Last week in MLB, things started to even out a little bit. The Reds came back to Earth, the Angels took a small step backwards, and the Diamondbacks also recovered to normalcy.
All is right in the AL East, as the Yankees have put some distance between themselves and the rest of the division. In the AL Central and NL West, two teams are vying for first place in each and the races are as tight as we left them last week.
And despite another week of games, seemingly everyone outside of Colorado and Houston are still in the playoff race. That being said, here are this week’s official Three Up, Three Down MLB Power Rankings:
30. Houston Astros (38-78, 2-4 record last week, ranking last week: 30)
I’ll give the ‘Stros this: the two wins they were able to muster since we last met here were pretty awesome. Back-to-back walk-off wins against the Brewers at home is exciting, no matter how bad the team is. That being said, it took over 100 games to get their first walk-off? Eh…
29. Colorado Rockies (41-71, 3-3, 29)
The Rockies had to play the Giants and Dodgers, the leaders of the NL West, on the road for three games apiece. Splitting six is actually a huge moral victory for a team that is playing with half its normal roster right now. Colorado would be a player again if they could get some arms. In related news, breathing is good for you.
28. Chicago Cubs (44-69, 1-5, 28)
So, remember those cool top prospects I told you were coming up last week for the Cubs? Well Brett Jackson got three hits in his debut, then pretty much struck out the rest of the week. Josh Vitters hasn’t done anything on the offensive end. And the Cubs went 1-5. Whoops.
And they were doing so well. A 1-5 week will slide you the wrong way in the rankings, and despite the surprisingly efficient lineup, this pitching staff is in need of major work. Honestly, none of the young starters they’ve used in 2012 show a lot of promise.
26. Kansas City Royals (49-65, 4-2, 27)
I TOLD YOU THE ROYALS WERE GOOD! If only this was the first week of the season. As long as one of my main man crushes Billy Butler is leading the way, I will always have a soft spot for the Royals. That being said, despite moving up in the rankings, they are really, awfully terrible.
25. Cleveland Indians (53-62, 3-3, 25)
Remember when the Indians were in first place? Er…a good team? Er…even above .500? Those days are long gone. Considering the Tribe had an 0h-fer last week, this is a huge improvement. The best thing I can write about Cleveland is that they don’t have the distinction of the down arrow this week. It’s the small victories sometimes.
Stay classy, San Diego. The Padres are in sole possession of fourth place in the NL West now, thanks to a five-game winning streak! Good job, Padres. Good hustle. Good effort. I really have nothing exciting to say about this team. Can you tell? Moving on…
Another long, Jose Bautista-less week for the lone Canadian survivor in MLB. At least they have good, young pitching. Oh, wait. Er…at least they have Brett Lawrie. No? Damn. At least they have Joe Cart–what do you mean that was 20 years ago? Hmm…oh! AT LEAST THEY HAVE CALL ME MAYBE!
22. Miami Marlins (52-63, 3-3, 23)
Getting Giancarlo Stanton back means only one thing for the Marlins: their losses are going to be way cooler. Stanton has already made a huge impact back in the lineup, but Miami might still be looking at a last-place finish. What a poor choice for HBO’s “The Franchise.”
21. Philadelphia Phillies (52-62, 3-3, 24)
Honestly, the Phillies continue to play better since trading away Shane Victorino, Hunter Pence and Joe Blanton, but that’s probably more because Ryan Howard and Chase Utley are back than anything else. The annoying thing is that with a full healthy season from those two, the Phillies are still a legit playoff team, even after the mini fire sale.
20. Milwaukee Brewers (52-61, 3-3, 22)
The fact that the Brew Crew lost on two straight walk off hits against the Astros is reason enough to give this team their first big, red down arrow. Alas, they are spared, but the bullpen is truly atrocious. Please make sure you aren’t talking to a Milwaukee fan before complaining about your team’s bullpen.
19. New York Mets (55-60, 2-4, 18)
I don’t know why I bought into the 2012 version of the Mets any more than I did the 2010 or 2011. All three teams had solid first halves only to be a massive disappointment in the second halves. Even their coolest moment, a no-hitter by Johan Santana, was lame because of a blown call.
18. Boston Red Sox (57-59, 2-4, 17)
Jon Lester is finally coming around and Adrian Gonzalez is absolutely tearing it up, but it’s probably too little too late for the Red Sox. Despite ESPN’s best efforts at convincing you otherwise, the roster in Beantown just isn’t good enough to overcome a six-game Wild Card deficit.
17. Seattle Mariners (53-63, 3-3, 19)
You might see the record at ten games below .500 and think the M’s season has failed. Considering the low expectations and that pretty much everyone left on the roster is a rookie, this has been a very successful season in Seattle. Building on it and maintaining it are the next steps.
16. Arizona Diamondbacks (58-57, 3-3, 16)
How about a round of applause for NL Rookie of the Year front-runner Wade Miley and his young pal Patrick Corbin? If not for these two hot shots, the D’Backs aren’t even in the hunt right now. Ian Kennedy and Justin Upton have struggled, but somehow they are hanging tough still.
I excused the Angels last week for stumbling, because they played two first place teams on the road and three of their four losses were in extras. This past week, they played the A’s and Mariners. And went 2-4. These are the divisional games L.A. must win to be taken seriously.
14. Oakland A’s (61-53, 3-3, 13)
Oakland is learning that living life in the fast line is harder than advertised. Despite continuing to play good baseball, some of their young stars are starting to crack. Plus, it doesn’t help that the Rangers went and took off. All that aside, they are still ahead of the Angels, which is a victory in itself.
13. Los Angeles Dodgers (62-53, 3-3, 10)
Don’t put Hanley in a corner, Ozzie Guillen! He will do mean things to your team. After Guillen either intentionally walked batters in front of Ramirez or neglected to walk him in situations that called for it, Ramirez picked the pitching of his former teammates apart. If he’s heating up, we’re talking about a two-horse race in this division.
12. Baltimore Orioles (62-53, 4-2, 14)
The Orioles are like the anti-Mets. A great first half story that is actually…still good in the second half? Weird. I don’t think most baseball fans are realizing how incredible the work is that Buck Showalter has done in Baltimore. Credit the offense and some of the pitching too, but Showalter has quietly turned this team into a formidable contender.
The Rays get knocked down, they get up again, you neverrrrr gonna keep them down. Okay, sorry – still upset that Chumbawumba wasn’t one of the British artists to make an appearance at the Olympic Closing Ceremonies last night. Huge snub. Bigger snub than forgetting how good the Rays really are. Oh, right. Evan Longoria is back. Can you tell?
10. Detroit Tigers (61-54, 2-4, 9)
I’m still confused as to why the Tigers are two games behind the White Sox in the division. I figured they’d be making reservations for October by now. There’s one tiny problem for anyone who plays Detroit in the coming weeks: Miguel Cabrera is in absolute beast mode. Poor pitchers.
The Giants put up 15 runs on the Cardinals in St. Louis last week. They split two on the road, then came home and dismantled the Rockies on Friday and Sunday. If Hunter Pence is settling in, this is probably the team to beat in the NL West. Ruh-roh!
8. St. Louis Cardinals (62-53, 2-4, 7)
After jumping six spots to the top ten last week, the Cards had a bit of a rough go this week. Splitting with the Giants at home isn’t terrible, but dropping two of three over the weekend to the Phillies is bad. Especially considering how tight the NL Central is. There is not a lot of room for error this late.
7. Chicago White Sox (62-51, 3-3, 8)
If the Tigers continue to play below their abilities, the Sox will be beneficiaries. I know they made some minor moves at the deadline, like bringing in Francisco Liriano and Brett Myers, but those moves will pay off. Speaking of obscure players lighting it up in Chicago, what is Alex Rios doing hitting over .300? What did you put in my water?
6. Pittsburgh Pirates (64-50, 2-4, 6)
With about 40 games left, the Pirates need to win 17 more to reach .500 for the first time since I was in diapers. I believe they will do it, but they have their sights set higher. A 2-4 week means no distance added between them and the third-place Cardinals. A 2-4 week also means a bigger deficit behind the first-place Reds.
5. New York Yankees (67-47, 4-2, 4)
New York is 20 games over .500 and it ain’t no thang. Forget that Mark Teixeira missed time and both Alex Rodriguez and C.C. Sabathia are on the DL. The gaps just get filled and there is more than enough offensive firepower to outscore other teams. One thing for sure will be strange: Derek Lowe in a Yankees uniform.
4. Atlanta Braves (66-48, 4-2, 3)
It must be immensely frustrating to be a Braves fan. Forget that they won a million straight division titles but only one World Series. Now they are playing unbelievably well and are still 4.5 games back in their own division. The pesky Nats aren’t going anywhere, so the Braves need to step it up even harder than usual. Yickitty!
3. Texas Rangers (67-46, 5-1, 5)
The world is not ending in Arlington after all. The Rangers are back, and with them come its star pupil, Josh Hamilton. The big lefty is back in the swing of things, and Texas took down some big opponents over the last week. This is going to be a scary team (again) in October.
2. Cincinnati Reds (69-46, 3-3, 1)
The good news: Cincinnati widened their lead on St. Louis and Pittsburgh by a full game, despite playing to a .500 clip last week. The bad news: Joey Votto needs another knee surgery. No big deal for now, considering how well they’ve played with him shelved, but when the playoffs roll around they need their star first baseman at full strength.
1. Washington Nationals (71-44, 5-1, 2)
Believe it. The Nationals are the best team in baseball. First to 70 wins and they earned every inch of it. Washington has two huge series coming up against the Giants in San Francisco this week and three at home against Atlanta to start next week. If they win four of those six, it might seal the division for them.
*Records current as play began on Monday, August 13th, 2012*
Do you agree with the rankings? Disagree? Want to punch us in the baseballs? Comment below to let us know how you really feel! And while you’re at it, follow us on Twitter @3u3d and LIKE Three Up, Three Down on Facebook.
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)