Welcome to the last edition of SI’s MLB Power Rankings before the trade deadline. In keeping with the theme of everything else being discussed this week—who’s gearing up for October? who’s not?—this edition will focus on the teams whose fates are the most unclear. In other words, those with postseason odds above 10% but below 85%. (If this feels like a large spread… consider that there are just ten teams in this range, with the other twenty either above or below it. We’re using FanGraphs’ numbers, which are the same ones published on MLB’s own site.) So let’s rank, shall we?
30. Baltimore Orioles (33-69; Last Week: 29)
29. Detroit Tigers (30-68; Last Week: 30)
28. Miami Marlins (38-62; Last Week: 27)
27. Kansas City Royals (39-65; Last Week: 26)
26. Toronto Blue Jays (39-65; Last Week: 28)
25. Seattle Mariners (43-63; Last Week: 24)
24. Chicago White Sox (45-55; Last Week: 25)
23. Pittsburgh Pirates (46-56; Last Week: 22)
22. Colorado Rockies (48-55; Last Week: 18)
21. New York Mets (47-55; Last Week: 23)
20. San Diego Padres (48-54; Last Week: 21)
19. Cincinnati Reds (46-54; Last Week: 19)
18. Texas Rangers (52-51; Last Week: 12)
17. San Francisco Giants (52-51; Last Week: 20)
16. Los Angeles Angels (54-50; Last Week: 17)
15. Milwaukee Brewers (54-50; Last Week: 15)
The Brewers’ playoff odds have been cut exactly in half over the last five weeks. On June 13, they were in first place, sitting at 64%; now, they’re in third, with postseason chances of 32%. There’s some of this that can be attributed to their division—hello, St. Louis’s hot streak—and some that’s just them. The Brewers’ success all year has been built on a statistically shaky foundation, with a negative run differential almost the entire time despite the roster’s talent, and they’re now feeling the effects of that. (Particularly with their rotation, which has consistently stuck out as being in need of an upgrade... and now needs one more than ever, with the recent injury for Brandon Woodruff.)
14. Arizona Diamondbacks (52-51; Last Week: 13)
The Diamondbacks’ odds only juuuust make it in this window. They have the same record as their surging division mates, the Giants, and their slipping equivalent in the AL West, the Rangers—but they have, by far, the best run differential of the three (actually one of the best in the National League, behind only the Dodgers and Cubs), with a far more stable pitching staff, and these factors give them better chances. So… are their chances good? No. (15%.) Is there a real case for them to do anything rather than sell? Uh, also no. Get the Robbie Ray rumors ready.
13. Philadelphia Phillies (54-48; Last Week: 16)
The Phillies spent most of the first two months of the season in first place, only to tumble through the standings in late June and July. After the All-Star break, they sat 9 1/2 games back of first, their worst position all season… which has since been partially remedied, though not enough to offer them any real form of security. But if they manage to snag some pitching help at the deadline, their situation might start looking much more competitive.
12. St. Louis Cardinals (55-47; Last Week: 14)
The Cardinals have gotten hot at just the right time. They’re 14-6 in July, which has earned them a share of first place for the first time in months. So can they stay there? It’s hard to imagine that the Cubs’ talent won’t be capable of eventually pulling away, but the Cardinals’ chances to nail down a wild-card spot look solid enough.
11. Washington Nationals (55-47; Last Week: 11)
After being seemingly left for dead at the end of May, Washington has rocketed back up the standings with a vengeance. And if they pick up some relief depth at the deadline, it seems reasonable to believe that they could be a good bet to take over first place—while they’re currently 4 1/2 games back of Atlanta, they have a better run differential and a higher spot in adjusted standings, and it might not take too much for the real standings to begin looking a bit more like those.
10. Boston Red Sox (57-47; Last Week: 9)
Now we’re getting somewhere fun. The Red Sox (56%) and Rays (51%) have the most closely matched odds of any pair of division-mates. They’re also the only two teams in baseball between 50% and 70%—the ones whose fates feel most like a coin flip, with the most to potentially gain or lose at the deadline. Bring it on.
9. Atlanta Braves (60-43; Last Week: 8)
8. Chicago Cubs (55-47; Last Week: 7)
Every division leader has playoff odds above 90%... except in the NL Central, where the Cubs (80%) now find themselves tied with the Cardinals (47%), with only a few games separating the pair from the Brewers (32%). Chaos!
7. Cleveland Indians (60-42; Last Week: 10)
As Minnesota has hit a slight bumpy patch while Cleveland has soared, the gap between the two is the smallest that it’s been all year. José Ramírez is looking like himself again. The rotation holding strong, with Shane Bieber and Zach Plesac stepping up to fill the spaces left by Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco. The outfield no longer seems like a disaster zone. The ‘pen is just fine. As a result, Cleveland’s odds are back above 70% for the first time since early May.
6. Tampa Bay Rays (58-47; Last Week: 5)
After their crazy hot start to the season, Tampa Bay’s performance in June (13-16) and now July (10-11) has been relatively lackluster. Of course, the team still boasts a better record and run differential than division mate Boston, with a stronger overall performance from its pitching staff… but it’s not too hard to see why the postseason odds suggest that it might fall behind down the stretch.
5. Oakland Athletics (58-46; Last Week: 6)
You’ve seen this one before. Remember Oakland’s unlikely surge in the late summer of 2018, rising from the back of the division to threaten a run at first place, ultimately settling for a wild-card? Yeah, it’s happening again, or something similar, at least. The A’s have been one of the best teams of July, despite, once again, a rotation that doesn’t look like very much on paper. They’re in for a tough fight for the wild-card—despite the fact that they currently have a hold on the position, FanGraphs puts their odds at 21%, compared to those numbers in the mid-50% for the Rays and Red Sox—but they figure, at least, to be a serious player in the race down the stretch.