MLB Power Rankings - Risers and Fallers (09/12/17)

By Mark Dankenbring @MarkDank

MLB Power Rankings - Risers and Fallers

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 - 9/11/17.

With just three weeks left in the MLB Regular Season we see more movement in our top 10 than we have all season. The Dodgers drop from the top spot for the first time in six weeks having lost 11 in a row and 16 of 17. We see a completely different story going on in the American League, where the Indians have won 19 games in a row. It's the second-longest streak since 1947 and they are now just one game shy of the Oakland A's “Moneyball” mark of 20 in a row in 2002. They've caught the Houston Astros for best record in the AL and are just four games back of the Dodgers for best in the majors. It's shaping up to be another exciting October in Cleveland. The Chicago Cubs drop down three spots after losing six of eight, and are just two games up on the Brewers and Cardinals for the division lead. Chicago will face St. Louis seven times and Milwaukee four times in their remaining 19 games, so the NL Central is still completely up for grabs. The Diamondbacks are another team streaking of late, entering Tuesday just one series removed from a 13-game winning streak. They jump up four spots and land in the top five, supplanting a Houston Astros team who has lost four in a row and control of home field advantage in the AL. Lastly, the New York Yankees move up to #3 having won six of their last eight games.

Top 3 Risers

New York Yankees - #6 up to #3

The Yankees have officially distanced themselves from the pack in the AL Wild Card race, entering Tuesday four games up on the second place Twins, and five on the remaining field. They're 7-3 to begin September and look ready to make a postseason run. Aaron Judge has finally started to look comfortable at the plate once again, holding a .391 OBP and .629 slugging percentage in September. He's hit a team-high four home runs and has drawn 10 walks in 10 games. Gary Sanchez continues to be a force in the middle of the order as well. Since the beginning of August, Sanchez is batting .309 with a .647 slugging percentage and 1.015 OPS. He's hit 14 homers and driven in 32 runs in just 35 games. Luis Severino has solidified himself as the ace of the staff heading into the postseason. He's allowed one earned run or fewer in 9 of his last 11 starts, averaging eight strikeouts per game over that span. He's tied with Max Scherzer for third in the majors in WAR, trailing only Corey Kluber and Chris Sale. 16 of their remaining 19 games are against teams currently below .500, so the Yankees should have no issues reaching the postseason with their five-game buffer in the Wild Card. The only question that remains is if they can catch the Red Sox, who are three games up in the AL East.

Arizona Diamondbacks - #8 up to #4

Arizona finds themselves in an even better spot than the Yankees to make the playoffs. They too are up four games on the second wild card spot (Rockies), but are 7.5 games clear of the Cardinals who sit in third. The D-Backs have had some incredible performances from individual players to begin September. J.D. Martinez leads the majors in WAR to begin the month, having slugged eight homers and driven in 17 RBIs in just nine games. He's batting .450 and slugging 1.125 so far in the month, which are just ridiculous numbers. On the pitching side of things, if you haven't watched Robbie Ray on the mound, you're going to want to tune in to his next start against the Giants on Friday. Ray is second in the majors in K/9 behind only Chris Sale, and has struck out 26 batters in his last two outings. He creates a mean 1-2 punch with Zack Greinke, who enters Tuesday with the fifth-best WAR among major league pitchers. After a disappointing year full of injuries in 2016, Arizona has shown what they're capable of with a healthy roster and great starting pitching. It's a shame they share a division with the Dodgers and will be stuck in a one-game playoff, but having Ray or Greinke on the mound will ease the club's worries.

Seattle Mariners - #17 up to #11

The Mariners will receive a huge boost this Thursday and Friday, as Felix Hernandez and James Paxton will return from the DL in consecutive games. Even without those two, the staff has been solid to begin September, posting a 3.64 ERA through 10 games. Mike Leake has turned out to be a solid pickup for them so far, as he's 2-0 with quality starts in both of his outings. Andrew Albers has been a stud as well, throwing 12 innings in his last two starts with just one earned run and five hits in those 12 innings. Mitch Haniger has had a huge start to September, batting .463 with a .780 slugging percentage through 10 games. After hitting zero home runs in August, Robinson Cano has hit two in the first two weeks of September and driven in nine runs. We give the Mariners just a 3.6% chance to make the playoffs at the moment, as they're 3.5 games back in the AL Wild Card and have a tough remaining schedule. We might see a turnaround if King Felix and Paxton can rejuvenate the locker room, but the Mariners are still on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoff picture.

Top 3 Fallers

Chicago Cubs - #2 down to #5

Just when they look like they're ready to put their foot down on the division, the Cubs stumble and allow the Cardinals and Brewers to remain within reach. After winning 12 of 15 games and opening a five-game lead in the Central, Chicago lost six of eight including being swept at home by the Brewers. Their lead has been trimmed to two games in the Central, and have 11 of their remaining 19 games against the teams behind them in the Brewers and Cardinals. Their offense has been stagnant to begin September, scoring just 32 runs in 10 games. They've hit a league-low six homers in the month, as sluggers Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant are just 14-65 (.215) with zero dingers. Chicago's performance on the mound hasn't been much better. Even with two shutouts on the month, their team ERA is 5.52 through 10 games. They've allowed a whopping 6.5 runs per game in the other eight contests, including 12 or more in three different games. They open up a series against the Mets tonight, which will hopefully provide some much-needed wins for Cubs fans.

Houston Astros - #4 down to #7

After a solid seven-game winning streak, Houston dropped all four to Oakland in the Coliseum over the weekend. Those losses, along with the streak occurring in Cleveland, resulted in them losing the best record in the AL, something that looked nearly impossible just three weeks ago. Their bullpen was absolutely destroyed in Oakland, as they allowed 34 (of 41 total) runs in the sixth inning or later. The pen is definitely a concern entering the postseason, as they have the 10th worst ERA in the majors at 4.48. While their offense is still a force, they're anxiously awaiting Carlos Correa to return to his All-Star form after missing over a month with a torn ligament in this left thumb. In eight games back, Correa is batting just .182 with one extra base hit and one RBI. It's tough to say whether he's struggling due to his long absence or if his thumb isn't 100%, but either way the Astros will need him to be a consistent threat in their lineup if they want to advance come October. Houston will face a tough schedule in their remaining 19 games, as 13 of them will be against teams above the .500 mark, including 10 of those 13 on the road.

Tampa Bay Rays - #10 down to #13

The Rays appear dead in the water in the AL Wild Card race, as they've slipped four games back of the second-place Twins and see five teams between them. Adding to the struggles, Tampa Bay was essentially stripped of their home series against the Yankees this week, as the games were moved to Citi Field (the Mets' stadium) due to Hurricane Irma. Their offense has struggled to begin the month, scoring just 36 runs in 10 games, leading to a 4-6 record in September. Their ace Chris Archer has struggled recently as well, as he left a start against the White Sox with forearm tightness after allowing home runs to the first two batters, then allowed eight runs (six earned) in his next start against the Red Sox. They also lost rookie stud Jacob Faria to the DL with an abdominal strain, so the rotation is looking much thinner than in recent months. With a playoff percentage at just 3.1%, the Rays will need a miracle to make the postseason.