MLB Power Rankings - Risers and Fallers (08/15/17)

By Mark Dankenbring @MarkDank

MLB Power Rankings - Risers and Fallers

With the dog days of August officially upon us, we welcome you back to another edition of Risers and Fallers for this week's MLB Power Rankings. Our Power Rankings are developed using players on the active depth chart, which causes fluctuation week-to-week based on injuries and who is in and out of the lineup. To see a full description of how our Power Rankings are created, as well as this week's full list of rankings, please visit MLB Rankings - 8/14/17.

After a week where we saw the Cubs move up to 2nd in our Power Rankings, the exact opposite happened this time around. Chicago drops back down to 5th after losing Willson Contreras to the DL and going just 3-3 since last week's ranking. They swap spots with the Red Sox, who have been on a tear in the month of August, bringing a 9-2 record into the start of Tuesday's series against the also-streaking Cardinals. Boston has opened a 4.5 game lead in the East, and look primed to take down one of the best divisions in baseball. The Diamondbacks and Cardinals flip spots as well, with the D-Backs taking over the 8th spot and the Cardinals moving to 9th. Even after the Cardinals' 8-game winning streak, they are still looking up at the Cubs in the NL Central and remain five games back of the Rockies and Diamondbacks in the Wild Card. In order for St. Louis to make the postseason, they'll need to continue their hot streak over the remaining six weeks. Lastly, we see the Rays drop out of the Top 10 after their tough week. They drop down to 12th after losing four in a row and eight of their last ten games.


Boston Red Sox - #5 up to #2

The Red Sox have enjoyed a hot start to their August, winning 9 of 11 and opening up a 4.5 game lead on the Yankees. In fact, they took two of three from the Yankees in the Bronx over the weekend, capped off by their come from behind win against Aroldis Chapman on Sunday Night Baseball. Rafael Devers silenced the crowd in the 9th with an opposite field, game tying home run on the fastest pitch hit for a homerun in the Statcast era. It's one of the most impressive home runs I've ever seen hit, not to mention it came from a 20-year-old lefty in his first AB against Chapman. Devers didn't stop there, however, as he blasted two homers against the Indians yesterday, showing the league he's here to stay. Boston continues to lean on its strong pitching staff, which has been superb since the break, boasting a combined 3.18 ERA with three shutouts. Chris Sale has continued to dominate, but Drew Pomeranz has been huge as their #2 this season. He's much more settled in Boston compared to when he first arrived from San Diego, and his numbers reflect it. Pomeranz is 12-4 with a 3.39 ERA and has gone at least six innings in 7 of his last 8 starts. The Sox are anxiously awaiting the return of Dustin Pedroia and David Price from the DL, as that will only bolster the lineup and rotation to help increase their lead in the AL East.

Baltimore Orioles - #14 up to #10

After moving up from #18 to #14 last week, the Orioles jump up another four spots to make our Top 10. Dating back to the end of July, Baltimore has won 11 of 17 and have really stepped it up offensively, scoring 10+ runs four times in that span. Tim Beckham has been a huge addition to the lineup as teams just can't seem to get him out. Beckham is 29-58 since joining the Orioles and has added huge pop into the lineup, clubbing four homers, seven doubles, and two triples. In just 14 games, Beckham has scored 16 runs, driven in 10, and has an insane OPS of 1.413. Manny Machado seems to have found his groove on this west coast trip as well, as he's 9-19 with five extra base hits in his last four games and has hit two grand slams in their last eight games. Kevin Gausman seems to have finally ousted his early season demons and has returned to his 2016 form. In his last 10 starts, Gausman has a 6-1 record with a 3.19 ERA, has averaged seven strikeouts a game, and is only allowing opponents to slug .414 after they had slugged .515 off him in his first 16 starts. Baltimore may be on the outside looking in when it comes to the AL East race, but sit just 2.0 games behind the Angels for the second Wild Card spot.

Minnesota Twins - #28 up to #22

The Twins have seemingly been outperforming their roster's talent all season long, and just when it seemed they were calling it quits on the 2016 season at the deadline, they rattled off 8 wins in 10 games and find themselves just a half game back in the AL Wild Card race. Their offense has come alive, averaging 6.8 runs over this recent 10-game span. Eddie Rosario claimed AL Player of the Week honors as he went 12-27 with four homers and nine RBIs, and has quietly put up a solid year offensively with a .296/.337/.503 slash line. Rosario has nicely complemented what Brian Dozier has been able to do at the top of the order, as he's been smashing the ball since the All-Star Break. Dozier is batting .303 with 10 homers and 24 RBIs since the break, and has carried them to their 8-2 mark over the last 10 with a .400 average and .867 slugging percentage, including eight extra base hits and 13 RBIs. Bartolo Colon remarkably seems to have some more left in the tank, as he's won his last two decisions including a complete game against the Rangers and his first scoreless outing of the year against the Brewers. They still don't possess a great chance to make the playoffs, but if they can get any sort of consistency in their rotation, Dozier and the rest of the offense can carry them to a Wild Card spot in the AL.


Chicago Cubs - #2 down to #5

The week after the Cubs were our first featured team in the Risers section, they find themselves on the other side of the coin leading off the Fallers. The loss of Willson Contreras came at a tough time as he was really streaking offensively, but Theo Epstein's ability to acquire Alex Avila at the deadline has proved crucial just two weeks later. The offense and starting pitching have been stellar since the All-Star Break, as they both sit within the top six in terms of runs scored on offense and ERA on the mound. The issue has come from the one area Epstein didn't bolster at the deadline: the bullpen. Since the break, the Cubs have a bullpen WAR of -0.1, good for 3rd worst in the majors. Their ERA doesn't seem terrible at 4.35, but their 5.06 BB/9 is the worst of any club and the bullpen has lost five games since the break. Carl Edwards Jr. has the most appearances out of the pen with 14 and has been terrible. His 7.50 ERA and 12 walks in 12 innings are the worst on the team. If the Cubs want any shot at success in the postseason, let alone make it there, they better find a recipe that works in the bullpen, because as we all know, bullpens often make or break your season come October.

Tampa Bay Rays - #10 down to #12

It's sad to see the Rays drop four games in the division race since they were bumped up to the 10th spot last week, but there's still hope in Tampa for a Wild Card spot. Since their feature in the Risers section last week, the Rays managed to go 1-6 and drop to nine games out in the AL East. This drops their post All-Star Break record to 12-18 and pretty much limits them to contention in the Wild Card. The Rays have scored just 89 runs since the break (under 3 per game) and are the only team in the majors to have below 100 runs in that span. This issue was magnified this past week as they scored just seven runs in four games against the Indians and were shut out three times in seven games. Their pitching has been solid with a 3.71 ERA since the break, but they currently have more position players with a negative WAR than positive in that same stretch, and just can't get anything going offensively. The Rays have just five position players with a WAR above 0 in their last 30 games, as 12 sit a 0 or below 0. It's sad to see a small market team make moves at the deadline and have them not work out, as it will make the front office more likely to be sellers in the future. But, the Rays are just 2.5 games back of the Wild Card, and if they can rattle off a hot streak to combat their recent struggles, they'll find themselves right back in the thick of the AL Wild Card race.

Colorado Rockies - #13 down to #25

The Rockies are on a perpetual rollercoaster in our Power Rankings this season, and this steep decline comes as a result of their 1-5 stretch last week and the hand injury to Nolan Arenado. Arenado is likely just day-to-day, but is listed as doubtful so our system reads him as out of the lineup. His impact is so huge that you see the Rockies fall below the likes of the A's and Giants without him. This ranking likely won't stick much longer than a few days, but at the moment the Rockies are scuffling and find their best hitter out of the lineup. Colorado has failed to score more than three runs in their last seven games and find themselves struggling away from Coors Field once again. They are 4-10 on the road since the All-Star Break and have averaged just 4.2 runs per game in those contests. Compare that to their 10-3 record and 8.2 runs per game at Coors Field and you'll understand why people are always quick to doubt this team. They play in the most unique offensive park in the majors, and it seems like they always struggle more than the average team on the road due to the extra movement of pitches away from Coors. Colorado is still sitting rather pretty as they maintain a five-game lead with Arizona over the pack for the NL Wild Card, and Chad Bettis made his first start of the season last night by posting seven shutout innings in route to a huge victory not only for the club, but for Bettis himself. I expect to be writing about the Rockies next week as they'll inevitably go back up the hill on the roller coaster, so don't be too disappointed about their low ranking this week.