MLB Power Rankings for September 25th, 2013

david-ortizThe 2013 MLB regular season is almost at a close, which means that playoff positions are very close to being decided. Some teams like Boston, Oakland, Atlanta and St. Louis have nothing to worry about because they’ve already locked up postseason berths. Other teams like Tampa Bay, Cleveland and Texas are still fighting for their playoff lives. That said, let’s discuss the clubs that have already clinched postseason berths along with those who are still clawing for a spot.

1. Boston Red Sox (95-63), clinched AL East – After finishing an AL East-worst 69-93, the Red Sox have completed an impressive worst-to-first resurrection. Now they seek to beat out the A’s for the best overall record in the American League.

2. Oakland Athletics (94-65), clinched AL West – Oakland entered oakland-athletics-titleSeptember in a close battle with Texas over the AL West. Well that battle has turned into a bloodbath with the A’s outdistancing their division rival by 7 games. Bartolo Colon is peaking at just the right time with a 3-1 record and 0.90 ERA in his last five starts.

3. St. Louis Cardinals (94-65), clinched playoff berth – The Cardinals are in the midst of trying to close out the Central division, with a 3-game lead over Pittsburgh. This club can only get better if they get Allen Craig back by October.

4. Detroit Tigers (91-65), clinched playoff berth – The Tigers should come into the playoffs on a roll since they square off against bottom-feeders Minnesota and Miami to end the year. In a season filled with highlights for Detroit, Max Scherzer may top them all with his 20 wins.

5. Atlanta Braves (93-64), clinched AL East – Much like Detroit, Atlanta Atlanta Braves v Chicago Cubsgets two easy series to close out the regular season with Philadelphia and Milwaukee on the schedule. Both the offense and bullpen are looking strong. Now it’s up to Kris Medlen, Mike Minor and the rest of the starters to step up in October.

6. Cincinnati Reds (90-69), clinched playoff berth – Cincinnati is now likely fighting with Pittsburgh for home field in the Wild Card game. Assuming the Reds can beat the Pirates, they have a deep enough team to make some noise in the playoffs.

7. Los Angeles Dogers (91-66), clinched AL West – Think Boston’s one-year turnaround is amazing? How about the Dodgers, who became just the fourth team in history to go from last place after July 1st, to first in their division. Matt Kemp has only played 69 games this year, but if he can go in the playoffs, it’ll really boost the Dodgers’ World Series hopes.

8. Pittsburgh Pirates (91-68), clinched playoff berth – Pittsburgh finishes out the year in Cincinnati, which will decide who gets home field in the Wild Card game. Unfortunately, the Pirates blew their chance at a division title after losing three of four to the Padres last week.

9. Cleveland Indians (87-70), second in AL Central – Cleveland has been red hot in September and jumped into the second Wild Card spot as a result. Now they need to hang on with Texas only one game behind them.

10. Tampa Bay Rays (88-69), second in AL East – With a division title out of reach, Tampa Bay will fight to hold onto their Wild Card position. They’re currently one game ahead of Cleveland and two games ahead of Texas.

11. Kansas City Royals (83-74), third in AL Central – The Royals have very slim postseason hopes as they currently sit four games behind Cleveland for the last Wild Card spot. But playoffs or no playoffs, the Royals can be proud of how their rotation improved over the last couple of months.

12. Texas Rangers (86-71), second in AL West – Texas has played terrible down the stretch, posting one of the worst records in September. But if the Rangers can pick themselves up and start playing like they did in the season’s first half, they could still make the postseason.

MLB Power Rankings for September 10th, 2013

david-ortizNow entering the final stretch before the postseason, several teams are jockying for playoff berths. Only the Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers, Atlanta Braves and LA Dodgers have their playoff paths clearly laid out. Quite a few other teams are hoping for a good run to close out the regular season so they can join the World Series hunt. That said, let’s look at how the clubs that are still alive currently rank.

1. Boston Red Sox (87-58, 1st in AL East) – Boston is gelling at just the right time after scoring 57 runs in the last six games. Considering this feat came against the Tigers and Yankees, that’s quite an accomplishment. With Clay Buchholz (9-0, 1.71 ERA) returning, there’s no reason to think that they won’t finish with the league’s top record.

2. St. Louis Cardinals (83-60, 1st in NL Central) – Not only do we think that St. Louis is tops in baseball’s toughest division, but they’re also playing the best out of any NL team period. Following a sweep of the Pirates, this team finishes with a very favorable schedule that includes 12 home games.

3. Atlanta Braves (86-57, 1st in NL East) – Atlanta may have lost the league’s best record over the weekend, but that’s certainly no cause for concern. They’re a virtual lock for the playoffs and are still in the pole position for home field advantage in the NL playoffs.

4. LA Dodgers (84-59, 1st in NL West) – With a 12-game lead on the Diamondbacks, LA shouldn’t have much trouble grabbing the NL West title. However, they can’t be too happy about being swept by the Reds and losing four straight overall.

5. Oakland A’s (83-60, 1st in AL West) – Unlike several of the teams listed above, Oakland is no lock to win their division title. However, we like them to build some distance from Texas thanks to six upcoming games against the Twins.

6. Cincinnati Reds (82-63, 3rd in NL Central) – Cincinnati’s postseason dreams are far from a sure thing. However, they are doing their best to control the situation by winning three of four at St. Louis, and sweeping the Dodgers.

7. Detroit Tigers (82-62, 1st in AL Central) – Detroit has played dismally max-scherzerover the past two series. In fact, this might be putting it lightly since they’ve lost five of their last six games. The past two contests against the Royals were just awful as they surrendered 36 runs! Hopefully staff ace Max Scherzer (19-3, 3.01 ERA) can stop the bleeding.

8. Texas Rangers (81-62, 2nd in AL West) – Texas has cause for concern after losing two straight series to the A’s and Angels. But all is not lost since they have an opportunity to get the AL West lead back in an upcoming home series against Oakland.

9. Pittsburgh Pirates (82-61, 2nd in NL Central) – Pittsburgh is in a great position to grab a postseason berth this year. The only question is if they’ll be playing in a Wild Card game or grabbing a division title. If it’s going to be the latter, they’ll need to play better than they did recently, after being swept by St. Louis.

10. Tampa Bay Rays (78-64, 2nd in AL East) – The battle for the last Wild Card spot in the AL is going to be very competitive. Right now, Tampa Bay leads this race with a slim 1.5-game lead over Baltimore and Cleveland. But their postseason chances will be severely tested by Boston this week.

11. Baltimore Orioles (77-66, 3rd in AL East) – Can the Orioles hit enough homers to bat their way into the playoffs? A telling series against the Yankees this week will go a long ways towards answering this question.

12. Cleveland Indians (77-66, 2nd in AL Central) – The Indians will hope cleveland-indiansto take advantage of a favorable September schedule in their push for a Wild Card spot. Series against the Twins, White Sox and Astros should provide some wins. But what about the six games they play against the playoff-hungry Royals?

13. Kansas City Royals (75-69, 3rd in AL Central) – Don’t count Kansas City out of the postseason just yet. As just mentioned, they play Cleveland six times and also have Detroit and Texas coming up. This is certainly not an enviable schedule. But if KC can catch fire, maybe they’ll be a surprise postseason addition.

14. New York Yankees (76-68, 4th in AL East) – The last club with realistic playoff chances is the Yankees. Unfortunately, these chances just took a huge hit after Derek Jeter went down again with another ankle injury. Already dealing with a shaky bullpen, this injury definitely doesn’t help New York’s cause.

MLB Power Rankings for April 3rd, 2013

Justin VerlanderThe 2013 Major League Baseball season has officially begun, which means that we finally get to see some meaningful baseball played for the first since last October. At this point, many people are predicting that the Detroit Tigers will be on top of the baseball world when the season’s over. However, there are definitely some other hungry teams that are hoping to prove the experts wrong. This being said, let’s take a closer look at these contenders as the 2013 MLB season begins.

1. Detroit Tigers (1-0) – Nothing went right for the Tigers in the World Series after being swept 4-0 by the Giants. However, Detroit looks prepared to make sure that doesn’t happen this year since their team is stacked. They signed ace Justin Verlander to a five-year, $180 million contract extension, and have added Victor Martinez and Tori Hunter to an already-solid batting lineup. These two, along with AL MVP Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder, should give opposing pitchers fits all season.

2. Washington Nationals (1-0) – The main mission for the Nationals will be keeping their stars healthy – namely staff ace Stephen Stasburg and Bryce Harper. The bullpen looks especially strong for Washington since they brought in closer Rafael Soriano to complement current closer Drew Storen and long-reliever Tyler Clippard. Once again, if the Nationals’ pitching avoids injuries, look for this team to come out of the National League.

matt-kemp3. Los Angeles Dodgers (1-1) – Did we say to watch for Washington to come out of the NL? Well Los Angeles will have something to say about this – especially with their dangerous 3-4-5 hitting rotation of Adrian Gonzalez, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier. The Dodgers won’t have to simply rely on home runs to bring them victories either because they feature a potent 1-2 pitching combo of Zach Grienke and Clayton Kershaw.

4. Los Angeles Angels (1-0) – The Dodgers aren’t the only game in town this year because the Angles should also have a stellar team. A year after winning the AL Rookie of the Year, Mike Trout should compete for the AL MVP award. L.A. added Josh Hamilton to an already tough lineup that includes Albert Pujols and Mark Trumbo. The bullpen could use some work, but the Angels do have good starting pitching, beginning with Jered Weaver.

5. Atlanta Braves (1-0) – As usual, the Braves figure to be in the NL mix once again, led by young outfielders Jason Heyward and B.J. Upton. These two should more than make up the retired Chipper Jones and his missing hitting production. The pitching will be lead by Kris Medlen and Tim Hudson, and Brandon Beachy is expected to strengthen the rotation when he returns from injury.

tim-lincecum6. San Francisco Giants (1-1) – Tim Lincecum headlines the defending World Champion Giants’ rotation as the 2013 MLB season opens. And he’ll be joined by Madison Bumgarner and Matt Cain, which should be one very formidable trio. Unfortunately, there are question marks for San Francisco, beginning with the offense. Sure they have reigning NL MVP Buster Posey; however, there’s not a lot of parts to place around him. And if Sergio Romo doesn’t come through, the Giants could have some major closer troubles.

7. Texas Rangers (1-1) – The loss of Josh Hamilton is definitely a blow to the Rangers’ hitting. However, the cupboard is hardly bare because Ian Kinsler, Adrian Beltre and David Murphy will provide quite an offensive punch. As for pitching, watch out for Matt Harrison and Yu Darvish, who could become huge stars this season. Joe Nathan will provide these two with strong support out of the bullpen.

joey-votto8. Cincinnati Reds (0-1) – There’s no question that the Reds will feature one of the strongest batting lineups in all of baseball. Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Jay Bruce and Ryan Ludwick anchor a very potent attack for Cincinnati. Plus the team picked up Shin-Soo Choo in free agency, and he’ll be making the switch from right field to center this season. Johnny Cueto and Mat Lutos give the Reds two very good starting pitchers, while Aroldis Chapman is a solid closer.

9. Arizona Diamondbacks (1-1) – Arizona upgraded their lineup by adding Martin Prado this offseason. He’ll join Jason Kubel, Paul Goldschmidt, Cody Ross and Aaron Hill on the field. And just think how good the Diamondbacks will be when they get centerfielder Adam Eaton back from injury. This team has several quality starting pitchers too, led by Brandon McCarthy and Ian Kennedy.

10. St. Louis Cardinals (1-1) – The Cardinals aren’t a team that’s filled with big names. But as they proved with last year’s NL Championship appearance, this club is definitely capable of winning. And St. Louis is more prepared than anyone else if the injury bug bites because they have such a deep team. The biggest star on the Cardinals should be staff ace Adam Wainwright, while the entire rotation will be fairly decent overall.