After a pair of exciting Game 163s on Monday, the 2018 regular season is finally in the books.
These will be our final Rotoworld MLB Power Rankings of the year and they reflect the now-settled postseason picture, with the teams that are still alive obviously getting more love than the teams that have already packed up and gone home. Thanks for reading along all season.
A note: We’ll be running our usual Team Roundups throughout October and into the early part of November, recapping every team’s 2018 with all of the relevant fantasy angles.
1. Boston Red Sox
Last Week: 1
The Red Sox tallied a franchise-record 108 wins this season and will head into the playoffs as the top overall seed. They led all MLB club in runs scored (876), hits (1,509), doubles (355), batting average (.268), and OPS (.792). Mookie Betts looks to be the favorite for American League MVP after batting .346/.438/.640 with 32 home runs, 80 RBI, 30 stolen bases, and 129 runs scored in 136 games. He became just the second player in Red Sox franchise history to record a 30-30 campaign. J.D. Martinez, signed to a five-year, $109.95 million free agent contract over the winter, paced all major league hitters in total bases (358) and RBI (130).
2. Houston Astros
Last Week: 2
The Astros won three of four in their final regular-season series against the Orioles to finish with a franchise-record 103 victories. They posted a major league-best +263 run differential, after putting up a +196 run differential in their 2017 championship season. Those two marks combined (+459) make for the best two-year run differential since the 1998-99 Yankees (+478), who won back-to-back World Series titles. Houston will be trying to make it two in a row with a starting rotation led by Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole, the first pair of teammates to each record 250-plus strikeouts since Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling of the 2002 Diamondbacks.
3. New York Yankees
Last Week: 3
The Yankees took two of three from the Red Sox to close out the regular season with 100 wins and carry positive momentum into their American League Wild Card Game matchup with the Athletics on Wednesday night in New York. This 2018 edition of the Bronx Bombers hit 267 home runs as a team, breaking the MLB record that was held for 21 years by the 1997 Mariners. It looked like shortstop Didi Gregorius might be done for the season when he was diagnosed on September 23 with cartilage damage his right wrist, but he returned to the starting lineup over the weekend and had two hits and three runs scored in his final two games.
4. Milwaukee Brewers
Last Week: 6
Milwaukee rattled off eight straight victories to close out the 2018 regular season, and no win was more important than Monday afternoon’s 3-1 defeat of the Cubs in the National League Central tiebreaker at Wrigley Field. That gives the Brewers the potential for home-field advantage throughout the National League side of the postseason bracket, and it also allows them to rest up for a few days before the start of the NLDS. The Cubs, meanwhile, have to play the Rockies in the National League Wild Card Game on Tuesday night for the right to face the Brewers again -- this time in a best-of-five set. Christian Yelich and Co. will be waiting.
5. Oakland Athletics
Last Week: 4
The A’s were 34-36 on June 16 and out of the picture for a postseason spot, but they went 63-29 the rest of the way to finish with 97 wins and secure a place in Wednesday night’s American League Wild Card Game against the Yankees. The starting rotation is a bit of a mess -- Oakland has lost 10 starters to 13 injuries since the beginning of spring training, with four requiring Tommy John surgery and Sean Manaea undergoing a major shoulder procedure on September 19 that could sideline him through the 2019 campaign -- but the Athletics have a deep lineup and they finished second among all major league teams in Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR).
6. Cleveland Indians
Last Week: 7
The Indians were the first team to clinch a postseason berth, locking up the American League Central title back on September 15. Sometimes that can result in a letdown -- taking the pedal off the metal and all that -- but Cleveland has to be feeling pretty good about how this played out. Trevor Bauer, who missed much of August and September with a fractured fibula, fit in three tune-up outings over the final three weeks of the regular season and should be close to a full-go for the club’s daunting ALDS matchup against the defending-champion Astros. Josh Donaldson got it going down the stretch, slashing .344/.447/.625 over his final 38 plate appearances.
7. Los Angeles Dodgers
Last Week: 8
The Dodgers defeated the Rockies 5-2 in the National League West tiebreaker on Monday in Los Angeles as 24-year-old starter Walker Buehler yielded just one hit over 6 2/3 scoreless innings. Game 163 statistics count toward the regular season, so Buehler finishes with a 2.62 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, and 151/37 K/BB ratio in 137 1/3 innings. That might be good enough for a third-place finish in the National League Rookie of the Year balloting, with Ronald Acuna and Juan Soto likely coming in first and second. Buehler looks like a future (and perhaps present) ace for the Dodgers, who are lined up to face the Braves in the best-of-five NLDS.
8. Chicago Cubs
Last Week: 5
The Cubs lost the National League Central tiebreaker to the Brewers on Monday afternoon at Wrigley Field and will now have to get through the Rockies in Tuesday night’s National League Wild Card Game to keep their postseason dreams alive. Jon Lester will take the mound in that one, coming off a stellar 1.71 ERA over his final eight regular-season starts. The Cubs need more from Kris Bryant, who went 0-for-2 with a walk and a strikeout in Monday’s loss to the Brewers and finished with an OPS of .834 -- 112 points lower than his .946 OPS from 2017. Willson Contreras coming alive again would help too. He hit .169/.263/.232 in his final 45 games.
9. Atlanta Braves
Last Week: 9
The Braves clinched the National League East title last Saturday and sort of coasted through the final week of the regular season, dropping four of six versus the Mets and Phillies. They’ll want to get the fire burning again leading into a best-of-five NLDS matchup with the Dodgers, who just secured the National League West crown on Monday in a Game 163 tiebreaker against the Rockies. The last time Atlanta won a postseason series was back in 2001. Ronald Acuna looks ready for the big stage after batting .293/.366/.552 with 26 home runs, 64 RBI, 16 stolen bases, and 78 runs scored over his first 111 major league games. He’s the favorite for NL Rookie of the Year.
10. Colorado Rockies
Last Week: 11
The Rockies fell just short of the first division title in franchise history, falling 5-2 to the Dodgers in the National League West tiebreaker on Monday afternoon in Los Angeles. But they went 9-2 over their final 11 regular-season games, including that Game 163 defeat at Dodger Stadium, and they have the goods to knock off the Cubs in Tuesday night’s National League Wild Card Game at Wrigley Field. Kyle Freeland will start that loser-goes-home tilt for Colorado, after delivering a brilliant 2.20 ERA with 78 strikeouts over his final 81 2/3 regular-season innings. But probably worth noting is that he actually put up better numbers at Coors Field than he did on the road.
11. Tampa Bay Rays
Last Week: 12
The Rays went 37-19 over their final 56 games to reach the 90-win mark and finish with the same record as the NL East-champion Braves. That’s despite trading scores of high-profile players throughout the year, including Evan Longoria, Chris Archer, Alex Colome, and Nathan Eovaldi. However you feel about the strategy of using a reliever to open games -- a strategy this organization made popular -- Tampa Bay pitchers combined for a 3.74 ERA in 2018, which ranked sixth among all MLB clubs. Blake Snell did the heavy lifting in a more traditional way, going 21-5 with a 1.89 ERA and 221 strikeouts across 180 2/3 innings (31 starts) en route to a likely AL Cy Young Award.
12. St. Louis Cardinals
Last Week: 10
The Cardinals went 1-5 over their final six games of the regular season to fall out of the mix for a National League Wild Card spot and spoil a strong second-half push. But let’s focus on some of the positives. St. Louis went 41-28 under new manager Mike Shildt following Mike Matheny’s firing on July 14. Jack Flaherty emerged as a front-line starter at age 22, delivering a 3.34 ERA and 182 strikeouts in 151 innings. Matt Carpenter posted a career-high 36 home runs and a career-best .897 OPS, at one point looking like a legitimate MVP candidate. And rookie center fielder Harrison Bader finished fourth among all MLB outfielders in defensive runs saved.
13. Seattle Mariners
Last Week: 13
The Mariners had an 11-game lead on the Athletics in the American League Wild Card standings on June 15, but they posted a losing record (31-34) in the second half and will watch Oakland play the Yankees on Wednesday night for the right to advance to the ALDS. Seattle hasn’t made the playoffs in 17 years, which is the longest active postseason drought in Major League Baseball and also qualifies as the longest active postseason drought across the four major North American sports. Kyle Seager was probably the team’s biggest individual letdown in 2018, as he registered a career-worst .221 batting average and .273 OBP in 630 plate appearances.
14. Pittsburgh Pirates
Last Week: 14
The Pirates had a dreadful August and quickly fell out of contention for a National League Wild Card spot, but they finished with a respectable 16-10 record in September and have some arrows pointing up for 2019. Jameson Taillon registered a 2.27 ERA and 86/18 K/BB ratio over his final 14 starts covering 91 innings. Trevor Williams was even better down the stretch, posting a brilliant 1.29 ERA across his final 76 2/3 frames. And while July 31 trade acquisition Chris Archer was mostly a disappointment, he did show well in his final two outings. With some offseason upgrades to the offense and bullpen, the Bucs could be a dangerous team next year.
15. Washington Nationals
Last Week: 16
Washington went 15-12 in September to finish above .500 for the seventh consecutive year, but by any measure this season was a disappointment. The Nationals entered as a heavy favorite to win the National League East but watched as the upstart Braves took that crown. And now they’re faced with Bryce Harper’s looming free agency. Harper posted a weak .249 batting average in 2018, but he still managed an .889 OPS with 34 home runs and a career-high 100 RBI in 159 games played. At age 25 -- young to be hitting the open market -- Harper and his agent Scott Boras will be looking to set new records in contract negotiations this winter.
16. Arizona Diamondbacks
Last Week: 15
The Diamondbacks spent more time atop the National League West standings this year than the Rockies and Dodgers, but they went 11-24 over their final 35 games and watched Colorado and Los Angeles duke it out for the division title in a Game 163 on Monday. Arizona now faces an offseason that will be filled with difficult decisions, as Patrick Corbin, A.J. Pollock, and Eduardo Escobar are all headed for free agency in November and Paul Goldschmidt will be entering his contract year in 2019. Will the organization try to load up for another postseason push or sell parts in an effort to pull off a rolling rebuild? Zack Greinke’s future hangs somewhere in that balance.
17. Philadelphia Phillies
Last Week: 17
The Phillies were in first place in the National League East on August 11, but they went 15-31 over their final 46 games to ultimately finish with a losing record. Look for this organization to spend big cash over the winter to upgrade an offense that ranked 22nd among all major league teams in runs scored (677) and dead-last in batting average (.234). The pitching staff could use some upgrading too, but the Phillies might be a little skittish after watching Jake Arrieta’s troubling second-half fade. Aaron Nola is locked in as the Opening Day starter in 2019 after breaking out to the tune of a 17-6 record, 2.37 ERA, and 0.975 WHIP in 212 1/3 innings this year.
18. Los Angeles Angels
Last Week: 18
Shohei Ohtani underwent Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery on Monday, as expected. He won’t pitch again until 2020, but the Angels are optimistic that the 24-year-old two-way star can serve as their regular designated hitter throughout the 2019 season. Ohtani showed very well offensively as a rookie, slashing .285/.361/.564 with 22 home runs, 61 RBI, 10 stolen bases, and 59 runs scored over his first 367 major league plate appearances. He should win American League Rookie of the Year honors over Miguel Andujar of the Yankees. Mike Trout, as usual, has a case for American League MVP, but he’ll probably finish second to Mookie Betts.
19. New York Mets
Last Week: 19
Jacob deGrom capped his sensational 2018 campaign with another gem last Wednesday against the Braves, striking out 10 batters and yielding just two hits over eight shutout innings to lower his season ERA to 1.70. He’s the favorite for the National League Cy Young Award despite a 10-9 record. The 30-year-old righty was a bright spot in an otherwise dismal season in Queens, though David Wright returning to the field in the season’s final weekend also qualifies as a highlight. Wright hadn’t appeared in a major league game since May 2016 due to serious neck, back, and shoulder injuries. He’s expected to file official retirement papers this winter.
20. Minnesota Twins
Last Week: 22
The Twins finished with six consecutive wins and gave Joe Mauer a proper send-off in Sunday’s season finale against the White Sox, having him appear at catcher for one pitch in the ninth inning. It was his first time donning the mask, knee pads, and chest protector since concussions forced him to move to first base in 2013. He got a five-minute standing ovation from the crowd at Target Field when he popped out of the dugout and took his old spot behind home plate. Mauer didn’t fully live up to the eight-year, $187 million extension he got from the Twins after his 2009 MVP campaign, but he will go down as one of the greatest players in franchise history.
21. Toronto Blue Jays
Last Week: 21
Start counting down the days to Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s arrival in the major leagues. He’ll get the service-time treatment like many top prospects before him, but hopefully by the end of April 2019, we’ll get our first up-close look at the young third baseman. Guerrero nearly forced the Blue Jays’ hand this year at age 19, batting .381/.437/.636 with 20 home runs, 29 doubles, and 78 RBI in 95 games between four different levels of Toronto’s minor league system. Bo Bichette looks to be on the way too. There are some exciting young bats in this system, but the Jays need to figure out a way to add some pitching. Toronto’s hurlers combined for a 4.85 ERA in 2018.
22. San Francisco Giants
Last Week: 20
The Giants’ season ended with a whimper, as they went 5-21 in September, the worst mark of any major league club in the final month. It sounds like a rebuild could be coming to San Francisco, as ownership fired general manager Bobby Evans on September 24 and also removed Brian Sabean from his role as head of baseball operations. CEO Larry Baer told reporters that the organization will look to hire a “next-gen” executive to lead the franchise into the future. Could a Madison Bumgarner trade be on the horizon? The 29-year-old left-hander carries a bargain $12 million club option for 2019 and will be a free agent heading into 2020.
23. Cincinnati Reds
Last Week: 23
Joey Votto led all National League hitters in on-base percentage (.417) yet again, but he finished with just 12 home runs in 145 games -- a confounding total given that he got to take half of his at-bats in one of the most power-friendly stadiums in the majors. The 35-year-old first baseman is still due $132 million on a contract that will run through the 2023 season. He’s a good bet for a bounceback in 2019, but what will the final years of that deal bring? And then there’s Homer Bailey, who has registered a combined 6.29 ERA over the last three seasons and is still owed a whopping $28 million. At least Eugenio Suarez’s spring-training extension looks well-played.
24. Texas Rangers
Last Week: 24
Adrian Beltre got a warm ovation from the crowd at Seattle’s Safeco Field on Sunday when he was replaced at third base in the bottom of the fifth inning. He spent five years of his Hall of Fame-worthy career with the Mariners, and the fans on hand recognized that the 39-year-old impending free agent was probably playing in his final major league game. Beltre will go down as just one of seven players in MLB history to record at least 450 home runs and 600 doubles. The other six: Hank Aaron, Stan Musial, Carl Yastrzemski, Barry Bonds, Albert Pujols, and David Ortiz. Factor in Beltre’s stellar defense at the hot corner and you can start molding that plaque in Cooperstown.
25. San Diego Padres
Last Week: 26
The Padres have the best farm system in baseball, according to Baseball America, but they need to avoid the temptation of overpaying (the wrong) free agents as they attempt to expedite their route back to postseason contention. Eric Hosmer is Exhibit A here. After putting up a career-best .318/.385/.498 batting line with 25 home runs and 94 RBI over 162 games with the Royals in 2017, the San Diego front office gave him a massive eight-year, $144 million free agent deal. In his first season with the Friars, the 28-year-old first baseman hit just .253/.322/.398 with 18 homers and 69 RBI in 157 games. He is locked in through 2025.
26. Detroit Tigers
Last Week: 25
Just about everything went wrong for the Tigers this year. Miguel Cabrera underwent season-ending surgery in early June after suffering a ruptured biceps tendon, ultimately appearing in just 38 games. He’ll be 36 years old next April and is still due $154 million on a contract that is set to run through 2023. Michael Fulmer needed surgery for a torn meniscus in his right knee in September, after posting a disappointing 4.69 ERA over 132 1/3 innings. The 25-year-old right-hander entered the summer as one of Detroit’s top trade chips. A positive: Nicholas Castellanos, who registered career highs in OPS, batting average, hits, and walks.
27. Miami Marlins
Last Week: 27
The Marlins posted a losing record for the ninth consecutive season and have now gone 15 years without reaching the playoffs. New chief executive officer Derek Jeter will tell you there are brighter days ahead, but it’s hard to see a light at the end of the tunnel right now. The 2018 Marlins became the first major league team to drew fewer than one million fans since the 2004 Montreal Expos, who moved to Washington, D.C. the following year. Lewis Brinson, the centerpiece of the return from the Brewers for likely National League MVP Christian Yelich, batted just .199/.240/.338 with 120 strikeouts over his first 406 plate appearances with Miami.
28. Chicago White Sox
Last Week: 28
The White Sox dropped five straight games to close out the 2018 regular season, finishing with 100 losses for the first time since 1970. It was just the fourth 100-loss campaign in the 118-year history of the franchise. Top pitching prospect Michael Kopech needed Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery in mid-September and will be out until 2020. Top outfield prospect Eloy Jimenez did all he could in the upper minors to force a callup, but the White Sox decided against starting his service time clock. Yoan Moncada failed to take a step forward offensively in his first full MLB season, posting a weak .315 OBP and leading all major leaguers in strikeouts.
29. Kansas City Royals
Last Week: 29
The Royals had a winning record (15-13) in September, but still finished with the second-worst overall record in franchise history. Opening Day starter Danny Duffy registered a 4.88 ERA and 1.49 WHIP in 155 innings before getting shut down in early September with a left shoulder injury. The 29-year-old signed a five-year, $65 million extension with Kansas City in January 2017 and is still owed $46 million. Some positives: Whit Merrifield led all major leaguers in stolen bases with 45 and posted the highest batting average (.307) and OPS (.806) of his career. Adalberto Mondesi swiped 32 bases in 75 games after his promotion from Triple-A Omaha in mid-June.
30. Baltimore Orioles
Last Week: 30
The Orioles finished with a franchise-worst 115 losses and a hideous -270 run differential. They ranked 27th among all major league clubs in runs scored (622) and dead-last in team ERA (5.18). Adam Jones, the 2018 team leader in extra-base hits and total bases, is set to become a free agent this winter. Chris Davis went 1-for-37 over his final 10 games, ultimately batting just .168/.243/.296 for the season. The 32-year-old is still owed $92 million on a contract that runs through 2022 and is probably completely untradeable. Baltimore needs a massive organizational rebuild, and the blueprint points to a long road back to relevance.