MLB Power Rankings Week 22: Mariners make top-5 debut

Tomorrow marks the primary day of September — which means the race for October is simply going to get extra intense from right here.

Whereas a number of groups are staring down the postseason as they sit atop their division with a snug lead, various squads have quite a bit left to play for within the remaining month of the common season.

That features three divisional rivals within the American League, who usually are not solely neck-in-neck combating for positioning within the playoffs but additionally in our standings, as one makes its debut within the prime 5 for the primary time this season. Who will come out on prime?

Our skilled panel has mixed to rank each group in baseball based mostly on a mix of what we have seen thus far and what we already knew going into the 162-game marathon that may be a full baseball season. We additionally requested ESPN MLB consultants David Schoenfield, Bradford Doolittle, Jesse Rogers and Alden Gonzalez to weigh in with an remark for all 30 groups.

Week 21 | Second-half preview | Preseason rankings

Report: 87-45

Earlier rating: 1

The very best regular-season group in Braves historical past was the 1998 squad that completed 106-56 with a plus-245 run differential. The 2023 Braves might want to end sturdy to get there, however they present no indicators of slowing down. Getting into Wednesday’s recreation, they have been on tempo for 106 wins and a plus-286 run differential. Six regulars are hitting round .300 in August as is part-timer Nicky Lopez. The four-game collection at Dodger Stadium might be an attention-grabbing playoff preview, and so they have seven video games left towards the Phillies, however the Braves definitely have a shot at 107 wins, even when they begin resting a number of the regulars a bit in September. — Schoenfield

Report: 83-49

Earlier rating: 2

The Dodgers are surging by August, successful 24 of their 28 video games to extend their Nationwide League West result in a whopping 14½ video games. And their two MVP candidates, Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman, have predictably shouldered a variety of the burden, combining to hit over .400 and slugging round .700 this month. Betts particularly boasts a serious league-best 1.309 OPS in August and is making a late surge to chase down the Braves’ Ronald Acuna Jr. and seize his second MVP Award. Betts is slashing .316/.410/.611 with 36 residence runs and 10 stolen bases for the 12 months. With sooner or later left in August, his 7.5 FanGraphs wins above substitute simply prime the NL, with Freeman (6.6) and Acuna (6.5) lagging barely behind. All three will share the identical discipline starting as we speak, with the Dodgers and Braves set for a four-game collection from Dodger Stadium. — Gonzalez

Report: 83-50

Earlier rating: 3

For anybody ready for the Orioles to regress on the premise of their run differential, it ain’t taking place. Quite than Baltimore’s file transferring in direction of its differential, it is the alternative. On July 24, the Orioles had a 162-game win tempo of a fair 100, although their run differential recommended they have been truly extra like an 89-win group. The prevailing analytic knowledge is that run differential is extra predictive of a group’s future file than precise file. Properly, inform that to the O’s. After Baltimore clubbed the White Sox on Tuesday, their 162-game win tempo was as much as 102, whereas the differential was that of a 93-win membership. There’s nonetheless a disparity, in fact, however the backside line is that the Orioles have an terrible lot of wins within the financial institution, and so they simply preserve getting higher. — Doolittle

Report: 82-52

Earlier rating: 5

Because the Rays’ offense retains rolling, the efficiency of Isaac Paredes continues to face out even amongst a lineup stuffed with scorching hitters. Paredes is likely one of the extra unsung gamers within the recreation. Maybe it is as a result of he performs in Tampa/St. Petersburg, or maybe it is as a result of he is a 3rd baseman in an period unusually prolific in star third basemen. But it surely’s time for Paredes to get some due.

After homering and driving in 4 towards Miami on Tuesday, Paredes was on tempo to prime each the 30-homer and 100-RBI thresholds this season. Solely 4 Rays have ever executed that: Carlos Pena (2007, 2008, 2009), Evan Longoria (2009), Aubrey Huff (2003) and model new Corridor of Famer Fred McGriff (1999). Paredes ranks sixth amongst main third baseman by bWAR, forward of luminaries corresponding to Rafael Devers, Nolan Arenado and Manny Machado. — Doolittle

Report: 76-57

Earlier rating: 7

With their victory on Sunday and a Rangers loss, the Mariners briefly moved into sole possession of first place, the newest they have been in first place since 2001. Julio Rodriguez adopted up with a four-hit recreation on Monday, making him the primary participant since 1900 with 5 four-hit video games in a 10-game stretch. He hit .596 over these 10 video games with 5 residence runs and 16 RBIs. He missed Tuesday’s recreation with a pinched nerve in his foot, nonetheless, and the Mariners have him listed as day-to-day. They’re going to want his red-hot bat within the lineup because the schedule now will get tougher, beginning with a 10-game highway journey towards the Mets, Reds and Rays. — Schoenfield

Report: 77-58

Earlier rating: 6

Michael Brantley is again. The Astros activated Brantley from the injured checklist on Tuesday and he made his season debut that evening at Fenway Park, going 0-for-4. It was his first MLB motion since June 26, 2022, and his return positions him to play an element in Houston’s title protection after he missed final 12 months’s championship run. Brantley hit only one homer in 16 rehab video games for Triple-A Sugar Land, however apart from that, he hit very very like Michael Brantley. He posted a .298/.453/.447 slash line for the Area Cowboys, with 15 walks and one — one! — strikeout. The Astros, who’re final within the majors in plate appearances by lefty hitters, can use a man like that. Anybody might. — Doolittle

Report: 75-58

Earlier rating: 4

The Rangers misplaced eight in a row after which misplaced maintain of first place within the American League West because the hard-charging Mariners overtook them. A collection win over the Mets helped proper the ship, although, as their pitching stabilized after a tough journey. Andrew Heaney threw a wanted 5⅓ shutout innings on Tuesday, putting out seven whereas giving up 5 hits and a stroll. The evening earlier than, it was Jon Grey tossing a high quality begin. Within the final 10 days, Rangers’ starters posted a 5.22 ERA. A lot of the season, that a part of their group has been nice. Their one blip price them first place. — Rogers

Report: 74-59

Earlier rating: 9

A collection win over the Giants, a sweep of the Cardinals and a collection win over the Angels have allowed the Phillies to open up a bit of respiration room within the wild-card race. Aaron Nola had back-to-back seven-inning begins — permitting no runs and two runs, respectively — and Bryce Harper has discovered his residence run groove, with eight in a 13-game stretch, together with his three hundredth profession residence run on Wednesday, during which he hit .458/.574/1.063 with 17 RBIs and struck out simply 5 occasions.. In the meantime, Kyle Schwarber hit seven residence runs in an 11-game stretch, hitting .275 with extra walks than strikeouts and a 1.317 OPS. A locked-in Harper and Schwarber? Be careful. — Schoenfield

Report: 74-59

Earlier rating: 10

A nine-game win streak got here to an finish on Tuesday in a 1-0 loss to the Cubs, however Milwaukee firmly established itself as a potential playoff drive in the course of the run. It began after the group arrived in Texas for a collection at 4 a.m. native time. The Brewers swept the Rangers that weekend earlier than doing the identical to the first-place Twins a pair days later, after which Milwaukee buried the Padres with a house sweep. Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes are doing their factor, however Freddy Peralta has additionally been wonderful. He averaged over 9 strikeouts in 5 August begins, all wins by the Brewers. The NL Central is theirs to lose in September. — Rogers

Report: 73-61

Earlier rating: 8

Even because the Blue Jays slip more and more behind within the playoff race, Davis Schneider has established himself as a spectacled, mustachioed folks hero. Over his first 14 large league video games, the Blue Jays’ Twenty eighth-round choice in 2017 went 19-for-45 with 9 walks, six homers, 14 RBIs and a .426/.526/.894 slash line. Can he stick with it? Properly, both Schneider is due for a serious regression, or he is the very best hitter who ever lived. We’ll go away it as much as what you wish to imagine. — Doolittle

Report: 71-62

Earlier rating: 12

Justin Steele continues to make his Cy Younger case as he tossed one other six shutout innings towards the Brewers in a decent 1-0 win on Tuesday. His 2.69 ERA is second solely to Blake Snell within the NL. The outing helped stabilize a Cubs rotation that is now counting on two pitchers — lefty Jordan Wicks and righty Javier Assad — who’ve restricted expertise within the large leagues. Wicks made his MLB debut on Saturday towards the Pirates, putting out 9 whereas that includes a change-up — a rarity for left-handed pitchers. The Cubs might use extra manufacturing out of righty Jameson Taillon down the stretch. He is given up a minimum of 4 runs in his final 4 begins, tying a profession excessive set earlier this season. — Rogers

Report: 69-65

Earlier rating: 13

When the week started, Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly had mixed for a 3.32 ERA in 52 begins, making up among the finest one-two punches within the sport — to not point out one of many largest the explanation why the D-backs remained in rivalry. In back-to-back begins towards the Dodgers on Monday and Tuesday, nonetheless, Gallen and Kelly mixed to permit 13 runs on 21 hits and 6 walks in 10⅓ innings, taking the loss in each outings. The D-backs have taken some main steps ahead this 12 months, however the hole between them and the Dodgers continues to be actually extensive, particularly in latest weeks. There is no higher proof of that than watching their two greatest pitchers by far wrestle mightily towards them. — Gonzalez

Report: 69-65

Earlier rating: 14

The event of Royce Lewis was slowed by accidents, however by all of it, his expertise has shined by and continues to take action on the large league degree. Lewis was the No. 1 decide within the 2017 draft, however a pair of ACL tears stored him on the Baseball America prime 100 prospects checklist six straight years. His rise to the majors required a variety of persistence and perseverance, however he’s in Minnesota now, and he is doing what you hope a primary general decide will do.

Lewis mashed grand slams in back-to-back video games this week, turning into the primary participant within the historical past of the Senators/Twins to take action. He adopted that up with a solo homer within the subsequent recreation. The pattern measurement on his large league numbers stays small, however if you wish to dream on him a bit of, take into account this: Over his first 51 MLB video games, he slashed .312/.354/.538 with 162-game paces of 35 homers and 108 RBIs, all whereas posting optimistic defensive metrics at third base. The wait definitely seems to have been price it. — Doolittle

Report: 69-64

Earlier rating: 15

Alex Cobb got here inside one out of throwing a no-hitter towards the electrical Reds on Tuesday, finally giving up an RBI double to Spencer Steer earlier than ending with a 131-pitch full recreation. Solely three males reached base. It won’t have been a historic begin, nevertheless it was additional indication of how essential Cobb, 35, has been for this 12 months’s Giants. His ERA is down to three.57 in 141⅓ innings. He and Logan Webb have principally been the one mainstays within the rotation. However Kyle Harrison, their 22-year-old rookie, has allowed simply two runs in 9⅔ innings in his first two begins, putting out 16 batters. He might change the dynamic down the stretch because the Giants look to safe a wild-card spot in a hyper-competitive discipline. — Gonzalez

Report: 69-65

Earlier rating: 11

After a three-game highway collection towards the lowly Royals, the Pink Sox will start a brutal make-or-break a part of their schedule on Sept. 4. Boston will play at Tampa Bay, at residence towards the Orioles and Yankees, after which on the highway at Toronto and Texas. The contests towards the offensively-potent Rays, Orioles and Rangers are of specific concern for the Pink Sox’s ice chilly run prevention, which has not warmed up over the past week. Since Aug. 16, the Pink Sox rank as a bottom-five group within the majors in group ERA. On prime of all that, Boston will end the season with out Jarren Duran, whose turf toe harm required surgical procedure. It was a breakout season on the plate for Duran, who entered the 2023 marketing campaign with a profession OPS+ of 69 however leaped to a 120 mark this season. — Doolittle

Report: 69-66

Earlier rating: 16

A late-season West Coast journey hasn’t been variety to the Reds as they struggled on offense to start the week. They have been practically no-hit by Cobb and the Giants on Tuesday, managing only one run within the ninth inning — their third straight recreation scoring two or much less runs. Nick Martini has been a pleasant discover for Cincinnati, although. He went 6-for-16 over a seven-day span ending on Tuesday that included two residence runs and 6 RBIs. Martini has raked since arising from Triple-A lately and has been a much-needed addition for an up-and-down offense. The Reds have fallen behind within the wild-card race, however as soon as they get into September, their schedule lightens up. They’re down however not out. — Rogers

Report: 66-67

Earlier rating: 17

It is starting to slide away from the Marlins. They’re nonetheless within the wild-card chase, however now have three groups to leap over. They usually simply have not performed good baseball since June, going 9-15 in July and 9-17 in August. Of their newest 2-8 stretch, they scored simply 17 runs whereas hitting .207/.254/.319. It did not assist that they really had leads in two of these video games, however nearer David Robertson misplaced them late. Robertson regarded like commerce deadline transfer, however he is blown three of his six save probabilities, dropping all three of these video games and his position as nearer. — Schoenfield

Report: 62-72

Earlier rating: 18

Is it time to surrender any hope on these Padres? They’re certainly making it tempting. The Padres have been swept in a weekend collection towards the Brewers, and two days later they misplaced to the hapless Cardinals in additional innings. It moved the Padres to 0-11 in additional innings in 2023 — one loss away from tying the 1969 Montreal Expos, an growth group that misplaced 110 video games, for the worst file in extra-inning video games in a single season. Worse: The Padres positioned Yu Darvish on the IL with elbow irritation on Sunday. Darvish needs to return earlier than the tip of the season, as does Joe Musgrove, who’s recovering from shoulder irritation. But when the Padres cannot get into rivalry by mid-September, it will not be well worth the threat. — Gonzalez

Report: 65-68

Earlier rating: 21

The Yankees despatched a transparent message on Tuesday that they are turning the web page and seeking to subsequent season with their selections to position heart fielder Harrison Bader on waivers and launch third baseman Josh Donaldson.

Bader might stick round if he goes unclaimed, however the focus in New York stays on going-forward analysis. With Donaldson on the IL many of the 12 months, the Yankees have leaned on veterans like D.J. LeMahieu and Isiah Kiner-Falefa on the scorching nook. In latest video games, nonetheless, Oswald Peraza had gotten the lion’s share of the time on the place, so we are able to count on that to proceed with Donaldson now an ex-Yankee. It was much less clear what the Bombers had in thoughts for heart discipline, till they known as up Jasson Dominguez — whose standing as “phenom” has been up and down — on Thursday, with the intention of activating him previous to the group’s collection towards the Astros beginning Friday. Dominguez, 20, performed simply eight video games at Triple-A earlier than being known as up, going 12-for-27 with 5 walks and simply two strikeouts. — Doolittle

Report: 64-70

Earlier rating: 20

The Noah Syndergaard experiment did not work out because the Guardians designated him for project after six begins and a 5.40 ERA. The Guardians did handle to go 3-3 in his begins, and in one of many losses he allowed only one run, so he is hardly the explanation the group has fallen behind the Twins after beginning the month only one recreation out of first place. Certainly, they’ll take a look at their 5-8 file towards the White Sox and 3-7 file towards the Tigers as two groups they need to have — or might have — executed higher towards. They do have one final collection towards the Twins starting Monday, and so they’ll want to comb that to have any likelihood on the division. — Schoenfield

Report: 62-72

Earlier rating: 23

The Nationals misplaced to the Blue Jays on Wednesday for his or her first collection loss after beforehand successful six straight in August towards the A’s, Pink Sox, Phillies, Yankees and Marlins. They’re 26-18 within the second half, the identical file because the Phillies and practically nearly as good because the Braves (27-16) and Astros (27-17). They’ve executed that regardless of a 5.16 ERA that ranks within the backside third within the majors because the All-Star break. The offense ranks within the backside half of the majors in OPS within the second half, so I would not essentially interpret this stretch as a positive signal that the Nationals are abruptly a lot improved. However they’re studying to win, and the group will little doubt look to enhance its roster depth within the offseason.

One key that has stored their season respectable: They’ve used simply seven starters, tied for fewest within the majors. Josiah Grey, MacKenzie Gore and Trevor Williams have every made 26 begins, whereas Patrick Corbin made his twenty seventh Wednesday. — Schoenfield

Report: 64-70

Earlier rating: 19

The Angels flooded the waiver wire with a handful of notable gamers on Tuesday, an inventory that included beginning pitcher Lucas Giolito, outfielders Hunter Renfroe and Randal Grichuk, and relievers Reynaldo Lopez and Matt Moore. The choice was made, a minimum of partly, in an effort to get again below the luxury-tax threshold. But it surely additionally embodied their harsh actuality.

By that time, the Angels had gone 7-17 because the Aug. 1 commerce deadline — a time after they not solely determined to maintain Shohei Ohtani, but additionally shed prospects to amass a number of the aforementioned leases. Ohtani has since been recognized with a torn UCL that can forestall him from pitching the remainder of the 12 months, Mike Trout is again on the IL, and no one appears to have any thought if Anthony Rendon will play once more this season. The Angels’ selections a month in the past — impressed because it might need been — may finally set this franchise again a number of years. — Gonzalez

Report: 61-73

Earlier rating: 22

Francisco Lindor has quietly reached 5.1 WAR, which ranks him tenth amongst all place gamers. With a powerful end, he has an opportunity to succeed in 100 runs and 100 RBIs in the identical season for the primary time in his profession, after simply lacking final season (98 runs, 107 RBIs). A few of his worth is in amount — he is missed simply two video games — however he is performed wonderful protection (he might win a Gold Glove) and swiped 24 bases in 26 makes an attempt. His 118 OPS+ is correct at his profession common of 117. Does it really feel like he is been among the finest gamers within the recreation? Probably not, however apart from his mediocre .251 common, he is excelled at the whole lot else. — Schoenfield

Report: 59-74

Earlier rating: 24

Reviews got here out this week that Casey Mize, who has missed the complete 2023 season whereas recovering from Tommy John surgical procedure, confronted stay batters final weekend for the primary time throughout his restoration course of. It is not out of the query that we might see Mize earlier than the tip of the season. He would not be stretched out, however, nonetheless, the Tigers might get a glimpse of their core 2024 rotation on the identical MLB workers for the primary time all season.

Two of these constructing blocks — Matt Manning and Tarik Skubal — proceed to pattern in the precise path. Manning, who tweaked his again in his final outing and needed to have a scheduled begin pushed again, has allowed only one earned run over his final three begins. In the meantime, Skubal has a 3.93 ERA over 10 begins since returning to the large league rotation on July 4. He is actually been even higher than that: Skubal’s 2.41 FIP since that date is the very best within the majors, in keeping with Fangraphs. — Doolittle

Report: 61-73

Earlier rating: 26

Mitch Keller has returned to pre-All Star break type as he pitched eight scoreless innings towards the Cubs final Friday. Together with his earlier two begins, Keller has given up simply three runs over 20 innings. Take away three earlier outings within the second half, the place he gave up 22 runs, and Keller has been one of many higher pitchers within the recreation. It offers the Pirates a pitcher to construct round as they slowly try to come back out of an extended rebuilding cycle. The lengthy awaited return of Oneil Cruz was sadly placed on maintain as his harm wasn’t absolutely healed. Pittsburgh missed him because the season wore on, coinciding with their fall within the standings. — Rogers

Report: 58-76

Earlier rating: 25

Taking part in out the string has not regarded fairly for the Cardinals. The one factor to play for is not even going their manner as Adam Wainwright continues to be caught on 198 wins. He is pitched higher in two of his final three begins, however the offense has dried up with him on the mound — scoring a complete of six runs in these outings. As a group, St. Louis had the worst week on the plate in MLB, hitting simply .147 with a .470 OPS over a five-day span ending Tuesday. Nolan Arenado went 0-for-15 throughout that stretch whereas Nolan Gorman went 1-for-13. Ugly would not start to explain the Cardinals’ season. — Rogers

Report: 53-81

Earlier rating: 28

Regardless of Chicago’s struggles, Luis Robert Jr. has set profession marks in doubles and residential runs in his breakout 12 months. He is additionally been constant, hitting a minimum of 5 lengthy balls in every month whereas enjoying Gold Glove-caliber protection in heart. Robert is not absolutely shaped as a hitter simply but — as evidenced by his 149-28 strikeout-to-walk ratio — however he is chasing 3% lower than final season, which means he is bettering upon his large weak point. Because the White Sox retool, they’ve a participant to construct round. It is one shiny spot in an in any other case horrible 12 months for the group. — Rogers

Report: 49-84

Earlier rating: 27

The worst run-differential in Rockies historical past befell in 1993, the group’s inaugural season, after they completed at minus-209. With greater than a month of baseball forward of them, the 2023 Rockies stand at minus-197. They’re additionally on tempo for his or her first 100-loss season in franchise historical past. The Rockies have been a catastrophe since they final reached the postseason in 2018. And provided that their farm system ranked 18th when ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel revealed his up to date rankings in mid-August, it might be some time till they’re related once more. — Gonzalez

Report: 41-94

Earlier rating: 29

The Royals could have pulled off a uncommon coup — for them — in selecting up Cole Ragans within the Aroldis Chapman commerce. The previous first-round decide had struggled in a reduction position with the Rangers with a 5.95 ERA, however the Royals moved him into their rotation after a short hiatus in Triple-A. In seven begins, he has a 1.73 ERA with 56 strikeouts and only one residence run in 41⅔ innings — together with back-to-back scoreless outings with 20 strikeouts in his final two begins. Ragans has had two Tommy John surgical procedures and was throwing within the 92-93 mph vary with the Rangers, however his velocity has abruptly ticked as much as 96 mph and his cutter and slider have been dominant as effectively. His 53 strikeouts in August tied for the second most in a month in Royals historical past behind Dennis Leonard, who had 55 in June of 1977. — Schoenfield

Report: 39-95

Earlier rating: 30

The A’s, who will host the Angels over the weekend, have not notched a house sweep of a minimum of three video games all 12 months. They’d a primary alternative to take action final Wednesday, towards the equally hapless Royals, however they have been shut out within the finale. The A’s offense ranks useless final within the majors in OPS and has been shut out 14 occasions thus far this 12 months, tied with the Tigers, Mets and Royals for the key league lead. Zero sweeps at residence, however they have been the sufferer of a house sweep on eight events. — Gonzalez

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