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MLB Power Rankings: Wild wild west

Aug 8, 2014, 1:23 PM EDT

Photo by USA Today Photo by USA Today

Here are this week’s MLB Power Rankings featuring thoughts on each team from Mark Zuckerman, Chase Hughes and myself, Steve Roney:

LAUNCH PHOTO GALLERY

1. Athletics (LW: 1) – Roney: They’re primed to finish very strong – not just because of their new rotation, but because when rosters expand Sept. 1, their matchup/platoon capabilities explode.

2. Angels (LW: 2) – Roney: A potential wild card matchup pitting Garrett Richards against Felix Hernandez is the best byproduct of the expanded playoff system.

3. Dodgers (LW: 3) – Roney: Quieter at the deadline than I expected, they will resolve their outfield logjam in the offseason – though with Joc Pederson ready to emerge in 2015, “logjam” doesn’t even describe the pasture in Chavez Ravine.

4. Orioles (LW: 4) – Zuckerman: Remarkable how well they’re playing with Davis, Cruz in big slumps at the plate.

5. Nationals (LW: 6) – Zuckerman: Slow and steady, they’re climbing the ladder, building towards a strong finish.

6. Tigers (LW: 5) – Hughes: The fact Miguel Cabrera only has 17  home runs right now makes me think he’s going to go nuts over the last seven weeks of the season.

7. Cardinals (LW: 12) – Hughes: John Lackey was solid in his Cardinals debut and could be huge for them down the stretch. Letting go of Allen Craig, though, some day that could hurt.

8. Brewers (LW: 7) – Hughes: Milwaukee plays 14 of their next 21 games against playoff teams. Six of their next 10 are against the Dodgers. Woof.

9. Giants (LW: 9) – Roney: Favorite trend in MLB right now: the vague insults opposing fans are putting on signs and waving at Hunter Pence. Serves a dual purpose of highlighting a great season by the 31 year old.

10. Pirates (LW: 11) – Hughes: It’s going to be tough for Pittsburgh to play without Andrew McCutchen, however long he ends up being out.

11. Royals (LW: 15) – Hughes: Winners of seven of their last eight, the Royals are making a push in the AL Central. Only 2 1/2 games back now.

12. Mariners (LW: 13) – Roney: They need Taijuan Walker to flash the form he did a year ago, but even then, they’re likely playing for momentum for next season.

13. Blue Jays (LW: 8) – Zuckerman: Won 9 of 10, but now have lost 5 of 6. Too streaky.

14. Yankees (LW: 14) – Zuckerman: Somehow, some way, they’re hanging in there. Props to anyone who can explain how they’re doing it.

15. Reds (LW: 18) – Hughes: Cincinnati is starting to turn it on, but I still think they fall short of a playoff berth.

16. Braves (LW: 10) – Zuckerman: It’s not just this current slump. Since opening the season 17-7, they’re 41-49.

17. Rays (LW: 16) – Zuckerman: They’re 19-10 since July 1. Unfortunately, the Orioles are 22-10 since then, so they’ve actually lost ground.

18. Indians (LW: 19) – Hughes: Zach Walters is just killing it at Triple-A Columbus right now. Call the kid up, Cleveland!

19. Marlins (LW: 17) – Zuckerman: They’re not going to contend for a playoff berth, but they’re going to be a real pest for everybody they play.

20. White Sox (LW: 20) – Hughes: I always find it interesting when a team has one of the best pitchers (Chris Sale) and position players (Jose Abreu) in the entire league, yet still can’t win.

21. Mets (LW: 21) – Zuckerman: A rotation of Harvey, Wheeler, deGrom, Niese and Gee is not a bad place to start building a 2015 contender.

22. Padres (LW: 24) – Roney: It’s A.J. Preller time in San Diego – Jon Daniels’ old Cornell roommate is said to be a peerless talent evaluator, which is key for a financially hamstrung organization like the Padres.

23. Twins (LW: 22) – Hughes: Minnesota has one starter with an ERA under 4.00 right now. That’s Kyle Gibson who is at 3.93. That’s just awful.

24. Phillies (LW: 26) – Zuckerman: You get the sense they’re going to permanently rank in the mid-20s for several years to come.

25. Red Sox (LW: 23) – Zuckerman: Props to Cherington for recognizing it wasn’t going to happen this year, but building a team that could win in 2015.

26. Cubs (LW: 27) – Hughes: Rookie Javier Baez has three home runs in his first three career games. Finally, some hope for Cubs fans.

27. Diamondbacks (LW: 25) – Roney: I’ve never gotten why more last-place teams don’t try to unload their closers at the deadline. Addison Reed, and those like him, are luxuries for good teams, not building blocks.

28. Astros (LW: 29) – Roney: They made out like bandits – Jake Marisnick and Colin Moran is an outstanding return for Jared Cosart – on deadline day. If they hadn’t botched the draft, I’d say this rebuild was going as well as possible.

29. Rockies (LW: 28) – Roney: Amid a lost season, Drew Stubbs has quietly delivered on his immense five-tool potential, slashing .305/.343/.511 with 13 bags in 15 attempts.

30. Rangers (LW: 30) – Roney: Alex Rios should be on his way out of town any day now – the 33 year old with the large contract and useful bat is still the perfect August trade chip, as he was a year ago.

LAUNCH PHOTO GALLERY

  1. tcostant - Aug 8, 2014 at 1:37 PM

    The O’s are playing really well, I heard last night that they haven’t lost two straight games since the end of June. That is just amazing.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 8, 2014 at 2:42 PM

      There’s contenders and pretenders and they are the latter. Yes, they will make the playoffs but they won’t win built like the 2000 Texas Rangers. Get a real Ace than we can talk.

      They have enjoyed excellent health and given their depth I would be concerned if they had an injury. Their only issue coming into the season was the health of Machado. Losing Ubaldo was a blessing but I hear he’s coming off the DL.

      • tcostant - Aug 8, 2014 at 2:54 PM

        I’m no O’s fan, never was. But if Davis and Cruz and both hitting well during the playoffs – watch out. I hear what your saying, but “pretender” is to strong; that team is reserved for weak teams fighting for a playoff spot and that is not the O’s.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 8, 2014 at 3:02 PM

        We disagree. So what, they win an awful AL East. If Tanaka was healthy and the Rats had payroll, a different story. It’s been a cakewalk.

        Do they beat Oakland or Detroit or Anaheim? This is a joke.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 8, 2014 at 3:14 PM

        Rats should read Rays.

      • Soul Possession, Sec 3 My Sofa - Aug 8, 2014 at 3:47 PM

        I kinda like “Rats.” Could work as a brand. Tough, scrappy, nobody’s favorite, low payroll, low turnstiles, the ultimate grinders. Last time they changed their name it seemed to work out well for them.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 8, 2014 at 4:01 PM

        LOL

  2. stoatva - Aug 8, 2014 at 2:14 PM

    So I guess we shouldn’t jump to any negative conclusions about Giolito based on the home run he gave up to Baez in the futures game.

    • NatsLady - Aug 8, 2014 at 2:16 PM

      No, but we could draw some positive conclusions about Baez. ;)

      • stoatva - Aug 8, 2014 at 2:23 PM

        Cubs have some amazing young talent.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 8, 2014 at 2:43 PM

        Cubs just got Jacob Turner as a reclamation project. Miami scored 2 very good young relievers.

    • Danny - Aug 8, 2014 at 2:20 PM

      Almost tied with Harper in homers.

      • Danny - Aug 8, 2014 at 2:39 PM

        Nats/Cubs are good trading partners if the Cubs decide to go after our young pitching in the offseason.

    • Danny - Aug 8, 2014 at 2:26 PM

      Cubs talent is all position players though. No doubt they target a Scherzer/Lester in the offseason. They have money.

      • natsjackinfl - Aug 8, 2014 at 2:30 PM

        I imagine Jordan Zimmermann will look pretty inviting to them in 2016.

      • knoxvillenat - Aug 8, 2014 at 2:35 PM

        “I imagine Jordan Zimmermann will look pretty inviting to them in 2016.”

        Nightmare on Half Street.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 8, 2014 at 2:47 PM

        Jordans dream is a trade to Milwaukee I would guess. Other than last year this team doesn’t win for him. His last 2 starts were almost criminal and cringeworthy what the bullpen did.

        Nats have to concentrate on Desi, Ramos and Fister.

      • Danny - Aug 8, 2014 at 2:50 PM

        A blessing with Ramos’ injury history is that he shouldn’t be as expensive to lock up if we intend to.

  3. Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 8, 2014 at 2:50 PM

    “Cubs talent is all position players though. No doubt they target a Scherzer/Lester in the offseason. They have money.”

    They get both of them which they can afford and they are in it.

    They lost out on the Hamels waiver claim.

    • Danny - Aug 8, 2014 at 2:51 PM

      I can see them signing a top arm and trading for one possibly in the offseason.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 8, 2014 at 2:59 PM

        I wouldn’t trade unless it was a deadline deal or thievery. There will be lots of FA talent this year and all it takes is money and forfeiting lower level draft picks. They have lots of money.

  4. Eric - Aug 8, 2014 at 2:56 PM

    So…NL or anyone else: how does one embed a tweet here? And/or is there a way to embed an image?

    • Soul Possession, Sec 3 My Sofa - Aug 8, 2014 at 3:01 PM

      Eric,
      On the tweet in question, click on “Embed Tweet” and then paste the code that pops up into the comment box here.

      • Soul Possession, Sec 3 My Sofa - Aug 8, 2014 at 3:01 PM

        It's raining hard in Atlanta & the forecast calls for steady rain all night. I have no inside info about tonight's game. Just passing along.— James Wagner (@JamesWagnerWP) August 8, 2014

      • Soul Possession, Sec 3 My Sofa - Aug 8, 2014 at 3:02 PM

        @JamesWagnerWP Can you come out to the parking lot with an umbrella please?— Mark Zuckerman (@ZuckermanCSN) August 8, 2014

      • Eric - Aug 8, 2014 at 3:08 PM

        Awesome, thanks. I’m guessing HTML for embedding images doesn’t work?

      • Eric - Aug 8, 2014 at 3:09 PM

        Nope, doesn’t work…bummer.

      • NatsLady - Aug 8, 2014 at 4:14 PM

        Not necessary to embed. Just take the tweet (the info in the navigation window) and plant it here.

        “https://twitter.com/Rotoworld_BB/status/497834601755062274″

      • NatsLady - Aug 8, 2014 at 4:15 PM

        Not necessary to embed. Just take the tweet (the info in the navigation window) and plant it here.

  5. David Proctor - Aug 8, 2014 at 2:57 PM

    James Wagner ‏@JamesWagnerWP 53s
    It’s raining hard in Atlanta & the forecast calls for steady rain all night. I have no inside info about tonight’s game. Just passing along.

    • Eric - Aug 8, 2014 at 3:15 PM

      Uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuugh!

  6. Soul Possession, Sec 3 My Sofa - Aug 8, 2014 at 3:05 PM

    and here’s an embedded image for ya, Eric…

    @JWerthsBeard @Nationals @FightinHydrant #WerthGoesGnome pic.twitter.com/gTynuq9MyO— L Shaull (@number7cloud) August 8, 2014

    • Soul Possession, Sec 3 My Sofa - Aug 8, 2014 at 3:05 PM

      whoops. Or not.

  7. Soul Possession, Sec 3 My Sofa - Aug 8, 2014 at 3:11 PM

    should [have] built a roof @Braves pic.twitter.com/frw5HxAYZB— Jayson Werth's Beard (@JWerthsBeard) August 8, 2014

    • knoxvillenat - Aug 8, 2014 at 3:50 PM

      Weather not looking real good here in the southeast, forecast calling for thunder storms and 50-60% chance of rain all weekend.

  8. topnat - Aug 8, 2014 at 4:13 PM

    Thats a 40-50% it won’t rain.
    Play ball!

    • Soul Possession, Sec 3 My Sofa - Aug 8, 2014 at 4:20 PM

      So at 50%, are you saying the clouds are half-empty, or half empty?

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
x-WASHINGTON 89 64 --
ATLANTA 76 77 13.0
MIAMI 74 79 15.0
NEW YORK 74 80 15.5
PHILADELPHIA 70 84 19.5
x-Clinched NL East title
Through Friday's games

NL PLAYOFFS STANDINGS

W L GB WCGB
x-WASHINGTON 89 64 --
y-LOS ANGELES 88 66 1.5
ST. LOUIS 86 68 3.5
-------------------------
SAN FRANCISCO 84 69 5.0 +1.0
PITTSBURGH 83 70 6.0 --
MILWAUKEE 79 75 10.5 4.5
x-Clinched division title
y-Clinched playoff berth
Through Friday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
SAT: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
SUN: Nats at Marlins, 1:10 p.m.
MON: OFF
TUE: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
THU: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
FRI: Marlins at Nats (DH), 1:05 p.m., 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.

*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.

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