Playoff push sees familiar club atop Rankings
Dodgers reclaim top spot while Wild Card hopefuls jockey in middle of pack
The season's final month is upon us. It's now or never for a handful of teams as they hope to make one last push to the postseason, and there's a host of interesting races throughout Major League Baseball.
• The A's and Rangers are tied atop the American League West.
• The Pirates, Cardinals and Reds are separated by 3 1/2 games in the National League Central.
• Seven teams are within 4 1/2 games of the AL Wild Card, while the Nationals are hoping to make a late push in the NL.
Get your peanuts and Cracker Jack ready.
MLB.com has set up a panel of experts to vote on the top 15 teams each week. The group includes MLB.com vice president and executive editor Carlton Thompson, VP and executive producer Jim Jenks, columnists Mike Bauman, Hal Bodley, Anthony Castrovince, Richard Justice, Matthew Leach, Terence Moore and Tracy Ringolsby, reporters Barry M. Bloom, Marty Noble, Jesse Sanchez and Lyle Spencer, and MLB Network analyst Mitch Williams.
What do you think? Agree, disagree? Have your opinion counted by submitting your Power Rankings.
1. Dodgers: Los Angeles returns atop our list thanks to a weekend sweep of the Padres. The Dodgers got a bit of bad news Monday, when rookie sensation Yasiel Puig irritated a right knee strain. The injury doesn't seem serious, and the Dodgers certainly have enough depth to cover for him short term..
Last week: 3
2. Tigers: Detroit continued its season-long dominance of Cleveland by taking two of three against its AL Central rival this weekend. The Tigers rode the momentum into this week, beating the Red Sox on Monday in the opener of a key three-game series. Triple Crown hopeful Miguel Cabrera has missed time with an abdominal strain, but could return Wednesday. Detroit also promoted top prospect Nick Castellanos to add offensive punch.
Last week: 1
3. Red Sox: Boston has the best record in the AL but finds itself behind Detroit in our rankings. The Red Sox -- winners in seven of nine -- and Tigers continue a head-to-head battle for the AL's top seed this week before the Sox open a four-game series Thursday in the Bronx.
Last week: 2
4. Braves: They kind of seem to fly under the national radar, don't they? The Braves don't have Puig, Cabrera or vaunted arms such as Clayton Kershaw or Max Scherzer, but they'll gladly take the honor of holding the best record in the Majors. Atlanta enters Tuesday winners in seven of eight, and the Braves' upcoming schedule includes the remainder of their series against the Mets and trips to Philadelphia and Miami before hosting the Padres. Chances are high Atlanta will hold onto the Majors' best record and move up next week.
Last week: 4
5. Pirates: Congrats to the Bucs on being just one win away from locking up their first .500 season in 21 years. Now it's time to focus on holding onto the top spot in the NL Central, which Pittsburgh leads by a game. The Pirates travel to second-place St. Louis on Friday for a weekend series that will have the entire baseball world tuning in.
Last week: 8
6. A's: Oakland enters Tuesday deadlocked with the Rangers atop the AL West after beating Texas on Monday. The A's are 8-3 through 11 games of a 13-game stretch in which they play the Orioles, Tigers, Rays and Rangers. Taking at least one more against the Rangers would be key before they look to take care of business against the Astros and Twins.
Last week: 10
7. Cardinals: They lost their weekend series against the Pirates but need to focus on the Reds -- 2 1/2 games back -- this week before welcoming the Bucs to Busch Stadium. That three-game series marks the final time in 2013 that St. Louis and Pittsburgh square off.
Last week: 5
8. Rangers: Texas has lost three of four, but the Rangers still find themselves tied for first place with the A's out West. The two clubs continue their three-games series Tuesday and Wednesday before squaring off again next weekend. Texas got an added punch on Monday when veteran Lance Berkman returned to the lineup for the first time since July 7.
Last week: 6
9. Reds: Cincinnati enters Tuesday 3 1/2 games out of first place in the NL Central, but with a comfortable seven-game lead for the second Wild Card. The Reds added an element of speed for September by calling up Billy Hamilton, who last season set the professional record for steals with 155. Cincy faces a rough road this week, with three more against the Cardinals and a three-game series against the Dodgers.
Last week: 9
10. Rays: A five-game losing streak -- including getting swept by the A's -- dropped the Rays from seventh to 10th in our rankings. They still hold a two-game edge for the second Wild Card and hope Matt Moore's return on Tuesday can light a spark and turn around their skid.
Last week: 7
11. Orioles: Baltimore is in prime position this week to make a move in the Wild Card race. The O's are two games back of the struggling Rays, while holding a half-game lead over the Yankees and a 1 1/2-game edge over the Indians, who they face two more times this week. A four-game weekend series with the last-place White Sox should add some wins before another four-game series against the Yanks.
Last week: 12
12. Yankees: Alfonso Soriano and the Yanks sputtered a bit last week, dropping a series to the Blue Jays, but they have another two games against the last-place White Sox and a four-game series against the Red Sox this week. The next 10 games are pivotal for the Bronx Bombers, who sit 2 1/2 games back of the second Wild Card.
Last week: 13
13. Royals: Kansas City isn't completely out of the Wild Card race -- 4 1/2 games back -- but the Royals will have to finish strong for a chance at a postseason berth. After finishing their series with the Mariners, the Royals play the Tigers and Indians in their next 12 games. It's a boom-or-best stretch for Kansas City.
14. Indians: If only they could beat the Tigers. Like, just once. OK, the Tribe has beaten Detroit four times this season … in 19 tries. The Indians' chances at a division title are all but gone (8 1/2 back), but they're still just 3 1/2 out of the second Wild Card and certainly in contention.
Last week: 11
15. Nationals: The Nats continue to make a late push, and while insisting they're not out of it -- how could they? -- a 7 1/2-game deficit for the second NL Wild Card spot will be tough to overcome. Then again, crazier things have happened in September, and Washington certainly has the talent to make a run.
Last week: 15
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.