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Stan 'The Fan' Charles' MLB Power Rankings: Oct. 1, 2018

October 1, 2018
For all Baltimore baseball fans, one of the most miserable seasons imaginable is finally over. It's sure been a long haul since the balmy days of late mid-to-late March when I first laid eyes on the 2018 Baltimore Orioles.

An oddball offseason last winter, when very little if anything of relevance was accomplished, gave way to so much uncertainty regarding the home team's chances of sustaining what had been a solid run from 2012-2017.

Neither Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette nor field manager Buck Showalter was under contract beyond 2018. The team's three key players -- outfielder Adam Jones, infielder Manny Machado and closer Zach Britton -- would be entering the final year of their contracts.

As the calendar moved into 2018, it became clear the Orioles' inaction was caused by the declining health of principal owner Peter Angelos. In fact, by late January and early February, team press releases were using the quotes of executive vice president John Angelos.

As the clock ticked closer to the start of the 2018 season, the front office pulled three pitching rabbits out of its hat. The club signed right-handers Andrew Cashner (two-year contract) and Chris Tillman (one year). Finally, about a week before Opening Day, the team threw its Hail Mary in signing Alex Cobb to a four-year contract with the hope that the core group of players who had provided Baltimore baseball fans with so much enjoyment since 2012 could make one last run at a title.

That hope was dashed by the end of April in a season that was as unenjoyable as any in Orioles history. 47-115 was just as ugly as it sounds.

But now the ugliness gives way to what could be a remarkable postseason. It's already historic, as not one but two of the National League divisions -- the Central and the West -- require one-game playoffs to determine the division winners and wild-card teams. 

The Chicago Cubs host the Milwaukee Brewers at 1 p.m. ET Oct. 1 for the NL Central title. The Los Angeles Dodgers host the Colorado Rockies at 4 p.m. ET for the West title. The winners advance to the National League Division Series, while the losers face off in the National League Wild Card Game Oct. 2. 

The Cubs-Brewers winner will play the eventual wild-card winner in the NLDS, and the Rockies-Dodgers winner will play the NL East champion Atlanta Braves. In the American League, the Boston Red Sox (108-54) await the winner of the one-game, wild-card matchup between the New York Yankees and Oakland Athletics. The Houston Astros and Cleveland Indians will face one another in the other ALDS matchup. 

As I have explained before, the final regular-season power rankings reflect how much uncertainty exists as we head into October.

While I think a number of teams could end up as 2018 World Series champions, one thing is certain to me. As much as you can laud the Red Sox for their tremendous regular-season accomplishments, the 2017 champion Houston Astros are still, in boxing parlance, "The Man." The Astros have moved to the head of the class in my final rankings.

And as they say in boxing, if you want to be "The Man," you have to beat "The Man." Starting today, seven other teams will find that that may be next to impossible.

2018 marked the seventh season of my weekly MLB power rankings. It's one of the most enjoyable things I have ever put my head and heart into. I hope you enjoy reading and now viewing my weekly updates half as much as I enjoy working on them and sharing them with you.

Here are this week's MLB power rankings, presented by the Thompson Automotive Group: 

1. Houston Astros (103-59, No. 2 overall last week)
2. Boston Red Sox (108-54, No. 1)
3. Cleveland Indians (91-71, No. 4)
4. New York Yankees (100-62, No. 6)
5. Oakland Athletics (97-65, No. 7)
6. Atlanta Braves (90-72, No. 8)
7. Los Angeles Dodgers (91-71, No. 5)
8. Chicago Cubs (95-67, No. 3)
9. Colorado Rockies (91-71, No. 11)
10. Milwaukee Brewers (95-67, No. 9)
11. Tampa Bay Rays (90-72, No. 12)
12. St. Louis Cardinals (88-74, No. 10)
13. Seattle Mariners (89-73, No. 13)
14. Pittsburgh Pirates (82-79, No. 14)
15. Arizona Diamondbacks (82-80, No. 16)
16. Washington Nationals (82-80, No. 17)
17. Philadelphia Phillies (80-82, No. 15)
18. Los Angeles Angels (80-82, No. 18)
19. Minnesota Twins (78-84, No. 21)
20. New York Mets (77-85, No. 19)
21. Toronto Blue Jays (73-89, No. 22)
22. San Francisco Giants (73-89, No. 20)
23. Texas Rangers (67-95, No. 23)
24. Cincinnati Reds (67-95, No. 24)
25. Detroit Tigers (64-98, No. 25)
26. Chicago White Sox (62-100, No. 26)
27. San Diego Padres (66-96, No. 27)
28. Miami Marlins (63-98, No. 28)
29. Kansas City Royals (58-104, No. 29)
30. Baltimore Orioles (47-115, No. 30) 

Catch "The Bat Around" with Stan "The Fan" Charles every Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon at  Follow him on Twitter at  @StanTheFan.  

Photo Credit: Ed Sheahin/Gary Sousa/PressBox