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MLB Power Rankings, Week 25

   by Al McMordie - 09/23/2015

With Baseball headed down its home stretch, several big series are on deck, including the Pirates at the Cubs on the weekend. And through Sunday's games, the NL Central's troika of the Cardinals (1st), Pirates (2nd) and Cubs (3rd, tied) rank as the three best teams (record-wise) in Baseball. Perhaps this happenstance will get Baseball to tweak its playoff formula, much like the NBA did this off-season.

(Money Line Power Ranking in Parentheses)

1. Toronto Blue Jays (-125) - The Jays suffered a blow when Troy Tulowitzki collided with Kevin Pillar and broke his shoulder. Tulo is out for at least two weeks, but if they can wrap up the East without him - which they should - and then get their All-Star SS back for the playoffs, they should be even stronger going foward. (Last week: 1)

2. St. Louis Cardinals (-118) - "When it rains, it pours" seems to be the slogan for Matt Holliday's 2015 season. In just his second at-bat since returning from a quad injury on Friday, Holliday was beaned in the helmet by the Cubs' Dan Haren. Holliday was replaced in the game and didn't play either Saturday or Sunday. (Last week: 2)

3. Pittsburgh Pirates (-116) - Although they continued to win big games - taking two of three from the Dodgers this weekend - the Pirates suffered a big blow last week when versatile IF and Korean import Jung Ho Kang suffered a severe leg injury against the Cubs. Kang had surgery and will be sidelined for six to eight months. (Last week: 3)

4. Chicago Cubs (-115) - The huge four game series in Pittsburgh lived up to expectations - and then some- with three of the four games decided by one run and Wednesday's contest going 12 innings. The Cubs were able to win the final game on Thursday to take the series instead of going home with a split. (Last week: 6)

5. Houston Astros (-113) - The showdown in the Lone Star State didn't go Houston's way last week as the Rangers swept all four of the games and overtook the 'Stros atop the NL West. They may have lost round one, but the fight isn't over as Houston plays all division rivals this week, including a final three vs. Texas. (Last week: 4)

6. Kansas City Royals (-112) - The KC bullpen which was nearly unhittable in last year's post-season, and very good early on this year, suddenly looks vulnerable. The Royals relievers have a 5.18 ERA for September and now have the dubious distinction of having allowed two grand slams in the same inning of a game. (Last week: 5)

7. Los Angeles Dodgers (-111) - The great Mat Latos experiment in Los Angeles is over almost before it began as the Dodgers designated the 27-year-old for assignment last week. L.A. certainly hopes that none of the three prospects they sent to Miami (Victor Araujo, Kevin Guzman, Jeff Bingham) turns out to be a star player. (Last week: 7)

8. New York Mets (-110) - A subway series is always exciting, but this past weekend's was made even more so by the fact that both the Mets and Yankees are contending for Division Crowns. Unfortunately for the Mets, the limit on Matt Harvey's innings contributed to their loss on Sunday, as the Yankees took the rubber match of the series. (Last week: 8)

9. New York Yankees (-109) - While Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman aren't going anywhere, one of the top young front office people with the Yankees likely is gone next season. VP and Assistant GM Billy Eppler has been given permission to interview with other clubs and last week he met with both the Mariners and Angels. (Last week: 9)

10. Texas Rangers (-109) - The Rangers "never give up" attitude from earlier in the season, when it appeared they were playing just to stay out of the cellar of the West, has paid off with a series sweep of the Astros and a first place standing. The Rangers have taken over the Cinderella role from last season's Royals. (Last week: 11)

11. Washington Nationals (-105) - If there was any doubt left that Bryce Harper is the most talented and exciting young player in the NL, it landed in the upper deck last week. Harper became just the seventh player in Major League history to hit 40 home runs by age 22 or younger when he parked one in Philly on Wednesday. (Last week: 13)

12. Minnesota Twins (-102) - The Twins received back the services of Phil Hughes, but only for one start as the herniated disk that had sidelined Hughes for over a month reared its head again in his outing vs. the Tigers. Hughes was forced to miss his next scheduled start and has been removed from the rotation for now. (Last week: 12)

13. San Francisco Giants (-101) - Power-hitting prospect Mac Williamson finally got the call to join the big-league club. Williamson will probably be used initially to pinch hit, but if the Giants are eliminated from post-season contention, expect the former 3rd-round pick to get some starts at the corner outfield position. (Last week: 10)

14. Arizona Diamondbacks (-101) - At age 35, relief pitcher Brad Ziegler is enjoying one of his best seasons ever with a 2.03 ERA, a 0.95 WHIP and 26 saves in the closer's role since the end of May. The D-Backs hold a $5.5 Million option on Ziegler for next season and they just might want to pick it up. (Last week: 14)

15. Baltimore Orioles (-100) - The Orioles' goal has gone from making the playoffs for the second straight year to having a winning record for the fourth straight. Right now, even the latter goal is in doubt with the O's three games under .500 with 13 left to play, and a tough schedule ahead which features Toronto, New York, and DC. (Last week: 15)

16. Los Angeles Angels (+101) - It seemed at the end of August we were all talking about the sad demise of slumping Mike Trout. But here we are, with two weeks to go, and he's sitting on the verge of 40 home runs with a .294 BA and a .982 OPS (his highest ever). I think he's going to be just fine. (Last week: 16)

17. Cleveland Indians (+102) - Corey Kluber suffered another sub-par outing last Thursday (and picked up his 14th loss) in a season that's had more than its share for the defending Cy Young winner. Francona pulled his ace after only 61 pitches clearly looking towards 2016 with the Tribe's playoff chances all but gone. (Last week: 17)

18. Boston Red Sox (+102) - Boston has had plenty of left-handed power bats in their storied past (Williams, Yastrzemski, Vaughn, Ortiz) and now perhaps another one will be here next season in the form of Chris Davis. He's a looming free agent and it's unlikely the O's will be able to meet his lofty demands. (Last week: 19)

19. Tampa Bay Rays (+102) - Chris Archer's amazing breakout season continued last week. Archer set the franchise record with his 240th strikeout of the season on Wednesday against the Yanks. That's quite an accomplishment when you consider James Shields, Scott Kazmir and David Price all pitched for this club. (Last week: 18)

20 Chicago White Sox (+107) - The questions surrounding what happened to Jeff Samardzija this season remain unanswered. Those who thought better things would come in the second half after "The Shark" posted a pre-break ERA of 4.02 ERA were sorely mistaken. His post-break ERA of 7.43 ranks as the worst in MLB. (Last week: 20)

21. Miami Marlins (+109) - Still no sign of Giancarlo Stanton back in the Majors and it now appears that he may have played his final game of 2015 with the Marlins back on June 26. The All-Star OF has put his rehab "on hold" due to an abnormal amount of scar tissue around the area where his hamate bone was removed. (Last week: 21)

22. Oakland A's (+110) - Barry Zito (remember him?) was welcomed back to the A's after spending the entire season in the Minors. This should be a great way for Zito to wrap up a career that included a Cy Young (2002) and three All-Star appearances - all with Oakland - and a chance for fans to show their appreciation one last time. (Last week: 22)

23. San Diego Padres (+113) - Apparently, interim Manager Pat Murphy has done well enough since taking the reins to at least warrant a look long-term. But with Brad Ausmus - rumored to be getting his walking papers shortly - making his home in Del Mar, you can bet that he will be interviewing for the job and likely is the favorite. (Last week: 23)

24. Milwaukee Brewers (+113) - An unfortunate incident last week dampened an otherwise fairly upbeat September for the Brewers. Starting pitcher Jimmy Nelson was hit in the head by a line drive by Tommy Pham on Thursday and was taken to a hospital. Fortunately, the CT scan revealed nothing more than a bruise. (Last week: 24)

25. Cincinnati Reds (+114) - The Reds lost the most recent battle of the cellar-dwellers as they dropped two of three in Milwaukee to the Brewers over the weekend. It doesn't get any easier in the last two weeks with Cincy having to play the Cards, Mets, Cubs and Pirates, plus a makeup game vs. the Nats. (Last week: 25)

26. Seattle Mariners (+114) - Felix Hernandez has done just about everything a starting pitcher could hope to accomplish in his career, but the Mariners' ace has never won 20 games in a season (he won 19 in 2009). He notched #18 on Sunday and with at least two more starts he can finally crack that 20-win plateau. (Last week: 26)

27. Colorado Rockies (+121) - Of the four young players cited at the beginning of the season as "ones to watch" only Nolan Arenado met - and greatly exceeded - expectations. Pitchers Tyler Matzek and Jordan Lyles did little to build on, and OF Corey Dickerson's season was almost a complete loss due to injuries. (Last week: 28)

28. Detroit Tigers (+122) - Although it doesn't matter at this point, what looked like a season that couldn't get worse in September actually has. Miguel Cabrera is mired in yet another slump (.234; 0 HR; 7 RBI in Sept) while Anibal Sanchez has been shut down with a shoulder injury and Nick Castellanos is hurting too (groin). (Last week: 27)

29. Philadelphia Phillies (+142) - The Nats pounded the Phillies last week but even amid that all-too-familiar refrain there was some good news. The young players on the Phils continued to make a positive impression and the talent pool in the Minors looks as deep as ever. (Last week: 29)

30. Atlanta Braves (+143) - The Braves reached the bottom of our rankings last week and it must have really ticked them off when they found out. First, Atlanta got a surprise win over our #1-ranked team on Tuesday, and then they went out this past weekend and swept the Phillies, allowing just three runs total. But we're still keeping them in th cellar. (Last week: 30)

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