When we get this deep into a season, my power rankings are not always just my order of the best teams. A lot more goes into it, such as the reasons the Cleveland Indians stay just outside the top five. It's because the fact they play in the American League Central, and they've been nearly a lock to win the division since turning around their season in June.
So with that in mind, let's really dig into who's going to win each division and look at the battle for the wild card spots in each league.
Yes, the New York Yankees have closed back to within six games of the Boston Red Sox, and with two games in hand -- meaning two more games to play than the Red Sox -- that number could be five games. However, we'd still have to assess the Red Sox as having about a 75 percent chance to win the AL East.
Cleveland is 13 games ahead of the Minnesota Twins. For the past 2.5 months, the Indians have been the only team in the AL Central to be .500 or better.
Despite the amazing run since mid-June by the Oakland Athletics, the Houston Astros have responded to the challenge. The Astros have won six of their past seven games to build a 1.5-game lead in the AL West. The two teams square off for a three-game series in Houston starting Aug. 27, which may well decide the division. The Seattle Mariners have slipped with a 5-7 mark during their last 12. They are now 6.5 games behind Houston and five behind the second place A's.
In case you're thinking the Mariners could still beat the Yankees for a wild card spot, think again. At 74-57, the Mariners are 9.5 games behind the Yankees. Barring a complete collapse by the Red Sox, the Yankees will take the No. 1 wild card spot in the American League. The Yankees will host either the Astros or A's.
The NL shows three divisions that are too close to call. The Atlanta Braves lead the Philadelphia Phillies by three games in the East. The Chicago Cubs are four games in front of the St. Louis Cardinals and 4.5 ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers. The Arizona Diamondbacks are one game in front of the Colorado Rockies and 2.5 games in front of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who let their momentum slip away with some poor decisions at the trade deadline.
While the West is way too crazy to even take a stab at the team that will come away with the prize, let's give the division crowns to the three teams on top -- the Braves, Cubs and Diamondbacks -- for the sake of argument.
Let's look at just how close the races are for those two NL Wild-card spots:
St. Louis: 73-58
Milwaukee: 73-59 -- .5
Colorado: 71-59 -- 1
Philadelphia: 70-60 -- 2
L.A. Dodgers: 70-61 -- 2.5
So, while none of these divisions has truly been won yet, you can see how one winning run of 8-2 or 9-1 could alter these races dramatically. Each of these teams has proven they can do that. It must be added that the Phillies and Dodgers have far less wiggle room for another misstep. For either of them to end up inside the playoffs, they must have had their bad streak.
Here are this week's MLB power rankings, presented by the Thompson Automotive Group:
2. New York Yankees (83-47, No. 2)
3. Houston Astros (80-50, No. 3)
4. Chicago Cubs (76-53, No. 5)
5. Oakland Athletics (79-52, No. 4)
6. Cleveland Indians (74-56, No. 6)
7. Milwaukee Brewers (73-59, No. 7)
8. Atlanta Braves (73-57, No. 9)
9. St. Louis Cardinals (73-58, No. 13)
10. Colorado Rockies (71-59, No. 10)
11. Arizona Diamondbacks (72-58, No. 8)
12. Los Angeles Dodgers (70-61, No. 12)
13. Seattle Mariners (74-57, No. 14)
14. Philadelphia Phillies (70-60, No. 11)
15. Tampa Bay Rays (70-61, No. 16)
16. Washington Nationals (65-66, No. 15)
17. Pittsburgh Pirates (64-67, No. 17)
18. San Francisco Giants (65-67, No. 20)
19. Los Angeles Angels (63-68, No. 18)
20. Minnesota Twins (61-69, No. 19)
21. Toronto Blue Jays (60-70, No. 22)
22. Texas Rangers (58-74, No. 21)
23. New York Mets (58-72, No. 24)
24. Cincinnati Reds (56-75, No. 23)
25. Miami Marlins (53-79, No. 25)
26. Chicago White Sox (51-79, No. 28)
27. Detroit Tigers (53-78, No. 26)
28. San Diego Padres (50-83, No. 27)
29. Kansas City Royals (40-91, No. 29)
30. Baltimore Orioles (37-94, No. 30)