/2 games out, ahead of the Twins, who are within two games.
On to the rankings …
Biggest jump: The D-backs jumped four spots, from 25 to 21. The D-backs have won eight of 12 and have hit 13 homers during that stretch.
Biggest drop: The Reds dropped four spots, from 22 to 26. The Reds ended a five-game losing streak with a win over the Cubs on Sunday, concluding a busy week that included a jaunt to Dyersville, Iowa, for the Field of Dreams game.
Power Rankings Top 5:
1) Dodgers (79-34; last week: 1)
DraftKings World Series odds: 3.7-1
The Dodgers lost to the Royals on Sunday, ending a 12-game win streak and falling one win shy of tying the club’s all-time record. Big picture? They’re the best team in baseball by a wide margin, are on pace for 113 wins and are running away with the NL West, again. During their winning streak, they slashed .308/.358/.554 with 21 homers and 91 runs scored (7.6 runs/game) with a +60 run differential (91-31).
2) Astros (75-41; last week: 3)
DraftKings World Series odds: 4.5-1
The Astros are not far behind the Dodgers, having won their 75th game on Sunday as they completed a sweep of the A’s. Houston reached 75 wins in the 116th game of the season, the second-fewest games needed to reach 75 wins in franchise history. The 2019 Astros reached their 75th win in game No. 115. The Astros have won eight of their past 11 games, outscoring opponents 61-33.
3) Mets (75-40; last week: 4)
DraftKings World Series odds: 4.75-1
The Mets were 9-2 on their recently concluded 11-game homestand, highlighted by series wins over intra-division rivals Atlanta (4-1) and Philadelphia (2-1). That helped them keep their stronghold on the NL East, which they lead by 5 1/2 games. That’s crucial, given they hit the road this week for a challenging stretch: four in Atlanta, four in Philadelphia and two vs. the Yankees in the Bronx. The Mets are 39-15 vs. the NL East and have not lost a series to a division opponent this year.
4) Yankees (72-43; last week: 2)
DraftKings World Series odds: 4.5-1
After an almost unprecedented first half that suggested they may be on a historic wins pace, things have slowed considerably for the Yankees, who have lost nine of their past 12 games. That strong first half, though, ensures them that short of a catastrophic meltdown, their spot at the top of the AL East is safe. Still, the upcoming week-plus will test the Yankees. They host two of the stronger teams in their division, the Rays and Blue Jays, before ending with two against the crosstown rival, first-place Mets.
5) Braves (70-46; last week: 6)
DraftKings World Series odds: 11-1
Since the start of play on June 1, the Braves’ 47-19 record (.712 win percentage) is the second best in the Major Leagues, trailing only the Dodgers (46-18, .718). This is the best 65-game span by the Braves since June to September in 2004, when Atlanta was 48-17. The Braves are about to enter a stretch where they play three first-place teams over four series: the Mets, Astros and Cardinals. They’ll play a three-game set in Pittsburgh in the middle.
The rest of the field of 30:
- Padres (last week: 5)
- Cardinals (7)
- Blue Jays (8)
- Mariners (9)
- Phillies (13)
- Brewers (10)
- Rays (12)
- Guardians (14)
- Twins (11)
- Orioles (16)
- White Sox (15)
- Giants (17)
- Red Sox (18)
- Rangers (20)
- Marlins (19)
- D-backs (25)
- Angels (21)
- Rockies (24)
- Cubs (23)
- Pirates (26)
- Reds (22)
- Royals (27)
- Tigers (28)
- A’s (29)
- Nationals (30)
Voters: Alyson Footer, Anthony Castrovince, Paul Casella, Mark Feinsand, Nathalie Alonso, Mike Petriello, Sarah Langs, Andrew Simon, David Venn, Brett Blueweiss