- In this week's Power Rankings we examine how teams' playoff odds shifted during the month of August.
Welcome back to SI’s MLB Power Rankings. The final full month of the regular season is almost upon us… so for this edition of the list, we’ll be spotlighting the teams whose playoff chances changed the most in August, for good or for bad, using the odds over at FanGraphs. (If you missed last week’s edition, catch up here.) To the list!
30. Detroit Tigers (39-92; Last Week: 30)
29. Baltimore Orioles (44-89; Last Week: 29)
28. Kansas City Royals (47-88; Last Week: 27)
27. Miami Marlins (48-85; Last Week: 28)
26. Toronto Blue Jays (54-81; Last Week: 26)
25. Seattle Mariners (57-78; Last Week: 24)
24. Pittsburgh Pirates (57-77; Last Week: 25)
23. Colorado Rockies (59-76; Last Week: 22)
22. Chicago White Sox (60-73; Last Week: 23)
21. Los Angeles Angels (64-71; Last Week: 20)
20. San Diego Padres (62-71; Last Week: 21)
19. San Francisco Giants (65-68; Last Week: 19)
Remember the halcyon days of late July, when San Francisco’s hot streak had turned the club from a sure seller into a center of will-they-or-won’t-they deadline talk? ...Yeah, that now feels quite far away. The Giants’ .400 play in August has taken them from playoff long shot to impossibility. (Okay, not “impossibility.” They still have a chance. An 0.2% chance, but that’s still a chance.)
18. Texas Rangers (65-70; Last Week: 17)
17. Cincinnati Reds (63-70; Last Week: 18)
16. Arizona Diamondbacks (68-66; Last Week: 16)
15. Milwaukee Brewers (68-65; Last Week: 14)
The Brewers have spent much of the year battling themselves—outperforming their run differential, trying to cover up the holes in their pitching staff, generally doing better than they logically should have. In August, the bottom finally fell out from under them. They posted their worst monthly record of the season so far (and their second consecutive month under .500), walked more batters than any other club, and saw their postseason chances drop accordingly, from 34% to 11%.
14. New York Mets (67-66; Last Week: 11)
The Mets’ graph of postseason odds over time looks like a particularly herky-jerky roller-coaster, one of those old wooden ones without particular attention to comfort. Initially, there’s only a series of modest peaks and valleys. Occasionally, it’s punctuated by a greater swing. And, eventually, it leads to the Big Climb—shooting all the way up, further up than it seemed like it could possibly go—which, of course, only leads to the Big Fall, stomachs in throats as the coaster hurtles back down.
The first two weeks of August were the Big Climb. The last two have been the Big Fall.
13. Boston Red Sox (72-62; Last Week: 15)
The Red Sox’ August was… fine. It was certainly better than, say, their April. They won more games than they lost. Their OPS for the month was the fourth-highest in baseball. Their pitching was adequate. They couldn’t have said any of this back in April.
But in April, they had time, and in August, they do not, so it’s this month that has lowered their chances the most: Boston’s postseason odds dropped from 40% to 7%. This was the biggest August drop in all of MLB, and it’s likely the end of the road for Boston.
12. Philadelphia Phillies (69-63; Last Week: 13)
The Phillies’ August started shaky and only got shakier. They briefly slipped into fourth place for the first time. Their pitching remained a problem. Jake Arrieta underwent season-ending surgery. Calls to fire Gabe Kapler only got louder. It’s been, shall we say, decidedly not fun, and it’s been reflected in their odds, slipping from 25% to 7%.
11. Tampa Bay Rays (77-58; Last Week: 10)
The Rays’ road to a wild-card berth wouldn’t have been guaranteed even if they were fully healthy. And they haven’t been fully healthy. Tyler Glasnow hit a snag in his rehab and likely won’t be back until mid-September; Yandy Diaz recently fractured his foot and is now out for the year; Brandon Lowe’s strong rookie season was cut short back in July; Jose Alvarado has been battling various troubles; Blake Snell, of course, is still sidelined, and he was struggling even before that. Result? October odds that are now below 50%, if only barely. (49.2%)
10. St. Louis Cardinals (73-59; Last Week: 12)
There are plenty of ways to measure just how good St. Louis has been in August, but here’s a particularly fun one: The Cardinals have allowed only 18 home runs for the entire month. 18! That’s 0.75 per game. In this homer economy? Wild. They also have August’s lowest staff ERA (3.20), one of its best records (16-9), and an accompanying spike in postseason odds, from 53% to 83%.
9. Chicago Cubs (72-61; Last Week: 8)
The Cubs’ postseason odds have been locked in the same window since May 1, ranging from 65% to 85%. It’s been an entire summer of fluctuating between “uncomfortably close to a coin flip” and “uncomfortably far from certain,” anchored by the stress of a topsy-turvy division. Have their chances ever looked bad? No. How was their August? It was mostly fine! (15-11, which, of course, does not look quite as fine next to the Cardinals, and it had the two teams jockeying back and forth all month for first place.) Do the odds still favor them to win the division? Yes, but only barely (50.0%, versus 47.5% for the Cardinals, with the leftover shadow of a chance handed to the Brewers), and they briefly lost this position as the favorite earlier this week. The Cubs’ situation certainly isn’t bad, but man, it could be better.
8. Washington Nationals (74-58; Last Week: 9)
The Nationals are now almost a lock to make the postseason (97.1% odds, which makes sense, given their lead on the top wild-card), which is hardly what anyone would have guessed back in May, when their season was in freefall. But the rotation has been among the best in baseball, Anthony Rendon is having a career season, Juan Soto remains a marvel, and even the ‘pen has been better (low bar, but still). The Nationals started to redeem themselves earlier this summer, but August’s hot run has sealed the deal.
7. Oakland A’s (77-56; Last Week: 6)
No team swung its odds this month as much as Oakland. The A’s followed a hot July with a torrid August, taking their chances from decent-ish (24%) to likelier than not (59%). If it feels like you’ve seen this one before in Oakland, well, you have—but that doesn’t have to make it any less fun to watch.