By this time next week, one division race will probably be wrapped up, with a second possibly nearing completion as well.The Indians are the only team in baseball with a single-digit magic number to clinch a division. As the only over-.500 team in the American League Central, any combination of
By this time next week, one division race will probably be wrapped up, with a second possibly nearing completion as well.
The Indians are the only team in baseball with a single-digit magic number to clinch a division. As the only over-.500 team in the American League Central, any combination of Indians wins and Twins losses equaling five will clinch the title for Cleveland. All other teams in the division have already been eliminated.
The Red Sox could clinch, or at least come close to it, toward the end of next weekend. With a magic number of 12, a lot would have to go right (and disastrously wrong for the Yankees) to clinch that quickly, but with an 8 1/2-game lead in the AL East, Boston can probably start eyeing that champagne shower a little closer, even with three weeks of games to play.
The other races aren't close to being decided. Oakland is 2 1/2 games behind Houston, Milwaukee is two behind the Cubs, the Phillies are a less-threatening 4 1/2 back of the Braves and the NL West is still a jumbled mess between the Rockies, Dodgers and D-backs.
For the teams leading divisions by a hair, three weeks probably feels like three years. A lot can happen -- and probably will -- between now and Sept. 30.
Biggest jump: Two teams had significant jumps this week, and they both deserve recognition. The Brewers have re-entered the Top 10, jumping three spots from No. 12 to No. 9, and the Rockies are just behind them at No. 11, up four from No. 15.
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The Brewers have won 14 of 19 and are 20 games over .500 for the first time since 2011. They've won six consecutive series, including their weekend sweep of the Giants. The Rockies, winners of six of their past eight, have scored 43 runs and have hit 16 home runs over that stretch.
Biggest drop: Not a ton of movement in this category this week. Three teams dropped two spots, but it's notable that each of them have some of the smallest margins for error of anyone involved in division and Wild Card races. The Cardinals, 3-5 in September, dropped from No. 8 to No. 10; the D-backs, 2-4 in their past six, dropped from No. 10 to No. 12; and the Phillies, whose pathway to the playoffs is narrowing, dropped from No. 11 to No. 13 after posting just two wins this month, against five losses.
Power Rankings Top 5:
1. Red Sox (1 last week)
Even with a series loss to Houston over the weekend, Boston maintains its No. 1 standing in the rankings by virtue of its 98 wins with three full weeks remaining in the regular season. Though their extended homestand just started, the Sox have already completed the most challenging part. Their next six games will be against the Blue Jays and Mets, before the schedule ramps up again with a road trip to the Yankees and Indians.
2. Astros (2)
The Astros actually lost a game in the AL West race over the weekend, despite taking two of three from the Red Sox. They now hold a 2 1/2 game lead over the A's, who swept the Rangers. Alex Bregman continues his torrid pace, having reached base safely in his past 36 games -- by far the longest active streak in baseball. During that stretch, he's hitting close to .379 with eight homers, 26 RBIs and 27 runs scored. Overall, Bregman leads the Majors with 80 extra-base hits.
3. Yankees (3)
With a 2 1/2-game lead over the A's for the top Wild Card spot, and the reality that those are the only two teams involved in the AL Wild Card "race," the Yankees' main focus should be on maintaining home-field advantage for their one-game playoff on Oct. 3. Their remaining schedule is right down the middle in terms of degree of difficulty. They play nine games against below .500 teams -- the Twins, Blue Jays and Orioles -- and they have three series, totaling 10 games, against good teams, including six with the Red Sox and four with the Rays.
4. Cubs (4)
The Cubs lead in the NL Central is hardly comfortable, and let's just say their upcoming three-game home set with the Brewers is kind of a big deal. The Cubs have won 10 of 16 over the Brewers, including five of six at Wrigley. This will be the final regular-season meeting between the two geographical and divisional rivals, and while it won't settle who will eventually come out on top, the atmosphere at the Friendly Confines should be electric. Who doesn't love a playoff atmosphere on a crisp September evening at the ballpark?
5. A's (5)
Yep, the A's are still right in the thick of things, and, like the Yankees, they have all but wrapped up a playoff spot. They're 30 games over .500 for the first time since they finished 2013 at 96-66, and they're an MLB-best 53-21 since June 16. Much of the talk about the A's focuses on the weaknesses in an injury-riddled rotation, but the offense and bullpen have been nails. Entering their finale with the Rangers Sunday, the A's, dating back to the start of their incredible run in June, were third in baseball in runs scored, second in homers, first in slugging and second in bullpen ERA.
The rest of the Top 20:
6. Indians (6)
- Braves (7)
- Dodgers (9)
- Brewers (12)
- Cardinals (8)
- Rockies (15)
- D-backs (10)
- Phillies (11)
- Rays (13)
- Mariners (14)
- Nationals (16)
- Pirates (17)
- Reds (20)
- Giants (18)
- Angels (19)
Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.