Here are my MLB power rankings.
1. Los Angeles Dodgers (96-54, No. 2 last week): The Dodgers are just one game behind the Giants and now have Clayton Kershaw back in the rotation to go along with Max Scherzer, Walker Buehler and Julio Urías. This club looks primed to repeat. After three-game sets at Colorado and Arizona Sept. 21-26, the Dodgers will come back to Los Angeles for three-game series against San Diego and Milwaukee to close out the regular season.
2. San Francisco Giants (97-53, No. 1): It’s been a remarkable run. If my gut is right, I say the Giants slip up enough to let the Dodgers win the NL West and then face the crapshoot of a one-game playoff. They face San Diego six times down the stretch, and Manny Machado picks the last month of the season to call out his teammate. See you later, Mr. Tingler.
3. Milwaukee Brewers (91-58, No. 3): This is a very dangerous team. The Brewers will get starting shortstop Willy Adames back, perhaps as soon as Sept. 20. While it looks like I am leaning toward a Dodgers’ repeat scenario, the Brewers have the pluck, starting pitching and back-end dagger in Josh Hader to bring Milwaukee its first World Series win since 1957 when the Braves beat the Yankees.
4. Tampa Bay Rays (92-58, No. 4): While manager Kevin Cash isn’t exactly my cup of tea, I have great respect for the cold, clear way he does business. It may be old fashioned of me, but I still prefer my championship teams in MLB to have dominant starting pitching. It just doesn’t exist at this address.
5. Houston Astros (88-61, No. 6): Manager Dusty Baker winning his first World Series at the age of 72 would be a “wonderful life” finish to his career and might pave his way to Cooperstown. Again, starting pitching is just not up to snuff, but on some days the offense is so good it doesn’t matter.
6. Boston Red Sox (86-65, No. 9): That the Red Sox enter the last two weeks of the season ahead of the Blue Jays, White Sox and Yankees in my rankings is a testament to what a grinder manager Alex Cora is. If Chris Sale were really Chris Sale and Nathan Eovaldi was at the top of his game, the Sox would have the 1-2 punch that could get them deep. But the back end of the ‘pen a bit of a mess, as Matt Barnes is a bit of an unknown entity coming back from the IL.
7. Toronto Blue Jays (84-65, No. 7): The Blue Jays were dealt a horrid first season for big-ticket free agent George Springer. He came back in mid-July after a long injury haul and was every bit of what they bargained for until mid-August, when he wrenched a knee trying to make a spectacular catch in Seattle. He’s batting leadoff and done very little since his early September return. Aside from that, this is a very dangerous lineup. Lefty Hyun Jin Ryu was just placed on the IL with a stiff neck. Ultimately, the stars just don’t seem to be aligning for a deep run this year, but this team has a very, very bright future. Not sure manager Charlie Montoyo is dynamic enough to jockey them through, however.
8. Chicago White Sox (85-64, No. 5): The White Sox are just 13-11 during their last 24 games. Does it matter? While they’ve had their weak division wrapped up since July, I’d like to think Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa would have been pushing his team to a 17-7 mark or better in his prime. Can they win the World Series? Yes. Can they get beaten in the first round? Yes.
9. New York Yankees (83-67, No. 10): I don’t think anybody takes this talented, high-paid team seriously as a true contender for a championship … if they even get into the playoffs. GM Brian Cashman’s Aaron Boone experiment needs to come to a halt — unless they shock the world.
10. St. Louis Cardinals (79-69, No. 16): I can’t put my finger on what’s wrong with this club. But after a 6-0 week, they are 16-8 in their last 24 games and have clearly saved manager Mike Shildt’s job. They have the proverbial puncher’s chance if they make it into the baseball’s big dance.
11. Atlanta Braves (77-70, No. 8)
12. Philadelphia Phillies (76-73, No. 15)
13. Oakland Athletics (82-67, No. 14)
14. Seattle Mariners (80-69, No. 11)
15. Cincinnati Reds (77-73, No. 13)
16. San Diego Padres (76-73, No. 12)
17. Cleveland Indians (73-74, No. 18)
18. Detroit Tigers (72-78, No. 20)
19. New York Mets (73-77, No. 17)
20. Los Angeles Angels (72-77, No. 19)
21. Chicago Cubs (67-83, No. 23)
22. Colorado Rockies (70-79, No. 24)
23. Kansas City Royals (67-82, No. 21)
24. Minnesota Twins (65-85, No. 22)
25. Miami Marlins (63-86, No. 25)
26. Washington Nationals (61-88, No. 26)
27. Pittsburgh Pirates (56-93, No. 28)
28. Texas Rangers (55-94, No. 27)
29. Arizona Diamondbacks (48-101, No. 29)
30. Baltimore Orioles (47-102, No. 30)