Power Rankings — Surging Indians, A’s and Nats reignite races – ESPN

For a second consecutive week, the Dodgers just barely held off the Yankees to cling to the No. 1 spot in our rankings, getting just one more first-place vote. In a Power Rankings vote that saw 22 different teams move up or down this week, everybody might have to look over their shoulders.

The most significant moves came in a shakeup in the top 10, where the Rays slipped out for the first time since Opening Day, replaced by an Indians team that shot up four spots to No. 7 as they start putting heat on the Twins in the suddenly reignited American League Central race. And they’re right behind the high-rising A’s, who clambered up to No. 6 in our rankings while putting heat on the Astros in the AL West. The Nationals have already made a remarkable in-season comeback to close in on the Braves in the National League East while reaching our top 10, but the Cardinals could be next as they pursue the Cubs in the NL Central.

Beyond that, we saw some big swings in the west, where we find some major gains and losses. The Giants made the single largest advance, rising five slots just in time to make you wonder if they have one last wild-card run in the tank instead of dealing veteran ace Madison Bumgarner. But that gain was matched by the Rockies’ decline, whose flagging fortunes were reflected in a five-spot tumble. And the Rangers suffered an even larger drop, falling six rungs as they drift back toward .500.

With all of these races, the question remains: Can everybody be caught, even the Dodgers? We’ll have to see.

For Week 15, our panel of voters was composed of Bradford Doolittle, Christina Kahrl, Eric Karabell, Tim Kurkjian and David Schoenfield.

Previous: Preseason | Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7 | Week 8 | Week 9 | Week 10 | Week 11 | Week 12 | Week 13 | Week 14 | Week 15

2019 record: 67-35
Week 15 ranking: 1

Chris Taylor landed on the injured list because of a fracture in his left forearm that will keep him out four to six weeks. That could open the door for 21-year-old Gavin Lux, who has been tearing the cover off the ball since his promotion to Triple-A (he hit .500 with six home runs his first 14 games). The Dodgers will also be looking to add to their bullpen at the trade deadline, maybe somebody like Shane Greene of the Tigers or, if they want to think big, Felipe Vazquez of the Pirates (who would probably want Lux in return). — David Schoenfield


2019 record: 64-34
Week 15 ranking: 2

The Yankees make a pitching roster change almost every day, but it’s mostly a revolving door with the same group of pitchers. In fact, only the Reds have used fewer pitchers than the Yankees so far. Those guys have also given the Yankees some unheralded work — Nestor Cortes Jr. and David Hale, for example, are a combined 6-0 with a 3.48 ERA in 67⅓ innings. — Schoenfield

ICYMI: How DJ LeMahieu became a household name in the Bronx


2019 record: 64-37
Week 15 ranking: 4

The Astros are getting healthy and are gaining momentum. After an injury-riddled pitching staff struggled for a fairly long stretch, this past week Houston gave up eight total runs in four straight wins against divisional opponents. Meanwhile, Yuli Gurriel remains the hottest hitter in baseball; his 60 total bases in July are eight more than any other MLB hitter, and he’s slashing .373/.408/.896 during the month. Gurriel won’t keep that up, but if he maintains a reasonable amount of mashing, the Astros have a nearly perfect lineup. — Bradford Doolittle

ICYMI: Should the Astros target Marcus Stroman?


2019 record: 60-38
Week 15 ranking: 3

The Twins are a much better team when Byron Buxton is healthy and patrolling center field. They have a sub-.500 record without him, and his outfield aggressiveness landed him on the seven-day concussion list recently. At the plate, the Twins feel as if anything Buxton gives them is enough, and he is hardly a liability, slugging .490. Buxton is also the team’s primary base stealer, and he could end up with half the team’s total. Bottom line: He is fun to watch and a crucial player. — Eric Karabell

ICYMI: Why Buxton is the Twins’ key player in the second halfInsider


2019 record: 60-41
Week 15 ranking: 5

With Max Fried on the IL because of a blister problem, Kevin Gausman still on the IL, and Mike Foltynewicz owning a 5.09 ERA in Triple-A, the Braves gave Kyle Wright another shot, and it didn’t go well as he gave up seven runs in 2⅔ innings to the Nationals on Thursday. Given some of this uncertainty in the rotation, the pressure to acquire a starter is picking up steam. — Schoenfield


2019 record: 57-43
Week 15 ranking: 8

Since coming off the injured list May 7, Matt Olson has been on a tear for the A’s. His .372 wOBA ranks second among AL first basemen during that time (and seventh overall in MLB). And though a pull hitter who often sees defenses shift against him, he’s a perfect 5-for-5 on bunt hits, the only player with 20 or more homers and five or more bunt hits. — Christina Kahrl


2019 record: 57-41
Week 15 ranking: 11

Do the Indians still think they need outfield help as the trade deadline approaches? Since June 21, when they cut Leonys Martin and made Oscar Mercado their everyday center fielder flanked by Tyler Naquin in right and a Jake Bauers/Jordan Luplow platoon in left, the Tribe’s outfielders rank a collective fifth in MLB for offensive production with a .370 wOBA. And with Jose Ramirez showing signs of life at the plate since the break, with three homers in 10 games, maybe they’re ready to let it ride while seeing if they can overtake the Twins. — Kahrl

ICYMI: Should Tribe let it ride or trade Trevor Bauer?Insider


2019 record: 54-45
Week 15 ranking: 10

All along, it figured the Cubs would be the one NL Central team capable of pulling away in the division race. In coming out of the gate after the All-Star break with seven wins in eight games, all at Wrigley Field, Chicago is looking like the front-runner it was supposed to be. But the Cubs’ upcoming road trip includes back-to-back series at St. Louis and Milwaukee. We should know after that what kind of race we’re going to have. — Doolittle

ICYMI: Darvish wins at Wrigley for first time with Cubs


2019 record: 52-46
Week 15 ranking: 9

In Thursday’s victory, Stephen Strasburg became the first pitcher since Edwin Jackson in 2010 to homer and get a second hit in the same inning. Strasburg also became the first Nationals pitcher to drive in five runs in a game. Strasburg won a Silver Slugger in 2012 when he hit .277 with a home run, four doubles and seven RBIs, but even after his big game he’s hitting just .136 with one home run and six RBIs in 2019. — Schoenfield

ICYMI: Remember the buzz about the Nats trading Mad Max? Ancient history


2019 record: 54-46
Week 15 ranking: 7

Yes, Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez haven’t been as dominant as last season, and Andrew Benintendi hasn’t been as good. Still, the Red Sox are second in MLB in runs per game at 5.66, bracketed by the Yankees and Twins. A big key has obviously been Rafael Devers, who has been scorching hot in July. Remember, he went homerless in 30 games in April and now leads the AL in total bases. — Schoenfield

ICYMI: Price responds as spat with Eckersley resurfaces


2019 record: 57-45
Week 15 ranking: 6

Just when it looked as if the Rays had recaptured their early-season prowess, they were erased in a three-game drubbing at Yankee Stadium, getting outscored 19-6 in the process. Then they went out and lost a home series to the White Sox, who had been struggling more than any team in the majors since the break. Wth Kevin Kiermaier heading for an MRI to determine the severity of a sprained thumb, Tampa Bay’s season threatens to fly off the rails. — Doolittle

ICYMI: Ex-Rays prospect pivots to Supreme Court clerk


2019 record: 50-50
Week 15 ranking: 13

What are the Diamondbacks going to do at the trade deadline? If general manager Mike Hazen’s approach is going to be dictated by where Arizona resides in the standings, the answer to that question remains murky. The past week provided little clarity, as the Snakes alternated resounding wins with punchless losses. The next week might provide more concrete clues: Arizona has three at home against Baltimore, followed by a four-game series at Miami. If they can’t rise above mediocrity over the next seven days, this might not be a roster worth adding to. — Doolittle

ICYMI: Selling starting pitching? Act fastInsider


2019 record: 51-47
Week 15 ranking: 16

Seven wins in their first 10 games since the break have moved the Cardinals into third place in the NL Central, but only 2½ games behind the first-place Cubs. The next 17 days will be the best test of the team’s contender status. After a four-game series at Pittsburgh to begin this week, the team will face three first-place teams: the Astros, Cubs and Dodgers. — Tristan H. Cockcroft


2019 record: 53-48
Week 15 ranking: 14

Good teams with shaky bullpens either plug those holes or end up missing the playoffs, or flop once they are there. The Brewers at least had the starting point of having Josh Hader while they searched for additional solutions. Unfortunately, those haven’t arrived and the Milwaukee pen has collapsed. The Brewers have given up 48 runs in 59⅓ relief innings in July and rank 27th with a 6.52 ERA during the month. This had better change fast. — Doolittle


2019 record: 52-49
Week 15 ranking: 18

The first 162 games of Shohei Ohtani as a hitter went better than expected, as he hit .292 with 36 home runs, 101 RBIs and 16 stolen bases. That is terrific offensive output, even for this era. Ohtani, who figures to split future seasons on the mound and at the plate, simply hasn’t shown many weaknesses. He hammers right-handed pitching, but his OPS against lefties is above .800. He hits fastballs and off-speed stuff. He runs. Some wonder if Ohtani should be a hitter-only asset, and it is a reasonable notion. — Karabell

ICYMI: How the Angels honored Skaggs with emotional, historic tribute


2019 record: 52-48
Week 15 ranking: 15

Rookie outfielder Adam Haseley should get a legitimate chance at regular playing time in center field. Haseley, who hit his first big league home run this past week against the Dodgers, does not project as a big power option, but he makes contact and should hit for average. The Phillies lack depth — in more than a few areas — but Haseley, a Virginia product rushed to the majors, could really help them even if he is just league average. If only he could help the bullpen, too. — Karabell

ICYMI: Why is Bryce Harper’s new team behind Bryce Harper’s old team?


2019 record: 50-50
Week 15 ranking: 22

Since locking in prospect Tyler Beede on May 30, the Giants’ rotation has stabilized, ranking sixth in innings and 12th in ERA, big improvements from 26th and 25th beforehand. The other major initial problem unit, the outfield, has been equally remarkable in its turnaround — since adding Alex Dickerson on June 21, Giants outfielders are second in the majors in isolated slugging (.272), trailing only the Dodgers (.293). — Kahrl

ICYMI: Will rising Giants be buyers or sellers?Insider


2019 record: 50-49
Week 15 ranking: 12

Danny Santana batted 32 times in the major leagues for Atlanta last season — and hit .179 — and seemed an afterthought pickup by the Rangers this January. Then a funny thing happened. Santana started hitting and continues to do so. Santana has already batted more times in the majors this season in any year since 2014. He is hitting better than .300 and on pace for more than 20 home runs and perhaps 20 steals. Danny Santana? Good for him, good for the Rangers. — Karabell

ICYMI: Lefty Minor getting sick of trade talk


2019 record: 44-53
Week 15 ranking: 19

The Reds are sinking after seven losses in their first 10 games after the All-Star break, and the team will need a swift turnaround to stay afloat. Injuries — David Hernandez is on the IL because of a shoulder issue — absences — Raisel Iglesias recently missed time while on the paternity list — and otherwise poor performance by the Reds’ bullpen has been a lot of the reason, as the team’s 5.17 relief ERA since the break ranks 22nd. — Cockcroft


2019 record: 46-52
Week 15 ranking: 20

The Pirates’ bats haven’t woken up since the break, and their five home runs as a team during that span ranks last in the majors. Fortunately for the team, its top two healthy starting pitchers have given it a fighting chance, as Chris Archer has delivered back-to-back quality starts to begin his second half, and Joe Musgrove tossed six good innings while tying his season high of eight strikeouts in Saturday’s victory. — Cockcroft

ICYMI: Why Bucs should and shouldn’t trade Felipe VazquezInsider


2019 record: 47-52
Week 15 ranking: 21

Seeking to inject some life into an offense that had averaged 3.6 runs per game while scoring more than five runs only once in its first 14 games of July, the Padres recalled prospect Luis Urias, who batted .314/.398/.603 with 18 home runs and 49 RBIs in 69 games for Triple-A El Paso between his most recent big league stints. The Padres have gotten a slash line of .233/.308/.377 out of their second basemen this season. — Cockcroft


2019 record: 47-52
Week 15 ranking: 17

Getting swept by the Giants, at the time the NL West’s last-place team, at Coors Field added to a miserable month for the Rockies. The team has only three wins in 15 games in July, endured a six-game losing streak during the past week and has gotten an MLB-worst 9.25 ERA from its starters since the break. German Marquez gave up 11 runs in 2⅔ innings to open that series against the Giants, setting the tone for the week. — Cockcroft


2019 record: 45-54
Week 15 ranking: 24

Are we nearing the end of the Noah Syndergaard era as a Met? The big right-hander lowered his ERA to 4.36 against the Giants on Thursday, though he earned a no-decision, and his most recent loss occurred more than two months ago. He really hasn’t been the team’s biggest problem. Still, the Mets have many needs and the trade deadline is approaching, and Syndergaard, if dealt, would bring back depth and, presumably, youth. Stay tuned: Other Mets are on the block, too. — Karabell

ICYMI: Thor won’t come cheap in any dealVideo


2019 record: 44-52
Week 15 ranking: 23

The face-plant the White Sox performed coming out of the break wasn’t so much disappointing because it destroyed their fringe wild-card hopes. After all, at least the seven-game skid provides some deadline clarity, and Chicago was merely becoming the team its run differential said it was. But for the ChiSox, it’s all about the trajectory. Forget about the playoffs in 2019; it’s important for Chicago to recreate the perception of forward momentum heading into the offseason. — Doolittle


2019 record: 38-63
Week 15 ranking: 26

Marcus Stroman‘s seven-inning gem against the Tigers on Friday was the highlight of the Blue Jays’ week, though it seemed to be more a showcase for scouts from other teams. With it, Stroman lowered his ERA to what would be a career-best 3.06, and he’s now on pace for a career high with 21 quality starts. Here’s the problem, though, if Stroman is indeed traded: Excluding him, the Blue Jays’ ERA from their starters is a combined 6.24, which would be more than a quarter-run worse than any other team this season. — Cockcroft


2019 record: 40-62
Week 15 ranking: 25

How bad has Seattle’s pitching been? Very bad. In the first half, opponents hit .269/.333/.476 off the Mariners. That’s not good. In the first five games of the second half heading into the weekend, opponents hit .314/.397/.663 and scored 13, 9, 6, 9 and 10 runs. The offense countered by scoring nine runs total. So much fun in Seattle these days. When does that NHL team start play? — Schoenfield

ICYMI: Leake loses perfect game in ninth, but blanks Angels


2019 record: 37-64
Week 15 ranking: 28

Royals pitching has been anything but good this season, but give closer Ian Kennedy some props. Kennedy entered the season with 289 starts, still among the top 20 for active hurlers, and with nary a save. He has flourished as a closer, giving the team back-end stability, and could surpass 25 saves for the season; the team’s save leaders in 2018 had 14. Kennedy in June: 0.96 ERA and eight saves. July has been solid, too. Perhaps the Royals can actually flip Kennedy, 34, before the deadline. — Karabell

ICYMI: Royals trade C Maldonado to Cubs


2019 record: 36-61
Week 15 ranking: 27

The improbable saga of rookie Jordan Yamamoto took another twist Sunday. Facing the Dodgers with an unblemished record and having never given up more than two earned runs in his first six MLB starts, he took his first real major-league beating, giving up five earned runs in four innings to suffer his first MLB loss. — Kahrl


2019 record: 31-67
Week 15 ranking: 30

As ugly as the season has been, the Orioles are 8-9 in their past 17 games, and have held opponents to two runs or fewer in nine of those games. The lack of pitching depth is still telling — they’ve lost five of those 17 games by five or more runs — but they’ve slowly morphed into a more competitive club. Less helpful is Chris Davis, still only “good” for just a .674 OPS since snapping his season-opening 12-game hitless streak. — Kahrl


2019 record: 30-65
Week 15 ranking: 29

The Tigers’ stock to trade from to shore up their rebuilding effort is getting smaller. Matthew Boyd hasn’t thrown a quality start in six weeks (posting a 6.62 ERA with 11 homers allowed in 35⅓ innings across six turns) and Jordan Zimmermann has seen his ERA go up by two full runs in July. So they might have just closer Shane Greene and designated hitter-to-be Nicholas Castellanos to work from. — Kahrl

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