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, teams are emerging with powerful winning streaks. Some divisions remain a tight race where a strong week can mix up everything. Other teams are finding injury woes to be costly as they begin to fall out of place on the Power Rankings. The races are getting tighter as the season begins to near its end.
The number one team in the league took advantage of a weak week in their regular season schedule. Despite losing a series to the Kansas City Royals, the Oakland Athletics would successfully take two out of three with the Tampa Bay Rays, who are attempting to contend despite having their ace traded away. The A’s would continue their stretch of good baseball with three wins over the Minnesota Twins. After Jon Lester’s good A’s debut with three runs over 6.2 innings, Lester would get even better, throwing a complete game shutout in the Twins series. If the offense can continue to succeed without Cespedes, the A’s will be on the top for a while.
2. Baltimore Orioles
The Baltimore Orioles showed why they are the top team in the American League East. While most of the teams in the usually tough East division struggled in the first half, the East returned to competitive form with strong starts to the second half of the season. The Orioles would follow suit and won six out of seven in the week, including two out of three against the Toronto Blue Jays. The Orioles benefited from a three-game series with the St. Louis Cardinals as two former American League pitchers, Justin Masterson and John Lackey, pitched against them. The Orioles made quick work of them and won the first two of their three games in the interleague series.
3. Los Angeles Angels
The Los Angeles Angels had a difficult week as they took part in the Freeway Series with their local rivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers would take three of the four games. After losing the bragging rights in the southern California area, they would lose the first game to the visiting Boston Red Sox but would win a marathon 19-inning game to split the first two of three. The Angels currently have a definitive hold on the first Wild Card spot The Angels are four games back of the Oakland Athletics for the West but it is still in striking distance and the Angels will not settle for just having the Wild Card spot.
4. Los Angeles Dodgers
Bragging rights are with the boys in blue as the Dodgers took three out of four games with the southern California rival Angels. Bragging rights are well and good but the Milwaukee Brewers would take the first two of three games to finish off the week. The Dodgers won three out of seven games this week so their division lead is at just three and a half games. The losing series with the Brewers has made the Dodgers lead over the Brewers for best record in the National League slim but if the Dodgers can find the patchwork needed to replace Josh Beckett at the backend of the rotation, the Dodgers can finish with the best record in the National League.
5. Kansas City Royals
Go on a win streak throughout the week and you can finish above your first place rival. The Kansas City Royals went to Oakland and Arizona and came home to face the San Francisco Giants. The Royals would proceed to defeat all three teams in all six games of this week. James Shields anchors the rotation while contributors are seen up and down the lineup. A strong strength lies in the bullpen as closer Greg Holland is one of the best in the game. The Tigers have to be very careful with the Royals otherwise the Royals won’t just be higher than the Tigers in the Power Rankings.
6. Milwaukee Brewers
The Milwaukee Brewers won four out of six games this week. Things are going good for the Brewers when spot starter Mike Fiers goes eight innings of one-run baseball. He joins a rotation of veterans like Kyle Lohse and rookies like Jimmy Nelson. He is going to make the time without Matt Garza tolerable. Jonathan Lucroy has begun to slump but Carlos Gomez and company has found their second gear as they help the pitching succeed. The Brewers are in the most competitive division with the Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals close behind them. If the Brewers manage to keep the Pirates and Cardinals away, they will be a formidable team in October.
7. Detroit Tigers
The Detroit Tigers were prepared to see the debut of David Price, their big splash on the trade deadline. Along with Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander, the Tigers had the three previous Cy Young award winners. Unfortunately for the Tigers, the Cy Young winners would be outdueled by the patched up New York Yankees rotation. The Tigers would only win three of their seven games this week. The Tigers would lose an extra inning game to the Toronto Blue Jays as the bullpen continues to be a gaping hole in this would be contender. If the Tigers cannot find a way to finish off games, the Central division may be lost to the Kansas City Royals. The Tigers have just a one and a half game lead over the Royals and they are riding a very strong winning streak.
8. Washington Nationals
The Washington Nationals continue to be the team that should be doing better than they are. They are leading the National League East division by four and a half games over the Atlanta Braves but they should be far ahead of any team in their division. The Atlanta Braves were mired in a losing streak during their West coast trip but would only win four out of seven games this week. The Nationals faced three teams in their division and the Atlanta Braves, the lone threat to the division lead, won one out of the two games this week. If the Nationals can figure out a way to live up to the expectations, the division will be won decisively. If they cannot find what it takes, the Nationals will always have to worry about the struggling Braves catching and going by them.
The Seattle Mariners are staying in the Wild Card race with four wins in six games. This week featured the games they are supposed to win as they had a series with the struggling Atlanta Braves and the Chicago White Sox. Felix Hernandez is arguably the best pitcher in the American League, leading Hisashi Iwakuma and Chris Young. The Mariners also find themselves having contributors around big free agent signing Robinson Cano. This was a huge concern about the Mariners spending the money to get Cano. Now the Mariners are in the thick of a Wild Card race. The Mariners are not in one of the Wild Card spots yet but they can give the Toronto Blue jays a challenge.
10. St. Louis Cardinals
The St. Louis Cardinals are still chasing after the Milwaukee Brewers for the National League Central title. After winning their series with the Central-leading Brewers and winning two out of three with the rebuilding Red Sox, the Cardinals trade deadline acquisitions made their return to the American League. Justin Masterson and John Lackey were acquired from the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox respectively. They made their starts for the Cardinals against the Baltimore Orioles and the two new Cardinals pitchers would combine to give up 14 runs. They should do better once they are not facing familiar faces. The Cardinals will need them to pick up the slack as they look to replace injured starters Jaime Garcia and Michael Wacha. The Cardinals are a half game back of one Wild Card spot so that will always remain a backup plan as they continue to target the Milwaukee Brewers and the Central division crown.