Rich 10 MLB rankings (Aug. 3-Aug. 9)

The first full week of baseball is officially in the books. However, the book might close just as it has been opened as game postponements and player opt-outs continue to trickle through the sport due to COVID-19. 

Whether the MLB season moves forward or comes to a screeching halt, there are still teams needing to be ranked. With that said, here is yet another edition of the Rich 10 MLB rankings.  

10. Chicago White Sox (5-4)

Previous ranking: N/A

Record over past week: 4-2

After losing two games against Cleveland to begin the week, the South Siders ripped off four wins in a row, including a three-game sweep of the Kansas City Royals. While the chatter of Chicago’s young talent pool might fall to Eloy Jimenez or Yoan Moncada, Luis Robert has started to make a name for himself. Through nine games, the 23-year-old rookie is slashing .351/.385/.979. Not bad, right?

On the pitching side, Dylan Cease pitched six solid innings of two-run ball Sunday afternoon against Kansas City. The importance of both players moving forward could be significant. Can Robert continue the production with the bat as Tim Anderson remains out of action (10-day IL)? Can Cease become a dependable third starter behind Lucas Giolito and Dallas Keuchel? The answer to both of these questions could decide the verdict of Chicago’s season.

9. Baltimore Orioles (5-3) 

Previous ranking: N/A

Record over past week: 3-2

You do not need new glasses, nor do you need to schedule an eye appointment. Yes, the Orioles are currently two games above .500, second in the American League East, and in this week’s power ranking installment. Despite getting swept at home in a brief two-game series against the New York Yankees, Baltimore rebounded and swept the Tampa Bay Rays over the weekend. The sweep was Baltimore’s first since Aug. 27-29, 2018 against the Toronto Blue Jays and their first three-game sweep against Tampa Bay since Sep. 11-13, 2012.

Solid pitching in addition to consistent hitting from the likes of Hanser Alberto and Renato Nunez (who have an OPS of 1.145 and .955, respectively) made the sweep possible. Although the team is in a rebuilding period, will the team look to rectify 2011 magic and play spoiler against other teams? Or will the team show its 2012 vintage and sneak into the playoffs? It is early, but the question has to be asked. 

8. Houston Astros (5-4) 

Previous ranking: 5

Record over past week: 3-3

After getting swept in a drama-filled, two-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Houston took two out of three games against the Los Angeles Angels. If you want to talk about a bargain signing Houston took a flier on, look no further than Michael Brantley. After collecting a .875 OPS in 148 games played last season with the team, the 33-year-old has not slowed down this season, as he currently boasts a 1.170 OPS. He has at least one hit through every game except one (August 1 against the Angels). Don’t let the one game fool you, however, as Brantley only collected one at-bat (pinch-hitter). With George Springer and Jose Altuve struggling at the plate, the production should not be taken for granted. 

7. San Diego Padres (6-4) 

Previous ranking: N/A

Record over past week: 4-3

The Friars currently lead all of baseball in runs scored (59). This is not a typo, and again, no, you do not need new glasses or an eye appointment. They also lead the National League in walks (45).

On the pitching side of the San Diego equation, Zach Davies currently has a 4.50 ERA through two games started. While not an ace by any stretch of the mind, the soft-throwing right-hander will provide solid innings as a dependable back-end starter. When you have Chris Paddack (and hopefully MacKenzie Gore in the future) at the top of your rotation, being just dependable is all you are needed for. San Diego will look to continue their hot start to the season this week, as they will have a six-game homestand against the Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks. 

6. Colorado Rockies (6-2) 

Previous ranking: N/A

Record over past week: 4-1

While the Padres have shocked the baseball world with their offensive prowess, the Rockies have bewildered fans with their starting pitching proficiency. Through their four-man rotation strategy, which includes Kyle Freeland, German Marquez, Jon Gray and Antonio Senzatela, the Rockies collective starter ERA is 2.00. Even still, the question will be the same as it is every year: can Colorado’s starters (and bullpen for that matter) pitch effectively and consistently at Coors Field? They were able to do it against San Diego, but they will have to continue to do it if they want to solidify themselves as a legitimate playoff contender. Luckily for Colorado, the question could be answered over the next couple of weeks, as 10 of their next 13 games are at home. 

5. Chicago Cubs (7-2)

Previous ranking: 9

Record over past week: 5-1

Although Kyle Hendricks was shelled against the Cincinnati Reds July 29 (4.1 IP, 6 ER), the rest of the starting rotation picked up the slack last week as the combined quartet of Jon Lester (two starts), Alec Mills (one start), Yu Darvish (one start) and Tyler Chatwood (one start) pitched 29.2 innings combined and gave up only three earned runs. While the hitting is not yet at peak strength, the depth is still there to do significant damage over an extended period of time. The Cubs will look to unleash the lumber this week, as they play the Royals four times and the Cardinals three times. 

4. Los Angeles Dodgers (7-3) 

Previous ranking: 4

Record over past week: 5-1

After getting revenge on Houston last week, Los Angeles then marched into the desert and took three out of four against the Diamondbacks. During the four-game series, Mookie Betts slugged his first two home runs of the season, while Cody Bellinger mashed his first.

Clayton Kershaw, meanwhile, made his 2020 debut Sunday and pitched 5.2 innings with no earned runs or walks. While the Dodgers hold steady in the fourth position in this power ranking installment, that could change soon as all of their depth is starting to click simultaneously, even though Betts is day-to-day with a finger injury. The Dodgers are coming, and once they are at flank speed, it will be hard to stop them. 

3. Atlanta Braves (7-3) 

Previous ranking: 3

Record over past week: 5-2

In seven games played last week, Atlanta averaged 5.4 runs a game. While those numbers are excellent, both Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna Jr. are currently hitting under the Mendoza Line (they have a .194 and .195 batting average, respectively). A key sparkplug to offset the lack of production from the duo has come from offseason acquisition Marcell Ozuna. Through 10 games played, Ozuna is slashing .324/.439/.676 with six extra-base hits (three doubles and three home runs). First, it was Josh Donaldson. Now, it is Ozuna. What is it with the Braves hitting gold on one-year deals with position players? Whatever the bargain is, it seems to be working. Should Albies and Acuna get going with Ozuna, the National League East might be in for some hurt.

2. Minnesota Twins (7-2) 

Previous ranking: 2

Record over past week: 5-1

Minnesota took three out of four games in a critical inter-division series against the Cleveland Indians Thursday through Sunday. The series win did not come from the explosion of the lumber, however. Instead, it came from excellent pitching. In the series, Minnesota’s combined pitching gave up only four runs, with two of those runs coming in their lone loss to Cleveland (2-0 on July 30).

While they might not bring the nastiness Hader or Chapman might bring, Sergio Romo and Tyler Clippard have found a way to get it done as both pitched five innings combined against the division rival and only gave up one run between the two of them.  Everyone knows what the offense will do, but if the pitching collectively pitches the way it did against Cleveland in future games, the sport could have its next budding super team. 

1. New York Yankees (7-1) 

Previous ranking: 1 

Record over past week: 5-0

The Dodgers, Braves and Twins all maintained their ranking from last week. With that said, it should come to no one’s surprise that New York finds itself atop the ranking hierarchy once more. Oh, what difference health makes, right?

Aaron Judge, who battled injuries last season, is currently riding a five-game home run streak. Giancarlo Stanton currently has an OPS over 1.000 despite being relatively quiet against the Boston Red Sox over the weekend. It is difficult to talk about this team in such a small word count, but the Bronx Bombers are the most complete team in baseball and are playing like it. Unless the injury bug looms again in a catastrophic way, expect world-dominating production week in and week out from this club. 

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