MLB Power Rankings: Yankees, Padres and Brewers slip; Cardinals and Mariners rise up

Every week,​ we​ ask all​ of our baseball​ writers​ — both the​ local​ scribes​ and the national team,​ more​ than​​ 30 writers in all — to rank the teams from first to worst. Here are the collective results, the TA30.

It’s “the stretch run” SZN, folks. Buckle up with your hard-pressed takes on this being the series that shifts the course of the season, even before a month with divisional games that’ll really tell the tale. But the postseason races are shaping up. Except for the NL and AL West, which seem pretty much wrapped up (though the Padres and Mariners could be playoff teams), each of the other four divisions has some intense competition over the final month and a half of the season.

That means there’s plenty of room for the reshuffling that’s about to happen.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone is pounding the table for these power rankings. So are you, the reader. Let’s get to them. Steve Berman will take the American League and I, Fabian Ardaya, will take the National League.

1. Los Angeles Dodgers

Record: 84-36
Last Power Ranking: 1

Busy week of injury news for baseball’s best ballclub. First, Walker Buehler is out for the year (not so much a surprise but a logical conclusion, though it’ll have 2023 ramifications as well). Dustin May is back to take his place, meaning there might be some 100 mph bowling balls on your screens this October. Clayton Kershaw, Blake Treinen, Brusdar Graterol and others are all making strides in their rehabs and could join him.

You may have heard the club’s pre- and post-game radio host David Vassegh, filling in as part of the SportsNetLA broadcast, learned the dangers of American Family Field’s slide the hard way (“holy crap,” indeed) last week, suffering a broken wrist and six cracked ribs in the process. It’s worth noting that he didn’t need an IL stint — what a grinder.

All in all, things are going well. Even when one former MVP gets benched, another former MVP candidate seems to be finding his form.

2. New York Mets

Record: 79-44
Last Power Ranking: 2

Brett Baty has arrived, which can mean only one thing — your online bullying of the Mets to call up one of their top prospects worked. OK, maybe Baty’s bat is what did the trick. Regardless, his arrival should inject some life into a club that has taken its fair share of bad injury luck of late with Eduardo Escobar, Luis Guillorme, Carlos Carrasco and Taijuan Walker. It also comes amid a bunch of games against the Phillies and Braves, a couple of likely postseason clubs. It’s officially teeth-cutting time for a club that has divisional aspirations — and first-round bye implications if they can’t pull this off.

Oh, and Atlanta doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon.

3. Houston Astros

Record: 78-45
Last Power Ranking: 3

The Astros have had better weeks than the one that just concluded — they split a four-game series with the White Sox and lost two of three to the Braves. However, they scored 21 runs on Thursday against the White Sox. Houston’s NFL team will probably struggle to score that many points most weeks.

Then Houston’s Triple-A team, the Sugar Land Space Cowboys, scored the same number of runs against the Oklahoma City Dodgers on Friday, including 16 in the sixth inning. The Astros basically wrapped up the division weeks ago, so now it’s about keeping the team healthy for October. Yordan Alvarez gave them a scare when he left Friday’s game against Atlanta due to shortness of breath and had to go to the hospital for testing, but he returned and went 2-for-5 in Sunday’s 5-4 victory.

4. Atlanta Braves

Record: 75-48
Last Power Ranking: 5

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably just been offered a contract extension by Atlanta general manager Alex Anthopoulos. Michael Harris II is just the latest in a list of Braves signed for the foreseeable future, and the club is reportedly interested in doing the same with its All-Star shortstop, Dansby Swanson, soon.

It’s a rarity for a fan — the knowledge you can buy a player’s jersey and have some confidence they’ll stick around for a while (sorry to the Atlanta fans who still own Freddie Freeman jerseys).

Atlanta and New York might be the most intriguing race in baseball this season and the Braves are a feel-good story. This makes Marcell Ozuna’s continued presence on the roster all the more mystifying.

5. St. Louis Cardinals

Record: 69-51
Last Power Ranking: 8

TIRED: Albert Pujols coming back to the Cardinals is a great, feel-good story.

WIRED: Albert Pujols might pass Alex Rodriguez on the all-time home run list, if not get to 700.

INSPIRED: Albert Pujols should come back next year and chase Babe Ruth and 714.

St. Louis is growing their lead in the NL Central, but Pujols might become one of the most important stories in the sport soon. But that doesn’t mean he’s the only headline on the team; he isn’t even the only person over 40 contributing in a major way.

6. New York Yankees

Record: 74-48
Last Power Ranking: 4

We’re not breaking new ground by saying this, but people generally love or hate the Yankees. As a result, many reading this are probably elated to see them continue to slide in our rankings.

All of this (the losing, not the rankings) led to Aaron Boone’s post-game press conference on Saturday, where he got so emotional that he pounded the table. Anything that reminds you of Dennis Green’s rant about the Bears is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. New York avoided a sweep on Sunday, but even during a jersey retirement and subsequent victory, Yankees fans and players found reasons to be cranky.

(As someone who covered Chris Mullin’s jersey retirement, when then-new Warriors owner Joe Lacob received the loudest boos I’ve ever heard, a little advice: If the team you own isn’t performing well, stay as far away from the spotlight as possible.)

7. Toronto Blue Jays

Record: 65-55
Last Power Ranking: 9

Losses kept mounting for the Blue Jays … until they reached New York to play a Yankees team that’s been making a lot of teams feel a lot better about themselves. It’s probably time to start giving love to Kevin Gausman, who “flies under the radar” despite leading all qualified starters in FIP. He had his third consecutive scoreless road start on Friday, something that hadn’t been done by a Jays pitcher since Roger Clemens in 1997.

After taking three of four in the Bronx, the Jays hope that taking advantage of the Yankees at their low point will give them the momentum to dig out of their own.

8. Seattle Mariners

Record: 66-56
Last Power Ranking: 11

The Mariners have lost two of their past three series and it’s not guaranteed that they’ll snap their baffling 20-year streak of missing the postseason. For an idea of how historic the Mariners’ current drought is, even the Sacramento Kings (who almost moved to Seattle) have reached the playoffs more recently. 

But improved health has them primed to make a run for a wild-card spot. It also helps that Robbie Ray has avoided “the one bad inning” woes that made the early part of his Mariners career so frustrating. Closer Paul Sewald hasn’t allowed a hit in August, which also seems good. It’d be tough to blame Mariners fans for wondering if they’ll squander their latest opportunity, though.

9. Philadelphia Phillies

Record: 66-55
Last Power Ranking: 7

Save for the occasional stray from Keith Hernandez on Mets broadcasts, the Phillies’ season has wound up in a pretty good place. They’ve even got this defense thing down pat, it seems.

They’re firmly in the postseason mix, and are doing well against their main competition. They are inching closer to a return from the reigning MVP, Bryce Harper. A tough series against the Mets notwithstanding, it’s hard to find much to quibble with. In the short term, however, they have to worry about losing relievers and center fielders and getting more power into that lineup.

10. San Diego Padres

Record: 68-56
Last Power Ranking: 6

It’s odd, considering the beautiful city, wonderful ballpark, gorgeous uniforms (yes, even the “Crayola Connect” ones), amazing food and chill energy outside the orbit of San Diego’s preeminent professional sports franchise. But the vibes inside? They’re off. One can’t blame a manager this time (unlike last year). Maybe you can blame ringworm, I don’t know.

But the Padres’ star closer acquisition is no longer their closer. Their $340 million shortstop is the talking point of a season he hasn’t even played in and seems to have rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. And what’s that? Oh yeah, the Dodgers remain seemingly in a different class once again while San Diego’s grasp on a postseason spot is slipping. A tough week.

11. Tampa Bay Rays

Record: 65-55
Last Power Ranking: 13

They do things differently in Tampa and everything generally works out for them, which is why they’ve made the postseason the past three seasons and won 90 games in 2018, the last time they didn’t make it to October.

One example of the Rays’ uniqueness is evident in the bullpen. They have six guys with at least three saves. OK, that isn’t so crazy. But the team’s co-leaders in saves, Jason Adam and Colin Poche, have only seven apiece. Adam is so good that he lowered his ERA from 1.13 to 1.09 after Jim Bowden named him the Rays’ most indispensable under-the-radar player. 

Cleveland’s Myles Straw. (David Richard / USA TODAY Sports)

12. Cleveland Guardians

Record: 64-56
Last Power Ranking: 12

In baseball’s ongoing three-true-outcomes era, Cleveland stands out as an anomaly. They strike out less than anyone (by a lot). Their only player with over 100 Ks was Franmil Reyes, whom they designated for assignment earlier this month. They’re 29th in the majors in homers and 25th in walks.

This all stems from Chris Valaika, the team’s new hitting coach, who’s running an offense that makes contact better than any other by preaching plate discipline and using the entire field. With how well the Guardians have played this season, expect copycats throughout the league next season.

And since we keep bringing up Boone’s outburst, we shouldn’t ignore Austin Hedges’ impassioned speech about umpiring incompetency that drew praise in the clubhouse.

13. Milwaukee Brewers

Record: 64-56
Last Power Ranking: 10

Andrew McCutchen’s swinging it like it’s 2013 again, Willy Adames is playing an excellent shortstop and the Brewers have plenty of great success stories that have led to another strong season. It feels like that’s defined the Brewers of the last few seasons – just very good. But is that enough?

They survived a pretty good test last week, splitting a four-game set against the Dodgers. Yet they’re dropping spots in the standings and in our power rankings.

It’s a good thing they’re (checks notes) — oh no! They see the Dodgers for three more this week, too. That’ll be big for their ability to stick in the division and wild-card hunt.

14. Minnesota Twins

Record: 62-57
Last Power Ranking: 14

It’s time to wonder if the Twins fooled us with their hot start. After finishing May with a 30-21 record, Minnesota went 13-15 in June and 10-12 in July. After losing two straight to the Rangers, they’re 9-9 in August heading into Monday. The Guardians are 43-32 over that span.

The Twins are having trouble against left-handed pitching, in part because they’re without part-time outfielder Kyle Garlick. One day after Dan Hayes wrote about the Twins’ struggles with runners in scoring position, they went 0-for-4 in those situations in Sunday’s 7-0 loss to the Rangers. They also placed Tyler Mahle, their biggest deadline acquisition, on the injured list after pulling him from his Wednesday start due to right shoulder fatigue. 

15. Baltimore Orioles

Record: 63-58
Last Power Ranking: 15

With two different heads of baseball ops getting fired over the past couple of weeks (first Al Avila in Detroit, then Jon Daniels in Texas), one has to wonder if the Orioles’ fantastic run led the owners of the Tigers and Rangers to act at a really strange time, right after the draft and trade deadline. Tigers owner Chris Ilitch mentioned the Orioles specifically during his I-just-fired-Avila press conference as a team that’s seeing the kind of positive results he thought would come this season.

Orioles fans are even digging the losses this season, or at least they’re staying until the end. And they should, because this team has been one of the league’s best stories. Drafting the right players and developing them has been the biggest key to their resurgent season, but Baltimore seems to have an especially tight-knit clubhouse, too.

16. Chicago White Sox

Record: 62-59
Last Power Ranking: 16

He may no longer be the impact player he once was, but adding Elvis Andrus (who might lead the majors in smiles) could at least help remove some of the dark clouds that have hovered over the White Sox this season.

Almost on cue, they got good news regarding Yasmani Grandal’s scary-looking knee injury. Tony La Russa even intentionally walked another guy who faced a 1-2 count and it worked this time — in a 5-2 loss to the Guardians, but still.

17. San Francisco Giants

Record: 60-61
Last Power Ranking: 17

The Giants, after a year filled with prominent success stories and collective organization-wide chest-thumping, have very much lacked for similar examples in 2022. Brandon Belt was one of the best hitters in baseball last year. Seeing him try to bunt with two strikes and two outs late in a five-run ballgame would’ve been unimaginable. But he did. The Giants lost, bringing their record back to around .500 a year after winning 107 games.

Marco Luciano is a sign of hopefully better days ahead, but next year can’t come soon enough.

18. Boston Red Sox

Record: 60-62
Last Power Ranking: 18

It seems like Boston is always on Sunday Night Baseball, but the Red Sox don’t appear ready for primetime this season. Even one of their better weeks in a while (and they went 5-2, which isn’t exactly jaw-dropping) didn’t help them gain ground in the standings. Actually, their playoff probability went down.

Tough to expect much when they need nine dominos to fall their way if they want to beat those odds. Some of those include activating injured players, but at least one of their wounds is self-inflicted. It’ll be interesting to see what the Red Sox do in the offseason, especially if they finish last in the AL East. 

19. Arizona Diamondbacks

Record: 55-66
Last Power Ranking: 20

How many days until Corbin Carroll comes up? It seems like that will signal a change for a franchise with many exciting young talents but one that still feels in-between when it comes to eras.

20. Texas Rangers

Record: 55-66
Last Power Ranking: 19

It was kind of a gross week for the Rangers. Firing anyone isn’t easy, but the way they terminated former president of baseball operations Jon Daniels was particularly disrespectful, given the timing. The Rangers already showed a penchant for handling this sort of thing with odd timing when they fired manager Chris Woodward two days prior (with Daniels handling press conference duties).

Now it’s executive vice president and general manager Chris Young’s job to get the Rangers back to where they were in the early 2010s, but not before he shed a few tears over Daniels’ departure.

21. Chicago Cubs

Record: 52-68
Last Power Ranking: 24

I watched “The Bear” this weekend (good show, by the way), which includes a scene where a character’s Cubs fandom gets called into question. They responded by asking who the club’s first baseman was. I’ll admit it took me a second before the answer was revealed to be Alfonso Rivas.

Ultimately, not much is bolted down for this franchise. Marcus Stroman might still be around the next time they field a good team, but that’s not a guarantee. What about Ian Happ? Maybe that fancy pitching machine they just installed can log a few innings?

22. Miami Marlins

Record: 52-69
Last Power Ranking: 21

There are a lot of ways to lose a game. I hadn’t seen this one before Friday night.

Yes, that’s the Marlins’ Jon Berti trying to go home and prevent the go-ahead run from scoring, seemingly with a good chance of getting the out with a good throw. Except Marlins catcher Jacob Stallings, for whatever reason, was on his way to back up at first base. Maybe Berti could’ve turned two on the play to get out of the inning entirely. Maybe the Marlins still lose if the throw is home late. But it’s the type of play that demonstrates yet another discombobulated season in Miami.

23. Los Angeles Angels

Record: 52-69
Last Power Ranking: 21

Last Tuesday’s game featured an Angels implosion unlike any other. It started when home plate umpire Laz Diaz screwed up the count and allowed Carlos Santana to take first base after ball three. The Angels didn’t use a challenge, and then they made a week’s worth of mistakes throughout the rest of the inning.

Such is life for the Angels, who are 17-29 since that brawl against Seattle, when reliever Archie Bradley fractured his elbow climbing out of the dugout to join the fray. The Mariners, who were a half-game behind the Angels after that game on June 26, have gone 32-16 since. (Seattle did win five straight heading into the brawl game, so there were signs that a turnaround was coming.)

24. Colorado Rockies

Record: 53-70
Last Power Ranking: 23

The all-in Rockies stood pat on the current version of their roster at the trade deadline, electing not to add or sell, only extend their 37-year-old closer while other clubs did business. Since then, they’ve continued to sit in last place.

This team needs reinforcements. Glad to know they’re capable of finding them:

25. Cincinnati Reds

Record: 48-71
Last Power Ranking: 26

Joey Votto’s baseball season is over. His posting season might still be going strong.

The Reds could use the final month of the season to try and increase their draft lottery odds, but that’s not all that compelling. But an MiLB.TV subscription to watch Elly De La Cruz might give Reds fans something to look forward to.

26. Kansas City Royals

Record: 49-74
Last Power Ranking: 25

After a nice stretch in which they went 6-3 after the trade deadline, the Royals are back to playing like the Royals. Which is probably why Alec Lewis wrote about the team’s minor-league system. Then he posted a mailbag and the first question was what the lineup could look like in 2023. Also mentioned in the ‘bag: the progress (or lack thereof) toward a new downtown ballpark, which reminded me that I need to make a trip out there before they tear down Kauffman Stadium.

27. Pittsburgh Pirates

Record: 47-74
Last Power Ranking: 27

Rebuilds are hard, man. For one, sometimes they just don’t work. The most notable thing about this franchise this week was a Hall of Famer calling out their lineup’s irrelevance, and for good reason, given ownership’s unwillingness to spend.

Their manager is safe for now, but optimism is dimming like Rodolfo Castro’s iPhone on night mode.

28. Detroit Tigers

Record: 47-76
Last Power Ranking: 28

The Tigers expected better results this season, which is why they fired Al Avila nearly two weeks ago. Avila’s moves can certainly be questioned, but the team’s number of injured list stints is kind of absurd.

At least Eduardo Rodríguez came back after two months on the restricted list. It’s tough when your big free-agent acquisitions don’t play as well as they’re supposed to, but it’s especially frustrating when they simply aren’t around. Though one of his teammates helped himself to something from Rodríguez’s locker, so maybe there was a side benefit or two? 

29. Oakland Athletics

Record: 45-77
Last Power Ranking: 29

The A’s had multiple position players in their 30s for most of the season, which made their rebuild seem incomplete. They went to work on that over the past week, parting ways with Jed Lowrie, Stephen Piscotty and Elvis Andrus.

When they released Piscotty, they called up their top prospect, Shea Langeliers, and he’s been outstanding at the plate so far (6-for-19, five extra-base hits including a double in his first at-bat). A’s fans have dealt with a lot this season, including the looming possibility of the team relocating to Las Vegas, where their Triple-A team plays. So it only seems fair that Oakland finally gets to watch the Aviators’ best hitter.

30. Washington Nationals

Record: 41-82
Last Power Ranking: 30

Time to check what’s going on for the Nats on Twitter!

(deep, prolonged sigh)

(Top photo of Willy Adames: John Fisher / Getty Images)

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