MLB Power Rankings: Braves still No. 1, but Mariners’ charge shakes up AL West

Your monthly reminder for the TSN15 power rankings …

We’re ranking teams from 1 to 12. Why only 12? Because that’s how many teams make the playoffs this year — six in the AL, six in the NL. So, yes, we’ll have six from each league in the top 12, then chat about three more teams that are intriguing (for reasons good and bad). 

Let’s jump in. 

1. Braves, 91-48

Projected spot: NL East champs
Last month: 1

Ozzie Albies has 29 home runs this season, which ranks 11th among player who have spent their entire season in the NL. His total would lead the entire NL Central, plus the Giants, Padres, Nationals and Rockies. On his own team, though, he ranks just fifth. The Atlanta lineup is just ridiculous.

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2. Orioles, 88-51

Projected spot: AL East champs
Last month: 3

Feel like I’ve said this over and over, but even with as great as the Braves have been this season, the Orioles are right there, nipping at their heels for the best record in baseball. Baltimore is just three games behind Atlanta in the win column. Oh, and the Orioles are doing this despite not having a single player with as many homers as Albies. Anthony Santander leads the club with 27, and Gunnar Henderson (23) is the only other Oriole with at least 20. 

3. Dodgers, 85-54

Projected spot: NL West champs
Last month: 6

Mookie Betts’ incredible August was really something to remember. In 28 games that month, Betts hit .455 with a .516 on-base percentage and a 1.355 OPS. He had 11 homers, 30 RBIs, 35 runs scored, 10 doubles and even stole three bases. Probably not a coincidence the Dodgers went 24-5 that month and increased their lead in the NL West from 2 1/2 at the end of July to 13 1/2 by the end of August. 

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4. Rays, 85-56

Projected spot: AL wild card
Last month: 4

How many times can the Rays just continue to prove that their system should not be doubted? Wander Franco played his last game on Aug. 12, and without the player who leads the team in WAR, the Rays have gone 14-7, the second-best record in the AL in that span. 

5. Mariners, 79-61

Projected spot: AL West champs
Last month: NR

Somehow, Seattle’s late-season charge this season seemed even more improbable than last year’s late-season charge. The M’s played 27 games in August and lost just six times. Of those six Ls, three — THREE — were in extra-innings and another was a ninth-inning walk-off win by the Royals in Kansas City. The other two Ls were by two runs, each. 

6. Phillies, 77-62

Projected spot: NL wild card
Last month: 8

The Phillies are looking tough right about now. One of the biggest things that should make Phillies fans happy? In 10 second-half starts, Zack Wheeler has a 2.60 ERA, but more impressively, he’s holding opposing batters to just a .185 batting average and .221 on-base percentage. Premium Zack Wheeler could be huge again in October. 

7. Astros, 80-61

Projected spot: AL wild card
Last month: 5

Sounds odd to say considering all we’ve seen from the Astros the past several years, but the starting pitching hasn’t been great lately. The starters, as a group, had a 4.60 ERA in July and a 5.04 ERA in August, and it’s 4.89 in six starts so far this month. Houston’s starters had a 3.26 ERA in May, as a contrast. The addition of Justin Verlander helps, of course, but Houston will have a tough time holding onto the division lead if JV and Framber Valdez are the only two reliable starters. 

8. Brewers, 77-62

Projected spot: NL Central champs
Last month: 10

Milwaukee’s pitching, on the other hand, is trending in the other direction. In August, the starters posted a 3.82 ERA, down from 4.44 in July. And the relievers, a stellar 2.82 in August, after 3.83 in July. So, basically, it’s the same as it ever was with the Brewers: they have the pitching to scare any team in October, but they’ll have to win low-scoring games. They have exactly one player with more than 17 home runs (Willy Adames, 23) and lots of hitters with sub-100 OPS+ marks. Mark Canha has been an excellent trade acquisition, with a 131 OPS+ in  31 games with the Crew.  

9. Cubs, 76-64

Projected spot: NL wild card
Last month: 11

The Cubs have somehow managed to stay under the national radar despite playing outstanding baseball for quite a while now. Since a loss to the Nationals on July 17, a couple days after the All-Star break ended, the Cubs are 33-14. That’s the best record in baseball. They’ve scored 283 runs, which is the third-most in baseball, just a hair behind the Braves (287) and Astros (284). And Justin Steele (16-3) has developed into the type of legitimate ace not many teams have.  

10. Blue Jays, 77-63

Projected spot: AL wild card
Last month: 7

The Jays already had one of the better rotations in baseball, even with Alek Manoah’s struggles — Kevin Gausman, Yusei Kikuchi, Chris Bassitt and Jose Berrios all have made at least 27 starts and all four have ERAs of 3.69 or better — but the return of veteran Hyun Jin Ryu could be huge down the stretch as Toronto attempts to hold onto one of the AL’s three wild-card spots. He’s posted a 2.65 ERA in his seven starts. 

11. Diamondbacks, 72-68

Projected spot: NL wild card
Last month: NR

The race for the last NL wild-card spot should be a doozy. We’ll give the nod here to Arizona, considering that Cincinnati’s IL is jam-packed and considering Miami just put Sandy Alcantara and Jorge Soler on the IL and considering that San Francisco has lost six in a row. 

12. Twins, 73-67

Projected spot: AL Central champs
Last month: 12

Basically, as long as they finish .500, the Twins will easily win the division. 

Three to discuss

Rangers, 76-63

Oops. They’re far from out of it, but after spending all season in first place in the AL West, they’re just 4-15 in their past 19 games and suddenly in third place in the division and just out of the third AL wild-card spot. Stunning turn of events. 

Red Sox, 72-68

Want to bet on a long-shot making a dramatic run to the postseason? Why not the Red Sox? The pitching is basically as healthy as it’s been all season, with youngster Brayan Bello looking more and more like a top-of-the-rotation type every day. And the offense, with rookie Triston Casas continuing his breakthrough second half, could win some games on its own, especially if Trevor Story shakes off the rust and rookie Ceddanne Rafaela continues his hot start to his MLB career. 

Cincinnati Reds, 73-69

The Reds have dealt with enough in the way of injuries this year already, so the recent issues with Covid that sent a couple more players to the IL seemed almost cruel. Still, they’re in the mix and have a bunch of rookies determined to prove they can do more than just put on a good show and finish around .500. 

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