Power Rankings: No. 1 Red Sox see rivals jump

August 13th, 2018

It wasn't that long ago that the American League East race was a tight one between two teams that were each on pace to exceed 100 wins.
Things have changed quickly. The division still features two clubs projected to exceed the century mark, but the gap between the first and second place teams has widened to nearly double-digits.
The Yankees, at 74-43, are on pace for 101 wins, but they are a distant 9 1/2 games behind the Red Sox, who are just a hair off the pace to record the most wins in baseball history.
How good is Boston? At 85-35, it would need to go only 21-22 or better in its final 43 games to break the franchise's regular-season wins record of 105, set during Fenway Park's inaugural season in 1912.
The Red Sox have been beating up on everybody, including teams within their division. They're 43-15 against the AL East and, at this rate, will shatter the 1998 Yankees' record winning percentage of .688 while playing teams within in the division.
Biggest jump: Unsurprisingly, the Mariners took a big leap after sweeping the Astros in four games in Houston over the weekend. They jumped five spots, from No. 16 to No. 11. Mitch Haniger had five doubles, tying a Mariners record for a four-game set. became the first pitcher in Mariners history to record a save in every game of a four-game series. He also became the third reliever in club history to reach 100 strikeouts in a single season.
Biggest drop: The Rockies dropped four spots, from No. 13 to No. 17. This is probably a little harsh, considering the Rockies were 4-3 in the past week and took three of four vs. the Dodgers. The Rockies are bunched into the middle of the pack with a lot of clubs that posted a very average win-loss record in the past six or seven games. The Rockies' series win over the Dodgers moved them to within 1 1/2 games of the division leader, Arizona. Colorado is also making a Wild Card push, tied with St. Louis and 2 1/2 games off pace for the second NL Wild Card spot.
Power Rankings Top 5:
1. Red Sox (1 last week)
The Red Sox are 50 games over .500, the first time they've reached that high-water mark since they finished the 1946 season with a 104-50 record. They're on pace for 115 wins, which would put them in line to tie the 1906 Cubs for the second-most wins in history, behind only the 2001 Mariners (116). The Sox didn't really miss Chris Sale during his short stint on the DL, and his return on Sunday -- 12 strikeouts over five innings in a win over the Orioles -- suggests he'll have few issues easing back in. Offensively, J.D. Martinez has eight homers and 23 RBIs over his past 19 games, while has 20 hits in his past 45 at-bats (.444).

2. Astros (2)
The Astros are trying to win games without their best hitter and last year's World Series MVP, and it shows. If they get the band back together and healthy in time for the stretch run, they should be fine, but right now, playing without and (as well as , until just recently) is hurting them. Houston being swept by the Mariners extended its home losing streak to eight games, a stretch that has produced just 24 runs. Their pitching has kept the Astros in games to a degree, but even the deepest teams struggle to compensate when a large chunk of their All-Star representation is on the shelf.

3. Yankees (7)
After being swept in four games by the Red Sox, the Yankees took advantage of an easier part of their schedule, stringing together six wins in seven games against the White Sox and Rangers. Over that stretch, they scored 44 runs and hit 17 homers. has been right in the thick of it, and on Sunday, he became the first Yankee to hit 30 home runs in his first season with the club since Mark Teixeira recorded 39 in 2009. Stanton has five homers and nine RBIs in his past six games.

4. Cubs (3)
To this point, the Cubs, who are 7-4 in August thus far, look smart for trading for lefty Cole Hamels at the Deadline. Acquired from Texas on July 27, Hamels has allowed two earned runs over 18 innings for a 1.00 ERA in three starts for the Cubs, including a stellar seven-inning, one-run outing in Sunday's win over the Nationals. Offensively, is in the middle of a 16-game on-base streak, during which he has five homers and 10 RBIs. has been red-hot since the All-Star break, slashing .436/.477/.709 over 18 games heading into Sunday night.

5. Indians (4)
The Indians have won seven of nine and, with a double-digit lead in the AL Central, will not have the pressure of a division race down the stretch. But there are still things to be concerned about -- namely, 's recent trip to the disabled list. Though an X-ray on his sore hand came back clean, an MRI showed swelling in his biceps, which ultimately led to the club's decision to put him on the 10-day DL. The club can still lean on , who's a homer away from 30 on the year. He'd join to make the Indians the only team in the Majors with multiple 30-homer players this season.

The rest of the Top 20:
6. Dodgers (6) 
7. A's (8)
8. Phillies (5)
9. D-backs (10) 
10. Braves (9)
11. Mariners (16)
12. Brewers (11)
13. Nationals (12)
14. Cardinals (15)
15. Rays (17)
16. Pirates (14)
17. Rockies (13)
18. Giants (18)
19. Angels (19)
20. Reds (20)