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MLB Power Rankings: Red-hot Rays rocket up rankings; A's still in first

Kevin Kiermaier (left) and Desmond Jennings (right) have both heated up in the last month to help Tampa Bay in its climb back toward first place in the American League East. Photo:

Kevin Kiermaier (left) and Desmond Jennings (right) have both heated up in the last month to help Tampa Bay in its climb back toward first place in the American League East.

By yet another unanimous vote, the Athletics remain No. 1 in our rankings. For a fourth week in a row, Oakland defeated all comers to keep its hold on the top spot, garnering all seven first-place votes. But there was some shuffling in the top five, as the Angels (No. 2) and Dodgers (No. 3) knocked the Brewers (No. 4) down, and the surging Nationals bumped the Tigers from fifth to sixth.

They’re No. 1: Athletics

Oakland has the best record in baseball, the most All-Star-bound players of any team in the majors and, at 99 percent, the highest odds of making the postseason, per Baseball Prospectus’ Playoff Odds Report. But as the Tigers showed in sweeping three straight from the A’s in Detroit last week (improving to 5-2 against Oakland this season), this team is hardly a lock to reach its first World Series in 24 years. Last week’s blockbuster trade to acquire Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from the Cubs can only help, though. Samardzija had a stellar outing (7 IP, 4 H, 1 R) in his Oakland debut on Sunday, helping the A’s cap a four-game sweep of the Blue Jays heading into a four-game showdown with the Giants that should feature Hammels’ first turn in the green-and-gold.

Cellar Dweller: Astros

For all the recent positive momentum Houston has made — like, say, championship dreams that might not be very far-fetched — Houston is back in a familiar spot: last place in the Power Rankings and the owners of the worst record in baseball. The Astros carry a seven-game losing streak into the new week and have lost 16 of 20 overall, during which time their deficit in the AL West has doubled from 10 games to 20. On Sunday, their two prized rookies who have done much to boost hope of brighter days in Houston, George Springer and Jon Singleton, went a combined 0-for-8 with seven strikeouts. While Springer (17 home runs, 46 RBIs) has shown the makings of a star, Singleton is now down down to .168/.264/.336 on the season and may soon have to head back down to the minors.

Biggest Riser: Rays

Maybe that medicine man is working after all. Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon had one from the Seminole tribe come talk to his floundering team on June 9, and after a couple more losses, his Rays have finally started to resemble the annual contenders they had been under his watch. Since June 11, Tampa Bay is 17-8, tied with the Pirates for the most wins in baseball, and has nearly cut its AL East deficit in half. That recent success could be complicating the team’s plans for David Price, however. If the Rays get any closer to a postseason berth, they may have to hold on to their ace. If the medicine wears off, though, Price could still be headed out of town in a blockbuster trade that has long been anticipated.

Biggest Faller: Reds

Yes, Cincinnati took two of three from first-place Milwaukee over the weekend, but it’s hard not to penalize the Reds for becoming the first team all year to be swept by the Padres in a series of at least three games. Even the state of the Joey Votto’s locker has been cause for consternation lately. Still, Cincinnati is sending four players to the All-Star Game and is still just three games out of a playoff spot, so its modest five-place drop in the rankings looks for now like more of a hiccup than a real sign of trouble — although Votto's upcoming disabled list stint isn't making Reds fans breathe any easier.

A Few Words About The...

Giants: San Francisco spent most of last week in damage control, trying to stop its miserable slide out of first place in the NL West after a disastrous 10-16 month of June. Although the Giants went just 3-3 last week, that included a much-needed series win over San Diego, their first since taking two of three from Arizona back on June 20-22. That .500 week helped San Francisco stay just 1/2-game behind the Dodgers in the division race. Up next: a massive test against the best team in baseball, the A's, with two at home and two on the road.

Cubs: The Cubs aren't going to challenge for the top spot in these rankings any time soon, and with their two best starters in Samardzija and Hammel now plying their trade elsewhere, it's going to be a long second half on the North Side of Chicago. But give the Cubs credit for being a tough out even as they cruise toward another last-place finish in the NL Central. Chicago is 18-15 since the start of June and went 4-2 last week, including a three-game Fenway Park sweep of the slumping Red Sox. Plus, the addition of Addison Russell from Oakland gives the Cubs a ludicrous amount of talent in the minors. He's now part of a superb group of top prospects that includes Albert Almora, Javier Baez and Kris Bryant.

Rockies: Colorado's ship is taking on water faster than the team can bail it out. A 1-6 week featuring a sweep at the hands of the Nationals and three losses against the Dodgers has the Rockies just 1/2 a game ahead of last-place Arizona in the NL West and edging closer and closer to last place in our rankings. It's gotten so bad in Colorado that the team, desperate for pitching, dug up Jair Jurrjens for a start against the Dodgers last weekend. Jurrjens, who has made just 11 MLB starts since being named an All-Star in 2011, was roughed up for eight runs on 12 hits in 4 2/3 innings in L.A.'s 9-0 win.

 

  • 1
    1Oakland Athletics
     
    last week: 1
    Points: 210
    High Vote: 1st (7x)
    Low Vote: N/A

  • 2
    2Los Angeles Angels
     
    last week: 3
    points: 199
    High Vote: 2nd (6x)
    Low Vote: 6th

  • 3
    3Los Angeles Dodgers
     
    last week: 4
    points: 188
    High Vote: 3rd (3x)
    Low Vote: 8th

  • 4
    4Milwaukee Brewers
     
    last week: 2
    points: 185
    High Vote: 2nd
    Low Vote: 9th

  • 5
    5Washington Nationals
     
    last week: 9
    points: 181
    High Vote: 4th (2x)
    Low Vote: 7th

  • 6
    6Detroit Tigers
     
    last week: 5
    points: 175
    High Vote: 5th
    Low Vote: 7th

  • 7
    7Atlanta Braves
     
    last week: 8
    points: 171
    High Vote: 3rd (2x)
    Low Vote: 11th

  • 8
    8Seattle Mariners
     
    last week: 7
    points: 158
    High Vote: 5th (2x)
    Low Vote: 13th

  • 9
    9San Francisco Giants
     
    last week: 6
    points: 156
    High Vote: 7th (3x)
    Low Vote: 11th (2x)

  • 10
    10Baltimore Orioles
     
    last week: 13
    points: 152
    High Vote: 8th
    Low Vote: 10th (3x)

  • 11
    11St. Louis Cardinals
     
    last week: 12
    points: 140
    High Vote: 8th
    Low Vote: 13th

  • 12
    12Pittsburgh Pirates
     
    last week: 15
    points: 133
    High Vote: 9th
    Low Vote: 15th

  • 13
    13Toronto Blue Jays
     
    last week: 11
    points: 132
    High Vote: 10th
    Low Vote: 14th

  • 14
    14Kansas City Royals
     
    last week: 14
    points: 118
    High Vote: 13th
    Low Vote: 15th (2x)

  • 15
    15Cincinnati Reds
     
    last week: 10
    points: 110
    High Vote: 12th
    Low Vote: 22nd

  • 16
    16Cleveland Indians
     
    last week: 17
    points: 100
    High Vote: 15th
    Low Vote: 18th

  • 17
    17Miami Marlins
     
    last week: 18
    points: 96
    High Vote: 16th
    Low Vote: 18th (3x)

  • 18
    18New York Yankees
     
    last week: 16
    points: 95
    High Vote: 16th (4x)
    Low Vote: 21st

  • 19
    19Tampa Bay Rays
     
    last week: 27
    points: 82
    High Vote: 16th
    Low Vote: 21st

  • 20
    20Chicago White Sox
     
    last week: 21
    points: 78
    High Vote: 18th
    Low Vote: 23rd

  • 21
    21New York Mets
     
    last week: 19
    points: 68
    High Vote: 18th
    Low Vote: 25th

  • 22
    22Boston Red Sox
     
    last week: 20
    points: 57
    High Vote: 20th (2x)
    Low Vote: 25th

  • 23
    23Minnesota Twins
     
    last week: 22
    points: 55
    High Vote: 22nd (2x)
    Low Vote: 25th

  • 24
    24Chicago Cubs
     
    last week: 25
    points: 54
    High Vote: 19th
    Low Vote: 29th

  • 25
    25San Diego Padres
     
    last week: 28
    points: 40
    High Vote: 23rd
    Low Vote: 30th

  • 26
    26Texas Rangers
     
    last week: 24
    points: 38
    High Vote: 22nd
    Low Vote: 27th

  • 27
    27Colorado Rockies
     
    last week: 23
    points: 29
    High Vote: 24th
    Low Vote: 29th

  • 28
    28Philadelphia Phillies
     
    last week: 29
    points: 25
    High Vote: 26th
    Low Vote: 29th

  • 29
    29Arizona Diamondbacks
     
    last week: 30
    points: 17
    High Vote: 27th
    Low Vote: 30th

  • 30
    30Houston Astros
     
    last week: 26
    points: 13
    High Vote: 25th
    Low Vote: 30th (5x)

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