1. Los Angeles Dodgers (-): The best team in the MLB just added the most coveted trade deadline piece in Yu Darvish. Seemingly already in a league of their own, this addition to their starting pitching gives the Dodgers baseball’s best pitching staff and ensures that they are the favorites to win the World Series. The only question mark on this team left is their inconsistent offense, but with the caliber of pitching they possess that may not even be an issue.
2. Houston Astros (-): Their pitching hasn’t been stellar for the past few weeks but when you average 5.93 runs per game, that isn’t always a huge issue. Despite their potent offense, I still would have liked to see them add a solid starter to a rotation that is reeling a bit; this is the type of team that could struggle in the playoffs if they face a stellar pitching team and are forced to put a guy out there with an ERA north of 4.
3. Washington Nationals (-): Adding a closer in Brandon Knitzler from the Twins helps this team’s bullpen depth out a lot. With Strasburg going down with a right elbow injury and with his health always seeming like it’s in jeopardy, however, it would have been nice to add a strong starter to their rotation to pair with Max Scherzer and Gio Gonzalez. But when Washington’s offense is rolling, they are an incredibly tough team to beat. They rank second in runs per game with 5.53.
4. Cleveland Indians (+3): After ripping off nine wins in a row, this team is finally starting to look like the AL-Pennant-winning team of last season. Again, adding another solid starter would have helped this team greatly, but if Danny Salazar can live up to his potential and give the Indians those lights-out starts that he has in past years, this may not be an issue. Having one of the top bullpens in the MLB helps as well.
5. Arizona Diamondbacks (-1): JD Martinez makes this Dbacks lineup one of the most dangerous in the MLB with a potent offensive core of Pollack, Goldschmidt, Lamb and, of course, JD. They endured a very scary moment last Friday when Robbie Ray was hit in the head with a comebacker but early word is that it is not serious and he will return within a few weeks. With him healthy, they have three solid starters in him and the two Zacks – Godley and Greinke – and along with their explosive offense, this team could make some serious noise come playoff time.
6. Chicago Cubs (-): After beating the Brewers 2-1 in a three-game series and going 13-3 in their last 16 games, the Cubs have finally retaken the NL Central lead and sit in prime playoff position for the first time all season. With Kyle Hendricks coming back from injury, and Lester, Arrieta and Lackey all pitching much better than they did in the first half of the season, along with their bats heating up, I don’t see them losing the Central to a much less talented Brewers team.
7. New York Yankees (+3): The Yankees had one of the best trade deadlines in the MLB, adding huge bullpen pieces from the White Sox along with Todd Frazier. Then, an hour before the deadline, they landed the other coveted ace in Sonny Gray. Combine their dangerous hitters with their decent starters and now deadly bullpen, and this team has the potential to win their first World Series since 2009.
8. Boston Red Sox (-3): Their move down isn’t especially their own fault, but a few teams have seemingly jumped ahead of them. The Red Sox have been solid all year, yet despite the presence of Chris Sale, Boston’s starting rotation might be the weakest part of their team. Porcello has been sub-par this year and David Price’s season could be in jeopardy after landing back on the DL with a similar elbow injury to the one that has already kept him out for much of this season. But they have had bright spots in the past week in rookie phenom Rafael Devers and the addition of Eduardo Nunez from the Giants who could have a large impact down the stretch.
9. Colorado Rockies (-1): Despite adding Pat Neshek to their bullpen and Jonathan Lucroy as a solid catcher, this team compared to the rest of the top of the NL has a glaring lack of starting pitching. Down the stretch, this is going to be their major issue, if they can continue to outscore teams in shootouts they may hold onto a wild card spot, but a deep playoff run seems outlandish.
10. Kansas City Royals (+7): Time to eat my words on this team; they look to be in control of a wild card spot and don’t seem to be showing any signs of slowing down as they have won seven of their last 10. Their offense has been a pleasant surprise with guys like Moustakas and Merrifield having career years, and they always seem to come up with hits when they need them most.
11. Seattle Mariners (+2): Seattle is very average in many facets of the game, such as their starting pitching and their bullpen, but it’s their offense that is the difference maker for them; guys like Cano and Cruz can swing the tide of a game completely in their favor. Despite not making any big moves at the trade deadline, they have a shot at making the playoffs if they can just get healthy and stay healthy which has been the biggest problem for them over the past few months.
12. Tampa Bay Rays (-3): Lucas Duda fits the makeup of this Rays team like a glove; Tampa Bay is a team that is incredibly aggressive and relies on the long ball and stellar pitching to win games. I don’t see them making a huge run, but if they can get hot and hit homers at the right moments, they could pull off some upsets down the stretch.
13. Baltimore Orioles (+11): I’m not too sold on this Orioles team, but they have the bats to compete with any other team in the majors and have ripped off four wins in a row. Despite their abysmal pitching (which ranks last in the majors), Baltimore has risen a lot on these power rankings due to their offensive potential, adding a decent starting pitcher in Jeremy Hellickson, and standing pat at the deadline with their big-name players.
14. Milwaukee Brewers (-11): Ah yes, the collapse and fall behind the Cubs in the NL Central that seemed almost inevitable has finally happened. The only reason this Brewers team is still ranked so high is their ability to hit the home run ball similar to the Rays.
15. Texas Rangers (-3): Selling Yu Darvish was a huge blow to a team that has seemingly thrown in the towel this season. The Rangers still have a very potent offense and can outscore teams, but it looks as if they will continue their fall down the rankings. It was awesome to witness Adrian Beltre collect his 3,000th hit, however.
16. Toronto Blue Jays (+3): This Blue Jays offense has loads of potential, but their pitching remains lackluster, as does their bullpen. But again, they are a team that can outscore others on any given night, putting them in a potential spot to get hot and make a run.
17. Los Angeles Angels (-3): Adding Mike Trout back into their lineup has yet to make a meaningful impact as their pitching remains among the league’s worst. It looks as though the Angels will continue their trend of being a slightly below-average team that is within striking distance of the playoffs but just can’t quite make that last push.
18. St. Louis Cardinals (-2): The Cardinals are in a similar boat to the Angels; both teams have some talent, but just not quite enough. Again, the Cards look to be headed towards a record just below .500 with their playoff chances looking bleak.
19. Pittsburgh Pirates (+6): This team just keeps happening to stumble upon wins with their young guys performing pretty well and Andrew McCutchen finally remembering how to hit a baseball. These efforts seem futile as they are a team rebuilding for future years to come.
20. Minnesota Twins (-5): After attempting to be buyers earlier in the month, the Twins finally seemed to give up hope on this season as they traded away closer Knitzler and recently-acquired starter Jaime Garcia.
21. New York Mets (-1): Their offense has been showing signs of life as Michael Conforto has performed well and Yoenis Cespedes has finally begun to heat up a bit since coming off of the DL. The Mets have suffered too many injuries to really be relevant this year, though.
22. Miami Marlins (-1): They stayed put for the most part at the trade deadline, convinced that their core of Yelich Ozuna and Giancarlo Stanton can bring them winning seasons in the future. They just don’t have the pitching to be real competitors this year.
23. Detroit Tigers (-1): The Tigers have finally started to begin a rebuild. After their success for the past decade and a half, it seems as if the era of Verlander and Miggy willing them to the playoffs has finally come to a close. Very disappointing for a team that has had that much talent over the last 15 years to never have won a World Series, but now they’ll look to rebuild. It may be a long while until the Tigers are among the top teams in the AL once again.
24. Atlanta Braves (-6): They have a few solid players to build around in Freeman, Inciarte and Kemp but their pitching remains amongst the league’s worst. This will have to drastically improve if they wish to compete next year.
25. San Diego Padres (+4): Their offense has actually been pretty good lately, propelling them to wins in five out of their last six games. This is a very bright sign for Padres fans looking ahead to the future, as a lot of their young players are showing flashes of great talent.
26. Oakland Athletics (-): Trading away Sonny Gray seemed almost inevitable as this team isn’t going anywhere this year. The A’s are in a boat very similar to the one that the Padres are in; their young talent has shown flashes of greatness and signs that they may develop into – at the very least – serviceable big leaguers.
27. Cincinnati Reds (-3): Despite their strong offense, this team has nearly the worst pitching staff in the majors and they cannot seem to win close games. If you’re looking forward to the future, this Reds team will need to sign, trade for or groom much better pitching to compete.
28. Philadelphia Phillies (+2): They have really only moved up due to the fact that the Giants and White Sox have essentially given up on their seasons by selling their best players. But again, this is a team that is playing a lot of young talent that could be groomed into stardom.
29. San Fransisco Giants (-2): After trading Eduardo Nunez, who has been their best player this year, this season has pretty much come to a close for the Giants. They will need to acquire more talent or have some prospects turn into stars for them to be relevant in the near future.
30. Chicago White Sox (-2): Talk about a fire sale. Gee willikers, they got rid of just about anybody with talent on their team in an effort to build for 3-8 years in the future. Their pipeline has become by far the most loaded out there after unloading many veterans onto teams looking to make playoff pushes. They have followed the mold of the Astros and Cubs and could have some good years coming to them in the not-too-distant future.