Even if the New York Yankees and Houston Astros won’t concede it, it’s starting to looking more and more like the truth every day: There’s probably no catching the Boston Red Sox.
Boston, with its fifth straight win Tuesday night and win No. 11 in 12 August games, has a 10-game lead in the AL East — a division that just a month ago looked like it would go down to the wire. But the Red Sox haven’t hung too many Ls since then.
So the Red Sox are No. 1 in MLB and No. 1 (once again) in the Yahoo Sports MLB Power Rankings — but who’s next? That’s where things get more interesting. The Astros and Yankees are both great too. In fact, the three teams have been occupying the top three spots in our rankings for a couple months now. This week we’re giving the edge to the Yankee as No. 2, since the saddled-with-injuries Astros have lost five in a row.
Oh, but there is another! With each passing day (and each win they rattle off), the Oakland Athletics continue to make a case that there’s one more great team in the American League. And, hey, the Cleveland Indians are pretty good too. This week, it’s Red Sox, Yankees, Astros — but from the looks of things, that could change quicker than we previously thought.
1. Red Sox (86-35; last week: 1)
Need two stats to prove how dominant the Red Sox have played lately? In July, the team went 19-6, good for a .760 winning percentage. In August they have been even better. The team is 11-1 during the month, good for a .916 winning percentage.
2. Yankees (75-44; last week: 3)
In any other division, the Yankees would be sitting on top. As it stands now, they are stuck in a battle for a wild-card spot. And while New York has a solid lead on the first wild card in the AL, the surging Athletics could pressure them down the stretch.
3. Astros (73-47; last week: 2)
Should Astros fans start to worry now? There’s no doubt Houston is one of the best teams in baseball when healthy, but that’s a big issue at the moment. The team has flirted with a .500 record since the start of July. Getting Carlos Correa back could be the boost they need.
4. A’s (72-48; last week: 4)
The Athletics sit just one game back of the Astros in the AL West. That tells you all you need to know about how well the team has played lately. Matt Chapman, who has always been a wizard at third, is hitting enough to get some MVP consideration.
5. Cubs (68-50; last week: 5)
Will Cole Hamels wind up being the Justin Verlander of 2018? Hamels has been fantastic since joining the Cubs, posting a 1.00 ERA in three starts. He’s struck out 20 while walking just four. It definitely looks like the Cubs did something to get him back on the right path.
6. Indians (68-51; last week: 8)
It’s all about the bullpen. Cleveland boasted one of MLB’s worst pens in the first half. Over the past 30 days, the team’s 3.53 ERA out of the bullpen ranks eighth in baseball. Bringing in Brad Hand has already paid off in a big way.
7. Mariners (69-52; last week: 7)
The Mariners have sputtered since their hot start, but still remain thick in the playoff race. Getting back Robinson Cano from his 80-game suspension could be the boost the team needs to jump ahead of the A’s.
8. Brewers (68-54; last week: 6)
Jonathan Schoop was on a massive hot streak when he was traded to the Brewers. Since the trade, he’s been trying to find his stroke. It’s a small sample, but Schoop has a .150 batting average in 12 games since joining the club.
9. Braves (67-51; last week: 12)
Need a reason to believe in the Braves the rest of the season? Since returning from injury, Ronald Acuna Jr. has hit 14 home runs in 38 games — including dingers in five straight games. The switch has flipped for the rookie.
10. Phillies (65-53; last week: 11)
Zach Eflin is too good to be sent down, though it’s worth pointing out that he’s been the Phillies fifth-best starter this season by fWAR. That tells you a lot about the strength of the team’s rotation. On most teams, he would be a No. 3. On this year’s Phillies, he’s No. 5.
11. D-backs (66-55; last week: 9)
12. Rockies (64-55; last week: 13)
13. Dodgers (64-57; last week: 10)
A few weeks ago, it seemed like the Dodgers were in the best position to win yet another NL West crown, but things have gotten a lot tougher lately. The bullpen is looking like a problem, with Kenley Jansen out with heart problems with John Axford injured. The Dodgers lost to the Giants again Tuesday night, this game watching as S.F. went ahead in the ninth inning. Meanwhile, the D-backs and Rockies are playing good enough to make it look like all this will be veeeeeery interesting into September.
14. Cardinals (65-55; last week: 14)
15. Nats (60-60; last week: 15)
16. Pirates (61-59; last week: 17)
There have been a lot of eyes on the Nats since the trade deadline, looking to see whether they could rebound into wild-card position. Actually, it’s been the Cardinals who have made that move. The Cardinals, winners of seven straight, are just one game back from a wild-card spot. Since Mike Matheny was fired as manager, the Cards are 18-9. They’re also 11-2 in August. The Nats, meanwhile, are staring at six games they need to climb in the standings. The Pirates — who are five back — are actually in better shape than Washington.
17. Rays (60-59; last week: 18)
18. Giants (61-60; last week: 16)
19. Angels (61-60; last week: 19)
20. Twins (55-63; last week: 20)
21. Blue Jays (54-65; last week: 21)
If you’re in this group and you’re an AL team, sorry to say your season is pretty much over for all intents and purposes. The Giants, however, remain in striking distance in the wild NL — of course there are five other teams vying for that second wild-card spot too. We know Nick Hundley has some fight in him. We’ll see about the rest of those Gigantes.
22. Rangers (53-69; last week: 23)
23. Reds (52-68; last week: 22)
24. Tigers (50-70; last week: 25)
25. Mets (50-67; last week: 24)
26. Padres (48-74; last week: 27)
27. Marlins (48-74; last week: 26)
28. White Sox (43-76; last week: 28)
29. Royals (36-83; last week: 29)
30. Orioles (36-84; last week: 30)
The Orioles and Royals still haven’t reached the 40-win mark, which was a cute little joke we were making last month. Now we’re starting to feel bad for them. Forty wins are definitely in sight. But 60? What about 50? This will not be the September race anybody wanted to see.
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