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