Power Rankings: New team joins Top 5 as playoff races heat up

September 11th, 2023

With approximately 20 games remaining in the regular season, plenty of races are still yet to be decided.

The NL East and NL West races are all but over, with the Braves and Dodgers leading their respective divisions by double digits. You could make an argument that the Twins, with the only winning record in the AL Central and a 7 1/2-game lead over the Guardians, have that race wrapped up as well.

That leaves the AL West, AL East and NL Central still up for grabs, in addition to at least one spot in each of the Wild Card races. In the NL, the D-backs have control of the third spot by the narrowest margin, with the Marlins, Reds and Giants all hanging in.

Biggest jump: There wasn’t a lot of movement in the rankings from last week; several teams jumped two spots, including the Blue Jays (No. 10 to No. 8), who took advantage of a softer schedule to open the month. Starting Sept. 1, the Jays went 7-2 against the Rockies, A’s and Royals.

Biggest drop: Not a lot of movement here, either. The Giants dropped two spots, from No. 15 to No. 17. September has been rough -- they opened the month with a six-game losing streak against the Padres and Cubs.

Power Rankings Top 5:

1. Braves, 93-49 (last week: 1)
The Braves clinched a postseason berth with their 5-2 win over the Pirates on Sunday and, with a 15-game lead in the NL East, should have the division title wrapped up sooner than later. They have 93 wins with 20 games left to play and are on pace for 106 wins. That would tie them with the 1998 Braves for the franchise record. Their 20-game homer streak was snapped on Sunday, ending a stretch that produced 41 long balls.

2. Orioles, 90-52 (2)
The O’s ended a seven-game winning streak with a loss to the Red Sox on Sunday, but that shouldn’t detract from what they have going right now. They are on quite a roll, having averaged 8.5 runs per game during their winning streak, including double-digit runs in three straight contests. Everyone is contributing. Entering Sunday’s game, Adley Rutschman had two homers and eight RBIs over his prior six games, Austin Hays was batting .371 with four extra-base hits and 11 runs scored over nine games, and James McCann was hitting .308 with 15 RBIs over his past 15 games.

3. Dodgers, 87-55 (3)
The Dodgers have come down to earth a little bit after winning 24 of 28. They dropped six of nine before their win over the Nationals on Sunday, but with a magic number of 7 to clinch the division, if there was ever a safe time to go on a slide, it’s probably now. Still, the starting pitching is a concern -- Los Angeles is without several rotation regulars, creating multiple question marks heading into October. Over nine starts prior to Sunday’s game, Dodgers starting pitchers had a 6.52 ERA.

4. Rays, 88-56 (4)
If there’s such a thing as making a statement during a pennant race, the Rays can mark their weekend series at home with the Mariners as one that came through loud and clear. They took three of four from the M’s, who they’d face in a best-of-three Wild Card series at Tropicana Field if the season ended today. So that’s good news for the perennial postseason contenders, who have an MLB-best 12 comeback victories since Aug. 10. Tampa Bay’s nine walk-off wins in 2023 are third-best in baseball, behind the Reds and Twins (10 each).

5. Astros, 82-62 (7)
Astros fans have vacillated between angst and unbridled joy, depending on if their team was being swept by the Yankees at home, annihilating the Rangers on the road, stretching their home losing streak to six or, most recently, scoring 19 runs over two wins against the Padres at Minute Maid Park. And that was all over the course of 10 days. The Astros’ lineup is just now at full strength for the first time all season, so it’s not all that surprising that they’ve won 10 of 14 while averaging double digits in runs over that stretch. The big question is the pitching, and whether a staff with fewer established arms than in years past can carry them through another postseason run.

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

Voters: Will Leitch, Alyson Footer, Anthony Castrovince, Paul Casella, Mark Feinsand, Nathalie Alonso, Mike Petriello, Sarah Langs, Arturo Pardavila, Andrew Simon, David Venn, Sweeny Murti, Doug Gausepohl, Travis Miller