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
It has been a crazy couple of days at Minute Maid Park, with the Astros exploding for a 21-1 victory in Sunday's series finale against the visiting Mariners before steamrolling the Athletics in a 15-0 blowout win on Monday. Houston set numerous team and personal records in that short stretch -- too many to list in this space. Focusing in on Yordan Alvarez, he contributed three doubles to the Astros' team-record 11 doubles on Sunday and then set a new franchise single-season rookie home run mark on Monday with his 23rd and 24th home runs of 2019. The 22-year-old Cuban slugger has 72 RBI through his first 71 major league games.
2. New York Yankees
Last Week: 2
James Paxton delivered 6 2/3 scoreless innings as the Yankees shut out the Red Sox for a 5-0 win on Monday night at Fenway Park, officially bouncing Boston from the American League East title race in the process. The Yankees won 14 of their 19 games this year versus their arch rival, which is the most wins the Yankees have tallied in a single season against the Red Sox since 1960. The Yankees are up nine games in the AL East on the second-place Rays -- Boston sits in third --- and their magic number to clinch the division is down to nine. There could be a celebration this weekend in Toronto.
3. Los Angeles Dodgers
Last Week: 3
Los Angeles nearly got swept by the rival Giants over the weekend, in Bruce Bochy's final visit to Dodger Stadium, but Julio Urias, Kenta Maeda, Casey Sadler, Yimi Garcia, Adam Kolarek, and Josh Sborz combined for a four-hit shutout in a 5-0 win over San Francisco on Sunday afternoon. Urias, 23, owns a 2.48 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, and 74 strikeouts in 72 2/3 innings this season and should help steady the bullpen down the stretch and into the playoffs now that he's back from a domestic violence and abuse suspension. The magic number to clinch the NL West is at one as the Dodgers open a series Tuesday in Baltimore.
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4. Atlanta Braves
Last Week: 4
Ronald Acuna slugged his 38th home run of the season in the Braves' 7-2 victory over the Phillies on Monday and is now just two homers and six stolen bases away from registering the fifth 40-40 season in MLB history. The four to accomplish the feat: Jose Canseco, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, and Alfonso Soriano. Acuna and the Braves are on a roll, having won 17 of their last 20 games to jump out 9 1/2 games on first place in the National League East standings. Their magic number to clinch the division is 10. Quick note: Nick Markakis (wrist) could be activated off the injured list as early as Friday.
5. Minnesota Twins
Last Week: 5
The Twins look to be closing in on their first American League Central title since 2010, but concerns have emerged all across this roster. The big recent blow was Michael Pineda getting hit with a 60-game suspension on Saturday after testing positive for a banned diuretic that is sometimes used as a masking agent for performance-enhancing drugs. He had a 2.76 ERA over his last 65 1/3 innings dating back to late June and was probably going to be the Game 1 starter for Minnesota in the ALDS. And then there are the injuries to Nelson Cruz, Byron Buxton, Marwin Gonzalez, Sam Dyson, and Max Kepler.
6. Tampa Bay Rays
Last Week: 8
The Rays have won five straight and 10 of their last 11. Entering play on Tuesday, they are up 1 1/2 games on the top American League Wild Card spot. Austin Meadows earned AL Player of the Week honors for the second time this season after going 12-for-23 (.522) with four home runs, two doubles, eight RBI and nine runs scored in seven games between September 2-8. The 24-year-old outfielder was acquired from the Pirates last summer as part of the Chris Archer trade. Tyler Glasnow, also acquired in the Archer deal, returned Sunday from a four-month rehabilitation for a right forearm strain.
7. St. Louis Cardinals
Last Week: 7
The Cardinals took three of four from the Giants last week before picking up two more victories in a three-game weekend series at Pittsburgh's PNC Park. They are 37-18 so far in the second half, after carrying a record of 44-44 into the All-Star break, and currently hold a four-game lead over the Cubs for first place in the National League Central standings. Jack Flaherty deserves a lot of credit for the turnaround in St. Louis and may wind up with a top-five finish in the NL Cy Young Award balloting. The 23-year-old right-hander boasts a 0.80 ERA over his last 78 1/3 innings dating back to July 7.
8. Oakland Athletics
Last Week: 9
Mike Fiers, who was 12-0 with a 2.59 ERA over his previous 21 starts, got hammered for nine earned runs while recording only three outs as the Athletics got bullied by the Astros in a 15-0 blowout loss on Monday. Oakland is now 10 1/2 games back of Houston for first place in the American League West and only a half-game up on the Indians for the second AL Wild Card spot. It's great to see Sean Manaea back and helping the cause. The left-hander has allowed just one run on three hits over 12 innings (two starts) since returning last week from major shoulder surgery. Jesus Luzardo arrived Monday as further pitching assistance.
9. Cleveland Indians
Last Week: 10
Shane Bieber tallied eight strikeouts over seven innings of one-run ball on Monday night in Anaheim as the Indians cruised to a 7-2 victory over the host Angels to climb within a half-game of the Athletics for the second American League Wild Card spot. They are five games back of the Twins for first place in the American League Central. Bieber was the 39th starting pitcher off the board this spring in the average Yahoo draft -- Rick Porcello, Nick Pivetta, and Kyle Freeland territory -- and has delivered an ace-like 3.17 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, and 241/38 K/BB ratio in 195 2/3 innings. The 24-year-old also has a team-high 14 wins.
10. Washington Nationals
Last Week: 6
The Nationals entered the month of September as the hottest team in baseball, but they've lost five of their last seven games and their next three series are against clubs that currently lead their respective divisions -- the Twins, Braves, and Cardinals. They need to survive that stretch and then line up Max Scherzer to work the National League Wild Card Game. A milestone from last week: Juan Soto reached 100 RBI on Saturday, becoming just the sixth player to accomplish that feat in his age-20 season. The other five: Alex Rodriguez, Al Kaline, Ted Williams, Mel Ott, and Ty Cobb.
11. Chicago Cubs
Last Week: 11
Javier Baez is done for the remainder of the regular season -- and possibly the playoffs -- after being diagnosed on Saturday with a hairline fracture in his left thumb. Addison Russell, meanwhile, is still in concussion protocol after taking a pitch to the head on Sunday afternoon. Desperate for someone to cover the shortstop position, the Cubs called up 2018 first-rounder Nico Hoerner on Monday and gave him his first MLB start in their series opener at San Diego's Petco Park. Hoerner rose to the challenge, becoming the second Cubs player since 1920 to register three hits and four RBI in his debut as Chicago went on to win 10-2.
12. Milwaukee Brewers
Last Week: 15
Don't count out the Brewers just yet. They took three of four from the division-rival Cubs over the weekend and then took care of the Marlins for an 8-3 victory on Monday night as Trent Grisham went 5-for-6 and finished a home run short of the cycle. Milwaukee has won seven of its last nine, and eight of those nine games were against contending teams. As it stands here on Tuesday afternoon, this club is two games back of the second National League Wild Card spot with 19 games to play. And the rest-of-season schedule is favorable: 3 @ MIA, 3 @ STL, 4 vs. SD, 3 vs. PIT, 3 @ CIN, 3 @ COL.
13. Arizona Diamondbacks
Last Week: 16
The Diamondbacks fell 3-1 to the Mets on Monday and they also lost their series finale in Cincinnati on Sunday by a score of 4-3, but this team had won 11 of its last 12 leading into those back-to-back defeats and a path to the National League Wild Card Game remains open here on Tuesday afternoon. Ketel Marte was named National League Player of the Week for September 2-8 after going 13-for-24 (.542) with four home runs, two doubles, a triple, and 14 RBI over that six-game stretch. The 25-year-old is pushing for a third-place finish in the NL MVP voting behind Christian Yelich and Cody Bellinger.
14. Boston Red Sox
Last Week: 12
The Red Sox won the World Series just over 10 months ago and currently sit eight games above .500, even after a rough loss to the rival Yankees on Monday. But team president Dave Dombrowski was fired late Sunday night and ownership offered only a press release -- no formal press conference -- in announcing the move. Evan Drellich of The Athletic has some inside dirt on the decision: "Processes during Dombrowski’s tenure were sometimes chaotic. He did not take full advantage of the available information and resources. There were many days when functionality inside the Red Sox front office felt like a minor miracle to the people around him. ... The short version: Dombrowski is out because he spent a huge amount of money and was no longer delivering results."
15. Philadelphia Phillies
Last Week: 14
Aaron Nola allowed four earned runs over six innings Monday as the Phillies lost 7-2 to the Braves while falling three games back of the Cubs for the second National League Wild Card spot. This team is technically still alive, but with six more games against Atlanta, two against the Red Sox, three against the Indians, and five against the Nationals, it's difficult to envision a late-season push. The situation in Philly is not Nola's fault, but he has yielded nine earned runs over his last 10 innings (two starts) and has a 3.70 ERA in 184 2/3 total innings this season. He posted a 2.37 ERA in 212 1/3 innings last year.