A.L. Power Rankings: Blue Jays on a roll
A.L. Power Rankings: Blue Jays on a roll
By Jimmy Toscano
The MLB trade deadline has come and gone, so what you see is what you're (mostly) going to get in terms of each team's roster. There may be a few waiver-deadline trades, and September callups will add to current 25-man rosters. But the major moves have been made, and it's no coincidence that the two teams that helped themselves most -- the Kansas City Royals and the Toronto Blue Jays -- are leading the pack in this edition of the A.L. Power Rankings.
Let's take a look.
1. Kansas City Royals (68-45, last month: 1)
The American League's best team got better when it acquired Johnny Cueto at the trade deadline. Cueto is going to command plenty of dough this offseason, so this trade was strictly a win-now move for the Royals. He's gotten better in each of his three starts, with his latest a complete-game shutout in Kansas City, throwing the team's already crazy fans into all-out mayhem mode. The Royals are very real.
2. Toronto Blue Jays (63-52, last month: 6)
You have to give credit where it's due: Alex Anthopoulos, step on up. The Blue Jays GM absolutely got it done, and then some, at the trade deadline this year, acquiring Troy Tulowitzki to bolster an already deep offense and then trading for an ace pitcher in David Price. They also made two more deals for reliever Mark Lowe and outfielder Ben Revere. On deadline day, the Jays were six games out of first place in the A.L. East. Now, they're in first place by a 1/2 game. Watch out, Kansas City.
3. Houston Astros (62-53, last month: 4)
Luckily for the Astros, the Angels are struggling now, too. Houston has reclaimed the top spot in the A.L. West, but only holds a two-game lead. At this point in the season, the division is obviously still up for grabs. The Astros have gone 3-7 in their last 10 games, all on the road. The fact they've survived it is nice, but it's time to turn it around as they begin a 10-game homestand on Friday against the Tigers, Rays and Dodgers. They'll reportedly get Lance McCullers back in the rotation during the home stretch after shutting him down to rest for a bit.
4. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (59-54, last month: 2)
Surprisingly, the Angels have slowed down after a very hot stretch. They carried their momentum into the second half with six straight wins. Since then they're 5-11 and were just swept by the White Sox. The Angels are no longer leading the A.L. West, trailing the Astros by two games. They do, however, currently hold the second wild-card spot by 1 1/2 games and they're more talented than the Rays, Orioles, and Twins -- three teams trailing them in the wild-card standings.
5. New York Yankees (61-51, last month: 5)
Uh, oh. The Yanks are crashing. Swept by the Blue Jays and losers of the first two against the Indians, they've watched their healthy division lead disappear. They're now looking up at the Blue Jays in the standings, and the scary part for them is that Toronto has more talent. The Yanks are reportedly calling up top prospect and first baseman Greg Bird in hopes to add a boost to the offense and give rest to A-Rod and Mark Teixeira.
6. Minnesota Twins (57-56, last month: 3)
The division is obviously out of reach, as the Twins are 11 games out. The wild card is still a possibility, though things aren't trending in the right direction. Since the All-Star break, the Twins are just 7-14, and recently dipped below .500 for the first time since May 1. Some good news: 22-year-old Miguel Sano looks like the real deal, as he now has seven homers in just 33 games after cracking two Wednesday night.
7. Tampa Bay Rays (58-56, last month: 9)
Just when you think the Rays are going to go away, they hang around. They've won their last three series and have won seven of their last nine games. That has slid them up to third place in the A.L. East, 4 1/2 games behind the Blue Jays. They're knocking on the wild-card door, too, as they sit just 1 1/2 games behind the Angels for the second spot. It would be a pretty big shock to see this Rays team -- one that lacks a lot of offense -- sneak into the playoffs.
8. Detroit Tigers (55-59, last month: 7)
Nice comeback over the Royals on Wednesday to avoid the sweep, but there's no division competition this season. That being said, there is some potentially really good news for the Tigers: Miguel Cabrera could return on Friday. It won't be easy -- especially after trading David Price -- but the Tigers are only 4 1/2 games out of the wild card. They aren't completely dead yet. And if anybody can help, it's Miggy.
10. Texas Rangers (55-57, last month: 12)
Will the Rangers put some heat on the wild-card race? After going 8-2 for a stretch of games, they've dropped three straight heading into Thursday's day game in Minnesota. They'll now return home for six games, but here's the catch: They haven't been good at home this season, coming in at 23-29 compared to 32-28 on the road. If Texas wants to creep up the standings, that will have to change.
9. Baltimore Orioles (57-56, last month: 8)
Not a great time to be a Baltimore Oriole. The O's were just no-hit by Hisashi Iwakuma on Wednesday, and they've now dropped to fourth place in the A.L. East. While the Blue Jays are surging and the Rays are even heating up, the Orioles can't seem to get in any type of groove. They win one, they lose one, they win one, they lose one. Playing .500 baseball isn't going to get them into the playoffs, and that's becoming a reality for the O's.
11. Chicago White Sox (54-58, last month: 13)
The White Sox decided to not sell at the deadline. They started to win some games leading up to it and thought there was some hope at a playoff run. Is there? Well, they're 4 1/2 games out of a wild-card spot, one more game than they were out at the trade deadline. The Tigers, who did sell, are also 4 1/2 games out. There are four teams between them and the second wild-card spot. So, no, it's not going to be easy. Give the White Sox this, though: They aren't giving up. They just swept the Angels after a 13-inning walkoff win.
12. Seattle Mariners (51-64, last month: 15)
OK, Seattle. I see you. I see Hisashi Iwakuma's no-hitter. I see the celebration. I see how that could provide some life into a team that has been relatively lifeless and underwhelming all season. The Mariners might be too deep in the hole to stage a comeback, but bigger comebacks have happened. They have the pitching (67 quality starts, fourth in MLB), but the hitting (Nelson Cruz aside) has been basically missing all year.
13. Cleveland Indians (53-59, last month: 14)
The Indians aren't going to make any kind of late playoff run, but they have won four games in a row and -- perhaps more importantly to everybody else -- just knocked the Yankees out of first place in the A.L. East. A couple of other notes: Mike Aviles' daughter, who we've mentioned here before, is currently being treated for childhood leukemia and will throw out the first pitch with her twin sister Thursday night. Also, it's $1 hot dog night at Progressive Field.
14. Oakland Athletics (51-64, last month: 11)
It's been a bad season for the Oakland Athletics, and it got a little worse on Thursday when A's ace Sonny Gray was scratched from his start due to back spasms. Hopefully it's nothing major, because there aren't a lot of games to look forward to if you're an A's fan besides Gray's starts. The bigger story in Oakland is where the team will play in the future.
15. Boston Red Sox (50-64, last month: 10)
Put a fork in this team. What was a nice little run heading into the All-Star break was quickly squished after the break. These guys don't pitch when they hit and don't hit when they pitch. And regardless, the bullpen is so bad that no lead is safe. It's to the point where there isn't a single reliever you want in the game if you're a Red Sox fan. David Ortiz is still blasting home runs and needs nine for 500. If you can focus on just Ortiz, maybe you can sit through a game.