Welcome to Power Rankings' Second Annual Separation Week. It comes exactly a year after the first edition and the premise is this: In the past week several playoff leaders separated themselves from the pack.
The red-hot NL Central-leading Brewers have won 19 of their last 21 games, including six straight this week, while the second-place Cardinals muddled through a 3-3 record over their past six games, helping Milwaukee build its lead from four games to seven. That stretch of six games increased their likelihood of winning the division, according to coolstandings.com, from 73.5 percent to a whopping 90.9 percent.
The similarly streaking AL West-leading Rangers have won 11 of their last 13 games and six straight this week, including three straight against their closest competitor, the Angels. Los Angeles also lost two straight to end its series with the Blue Jays, meaning Texas' lead has extended from two games to seven. Again, according to coolstandings.com, the Rangers have increased their chance of winning the division from 68.9 percent to 95.9 percent.
And a much less pronounced example happened in the NL West, where the Diamondbacks recently won seven straight to turn a half-game deficit to the Giants into a 3 1/2 game-lead before a loss Wednesday night reduced it back to 2 1/2. During that time they improved their chance of winning the division from 41.8 percent to its current 65.9.
The Brewers' hot play helped them crack the elite top-tier of the Phillies, Red Sox and Yankees and move into the No. 2 spot while the Rangers, now up to No. 5, are on the verge of joining them as well.
NOTE: All stats are updated through Wednesday, Aug. 17.
MLB Power Rankings