MLB Power Rankings: Braves Topple Dodgers to Reclaim No. 1 Spot
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The two best teams in baseball squared off over the weekend, and the Atlanta Braves came out on top, taking three of four from the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium while also becoming the first team to 90 wins in 2023.
There are a lot of playoff spots still up for grabs with one month left to go in the season, including a wide-open NL wild-card race where the Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago Cubs have a small cushion ahead of a four-way tie for the final spot.
The AL wild-card race boils down to whether it will be the AL East or AL West that sends three teams to the postseason, while the AL Central title is still technically up for grabs as the Cleveland Guardians trail the Minnesota Twins by five games, despite a losing record.
As teams continue to jockey for position, there was plenty of opportunity to shuffle things up in this week’s MLB power rankings.
Keep in mind, these rankings are a fluid process, with teams rising and falling based on their recent performance relative to where they landed in the previous week’s rankings.
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30. Kansas City Royals (42-96)
Previous Rank: 30
Last Week: 0-3 vs. PIT, 1-2 vs. BOS
For all the talk of how historically awful the Oakland Athletics have been this year, it could very well wind up being the Royals who finish with the worst record in baseball. After going 2-13 in their final 15 games in August, they kicked off September with a season-high 13 runs on Friday, but consecutive losses over the weekend led to yet another series loss.
29. Oakland Athletics (42-95)
Previous Rank: 29
Last Week: 1-2 @ SEA, 3-0 vs. LAA
The Athletics are 7-5 in their last 12 games, including a three-game sweep of the Los Angeles Angels over the weekend, and their winning percentage has sky-rocketed from .274 to .307 during that stretch. They have a chance to play spoiler this coming week with series against the Toronto Blue Jays and Texas Rangers who both still have a lot on the line.
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28. Colorado Rockies (50-86)
Previous Rank: 28
Last Week: 0-3 vs. ATL, 1-2 vs. TOR
The Rockies went 7-20 in August to cement their status as the worst team in the National League, and they are one of only two teams that has been outscored by more than 200 runs this season. One of the few positive takeaways this year has been the emergence of Nolan Jones, who is hitting .282/.365/.513 with 14 home runs and 43 RBI in 80 games.
27. Chicago White Sox (53-84)
Previous Rank: 27
Last Week: 1-2 @ BAL, 0-3 vs. DET
The White Sox filled one of the vacancies in their front office last week when Chris Getz was promoted to general manager after previously serving as director of player development and then assistant general manager. Now they will slog through the final month of the regular season before making some big decisions during the offseason on how to start rebuilding the roster.
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26. St. Louis Cardinals (59-78)
Previous Rank: 26
Last Week: 2-1 vs. SD, 1-2 vs. PIT
With seven games left against the Milwaukee Brewers and six with the Cincinnati Reds, the Cardinals can still have a significant impact on the NL Central race, even if they waved the white flag weeks ago. Over his last six games, rookie Jordan Walker is 12-for-21 at the plate with two doubles, three home runs and seven RBI.
25. Detroit Tigers (63-74)
Previous Rank: 23
Last Week: 1-3 vs. NYY, 3-0 @ CWS
The Tigers are an even 24-24 since the All-Star break, and a strong final month could go a long way for a young roster looking ahead to the 2024 season. Right-hander Matt Manning has a 0.38 ERA in 23.2 innings over his last four starts, and he is quietly putting together a terrific season with a 3.62 ERA and 1.03 WHIP in 77 innings.
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24. Pittsburgh Pirates (63-74)
Previous Rank: 25
Last Week: 3-0 @ KC, 2-1 @ STL
The Pirates strung together a five-game winning streak last week before losing to the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday, and after a solid 14-15 month of August they will look to finish strong while their wealth of young talent continues to gain valuable experience. After a rough patch in July and early August, Mitch Keller is back to looking like an All-Star with a 2.03 ERA and 37 strikeouts in 31 innings over his last five starts.
23. New York Mets (63-74)
Previous Rank: 24
Last Week: 1-2 vs. TEX, 2-1 vs. SEA
A 3-3 week against a pair of AL West contenders is a positive showing for the Mets. Tip of the cap to scrapheap pickup DJ Stewart who hit .303/.378/.727 with eight home runs and 16 RBI in 76 plate appearances in August. A first-round pick by the Baltimore Orioles all the way back in 2015, he is controllable through 2026 and could be playing his way into a regular role next year.
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22. Washington Nationals (62-76)
Previous Rank: 19
Last Week: 1-2 @ TOR, 0-4 vs. MIA
An 11-3 stretch of games made the Nationals one of the hottest teams in baseball during the second half of August, but they stumbled in a big way last week with a 1-6 record that included a four-game sweep at home against the Miami Marlins. On a positive note, they already have seven more wins than a year ago, and several young building blocks have emerged throughout a rebuilding season.
21. Los Angeles Angels (64-73)
Previous Rank: 18
Last Week: 1-2 @ PHI, 0-3 @ OAK
The Angels grabbed headlines last week when they waived Lucas Giolito and five other upcoming free agents in an attempt to get under the luxury tax threshold, only to fall just short of accomplishing that goal. One month after trading away top prospects Edgar Quero and Ky Bush to acquire Giolito, he was dumped for nothing. Getting swept by the Oakland Athletics was the cherry on top of a truly embarrassing week for the organization.
No. 20: San Diego Padres
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Previous Rank: 21
Last Week: 1-2 @ STL, 3-1 vs. SF
The Padres did their part in the role of spoiler over the weekend when they took three of four from a San Francisco Giants team that is fighting for the No. 3 NL wild-card spot. Two more contenders await this week with three games each against the Philadelphia Phillies and Houston Astros.
Left-hander Blake Snell tossed six shutout innings of three-hit ball on Saturday to further bolster his NL Cy Young case, and he now has a 1.89 ERA in 10 starts since the All-Star break while playing for a major payday in free agency during the offseason.
No. 19: New York Yankees
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AP Photo/Kevin M. Cox
Previous Rank: 22
Last Week: 3-1 @ DET, 3-0 @ HOU
The future is now for the Yankees, as hyped prospect Jasson Dominguez made his MLB debut on Friday and became the youngest player in franchise history (20 years, 206 days old) to homer in his first MLB at-bat.
They are suddenly playing some of their best baseball of the season coming off a three-game sweep of the Houston Astros on the road, and with three more games against the Detroit Tigers following an off day on Monday they have a chance to climb back above .500 for the first time since Aug. 14.
No. 18: Cleveland Guardians
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AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki
Previous Rank: 20
Last Week: 2-1 @ MIN, 2-1 vs. TB
The Guardians kept their slim postseason hopes alive with a pair of series wins against playoff contenders last week, including a huge series win on the road against the Minnesota Twins who they are chasing in the AL Central race. The two teams square off again this week in Cleveland for the final head-to-head matchup of the regular season.
Right-hander Lucas Giolito will make his Guardians debut on Monday after he was claimed off waivers last week along with relievers Matt Moore and Reynaldo López.
No. 17: San Francisco Giants
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Previous Rank: 16
Last Week: 2-1 vs. CIN, 1-3 @ SD
With a 21-26 record and minus-36 run differential since the All-Star break, the San Francisco Giants have gone from comfortably inside the NL playoff picture to smack dab in the middle of a four-team race for the final wild-card berth.
Rookie Patrick Bailey leads all catchers in overall defensive value, according to FanGraphs, and he is looking to become the first rookie backstop since Charles Johnson with the Florida Marlins in 1995 to win Gold Glove honors.
No. 16: Miami Marlins
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Previous Rank: 17
Last Week: 0-2 vs. TB, 4-0 @ WAS
The Marlins are still alive in the NL wild-card race thanks in large part to a four-game sweep of what had been a red-hot Washington Nationals team, but a tough road ahead awaits as their next four series are against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Philadelphia Phillies, Milwaukee Brewers and Atlanta Braves.
Left-hander Jesús Luzardo has allowed just three hits over 12 scoreless innings in his last two outings, and he has a 3.62 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 175 strikeouts in 149.1 innings on the year.
No. 15: Boston Red Sox
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Previous Rank: 15
Last Week: 0-3 vs. HOU, 2-1 @ KC
The Red Sox snapped a five-game losing streak with back-to-back wins against the Kansas City Royals over the weekend. They will face off against AL East opponents in 19 of their final 25 games, including matchups with the Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles this week.
First baseman Triston Casas is working on a seven-game hitting streak, and he has gone 11-for-25 with four doubles, two home runs and six RBI during that stretch. The 23-year-old has been one of the best hitters in baseball since the All-Star break and is quickly developing into a bona fide star.
No. 14: Cincinnati Reds
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AP Photo/Aaron Doster
Previous Rank: 14
Last Week: 1-2 @ SF, 2-2 vs. CHC
The Reds claimed outfielders Hunter Renfroe and Harrison Bader off waivers last week to bolster their roster for the stretch run, though it’s the pitching staff that remains the big question mark on the roster. To make matters worse, the club is currently dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak that has sent several key arms to the sidelines.
They only have two series remaining against teams with a winning record, one of which kicks off on Monday against the Seattle Mariners, so despite a middling week against a pair of fellow NL contenders their outlook for the coming weeks is still promising.
No. 13: Arizona Diamondbacks
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Previous Rank: 10
Last Week: 0-3 @ LAD, 1-2 vs. BAL
After a rocky start to August, the D-backs seemed to get back on track with a 12-3 stretch of games, but they suffered a pair of series losses last week when they faced off against two of the league’s best teams.
With seven of their next 14 games against the Chicago Cubs, sprinkled between series with the Colorado Rockies and New York Mets, the next two weeks will go a long way in determining where they fall in the NL playoff race.
No. 12: Texas Rangers
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Previous Rank: 12
Last Week: 2-1 @ NYM, 1-2 vs. MIN
The Rangers are 4-12 in their last 16 games, including a 3-6 road trip that dropped them below .500 away from Globe Life Field on the year and from first to third in the AL West standings.
The bullpen tallied three losses last week and has been a major question mark of late, which has in turn put even more pressure on the starting rotation. All-Star Nathan Eovaldi is expected to make his first start since July 18 on Tuesday as he has been working his way back from a forearm strain.
No. 11: Minnesota Twins
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Previous Rank: 11
Last Week: 1-2 vs. CLE, 2-1 @ TEX
The Twins went 5-1 against the Texas Rangers over the past two weeks, but in between they lost an important series against the division rival Cleveland Guardians, trimming their AL Central lead to five games.
Veteran Sonny Gray tossed seven scoreless innings on Wednesday against Cleveland, and he now has an AL-best 2.92 ERA in 157 innings. With another strong start against the Guardians on Tuesday, he will be squarely in the AL Cy Young race alongside Gerrit Cole (NYY) and Luis Castillo (SEA).
No. 10: Philadelphia Phillies
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Previous Rank: 9
Last Week: 2-1 vs. LAA, 1-2 @ MIL
The Phillies went 17-10 with a plus-63 run differential in August to move into the No. 1 spot in the NL wild-card standings and build a 5.5-game cushion. Their next 10 games are against the San Diego Padres, Miami Marlins and Atlanta Braves, and after that they have just three more games against teams with a winning record.
Shortstop Trea Turner is finally starting to play up to the expectations that came with his 11-year, $300 million contract. He enters play on Monday working on a 14-game winning streak, and he is hitting .361 with nine home runs and 20 RBI during that stretch.
No. 9: Toronto Blue Jays
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Previous Rank: 13
Last Week: 2-1 vs. WAS, 2-1 @ COL
After suffering a pair of series losses two weeks ago, the Blue Jays got back on track by taking two of three from the Washington Nationals and Colorado Rockies. They enter the week with a 1.5-game deficit to overcome in the AL wild-card standings, and they are the first team on the outside looking in for a spot in the AL playoff field.
Rookie Davis Schneider is hitting .397/.514/.845 with six home runs and 17 RBI in 17 games since making his MLB debut on Aug. 4. Not bad for a largely unheralded prospect who was a 28th-round pick in 2017.
No. 8: Chicago Cubs
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Previous Rank: 8
Last Week: 2-1 vs. MIL, 2-2 @ CIN
The Cubs survived a tough week on the schedule and enter play on Monday penciled into the No. 2 NL wild-card spot with a three-game cushion over the four teams fighting for a spot below them in the standings.
Rookies Jordan Wicks and Javier Assad have given the starting rotation a huge boost and helped ease the loss of Marcus Stroman, while All-Star Justin Steele might be the biggest competition to Blake Snell in the NL Cy Young race right now.
No. 7: Houston Astros
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Previous Rank: 7
Last Week: 3-0 @ BOS, 0-3 vs. NYY
The Astros went from tied for the AL West lead to third place in the division standings while getting swept by the New York Yankees over the weekend, and now they dive right into a big three-game series against the Texas Rangers on the road.
Starting pitchers Cristian Javier (23.1 IP, 6.17 ERA), Hunter Brown (21.2 IP, 6.23 ERA) and J.P. France (24.1 IP, 5.92 ERA) all scuffled in August, and sorting out the rotation behind Framber Valdez and Justin Verlander will be the key to coming out on top in the division race.
No. 6: Seattle Mariners
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Previous Rank: 5
Last Week: 2-1 vs. OAK, 1-2 @ NYM
The Mariners set a franchise record for wins in a month by going 21-6 in August, and they went from 55-51 in fourth place in the AL West standings to leading the division race, though they had a run of five straight series wins snapped by dropping two of three to the New York Mets.
The trio of J.P. Crawford, Julio Rodríguez and Teoscar Hernández have been shouldering the load offensively atop the lineup, and the starting rotation remains as good as any in baseball when everyone is pitching up to their potential.
No. 5: Milwaukee Brewers
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Previous Rank: 6
Last Week: 1-2 @ CHC, 2-1 vs. PHI
The Brewers went 17-9 in August on the strength of a pitching staff that led the majors with a stingy .206 batting average allowed during the month. Right-hander Freddy Peralta led the way, posting a 2.10 ERA, 0.90 WHIP and 46 strikeouts in 30 innings over his five starts.
After a series loss to the Chicago Cubs trimmed their NL Central lead to three games, they took two of three from the Philadelphia Phillies at home and carry a 3.5-game cushion into this week’s action. They hit the road this week to take on the Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Yankees, and they have a minus-10 run differential away from American Family Field on the year.
No. 4: Tampa Bay Rays
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Previous Rank: 4
Last Week: 2-0 @ MIA, 1-2 @ CLE
After stumbling through an 8-16 month of July, the Rays returned to top-tier form in August, finishing 17-8 with a plus-47 run differential. That said, their deficit in the AL East standings has actually grown from 1.5 to 2.5 games since the start of August as they are still looking up at the Baltimore Orioles.
With an AL-leading 45 victories at home and a .662 winning percentage inside Tropicana Field, winning the division and in the process finishing with the best record in the American League would be huge for their postseason outlook. They welcome the Boston Red Sox and Seattle Mariners to town this week looking to improve on those numbers.
No. 3: Baltimore Orioles
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Previous Rank: 3
Last Week: 2-1 vs. CWS, 2-1 @ ARI
The Orioles have held the outright AL East division lead since July 22, and while their advantage has never grown to more than three games during that time, they have been in the driver’s seat for more than a month now.
Is there a more underappreciated slugger than Anthony Santander? The 28-year-old leads the Orioles in OPS+ (124), doubles (33), home runs (26), RBI (79) and total bases (239), yet he is rarely mentioned among the game’s top run producers.
No. 2: Los Angeles Dodgers
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Previous Rank: 1
Last Week: 3-0 vs. ARI, 1-3 vs. ATL
The Dodgers were 24-4 in their last 28 games leading up to their highly anticipated matchup with the Atlanta Braves, and that momentum was brought to a screeching halt with three straight losses before they managed to avoid getting swept with a 3-1 victory on Sunday behind a terrific start from rookie Bobby Miller.
With a 14.5-game cushion in the NL West standings and a six-game gap to the Braves for the best record in the National League, the Dodgers don’t have much to play for over the regular season’s final few weeks they seem destined to be the No. 2 seed in the NL bracket.
No. 1: Atlanta Braves
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Previous Rank: 2
Last Week: 3-0 @ COL, 3-1 @ LAD
To all the Atlanta Braves fans who were more than a little displeased to see the Los Angeles Dodgers moved into the No. 1 spot in these rankings a week ago, you were right. The Braves are the best team in baseball, and there is now little room for debate after three straight wins at Dodger Stadium.
The franchise record of 106 wins set during the 1998 season is within reach, as their current winning percentage puts them on pace for a 107-win season. That little bit of history and locking up the No. 1 seed in the National League will be their focus in the coming weeks.
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1. Atlanta Braves
2. Los Angeles Dodgers
3. Baltimore Orioles
4. Tampa Bay Rays
5. Milwaukee Brewers
6. Seattle Mariners
7. Houston Astros
8. Chicago Cubs
9. Toronto Blue Jays
10. Philadelphia Phillies
11. Minnesota Twins
12. Texas Rangers
13. Arizona Diamondbacks
14. Cincinnati Reds
15. Boston Red Sox
16. Miami Marlins
17. San Francisco Giants
18. Cleveland Guardians
19. New York Yankees
20. San Diego Padres
21. Los Angeles Angels
22. Washington Nationals
23. New York Mets
24. Pittsburgh Pirates
25. Detroit Tigers
26. St. Louis Cardinals
27. Chicago White Sox
28. Colorado Rockies
29. Oakland Athletics
30. Kansas City Royals
Highlight of the Week: Ronald Acuña Jr. Becomes Baseball’s First 30-HR, 60-SB Player
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There is no better power/speed threat in the game today than Atlanta Braves superstar Ronald Acuña Jr. and he made history on Thursday when he became the first member of baseball’s 30-homer, 60-steal club.
There are only a handful of times that a player has come within three steals and/or three home runs of reaching those marks:
- Joe Morgan, 1976: 27 HR, 60 SB
- Rickey Henderson, 1986: 28 HR, 87 SB
- Eric Davis, 1986: 27 HR, 80 SB
- Rickey Henderson, 1990: 28 HR, 65 SB
Will that be enough for him to hold off Mookie Betts in what is shaping up to be one of the tightest MVP races in recent memory?
What to Watch for This Week
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Key Series for 1st Half of the Week
- Sept. 4-6: San Francisco Giants vs. Chicago Cubs
- Sept. 4-6: Houston Astros at Texas Rangers
- Sept. 4-6: Seattle Mariners at Cincinnati Reds
- Sept. 4-6: Minnesota Twins at Cleveland Guardians
- Sept. 5-7: Los Angeles Dodgers at Miami Marlins
Key Series for 2nd Half of the Week
- Sept. 7-10: Seattle Mariners at Tampa Bay Rays
- Sept. 7-10: Arizona Diamondbacks at Chicago Cubs
- Sept. 8-10: Miami Marlins at Philadelphia Phillies