While the Yankees have been comfortably perched atop the American League East for most of the season, the two teams making the biggest jumps in the Power Rankings this week are division rivals Baltimore and Tampa Bay. While the Orioles' run-differential suggests they're more of a pretender than a contender, the Rays may finally be a challenger capable of overtaking the Yankees (at 11 games behind and with an under-.500 record, the Red Sox are too far back at the moment to be considered a serious challenger).
The Rays have now got Evan Longoria and Matt Joyce back from the disabled list, and have won six straight games since Longoria returned. Tampa Bay's rise, though, is due mostly to its pitching and defense, which have combined to post a 1.79 ERA in August.
By going 8-2 in its last 10 games, Tampa Bay has pulled within five games of New York for the division lead and is now on top of the wild card race. The Yankees are still the AL East favorites, but Tampa Bay looks like a serious contender to reach the postseason for the fourth time in five years.
NOTE: All stats are through Sunday, August 12.
Rankings written by Ben Duronio of Fangraphs.com. The system used to rank the teams is based not on the current standings or a gut feeling about team quality, but on how well they've performed at the underlying traits that predict future performance better than wins and losses.
wRC+ is an offensive index where 100 is league average and every point above or below that denotes how far from league average a player's performance has been up to that point. It is adjusted for park and league, so it takes into account the context of a player's surroundings, and allows for comparison of performance from players in different situations and in different times.
MLB Power Rankings