The American League East continues to be the one division that’s up for grabs. While the New York Yankees appeared to have taken charge of the division a couple of weeks ago, it’s the Boston Red Sox who came up huge this past week.
2017 August Week 2 Power Rankings
Because of that, this weekend’s 3-game series between the Red Sox and Yankees in New York has added importance. It’s always important when Boston plays NYY. But, the 3-game series this weekend could determine which team heads into the second half of August at the top of the division.
In the National League, Arizona and Colorado continue to switch spots 4 and 5. This week, Colorado is at 4 while Arizona is at 5. Also, the Chicago Cubs, almost miraculously, maintain a half-a-game lead over the Milwaukee Brewers. I thought the Brew Crew was done for. Not so.
Check out my 2017 August week 2 power rankings!
American League – Top 5
1. Houston Astros 71-40
If Houston hadn’t built up such a huge lead in the AL West, I might be worried about Houston making it to the post-season. Astros fans should still be worried about Houston’s chances of winning the AL Pennant this season.
The Stros are 4 and 7 in their last 11. What’s bad about the straight up record is that Houston lost once to the Toronto Blue Jays, 3 out of 4 to the Tampa Bay Rays, and 2 out of 3 to the Detroit Tigers.
Lance McCullers Jr. has fallen apart. He’s become a liability on the mound.
2. Boston Red Sox 63-49
Wow, the Red Sox are hot. Boston has won 6 of its last 7. 2 of the 6 wins were versus Cleveland. Beating the Tribe is not easy. The third game versus the Tribe got rained out.
The other 4 wins? I wasn’t as impressed with the other 4 wins. Beating the Chicago White Sox 4 straight doesn’t do a lot for me. Still, Boston is en fuego, which means they get the second spot in my MLB Power Rankings in the AL.
3. Cleveland Indians 59-50
The Tribe lost 2 out of 3 to the Boston Red Sox last week. After losing to Boston, Cleveland fought the New York Yankees in 4 games. The Tribe split with the Yankees. There were 2 games that caught my eye.
The first was a 10 to 12 loss to Boston. The Red Sox scored 5 runs in the 5th innings. They scored 6 runs in the 6th inning. Starter Carlos Carrasco only lasted 1.2 innings. In the second game that caught my eye, Cleveland lost to the New York Yankees 1 to 8.
Once again it was Carlos Carrasco who started the game. Carrasco only lasted 5.2 innings versus the Yankees. Carrasco must regain his first half season form if Cleveland wishes to beat Boston or New York in the MLB Playoffs.
4. New York Yankees 59-51
The Yankees were just okay last week. The 2 wins over the Cleveland Indians were nice. But, the Yankees also went 1 and 3 versus the Tigers. New York’s biggest issue might not be with the starting rotation.
ESPN published a great story on their website about Aaron Judge’s struggles at the plate. Judge batted .329, hit 30 home runs, and garnered a 1.139 OPS in the first half of the season. In the second half, Judge is batting .182. His OPS is .710. He’s hit 5 home runs in 22 games.
New York must get production from their best hitter. If not, the power teams in the American League (every team likely to make the post-season!) could simply outscore New York.
5. Kansas City Royals 57-54
3 games behind Cleveland in the AL Central Division, KC has shot itself in the foot. There’s no reason the Royals should have lost 2 out of 4 to the Seattle Mariners last week. One of the games got rained out. So, it’s not like the Royals split with the Mariners.
KC also went 0 and 3 versus Baltimore the week before. That’s the Baltimore Orioles who don’t have a single ace in the rotation. Like I wrote above, shooting themselves in the foot.
National League – Top 5
1. Los Angeles Dodgers 79-32
The Dodgers continue to look unbeatable. LAD is on a 4-game win streak as of the morning of August 8. What has new ace Yu Darvish done for the Dodgers? In his first game wearing Dodger blue, Darvish pitched 7 innings. He allowed 3 hits, struck out 10, walked 1, and didn’t give up an earned run.
Clayton Kershaw has been playing catch. Don’t expect to see Kershaw until the NL Playoffs. Heck, manager Dave Roberts might not send Kershaw to the mound until the NL Pennant if Darvish continues to pitch lights out.
2. Washington Nationals 66-44
Washington had an interesting week. The Nationals lost 2 out of 3 to the Marlins before beating the Chicago Cubs in 2 out of 3. Although it’s difficult to say where Washington is headed, the bullpen continues to struggle. What’s been Washington’s saving grace is that they’ve got 3 starters in the rotation that have an ERA of 3.25 or less.
Stephen Strasburg’s ERA is 3.25. Gio Gonzalez’s is 2.66. Max Sherzer’s is 2.23. All 3 starters are also used to pitching 7 innings or more. That could save Washington in the playoffs.
3. Chicago Cubs 59-52
Chicago is only 1.5 games ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central Division. What’s worrisome if you’re a Cubs’ fan is that the Cubbies lost 2 out of 3 versus the Arizona Diamondbacks at the start of last week. Then, at the end of last week, they lost 2 out of 3 to the Washington Nationals.
The biggest issue about it is that the Cubbies could face one, or both, of those teams should they make the MLB post-season. That’s not a good sign for the defending champions. It’s difficult to find the exact issue. It could be that Wilson Contreras is Chicago’s best hitter. His batting average is only .277.
4. Colorado Rockies 64-48
Both Colorado and Arizona project to be in this year’s NL Playoffs. Last week, I thought Arizona was the team to beat. This week? I’m not so sure. Then again, Colorado did get to beat up on the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies last week.
The Rockies beat the Mets twice in a 3-game series. In a 3-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies, Colorado won 2. The reason Arizona, the Cubs, probably even Washington, must take Colorado seriously is because they’ve got a decent bullpen.
Also, it’s going to be very difficult to outscore the Rockies at Coors Field. Flaws truly become exposed in the MLB Playoffs. Colorado’s flaws will be exposed. So, will their opponent’s flaws.
5. Arizona Diamondbacks 63-48
The D’Backs are pretty much in a statistical tie with the Rockies. It doesn’t matter too much. Arizona is going to start Zack Greinke in the Wildcard Game whether they play Colorado in Colorado, or they play Colorado in Arizona. Either way, Greinke gets the start.
Arizona showed last week, in 10 to 8 and 3 to 0 wins over the Chicago Cubs, that have the type of team that can hang with most everyone in the National League save for possibly the L.A. Dodgers. At this point of the season, nobody’s hanging with the Dodgers.
Arizona must continue to win baseball games. If they can do that, and if closer Fernando Rodney becomes more consistent, the D’Backs could be a surprise team in the NL Playoffs…until the inevitable trip to Los Angeles.