Power Rankings — Who is the best in the AL?

There wasn’t any movement this week in the top five, with the Dodgers holding on to the top spot — although not as firmly as last week — with three of the five first-place votes. The other two went to the Astros, with the Yankees, Twins and Braves rounding out the top five.

Elsewhere in the top 10, the Nationals continued to surge, climbing up to No. 6. Washington has essentially locked up one of the two wild-card spots in the NL — can it make up any ground on Atlanta in the race for the NL East title?

For Week 22, our panel of voters was composed of Bradford Doolittle, Christina Kahrl, Eric Karabell, Tim Kurkjian and David Schoenfield.

Los Angeles Dodgers
2019 record: 89-50
Week 21 ranking: 1

The well-oiled Dodgers machine hit a couple of bumps this week. Max Muncy will miss two weeks with a small fracture in his right wrist. It could have been worse as a more severe fracture could have meant missing eight weeks. The only concern is whether his power will be affected when he returns. Hyun-Jin Ryu allowed seven runs for the second consecutive start and has now allowed 18 runs in 14⅔ innings over his past three starts. — David Schoenfield

ICYMI:Olney: Will Smith has earned Dodgers’ trust

Houston Astros
2019 record: 89-49
Week 21 ranking: 2

The new version of second baseman Jose Altuve is not quite as valuable as he used to be, but he remains among the best at his position. Altuve blasted his 25th home run Thursday to reach a career best, though some of his other numbers look different from what we’ve seen in the past. Altuve has three batting titles to his credit, but is fighting to stay above .300 this season. He also averaged 37 stolen bases from 2012 to 2017, topping 30 each season, but seemingly will not approach 30 over the past two years combined because of knee and hamstring woes. Still, Altuve should boast an OPS better than .900 and he remains really good. — Eric Karabell

ICYMI:How the Astros keep getting better and better

New York Yankees
2019 record: 90-48
Week 21 ranking: 3

The Yankees closed the week with two dramatic walk-off wins over the A’s: DJ LeMahieu hit a home run in the 11th inning on Saturday, then Brett Gardner and Mike Ford went back-to-back off Liam Hendriks on Sunday for a wild 5-4 win (the Yankees also scored three in the eighth). LeMahieu’s home run was the Yankees’ 74th of August, a major league record for one month. The old mark was 58 (the Twins also broke the old mark with 59). — Schoenfield

ICYMI:Law: Yankees prospect Clarke Schmidt is on the rise

Minnesota Twins
2019 record: 84-52
Week 21 ranking: 4

Good news! Another hitter has stepped up as the Twins aim to tie the mark of last season’s Yankees with 12 players reaching double digits in home runs. Outfielder Jake Cave has delivered a pair of multihomer efforts in the past 10 days and, despite limited playing time this season, could get there as he fills in for injured folks like Byron Buxton. Cave hit 13 home runs last season, one of seven Twins to reach double digits. Eleven are already there this year! Cave, a longtime minor leaguer who showed little power until reaching Triple-A, might not even make the playoff roster, but he could help the team make history. — Karabell

ICYMI:Are the Twins the best home run team ever?

Atlanta Braves
2019 record: 84-54
Week 21 ranking: 5

So, who has been the Braves’ MVP? Entering Sunday, Ronald Acuna Jr. had a minimal lead over Josh Donaldson in WAR (4.9 to 4.8) with Freddie Freeman at 4.0. Freeman, however, leads in RBIs and was just two runs behind Acuna. Freeman had a small edge over Acuna in win probability added (5.04 to 4.39) as he has hit .353/.439/.694 in high-leverage situations, with seven home runs and 36 RBIs in 98 PAs. And don’t forget Mike Soroka: He actually leads the Braves with 5.2 WAR. — Schoenfield

ICYMI: The Braves can’t be counted out come playoff time

Washington Nationals
2019 record: 77-58
Week 21 ranking: 8

The Nationals went 20-7 in August and outscored their opponents by 70 runs to strengthen their grip on a wild-card spot. Stephen Strasburg fanned 14 in eight scoreless innings on Saturday. His game score of 92 registered as the second best of his career. The Nats completed a sweep of the Marlins on Sunday, and since starting the season 19-31, they are 58-27 — the best record in the majors since May 24. — Schoenfield

ICYMI: Nats closer Doolittle makes rehab appearance

Oakland Athletics
2019 record: 78-58
Week 21 ranking: 6

Over the past two decades — 20 different A’s teams with almost 400 different A’s players and four different A’s managers — Oakland has been under .500 in April and May but has won 56 percent of its games in August. Darndest thing. This year’s A’s went 17-9. — Sam Miller

ICYMI:Is Matt Chapman the key to the A’s stretch run?

Tampa Bay Rays
2019 record: 80-58
Week 21 ranking: 7

We’re still a couple of weeks away from the Rays hopefully beginning to welcome back injured starters Blake Snell, Tyler Glasnow and Yonny Chirinos to the fold. Glasnow is likely slotted for a relief role, but the injury-battered Rays can use quality innings no matter where they come from. Tampa Bay has used 14 starters overall, though that includes opener appearances. Snell, Chirinos and Charlie Morton are the only Rays pitchers to have thrown as many as 100 innings this season. No one else has reached 60, so it’s been quite a jigsaw puzzle for manager Kevin Cash and his staff to piece together. Getting some of the injured hurlers back will certainly help, but in the meantime, the mix-and-match project continues at the same time the Rays are fighting to keep pace with Cleveland and Oakland in the AL wild-card race. — Bradford Doolittle

ICYMI: Morton’s Houston homecoming about far more than Astros

Cleveland Indians
2019 record: 79-58
Week 21 ranking: 9

Partly because they rarely play good teams, partly because they’ve been terrible when they have, the Indians have the second-fewest wins in baseball this year against .500-plus teams, ahead of only the Tigers. — Miller

ICYMI: How Indians’ deadline deal for Puig, Reyes is working out

St. Louis Cardinals
2019 record: 76-60
Week 21 ranking: 10

The Cardinals have been scorching hot of late, their 17-5 record since Aug. 9 the best in baseball, granting them a three-game lead in the National League Central. Yadier Molina and Dakota Hudson have been the standouts recently, as Molina is a .344/.417/.594 hitter with four home runs and 12 RBIs in 18 games since his return from a thumb injury, while Hudson has won four consecutive starts while allowing only four runs combined in them. — Tristan H. Cockcroft

ICYMI: How did the Cardinals take over the NL Central race?

Chicago Cubs
2019 record: 73-63
Week 21 ranking: 11

The Cubs welcomed Ben Zobrist back into the fold over the weekend. In addition to the boost in morale his return gives the clubhouse, Zobrist presents another possible solution for a second base position that has been a hodgepodge of underachievement this season. Chicago ranks just 26th in bWAR at the position and that figure has been pretty steady throughout the campaign. The main offenders have been Addison Russell (.696 OPS in 157 plate appearances at the position through Saturday) and Daniel Descalso (.612 in 150). David Bote and Robel Garcia have both hit well enough while playing the keystone, but Chicago likes Bote in a utility role and Garcia has struggled with the glove. Ian Happ has hit very well as a second baseman but has struggled when starting elsewhere. Zobrist didn’t exactly light it up during his rehab stint at Triple-A Iowa, so Joe Maddon may end up playing the hot hand down the stretch. — Doolittle

ICYMI: Cubs lift own postseason hopes, sink Mets’ with sweep

Boston Red Sox
2019 record: 74-63
Week 21 ranking: 12

One of the big questions for Boston this offseason is whether J.D. Martinez will opt out of his contract, which has three years and $62.5 million remaining if he sticks around. While his poor defense and the tepid free-agent market of late would suggest he stay with the Sox (he has another opt-out after 2020), his hot hitting the past six weeks may lead him to test the waters. Since July 20, Martinez is either first or second in baseball in average (.399), OPS (1.254), home runs (15), RBIs (42) and wRC (45). — Steve Richards

ICYMI:Can Devers keep it up after breakout 2019 season?

New York Mets
2019 record: 69-67
Week 21 ranking: 13

Right-hander Noah Syndergaard comes off the worst outing of his career, as he allowed six first-inning runs to the Cubs — at home — then gave up two-run homers in the second and third innings. With nine of the 10 runs charged to Syndergaard earned, his ERA ballooned to 4.14, its highest mark since July. Syndergaard has not finished a season with an ERA worse than 3.24, but he should get back on track against the Nationals and Phillies this week. After all, prior to the Cubs game, Syndergaard boasted a 1.82 ERA since the All-Star break. He gets a pass for an aberrant outing. — Karabell

ICYMI: Mets’ playoff bid takes hit after back-to-back home sweeps

Arizona Diamondbacks
2019 record: 70-67
Week 21 ranking: 16

Ketel Marte has earned plenty of recognition for his breakout season — and rightfully so — but how about teammate Eduardo Escobar? The versatile 30-year-old entered September already having established career highs with 32 home runs, 109 RBIs (previous high: 84), 10 triples, 285 total bases and 84 runs scored. Having signed a three-year, $21 million contract last offseason, Escobar is looking like one of baseball’s best bargains. — Richards

ICYMI: Diamondbacks end record streak of being average

Philadelphia Phillies
2019 record: 70-65
Week 21 ranking: 14

Right-hander Vince Velasquez enters September with a 4.86 ERA, 1.32 WHIP and 9.6 K/9, each number pretty much in line with his career performance, but the team really needs more. There is ace Aaron Nola, soft-tossing Jason Vargas and then a lack of rotation depth that the team can reliably trust. Velasquez has reached five innings and permitted no more than three earned runs in all but one of his past seven starts, which counts as reliable among this crew. With a road ERA more than a run worse than his home version, Velasquez must step up with his next scheduled starts, coming at Cincinnati and New York. — Karabell

ICYMI:Law: Prospect Howard could be big part of Phillies’ 2020 rotation

Milwaukee Brewers
2019 record: 70-66
Week 21 ranking: 15

The hamstring injury suffered by rookie second baseman Keston Hiura on Friday was a tough blow for a Milwaukee team that is teetering on the edge of a free fall. Hiura ranks second on the Brewers in OPS+ (138) to MVP candidate Christian Yelich. While the Brewers have turned to the likes of Cory Spangenberg and Hernan Perez of late, the onus to maintain a semblance of Hiura’s production likely falls to Travis Shaw. Shaw was recalled from Triple-A San Antonio when Hiura went on the IL, though he was due to be called up anyway when the rosters expanded on Sunday. Shaw hit well for the Missions but his season at the big league level has been disastrous, featuring a .556 OPS and just 13 RBIs over 228 plate appearances. Shaw, just 29, has been one of Milwaukee’s cornerstone players the past couple of years and a return to form down the stretch would do more for the Brewers than simply aid their long-shot playoff push. It would assuage a lot of concerns heading into the offseason. — Doolittle

ICYMI: Handicapping the home run race: What are Yelich’s chances?

San Francisco Giants
2019 record: 66-70
Week 21 ranking: 17

Over the past three seasons, Buster Posey has hit one home run after the trade deadline — on Aug. 8, 2017. That’s 340 late-season plate appearances and one dinger. The Giants dropped him to fifth in the batting order this week. — Miller

ICYMI: Giants cut ties with Gennett month after trade

Cincinnati Reds
2019 record: 64-73
Week 21 ranking: 18

Lost season or not, what Aristides Aquino has been doing for the Reds has been something special. He already holds — entirely on his own — the records for the most home runs hit by a player through his first 12 (8 homers), 14 (9), 16 (10), 17 (11), 22 (12), 27 (13) and 28 games (14) of his career; his 14 homers in August were the fourth most by any rookie in one month in history; and those same 14 August homers tied a Reds franchise record for a single month. Aquino is establishing himself as a surefire regular for the team in right field heading into 2020. — Cockcroft

ICYMI: Inside Aristides Aquino’s amazing record-setting month

Texas Rangers
2019 record: 67-71
Week 21 ranking: 19

It’s been an ugly season for Rougned Odor, whose MLB-low .194 batting average is 20 points worse than that of the closest qualifier. But there were two pieces of good news for Odor last week. First, he broke an 0-for-28 slump Friday with a key hit in a win over the Mariners. Second, August ended. For the month, Odor had a brutal slash line of .144/.278/.268, yet played every game. — Richards

Los Angeles Angels
2019 record: 65-73
Week 21 ranking: 20

The Angels do not know if infielder Tommy La Stella will play in September, but he has been taking batting practice and it seems clear he wants to return. La Stella’s All-Star season was interrupted when he fouled a pitch off his leg in July, resulting in a fractured tibia, and he had 16 home runs over 306 plate appearances at the time. La Stella hit 10 home runs in his first five seasons, covering 947 PA. It was a great story. The Angels are not playoff bound but a return from La Stella, even if it is brief, would be a positive and create momentum for him for next year, with La Stella’s future unclear. — Karabell

ICYMI: Will Trout win his first home run title?

San Diego Padres
2019 record: 64-72
Week 21 ranking: 21

A decision on Chris Paddack‘s workload will presumably come in the next several days, as the rookie right-hander has now compiled 124⅓ innings, or 34⅓ more than he totaled in the minor leagues in 2018. The Padres have given him plenty of rest all year, never pitching him on fewer than five days’ rest, but despite that, Paddack is 3-for-8 in quality starts with a 5.36 ERA since the All-Star break. — Cockcroft

Chicago White Sox
2019 record: 60-76
Week 21 ranking: 24

The ascension of starter Lucas Giolito to ace status has been one of the brightest developments of the ChiSox’s campaign. A similar but lesser-noticed breakout may have taken place for fellow righty starter Reynaldo Lopez. Lopez’s overall numbers won’t turn any heads, which is one reason his in-season improvement hasn’t garnered as much attention as Giolito’s strong performance. Lopez is 8-12 with 5.41 ERA and 138 strikeouts over 153 innings. Since the All-Star break, however, Lopez had gone 4-3 with a 2.82 ERA and 52 strikeouts over 54⅓ innings before coughing up six runs in just two-thirds of an inning against the Braves on Saturday. He has allowed three runs or fewer in eight of his 10 starts since the break. Lopez no-hit the Rangers for five innings on Aug. 25 before departing with flu-like symptoms. His improvement could be following a similar path to that of Giolito, who started poorly in 2018 but was better down the stretch. If so, Lopez will be a player to watch when we reach the 2020 season. — Doolittle

Colorado Rockies
2019 record: 59-79
Week 21 ranking: 23

The Rockies can’t seem to catch any breaks on the pitching side, surrendering a National League-worst 55 runs during the past week, and they’re now in danger of threatening their franchise worst for starters’ ERA, with a 5.94 mark that is within range of the 6.19 that the 1999 rotation posted. The loss of ace German Marquez to right arm inflammation, which threatens to end his season prematurely, has forced the team to turn to three starters — Chi Chi Gonzalez, Peter Lambert and Tim Melville — who weren’t even on the 40-man roster as recently as the beginning of June. — Cockcroft

ICYMI: Gray lost for season with foot fracture

Toronto Blue Jays
2019 record: 55-83
Week 21 ranking: 22

The Blue Jays have four rookies with double-digit home runs this season (Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Rowdy Tellez, Danny Jansen, Cavan Biggio) with Billy McKinney (9) and Bo Bichette (8) not far behind. If both were to get to 10, it would set the record for the most rookies on a team with double-digit HR in a season with six. The two teams with five players doing so are the 1958 Giants and the 2006 Marlins. — Michael Bonzagni, ESPN Stats & Information

Pittsburgh Pirates
2019 record: 60-77
Week 21 ranking: 25

Even if too little, too late, the Pirates’ bats, which had ranked among the coldest in baseball since the All-Star break, have shown up recently, their 7.6 runs-per-game average since Aug. 23 showing stark contrast to their 3.84 average — that ranked third-worst in the game — between the break and Aug. 22. Starling Marte has been the team’s consistent hitting leader in the second half, whether those around him contributed or not, as he has slashed .325/.375/.581 with 11 homers and 12 steals. — Cockcroft

Seattle Mariners
2019 record: 58-80
Week 21 ranking: 26

Kyle Seager‘s August was one of the best months of his career as he hit .323/.417/.699 with nine home runs, eight doubles and 25 RBIs. He ranked seventh in the majors for the month in OPS and wOBA. The Mariners head to Houston for four games this week: They are 1-12 against the Astros and have a chance to go 1-18. Since 1969, no team has lost 18 games to another in one season. (Six teams have lost 17, including the 2006 Mariners, who went 2-17 against the A’s.) — Schoenfield

ICYMI: M’s Broxton hit with suspension for throwing equipment

Miami Marlins
2019 record: 48-88
Week 21 ranking: 27

Twenty-two of the 25 lowest-attendance games in MLB this year have been in Miami, but the Marlins’ draw hit a new low this week: Just 5,297 paid on Monday and 24,300 over a four-game set, fewer fans in the long series than 18 MLB teams average per game. — Miller

ICYMI: Anderson likely done for remainder of 2019

Kansas City Royals
2019 record: 49-89
Week 21 ranking: 28

As the Royals hit the final month of another rebuilding season, the immediate future of the process became murky — perhaps in a good way — when the news dropped that the team was being purchased by a group led by Indians minority owner John Sherman. It’ll be a bit before MLB’s owners can sign off on the transaction, and Sherman still has to divest himself of his interest in the Indians. So we don’t have a great gauge at the moment as to whether Sherman is simply going to assume the wheel of a ship already pointed in a certain direction or if he’ll want to change tacks and remake the organization in the image of the Indians. What is that image? For one thing, the Indians have followed more of an analytically driven path than the Royals have in their own Braves-inspired system. But Sherman is a Royals fan going way back, so the John Schuerholz/Dayton Moore model could be just what he has in mind. — Doolittle

ICYMI: Royals sold to K.C. businessman, investors group

Baltimore Orioles
2019 record: 45-91
Week 21 ranking: 29

It’s been a rough couple of years for the O’s, but there’s always a silver lining. Through 80 games this season, Baltimore was the worst team in baseball (22-58, .275) by 5½ games. Since then, the Orioles’ .411 winning percentage is ninth in the American League and 20th overall. And if we subtract the O’s brutal 1-13 stretch in early August from that span, they are a respectable 22-20. Not so bad, right? — Richards

ICYMI: Orioles’ tempers flare again in dugout incident

Detroit Tigers
2019 record: 40-94
Week 21 ranking: 30

Travis Demeritte’s rough week — he’s 1 for his past 22 — knocked his season line far enough that the Tigers now have only two hitters with an OPS better than the league average: pitcher Matthew Boyd (1-for-2) and pitcher Gregory Soto (2-for-2). — Miller

ICYMI: Gardenhire wants to return as manager of struggling Tigers

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