Power Rankings: Top teams making postseason plans

September 18th, 2023

Four teams punched their ticket to the 2023 postseason over the past week, and fittingly, those four teams sit atop our Power Rankings.

But much like many of the other postseason races, things get pretty crowded after that. It was a tight battle for the No. 5 spot – and there was very little separation from Nos 7-15.

Here’s a full look at the rankings:

Biggest jump: It’s been an up-and-down second half for the Rangers – and that certainly continued last week. After securing a massive four-game sweep over the fellow AL Wild Card contender Blue Jays in Toronto, the Rangers went on to get outscored 23-6 in a three-game sweep by the Guardians over the weekend. Still, Texas jumped three spots to No. 7 after going 6-3 over its past nine games and entering this week clinging to the final AL Wild Card spot.

Biggest drop: Sitting one game back of the Rangers for that final AL Wild Card spot are the Mariners, who dropped four places to No. 10. Seattle is just 2-7 over its past nine games, including being swept at home by the Dodgers over the weekend. The Mariners, however, have plenty of control over their postseason chances, with seven of their final 13 games coming against the rival Rangers.

Power Rankings Top 5:

1) Braves, 96-53 (last week: 1)
The Braves not only clinched their sixth straight National League East title last week, but they did so on the road against the rival Phillies. It’s possible their postseason run may take them back to Philadelphia -- the city in which their 2022 season ended -- at some point next month. That wasn’t the only milestone for Atlanta last week, as Matt Olson set a franchise record with his 52nd home run. And while Ronald Acuña Jr. has been sidelined with right calf tightness, his injury is not considered serious.

2) Orioles, 93-56 (last week: 2)
A walk-off sacrifice fly isn’t typically the most exciting way to end a ballgame, but you wouldn’t have known it watching the Orioles celebrate Cedric Mullins’ game-winning sac fly against the Rays on Sunday. After all, the victory clinched Baltimore’s first postseason berth since 2016. There is still plenty to play for, as the O's enter the week with just a two-game lead over Tampa Bay atop the AL East. The division winner will likely earn the top seed in the AL -- and the all-important bye that comes with it.

3) Rays, 92-59 (last week: 4)
Even with Sunday’s aforementioned loss to the O’s, the Rays also clinched their spot in the 2023 postseason thanks to the Rangers’ loss to the Guardians. As Tampa Bay continues to battle Baltimore for the AL East crown, former postseason hero Randy Arozarena appears to be heating up at the right time. He hit .400 (10-for-25) with three extra-base hits during his six-game hitting streak last week that came to an end on Sunday.

4) Dodgers, 91-57 (last week: 3)
The Dodgers wrapped up their 10th NL West title in the past 11 seasons on Saturday, then kept on rolling by finishing off a sweep of the Mariners on Sunday. Though Clayton Kershaw took a no-decision in that clinching win, it was fitting that Los Angeles’ three-time Cy Young-winning ace got the start. Coming off 10 days of rest, Kershaw didn’t miss a beat in a scoreless five innings as Los Angeles continued to monitor his workload with an eye toward October. Unlike years past, the Dodgers’ strength this season remains a high-powered offense headlined by NL MVP candidate Mookie Betts – but a healthy Kershaw could be a difference maker in the postseason.

5) Astros, 84-66 (last week: 5)
Last week certainly didn’t go the way the Astros would have liked, with Houston dropping two of three against a pair of last-place teams in the Royals and Athletics. Still, the Astros enter this week sitting 1 1/2 games ahead of the Rangers atop the AL West and 2 1/2 in front of the Mariners. Framber Valdez, who has a 1.59 ERA over his past nine starts, looks postseason ready, while Houston is hoping Justin Verlander's recent funk -- he's allowed at least five runs in two of his past three starts -- is simply a blip.

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