With the hunt for October in full swing, here are my MLB Power Rankings for the week of Sept. 17th, 2012:
1.) Cincinnati Reds (88-59): The Reds are finishing off the season strong and hope to carry that momentum into October.
2.) Washington Nationals (89-57): The Nats still have the best record in baseball, but were just swept by the Braves: a sign of things to come?
3.) Texas Rangers (87-59): The Rangers have the best record in the AL, but Oakland is surging right behind them in both the standings and the rankings.
4.) Oakland A’s (84-62): The A’s have been the hottest team in baseball for a while now and with Texas in sight, don’t expect them to cool off anytime soon.
5.) San Francisco Giants (83-63): The Giants just keep quietly handling their business and have put great distance between themselves and everyone else in the NL West.
6.) New York Yankees (83-63): The Yanks have regained sole possession of fist place in the AL East and are getting healthy at the right time, so watch out, league.
7.) Baltimore Orioles (82-64): The O’s have clinched their first winning season since 1997 and are still hanging tough in both the AL East and AL Wild Card races.
8.) Atlanta Braves (84-63): With their sweep of Washington last weekend, the Braves have all but solidified their slot as the top NL Wild Card team.
9.) Los Angeles Angels (80-67): If the O’s and Yanks don’t spend too much time worrying about each other, then the surging Angels could sneak in and claim the second AL Wild Card position.
10.) Chicago White Sox (79-66): The Chi Sox don’t seem like they really want to win the AL Central, but then again, neither does any other team.
11.) Detroit Tigers (77-68): With quality pitching at the top of their rotation and big-time sluggers in the middle of the lineup, many wonder how the Tigers struggle so much.
12.) Tampa Bay Rays (77-68): The Rays season pretty much took a kill shot with huge series losses to both the Yanks and O’s this past week.
13.) St. Louis Cardinals (77-70): The slumbering Cards need something to give them some kind of energy and push for the final weeks of the season–perhaps the return of Chris Carpenter could be that elixir.
14.) Los Angeles Dodgers (76-71): Clayton Kershaw being shut down indefinitely is huge for the Dodgers postseason chances, but don’t count out Magic’s boys just yet.
15.) Milwaukee Brewers (74-72): The Brewers are over the .500 mark now and still have a legitimate chance at obtaining the second Wild Card slot in the NL. Ryan Braun and crew have been in this situation before.
16.) Philadelphia Phillies (73-74): The disappointing Phils still have a shot at playing baseball in October, but they just have to get their act together in a hurry.
17.) Pittsburgh Pirates (73-72): The once surprising Pirates ship is sinking quickly and unless they find their early and midseason magic, they won’t be making their first trip to the postseason in two decades.
18.) Arizona Diamondbacks (72-74): The D’Backs are attempting to make a late run at the NL Wild’s second position, but unless a lot of crazy things happen, they’ll come up just short.
19.) San Diego Padres (71-76): Don’t look now, but the Padres are on fire. It may be too late to earn a playoff spot, but they can definitely play spoiler to other teams in the hunt.
20.) Seattle Mariners (70-77): The Mariners are the AL’s version of the Padres. They have caught late season fire and can turn contenders’ postseason dreams into nightmares.
21.) Kansas City Royals (66-80): The Royals are doing more than just simply playing out the season–they actually want to make a little noise late this year.
22.) New York Mets (66-80): Once again the Mets have looked like New York’s mess this season and until things change in the front office, they’ll always be NYC’s little brother.
23.) Toronto Blue Jays (66-79): Currently the Blue Jays are involved in a riveting race for fourth place in the AL East with Boston. Let’s see who can take it–Semi-Pro, anyone?
24.) Boston Red Sox (66-81): Manager Bobby Valentine said this was the worse Red Sox roster ever assembled. I wouldn’t go that far, but they are pretty putrid.
25.) Miami Marlins (65-82): Other than Giancarlo Stanton, what has gone good for the Marlins this year? Is Ozzie Guillen on the hot seat already for next season?
26.) Cleveland Indians (61-86): Since the All-Star break there isn’t a team that has looked as bad as the Indians, except for Houston.
27.) Minnesota Twins (60-87): Normally this time of year Ron Gardenhire‘s Twins are in the hunt for a postseason position, not for worse team in the AL.
28.) Chicago Cubs (58-88): This will be a huge off-season for Theo Epstein to retool this once proud franchise or the once boy genius could be out of a job quickly.
29.) Colorado Rockies (58-87): The Rockies had plenty of expectations entering the season, but now they probably just can’t wait for it to end.
30.) Houston Astros (48-99): The Astros are the epitome of terrible, but there are two important questions left in their season: will Roger Clemens pitch for them and how many games over 100 will they lose?