MLB Power Rankings: Atlanta Braves rise to the top

Freddie Freeman and Jason HeywardThe Atlanta Braves have risen to the top of our MLB Power Rankings which I have  narrowed down to the Top 15 teams with the wild card and divisional playoff chases hitting their stretch runs. As you will notice the Top 15 teams all have some semblance of hope in punching their ticket to the post-season, stressing the word “some”.

This week’s edition of the MLB Power Rankings shows more movement a the top tier. Some teams have embraced the dog days of August, whilst others have nose-dived. The Rays suffered the largest drop in the rankings falling 7 spots while the Texas Rangers leap frogged their way up 5 spots this week.

The Atlanta Braves have catapulted their way to the number one spot this week behind the red hot bats of Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman. The Los Angeles Dodgers, Texas Rangers have each won 9 of their last 10 and the Detroit Tigers lead in the AL Central is widening since they have gone 8-2 over their last 10.

In the AL East, the former top spot holder in the rankings, Tampa Bay Rays have eaten the big L in 5 straight games and the AL East leading Red Sox have looked mediocre at best on their road trip.

The MLB PowerRankings with comments for each team are below.

RANK/TEAM TREND RECORD COMMENTS
1.Atlanta BravesAtlanta-Braves-Logo 2013  Last RK 5green arrow trend

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Fredi Gonzalez‘s bold decision to move Jason Heyward to the lead-off spot is paying huge dividends. Over his last 14 games Heyward has 18 runs scored, 11 RBI and is hitting .311 with an OBP of .420.Freddie Freeman has been no slouch in his own right hitting .350 with 8 RBI in August. His slash line for 2013 is a spectacular .313/.393/.482.The bullpen has also held their own despite injuries to Venters and O’Flaherty. Kimbrel continues to dominate and Scott Downs has been a very underrated addition.

2. LA Dodgersladodgers 2013 logo

Last RK 4green arrow trend

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Last Week

5-1

The change of scenery has done wonders for Adrian Gonzalez‘s power numbers this season. He hit another big home run yesterday and is now He’s batting .294 with an .803 OPS, 16 homers and 72 RBI in 113 games this year.The Dodgers pen has been dominant lately with some underrated performances according to MLB Reports. In addition to closer Kenley Jansen,Dodger rookie lefty Paco Rodriguez has been as a reliable lefty as you can get for the Dodgers. He has appeared in 55 games and has put together 2-2 record with 2.20 ERA 45 Ks in 41 IP.  He has helped the Bullpen solidify itself.
3. Detroit Tigerstigers 2013 logo  Last RK 7green arrow trend

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Last Week

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Max Scherzer is on a 24-3 tear dating back to the second half of last season and yet the over-thinking Cliff Corcoran of Si.com has him 4th in the AL Cy Young race.The ageless wonder Torii Hunter continues to sparkle with a .294 AVG/6 HRs/16 RBI’s in his last 20 games.Want more proof of just how amazing Miguel Cabrera is.. read this. He only fouled two balls off his knee cap and shin before jaw dropping Mo Rivera in amazement with a 427 foot game tying homer in the 9th.
4.Pittsburgh Piratesnew-pittsburgh-pirates-logo  Last RK 3red arrow

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Last Week

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Russell Martin is batting .251/.353/.402 with 10 home runs, 42 RBI and nine stolen bases through 90 games. He recorded his 3rd walk-off hit of the season and 5th game winning hit to go along with his game calling and leadership experience which has led the Pirates to an MLB best 3.16 ERA in 2013. That is a .70 point improvement on last year’s squad.Starling Marte has been amazing this season with 33 SB’s to go along with a .282 AVG/ 10 HR & 75 runs scored.
5.Boston Red Sox redsox 2013  Last RK 2red arrow

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Last Week

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The recipes for a collapse similar to 2011 have been rearing their ugly heads lately. They have allowed 14 stolen bases against on their current road trip. Their starters’ pitch counts are exceeding 25 pitches on average in the opening inning and they haven’t shown any ability to handle left handed pitching.Making matters worse is a bullpen that ahas recently seen Matt Thorntnon added to the disabled list and Junichi Tazawa being required to pitch 2 innings at a time which makes him unavailable in back to back games. As a Red Sox fan I hope I am wrong, but I certainly don’t like what I see cooking lately.
6.Texas Rangersrangers_logo  Last RK 11green arrow trend

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Last Week

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A tale of two teams. Over their last 13 games the Rangers are 11-2. In their previous 15 games they were 3-12. I believe the real version is the latter of the two.During the recent stretch the Rangers and Leonys Martin have been running wild. They abused the Angels Chris Iannetta for six swipes on Wednesay and Martin has 10 SB’s over his last 11 games to reach teh 30 mark on the season. Speed doesn’t slump and the Rangers should continue to manufacture runs with the addition of Alex Rios to help offset any offensive losses suffered due to the suspension of Nelson Cruz.
7.St. Louis Cardinalsstcards 2013  Last RK 6red arrow

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Last Week

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The Cardinals are slumping losing 13 of their last 18 games. The pitching depth which was once a  strength has taken a hit lately. Shelby Miller should have his worklad decreased over the second half of the season. Rookie, Carlos Martinez has skills but was lit up a bit against the Dodgers last Thursday.And as the Sports Bank points out, Jake Westbrook‘s 1st half was fool’s gold. Westbrook’s ERA, WHIP, and walks have all come back to his career levels. He also has more walks (45) than strikeouts (40). His latest appearance in relief of an injured Shelby Miller was his worst of the season.
8. Tampa Bay Rays

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 Last RK 1red arrow

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Last Week

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After holding the top spot in our MLB Power Rankings for one week the Rays have stumbled losing 5 straight games. Although the Rays were the hottest team in baseball in July they did benefit from playing 10 games versus the White Sox and Astros. During that time Evan Longoria slumped badly with only a .288 OBP in that time.The Rays now have Matt Moore and Alex Cobb on the DL. Wil Myers has remained hot, but the bullpen led by Francisco Rodney has is fading. His ERA over his last 8 games is 7.11. His K’s are down and his BB’s are up. Not a good combination for the closer.
9. Cincinnati Reds reds 2013 logo  Last RK 10green arrow trend

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Last Week

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I’ve been kind of hard on the Reds this season, especially Joey Votto. His pataience at the plate with RISP is maddening to me, however yesterday he delivered a walk-off sac fly on a pitch that I felt was high in the strike zone.Votto has has 100 AB;s with RISP and has just 31 hits to go along with 30BB’s/ He often allows a first pitch fastball to go by the wayside and thus has just 40 RBI’s in those situations.
10. Oakland A’sathletics (1)  Last RK 8red arrow

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Last Week

2-3

The A’s bats have been struggling a bit lately. Heading into Thursday’s game with Colon on the rubber The A’s, who’d scored just 10 runs in losing five of their previous six games finally busted out for five runs.It was all for not, however and Colon’s velocity was down several MPH’s in that game as it had been over his last few starts. He has now gone from 92-94 MPH with his devastating 2 seam fastball to 84-86. Perhaps the 150 IP’s have taken their toll, perhaps fans will postulate it is something “juicier.”When you combine Colon’s struggles with A.J. Griffins MLB leading HR against the A’s better hope that Lowrie, Donaldson continue to get help from reddick and Moss.
11. Baltimore Oriolesorioles2013  Last RK 12green arrow trend

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Last Week

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The Orioles who went an unsustainable 29-9 in one run games in 2012 now find themselves at 19-17 in games decided by two runs or less this season. Their latest lack of clutch was on display in their 3-2 loss to the SF Giants this past Saturday.Manny Machado has come back to earth over his last 21 games hitting just .230 with an OBP of .272. A far cry from his first half numbers to say the least.Good news for the Orioles bullpen despite ranking 5th in the league with 18 blown saves is that they seemed to have righted the ship. Jim Johnson blew his first save since July 5th on Saturday and now has his ERA and WHIP improving.
12.Kansas City Royalskansas-city-royals-logo 2013  Last RK 13green arrow trend

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Last Week

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Alex Gordon, Billy Butler and Eric Hosmer just put a whipping on the Red Sox. Gordon continues to play solid defense in LF and is quietly on pace for 18 HR’s, 87 Runs scored and 88 RBI.sJames Shields has to be the definition of a gamer. He has been saddled with medoicre run support all season and continues to battle. He now has a misleading 7-8 W/L to go along with a 3.33 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP. He is now 5-2 over his last 10 starts while the Royals are 7-3 in those games.
13. Cleveland Indiansindians Last RK 9red arrow

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Last Week

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What has happened to Justin Masteron? He has allowed 6 ER in 2 of his last 4 starts and the Indians can ill afford that type of inconsistency from their pseudo-ace.Carlos Santana needed to break out in  big way yesterday with those 3 hits. Prior to that he was on a 4/34 slump in his last 10 games, hitting just .117. Slumps like that have gotten greats like Joe Dimaggio benched in the past.
14. Arizona D’Backsdbacks logo  —–

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Last Week

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Around the trade deadline the DBacks were involved in rumors for more pitching depth. perhaps they should have looked into adding some bats to their line-up. Did Gregorius is just 2/24 since July 24th.Jason Kubel has only recorded 5 HR’s on the season and the reliance on a single hitter such as Paul Goldschmidt has finally caught up to them. Goldy is mired in a .188 slump over the last week and thee Diamondbacks playoff hopes are dwindling by the day.
15. NY Yankeesyankeelogo  —–

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Well, AROD is back and hit his first “A-Bomb” of the season of of Justin Verlander yesterday but Mariano Rivera has now blown 3 saves on consecutive days for the first time in his illustrious career.What baffles me is that the Yanks front office has the audacity to bump ticket prices up 24% because the sideshow is back in pinstripes.Alfonso Soriano hasn’t helped matters much either. He is now 10 for 50 since joining the Yankees and has just six hits over his last 37 at-bats.

That concludes this week’s MLB Power Rankings. Will the Atlanta Braves continue to surge ahead and see their magic number dip below 20 games this week? Can the LA Dodgers take over the top spot? Will the AL East front runners snap out of their funks? How about those Royals, do they have a chance to complete this amazing comeback season. All of these questions mount with uncertainty as the season moves forward.

Let me know if I ranked your teams appropriately in the Comments area below. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed

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