With just four games (or less for some teams) remaining in the regular season, the playoffs are just days away from getting started. So far, three teams have punched their ticket to the postseason (AL East, AL West, and NL West champions), and there are 13 teams still mathematically alive for those last seven spots. There is still a lot to play for as our inaugural season races toward its conclusion.
*Please keep in mind that with the one series flex rule, some teams have played ahead of schedule and as a result, have more games shown on their record than others.
- Boston Red Sox (Official_Mole): 32-7 (#1 last week)
The Red Sox remain firmly in control of this #1 spot. With just one game remaining on their schedule, they have only lost seven games on the entire season. The next closest team in the AL to that mark? The Rays, with 14 losses, and they have played two less games. This team has put on an incredible performance all season long, and as a result, they will have home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The road to the title goes through Fenway Park, which is a scary thought. The Red Sox have only lost three games there this season.
- Colorado Rockies (TortugaTheGoat): 27-9 (#2 last week)
The Rockies are the only other team in the majors with less than 10 losses. After dispatching the Reds in two out of three games, the Rockies have safely clinched home field advantage throughout the NL playoffs. They have done so while playing in the NL West, which is the only division in the league with three teams of 22+ wins. The Rockies have gotten great performances from veterans like Max Scherzer, Carlos Gonzalez, and Justin Morneau, but it’s the surprising play of youngsters like David Dahl and Kyle Crick that has pushed this team to the top of the league. They have a solid mix of youth and veteran leadership that is vital to postseason success.
- Seattle Mariners (WobbleWeezy): 24-15 (#3 last week)
After an unexpected midseason surge, the Mariners have fallen back to earth a bit. They played .500 ball a week ago, but remain in the third spot, largely due to the fact that none of the teams immediately behind them were all that impressive either. However, the Mariners have wrapped up the AL West division and will be the #2 seed in the AL. This means they will avoid the drama of the one-game wildcard round and will instead host an AL Division Series matchup. There will be playoff baseball in Seattle for the first time in 14 years.
- Tampa Bay Rays (dalton22rox): 24-15 (#9 last week)
The Rays had an impressive week. Despite being well out of reach of the AL East champion Red Sox, the Rays still have a lot to play for. They took care of business last week, winning two out of three games against both the Mariners and the Indians. Plus, that team batting average has finally crept above the Mendoza line (it now stands at .201). The Rays haven’t quite clinched a playoff berth yet (though long shots, the Indians and Rangers can both catch them), but they are close to doing so. A win in their finale against the Angels will not only wrap up a playoff spot for the Rays, but it will also ensure that they host the AL wildcard game.
- Arizona Diamondbacks (JamieGG04): 24-14 (NR last week)
After hitting a midseason lull, the Diamondbacks were dropped from the power rankings last week. Perhaps that sleight has re-awoken the team. They have won four straight games to remain ahead of the hard-charging Padres and Pirates in the NL wildcard race. With two games to go, Paul Goldschmidt is in position to win the batting title (.388 average), and is also one of the frontrunners for NL most valuable player. The Diamondbacks finish the season with two games against the last place Dodgers. If they win both, they will be in the playoffs.
- San Diego Padres (wahinton): 22-14 (#8 last week)
Remember all the way back at the beginning of the season, when the NL West had zero teams in the inaugural power rankings? That seems like ages ago. The NL West is now a force to be reckoned with, as they put three teams into the top six this week. At 22-14, the Padres are in a precarious position. They are tied in the loss column with the Diamondbacks (currently, these are the two wildcard teams). However, they are only two ahead in the loss column over the Pirates and Nationals. The Padres must now play a pivotal series in Cincinnati that is big for both teams. A series loss could put the Padres in real danger, but a sweep could wrap up a spot in the postseason and potentially knock the Reds out in the NL Central.
- Pittsburgh Pirates (TrippOnDeeze): 23-16 (#6 last week)
It’s not often that a second place team in the division is ranked ahead of the team that it’s chasing, especially at this stage of the season, but that is the case with the Pirates. They have pulled even with the Reds in the win column (although the Pirates have played three more games), and with Cincinnati facing another tough series, there is still hope that the Pirates can pull out a division title. In addition to their NL Central chase, this club is also battling the Padres for the second wildcard spot. The Pirates need to win their final game against the Yankees and hope that either the Padres or the Reds sweep their series against each other. A split means that the Pirates will come up short of catching either team.
- New York Mets (MarryDaWanna): 21-15 (NR last week)
It has been several weeks since the NL East has had a representative in these power rankings. That is because for much of the season, a .500 record was enough to lead this mediocre division. The Mets have put an end to that, using a late season rally to surge ahead of the Nationals for NL East supremacy. They have won seven games in a row, and are 9-1 in their last 10. A three-game subway series against the Yankees is next, followed by a finale in D.C. against the Nationals. Nursing a one-game lead, that final game could potentially decide who wins the division.
- Cincinnati Reds (daskins21): 23-13 (#5 last week)
Typically, teams want to play their best baseball of the season down the stretch and into the postseason, but the Reds are doing the exact opposite of that. They are in free fall mode, losing two out of three games to both the Red Sox and Rockies, and going 4-6 in their last 10 games. All of a sudden, the Reds find themselves in a hotly contested battle in the NL Central. They need to win two out of their last four games to hold off the Pirates and clinch the #2 seed in the NL Central. If the losing continues, the possibility is there for the Reds to miss the playoffs altogether. It could be up to aces Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey to carry this team to the finish line.
- Kansas City Royals (primetimekcs): 21-15 (#4 last week)
The Royals are another team that is faltering down the stretch, and as a result, they are locked in a tight race for the AL Central crown. They lead the Indians by just one game and the Twins by 2.5 games (although with just one game left, the Twins chances are not good). The Royals have a huge series coming up against the NL West champion Rockies. With the Rays likely safe, and the Rangers still very much in play for wildcard #2, it is possible that neither wildcard team comes out of the AL Central. If that is the case, the Royals must find a way to prevail against the Rockies. Otherwise, that one game division lead could disappear and last year’s AL champs could find themselves watching the playoffs from home.