Once September comes around, Major League Baseball's full attention turns to postseason races, but still, the actual champagne celebrations can sneak up on you.
That's the case in the National League right now, as the Giants went 6-0 on the road and the Cincinatti Reds and San Diego Padres both continued to struggle. The magic number shrunk remarkably quickly, and the Giants can become the first team to clinch a playoff spot with a win Monday night. Others aren't far behind.
The Los Angeles Dodgers can wrap up a playoff spot with three more wins, and by the end of this week, the two teams atop the NL West will have just one thing to play for: One will be the NL West champ and the other will be hosting the Wild Card Game. The Giants and Dodgers will be joined by the Milwaukee Brewers, who can wrap up the NL Central by the middle of this week.
The American League is much closer, but the Tampa Bay Rays and Chicago White Sox can both clinch playoff spots this week, and both are going to easily win their divisions. It's time to let the champagne flow, although, for the teams at the bottom of our MLB Power Rankings, the focus is probably on that first margarita on a beach in Cabo in early October.
As we wait for the clubhouse celebrations, here's our latest look at all 30 teams:
30. Baltimore Orioles (46-97): They took a no-hitter into the seventh inning Saturday night and then gave up 11 runs on 11 hits. On Sunday, they lost 22-7. MLB might need relegation.
29. Arizona Diamondbacks (47-96): Madison Bumgarner could still help the Giants win the West. There’s a chance that two of his next three starts come against the Dodgers, although if the Diamondbacks stay on turn Bumgarner wouldn’t pitch in Arizona’s final visit to Oracle Park this season.
28. Pittsburgh Pirates (52-91): The team is awful, but former Giant and first-time All-Star Bryan Reynolds is finishing off a very nice season. Reynolds is batting .299 with 23 homers, 85 RBI and a .897 OPS.
27. Texas Rangers (53-89): With Joey Gallo gone, they have just two qualified hitters who have been above league average by OPS+, and Dane Dunning is their only starting pitcher who has been better than average. It's going to be a long road back to contention.
26. Washington Nationals (59-84): It's very early, but the centerpieces of the Max Scherzer/Trea Turner trade haven't exactly lit the world on fire. Keibert Ruiz has a .379 OPS in nine games and Josiah Gray has a 5.85 ERA in eight starts.
25. Minnesota Twins (63-80): One of the favorites in the league before the season, they’re now one of just three teams in the AL to have been outscored by at least 100 runs.
24. Miami Marlins (60-83): Their season went downhill quickly, but at least you can see what they’re building. The young starting staff is going to be really good and rookie infielder Jazz Chisholm has settled in nicely, with 2.1 WAR, 15 homers and 20 stolen bases.
23. Chicago Cubs (65-79): Alexander Canario has a .728 OPS since the big trade, although he does have eight homers, one shy of his total in San Jose.
22. Kansas City Royals (65-78): Salvador Perez has his sights set on Johnny Bench’s record for most home runs by a catcher. The mark is 45 and Perez is at 42, which already is an AL record for a catcher and third all-time behind Bench and Javier Lopez (the other one).
21. Detroit Tigers (68-76): Miguel Cabrera has some serious work to do to reach a second huge milestone this year. He already hit his 500th homer, but he needs 25 more hits for 3,000. Earlier in his career, he might have done that in a dozen games.
20. Colorado Rockies (66-78): Aside from that Giants series, they certainly are enjoying the spoiler role. They took two of three from the Dodgers in late August, two of four from the Braves earlier this month, and three of four from the Phillies over the weekend.
19. Cleveland Indians (69-72): They’re the first team in history to be no-hit three times in a season and poor Zach Plesac was on the other end all three times. Carlos Rodon and Wade Miley got them earlier this year and Corbin Burnes and Josh Hader teamed up Saturday.
18. Los Angeles Angels (70-73): So, uhh, the Mike Trout injury turned out to be pretty bad. He hasn't played since May 17 and there's really no point in bringing him back at this point.
17. Philadelphia Phillies (72-71): They fired Gabe Kapler because he went 80-82 and 81-81 in his first two seasons. In two seasons since, they’re 100-103. Oops!
16. Seattle Mariners (77-66): Their Pythagorean record -- determined by run differential -- is 66-77, but they just keep hanging around. They're 30-18 in one-run games and 14-6 in extra innings.
15. St. Louis Cardinals (73-69): A fixture in the playoffs the last couple decades, they’re still hanging around the Wild Card race and picked up a lot of ground over the weekend. They took two of three from the Reds at the same time as the Padres were getting swept across the country.
14. New York Mets (72-72): It has been a tumultuous first season in New York, but Francisco Lindor may have finally won over the crowd with a three-homer game Sunday night. The sport is more fun when the Mets are good, so hopefully, this is a sign of things to come for Lindor.
13. Cincinnati Reds (75-69): They’ve lost six consecutive series … but they really should still end up with that second Wild Card spot. They face the Pirates nine times in their final 18 games and also have a four-game series at home against the Nationals.
12. San Diego Padres (74-68): They’re going to help decide the NL West, but not in the way they expected. After getting swept at Dodger Stadium, they head up the coast for four at Oracle Park. They still have 10 games against the Giants and three against the Dodgers.
11. A’s (77-66): Back-to-back close losses to the last-place Rangers knocked them 6 1/2 games out in the West, but they really do control their own fate down the stretch. This week -- facing the Royals and Angels -- is a chance to make up ground, and then they finish up with two straight weeks against the Houston Astros and Mariners.
10. New York Yankees (79-64): Their record would place them second in the AL West and both Central divisions, and third in the NL West. It would have them atop the NL East by 2 1/2 games. But they're looking up at three teams in the AL East and would be on the outside looking in if the playoffs started today. A few jobs might be at stake at Yankee Stadium over the next three weeks.
9. Boston Red Sox (81-64): One of the biggest mistakes the Dodgers made in the last year was letting super-popular utility man Kiké Hernandez depart for Boston. He's been worth a career-high 4.1 WAR, the second-highest of any Boston position player.
8. Atlanta Braves (76-66): Bringing Adam Duvall back turned out to be one of the savviest moves at the deadline. He has a .850 OPS in Atlanta and a dozen homers in just 137 at-bats.
7. Chicago White Sox (82-61): Jose Abreu won the MVP last year and still is criminally underrated. He's up to 29 homers and leads the Majors with 107 RBI. He's on track to lead the AL in RBI for a third straight season.
6.Toronto Blue Jays (80-63): They’ve won 14 of 16 to jump to the top of the AL Wild Card race. Shohei Ohtani is still the MVP favorite, but Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (6.0 WAR, 44 homers, 1.018 OPS) looks poised to make it close down the stretch.
5. Houston Astros (83-59): They have a very Giants-like distribution of homers, with seven players in double digits and four above 20. Yordan Alvarez has returned from an injury-marred 2020 to hit 28 bombs, one more than his breakout 2019 season.
4. Milwaukee Brewers (89-55): With Corbin Burnes -- who threw the first eight innings of a no-hitter Saturday -- and Brandon Woodruff, the Brewers might actually be the Giants’ biggest threat in October. There are some 2010 Giants vibes here.
3. Tampa Bay Rays (89-54): It’s not just playoff spots up for grabs the next three weeks. The Rays are right behind the Giants and Dodgers in the race for home-field advantage throughout the postseason. They face the red-hot Blue Jays six more times, though, and then finish the year at the Astros and Yankees.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers (91-53): Max Scherzer, who came up five outs short of a perfect game Sunday, is going to go down as one of the best deadline additions ever. He’s 6-0 with a 0.88 ERA as a Dodger, with an absurd 72 strikeouts to five walks.
1. Giants (93-50): They have won a season-high seven straight. They got their first sweep at Wrigley Field in 26 years. They’re just about fully healthy. They can become the first team to clinch a playoff spot with a win Monday. And … they can’t let up at all, not with the Dodgers still charging hard.