MLB Power Rankings: Giants surge, Brewers fall as September begins

Just as in real life, the Angels are the runaway No. 1 team in baseball. Thanks to a resounding four-game sweep of the Athletics, Los Angeles is in firm command of the AL West and of this week's Power Rankings, grabbing all six first-place votes. Oakland's miserable weekend knocked the team out of its No. 2 perch to fourth, with the Orioles moving up to second place. The Nationals remained steady at No. 3, with the Dodgers rounding out the top-five, staying just ahead of another red-hot California team: The Giants.

They're No. 1: Angels

Has Los Angeles locked up the AL West? The four-game sweep of Oakland has opened up a five-game division lead for the Angels with just 26 games to go. More importantly, the A's and Angels have only three head-to-head games remaining. Baseball Prospectus certainly seems to think the West is won; by BP's odds, the Angels now have a 92.7 percent chance of winning the division, and a 100 percent chance of making the postseason.

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If Los Angeles can hang on, it would be the team's first AL West title since 2009, when the Angels won 97 games but fell in the American League Championship Series to the eventual world champion Yankees. And with 83 wins already in the books, the Halos have an outside chance at winning 100 games for only the second time ever (they last did so in 2008). They'd have to go 17-9 in September, a .653 winning percentage, to reach the century mark; anything better would give them their most wins in franchise history.

Cellar Dweller: Rangers

At the other end of the AL West spectrum: The Rangers, who are making a serious run at 100 losses for the first time in over four decades. What's more, Texas tied a dubious record last week. The callup of Ryan Rua on Aug. 29 made him the 59th player used by the Rangers this season, tying a record held by the Padres (twice, in 2002 and 2008) and Indians (2002). And when the Rangers bring starter Derek Holland off the disabled list on Tuesday, they'll have the record all to themselves, as well as the record for most pitchers used in one season, at 38.

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Unsurprisingly, Rua was called upon after outfielder Jim Adduci went on the DL with a concussion, the 26th disabled list placement for Texas this season. That makes it all the more amazing that Holland, who has spent all year on the shelf with a knee injury, will be starting on Tuesday. After all, for most of 2014, if a Rangers player went on the DL, there was a good chance he was never coming off.

Biggest Riser: Giants

San Francisco isn't ceding the NL West just yet. A 6-1 week, including a three-game sweep of the Brewers, has the Giants on a six-game win streak and back in the hunt for a division title. San Francisco was 2 1/2 games out of the NL West lead going into Monday's action, a pseudo-doubleheader against the Rockies, and leads the race for the wild card, boasting a two-game lead over the Brewers. BP now gives the team an 89.4 percent chance of making the playoffs.

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Leading this stretch run charge is Hunter Pence, who had the kind of week players dream about. In seven games, Pence hit a jaw-dropping .520/.581/.680 in 31 plate appearances, driving in six. He capped that white-hot week off with a four-hit game in the Giants' 15-5 demolition of Milwaukee, picking up a triple and two doubles and finishing a homer shy of the cycle.

Biggest Faller: Brewers

Perhaps fittingly, this week's big faller is the team that San Francisco routed en route to its current win streak: The Brewers, who after losing 4-2 to the Cubs on Monday are now mired in a six-game skid. What's worse, they've fallen out of first place in the NL Central for the first time since Apr. 5, as they now trail the Cardinals by one game.

This fall has been a long time coming for Milwaukee, which is now 22-31 since the start of July and has a run differential on the season of just +13, putting them closer to a .500 ballclub than a true contender. It certainly doesn't help when your pitching staff gives up 42 runs in six games, as the Brewers did last week, including 13 and 15 runs each in two games against the Giants. The return of Matt Garza to the rotation from a strained oblique should help, but one wonders if it won't be too little, too late for Milwaukee's NL Central hopes.

  • 1
    1Los Angeles Angels
    last week: 1
    points: 180
    High Vote: 1st (6x)
    Low Vote: N/A

  • 2
    2Baltimore Orioles
    last week: 5
    points: 169
    High Vote: 2nd (3x)
    Low Vote: 4th (2x)

  • 3
    3Washington Nationals
    last week: 3
    points: 168
    High Vote: 2nd (2x)
    Low Vote: 4th (2x)

  • 4
    4Oakland Athletics
    last week: 2
    points: 161
    High Vote: 2nd
    Low Vote: 8th

  • 5
    5Los Angeles Dodgers
    last week: 4
    points: 159
    High Vote: 3rd
    Low Vote: 5th (4x)

  • 6
    6San Francisco Giants
    last week: 11
    points: 144
    High Vote: 6th (2x)
    Low Vote: 9th

  • 7
    7Detroit Tigers
    last week: 10
    points: 143
    High Vote: 5th
    Low Vote: 8th (3x)

  • 8
    8Seattle Mariners
    last week: 8
    points: 138
    High Vote: 6th (2x)
    Low Vote: 10th

  • 9
    9Kansas City Royals
    last week: 6
    points: 134
    High Vote: 6th (2x)
    Low Vote: 15th

  • 10
    10St. Louis Cardinals
    last week: 9
    points: 120
    High Vote: 9th
    Low Vote: 13th (2x)

  • 11
    11Cleveland Indians
    last week: 15
    points: 113
    High Vote: 10th
    Low Vote: 14th

  • 12
    12Milwaukee Brewers
    last week: 7
    points: 111
    High Vote: 11th
    Low Vote: 14th

  • 13
    13Atlanta Braves
    last week: 12
    points: 110
    High Vote: 11th (3x)
    Low Vote: 15th

  • 14
    14Pittsburgh Pirates
    last week: 13
    points: 109
    High Vote: 10th
    Low Vote: 14th (3x)

  • 15
    15New York Yankees
    last week: 14
    points: 94
    High Vote: 15th (5x)
    Low Vote: 17th

  • 16
    16Tampa Bay Rays
    last week: 16
    points: 90
    High Vote: 9th
    Low Vote: 19th

  • 17
    17Toronto Blue Jays
    last week: 17
    points: 89
    High Vote: 16th (5x)
    Low Vote: 17th

  • 18
    18Cincinnati Reds
    last week: 19
    points: 79
    High Vote: 17th
    Low Vote: 18th (5x)

  • 19
    19Miami Marlins
    last week: 18
    points: 74
    High Vote: 17th
    Low Vote: 19th (5x)

  • 20
    20New York Mets
    last week: 20
    points: 64
    High Vote: 20th (4x)
    Low Vote: 21st (2x)

  • 21
    21San Diego Padres
    last week: 21
    points: 60
    High Vote: 20th
    Low Vote: 22nd

  • 22
    22Chicago Cubs
    last week: 24
    points: 52
    High Vote: 20th
    Low Vote: 24th

  • 23
    23Philadelphia Phillies
    last week: 25
    points: 49
    High Vote: 22nd (3x)
    Low Vote: 25th

  • 24
    24Chicago White Sox
    last week: 22
    points: 39
    High Vote: 23rd
    Low Vote: 26th

  • 25
    25Minnesota Twins
    last week: 23
    points: 34
    High Vote: 24th (2x)
    Low Vote: 27th

  • 26
    26Boston Red Sox
    last week: 28
    points: 30
    High Vote: 25th (2x)
    Low Vote: 27th (2x)

  • 27
    27Houston Astros
    last week: 27
    points: 29
    High Vote: 23rd
    Low Vote: 27th (3x)

  • 28
    28Arizona Diamondbacks
    last week: 26
    points: 16
    High Vote: 28th (4x)
    Low Vote: 29th (2x)

  • 29
    29Colorado Rockies
    last week: 29
    points: 14
    High Vote: 28th (2x)
    Low Vote: 29th (4x)

  • 30
    30Texas Rangers
    last week: 30
    points: 6
    High Vote: N/A
    Low Vote: 30th (6x)

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