MLB Power Rankings: Brewers rising again as Reds stumble

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Are the Brewers ready to climb back toward the top of the Power Rankings? After stumbling through most of July, Milwaukee's recent hot stretch has the team just outside of a loaded top-five. The Athletics remain No. 1 thanks to garnering all seven first-place votes, while the Angels and Nationals remain second and third. The Dodgers and Tigers round out the top-five, but Milwaukee is now hot on that quintet's heels.

They're No. 1: Athletics

Score that an error on mastermind Billy Beane: $10 million man Jim Johnson — the team's second-highest paid player — has been designated for assignment after posting a 7.14 ERA and walking 5.1 per nine in 40 1/3 innings. With a bullpen that's second in the AL in ERA (2.98) and first in strikeout-to-unintentional-walk ratio (3.6), they'll never miss him.

Cellar Dweller: Rangers

Losers of 19 out of 23 in July and 29 out of their last 35 since June 16, the Rangers appear more geared towards pursuing the overall number one pick in the 2015 draft than toward saving face. At least that explains the installation of J.P. Arencibia — a career .207/.254/.401 hitter batting batting a crisp .147/.194/.305 through 103 PA this year — as the regular first baseman.

Biggest Riser: Brewers

A 5-2 week not only helped Milwaukee jump four spots in these rankings, to No. 6, but it also enabled the Brewers to reclaim sole possession of first place in the NL Central, albeit by a scant two games. General manager Doug Melvin says he is being aggressive with the trade deadline approaching, but it would be tough to envision Milwaukee making the kind of CC Sabathia-esque deal that would make them the clear favorites.

The biggest help could come if their biggest recent acquisition, right-handed starter Matt Garza, performs up to his capabilities more consistently. Garza signed a four-year, $50 million deal in the offseason but has been mediocre to date, going 7-7 with a 3.87 ERA. He did, however, follow the worst start of his season on July 19 — giving up five runs while recording just one out against the Nationals — with maybe his best five days later, when he allowed just two hits and one run in eight innings against the Mets.

Biggest Faller: Reds

Cincinnati’s place in this spot is due to more than just its struggles last week with the team above. Yes, the Reds were swept in Milwaukee to open the week, but they are now 3-10 in their past 13 games, and won just once last week. While Cincinnati was 1 1/2 games out in the NL Central at the All-Star break, it has now fallen six games behind. If the Reds are to make a move, their best chance may come starting this week. Their next 20 games are against teams that enter Monday with a losing record: The Diamondbacks, Marlins, Indians, Red Sox and Rockies. ​

A Few Words About The...

Giants: San Francisco took a tumble out of the NL West lead and to the No. 10 spot in our rankings after a rough weekend against the Dodgers. Los Angeles swept a three-game series against its Bay Area rival to increase its division lead to 1 1/2 games; the Giants have now lost four games in a row. Although San Francisco is still in good postseason position — Baseball Prospectus gives the Giants a 69.9 percent chance of playing in October — things are a little precarious, with the team's lead for the second wild card spot just half-a-game over St. Louis. The Giants got a decent debut from their most recent acquisition, as Jake Peavy allowed three earned runs in six innings, striking out five, in his first start for San Francisco on Sunday night. That wasn't the case for fellow new Giant Dan Uggla, who went 0-for-8 with four strikeouts and three errors against the Dodgers.

Blue Jays: Is Toronto's summer slump over? The Jays went 5-2 over the last week, including crucial series wins against the Red Sox and Yankees. That helped Toronto leapfrog New York in the AL East, where the Jays trail the Orioles by three games, and has the team in the second wild card spot by a game over the Bronx Bombers. Toronto won five of six after getting blasted, 14-1, by Boston last Monday, and the offense has led the charge; the Jays scored 36 runs over that six-game stretch. Also boosting the Blue Jays: Rookie Marcus Stroman, who has gone seven innings in three of his last four starts and has a 1.82 ERA in the month of July.

Marlins: Don't write off the Marlins just yet. The early surprise of the season, Miami looked like it had run out of steam after a six-game losing streak in mid-July dropped the team to 8 1/2 games out in the NL East. But the Marlins have ripped off seven wins in their eight games since then, including a 6-1 stretch last week. That's probably not enough to get them back into the division chase, where Miami trails the Nationals by seven games, but the deficit for the second wild card spot is a more manageable 5 1/2 games. The odds are still heavily against the Marlins — their odds are down to 2.9 percent to make the playoffs, in BP's estimation — but Miami is at least making a run at it. A deadline trade for some offense would improve their chances, especially if the Marlins can get some help at first base, where Garrett Jones has posted a mere .551 OPS in July and remains hopeless against left-handers (.483 OPS, 0 HR).

1. Oakland Athletics

PREVIOUS: 1

RECORD: points210

Low Vote: N/A

2. Los Angeles Angels

PREVIOUS: 2

RECORD: points203

Low Vote: N/A

3. Washington Nationals

PREVIOUS: 3

RECORD: points191

Low Vote: 6th

4. Los Angeles Dodgers

PREVIOUS: 5

RECORD: points189

Low Vote: 5th

5. Detroit Tigers

PREVIOUS: 4

RECORD: points180

Low Vote: 7th (2x)

6. Milwaukee Brewers

PREVIOUS: 10

RECORD: points171

Low Vote: 8th (3x)

7. Baltimore Orioles

PREVIOUS: 9

RECORD: points169

Low Vote: 9th (2x)

8. St. Louis Cardinals

PREVIOUS: 8

RECORD: points155

Low Vote: 11th

9. Atlanta Braves

PREVIOUS: 7

RECORD: points153

Low Vote: 12th

10. San Francisco Giants

PREVIOUS: 6

RECORD: points152

Low Vote: 12th

11. Toronto Blue Jays

PREVIOUS: 14

RECORD: points139

Low Vote: 14th

12. Seattle Mariners

PREVIOUS: 11

RECORD: points134

Low Vote: 16th

13. Pittsburgh Pirates

PREVIOUS: 12

RECORD: points127

Low Vote: 15th

14. New York Yankees

PREVIOUS: 15

RECORD: points112

Low Vote: 19th

15. Kansas City Royals

PREVIOUS: 18

RECORD: points109

Low Vote: 18th

16. Tampa Bay Rays

PREVIOUS: 17

RECORD: points106

Low Vote: 20th

17. Cleveland Indians

PREVIOUS: 16

RECORD: points105

Low Vote: 18th (3x)

18. Cincinnati Reds

PREVIOUS: 13

RECORD: points99

Low Vote: 19th

19. Miami Marlins

PREVIOUS: 22

RECORD: points84

Low Vote: 22nd

20. New York Mets

PREVIOUS: 19

RECORD: points75

Low Vote: 24th

21. Chicago White Sox

PREVIOUS: 20

RECORD: points74

Low Vote: 22nd (2x)

22. Boston Red Sox

PREVIOUS: 21

RECORD: points67

Low Vote: 22nd (3x)

23. Minnesota Twins

PREVIOUS: 23

RECORD: points54

Low Vote: 24th (2x)

24. San Diego Padres

PREVIOUS: 24

RECORD: points48

Low Vote: 27th

25. Philadelphia Phillies

PREVIOUS: 25

RECORD: points41

Low Vote: 26th (2x)

26. Arizona Diamondbacks

PREVIOUS: 26

RECORD: points31

Low Vote: 29th

27. Colorado Rockies

PREVIOUS: 28

RECORD: points30

Low Vote: 27th (6x)

28. Chicago Cubs

PREVIOUS: 27

RECORD: points28

Low Vote: 28th (5x)

29. Houston Astros

PREVIOUS: 29

RECORD: points13

Low Vote: 30th (2x)

30. Texas Rangers

PREVIOUS: 30

RECORD: points9

Low Vote: 30th (5x)