With just about six weeks remaining in the season, 17 teams are either leading their division or are within five games of the division or Wild Card lead. That covers teams that are running away with their divisions (Cubs, Nationals), teams that have come on strong in the second half
With just about six weeks remaining in the season, 17 teams are either leading their division or are within five games of the division or Wild Card lead. That covers teams that are running away with their divisions (Cubs, Nationals), teams that have come on strong in the second half (Mariners, Tigers) and even some teams that tore it down at the non-waiver Trade Deadline and are technically rebuilding -- specifically, the Yankees, who are a mere 4 1/2 back in the American League Wild Card race.
No huge surprises at the top of this week's Power Rankings -- the Cubs are on a roll, again, as are some others -- but going a little deeper, only a couple of the teams that landed in the top 20 don't have a realistic shot at the postseason. That kind of parity should make for another compelling stretch run in September.
Biggest jump: Not a ton of movement this time around. The Yankees made the biggest leap, improving from 19 to 15. Youth movements and rebuilding, however frustrating, can also be interesting, and it should be noted that since the Yankees completed their purge in the days leading up to the Trade Deadline, they are 8-5. Most of the talent they acquired will continue to hone their skills in the Minors, but there is now room on the 25-man roster for a couple of top prospects the Yankees would like to take a look at. Early signs show the organization is on the right track, even if it will ultimately take a while for the franchise to return to what it once was.
Biggest drop: Things appear to be unraveling for the Mets, who are 5-8 in August, thus dropping them in our Power Rankings from 13 to 17. Not everything is doom and gloom for the reigning National League champs, however. They won the final two games against the Padres over the weekend that included a sterling outing by Steven Matz, they're a game over .500 and only two games back for the second Wild Card spot. As manager Terry Collins said, noting the injured players that are on the mend, "We're still in this thing." An upcoming road series at the D-backs may be beneficial, too.
Power Rankings Top 5:
Remember that one time right around the All-Star break when the Cubs weren't very good and everyone was asking, "What's wrong with the Cubs?" Yea, we don't either. They've lost three times in the last 2 1/2 weeks and are back on pace to exceed 100 wins. Perhaps it's not quite time to declare the NL Central race over (although a double-digit lead this far into August surely bodes well), but in another week, the gap could widen even further. The Cubs have four games in three days against the Brewers at home, and then they travel to Colorado and San Diego. This could be a fruitful rest of the month for the North Siders.
The Rangers continue to reap the benefits from the Trade Deadline. Jonathan Lucroy has been as good, and maybe even a little better, as advertised. But it should be noted the Rangers still have to navigate through the schedule without a rotation that is at full strength. They're 7-6 in August, but a recent surge by the Mariners leaves the Rangers with a 5 1/2 game lead in the AL West -- comfortable, but, compared to a couple of weeks ago, narrow. These rankings have as much to do with where teams figure to be at the end of the regular season as much as the here and now, and in terms of what the Rangers can be with a rotation at full strength -- which should happen come September -- they're in a good place, now and later.
The Nats are starting to coast, aided by eight wins in 11 August games and poor performances by the Marlins and Mets that allowed the Nats to build an 8 1/2 game lead in the NL East. The pitching staff ranks in the top three in nearly every major category, and the offense is coming along as well, led in part by a surging Anthony Rendon, who, since July 16, is 27-for-84 (.318) with six homers and 21 RBIs.
They're 15-12 since the All-Star break, but a larger sampling shows why the Tribe has been consistently showing up in the Top 5 of the weekly Power Rankings. The Indians are 41-24 since June 1, the best mark in the Majors over that span of time. They've also held the top spot in the AL Central for 72 straight days, dating back to June 4. A slow start in August has picked up considerably, as evidenced by the Tribe's weekend four-game sweep over the Angels.
Oddly enough, the only team the Orioles have had trouble with lately is the sub-.500 A's, who took three of four last week in Oakland. Other than that, the O's won series against the Rangers, White Sox and Giants to cap the first half of August. The Orioles are 26-19 within their division, which is turning out to be quite a compelling race between Baltimore, Toronto and Boston.
6. Blue Jays (5)
7. Dodgers (9)
8. Giants (7)
9. Red Sox (10)
10. Tigers (8)
11. Mariners (12)
12. Cardinals (11)
13. Marlins (12)
14. Astros (15)
15. Yankees (19)
16. Pirates (16)
17. Mets (13)
18. Rockies (18)
19. Royals (NR)
20. White Sox (20)
Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.