With the final month of the 2018 season upon us, it’s time to check back in with our September Power Rankings.
Since our last rankings in July, there has been a lot of separation within divisions, with the cream rising as it always does. And, of course, we’ve seen disappointments lock down seasons to forget (looking at you, Nationals) and surprise contenders hoping for Octobers to remember (Oakland, most notably).
With several divisions sewn up, our best good hope for drama comes from the West, as well as the Wild Card chases. So, with our final rankings of the regular season, we look westward.
All records and stats as of Monday September 3, 2018.
1. Boston Red Sox (95-44; LM 2) — J.D. Martinez might win the Triple Crown, while teammate Mookie Betts has 9.0 bWAR and Chris Sale has a chance at the Cy Young. Anything can go down in October’s crapshoot, but the regular season in the AL belongs to Boston.
2. Houston Astros (85-53; LM 1) — Alex Bregman had among the worst-ever Players’ Weekend nicknames (A-Breg). But he’s a star: 28 home runs, 89 RBIs, a 159 OPS+ and legit defense at third.
3. Chicago Cubs (81-56; LM 7) — Sucks to be Yu! (Sorry.) Darvish never really got off the ground during his first season with the Cubbies, and is out for all of 2018, but deadline pickup Cole Hamels (4-0, 1.00 ERA, 43 Ks in 45 innings) has been lights-out for Chicago.
4. Oakland Athletics (83-56; LM 12) — Since the start of June, the A’s have run up a 54-28 record, which is good for a .658 winning percentage. Oh, and Khris Davis has 40 homers. Raise your hand if you actually knew that!
5. New York Yankees (86-52; LM 3) — The top two AL rookies right now are Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar. The only concern with the Bronx Bombers is injuries piling up a bit, but these guys should make October…interesting.
6. Los Angeles Dodgers (75-63; LM 11) — Remember when these guys were 12-16 at the end of April and everyone thought their window had suddenly slammed shut? Or at the end of May, when they were just 26-30 and the sky was falling? Since June 1, the Dodgers are 49-33, which is a 96-win pace over a full year.
7. St. Louis Cardinals (76-62; LM 16) — Matt Carpenter (.956 OPS, 35 homers, 38 doubles) has been out-of-his-mind good, but give some love to youngsters Harrison Bader (113 OPS+, 10 homers, 13 steals, solid defense) and Jack Flaherty (2.83 ERA, 154 Ks in 127 ⅓ innings). Those guys have helped manager Mike Shildt (29-16 since taking the job) look like a genius.
8. Atlanta Braves (76-61; LM 8) — I mean, I dunno. Freddie Freeman for MVP, right? Or Ronald Acuna, Jr.? This team arrived a year early, but it is going to be fun to be a Braves fan for a good while.
9. Colorado Rockies (75-62; LM 15) — Quick, who’s the best player on the Rockies? Oh, it’s got to be Nolan Arenado (.301, 31 homers, 92 RBIs), right? Well, yeah, but homeboy Kyle Freeland is freaking people out with his 13-7, 2.96 ERA! This includes a 2.27 ERA and .219 batting average against at HOME! Wow! Looks like a Denver-born pitcher is the answer of “How to pitch in Denver?”.
10. Arizona Diamondbacks (74-64; LM 10) — We all know Paul Goldschmidt is a robot designed to hit line drives all over the place, but, man, check out David Peralta this year. A line of .296/.353/.526 with 26 homers.
11. Milwaukee Brewers (78-61; LM 5) — There was a lot of commotion from the Brew Crew fanbase when, after the July 31 trade deadline, the team failed to address its shortcomings. Adding Gio Gonzalez (starting pitching), Curtis Granderson (bench and OF depth), and Xavier Cedeno (relief pitching) should send a clear signal that Milwaukee is going for it.
12. Cleveland Indians (77-60; LM 6) — The Tribe is a bit lower than other division leaders because the rest of their division is crap. It’s not a slight on Cleveland, really, but the rest of the AL Central is 220-330 (.400). Woof. Woof, indeed. It remains to be seen what the club gets out of Josh Donaldson, and Adam Cimber has struggled (5.06 ERA in 10 ⅔ innings) but Brad Hand (1.53 in 17 ⅔ innings with 24 Ks) has been super-good.
13. Philadelphia Phillies (72-65; LM 9) — The Phillies have been this year’s “Jekyll-and-Hyde” team: a combined 30-21 in April and May, followed by a 13-14 June, then a 15-11 July, and a 13-14 August. Thus far in September, the team is 0-3, having been outscored 18-3. Yikes.
14. Tampa Bay Rays (74-63; LM 18) — Despite running out a bunch of no-names (and Blake Snell), the Rays are on the fringes of contention. It’s too late for this year, but maybe a nice sleeper for 2019, with spoiler status for the remainder of this season.
15. Seattle Mariners (77-61; LM 4) — Jean Segura is the best shortstop no one talks about. Mitch Haniger is the best outfielder no one talks about. At least people are talking about Edwin Diaz (1.90 ERA, 52 saves). The all-time single-season saves record is 62 by Frankie Rodriguez in 2008. With just about a month left to play, Diaz has a real shot at this.
16. Los Angeles Angels (67-71; LM 13) — QOTD: Should Albert Pujols just call it a career? He’s just damaging his legacy at this point (.245/.289/.411), isn’t he?
17. Pittsburgh Pirates (67-71; LM 20) — Every month in these rankings, I’ve raked the Pirates’ front office over the coals for not adding talent. So, they blockbustered the hell out of things with a trade for the overrated Chris Archer and have done nothing of note since. Sometimes, it is on the players too. They have to perform.
18. Toronto Blue Jays (62-75; LM 19) — A quiet rebuild is occuring north of the border. Let’s all just hold our collective breath and count the days until Vlad Guerrero, Jr. is beating the tar out of MLB staffs everywhere.
19. Washington Nationals (69-69; LM 17) — Settle down, Beavis. That record is probably better than it should be, given all of the behind-the-scene turmoil, down seasons, and injuries this team has dealt with. It’s possible rookie manager Dave Martinez gets fired, but doesn’t GM Mike Rizzo have to answer for a lot of this, too?
20. Minnesota Twins (63-74; LM 21) — The big news out is that the Twins are not recalling Byron Buxton for September roster expansion. Is it a case of gaining service time control, or are the powers that be losing patience with the former top pick? Time will tell but it’s now just another turd in the punch bowl that is the 2018 Minnesota Twins’ season.
21. San Francisco Giants (68-71; LM 14) — Buster Posey’s done for the year with hip surgery. The Giants are also done for 2018. Johnny Cueto is probably out for 2019 with Tommy John surgery. If the G-Men don’t do a serious reload/quick rebuild, they could be out for next season, too.
22. Cincinnati Reds (59-79; LM 23) — Homer Bailey is 1-13 with a 6.13 ERA. His contract is the only thing keeping him in the bigs right now. The Reds just, for some reason, don’t want to eat it. For the record, Bailey is making $21 million this year, and he’s due $23 million next year, with a $25 million mutual option for 2020. Yuck.
23. Chicago White Sox (56-82; LM 25) — Despite just a trio of MLB starts, Michael Kopech is 1-0 with a 0.82 ERA and nine strikeouts in 11 innings. As a starter or maybe a down-the-road reliever, the kid throws smoke. Chicago is going to be entertaining next year, and could very well contend by 2020.
24. San Diego Padres (55-85; LM 26*) — So, I made a crack last time about how forgettable the Marlins were, after failing to include them on my checklist which I scribble out while writing these. Haha! The Padres were totally omitted from the published rankings altogether, hence that asterisk. Raise your hand if you noticed.
25. Detroit Tigers (55-83; LM 22) — On Labor Day, the Tigers led 2-1 entering the ninth in Chicago. Then, their “closer” Shane Greene did this: homer, single, homer. Game over. It doesn’t matter if he’s converted 28-of-33 save changes or whatever, a 4.27 ERA with nine home runs given up in 55 ⅓ innings is not closer material. It’s a good thing Detroit is not actively hosting a winner this year, or I’d be furious.
26. New York Mets (62-75; LM 28) — Why are several 50-win teams ahead of the Mets? Because those teams have some sort of direction to go in.
27. Texas Rangers (60-78; LM 24) — I love Adrian Beltre. You love Adrian Beltre. Everyone loves Adrian Beltre. I appreciate that he loves playing for the Rangers, but damned if I don’t want to see him go out a winner.
28. Miami Marlins (55-83; LM 30) — I still have nothing nice to say about the Marlins. Jose Urena can sit on it and twirl. Moron.
29. Kansas City Royals (46-91; LM 27) — This weekend, in a series against the lowly Orioles, Kansas City trotted out this lineup. Raise your hand if: A) You know more than two of these guys and B) You’re not their immediate family: Whit Merrifield, Alex Gordon, Hunter Dozier, Ryan O’Hearn, Jorge Bonifacio, Rosell Herrera, Brett Phillips, Alcides Escobar, Meibrys Viloria. I’m pretty sure that last one is a Star Wars character…
30. Baltimore Orioles (40-98; LM 29) — Meanwhile the O’s countered with luminaries such as Cedric Mullins, Joey Rickard, Jonathan Villar, Trey Mancini, Chris “I Used to Be Good” Davis, John “Leave the Gun, Take the” Andreoli, Breyvic Valera, Jace Peterson, Caleb Joseph. Pretty sure that “Breyvic Valera” is a Star Wars character too….
So our September rankings come to a close, gearing up for a great finish to the regular season. We’ll see you in October for a full recap of 2018, Nation!