MLB

MLB Power Rankings: Surging Guardians capture AL Central title; Mets up to No. 3

All sports are unpredictable, to a certain extent, but I feel like Major League Baseball is toward the apex when it comes to unpredictability. As such, when we post predictions before the season starts, I’m bound to miss several. Sometimes I’ll miss in horrific fashion. 

I’m here today with my annual accountability column. I was wrong. I own it. Consider this my mea culpa. 

I’ll start with the NL Central. I had the Brewers over the Cardinals to win it. Even if it doesn’t look terrible, I’m kicking myself over it because nearly immediately in April I was thinking the Cardinals were the superior team. I have proof from the NL Central odds check in that I was a Cardinals believer in late May. I got there late. Bad job, me. 

Speaking of which, let’s look over at the AL Central. Absolutely pathetic. It’s unmitigated. I have zero excuse. I picked the Guardians to finish last. Yes, behind the Royals and Tigers. To reiterate: A pathetic pick. 

I tried to go back through what I was thinking, but there’s no just excusing it. 

I do want to give a shout out to @gmoney165 on Twitter, who told me on April 6 that I should “resign and never talk baseball again” WHEN the Guardians win the division. As if there wasn’t enough buffoonery emanating from me, I replied and said I’d make that deal. On June 22, there was a follow up conversation and he gracefully said it was OK if I keep my job so long as I gave him a shout. Here you go, Evan. You won and I lost. 

How about those Guardians, though? Holy smokes. For the overwhelming majority of the season, it looked like the woeful AL Central would be a race to something like 84 wins. On Sept. 3, the Guardians and Twins were tied for first at 68-64 with the White Sox sitting at .500 and only two games back. 

Since then, the Guardians have gone a sizzling 18-3. Eighteen and three! They should breeze past 90 wins now and are actually a threat to make a run in the playoffs. Kudos to them. 

As for me, it wasn’t all terrible. I’m glad I had the Rays third in the AL East with the Yankees and Blue Jays above them, even if I had the top two in the wrong order. I have no idea when I’ll give up on predicting the Angels to be a playoff contender, but it wasn’t 2022. Here’s a funny one: I initially had the Mets winning the East, but when Jacob deGrom got hurt, I changed the pick to the Braves. It’ll go down to the wire there and it’s been great fun to follow. 

We have just 10 days of regular-season baseball left before the largest playoff field we’ve seen in front of full crowds. Let’s soak it all up while enjoying ourselves. 

Biggest Movers

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Teams

 

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1


Dodgers

Finally, Craig Kimbrel has been removed from the role of closer. All year I had been envisioning their season ending prematurely due to his late-game work. 106-47

2


Astros

Dusty Baker is the only manager in history to win a division title with five different teams. We already knew that. But did you know he won 100-plus games his first season and hadn’t since until this year? It’s book-ended 100-win seasons in his 25 years! 101-53

3


Mets

After Pete Alonso’s five-RBI game on Sunday, he has 128 on the season. That’s the club record, as he just passed David Wright (2008) and Mike Piazza (1999), who had 124-RBI seasons. 1 97-57

4


Braves

If it were several decades ago, Kyle Wright might have the Cy Young locked up. He’s the lone 20-game winner to this point. 1 95-58

5


Yankees

Are they back? The Yankees have won 15 of their last 19 now. 94-58

6


Blue Jays

The Jays haven’t lost a series since Aug. 26-28 and have won 25 of their last 38. They’ve been one of the best teams in September. Gearing up for an October run? 1 86-67

7


Cardinals

The red-hot surge appears to be over. The Cardinals have gone 8-9 in their last 17 games. 1 89-65

8


Guardians

After burying the Twins in the previous two weeks, this time around it was a three-game sweep of the White Sox in Chicago. The Guardians have simply taken control of their own destiny and overwhelmed their AL Central competition. 2 86-67

9


Padres

In Manny Machado’s first nine years, he had one 100-RBI season. He’s now done it in his 10th and 11th seasons. 85-68

10


Rays

They’ve gone 6-11 in their last 17 games and now have to finish with a very difficult road trip. They’ll play three in Cleveland, three in Houston and then three in Boston before maybe having to hit the road for the wild-card round. 2 84-69

11


Phillies

They are clinging for dear life to that final wild-card spot. The good news is they’ll get the Cubs and Nationals next. The bad news is they have played their final home game. 1 83-69

12


Mariners

This one would leave a mark. A big one. Surely they won’t blow it. Right? 1 83-69

13


Brewers

They have clinched a winning record. If we toss out 2020’s shortened season, the Brewers have had a winning record in five straight full seasons. That hasn’t happened since 1978-83. 82-71

14


Orioles

Their betting total heading into the season was 62.5 wins. That was the lowest of all 30 teams. What a wildly successful season. 79-73

15


Giants

We have another Shelby Miller sighting! He struck out seven in 2 2/3 scoreless innings on Friday. He’s still only 31 years old. You never know! 3 75-78

16


Red Sox

We could divide their season into three sections. They started 10-19 and then got awesome, going 32-12 in their next 44. Since then? 30-49. 72-80

17


White Sox

The obsession with booing Javier Baez is hilariously sad. His crime? Cubs fans loved him. That’s it. The boobirds could lie and claim otherwise, but it’s really just that simple. He’s having an awful season but gets extra motivated due to the boos, too, so it’s an utterly incredibly self-own by these fans. Little Brother Syndrome is a hell of a thing. Oh, and the team went 0-6 in the most important homestand of the season. 2 76-77

18


Twins

They were tied for first on Sept. 4. They are now 12 games out. 1 74-79

19


Diamondbacks

The only players with more home runs than Daulton Varsho this month are Aaron Judge and Mike Trout. 71-83

20


Angels

Shohei Ohtani has topped 200 strikeouts on the mound. He has 93 RBI. I know the stats aren’t related, but it would be pretty ridiculous to see a dude strike 200 out while driving home 100. 67-86

21


Cubs

Only the Astros and Dodgers have better rotation ERAs since the All-Star break. 2 67-86

22


Rangers

Reports are starting to surface that the Rangers will be aggressive in acquiring starting pitching this offseason. Their rotation has produced a 4.60 ERA this year. The league average starter? 4.06. 65-87

23


Rockies

Kris Bryant’s first season in Colorado is over after 42 games. 2 65-88

24


Marlins

Sandy Alcantara now has five complete games. Only two other pitchers have more than one (Aaron Nola with two and Framber Valdez with three). 63-90

25


Tigers

They just went 5-1 against two playoff contenders. Well, the White Sox aren’t anymore, but they sort of were on Friday. Nice week, Tigers. 1 60-92

26


Royals

The Royals had scored at least 11 runs in a game five times out of 152 games before Sunday. On Sunday, they scored 11 IN THE SIXTH INNING. Baseball! 1 63-90

27


Reds

Last five starts for Nick Lodolo: 2.59 ERA, 0.80 WHIP and 44 strikeouts against five walks in 31 1/3 innings. 2 60-93

28


Athletics

This will be the second time in Oakland history that the A’s have lost 100 games. 2 56-97

29


Nationals

Team leaders in WAR to this point: Juan Soto, Josh Bell … I guess I’ll just stop there. Ouch. 53-99

30


Pirates

Looking out for the top prospects making progress is one of the ways to find silver linings to bad seasons. Don’t forget about Mitch Keller. He’s 26 now, but he has a 2.71 ERA in his last 13 starts. 2 56-97



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