Power Rankings: Watch the AL Wild Card

July 26th, 2021

The American League Wild Card race is packed with teams that most of us have come to expect to be postseason contenders over the years. But there are also a couple of newcomers that have jumped into the mix, including two from the AL West division: the Mariners and Angels.  

The Angels, who employ the most exciting player in baseball in Shohei Ohtani, finished the week at 49-49, and are hoping to getting Mike Trout back into the lineup by early August. That won’t necessarily catapult the Angels to the top of the standings, but they’ve shown strength in other areas, as well; namely, the starting pitching, which in the past several years has been the biggest reason they haven’t contended.

But it’s on a roll now. In their past 12 games, Angels starters have allowed 22 earned runs over 74 1/3 innings -- a 2.66 ERA. The Angels begin the week 5 1/2 games behind the A’s for the second Wild Card spot. 

The Mariners are in an even better position, just 1 1/2 games behind that second spot, with a .554 winning percentage (54-46). They’ve won nine of their past 13, including three of four vs. the A’s at home over the weekend.

Leading the AL WC standings are the Rays, who jumped into the Top 5 of the Power Rankings after receiving a jolt from Nelson Cruz. The 41-year-old slugger homered twice over the weekend after coming over in a trade with the Twins.

Biggest jump: The Braves jumped four spots, from 19 to 15. Atlanta could make a push this week, given there’s a five-game difference between the Braves and Mets in the NL East standings, and the two teams play five times this week (starting with a doubleheader on Monday).

Biggest drop: The Rangers, riding a 12-game losing streak, fell three spots, from 26 to 29. If there’s a silver lining, it’s this: They’re playing a two-game set this week against the only team behind them -- the D-backs, who visit Globe Life Field for a two-game set starting Tuesday.

Power Rankings Top 5

1) Giants (1 last week)
The Giants have the best record in the Majors and are on pace to win 101 games, even with a mediocre 5-5 start to the second half. In the past week, the Giants have reminded us that in a season this long, most anything can happen -- such as taking three of four against the division rival Dodgers, only to lose two of three to the Pirates, who are on pace for 100 losses. The Giants’ upcoming homestand will be a must-watch: they start with three against the Dodgers, and then host the Astros for three.

2) Astros (3)
The Astros, 6-3 since the All-Star break and fresh off a three-game sweep of the reeling Rangers, have a challenging road trip ahead of them: three at Seattle, three at San Francisco and two in Los Angeles vs. the Dodgers. But the Astros will take with them the best record in the American League at 61-39, and a healthy 5 1/2-game lead in the AL West.

3) Dodgers (2)
The Dodgers are 5-5 since the All-Star break and attempting to cobble things together despite injuries to key players, including Mookie Betts, who’s on the injured list with hip inflammation. They were able to take advantage of playing the Rockies on consecutive weekends, taking two of three in each of those series, but the only “breather” they’ll have in the near future is a three-game set in Arizona this weekend. Other than that, they play the Giants on the road and the Astros and Angels at home.

4) Rays (6)
Unlike many contending teams, the Rays have been strong in the early stages of the second half, going 7-3 since play resumed after the All-Star break. Tampa Bay has also won 13 of its past 17 since the start of play on July 4. This is a good time to be rolling, given what’s coming up on their schedule. The Rays' upcoming homestand opens with six games against the teams closest to them in the standings -- the Yankees and Red Sox.

5) White Sox (4)
The White Sox haven’t had a great start to the second half -- they had to win on Sunday, for example, to avoid being swept by the Brewers. But the South Siders have an advantage that a few other first-place teams don’t: they’ve separated themselves from every other team in the AL Central, and their lead could reach double digits in the next couple of days. Only one other team in the division has a record above .500 -- the Indians, who are nine games behind the Sox.

The rest of the field of 30
6) Red Sox (5 last week)
7) Padres (7)
8) Brewers (8)
9) Mets (9)
10) A’s (10)
11) Blue Jays (12)
12) Yankees (13)
13) Reds (11)
14) Mariners (15)
15) Braves (19)
16) Indians (14)
17) Phillies (16)
18) Cardinals (20)
19) Angels (17)
20) Nationals (18)
21) Tigers (23)
22) Cubs (21)
23) Marlins (22)
24) Twins (24)
25) Rockies (27)
26) Royals (25)
27) Pirates (28)
28) Orioles (29)
29) Rangers (26)
30) D-backs (30)

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