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The Sports Daily September 2017 MLB Power Rankings

Curious about which MLB teams are climbing up the ladder and which teams are in catastrophic freefall? And why?

Now you can simply refer to the crusty, underpaid baseball writers at The Sports Daily who, with little prompting, rank all 30 teams each month.

Contributing are Editor-in-Chief Joseph Coblitz, along with Gavin Potter and Justin Lada from Burning River Baseball; John Coppinger from Metstradamus; Aaron Hooks from CardsDiaspora; and Richard Dyer from The Giants Cove.

1. Los Angeles Dodgers – 91-41 – 0

It’s startling news when the Dodgers lose, so when they lost five in a row in late August millions of clocks stopped all over LA. We are witnessing one of the most remarkable performances in MLB history, as the Dodgers cruise to 91 wins by September 1st. LA played .678 ball (61-29) the first half of the season; they’re playing .689 ball so far in the second half. And the smartest front office in baseball has kept their starting 25 fresh while adding a critical piece– OF Curtis Granderson from the Mets. – Richard Dyer

2. Washington Nationals – 81-52 – ↑2

Their bullpen was dead last in the N.L. with a 5.16 ERA the first half of the season. Second half? 3.90, good enough for third. Ryan Madson in particular has been a godsend, as he hasn’t given up a run yet with Washington. – John Coppinger

3. Boston Red Sox – 76-58 – ↑3

At this point, Boston is a lock for the postseason, sitting with a comfortable 5.5 game lead in the AL East heading to September – now their biggest opponent is health. Dustin Pedroia’s is set to return soon, which will be helpful, but David’s Price’s playoff availability will be a huge x-factor for Boston in October. – Gavin Potter

4. Houston Astros – 80-53 – ↓1

After the Astros steamed through the AL with a 60-29 first half, a step-back August produced their first losing month of the 2017 season. The front office stumbled at the non-waiver trade deadline– A’s starter Sonny Gray would have been a perfect fit; a waiver deadline trade for Detroit’s Justin Verlander will have to do. Houston still leads the AL in wins and run differential, and reinforcements are on the way: coming off the DL are superstar shortstop Carlos Correa, and SP Lance McCullers. Exactly when Houston needs them back. – Richard Dyer

5. Cleveland Indians – 76-56 – ↑3

As August progressed, the Indians found themselves without Lonnie Chisenhall from a first half injury, Jason Kipnis returned and then was hurt again, ditto for Andrew Miller. Then Michael Brantley went down. Then Danny Salazar went down again. And yet,the Indians went 19-9 after a three game sweep of the Yankees in New York. Jose Ramirez is heating back up, Carlos Santana is still on fire and Corey Kluber remains Corey Kluber. The AL’s top record is within reach. – Justin Lada

6. Chicago Cubs – 73-60 – ↑4

The NBA used to be the league where the most talented teams would kind of turn it off and on as needed during the regular season, making sure to save as much gas for the playoffs as possible. Joe Maddon is the new Greg Popovich, I guess. The Cubs are going to win the NL Central by pretty much sleepwalking through an entire regular season. Some Cubs fans saw the ’16 championship as the franchises crowning achievement, and they’re correct, but the ’17 regular season long coast that still wins a division title? That’s got to be a close second. – Aaron Hooks

7. New York Yankees – 71-62 – ↓1

New York’s 13-15 record in August put them back 5.5 games in the AL East, making a Wild Card playoff birth look more likely. Michael Pineda, Sonny Gray, and Masahiro Tanaka would form a formidable trio in the playoffs, but with Aaron Judge slumping (85 wRC+ in second half) the Yanks offense is less intimidating. – Gavin Potter

8. Arizona Diamondbacks – 76-58 – ↓5

The DBacks have fallen back a bit in the rankings since June, but they did the best thing they could have the last week of August to slow that fall; sweeping the Dodgers. In fact, they’ve won 10 in a row and 12 of 13, surpassing the Rockies and cementing their Wild Card hold. They probably should have put that away already, but they’ll have to be happy with a six game lead over Milwaukee. – Joseph Coblitz

9. Colorado Rockies – 72-61 – ↓4

With the D’Backs and Rockies locked into both NL Wild Card spots all season, it will take a lot for the Brewers, St. Louis, or Miami to catch and hold off Colorado between now and October. The Rockies are following a familiar blueprint: a strong first half (52-39), and stumbling second half (20-22 so far). But they are second in the NL with 681 RS, and the starting pitching has survived. Between now and October, it’s all about Colorado’s bullpen. – Richard Dyer

10. Milwaukee Brewers – 70-64 – ↓1

T -Their chances to win the division are dwindling but Zach Davies and Jimmy Nelson are having excellent years and giving them a chance to hang around. Eric Thames slowly but surely is re-emerging after hitting the skids in the middle of the year. Neil Walker was acquired for virtually nothing. With the Rockies slump last month, the Brewers are also in the Wild Card picture again, but ever so slightly. Jett Bandy will head out on a rehab assignment and should be back to help this team try to chase down a playoff spot in September. – Justin Lada

11. Los Angeles Angels – 69-65 – ↑4

The Angels sit right in the thick of the weird AL Wild Card race. Call it parity or mediocrity, but they’re hanging around. They lost their second best pitcher, JC Ramirez, to the DL in August with an elbow strain and no guarantee of a return. Luckily they got Andrew Heaney back from Tommy John surgery and he was OK in two August starts. Garrett Richards is potentially coming off of the DL this weekend , which would be a huge boost to the rotation that also features pleasant surprise Parker Bridwell this month. GM Billy Epplier didn’t acquire a starting pitcher the team may have needed but he did swing a big deal with the Tigers for Justin Upton and with Atlanta for Brandon Philips, upgrading two positions of need and  huge boost to the lineup.

12. Minnesota Twins – 70-63 – 0

The Twins and Royals provide quite the interesting story line this year. Despite a roster full of young stars and retreads, the Twins have managed to hold on to a Wild Card through August and go into the final month with a 1.5 lead on the Angels. The reason I bring up the Royals; the Twins sold at the deadline while the Royals added. – Joseph Coblitz

13. Kansas City Royals – 65-67 – ↑3

Things couldn’t be a whole lot worse for the Royals franchise right now. They went all in to win the World Series this year rather than trying to hurry the next window by trading their many impending free agents. Now, they’re under .500, competing with 7 other teams for one of two Wild Card spots with no more ways left to improve their odds. – Joseph Coblitz

14. Seattle Mariners – 66-68  – 0

Despite sitting below .500, the M’s have to be a real dark horse for the Wild Card this year. The fact that they’ve hung around despite losing essentially their entire pitching staff to injury is commendable and they are expecting to get Felix Hernandez as well as James Paxton and Evan Scribner soon.  – Joseph Coblitz

15. St. Louis Cardinals – 66-66 – ↑5

Cardinals fans aren’t used to this much pain. And – yeah – slightly above .500 isn’t actual ‘pain’ when it comes to baseball fandom. But when you’re not used to it? Devastating. The Cubs all but sent over invitations to Clark St. for the Cardinals to compete in the NL Central. Yet every time they got close (at one point technically tied for 1st place in August), the Cardinals slid back down the mountain. – Aaron Hooks

16. Tampa Bay Rays – 67-68 – ↓5

They’re only four out of the Wild Card which seems to be influx all around. After selling off Yu Darvish last month, they’ve managed to hang around. They even picked up the serviceable Miguel Gonzalez at the waiver deadline to help fill out the rotation. Joey Gallo continues to push towards having twice as many homers as singles. They may be hit with some bad news to start September as Adrian Beltre had to leave in the middle of the game Thursday with a hamstring injury that didn’t look good initially. – Justin Lada

17. Texas Rangers – 66-67 – ↓4

The Rangers are still clinging to their AL Wild Card hopes, as one of five teams within four games of the second spot. That said, the team didn’t do themselves any favors when they traded Yu Darvish to Los Angeles. Should they fall just short of a playoff birth, they may regret selling at the deadline. – Gavin Potter

18. Baltimore Orioles – 68-66 – ↑1

Just when the Orioles seemed to be evaporating in front of our eyes, they’re back in the AL Wild Card conversation with an 8-2 run during the final week of August. Baltimore began the season with a 15-8 April, then reeled off three consecutive sub-.500 months in May/June/July. Back over .500 in August, they are a couple of games behind the Angels and Twins, who lead the slow-motion sprint for the second AL Wild Card slot. – Richard Dyer

19. Miami Marlins – 66-67 – ↑4

Giancarlo Stanton has a slash line of .325/.435/.875 between July 5th and August 24th. In that time he has 28 HR’s and 50 RBI in 42 games. Considering the Marlins’ team splits look somewhat normal in August, it’s safe to say Stanton has singlehandedly put the Marlins on the fringe of the playoff race. – John Coppinger

20. Pittsburgh Pirates – 53-71 – ↑1

2017 was a lost season for the Pirates. What the team gained from Andrew McCutchen’s resurgence, they lost from Starling Marte’s PED suspension. Still, the team has some optimism for 2018, with those two, along with Gerrit Cole and Felipe Rivero returning. – Gavin Potter

21. Toronto Blue Jays – 62-72 – ↓4

Of the preseason general consensus, only the Giants expectations were off by more than the Blue Jays. Obviously, the Jays expected to contend when they resigned Jose Bautista, but they never recovered from a 8-17 April. While that alone didn’t bury them, three straight below .500 months have and they now sit far beyond a very mediocre Wild Card hunt. – Joseph Coblitz

22. San Diego Padres – 59-74 – ↑6

As the Padres continue their multi-year rebuild, a core group of talented young players has emerged: OF Jose Pirela, 27 (.838 OPS, 69G); IF Carlos Asuaje, 25 (.341 OBP, 59G); OF Manuel Margot, 22 (33 XBH, 98G); and RF Hunter Renfroe, 25 (45 XBH, 111G). San Diego’s 4.56 staff ERA is good for 9th among all NL teams. And Baseball America rates the Pads farm system 9th best in the Majors, so there’s even more young talent on the way. – Richard Dyer

23. Oakland Athletics – 58-75 – ↓1

At 58-72, Oakland fans haven’t had much to cheer for other than Khris Davis’ 36 home runs this season. Unfortunately, even Davis isn’t really worth celebrating – his anemic defense has resulted in him producing just 1.5 WAR. A more practical silver lining for the A’s is rookie Matt Chapman, who is currently playing at a nearly a 5 WAR place. – Gavin Potter

24. Atlanta Braves – 59-73 – ↓6

The Braves are 9-21 since Jaime Garcia’s last Braves start: a 12-3 win over the Dodgers where Garcia hit a grand slam. They’ve been outscored 163-126 in those 30 games. – John Coppinger

25. Cincinnati Reds – 57-77 – ↑1

While the Reds are looking at the finish of another dismal season, they can at least take joy in having Joey Votto under contract forever. The patient slugger currently ranks 7th in position player fWAR in the long history of the first professional baseball team. – Joseph Coblitz

26. Detroit Tigers – 58-74 – ↓1

Detroit’s rebuild is now completely underway – while the Tigers looked half-decent earlier in the year, their upside was also heavily limited. The front office acted appropriately by selling off J.D. Martinez, Justin Wilson, Alex Avila, and now Justin Upton. Talent-wise, the team is depleted, but they can now finally build with the future in mind. – Gavin Potter

27. New York Mets – 58-75 – ↓3

In the span of 48 hours they lost Michael Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes to injury, most likely for the season. Matt Harvey and David Wright are rehabbing, and Noah Syndergaard is about to start a rehab stint. Jay Bruce, Curtis Granderson, Neil Walker, Addison Reed, and Lucas Duda are gone. This team prays for death but death won’t come. – John Coppinger

28. San Francisco Giants – 54-82 – ↑1

The Giants terrible 2017 season is not an accident—it will take several years to purge the bad free agent deals, poor trades, and cheap player signings that put them in NL West basement. They have a -126 DIFF, are seven games behind the San Diego Padres, and have a bottom-rated farm system. San Francisco will start the 2018 season with a base payroll of over $162 million, leaving them about $35 million to spend before hitting the 50% MLB luxury tax. I forgot, how many high impact players can you sign with $35m? – Richard Dyer

29. Chicago White Sox – 52-80 – ↓2

Jose Abreu is going to be famous at some point, right? The Sox slugger became the first player in franchise history to hit 25+ home runs in his first 4 seasons. And he could walk into pretty much any store on Michigan Avenue and not be recognized. Let’s hope all these young guys getting some run in August and September help raise the Sox profile in 2018. If for nothing else than to get Abreu some media love. – Aaron Hooks

30. Philadelphia Phillies – 50-83 – 0

Rhys Hoskins has 8 HRs and 19 RBI in 64 plate appearances after starting his career 0-for-10. Jorge Alfaro is hitting .324 in his limited action this season. Mickey Moniak and J.P. Crawford also give the Phillies hope for the future since the present is pretty much shot. – John Coppinger

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