Rich 10 MLB rankings (Aug. 17-Aug. 23)

If you blinked, you might have missed it. 

For the majority of MLB teams, the regular season is already a third of the way over. Although teams like the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals continue to play catch-up after COVID-19 halted their seasons, the remainder of the league begins to take shape in regard to teams playing for a postseason bid. 

With the season continuing to grind along, here is another installment of MLB power rankings. 

10. Baltimore Orioles (12-9)

Previous ranking: N/A

Record over past week: 5-2

The Orioles continue to defy expectations this season as the team went on the road this past week and swept the Philadelphia Phillies. Additionally, the O’s picked up a split with the Washington Nationals over the weekend (one of the games was finished up after it was postponed last weekend).

A big reason for the Baltimore power surge has come in the form of Pedro Severino. After getting claimed off waivers, Severino has made a name for himself since he first donned the orange and black in 2019. Over 67 plate appearances (PA’s) this season, the 27-year-old catcher is slashing .333/.394/.633 with eight extra-base hits (five home runs and three doubles). The Orioles will have a chance to prove their postseason legitimacy this week as they take on two sub-.500 teams at home in the Toronto Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox.

9. Atlanta Braves (13-10)

Previous ranking: 5

Record over past week: 2-4

The Braves might have bigger issues on their hands than simply having a losing week as Ronald Acuna Jr. recently hit the Injured List (IL) due to wrist inflammation. Over the span of less than two weeks, the Braves have been forced to work without three of their young stars (Ozzie Albies, Mike Soroka and Acuna Jr.). Moving forward, the Braves will need to lean on veteran players in Freddie Freeman, Nick Markakis and Marcell Ozuna, among others. The Braves will attempt to weather the injury storm this upcoming week as the team faces off against two division rivals hot on their heels (Washington Nationals and Phillies). Luckily for Atlanta, both series are at home, where they are 7-2. 

8. Tampa Bay Rays (14-9)

Previous ranking: 10

Record over past week: 6-1

The Rays continue to gradually build up strength as the season treks onward. Offensively, the Rays have cranked it up a notch as their lineup averaged eight runs a game last week. The epitome of the onslaught came Aug. 13 as six Rays’ batters collected at least two hits (Yandy Diaz, Hunter Renfroe, Brandon Lowe, Willy Adames, Manuel Margot and Yoshi Tsutsugo) in a 17-8 rout of the Red Sox. Rays manager Kevin Cash might not have a Mike Trout or Cody Bellinger at his disposal, but he still makes it work. Do not question it. Just run with it. This is what Tampa Bay is doing, after all. 

7. Cleveland Indians (13-9)

Previous ranking: 9

Record over past week: 3-2

After getting swept by the Chicago Cubs, the Indians took care of business over the weekend by sweeping the Detroit Tigers. The sweep extended Cleveland’s winning streak against the Tigers to 20. Try not to spit out your lunch, now. You read it right. Although Mike Clevinger and Zach Plesac were optioned to Cleveland’s alternate training site after breaking COVID-19 protocol, Cleveland’s pitching has remained dominant, as Shane Bieber, Carlos Carrasco and Aaron Civale all possess an ERA of 3.60 or lower. Additionally, the trio’s strikeouts per nine (K/9) average is 11.82. Durability and nastiness are how you build a rotation. Cleveland is not just good at it, they are a machine at it. The machine will get more opportunities to fine-tune and oil itself this week as the club will face the rebuilding Pittsburgh Pirates and Tigers. 

6. Colorado Rockies (13-8)

Previous ranking: 3

Record over past week: 2-4

Colorado takes a dip in this week’s rankings after dropping two out of three games to the Arizona Diamondbacks and Texas Rangers. Sure, Charlie Blackmon is flirting with hitting over .400 this season. Yes, Nolan Arenado is still being Nolan Arenado at the hot corner. Has everyone forgotten about Trevor Story, though?

The 27-year-old is currently slashing .326/.396/.616 through 96 PAs. If you are keeping score at home, this line tallies out to a 1.012 On-base plus slugging (OPS). However, the high-octane production with the lumber is not the most shocking area where the batter has improved. Instead, it has come in his strikeout percentage, or lack thereof – after striking out to an average of 29.5% over his previous four seasons, Story has only struck out only 14.6% of the time in 2020. The season still has a long way to go, but this area will be a story to keep an eye on. See what I did there? Stay tuned for my live stand-up. 

5. Chicago Cubs (13-6)

Previous ranking: 7

Record over past week: 3-3

Three dominating wins to begin last week were followed by three gut-wrenching losses. To make matters even sourer, the losses came by three combined runs. Even still, the Cubs remain in the National League Central driver’s seat. An unsung hero on the team through the first part of the season has come in the form of veteran Jason Kipnis. The 33-year-old has helped bring stability to the bottom of the lineup as the batter is averaging a 1.181 OPS batting eighth or ninth in the batting order. He will not bring the same luster or publicity as Anthony Rizzo or Kyle Schwarber, but Kipnis could care less. He just wants to produce, and produce he is most certainly doing. 

4. Minnesota Twins (14-8)

Previous ranking: 4

Record over past week: 4-2

Ladies and gentlemen, boy and girls, may I introduce you to Randy Dobnak. After a brief cup of coffee with Minnesota last season (where he pitched to a 1.59 ERA through 28.1 innings in nine games), Dobnak has become a staple within Minnesota’s 2020 starting rotation. In five starts this season, the 25-year-old sinker-baller has pitched to a 1.42 ERA. More significantly, he has kept the contact on the ground, as the righty currently possesses a 64.5 groundball percentage (GB%). Whether or not he can keep up the production with a sub-par 4.97 K/9 remains to be seen, but the Twins are reaping the benefits so far. I can’t say I blame them. 

3. New York Yankees (15-6)

Previous ranking: 6

Record over past week: 5-0

Even an undefeated week for the Yankees does not come without its catch. The catch comes in the form of the injury bug. After injuries infamously ravaged the team last season, the theme is becoming apparent once more this season. Over the past week, Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge and D.J. LeMahieu have been put on the IL. Even still, Aaron Boone has his ways and his roster depth to potentially work around the injuries through the short-term. Luckily for the Yankees, their already formidable bullpen will get a significant jolt in the arm – Aroldis Chapman, who has not pitched this season, will return from the IL. 

2. Oakland Athletics (16-6)

Previous ranking: 1

Record over past week: 4-2

Despite dropping out of the pole position in this ranking installment, the Athletics continue to get it done. Offensively, Oakland pummeled the San Francisco Giants over the weekend, as the former outscored the latter 30-16 in three games. Everything came to fruition Sunday, as the Athletics smashed San Francisco, 15-3. The 15 runs are the most runs scored by Oakland since September 10, 2019, when they beat the Houston Astros, 21-7. Furthermore, Oakland’s 15 runs scored were the most against the Giants in a single game since May 18, 2007. The final score of that game? 15-3. Coincidences can be entertaining. 

1. Los Angeles Dodgers (16-7)

Previous ranking: 2

Record over past week: 5-2

In the fifth installment of these weekly rankings, the Dodgers finally find themselves atop the rankings. The star power of the team is well-known, but the grit, arguably, is not. The Dodgers were able to show off their grit and poise by splitting a four-game set with the San Diego Padres after dropping the first two games of the series. The depth is also well-known. After all, the team has scored the most runs in the majors (128) despite Max Muncy, Cody Bellinger and Joc Pederson all possessing a sub-.700 OPS. Then, of course, you have the prospects. Premier catching prospect Keibert Ruiz, in his first at-bat in the majors, clobbered a home run down the right-field line. The team brings everything to the table and should several of the regulars catch fire, watch out. 

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