Some MLB teams that made incredible moves before the trade deadline aren’t as high on my power rankings as they’re going to be. The rich got richer on Monday. The richest, that being the Dodgers and Yankees, made moves to ensure they have a say in the MLB postseason.
2017 August Week 1 Power Rankings
Trades, though, aren’t he biggest news. To me, the biggest news is that finally, after months of mediocre baseball, the Chicago Cubs took control of the NL Central Division. No way Chicago catches the L.A. Dodgers for the best record in the NL.
It may not matter. The Cubbies won it all last season. They know what it takes. Check out my 2017 August week 1 power rankings!
American League – Top 5
1. Houston Astros 69-36
Many teams made moves on Monday. The Astros didn’t. All the Stros did last week was maintain their position as the best team in the American League. Ace Dallas Kuechel got roughed up in 3 innings in his first MLB start since early June. No worries. Kuechel can play himself into ace shape.
A bigger concern is the pitching of Lance McCullers Jr. McCullers Jr. had been horrible in his last 5 starts. The Stros have put McCullers Jr. on the 10-day DL. He must get back to his best form for Houston to have any shot in the post-season.
2. Cleveland Indians 57-47
I didn’t discuss the Tribe in my introduction. That’s too bad. I should have. Like the Cubs in the NL Central, Cleveland has taken control in the AL Central. The Tribe had won 9 in a row before their current 2 game losing streak as of July 31.
Cleveland shouldn’t look back. The starting rotation has a team 3.71 ERA. Corey Kluber has been fantastic. Carlos Carrasco appears back on track. Andrew Miller still heads up the bullpen. The Tribe is tough not to like.
3. New York Yankees 57-47
Winners of their last 7 out of 8 going into August, the Yankees managed to pry away Sonny Gray from the Oakland Athletics. Is Sonny going to help the Yankees? I think he will. I’m a huge believer in great pitchers with confidence. What gives a great pitcher confidence? A great bullpen. The Yankees’ bullpen is ranked fifth in ERA at 3.35.
That should help Gray, who has been hot anyhow, to excel even more. I love the Yankees making this move. NYY is back!
4. Boston Red Sox 58-49
Boston is keeping pace with the New York Yankees. The Red Sox can overtake their rivals. What Boston must do is get their rotation together. After Chris Sale, it’s difficult to see anybody, including David Price if he gets off the DL, stepping it up. I don’t think it’s impossible. But, I’m not holding my breath if I’m a Red Sox fan.
Boston feels like a team going through the motions. There doesn’t appear to be a lot of excitement in Bean Town.
5. Kansas City Royals 55-49
KC is only 2 games behind Cleveland in the AL Central Division. I think both teams have hit their strides. What it means is that, most likely, Cleveland wins the AL Central while KC gets a spot in the wildcard game.
The Royals traded for pitcher Trevor Cahill and White Sox right-fielder Melky Cabrera. Both should help the Royals. KC has won 10 out of their last 12. Other teams in the American League had better pay attention to the Royals should they close the deal and make it to the postseason.
KC is no joke. The team that George Brett built won the World Series in 2015. There’s plenty of postseason experience on the squad. Also, guys like Cahill and Cabrera are going to adopt the winning culture in Kansas City right away.
National League – Top 5
1. Los Angeles Dodgers 74-31
No team made as big of a splash before the trade deadline as the L.A. Dodgers. The best team in baseball got even better by trading for Texas ace Yu Darvish. Like Sonny Gray in New York, Darvish gets to throw knowing he’s got an excellent bullpen behind him.
Pitchers are more aggressive when they feel the bullpen’s got their backs. Whose got Darvish’s back? The best bullpen in MLB. The Dodgers’ bullpen is so good that manager Dave Roberts can pull any starter after inning 5 and still win the game.
Yu’s going to love being in Los Angeles. MLB bettors love the trade so much that L.A.’s odds have become a downright ridiculous 2 to 1 to win the 2017 World Series. That’s chalky.
2. Washington Nationals 63-41
The rotation is solid with Strasburg, Scherzer, and Gonzalez. The bullpen? There were signs a couple of weeks ago that Washington’s bullpen was ready to step it up. This past week the bullpen has been hit or miss.
For example, last Tuesday the Nats lost 0 to 8 to Milwaukee. On Thursday, the bullpen bounced back in a terrific 15 to 2 win over the Brewers. 2 losses to Colorado on Saturday and Sunday weren’t great.
But, it’s not just the bullpen where the issues lie. Because Washington’s bullpen just isn’t where it should be, Stras, Scherzer, and Gio all must pitch into the later innings during the regular season. That’s going to hurt this team in the postseason.
3. Chicago Cubs 56-48
The Cubbies are now 13-3 in their last 16 games. Chicago’s only 2.5 games ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central. I don’t think it matters. From now until the end of the regular season, expect the Cubs to increase their lead over Milwaukee.
The biggest change for Chicago has been the pitching of Jose Quintana. He’s been unreal since coming over from the Chicago White Sox. Quintana has made such a splash that many baseball fans have failed to realize that Jake Arrieta has only allowed 2 earned runs or less in his last 3 starts.
If Arrieta’s form has come around, I think it has, the Cubs might be the only team in the NL that can beat the Dodgers in a 5-game or 7-game series. Oh, yes…Jon Lester has allowed only 2 earned runs or less in his last 3 starts.
That gives the Cubbies 3 legit starters.
4. Arizona Diamondbacks 60-45
The D’Backs traded for former Detroit slugger J.D. Martinez before the deadline. Martinez has hit a commanding 7 home runs in his 9 games with the D’Backs. That’s fantastic.
With Martinez adding some pop to Arizona’s batting line-up, the D’Backs are well positioned to go deep into the post-season. Think about it, pitcher Robbie Ray has a less than 1.50 road ERA. He starts all road games. Zack Greinke’s home ERA is 2.39. Zack steps it up at home.
AZ’s bullpen isn’t bad, either. It ranks sixth in MLB based on ERA. D’Backs relievers have a 3.44 ERA this season. Arizona looks strong.
5. Colorado Rockies 60-46
Although the Rockies are 2 and 4 straight up in their last 6 games played, they could make some waves in the postseason should they make it. Colorado is 5 and 6 straight up versus Arizona in 11 games this season. Who knows what might happen in a wildcard battle?
What Colorado has going for it is the friendliest park in MLB for hitters. The batting average at Coors Field is .290. The OBP is .350. The SLG is .487. Average runs scored at Coors Field per game? How about a gaudy 11.68.
You’re probably wondering how that can be an advantage? Here’s the thing: Rockies pitchers are used to throwing at Coors Field. Opposing pitchers aren’t. That gives the Rockies’ starting rotation, and the bullpen, an advantage.
The real question is how big of an advantage. We’re going to have to wait and see!