Welcome to the Rotoworld MLB Power Rankings, a weekly feature that will run every Tuesday through the end of the 2019 regular season. These rankings are not fantasy-driven in any way, though I will include nuggets of more abstract fantasy advice here and there inside the individual team write-ups. Who’s hot, who’s not -- that sort of thing. Send any and all complaints to me on Twitter: @drewsilv. Please believe me when I tell you that I do not hate your team.
1. Houston Astros
Last Week: 1
The Astros opened the month of August with eight straight victories -- before surprisingly falling 8-7 in Sunday's series finale against the Orioles -- and they sit atop these Rotoworld MLB Power Rankings for the second consecutive week. Yordan Alvarez blasted three home runs and tallied seven total RBI in a 23-2 dismantling of Baltimore on Saturday, giving him 51 RBI through his first 45 major league games. Ted Williams previously held the record for most RBI through 45 career major league games with 47. Alvarez, 22, has posted a ridiculous .355/.431/.733 batting line in 197 plate appearances since getting called up to the bigs on June 9.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers
Last Week: 2
Hyun-Jin Ryu returned from a sore neck on Sunday and picked up right where he left off before going on the IL, as he twirled seven scoreless innings in the Dodgers' 9-3 victory over the Diamondbacks. He didn't give up a hit until the fourth inning and lowered his season ERA to 1.45. No other qualified major league starter has an ERA below 2.32. Clayton Kershaw deserves some attention too heading into his start in Tuesday night's series opener against the Marlins. The longtime ace is 4-0 with a 1.66 ERA over his last six outings dating back to the beginning of July. Marlins Park in Miami is officially on no-hitter watch.
3. New York Yankees
Last Week: 3
The Yankees went wild on the Orioles' pitching staff during Monday's doubleheader in the Bronx, posting 19 total runs between the two games. They hit seven homers, with O's killer Gleyber Torres accounting for three of them. Torres now has 13 homers in 15 games this season versus Baltimore, with two more games to go. Lou Gehrig is the only player in MLB history to tally more home runs against an opponent in one season -- he hit 14 homers against the Cleveland Indians in 1936. Torres' overall season OPS is up to .872. Sometimes he can get unfairly lost in the shuffle during discussions about the game's best young stars.
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4. Cleveland Indians
Last Week: 5
Carlos Santana hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning Monday as the Indians beat the Red Sox by a score of 6-5 and jumped into sole possession of first place in the American League Central standings for the first time since April 17. Santana's solo shot off Red Sox reliever Marcus Walden was part of a 3-for-4 night and bumped his career-best OPS up to .939 through 116 games. The veteran slugger also belted a go-ahead grand slam in the 10th inning of Sunday's win over the now-second-place Twins. He has been a force in his return to Cleveland this year, after a somewhat disappointing 2018 in Philadelphia.
5. Minnesota Twins
Last Week: 4
The Twins had the day off on Monday and watched as the Indians beat the Red Sox to move into first place in the American League Central standings. Minnesota has held that spot for 134 days this season and had an 11 1/2-game lead on Cleveland as recently as early June. The Twins are still in good shape for a postseason spot, but they would obviously like to go in as division champs rather than tangle with the American League Wild Card Game. Nelson Cruz went down last week with a ruptured wrist tendon, though he got word Monday that the injury will not require surgery and he is scheduled to resume hitting drills on Tuesday.
6. Atlanta Braves
Last Week: 6
The Braves took two of three from the Twins last week before splitting a four-game weekend series with the Marlins. Shane Greene, Mark Melancon, and Chris Martin, the three relievers that Atlanta acquired at the July 31 trade deadline, have combined to allow 14 earned runs in 12 innings. But the Braves have a six-game lead on first place in the National League East as of Tuesday afternoon and they also have Ronald Acuna, who has put up 12 home runs and 15 stolen bases in 29 games since the All-Star break. The 21-year-old is seven homers and 12 steals away from recording the fifth 40-40 season in MLB history.
7. Tampa Bay Rays
Last Week: 8
The Rays hit some road bumps in June and July, but they've won four straight games and 13 of their last 16, and they would be in the American League Wild Card Game if the season ended today. With starters Blake Snell (elbow), Tyler Glasnow (forearm), and Yonny Chirinos (thumb) all still sidelined, swingman Ryan Yarbrough stepped up his game in a major way on Sunday afternoon in Seattle, working 8 2/3 scoreless innings as part of a 1-0 shutout victory for Tampa Bay. Yarbrough struck out eight Mariners hitters, issued no walks, and surrendered only three hits -- all singles -- in what was the longest outing of his career.
8. Oakland Athletics
Last Week: 7
Mike Fiers and Chris Bassitt have suddenly turned into surprisingly formidable co-aces in Oakland. Fiers worked Friday's series opener against the White Sox and struck out eight batters over seven scoreless innings as part of a 7-0 victory for the Athletics, and Bassitt went seven scoreless frames with seven strikeouts in a 2-0 win on Sunday. Fiers now has a 2.12 ERA in 110 1/3 innings since May 7, the day he threw a no-hitter against the Reds. The numbers look even better in a smaller sample size, as he boasts a 1.64 ERA in 65 2/3 innings since June 17. Bassitt, meanwhile, has a 2.00 ERA in six outings since the All-Star break.
9. Chicago Cubs
Last Week: 9
The Cubs split a four-game weekend series at Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park and are now 23-35 away from Wrigley Field this season. They are 41-19 at home and currently sit two games up on first place in the NL Central, but they still have six games remaining on their current 10-game road trip: three at Philadelphia and three at Pittsburgh. The lack of reliable bullpen depth certainly doesn't help matters. Craig Kimbrel (knee), Steve Cishek (hip), and Brandon Kintzler (pectoral) are all currently on the injured list, and Brandon Morrow (elbow) hasn't appeared in a major league game since July 15 of last year.
10. Washington Nationals
Last Week: 10
The Nationals beat the Mets on Sunday afternoon to avoid a three-game sweep in Queens, with Anthony Rendon delivering a four-hit day in the 7-4 victory. Juan Soto turned his right ankle in that one while going first to third, but he felt good enough to run on the field before Monday's series opener against the Reds, a 7-6 win for the Nats sans-Soto, and he could return to the starting lineup as early as Tuesday. Soto has posted a phenomenal .942 OPS with 24 home runs, 77 RBI, 10 stolen bases, and 69 runs scored through 107 games this season at age 20. He doesn't turn 21 years old until October 25.
11. St. Louis Cardinals
Last Week: 13
The Cardinals got dealt five straight losses on their August 3-7 road trip to Oakland and Los Angeles, but they returned home to Busch Stadium on Friday and swept a three-game weekend series against the Pirates. Now they're back on the road, but the schedule this week is far friendlier: two at Kansas City, four at Cincinnati. Cuban outfield prospect Randy Arozarena got called up during Monday's off day to help fill the hole left by Jose Martinez and his AC shoulder strain. Arozarena, 24, was batting .349/.435/.547 with 10 home runs and 16 stolen bases in 80 games this year between Double-A Springfield and Triple-A Memphis.
12. Milwaukee Brewers
Last Week: 14
The Brewers won five straight games last week against the Pirates and Rangers, despite being without Christian Yelich for much of that stretch. Yelich continues to be bothered by a lingering back injury, but he has managed to avoid the injured list and you can't really tell that he's hurting from his stat line. The reigning National League MVP is sitting on a .335/.427/.703 batting line with 39 home runs, 84 RBI, 23 stolen bases, and 82 runs scored in 105 games this season. He served as a pinch hitter in Sunday's series finale versus Texas and should be able to return to the starting lineup for Tuesday night's series opener against the Twins.
13. New York Mets
Last Week: 15
The mighty Mets have won 15 of their last 17 games and continue to charge toward a National League Wild Card spot. Zack Wheeler, who was rumored to be trade bait two weeks ago, has struck out 12 batters over 15 scoreless innings in his two starts since the July 31 deadline. He's got a big matchup in Atlanta against the National League East-leading Braves on Tuesday night. Michael Conforto is another player on a roll for the Mets. The 26-year-old outfielder has slashed .314/.429/.765 with seven home runs, 15 RBI, and 13 runs scored in 14 games since July 27. And then there's Jeff McNeil, who is pushing for a batting title. This is really happening.
14. Boston Red Sox
Last Week: 11
The Red Sox have lost three straight games and 12 of their last 15 to fall 17 1/2 games back of the Yankees for first place in the American League East and 8 1/2 games back of the Rays for the second American League Wild Card spot. Unless something flips -- and does so quickly -- the reigning World Series champions will not be heading back to the postseason in 2019. Andrew Cashner, the only significant July trade acquisition for Boston, was officially demoted to the bullpen on Monday after registering an 8.01 ERA through his first six starts with the Sox. He had a 1.41 ERA in his final five starts with Baltimore.
15. Philadelphia Phillies
Last Week: 12
The Phillies have lost five of their last six games and are now 27-36 since May 29, the day that they climbed to a season-high 11 games over the .500 mark. The dream of a National League East title is probably over, as the Phillies have dropped to fourth place in that division, behind the first-place Braves, the second-place Nationals, and the surging Mets. They're only two games back of the second National League Wild Card spot, but that race is awfully crowded. It sounds like veteran starter Jake Arrieta might soon undergo season-ending surgery to remove a bone spur from his right elbow, which won't help the cause.