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 July 5th, 2013

jeff-lockeWe’re now at the halfway point in the 2013 MLB season and surprise has been a big theme this year. Picked by many to finish last in the NL Central, the Pittsburgh Pirates now have the best record in the Majors. The Oakland A’s have also exceeded expectations after posting 50 wins already and leading the AL West.

Of course, there have been some surprise struggles by teams that were supposed to be battling for division titles and a World Series appearance. The L.A. Angels (41-44), L.A. Dodgers (40-44), San Francisco Giants (39-45) and the Washington Nationals (43-42) definitely fit into this category. We won’t discuss these teams today, but we will cover the top 10 clubs in the MLB, as of July 5th, 2013.

1. Pittsburgh Pirates (52-32) – People have grown used to seeing Pittsburgh atop the standings….in football that is. But for the first time in over two decades, it’s the Pirates who are the talk of the Steel City. Looking at the stats, it’s not hard to see why Pittsburgh is the league’s best team so far. Their pitching has been outstanding, led by Jeff Locke (8-1, 2.12ERA) and Justin Wilson (7-1, 2.11ERA). Mark Melancon has been amazing in relief, posting numbers of 2-1, 0.87 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 41 innings. And let’s not forget about the defense either, which leads the MLB in efficiency.

2. Boston Red Sox (53-34) – Boston is now finding a little breathing room in the AL East after winning four straight games. Sure it took a sweep of the mediocre Padres to get here, but hey, wins are wins. And Clay Buchholz has been providing plenty of these, having gone 9-0 with a 1.71 ERA so far. Besides Buchholz and most of the bullpen, the rest of the staff has been average. Luckily, the Sox have been picked up by offense, with David Ortiz (.319 BA, 16HR) and Dustin Pedroia (.325, 13SB) leading the way.

carlos-beltran3. St. Louis Cardinals (50-34) – The Cardinals were leading all of baseball just a couple of weeks ago. However, that’s went out the window following a 2-6 stretch. Still St Louis has plenty to look forward to, including the seasons that Carlos Beltran (.309, 19HR), Yadier Molina (.351, 45RBI) and Allen Craig (.325, 10HR, 66RBI) are having. This club features the best top-to-bottom rotation too, led by Adam Wainwright (11-5, 2.36ERA).

4. Texas Rangers (49-36) – Texas may be slightly behind Oakland in the AL West, but based on talent alone, we have to put the Rangers here. Yu Darvish continues to be a strikeout machine (151SO in 111.1 IP) while Joe Nathan has been an excellent closer (28SV, 1.43ERA). Both Nelson Cruz (.269, 20HR) and Adrian Beltre (.304, 16HR) have provided the Rangers’ lineup with plenty of power.

5. Oakland Athletics (50-36) – The A’s performed well against the NL Central, racking up a 6-2 record against the Reds, Cubs and Cardinals. Now the trick will be finding a way to consistently repeat these kinds of stretches. For that to happen, Bartolo Colon (11-3, 2.78ERA) and Jerry Blevins (5-0, 3.00ERA) need more help in the starting rotation. Third baseman Josh Donaldson (.314, 14HR, 55RBI) continues to lead the battery.

julio-teheran6. Atlanta Braves (49-36) – The Braves have been comeback kids so far, rallying from behind 23 times to win. This kind of heart shows that Atlanta should do well with nerves come playoff time. Maybe they won’t have to come from behind quite as much now that Julio Teheran (6-4, 3.23ERA) has been playing so well. Teheran held a 1.95 ERA while striking out 37 and walking just four batters in 32.3 innings of work. Atlanta has the best bullpen in baseball, with Luis Avilan (2-0, 1.59 ERA) leading the way.

7. Baltimore Orioles (48-38) – Chris Davis continues to have an amazing season with a .331 BA, 32 HR’s and 83 RBI’s. The Orioles fielding has also been excellent, having only been outdone by the Royals (statistically). That just leaves the pitching, which is the only thing holding Baltimore back from being a true contender. Darren O’Day (4-0, 2.19ERA) and Chris Tillman (10-2, 3.89ERA) have been bright spots, but the bullpen has largely struggled for this club.

8. Cincinnati Reds (49-36) – After going 12-15 in June, the Reds have fallen 5-1/2 games behind Pittsburgh in the NL Central. Seeing as how they also have St. Louis to contend with, Cincinnati needs a strong July or they could be left out of the postseason. Joey Votto (.323, 14HR) and Jay Bruce (.275, 18HR) are doing their best to get the Reds back on track. Unfortunately, noted starters Bronson Arroyo (7-6, 3.50ERA) and Homer Bailey (5-6, 3.57ERA) have struggled to produce wins from the mound.

max-scherzer9. Detroit Tigers (46-38) – The big story for Detroit right now is Max Scherzer, who ran his record to 13-0 with a victory over Toronto. Unfortunately, he’s been the only story from a pitching perspective because the bullpen has been inconsistent at best. The Tigers have also hit terribly on the road, since the team batting average drops by 50 points away from Comerica Park. And this despite Miguel Cabreara (.364, 26HR, 85RBI) being in the lineup.

10. Cleveland Indians (45-40) – Cleveland remains in the AL Central picture just behind Detroit. And they can give a large thanks to Justin Masterson (10-6, 3.48ERA), who just pitched his league-leading third shutout. The Indians could use a couple more strong starters throughout the rotation though. The bullpen has definitely been a strength for the Indians, with Joe Smith (4-0, 2.01ERA) leading the charge.