As expected, one of the six divisions was decided last week, officially closing the book on what was essentially a one-team race all season.Congratulations to the Cleveland Indians, American League Central division champs for the third year in a row, and, barring the unlikeliest scenario that the Twins win the
As expected, one of the six divisions was decided last week, officially closing the book on what was essentially a one-team race all season.
Congratulations to the Cleveland Indians, American League Central division champs for the third year in a row, and, barring the unlikeliest scenario that the Twins win the remainder of their 13 games, the only team in that division that will finish with a winning record.
A couple more divisions could be wrapped up in the upcoming week. The next likely champion to be crowned will come from the AL East, and it could happen this week. The combination of the Red Sox's win over the Mets on Sunday and the Yankees' loss to the Blue Jays whittled Boston's magic number down to two, which means the Sox have a good chance to clinch the division this week in the Bronx, where they begin a three-game set with the Yankees on Tuesday.
The two divisions that have the best chance to go down to the last weekend of the season are the National League Central, where 2 1/2 games separate the Cubs and Brewers, and the NL West, which is virtually locked at the top by the Dodgers and Rockies.
On to the Power Rankings ...
Biggest jump: The Rays jumped four spots, from No. 14 to No. 10. This time of year, it's hard for a team that probably isn't making the playoffs to crack the top 10, but given how Tampa Bay has played, there's no justification for ranking it lower. The Rays' win over the A's on Sunday was their 82nd, clinching their first winning season since 2013 when they won 92 games (for manager Joe Maddon) before losing in the AL Division Series to the Red Sox.
Biggest drop: There were no dramatic drops this week. The biggest was the Cardinals falling two spots, from No. 10 to No. 12. They lost four in a row heading into their finale with the Dodgers on Sunday night, which caused them to fall off in the NL Central race. St. Louis' best pathway to the postseason will be through the Wild Card, a race that is still as jumbled as ever.
Power Rankings Top 5
1. Red Sox (1)
Boston needs to win just three of its final 12 games to set a new single-season franchise record. The 1912 Sox hold the all-time wins mark with 105. Attempting to break records will take a back seat to higher priorities for the Sox, however. Manager Alex Cora will spend the next two weeks assuring his players stay healthy and are fresh for October.
2. Astros (2)
A 4 1/2-game lead in the AL West race may not seem like a lot, but it's significant compared to what the race has been like the past six weeks. The Astros took two of three from the D-backs over the weekend, while the A's lost two of three to the Rays. That created some space in what has been one of the most intriguing division races of the second half. Third baseman Alex Bregman continues to pace the offense with a 42-game on-base streak, during which he's hitting .335.
3. Yankees (3)
It sounds silly to suggest that a team that's still on track to win around 100 games might be limping into the postseason, but the Yankees, unquestionably, are having a bad September. They've lost 11 of their past 19 games, going 5-8 against a whole mess of struggling teams, including the White Sox, Tigers, Twins and Blue Jays. On a more optimistic note, Aaron Judge may be ready to play in the upcoming Red Sox series.
4. A's (5)
Their weekend series loss to the Rays was only the A's third series loss in the past 26 they've played, dating back to mid-June. Their two losses in St. Petersburg may have contributed to a slight fade in the AL West standings, but home-field advantage in the Wild Card Game is still very much in play. Entering the penultimate week of the regular season, Oakland is 1 1/2 games behind the Yankees for the top spot in that race.
5. Cubs (4)
The Cubs have won 16 of their past 25 games, dating back to Aug. 22. They haven't been able to create much breathing room in the NL Central race, however, thanks to the surging Brewers, who are 2 1/2 games off pace in the division. The Cubs, who are in the midst of a brutal stretch of 30 days in a row without a day off, are about to get a breather. They're technically on a "road trip," with three games slated in Arizona starting Monday, but after an off-day (hooray!) on Thursday, they have three games with the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field. So even though they'll be playing away from Wrigley, they'll still be home.
The rest of the top 20
- Indians (6 last week)
- Braves (7)
- Brewers (9)
- Dodgers (8)
- Rays (14)
- Rockies (11)
- Cardinals (10)
- D-backs (12)
- Phillies (13)
- Mariners (15)
- Nationals (16)
- Pirates (17)
- Angels (20)
- Mets (NR)
- Blue Jays (NR)
Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.