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MLB Power Rankings: Where the Remaining Playoff Contenders Stand

The field shifts to an elimination phase as some teams officially fall out of playoff contention, while the Dodgers move toward a triple-digit win count and the Yankees extend their division lead.

A mere three and a half weeks remain in the 2022 regular season, which means we’ve entered magic-number territory. And with the mathematical elimination of the Nationals last week—the first team to be officially out of postseason contention, who have since been joined by the A’s, Tigers and Pirates—we thought it was time for the fine folks over at SI’s Power Rankings HQ to adopt a similar theme.

With that in mind, we’ve trimmed the field considerably, with a full focus on the playoffs from now on. Only teams deemed by Will Laws and me to be still “in the hunt” will be ranked from this point forward, and we’ll remove squads that we deem too far out of range to realistically have any hope of making a run. This week, that leaves us with 16 teams left to fight for 10 playoff spots. Let’s dive into that group as we plow ahead for the stretch run.

16. Minnesota Twins (Last Week: 16)

A week ago, the Twins were 68–64 and tied atop the American League Central standings, with FanGraphs giving them a nearly 40% chance of making the playoffs. After a week that saw them go 1-6 and get swept at home by the Guardians, their odds have plummeted to 7.7%, with Minnesota entering Monday a game below .500 and 4.5 games behind Cleveland with 23 to play.

The problem for the Twins during their nightmarish week was the same issue that’s plagued the team for most of the second half: hitting. Minnesota ranks 10th in the AL in runs scored since the All-Star break and managed just 22 runs during the past seven games. Among the biggest letdowns has been Max Kepler, who’s just 18-for-101 (.179) since the start of August with just five extra-base hits and no home runs. The Twins have also missed the presence of Byron Buxton, who’s been out since Aug. 22 with a hip injury. Buxton hasn’t begun any baseball activities during his rehab, though the team is hopeful that he will be able to return to the field before the end of the season.

That struggling offense hasn’t been helped much by a wayward pitching staff that’s been hurting for healthy, consistent arms. Tyler Mahle’s shoulder has limited him to just one start since mid-August, while Chris Archer, Joe Ryan and Dylan Bundy have all been ineffective. That’s left Sonny Gray pretty much on an island, and the strain to find quality production has been difficult to maneuver.

Because of the way the schedule is laid out, we should know very soon whether or not the Twins will remain in this space. After a three-game home series against the Royals starts tomorrow, Minnesota travels to Cleveland for a rare five-game set over the weekend. Win that series and the Twins would undoubtedly be back in the mix. Lose, though, and it’s very likely to mark the end of Minnesota being counted among 2022’s playoff contenders.

Gray has pitched 36.2 innings across the last seven games he started for the Twins. 

Gray has pitched 36.2 innings across the last seven games he started for the Twins. 

15. Baltimore Orioles (LW: 12)

14. Chicago White Sox (LW: 17)

13. Cleveland Guardians (LW: 14)

12. Milwaukee Brewers (LW: 13)

11. San Diego Padres (LW: 11)

While a full-on implosion that knocks them out of the postseason does not appear to be likely this time around, the Padres are still striving for signs of a silver lining. San Diego went 3–3 last week, losing yet another series to the Dodgers (this time dropping two out of three at home over the weekend) and getting outscored 19–6 over the past two games.

That’s been a concerning theme for the Friars, not just against Los Angeles but against all quality teams. San Diego is a mere 22–32 this season in games against teams that are .500 or better, the worst mark among the 10 teams currently in possession of one of the playoff berths. That’s not a stat that offers any reassurances that this is a team capable of beating another quality side in a five or seven-game series. Still, there’s no team that has San Diego’s number quite like the Dodgers, though, who are 12–4 this season against their in-state division foes.

The road ahead offers few let-ups, though. The Padres hit the road for a two-game series against the Mariners, followed by four games against the Diamondbacks before returning home to host the first-place Cardinals. The final home stand of the series features games against both the Dodgers and White Sox, who are still in the mix for the AL Central crown.

10. Philadelphia Phillies (LW: 10)

9. Toronto Blue Jays (LW: 9)

8. Tampa Bay Rays (LW: 8)

Aug 28, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Tampa Bay Rays first baseman Harold Ramirez (43) follows through on an RBI single against the Boston Red Sox during the sixth inning at Fenway Park.

The Rays posted the best August record (18–9) among AL teams. They are 6-3 to start this month, mostly thanks to a three-game sweep of the Red Sox.

7. Seattle Mariners (LW: 7)

6. St. Louis Cardinals (LW: 5)

5. New York Yankees (LW: 6)

Yankees fans, breathe a sigh of relief. The Bombers picked up a much-needed series win over the weekend, taking two of three over the Rays to maintain an arm’s-length distance on Tampa Bay in the AL East. It was New York’s first series win over the Rays during the second half and pushed the team’s lead in the division to 5.5 games (after Tampa Bay briefly cut it to 3.5 games following Friday’s 4–2 win).

The reversal of fortunes was spurred by the offense, which had been mostly nonexistent during the second half until it erupted for 20 combined runs on Saturday and Sunday. That outburst included four home runs by the lineup on Sunday, a remarkable feat considering none of them were hit by Aaron JudgeGleyber Torres’s two-homer, four-RBI performance was a much-needed breath of fresh air for the 25-year-old second baseman, who is hitting just .196/.238/.335 in 44 games since the All-Star break, striking out 28.6% of the time.

Sep 25, 2017; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge (99) hits his recored breaking 50th home run against the Kansas City Royals during the seventh inning of the game at Yankee Stadium.

Judge homered in four straight games last week and now holds the Yankees single-season right-handed home run record.

Only three of the Yankees’ next 11 games come against teams above .500—a three-part set in Milwaukee this week. For now, though, the team appears to have put enough breathing room between itself and the Rays to hang on to the division lead. Following Tampa Bay’s win on Friday, New York’s chances of winning the East dipped to 80.4%, per FanGraphs, the lowest mark since mid-June. Now, with 21 games to go, that number is back up to 93.2%.

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4. Houston Astros (LW: 4)

3. Atlanta Braves (LW: 3)

2. New York Mets (LW: 2)

1. Los Angeles Dodgers (LW: 1)

Another week, another dominant showing by the Dodgers. The team went a combined 4–2 against division rivals San Francisco and San Diego, outscoring the two teams by a total of 40–24. Los Angeles is now a staggering 36–13 since the All-Star break.

Trayce Thompson celebrates with other Dodgers.

The Dodgers have sat atop SI’s power rankings for six consecutive weeks. 

Sunday’s 11–2 rout over the Padres brought the team’s runs scored total to 756, while its total runs given up is just 446 on the year. The Dodgers lead the majors in both categories—and are 23 games away from pulling off the rare feat of leading for the whole year. Only seven teams have done that since the start of the 20th century, per’s Sarah Langs, and it’s only occurred once since World War II. The last team to do it was the 2001 Mariners, who won an MLB-record 116 games while outscoring opponents by a combined 300 runs (927–627). The Dodgers are on pace for 112 victories on the season, which would be the most since that year’s Mariners (who infamously lost in the ALCS).

The Dodgers are four wins away from their 100th victory, and this season would mark their 10th time reaching that threshold. But historic regular seasons haven’t been too kind to the franchise: The team has never won the World Series after posting triple-digit regular-season wins. The franchise record for wins in a year is 106, a feat pulled off twice in the past three years: once in 2019 and again in ’21, with Los Angeles losing to the eventual champions in both years (plus failing to even win the pennant).

The road gets easier from here, with the Dodgers’ next 11 games coming against the Diamondbacks and Giants before a six-game stretch facing the Cardinals and Padres. A mere 11–12 finish is all it will take to set a new record for wins in a season—an exceptional accomplishment that deserves its recognition—but with all the success the franchise has had in the past decade-plus, such an achievement will feel empty without a World Series win to back it up. We’re still eight weeks away from crowning a champion, so Dodgers fans have ample time to work themselves up into a tizzy after spending most of the season on cruise control as their team stands head and shoulders above the competition.

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