King’s Ranks: MLB Power Rankings 8/31/21

Matthew King

There is almost always some big story or controversy in baseball every week so that is what you are going to start seeing in this opening portion of the power rankings. This week, it was Javy Baez and Francisco Lindor giving the thumbs down to Mets fans who were booing them.

Fans in baseball are extremely passionate about their teams and don’t enjoy watching their team lose constantly. This is even more so true in big market cities like New York. The Mets were in first place in the NL East for months and fans watched the Mets have a terrible month of August as the team dropped all the way to third place in the division.

The fans had every right to boo. It is frustrating. Fans put a lot into their teams. When a playoff spot slips away and you’re left to watch the team just keep losing when you are paying to watch them it can be frustrating. Now fans should never go too far. Some fans take it to social media and the things they say on there are completely unacceptable. However being booed is just part of being a professional athlete.

The worst part about this whole situation is that one of those giving the thumbs down to the fans was Francisco Lindor. Lindor just signed a 10 year $341 million deal this spring. He has already had a terrible season and I am sure he is frustrated as well with himself. When you are a professional athlete, you can’t take out the frustration on the fans. This has already become a big mess and this is just the first year of his deal. I expect to see apologies coming from both Lindor and Baez here in the coming days but there will always be some residue from this incident.

Now time is running out for the teams on the outside looking in. Let’s take a look at where everyone stands with just a month left in the season.

  1. San Francisco Giants (84-47) —

The Giants finally had a slip up in losing two of three to the red hot Atlanta Braves. They were able to sweep the Mets which keeps them in the top spot for at least another week. Logan Webb is solidifying the depth of this rotation and they are going to be pesky in a playoff series. First they have to wrap up the division to avoid the one game playoff. They have an extremely tough, playoff caliber week hosting the Brewers or four and the Dodgers for three. They have to play well this week if they want to fend off the Dodgers.

  1. Los Angeles Dodgers (83-49) —

The Dodgers also have an extremely tough schedule this week with Atlanta for three and then San Francisco for three. They also have a fairly tough schedule in September which will put pressure on them if they want to avoid the Wild Card game. This team is playing their best baseball of the season however so they should be able to manage it. The pitching has been phenomenal and they are looking like the team we thought they would be coming into the season. The series with the Giants is the final time those two teams will meet this season so if the Dodgers can’t take care of business, they are going to need help to retain their division crown.

  1. Tampa Bay Rays (83-48) —

Tampa Bay looks like they are going to finish with the best record in the American League. They have now won eight consecutive games with a two game sweep of Philadelphia and a sweep of Baltimore. They finished with a record of 18-1 against Baltimore this season. Only three times since 1969 has a team beat another team 18 times in one season and the other two happened in 2019. The Rays are the most consistent team in the game right now and continue to just reload rather than rebuild. They could be back in the Fall Classic once again in October.

  1. Houston Astros (78-53) +1

Houston had a little skid there in August but the good news for them is neither Oakland or Seattle could really capitalize. They seem to have the division on lockdown heading into what should be an interesting offseason. This is their prove it tour and they are looking to erase all the doubt about their 2017 World Series win. Anything less will be deemed a failure so the pressure is going to ramp up over the next month.

  1. Milwaukee Brewers (80-52) -1

Losing two of three to Minnesota slides the Brewers down just a little bit. The offense cost them that series being shutout by an average at best pitching staff in Minnesota. The bullpen is just filthy which means that Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, and Freddy Peralta won’t need to go as deep into games in October. This team is seriously a sneaky pick to not only make it to the World Series, but win the whole thing with that pitching staff.

  1. New York Yankees (76-55) —

13 straight wins for the Yankees have penciled them into the playoffs. The offense is so good that they can strike quick and erase any sort of deficit or bust a game open. Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton are not only both healthy, but both clicking at the same time. When they have both of these guys going at the same time they are the scariest duo in baseball.

  1. Chicago White Sox (76-56) —

The White Sox scored 30 runs in their three game series with the Cubs. They were also shutout in one of those games. The offense is in boom or bust mode right now as in each game last week they scored 1, 5, 1, 10, 17, 0, 13 runs. I still worry about this team’s capability to win consistently against good teams. They play the Pirates and Royals this week so expect a 4-2 week and for us to still be asking that question next week.

  1. Atlanta Braves (70-60) +1

Remember when we joked about the Braves not being able to get above .500? If you blinked you missed them rocket up the standings and now sit 10 games above .500. A series win over the Giants proved also that this team is legit and not to be overlooked if they make the playoffs. I still want to know if this pitching staff just had a good month or if they have really figured it out.

  1. Boston Red Sox (75-58) +2

Boston snapped their skid and seem to be trending in the right direction. After going 8-12 through 20 previous games, the Red Sox took two of three from both Minnesota and Cleveland to gain some breathing room in the AL Wild Card race. They do have four against Tampa Bay to try to make up some ground in the division and then three more against Cleveland. Chris Sale looks better than he has since 2018 and the gamble on him being their ace coming back from injury looks to be paying off so far.

  1. Oakland A’s (72-59) -2

Six straight losses for Oakland really dampened their playoff hopes. They did manage to split the four game set with the Yankees but being swept in a two game set with Seattle prior to that still has them reeling a bit. The division feels like it is out of reach for Oakland and with the stadium situation in Oakland, there just doesn’t seem to be much life with this team. Three at Detroit and Toronto will give us a better view of where Oakland is as we reach the final stretch.

  1. Cincinnati Reds (71-62) -1

It wasn’t a good week for Cincinnati as they cling to the second Wild Card spot. They lost two of three to both Milwaukee and Miami which shrunk their lead over San Diego to now just half a game. Without Jesse Winker they have lost a little bit of that presence in the lineup that opposing pitchers have to be careful with. Wade Miley has been absolutely fantastic for them even though he was just supposed to be a back end guy in the rotation. Miley is 11-4 with a 2.74 ERA. Not bad for a value signing.

  1. Seattle Mariners (70-62) —

It seems like every time the Mariners have a really good game or series, they fall flat immediately after that. This week was a perfect example. They swept Oakland in a two game set before coming home to Kansas City for four. In those four games they went 9-36 with RISP and left 40 runners on base. They were statistically the most clutch team in Major League history until losing three of four to Kansas City. They are sliding out of the playoff chase but the fact they have been in it this long shows this team is headed in the right direction.

  1. Toronto Blue Jays (69-61) —

Toronto used their pitching to get a winning week for the first time since the first week of August. Robbie Ray might not just be in the Cy Young conversation, he might be the front runner. The offense can’t expect to only need to score three runs to win games down the stretch. George Springer returns this week and that will help this offense get back on track. It might just be too late anyway.

  1. Philadelphia Phillies (67-64) +1

The Phillies got some revenge on Arizona taking three of four from the D-Backs over the weekend. They did lose both of their games against Tampa Bay however to just go 3-3 this week. They will not have Rhys Hoskins for the rest of the season which is a big blow and puts a lot more pressure on Bryce Harper. If they were already in a playoff spot I would be singing a different tune. They just don’t have enough to make up the ground in the division or the Wild Card.

  1. San Diego Padres (70-62) -1

The Padres just can’t seem to figure it out. The pitching staff is giving up too many runs and the offense is struggling to score. They have an extremely rough schedule down the stretch and with the way they are playing, it is realistic that they finish below .500. This is a major disappointment for San Diego as they thought this team could win a World Series. Now they look like they won’t even see the playoffs.

  1. St. Louis Cardinals (67-63) —

The Cardinals are still lurking in the Wild Card race. They aren’t really making up any ground but are still within striking distance with a month to go. They have three with the Reds who currently hold the second Wild Card spot before traveling to Milwaukee for three this weekend. This is a great opportunity to make up some ground but also a tough stretch that could bury them. By next week we should know if they have what it takes to make a run.

  1. Cleveland Indians (64-64) —

Cleveland is doing what a .500 team does. They are beating teams below .500 and losing to teams above .500. The rotation has a lot of potential for the future but they need more than that. They need to add some offensive pieces to take the pressure off of Jose Ramirez. They are in a spot where they can either go all in or rebuild and so far they are choosing to do neither.

  1. New York Mets (63-67) +1

I think it is about time to put a fork in the Mets. They have completely melted down. Add in Javy Baez and Francisco Lindor giving the fans thumbs down and this team is in some turmoil. Lindor signed a 10 year deal this spring and the New York fans are already getting to him. Javy Baez doesn’t seem like he wants to deal with it after this season either. This franchise just can’t put it all together.

  1. Los Angeles Angels (65-67) -1

The Angels are now falling apart. Two more starters joined the IL last week in Dylan Bundy and Reid Detmers which leaves the Angels with 3 starters right now on their roster. One of them is also their best hitter. There just isn’t much going right for the Angels in 2021 and I think this all means we won’t see Mike Trout back until 2022.

  1. Detroit Tigers (62-70) —

The Tigers are sliding due to their offense. Their pitching hasn’t given up more than three runs since August 19th and they are 4-5 in that stretch. They already have exceeded expectations so there is no need to be too upset if you’re a Detroit fan. They have been a fun team to watch this season and they have a bright future in front of them.

  1. Colorado Rockies (60-71) —

Not only did the Rockies win a series on the road. They took two out of three from the defending World Champions. Much like the Tigers, this isn’t a team you necessarily want to play down the stretch while making a playoff push. The rotation is not bad and they are giving the offense the chances to win games. Also CJ Cron is having a career year and Trevor Story is starting to heat up. They do host the Braves for four games this weekend with a chance to help Philadelphia and New York in the NL East.

  1. Kansas City Royals (59-71) +1

Have a week Salvador Perez. He hit six home runs and drove in 14 runs this week including a couple of grand slams against Seattle. Just like in the Home Run Derby, we really are not talking about Perez enough. He is second in the American League in home runs with 38 and 4th in RBIs with 94. He is doing all of this while being an everyday catcher. I will be shocked and disappointed if he doesn’t get some MVP votes.

  1. Minnesota Twins (58-73) +1

The Twins just took two of three from Milwaukee and Byron Buxton is back. When healthy, Buxton is one of the best and most dynamic players in the game. It is too late for them to make any kind of playoff run but this is a good time for these guys to show that they can win together. If they can, Minnesota could go for it again this offseason.

  1. Miami Marlins (55-76) +1

The Marlins came through with a winning week winning two of three over both Washington and Cincinnati. The offense has gotten better since the deadline with both Bryan De La Cruz and Jorge Alfaro having great months. The rotation is going to be pesky down the stretch for contenders. The Marlins only have two more series against teams outside of the NL East as they’ll play Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay in September.

  1. Washington Nationals (55-75) -3

The Nationals are going to be lucky to win another series this season. They are just in rough shape and have only won one series in August and that was a two game sweep over Toronto. There are some young guys that they could call up this month to draw some interest from the baseball world. Washington does at least have their centerpiece in Juan Soto. Now it’s just the long process of surrounding him with help.

  1. Chicago Cubs (57-75) —

The Cubs got a series win taking two of three from Colorado. That’s fun. It almost makes you forget about all the Cubs icons that were traded away a month ago. The offense, led by Patrick Wisdom, seems to be able to put up respectful numbers and score some runs. The pitching has been totally horrendous. The scariest part about that is they didn’t trade very many pitchers. They are going to have to build the rotation and bullpen from scratch.

  1. Pittsburgh Pirates (48-83) —

The Pirates went 4-3 this week with a series win over Arizona and then splitting a four game set with St. Louis. They have nine games left against Cincinnati so they will get the opportunity to affect the Wild Card race. This was supposed to be a rough year for Pittsburgh so the fact that they have had a couple exciting players to watch like Adam Frazier until he was traded and Bryan Reynolds helps in powering through a rebuilding year.

  1. Arizona Diamondbacks (44-89) —

And Arizona comes crashing back down to reality. A 2-5 week against Pittsburgh and Philadelphia sends them on the verge of the bottom two spots but they avoid it for this week. This is the same team that went 3-24 in June and any good stretch will be short lived. They need to try to lure in some free agents this offseason to try to trade them next season to start hauling in prospects.

  1. Texas Rangers (46-85) —

Texas beating Houston 13-2 on Sunday might go down as their biggest win of 2021. Glenn Otto, who came over in the Joey Gallo trade, looked good in his first outing with Texas going five scoreless innings with seven strikeouts. This last month is just about evaluating which guys might be part of the future in Texas and which guys just don’t have what it takes.

  1. Baltimore Orioles (40-90) —

The Orioles actually managed to take two of three from the Angels this week. The bad news is that their win in game two snapped a 19 game losing streak. They are still 3-23 this month and haven’t even been very competitive. We’ve talked about John Means, Cedric Mullins and Trey Mancini but Ryan Mountcastle has had a solid year hitting .269 with 25 homers and 73 RBIs. The 24 year old might be a piece in the future of this franchise.

 

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