Throughout the 2014 regular season, some teams will shine and some will falter. Power Rankings will identify who has been moving upwards and who may be hitting a cold spell.
This week, the Power Rankings are beginning to tighten up as division leaders are feeling their second place opponents closing in. The top spot in the Power Rankings could be in jeopardy with the new moves made by the respective ball clubs. The season is almost over so the teams that appear here will need a strong finish to ensure they have their spots in postseason baseball.
Despite losing two out of three to the Houston Astros during this week, the Oakland Athletics still hold the best record in the league. With the best record in the league comes the division lead too. But this is not what makes them the biggest winners of this week’s Power Rankings. Along with the big acquisition of starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija, the A’s added to their starting rotation once again, acquiring Jon Lester from the Boston Red Sox. But to get something great, you have to give up something great and they did as a tremendous power source exited Oakland with Yoenis Cespedes joining the Red Sox. It remains to be seen if the departure of the two-time Home Run Derby champion will affect the Oakland offense.
2. Los Angeles Angels
The Los Angeles Angels have the second best record in the American League and are just two games behind the Oakland A’s. The Angels won three out of four against the American League Central-leading Detroit Tigers. The path through division leaders would continue when they visited the American League East-leading Baltimore Orioles. The Angels would go to two extra inning games in the three-game series. They would lose the series but injuries were the bigger loss as starting pitcher Tyler Skaggs went down in the finale of this series. The return from the disabled list of C.J. Wilson did not feature ideal results as he was smacked around for six runs by the Tampa Bay Rays before he could finish the second inning. The Angels have a chance to take the sole spot in the Power Rankings and more importantly, sole spot in the standings.
The Los Angeles Dodgers finished off a sweep of the biggest threat in the rival San Francisco Giants and then took three against the struggling Atlanta Braves. The Dodgers will be counting on the hot bats of Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig to assist Clayton Kershaw and the rest of the rotation. A couple concerns for the Dodgers are middle relief and the health of shortstop Hanley Ramirez. The Dodgers probably have enough offense to win the division but if they have any aspirations to go deep into the postseason, the health of Hanley Ramirez will be crucial.
4. Detroit Tigers
The Detroit Tigers looked to make a splash in the non-waiver trade deadline and they did so by adding to the already powerful starting rotation. Trading away outfielder Austin Jackson and pitcher Drew Smyly; the Tigers acquired Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher David Price. Adding Price to a rotation that features Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, Anibal Sanchez and Rick Porcello in his breakout season makes for a very formidable rotation for any team to deal with. The Tigers would have a slow start to the week, losing two series to the Los Angeles Angels and the Chicago White Sox but they bounced back and swept the Colorado Rockies in hopes of keeping the Kansas City Royals away.
5. Milwaukee Brewers
A week of minor injuries and struggles in their games would make the National League Central division close for the leading Milwaukee Brewers. A series loss to the New York Mets and Tampa Bay Rays is not what you want as they are series the Brewers were expected to win. It did not help that the St. Louis Cardinals also won their series with the Brew crew. It would appear that when the pitching is on their game, the offense does not show up. Then when the offense shows up, the pitching cannot make the runs stand. The Brewers are hitting a rough spot at a bad time with other teams in the division pulling close to them.
6. Baltimore Orioles
The Baltimore Orioles did not add to their starting rotation but they did look into the division to acquire left-handed reliever Andrew Miller from the Boston Red Sox. The Orioles would keep pace with the teams in their division as they won three out of four in Seattle and won two out of three against the visiting Los Angeles Angels. The Orioles will also win another series when the Mariners came to visit. If the Orioles can keep up this keep pace with their division opponents, there is no reason they cannot win the division, they have the lead already.
The Pittsburgh Pirates would avoid a sweep by the Colorado Rockies and would take two out of three with the San Francisco Giants. The four-game series with the Arizona Diamondbacks would be intense and by the time the series was over, very damaging. During the series, Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt would be hit by a pitch from reliever Ernesto Frieri. The injury would likely cost Goldschmidt the remainder of the season. Intentional or not, Diamondbacks pitcher Randall Delgado would hit Andrew McCutchen, the Pirates best player and he would eventually be put on the disabled list. If this injury takes McCutchen out for an extended period of time, the Pirates strong showing into contention talk may fall short.
8. Washington Nationals
The Washington Nationals are leading the National League East but the 2.5 game lead they have over the Atlanta Braves is much smaller than it should be. The Braves were on a six-game losing streak to finish off this week. At a time when the Nationals could have created a sizable lead in their division, they won just three out of seven games and kept the Braves in the race. The injury to Ryan Zimmerman likely caused the Nationals to make a move at the trade deadline and they acquired shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera from the Cleveland Indians. With Ian Desmond already established at shortstop, Cabrera would play second base and Anthony Rendon would take third base until Ryan Zimmerman can return. The Braves are giving the Nationals plenty of opportunity to run away with it, it’s just a matter of the Nationals grabbing it.
9. Toronto Blue Jays
The Toronto Blue Jays currently possess the second Wild Card spot by a two-game lead over the Seattle Mariners. The Blue Jays kept away the in-division competition with two out of three against the New York Yankees. They would ride the winning streak and swept the Boston Red Sox in a three-game series. The Blue Jays six-game winning streak would come to an end when the Houston Astros took three games out of their four game series. The Blue Jays are in a tough race for the Wild Card and the division. It’s anyone’s spot in the postseason at this point in the season.
10. San Francisco Giants
The San Francisco Giants have seen some difficulties with their offense and this has pushed them to the borders of the Power Rankings, the lowest they have been seen on the Power Rankings this season. The week would start in a way any Giants fans would not be happy about as they were swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers. A five-game skid twould be ended by winning four of their five games against the Pittsburgh Pirates and the New York Mets. The Giants added Jake Peavy, a favorite of manager Bruce Bochy’s to the rotation as the Giants look to find what made them so successful through the first part of the season.