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MLB Power Rankings: Down to the wire

Sep 26, 2013, 1:19 PM EDT

Photo by USA Today Photo by USA Today

The Tigers have clinched a spot in the Division Series, but the AL Wild Card chase couldn’t be much closer, with the Rays, Rangers, and Indians all locked in a dogfight. On the flip side, recently eliminated teams like the Yankees and Nationals are left to ponder their offseason moves in an attempt to get back to October.

Here’s how Nationals Insider Mark Zuckerman, Nats writer Chase Hughes, and I see the rest of the league shaking out.

1. Boston Red Sox (96-63; LW: 1) – Roney: The Red Sox don’t want Jonny Gomes to stop punting his batting helmet — it usually signifies a walk-off homer. They’ve definitely asked him to stop punting full beer cans, though.

2. Oakland A’s (94-65; LW: 4) – Zuckerman: Threat of raw sewage in the visiting clubhouse? Talk about home-field advantage for the playoffs!

3. St. Louis Cardinals (94-65; LW: 5) – Hughes: They have the highest scoring lineup in the N.L. and arguably its deepest rotation. Who wants to play them in the playoffs?

4. Detroit Tigers (93-66; LW: 3) – Hughes: Anibal Sanchez, a longtime nemesis of the Nats, is enjoying the best season of his eight-year career: 14-8, 2.64 ERA, 194 SO, 177 IP.

5. Atlanta Braves (93-65; LW: 2) – Roney: Not that I support Carlos Gomez, but if anyone has ever been deserving of a “U mad, bro?”, it’s Brian McCann.

6. Los Angeles Dodgers (91-67; LW: 6) – Zuckerman: Did they peak too soon? Perhaps, but it’s still tough to pick against these guys in October.

7. Pittsburgh Pirates (91-68; LW: 8) – Hughes: I like their chances in October a lot better now that Jason Grilli is finding his groove.

8. Cincinnati Reds (90-69; LW: 7) – Hughes: Cincinnati just lost two of three to the Mets and close the season with the Pirates. That could be a recipe for backing into the playoffs.

9. Tampa Bay Rays (89-69; LW: 10) – Roney: Somewhat obscured in the wild card chase is the fact that 2008 No. 1 overall pick Tim Beckham finally made his debut for the Rays. He made it to the Show, but that’s one pick they’d like to have back — imagine Buster Posey in that lineup.

10. Cleveland Indians (88-70; LW: 11) – Hughes: The AL Wild Card race is in a crazy race to the finish as both Cleveland and Tampa Bay have won six straight.

11. Texas Rangers (87-71; LW: 12) – Zuckerman: They keep taking steps backward, and this one may cost Ron Washington his job.

12. Washington Nationals (84-75; LW: 9) – Roney: This season was a disappointment, but there’s no reason they can’t build on this late momentum and contend for the NL East next year. Offseason question: Do they shop for an arm, or let Roark take a spot in the rotation?

13. Kansas City Royals (83-75; LW: 14) – Hughes: Kansas City is in the middle of their best season in ten years, but it won’t be enough for the playoffs. Watch out for them next year.

14. Baltimore Orioles (82-76; LW: 13) – Roney: The Manny Machado news isn’t as bad as initially feared, which is great news for Baltimore, and great news for the game. Kid is beyond special.

15. New York Yankees (82-76; LW: 15) – Roney: It’s not a shame that the Yanks were eliminated from playoff contention for just the second time since the ’94 strike, but it is odd that Mo Rivera won’t get to walk into an October game ever again.

16. Arizona Diamondbacks (80-78; LW: 16) – Zuckerman: Probably for the best Nats didn’t make playoffs, lest there be another fight over use of the Chase Field pool.

17. Los Angeles Angels (78-80; LW: 17) – Zuckerman: Best MLB record since late-August? The Angels. Like the Nats, it was too little, too late.

18. San Diego Padres (74-84; LW: 18) – Zuckerman: Ranked 11th in NL in ERA this season. Maybe they should’ve moved Petco fences back, not forward.

19. Toronto Blue Jays (72-86; LW: 20) – Roney: Is Toronto a bigger disappointment than the Nats? They were a sexy preseason pick for A.L. East champ and wound up dead last.

20. Philadelphia Phillies (72-86; LW: 19) – Roney: Domonic Brown hit just four home runs in the second half — so I guess the questions about him haven’t been answered after all.

21. New York Mets (73-85; LW: 23) – Roney: This may be premature, but I hope David Wright sticks around to get the same kind of sendoff that the Rockies gave Todd Helton. Some guys just belong in the same shirt for their whole careers, and Wright definitely qualifies.

22. San Francisco Giants (73-85; LW: 21) – Zuckerman: As disappointing a year for a defending World Series champ as there’s been in a while.

23. Colorado Rockies (72-87; LW: 22) – Zuckerman: Congrats to Todd Helton on a fantastic career. Gonna make a fascinating test case for Cooperstown in 5 years.

24. Milwaukee Brewers (71-87; LW: 25) – Hughes: Milwaukee took two of three against the Braves, and made Brian McCann really, really mad in the process.

25. Seattle Mariners (70-89; LW: 24) – Zuckerman: Four straight losing seasons for a franchise that seems to be stuck in neutral.

26. Minnesota Twins (66-92; LW: 26) – Hughes: This is the third straight season Minnesota won’t hit the 70-win mark. They better hope Byron Buxton is as advertised.

27. Chicago Cubs (66-93; LW: 27) – Hughes: Edwin Jackson in 2013: 8-17, 4.74 ERA; Dan Haren in 2013: 9-14, 4.87 ERA. At least one’s on a one year deal.

28. Chicago White Sox (62-96; LW: 28) – Hughes: Chicago is so terrible this season that Chris Sale (11-13) has a losing record.

29. Miami Marlins (59-100; LW: 29) – Roney: Has there been a more misguided recent trade than the deal that shipped third baseman Matt Dominguez from the Fish to the Astros last summer? He’d slot in nicely on this Miami team.

30. Houston Astros (51-108; LW: 30) – Zuckerman: Bo Porter plans to re-watch all 162 games at season’s end. Wouldn’t a 162-hour marathon viewing of “Honey Boo Boo” be less torture?

  1. Baseballswami - Sep 26, 2013 at 2:38 PM

    This morning I tried( mostly in vain), to explain to some NFL fans why it is a criminal offense to admire a homerun and run too slowly around the bases, especially if you are jawing at the opposing players. Not only did they not get it at all, but they were laughing hysterically. You see, athletes in other sports apparently celebrate even the most mundane of accomplishments and always do it while jawing at the other team. And then I told them that when you are playing a ” certain team “, this results in great indignation and a brawl, they lost it completely. And said– ” oh, you crazy baseball fans!” Sarcastically of course. This kind of situation does not translate well I have found. Oh, and then the part where the rookie pitcher ( marlin), and the homerun hitter have to publicly apologize, the hr hitter was ejected– but the pitcher who cursed out an ump does not apologize– well, let’s just say I slayed my non- baseball audience.

  2. Eugene in Oregon - Sep 26, 2013 at 2:59 PM

    So, Bud Selig is once again announcing his retirement, apparently to take effect after the 2014 season (or maybe a bit thereafter). Question: Will he have resolved the Nats-MASN-O’s contract situation before he officially retires? Hint: The resolution is already about two years past due. f you answer yes, please offer some sort of evidence that we should believe you (or him or MLB).

    • Jw - Sep 26, 2013 at 3:22 PM

      When Mariano Rivera retired, teams gifted him with objects made from broken bats. Selig’s gifts will be made of broken promises.

      • Eugene in Oregon - Sep 26, 2013 at 4:24 PM

        +2

    • Hiram Hover - Sep 26, 2013 at 3:41 PM

      No evidence, but I will give what I think are the best arguments–that Bud won’t want this and the Bay area dispute to mar his legacy; that he will now be willing to uses his powers, without the need to worry about staying in the owners’ good graces; and that he won’t want to leave this sh!t pile on the desk for his successor.

      Those are all arguments that would motivate the average person, anyway.

      Which, come to think of it, is the surest reason to think that we and–even worse, the As–are screwed.

  3. jd - Sep 26, 2013 at 3:41 PM

    It may not translate into a title because the playoffs are a crap shoot but for whatever it’s worth I think the Cards are the best team in baseball and by a decent margin.

    • Faraz Shaikh - Sep 26, 2013 at 3:51 PM

      Cardinals and Tigers I think. Cardinals lack a bit in the rotation right now. besides Waino, they have no proven SP I believe. Tigers, OTOH, have JV, Fister, Scherzer, and Sanchez. Cards have edge in the bullpen, big time.

      • Mrsb loves the Nats - Sep 26, 2013 at 3:54 PM

        I think the Red Sox… But the Cards are pretty darn good…

      • Faraz Shaikh - Sep 26, 2013 at 5:32 PM

        talent-wise, Red Sox seems lacking to me.

  4. Candide - Sep 26, 2013 at 4:34 PM

    I grew up a Yankees fan, but I’m cheering for the Sawx.

    It’s complicated.

  5. David Proctor - Sep 26, 2013 at 4:40 PM

    Did anyone read the Washington Post article on Dan Haren? He is brutally honest. Talked about how he knows he won’t be back next year, how he was ashamed to show his face in the clubhouse after a bad outing, how lonely he was, etc. etc. Class guy, wish it could’ve gone better for him here.

    Link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/nationals-journal/wp/2013/09/26/dan-haren-looks-back-at-his-season-in-washington/

    • Faraz Shaikh - Sep 26, 2013 at 5:24 PM

      Nice article. I wishes for Haren’s signing last off-season and was very happy that we signed him. It sucks it did not work out but I wish him the best. Hopefully he can get his ideal job.

  6. Eugene in Oregon - Sep 26, 2013 at 4:49 PM

    So, Carlos Gomez and Reed Johnson suspended for a game each, but not Brian McCann. So nice that Mr. McCann is being rewarded (or at least not penalized) for his respect for the integrity of the game.

  7. Baseballswami - Sep 26, 2013 at 4:54 PM

    I am purposely repeating this each day– when will we get an apology from the ATL rookie pitcher who snapped out on an ump? Talk about disrespect. Marlins pitcher and Gomez both did- all Barves — crickets.

    • Candide - Sep 26, 2013 at 5:03 PM

      Swami and Eugene – FWIW, I think we can expect the Barfs to have a huge target on their backs next year. Making friends and influencing people all around the league. McCann should expect an unusually high number of home plate collisions next year.

      • David Proctor - Sep 26, 2013 at 5:05 PM

        I have a feeling that McCann is going to be in the AL next year though. He’s a free agent.

  8. Section 222 - Sep 26, 2013 at 5:07 PM

    So the Cards’ magic number is 1. That means at least one and possibly both of the Pirates and Reds will be eliminated from contention for the top spot in the Central Division after tomorrow night’s games. So what’s the strategy after that — fight for homefield advantage in the WC game, or rest your guys so you are as ready as possible for that game? The key tell may be use of the bullpen.

  9. Section 222 - Sep 26, 2013 at 5:12 PM

    The Braves can do no wrong. hey decide how much pimping is too much pimping. They curse umpires and bark at players as they round the bases, even blocking them from reaching home plate, without any consequences. Because they are the arbiters of playing the game the right way.

    And they will get knocked out in the first round of the playoffs by a team that is less full of itself. I hope.

    • natsfan1a - Sep 26, 2013 at 6:04 PM

      What he said.

      “And they will get knocked out in the first round of the playoffs by a team that is less full of itself. I hope.”

  10. Section 222 - Sep 26, 2013 at 5:18 PM

    Here’s a piece on the Gomez aftermarth. If he gets a suspension for pimping that would be a crime. The Braves are the one who cause the fight screaming at him as he rounded the bases and blocking him from getting to the plate.

    • Hiram Hover - Sep 26, 2013 at 7:02 PM

      Thanks for the link, deuces.

      I was struck by this:

      Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said he’d “never seen anything like it in my baseball career, whether it be the big leagues, Minor Leagues or little leagues,”

      Has he not been watching his own team for the past few months? Because this is what they do.

  11. nats128 - Sep 26, 2013 at 6:30 PM

    The only good thing about the Nats dropping 3 to the Cardinals is that they may take the best record and homefield away from the Barfs.

  12. David Proctor - Sep 26, 2013 at 7:25 PM

    Saw a funny tweet that said if the Dodgers and Braves meet in the postseason, Yasiel Puig should hit a home run and walk around the bases while doing the Chop.

  13. Baseballswami - Sep 26, 2013 at 8:29 PM

    Getting swept by the cardinals was softened for me by the thought that they could take home field from the new NL evil empire. I want them crushed. I know we were all disappointed by the Cardinals, but they are a decent franchise with some of the best fans in baseball.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 76 57 --
ATLANTA 71 64 6.0
MIAMI 65 68 11.0
NEW YORK 63 72 14.0
PHILADELPHIA 61 73 15.5
Through Friday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
SAT: Nats at Mariners, 9:10 p.m.
SUN: Nats at Mariners, 4:10 p.m.
MON: Nats at Dodgers, 8:10 p.m.
TUE: Nats at Dodgers, 10:10 p.m.
WED: Nats at Dodgers, 4:10 p.m.
THU: OFF
FRI: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
Full season schedule

Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

ON THE RADIO

As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

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