Rich 10 MLB rankings (Sep. 7-13)

In case you were not aware of how fast time flies by, it is September already. 

With the MLB regular season slated to end later this month, the expanded playoff picture is becoming clearer as each day goes by. Before the early slate of games on Labor Day get underway, another installment of MLB power rankings is needed. Without further ado, here is the eighth installment of this power ranking series.

10. Toronto Blue Jays (22-18)

Previous ranking: N/A

Record over past week: 4-4

While Toronto (or Buffalo?) merely had a .500 week, they find themselves in prime position to legitimately contend for a playoff spot. While San Diego stole the show at the trade deadline, the Blue Jays quietly improved their roster on the pitching side, as the team brought in Taijuan Walker, Robbie Ray and Ross Stripling. Just for good measure, they also added infielder Jonathan Villar to shore up the middle infield and help offset the Bo Bichette injury. While the moves might not be littered with star-studded names, they are low-risk and high-reward in terms of production the players can potentially muster together. Should the Blue Jays get what they thought they traded for, they won’t complain, especially if it garners their first playoff berth since 2016.

9. Chicago Cubs (23-18)

Previous ranking: 7

Record over past week: 3-4

After taking two out of three games against the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Cubs scuffled and dropped three out of four against the St. Louis Cardinals over the weekend. While the offense has struggled to find the same groove that netted the team a Commissioner’s Trophy in 2016, Ian Happ has been a beacon of light, as the 26-year-old currently possesses an on-base plus slugging (OPS) of 1.062. After his initial start with the North Siders was plagued with strikeouts, injuries and demotions, the outfielder is now starting to make a name for himself, even if it took longer than expected. Chicago’s position player pipeline continues to impress. 

8. Atlanta Braves (24-16) 

Previous ranking: N/A

Record over past week: 5-2

After barely missing the cut in last week’s ranking installment, the Braves make their return in bashing fashion, as the club clobbered their division rival in the Washington Nationals 10-3 Sunday afternoon. 30-year-old Freddie Freeman (wait, he is only 30?) was the main damage dealer during the four-game series, as he slugged not one, but two grand slams against Washington. The production continues to show how Freeman, even with the youth around him, is the face of the franchise. The Braves look to continue their hot stretch with a three-game set at home against the Miami Marlins before heading on the road to face Washington again Thursday through Sunday. 

7. Minnesota Twins (25-17)

Previous ranking: 9

Record over past week: 5-2

The Twins slowly began their trek back to the upper echelon of these rankings after winning two inter-division series against the Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers. While 40-year-old Nelson Cruz is producing on offense, 40-year-old Rich Hill needs some love, too — the lefty currently has a 3.86 ERA through five games started this season. While his starts are nothing astronomical to write home about (the deepest he has gone is five innings), he still provides depth and veteran leadership on the pitching side of the ball. As a fifth starter, the intangibles stand out in a positive way. Minnesota will take it. 

6. Oakland Athletics (23-14)

Previous ranking: 3

Record over past week: 1-2

COVID-19 postponements meant the Athletics could only play three games this past week. Sean Manaea (who pitched five innings against the San Diego Padres Saturday) might be finding his stride that made him tally together a no-hitter against the Boston Red Sox in 2018. The southpaw has pitched at least five innings in his past four starts and has only given up more than one earned run in one of them (he gave up two earned runs August 15 against the San Francisco Giants). If this is slowly becoming the norm for Manaea, Oakland’s lethality come postseason time rises exponentially. 

5. San Diego Padres (25-17)

Previous ranking: 6

Record over past week: 4-2

Although he was erratic, new Padres’ closer Trevor Rosenthal pummeled 98-plus mile per hour heat with Jason Castro behind the dish to collect his first save in a Friar uniform Sunday afternoon against the Athletics. Less than two weeks ago, both players were not part of the San Diego organization. After a frenzy of trades, the Padres are setting their sights well beyond a mere postseason bid. They are now shooting for the World Series itself. Should their trades work out well, San Diego’s depth will give them that shot at competing for a World Series bid. 

4. Cleveland Indians (25-15)

Previous ranking: 5

Record over past week: 4-2

No Mike Clevinger? No problem, at least, not when you have Shane Bieber doing Shane Bieber things every fifth or sixth day. Such was the theme Sunday against the Milwaukee Brewers, as the righty recorded his sixth double-digit strikeout game of the season. He has started nine games. He has 1.25 ERA. He has yet to record a loss. What more can Cleveland ask for? The ace is not only an American League Cy Young favorite, but also a potential dark horse for the American League Most Valuable Player Award. Can Bieber pull off the unthinkable and claim the latter despite starting less than 20 games in a shortened season? If he keeps pitching like he has, he just might make enough noise to make a case for it. 

3. Chicago White Sox (26-15)

Previous ranking: 4

Record over past week: 5-2

Despite losing two out of three games to the Minnesota Twins, the White Sox rebounded and swept the Kansas City Royals in four games. Offense has been the main talk of the town, but when it has not, it has been Lucas Giolito of the South Siders’ starting rotation. However, it is best to give credit when credit is due, and Dallas Keuchel has been deserving of it. After signing with the White Sox for three-years and $55 million in the offseason, the soft-throwing lefty has pitched to a 2.19 ERA in nine starts in 2020. While Keuchel left his start Sunday due to lower back stiffness, he has still been worth the money through the 2020 campaign. White Sox fans now hope he will continue to be worth it and not let injuries get in the way. 

2. Tampa Bay Rays (28-13)

Previous ranking: 2

Record over past week: 4-2

The Rays should be grinning ear to ear. Even with their injury woes, the club sits five-plus games clear of the rest of the American League East. A significant reason for the surge came from their utter domination against the New York Yankees this season, as they won the season series, 8-2. The domination did not stop at New York, though, as the Rays also took care of business against the Blue Jays (they went 7-3 against them this season). With the magic number closing, Tampa Bay will use the next couple weeks to get healthier in preparation for the postseason grind. The good news? They already got one player back, as Charlie Morton returned from the Injured List (IL) stint this past week (he pitched two shutout innings against the Yankees Wednesday). 

1. Los Angeles Dodgers (30-12) 

Previous ranking: 1

Record over past week: 4-2

The Dodgers are the National League equivalent to the Rays, but better. Not enough words could be said about this team (or their players individually, for that matter), but Tony Gonsolin needs to be recognized. The 26-year-old, in his second year at the MLB level, currently possesses a 0.76 ERA in 23.2 innings (five games started). To make the numbers even more impressive, he has allowed only one home runs and has walked only five batters. Sure, Clayton Kershaw and others are having solid years, but it will be the supplementary players on the roster who will help end the Dodgers’ 32-year Commissioner’s Trophy drought. Gonsolin is just one of many. 

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