It’s been two weeks since the last installment of our MLB power rankings and those two weeks have ended any doubt — there’s a clear No. 1 team in baseball this season.
The Dodgers zoomed through August. They have the best ERA in the league. They’re tied for most homers and second in runs scored. The Dodgers aren’t short on hype in recent years, so we all know the real challenge awaits in October, but they look to be in a different class this year.
Meanwhile, the race is on for the second-best team in the NL. A clear leader has emerged in the AL, too — and it’s not the Yankees. And last year’s champ? There’s no denying their place anymore.
Here’s how I see all 30 teams this week.
TEAMS WE KNOW ARE GOOD
1. Los Angeles Dodgers (28-10; last week: 1) — If anyone says the Dodgers aren’t No. 1, they’re lying, not paying attention or a Giants fan. They were 21-7 in August and have won 10 of their last 12. Three of those, like Wednesday’s win, have been walk-offs. They’re well-balanced, deep and dangerous.
2. Tampa Bay Rays (26-12; last week: 5) — The secret to the Rays’ success this year? You could say pitching or Brandon Lowe. But really, it’s that they own the Yankees. The Rays took another two of three from the Yankees again this week, making them 8-2 against the Bombers in 2020.
3. Oakland A’s (22-12; last week: 3) — The A’s are good. And while they’re holding steady at No. 3 here, I am somewhat concerned that they may not be as good as when I was proclaiming “The A’s can win the World Series” a few weeks ago. (They can, obviously, because anybody can this year.) Oakland’s ERA remains good, but their runs scored rank 18th. Plus, their strength of schedule is the weakest in the league.
4. Cleveland Indians (23-14; last week: 8) — The last month might have sunk another team. The controversy, trading one of their best pitchers, being without their manager — but the Indians just keep on rolling. The pitching is fantastic enough that you almost forget their starting outfield is Josh Naylor, Delino DeShields Jr. and Tyler Naquin.
5. Chicago Cubs (22-14; last week: 4) — The Cubs are, by standings, the second-best team in the NL. The gap between the Dodgers and everybody else is getting bigger by the day, while what separates the Cubs, Padres and Braves is getting smaller. For now, the Cubs get the nod here. They’ve been good. But to be great, they’ll need Javy Baez and Kris Bryant to have stellar Septembers.
6. New York Yankees (20-15; last week: 2) — The Yankees are used to this by now. All that talent, yet all these problems. Gerrit Cole? Not dominant. Aaron Judge? Hurt again. Same with James Paxton, Gleyber Torres and a few others. If they’re healthy, they’re more dangerous than No. 6, but the reality is they’ve won four games in the past two weeks.
7. San Diego Padres (23-15; last week: 9) — Do I just want the Padres to be good because they’re so damn fun? Affirmative. But are they actually good? Yes they are. As proof: They’re tied for the league lead in homers and have scored the most runs this year — even more than the Dodgers.
8. Atlanta Braves (22-14; last week: 7) — As much as Atlanta’s pitching should give you reason to pause, the offense is holding up its end of the deal. They’re fifth in runs scored and they just showed the Red Sox why.
Marcell Ozuna and Adam Duvall of the @Braves join Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig (May 21 & 22, 1930) as the only teammates in MLB history to have 3-homer games on back-to-back days.— Stats By STATS (@StatsBySTATS) September 3, 2020
They are the first to do so in back-to-back games (Ruth/Gehrig involved doubleheaders).#ForTheA
9. Minnesota Twins (22-16; last week: 6) — Want to know how backward this season is for the Twins? They’re 12th in runs scored and sixth in ERA. They’ll take that, of course, because it shows they’re perhaps a more complete team this year.
10. Chicago White Sox (22-15; last week: 11) — If you haven’t noticed, this White Sox offense is pretty darn good: Third in OPS, homers and hits, plus sixth in runs scored. Pitching ain’t bad either. These White Sox aren’t a-hope-and-a-prayer anymore. They’re legit.
11. Houston Astros (20-15; last week: 10) — The Astros, despite their injuries, are very much in the AL West race, which is better than they should be when you look at their 2020 so far.
12. Philadelphia Phillies (17-15; last week: 15) — The Phillies are above water in an ugly NL East, and while they haven’t been impressive as a whole — at least they addressed their bullpen issues — they’ve been good enough to be in postseason position. However it happens, that would be welcome in Philly.
PLAYOFF TEAMS THAT MAY NOT DESERVE IT
This is not a knock on the Jays, Cards, Rockies, Giants or the Marlins (OK, maybe the Marlins), but in a normal year, all these teams hovering around or below .500 being playoff contenders would be a shock. But hey, more than half the league makes the playoffs this year, so four of these teams could potentially get in.
The Jays have exceeded expectations and might be accelerating the rebuild. The Rockies aren’t really that great. They’re just evening out after a strong start. The Cardinals have been solid since their COVID shutdown, same for the Marlins. As for the Giants? Is even-year magic still a thing?
13. Toronto Blue Jays (19-16; last week: 22)
14. St. Louis Cardinals (14-14; Last week: 19)
15. Miami Marlins (16-16; last week: 18)
16. San Francisco Giants (18-20; last week: 27)
17. Colorado Rockies (18-19; last week: 12)
Here we find a mixture of teams that had hopes of being good and team that are just happy to only be “probably” bad at this point. The Tigers would have taken .500 in September in any length of a season. The Brewers, Reds and Mets had much higher aspirations. In a 162-game season, we wouldn’t be writing them off, but in 2020 the clock is ticking.
18. Milwaukee Brewers (17-19; last week: 16)
19. Cincinnati Reds (16-21; last week: 17)
20. New York Mets (16-21; last week: 21):
21. Detroit Tigers (17-17; last week: 24)
22. Baltimore Orioles (16-20; last week: 20)
The most painful thing here is having to come to grips with the Nationals being definitely bad. The record? Yuck. Then consider this: They’ve also played the third-easiest schedule this year. That amazing comeback last season doesn’t look like it’s happening again.
Everybody else here? It’s not really a surprise. At least everybody made double-digit wins.
23. Washington Nationals (12-22; last week: 13)
24. Arizona Diamondbacks (14-23; last week: 14)
25. Texas Rangers (13-22; last week: 23)
26. Kansas City Royals (15-22; last week: 26)
27. Boston Red Sox (12-25; last week: 28)
28. Los Angeles Angels (12-25; last week: 25)
29. Seattle Mariners (15-22; last week: 29)
30. Pittsburgh Pirates (10-24; last week: 30)
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