By: Chris Larson
Happy Labor Day Everyone and welcome to September baseball! It's that time of year where teams call-up players from the minor leagues, start to evaluate who could potentially help them the most down the stretch, and which rookie might get a lucky shot at helping their team come the postseason. In addition, for those teams who are already out of contention, it gives their fans a chance to see the future faces of the franchise and for those fans to decide which players they want to follow. Definitely an exciting time and better yet there are still a few races happening including in the NL West and the NL Wild Card!
Regardless, let's get September started on a high note and start by recapping the highlights from around baseball over the past week.
Week In Review
Top 15 Power Rankings
1. Chicago Cubs (81-55) [Ranking Last Week: 5]
2. Boston Red Sox (94-44) [Ranking Last Week: 1]
3. Houston Astros (84-53) [Ranking Last Week: 3]
4. New York Yankees (86-51) [Ranking Last Week: 2]
5. Oakland Athletics (82-56) [Ranking Last Week: 4]
6. Los Angeles Dodgers (75-62) [Ranking Last Week: 12]
7. Milwaukee Brewers (77-61) [Ranking Last Week: 11]
8. Atlanta Braves (76-60) [Ranking Last Week: 10]
9. St. Louis Cardinals (76-61) [Ranking Last Week: 6]
10. Cleveland Indians (77-59) [Ranking Last Week: 7]
11. Colorado Rockies (74-62) [Ranking Last Week: 9]
12. Arizona Diamondbacks (74-63) [Ranking Last Week: 8]
13. Philadelphia Phillies (72-64) [Ranking Last Week: 13]
14. Tampa Bay Rays (73-63) [Ranking Last Week: 15]
15. Chicago White Sox (55-82) [Ranking Last Week: N/A]
Summary of Thoughts
Some of you out there are likely going to disagree with who the first team is, but there's really no valid argument to make right now about who has been the hottest team in all of baseball besides the Chicago Cubs. Since the addition of Cole Hamels and Daniel Murphy, the Cubs have played a much higher level of baseball and both of those acquisitions make them even stronger. It's hard to argue a starting rotation of Cole Hamels, Jon Lester, and Kyle Hendricks heading into October as that would likely be one of the favorites, at least on paper. Beyond that, it looks like Anthony Rizzo is finally starting to heat up and become the hitter that we all know, Javier Baez is having an MVP-caliber like season, and Kris Bryant is back in action. Lots to look forward to over the final month here for the Cubs and definitely hard to argue with the fact that they aren't the best team in baseball at the moment.
As for spots 2-5, it consists of the same four teams as last week, only in different order. Not much has changed this week compared to last week in term's of having a new Top 5 in the rankings, but who knows what will happen this coming week in regard to all of that. The Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees had a good, not great, week, while the Houston Astros are finally healthy and back on the field together, which is a illustrated by their recent success. Beyond that, the A's continue to have an impressive season and it is hard not to buy into the success that they've had thus far.
Outside of the Top 5, the Dodgers are the team that made the biggest climb this week (going from spot 12 to spot number 6) and it's easy to see why based on their recent play. Los Angeles now possesses first place in the NL West, but it is sure to continue to be a race down the wire between the Dodgers, Dbacks, and Rockies. On top of the Dodgers, the Milwaukee Brewers also climbed up from spot 11 to the number 7 spot this week and once again that is based on recent performance. The Brewers were finally able to add a starting pitcher (Gio Gonzalez) at the Waiver Trade Deadline this past Friday, which should help them down the stretch and give them someone who can give them 5 or 6 innings every fifth day, before shifting things over to their deep bullpen.
Everything else is similar to what last week's rankings looked like, but the Tampa Bay Rays climbed up a spot and the Chicago White Sox entered the picture as the 15th best team in baseball. Both the Rays and White Sox are irrelevant right now and out of contention, but that doesn't discount from the fact of giving them the proper amount of recognition and credit for the way they've been playing lately. Both clubs have extremely bright futures and should be relevant once again in the next few years.
MVP's of the Week
1. Alex Bregman (Houston Astros): 12-for-27 with 3 doubles, 3 home runs, 9 RBI, 3 walks, a .444 batting average, and a .500 on-base percentage
2. Gleyber Torres (New York Yankees): 11-for-23 with 3 home runs, 10 RBI, 5 walks, 1 stolen base, a .478 batting average, and a .571 on-base percentage
3. James Shields (Chicago White Sox): 1.54 ERA over 11.2 IP with a .195 Opponent Batting Average Against and a 1.20 WHIP
4. Edwin Jackson (Oakland Athletics): 2.53 ERA over 10.2 IP with a .179 Opponent Batting Average Against and a 1.03 WHIP
1. Christian Yelich (Milwaukee Brewers): 12-for-27 with 1 double, 1 triple, 4 home runs, 14 RBI, 4 walks, a .444 batting average, and a .516 on-base percentage
2. Ronald Acuna (Atlanta Braves): 9-for-24 with 1 double, 2 home runs, 5 RBI, 2 walks, a .375 batting average, and a .407 on-base percentage
3. Chris Stratton (San Francisco Giants): 1.29 ERA over 14.0 IP with a .160 Opponent Batting Average Against and a 0.57 WHIP
4. Patrick Corbin (Arizona Diamondbacks): 1.50 ERA over 12.0 IP with 16 strikeouts and a 0.75 WHIP