Photo courtesy of Winslow Townson | USA TODAY Sports
September is here and the final month of the Major League Baseball season will certainly be one for the history books with close races for divisions and home-field advantage through the playoffs. Here are AOU Network’s latest MLB Power Rankings.
On Deck: Toronto Blue Jays (68-58, last week: 3-3) (Prev. rank: 7)
The weekend could not have gone worse for the franchise above the boarder as Toronto was swept by the Los Angeles Angels and outscored 22-3 over the weekend. Toronto only holds a 1.5-game lead over the Baltimore Orioles and must handle business against the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates before a pivotal four games against the Orioles next week.
10. Tampa Bay Rays (70-57, last week: 5-2) (Prev. rank: NR)
It’s no secret that the Rays remain consistently good. Despite making zero splashes on an annual basis, manager Kevin Cash makes the most with the players he’s got and turns this franchise into legit contenders come every fall. They are in that position again and the addition of outfielder David Peralta, who’s slashing .278/.380/.717 since joining the team at the Trade Deadline.
9. Seattle Mariners (70-58, last week: 4-2) (Prev. rank: NR)
It was a fairly clean week for Seattle with series wins over the Washington Nationals and Cleveland Guardians. They’ll need a another series win over the Detroit Tigers before pivotal matchups against Cleveland, Chicago White Sox, Atlanta Braves and San Diego Padres.
8. Cleveland Guardians (67-59, last week: 3-3) (Prev. rank: 9)
The playoff heat continues to rise in the AL Central and Guardians will have to prove their mettle over the next few series against the Orioles and a hosting of the Mariners this weekend.
7. New York Yankees (78-50, last week: 4-2) (Prev. rank: 8)
It seemed like the Yankees were back to their routine schedule with a two-game sweep of the New York Mets but then split a four-game weekend series against…the Oakland Athletics?? I know New York is coasting their way to an AL East win but there are still beefy matchups in their remaining schedules where they will have to show they are still in first-half form.
6. Philadelphia Phillies (72-56, last week: 6-1) (Prev. rank: 6)
Once just a Wild-Card placeholder, the Phillies are generating some real momentum that could make them the surprise club to make a deep postseason run. Granted, their August was fairly tame outside of two series with the Mets but their September sees two series with the Atlanta Braves that will surely prove how ready they are for playoff baseball.
5. St. Louis Cardinals (74-54, last week: 5-3) (Prev. rank: 5)
St. Louis picked up a monumental series win over Atlanta during the weekend and are in prime position to not only make a deep playoff run, but to be the team that takes the pennant when the dust settles from a top-heavy NL. What better way to send Albert Pujols into retirement than with a team that could win it all?
4. Houston Astros (82-47, last week: 4-2) (Prev. rank: 4)
Houston is one of the teams that can coast into the postseason. The only fight remaining is a battle for home-field position through the postseason with the Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers. However, there are some worries in the clubhouse after right-handed pitching ace Justin Verlander suffered a right-calf injury Sunday.
3. Atlanta Braves (79-50, last week: 4-2) (Prev. rank: 3)
Based on Atlanta’s September schedule, all eyes will be on the end of the month as the Mets and Braves will meet one last time in the regular season, which should be for the NL East crown if all goes according to plan.
2. New York Mets (82-47, last week: 3-3) (Prev. rank: 2)
After being swept in a potential World Series affair by the Yankees, the Mets get to test themselves this week with a pivotal, can’t-miss matchup with the Dodgers at Citi Field that will determine who gets home-field advantage through the NL bracket.
1. Los Angeles Dodgers (88-38, last week: 4-2) (Prev. rank: 1)
All may look perfect for the boys in blue being a whopping 50 games above .500, but trouble is brewing with the loss of Walker Buehler for the season and now, Tony Gonsolin is on the IL with a right forearm strain. Like last season, the Dodger pitching staff is being stretched thin late in the season. Can they figure it out?