Rich 10 MLB rankings (Sept. 14-20)

The beginning of the NFL season only means one thing: the MLB postseason is on the horizon. 

With less than three weeks to go until the first game of the expanded MLB postseason, the playoff field is getting clearer and clearer by the day. 

A few more power ranking installments must be completed before any legitimate playoff talk can be thoroughly discussed, however. You know the drill at this point. Here is the ninth installment of Rich 10 MLB rankings. 

10. Toronto Blue Jays (26-20)

Previous ranking: 10

Record over past week: 4-2

The Blue Jays maintain the 10th position in this ranking installment. Hyun-Jin Ryu has been worth the money for the franchise so far, as the lefty currently possesses a 3.00 ERA in 10 starts this season (54.0 innings pitched). Specifically, Ryu has turned it up a notch in the strikeout department, as his strikeouts per nine (K/9) of 10.00 is currently the highest of his career. If you want to pitch in the American League East, you better whiff batters to keep the ball away from the stands. Ryu has been doing that, even if it is in Buffalo as opposed to Rogers Centre. 

9. Cleveland Indians (26-21)

Previous ranking: 4

Record over past week: 1-6

Losing three out of four games to the Kansas City Royals and getting swept by the Minnesota Twins is not the week Cleveland was dreaming of. Although Cleveland still has the upside going for them on the starting pitching side (let us not forget about strikeout-machine Shane Bieber, now), more stability on offense will be needed in games where the pitching falters. Cleveland will put Monday’s off-day to good use before heading to Wrigley Field to take on the Chicago Cubs Tuesday and Wednesday. Then, it is a four-game slate with the rebuilding Detroit Tigers. If Cleveland wants to get back to its winning ways, it is best to rekindle it this week. 

8. Atlanta Braves (28-19)

Previous ranking: 8

Record over past week: 4-3

Despite the loss of Mike Soroka (Achilles), the Braves still have young starters to help take over the reins. 22-year-old Ian Anderson pitched seven shutout innings against the Washington Nationals Saturday, while 24-year-old Kyle Wright picked up the first win of his career Sunday. While the pair might not bring the top-of-the-rotation-caliber pedigree Soroka brought to the team, they will be pivotal should the Braves make noise in the playoffs. Needless to say, Atlanta needs to embrace the youth. They have, and it seems to be working. 

7. Chicago Cubs (28-20)

Previous ranking: 9

Record over past week: 5-2

Welcome to the history books, Alec Mills. After six scoreless innings against the Cincinnati Reds last Tuesday, Mills cranked it up a notched and twirled a no-hitter on the road against the Milwaukee Brewers Sunday afternoon. The shutout is the 28-year-old’s first of his Major League career and is the first no-hitter thrown by a Cubs’ pitcher since 2016 (Jake Arrieta against the Reds). Chicago knows what they are getting from Yu Darvish and Kyle Hendricks at the top of the rotation, but if they can count on Mills eating up productive innings behind them, well, there might be something cooking on the North Side. 

6. Oakland Athletics (29-17)

Previous ranking: 6

Record over past week: 6-3

A productive week for Oakland (including a series win against the Houston Astros) came with a bittersweet catch, as star third baseman Matt Chapman will undergo hip surgery and miss the remainder of the 2020 campaign. Although Oakland will attempt to mask Chapman’s absence with former Arizona Diamondback Jake Lamb, it will close to impossible to replace a two-time Platinum Glove winner at the hot corner. The Athletics will make up two games against the Seattle Mariners Monday before taking on the Colorado Rockies (Tuesday and Thursday) and San Francisco Giants this upcoming weekend. 

5. Minnesota Twins (30-18)

Previous ranking: 7

Record over past week: 5-1

I have a question for the audience: does Nelson Cruz age? Despite being 40, the slugger is still hitting at an MVP-caliber level, as the right-handed batter is currently slashing .331/.420/.669 with 21 extra-base hits. The extra-base power, though, is predominantly from the long ball, as Cruz has slugged 16 home runs compared to five doubles. No matter, though, as he is still driving runners in at an elite level. The question now comes down to whether Cruz or Jose Abreu of the Chicago White Sox can out-produce one another. The two will get their chance Monday through Thursday this week, as the rival teams will tee off in a pivotal four-game series at Guaranteed Rate Field. 

4. Tampa Bay Rays (30-17)

Previous ranking: 2

Record over past week: 2-4

At this point, everyone knows how the Rays do business. Week in and week out it is another player stepping up to deliver on the mound or in the batter’s box. Mike Brosseau, despite not being a household name, has been that player to deliver. To help counteract injuries on the offensive side of the ball, the 26-year-old has played five different positions this season (first base, second base, third base, left field and right field). He also possesses an OPS over .950. If you can be a utility player and hit well, you are valuable. If you possess those skillsets on a team managed by Kevin Cash, you are priceless. Brosseau, all eyes are on you. 

3. Chicago White Sox (30-16)

Previous ranking: 3

Record over past week: 4-1

Don’t look, but the White Sox currently sport the best record among all American League teams. While the team is bustling with youth, it also has the veteran leadership necessary to guide them through even a shortened season. If you want the ringleader of that veteran leadership, look no further than Jose Abreu. The 33-year-old is making a strong case for the American League Most Valuable Player Award, as he is currently slashing .317/.361/.619 with 27 extra-base hits (12 doubles and 15 home runs). Although Tim Anderson, Eloy Jimenez and company produce at an explosive level, the heartbeat of the offense starts and ends with Abreu. When he is on, the offense is just different. 

2. San Diego Padres (31-17)

Previous ranking: 5

Record over past week: 6-0

Despite COVID-19 halting several games over the weekend, the Padres did not miss a beat upon their return, as trade deadline acquisition Mike Clevinger tossed a seven-inning shutout in game one of a doubleheader sweep against the San Francisco Giants Sunday afternoon. The storyline pitcher for the Friars this season, though, might be Dinelson Lamet. Through nine starts and 52.1 innings pitched, Lamet has a 2.24 ERA with 68 strikeouts. After logging his longest career start at the Major League level on Labor Day this past week (7.2 innings), Lamet has solidified himself as a middle-of-the-rotation starter at the minimum. Come postseason time, those middle-of-the-rotation assets will be key. San Diego will be thankful. 

1. Los Angeles Dodgers (33-14)

Previous ranking: 1 

Record over past week: 3-2 

While the Dodgers possess a plethora of strengths, the closer role remains a question mark. Kenley Jansen, who blew the save and picked up the loss against Houston Saturday night, currently sports an ERA close to 4.00. His ERA over his past seven games is close to 10.00. His ERA in his past 15 games is just over 5.00. Even though he pitched a scoreless inning Sunday, you get the picture at this point. The question now, is simple: if Jansen continues to struggle as the playoffs approach, will manager Dave Roberts go with a change or is Jansen his ride-or-die? The direction could determine whether the Dodgers’ pick up their long-awaited World Series victory. 

Leave a Reply