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MLB Power Rankings: Week 19

Albert Pujols

Albert Pujols

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

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Welcome to the NBC Sports EDGE MLB Power Rankings, a weekly feature that will run every Tuesday through the end of the 2022 regular season. These rankings are not fantasy-driven in any way, though I do tend to sprinkle in fantasy-relevant nuggets here and there. Who’s hot, who’s not, who to watch -- that sort of thing. Send any and all complaints to me on Twitter: @drewsilv.

Please believe me when I tell you that I do not hate your team.

1. Los Angeles Dodgers
Record: 80-34
Last Week: 1

In earning their 10th shutout of the season on Monday night against the Brewers, the Dodgers also became the first team this year to reach 80 wins. Their run differential is all the way up to +251. It was announced Monday that Walker Buehler needs elbow surgery and is officially done for the remainder of 2022, but the NL West leaders are about to get a big weapon back in Dustin May. The 24-year-old right-hander has worked to a 1.71 ERA and 36/6 K/BB ratio in 21 minor league rehab innings.

2. New York Mets
Record: 75-41
Last Week: 2

Before getting trounced by the division-rival Braves on Monday night, the Mets had won 17 of their last 20 games. They’re still up 4 1/2 games on Atlanta for first place in the National League East standings, and they have Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom lined up for the final two games of this crucial four-game set at Truist Park. Edwin Diaz became the third-youngest pitcher to reach 200 career saves on Sunday. He holds a 1.33 ERA and 94/14 K/BB ratio in 47 1/3 innings this year.

3. Houston Astros
Record: 75-42
Last Week: 4

Houston had won four straight games versus the Rangers and Athletics before falling to the White Sox on Monday night in Chicago. The second game of that four-game series Tuesday at Guaranteed Rate Field will feature one of the best pitching matchups of the year, with Justin Verlander toeing the slap for the Astros and Dylan Cease on tap for the Pale Hose. Verlander is the current betting favorite to win the 2022 AL Cy Young Award at -154, but Cease is not too far behind at +150.

4. Atlanta Braves
Record: 71-46
Last Week: 5

Just as they did with Michael Harris II back in May, the Braves called up top infield prospect Vaughn Grissom directly from the Double-A level last week. And he has since produced a .429 batting average and 1.310 OPS across his first 24 major league plate appearances. The 21-year-old contributed a single, a double, a walk, and two runs scored to Atlanta’s statement-making 13-1 rout of the Mets on Monday night. The defending World Series champions have won seven straight.

5. New York Yankees
Record: 72-44
Last Week: 3

The slip-sliding Yankees have lost 10 of their last 12 games. They have been shut out four times in their last nine games. And they have scored just eight total runs across their last six games -- their fewest runs scored in any six-game game span since August 2015. But the good news is that they still have a 10-game lead on first place in the American League East standings and are at some point going to get a number of important offensive contributors back from the injured list. Brighter skies ahead?

6. San Diego Padres
Record: 65-53
Last Week: 7

Fernando Tatis Jr. was knocking on the door to make his season debut when the news broke last Friday that he had been suspended 80 games after testing positive for Clostebol, a performance-enhancing drug. Whatever excuse Tatis decides to settle on -- the latest one is that he was treating “a fungus due to a haircut” -- there is no turning back. He’ll miss the remainder of the 2022 regular season and postseason, and he is also going to have to sit out the early part of the 2023 campaign.

7. St. Louis Cardinals
Record: 63-51
Last Week: 8

Albert Pujols hit the 688th and 689th home runs of his Hall of Famer career on Sunday as the Cardinals ultimately took two of three from the division-rival Brewers. As of Tuesday afternoon, they’re up two games on Milwaukee for first place in the National League Central, and they have the easiest remaining schedule of any MLB team. Deadline acquisitions Jordan Montgomery and José Quintana have combined for a 1.17 ERA in four starts covering 23 innings. It’s suddenly all clicking.

8. Seattle Mariners
Record: 63-54
Last Week: 10

Luis Castillo struck out nine batters over six sharp innings and Jesse Winker went 2-for-5 with two RBI and two runs scored in the Mariners’ 6-2 win at Anaheim on Monday night. Castillo now has a 2.18 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, and 24/6 K/BB ratio in 20 2/3 innings (three starts) since being acquired from the Reds ahead of this year’s trade deadline. Winker, also formerly of the Reds, boasts a 1.031 OPS over his last 51 plate appearances. Seattle is currently in command of the top AL Wild Card spot.

9. Philadelphia Phillies
Record: 64-51
Last Week: 9

They struggled to get much going offensively against the Mets this past weekend in Queens, but the Phillies rebounded for a 4-3 win over the Reds on Monday night at Great American Ball Park as Noah Syndergaard turned in seven respectable innings and Edmundo Sosa plated three of those four runs. The best news of all from Monday: Bryce Harper was able to take batting practice -- 60 swings in total -- for the first time since suffering a fractured left thumb back in late June. He’s getting closer.

10. Toronto Blue Jays
Record: 61-53
Last Week: 6

On a steep slide of their own, the Blue Jays have not been able to take advantage of whatever is going on in the Bronx. They were 11 1/2 games behind the Yankees in the AL East standings at the end of July and are still 10 games back here on August 16. Yusei Kikuchi struggled mightily again on Monday against the visiting Orioles, yielding six runs -- three earned -- on four hits and three walks while failing to make it past the fourth inning. He is 4-7 with a 5.25 ERA in 20 starts this season.

11. Milwaukee Brewers
Record: 61-53
Last Week: 11

The frustration is building to a crescendo in Milwaukee after the Brewers dropped two of three over the weekend in St. Louis and then fell flat in a 4-0 loss to the visiting Dodgers on Monday at American Family Field. They’ve spent a total of 95 days in first place this year, but the Brewers are suddenly two games back of the Cardinals in the NL Central and currently out of the NL Wild Card picture. They had a three-game division lead when they traded Josh Hader to the Padres on August 1.

12. Cleveland Guardians
Record: 62-54
Last Week: 14

Having won eight of their last 10 games, the Guardians suddenly sit alone atop the American League Central standings. And it might be a significant advantage over the other two teams in the hunt that 28 of their final 46 games are at home in Progressive Field, where they’ve gone 30-23 so far this year. Zach Plesac will take the bump there on Tuesday night against the visiting Tigers, the same team he carved up for seven strikeouts over 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball last Thursday in Detroit.

13. Tampa Bay Rays
Record: 61-53
Last Week: 13

Drew Rasmussen took a perfect game into the ninth inning on Sunday against the Orioles before Jalen Beeks, Ryan Yarbrough, Ryan Thompson, Brooks Raley, and Jason Adam combined to shut out the Yankees on Monday night. Beyond this excellent recent run of pitching, the Rays should soon get key offensive contributors Wander Franco (wrist), Harold Ramirez (thumb), and Manuel Margot (knee) back from the injured list to assist in the team’s AL Wild Card chase.

14. Chicago White Sox
Record: 60-56
Last Week: 15

Johnny Cueto continued his stunning age-36 brilliance Tuesday night on the South Side, limiting a dangerous Astros outfit to two runs -- one earned -- over eight innings as the White Sox earned a 4-2 comeback victory to move a season-high four games over the .500 mark. Cueto signed a minor league contract with Chicago in early April and carries a sparkling 2.78 ERA through 110 innings of work this year. The veteran right-hander has been a savior for Tony La Russa and company.

15. Minnesota Twins
Record: 59-55
Last Week: 12

The formerly-first-place Twins had a rough road trip through Southern California last week, losing four of five to the Dodgers and Angels. But they returned home to beat the Royals on Monday, and 12 of their next 15 games will be played inside the more comfortable confines of Target Field. A new surge must start now. After spending 107 days at the top of the American League Central standings, Minnesota is two games back of the division-leading Guardians as of Tuesday afternoon.

16. Baltimore Orioles
Record: 60-55
Last Week: 16

Despite opting to sell instead of buy at the trade deadline, the Orioles are still hanging around in the AL Wild Card hunt. And it sounds like we might soon get a look at top infield prospect Gunnar Henderson as the O’s try to form a postseason-worthy roster from within. Henderson, 21, was the 42nd overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft out of a high school in Alabama and has hit .301/.424/.547 with 18 homers and 18 steals in 99 games this year between Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk.

17. San Francisco Giants
Record: 58-57
Last Week: 17

There have been so many ups and downs -- and missed opportunities -- in Joey Bart‘s young major league career, but he seems to have figured something out within the last couple of weeks. The 25-year-old catcher is on a season-best seven-game hitting streak, and he has five multi-hit games in that span. He’s batting .432 with a 1.150 OPS across his last 38 plate appearances dating back to July 29. Oh, and the Giants have won seven of their last nine. Maybe they’re not dead yet?

18. Boston Red Sox
Record: 57-59
Last Week: 18

Michael Wacha was both efficient and dominant in his return from a bout of right shoulder inflammation on Sunday night against the arch-rival Yankees, scattering two hits and one walk over seven shutout innings in what was a 3-0 victory for the Red Sox. He tallied a season-high nine strikeouts on just 89 total pitches while lowering his season ERA to 2.44. If the Red Sox are going to climb back into AL Wild Card contention down the stretch, they’ll need more performances like that.

19. Miami Marlins
Record: 51-65
Last Week: 19

Sandy Alcantara further bolstered his case for the 2022 NL Cy Young Award on Monday night against the Padres, rattling off seven scoreless innings with seven strikeouts while guiding the Marlins to a 3-0 victory. His season ERA is down to 1.92, and he has pitched 20 1/3 more innings than the next-closest starter in the major leagues. If the 26-year-old right-hander does wind up taking home the Cy Young hardware, it would the first in the three-decade history of the Marlins franchise.

20. Texas Rangers
Record: 52-63
Last Week: 20

Chris Woodward joined Joe Maddon, Joe Girardi, and Charlie Montoyo as the fourth major league manager to be fired this season when the Rangers officially parted ways with him on Monday afternoon. He oversaw an overall 211-287 record during his four-year run in Texas, including a 51-63 record this year and a miserable 6-24 record in one-run games. Tony Beasley was named the interim skipper and fittingly guided the club to a 2-1 victory over the visiting A’s on Monday night.

21. Arizona Diamondbacks
Record: 53-62
Last Week: 21

Christian Walker drew threw walks and produced the only run of the game for the Diamondbacks in their 6-1 loss to the Giants on Monday night in San Francisco. Walker has 28 home runs of the season, tied with NL MVP frontrunner Paul Goldschmidt for the fourth-most among all National League hitters. It’s also the sixth-most among all MLB hitters. The 31-year-old has bounced back in fine form after struggling to a .696 OPS with just 10 homers in 115 games last season.

22. Los Angeles Angels
Record: 51-65
Last Week: 23

It’s difficult to parse out many positives right now in Anaheim with the exception of the ongoing two-way brilliance of Shohei Ohtani, but maybe Tucker Davidson can prove himself to be a sort of building block moving forward. Acquired from the Braves two weeks ago as part of the Raisel Iglesias trade, the 26-year-old left-hander struggled badly in his Angels debut on August 7 at Seattle before making a series of adjustments and roaring back with six solid innings Sunday in a 4-2 win over the Twins.

23. Colorado Rockies
Record: 51-66
Last Week: 22

There was a collective sigh of disappointment across the fantasy industry when the Rockies became the team that claimed Dinelson Lamet off waivers from the Brewers, but it has been a nice fit up to this point. The oft-injured 30-year-old former top prospect has twirled five scoreless innings of relief with four strikeouts and no walks so far with Colorado, and he even picked up his first win of the season last Friday versus the Diamondbacks. Maybe he’ll get another shot at a starting role in 2023.

24. Chicago Cubs
Record: 47-67
Last Week: 24

After being designated for assignment by the Guardians shortly after the August 2 trade deadline, Franmil Reyes quickly landed with the Cubs on a waiver claim and has since gone 7-for-21 (.333) with a double, a triple, and a homer in five games played. Reyes had a miserable .213/.254/.350 batting through 78 games this season in Cleveland, but the well-built 27-year-old slugger is a multi-time 30-plus home run hitter. The change of scenery could spark something. Or perhaps already it did.

25. Kansas City Royals
Record: 48-69
Last Week: 28

Vinnie Pasquantino claimed American League Player of the Week honors for August 8-14 after going 10-for-22 (.455) with four home runs, six RBI, and six runs scored in a span of six games. He then went yard again on Monday night against the Twins for his ninth extra-base hit (five homers, four doubles) in 13 games since the calendar flipped to August. The 24-year-old slugger carries an on-the-rise .803 OPS through his first 174 plate appearances at baseball’s highest level.

26. Cincinnati Reds
Record: 45-69
Last Week: 26

They have earned only one win in their last seven games, but it’s worth highlighting the performance of Alexis Diaz from that lone Reds victory on Sunday afternoon against the Cubs. The 25-year-old right-hander secured the final five outs while fanning four of the seven batters he faced for his second save in August. The younger brother of Mets closer Edwin Diaz, he boasts a 1.83 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, and 60 strikeouts through 44 1/3 innings of work here in his rookie campaign.

27. Pittsburgh Pirates
Record: 45-70
Last Week: 25

Pittsburgh got swept by the Giants over the weekend and will lug a four-game losing streak into Tuesday night’s series opener against the Red Sox. Should we be a bit concerned about Oneil Cruz? He’s flashed tremendous raw talent with nine home runs and six stolen bases through 46 games this season at the MLB level, but the 23-year-old top shortstop prospect has also struck out 67 times. He’s slashing .191/.224/.349 with 35 strikeouts in 67 plate appearances versus left-handed pitching.

28. Detroit Tigers
Record: 44-74
Last Week: 27

Kerry Carpenter singled, doubled, and homered in the second half of Monday’s doubleheader against the Guardians to help the Tigers snap an eight-game losing streak. Carpenter was a 19th-round pick in the 2019 MLB Draft out of Virginia Tech and has never appeared on any top-100 prospect lists, but the 24-year-old earned the call to the majors last week after slashing .313/.380/.645 with 30 home runs and 75 RBI in 97 games this summer between Double-A Erie and Triple-A Toledo.

29. Oakland Athletics
Record: 41-75
Last Week: 29

JP Sears will try to help put a stop to the Athletics’ current nine-game losing streak when he takes the bump on Tuesday night in Arlington, Texas. Acquired from the Yankees earlier this month as part of the return for Frankie Montas and Lou Trivino, the 26-year-old left-hander showed pretty well in his Oakland debut last Wednesday versus the Angels, yielding two runs on three hits and no walks over 5 1/3 frames. Worth noting, the A’s longest losing streak this season is 10 straight.

30. Washington Nationals
Record: 39-78
Last Week: 30

CJ Abrams made his Nationals debut on Monday against the Cubs, almost exactly two weeks after being acquired from the Padres as part of the Juan Soto and Josh Bell trade. But the most exciting rookie in Washington at the moment is actually probably 30-year-old first baseman and corner outfielder Joey Meneses. A career minor leaguer up until his promotion from Triple-A Rochester on August 2, he has batted .385/.429/.769 with five home runs through his first 11 major league games.