MLB Power Rankings: Where All 30 MLB Teams Stand Heading into September

Joel ReuterFeatured ColumnistSeptember 1, 2014

MLB Power Rankings: Where All 30 MLB Teams Stand Heading into September

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    The final month of the 2014 MLB season is here, and there is still an awful lot to be sorted out between now and the start of the postseason.

    Entering play Monday, a total of 16 teams boast a winning record, and all of them sit five or fewer games from a playoff spot.

    That should make for a fantastic September, and there will no doubt be at least a few more major shakeups in these rankings in the weeks to come.

    When putting together these rankings on a weekly basis, the following factors are considered:

    • Previous week's record
    • Recent performance beyond the last week
    • Quality of opponents
    • Key injuries/trades

    With that in mind, here is an updated look at where all 30 MLB teams stand as we enter September. Be sure to check back here every Monday morning for the most recent edition of our MLB power rankings.

30. Texas Rangers (53-83, Previous: 30)

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    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Last Week: 3-4

    According to a tweet from Stefan Stevenson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, this year's Texas Rangers will find their way into the record books Tuesday when Derek Holland makes his first start of the season.

    He will be the 38th different pitcher the team has used, tying the 2008 San Diego Padres, and the Rangers' 60th different player overall, which sets a new MLB record.

    That just about perfectly sums up how their season has gone, and the Rangers' only consolation prize at this point will be the No. 1 pick in next year's draft, provided they can hold on to the worst record in the league.

     

    Silver Slugger of August

    3B Adrian Beltre (98 AB, .327/.422/.429, 4 2B, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 11 R)

     

    Top Pitcher of August

    SP Scott Baker (6 G, 2 GS, 3-0, 2.60 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 12 K, 17.1 IP)

29. Colorado Rockies (54-82, Previous: 29)

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    Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

    Last Week: 2-5

    The Colorado Rockies wrapped up a 10-18 month of August that saw them post an NL-worst minus-31 run differential and go a disastrous 3-13 on the road.

    Starter Jorge De La Rosa wound up staying put after some speculation that he could be moved via waivers, so it looks like the team will do everything it can to re-sign him at the end of the season.

    It's going to take a lot more than bringing him back to get this team into contention, though, as the Rockies' 4.93 team ERA is the worst in all of baseball. They have used 15 different starting pitchers this season, with no one standing out as a clear piece of the future.

     

    Silver Slugger of August

    3B Nolan Arenado (107 AB, .336/.400/.570, 8 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 13 RBI, 16 R)

     

    Top Pitcher of August

    SP Jorge De La Rosa (6 GS, 2-4, 4.42 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 26 K, 38.2 IP)

28. Arizona Diamondbacks (57-79, Previous: 28)

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    Patrick Smith/Getty Images

    Last Week: 2-3

    The Arizona Diamondbacks closed out the month with a series win against the Colorado Rockies. They went 4-2 against Colorado and 5-16 against the rest of the league in August.

    Fans hoping to see top prospect Archie Bradley make his debut when rosters expand appear to be out of luck, as general manager Kevin Towers told MLB.com beat writer Steve Gilbert that a call-up for Bradley is "probably doubtful," though he named fellow prospect Andrew Chafin as someone who could get the call.

    The Diamondbacks will have some interesting roster decisions to make in the offseason. There is still plenty of talent on this roster, but Arizona has a good deal of work to do if the team is going to bounce back from a rough 2014 campaign.

     

    Silver Slugger of August

    CF Ender Inciarte (114 AB, .307/.358/.430, 4 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 11 RBI, 15 R)

     

    Top Pitcher of August

    SP Vidal Nuno (6 GS, 0-2, 3.08 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, 30 K, 38.0 IP)

27. Minnesota Twins (59-77, Previous: 24)

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Last Week: 1-5

    Despite leading all of baseball with 159 runs scored in August, the Minnesota Twins went just 11-18 for the month, closing things out with a sweep at the hands of the Baltimore Orioles over the weekend.

    Trevor Plouffe will be an interesting player to watch this offseason, as the 28-year-old still has three years of team control left and could be an attractive trade chip in what is expected to be a thin market at third base behind Pablo Sandoval.

    Plouffe leads all third basemen this season with 39 doubles, to go along with a .750 OPS, 12 home runs and 69 RBI and a solid 0.9 dWAR. With top prospect Miguel Sano expected to push for a job next year and cheaper options like Danny Santana and Eduardo Escobar capable of bridging the gap, Minnesota could deal him.

     

    Silver Slugger of August

    3B Trevor Plouffe (104 AB, .317/.372/.558, 10 2B, 5 HR, 24 RBI, 17 R)

     

    Top Pitcher of August

    SP Phil Hughes (5 GS, 4-1, 2.06 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 34 K, 35.0 IP)

26. Chicago White Sox (62-75, Previous: 26)

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Last Week: 3-4

    The Chicago White Sox had the worst run differential in all of baseball in August at minus-65, resulting in a 9-19 record and leaving them just 2.5 games up on the Minnesota Twins for fourth place in the AL Central.

    A quick return from a torn labrum by Avisail Garcia was one of the few bright spots for the team in the past month, and that allowed Chicago to trade veteran outfielder Alejandro De Aza to Baltimore in a waiver deal for a pair of minor league pitchers.

    The White Sox also unloaded slugger Adam Dunn, trading him to the Oakland A's, where he will have a chance to reach the postseason for the first time in his 14-year big league career. Shortly after the trade, he announced that he'll likely retire at the end of the season.

     

    Silver Slugger of August

    1B Jose Abreu (101 AB, .376/.466/.475, 4 2B, 2 HR, 16 RBI, 15 R)

     

    Top Pitcher of August

    SP Chris Sale (6 GS, 1-2, 2.77 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 56 K, 39.0 IP)

25. Boston Red Sox (60-76, Previous: 27)

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    Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

    Last Week: 4-2

    The Boston Red Sox closed out August on a high note, taking series on the road from the Toronto Blue Jays and Tampa Bay Rays, and they have a 5.5-game gap to close between them and the Rays if they want to avoid a last-place finish.

    David Ortiz had his best month of the season in August, and it's thanks in large part to the addition of Yoenis Cespedes, who has hit behind him in the cleanup spot since being acquired from Oakland.

    "I’ve seen better pitches to hit," Ortiz told Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe. "He’s a really good player and a threat. Looking forward, it’s going to be fun next year having him there for the whole year. He makes me better. He makes Nap better. He makes everybody better."

     

    Silver Slugger of August

    DH David Ortiz (76 AB, .342/.442/.592, 4 2B, 5 HR, 18 RBI, 10 R)

     

    Top Pitcher of August 

    SP Joe Kelly (5 GS, 0-1, 3.86 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 18 K, 28.0 IP)

24. Houston Astros (59-79, Previous: 25)

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    Mike Stobe/Getty Images

    Last Week: 4-3

    The Houston Astros posted their second winning month of the season in August, going 15-14 and slowly climbing up these rankings in the process. They put some distance between themselves and the Texas Rangers for last place over the weekend, taking three of four from them at home.

    It was quite a month for slugger Chris Carter, as he led all of baseball with 12 home runs and ranked second with 29 RBI. That brings his season home run total to 33, tying him with Jose Abreu for second place in the AL and trailing only Nelson Cruz, who has 35.

    Jose Altuve has also continued his terrific season; he currently leads all of baseball with a .336 average and 189 hits. He should have a real shot at breaking the team's single-season hits record of 210, set by Craig Biggio back in 1998.

     

    Silver Slugger of August

    DH Chris Carter (111 AB, .270/.328/.613, 2 2B, 12 HR, 29 RBI, 20 R)

     

    Top Pitcher of August

    SP Collin McHugh (6 GS, 3-0, 1.91 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 30 K, 37.2 IP)

23. Chicago Cubs (61-76, Previous: 21)

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 3-4

    August was an exciting month on the North Side, as top prospects Javier Baez and Jorge Soler both arrived on the scene and did plenty to earn their way into the headlines. The Chicago Cubs also went 16-14 for the month.

    Baez has some obvious growing to do, evidenced by his .188 average and 49 strikeouts in 116 plate appearances, but it's hard not to like the direction this team is heading.

    Soler has a much smaller sample size of just four games, but he became the first player ever with an extra-base hit and an RBI in each of his first four games. Overall, he's gone 8-for-15 with two doubles and three home runs, including a mammoth blast at Busch Stadium.

     

    Silver Slugger of August

    SS Starlin Castro (98 AB, .378/.408/.510, 4 2B, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 11 R)

     

    Top Pitcher of August

    SP Kyle Hendricks (6 GS, 4-0, 1.69 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 20 K, 37.1 IP)

22. Philadelphia Phillies (62-74, Previous: 23)

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 4-2

    The Philadelphia Phillies kicked off last week by sweeping a red-hot Washington Nationals team, and that helped push their record to 14-13 for the month, their first winning month of the season.

    Top prospect Maikel Franco could be among the team's September call-ups, as he has finished the year strong in Triple-A and could be auditioning for the everyday third base job next season. The 22-year-old will have to beat out incumbent Cody Asche, who is just 24 himself.

    "We haven't made a final decision on it, but we're still discussing it internally," GM Ruben Amaro told Austin Laymance of MLB.com. "The biggest thing for him is playing time, and making sure this is the right thing, the right atmosphere and the right time—not atmosphere as much as playing time."

     

    Silver Slugger of August

    RF Marlon Byrd (94 AB, .266/.317/.447, 2 2B, 5 HR, 16 RBI, 14 R)

     

    Top Pitcher of August

    SP Jerome Williams (4 GS, 3-0, 2.03 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 15 K, 26.2 IP)

21. New York Mets (64-73, Previous: 20)

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 3-3

    The New York Mets remain a team with an eye on taking a big step forward in 2015, and a rough month of August did little to change that, as the Mets went just 12-17 with a minus-27 run differential.

    Zack Wheeler has been vastly improved since the All-Star break, going 4-1 with a 2.45 ERA and 50 strikeouts in 51.1 innings over eight starts. If he can continue to progress, he should give the team a second ace-caliber arm alongside Matt Harvey once he returns.

    Offensively, there are still more questions than answers, and it will be interesting to see how aggressive the Mets are this winter after signing Curtis Granderson, Bartolo Colon and Chris Young a year ago. The pitching should be a strength, but they need to find some consistent offensive production outside of Daniel Murphy.

     

    Silver Slugger of August

    2B Daniel Murphy (88 AB, .318/.344/.420, 4 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 10 RBI, 11 R)

     

    Top Pitcher of August

    SP Zack Wheeler (5 GS, 3-1, 2.81 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 30 K, 32.0 IP)

20. San Diego Padres (64-71, Previous: 22)

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Last Week: 4-2

    The San Diego Padres finished August with the second-best record in the National League at 16-11, including an impressive 10-2 at home, and that included series wins against a pair of contenders in the Los Angeles Dodgers and Milwaukee Brewers last week.

    They're second in the NL with a 3.17 team ERA heading into the final month of the season, and with all of their starting rotation and most of their key bullpen pieces under contract through at least next season, they have something to build around.

    The offense remains the key, and while July pickups Yangervis Solarte and Abraham Almonte have provided a nice spark atop the lineup, there is still a lot of work to be done before the Padres are even a league-average group.

     

    Silver Slugger of August

    3B Yangervis Solarte (96 AB, .250/.354/.302, 2 2B, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 12 R)

     

    Top Pitcher of August

    SP Tyson Ross (5 GS, 2-2, 2.78 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 26 K, 32.1 IP)

19. Tampa Bay Rays (66-71, Previous: 16)

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    Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

    Last Week: 2-5

    Even with the trade of David Price at the deadline, the Tampa Bay Rays still have the best ERA in baseball since the All-Star break at 2.57, but that was not enough to keep them in contention for a wild-card spot.

    Drew Smyly (5 GS, 3-1, 1.50 ERA, 0.69 WHIP) actually has better numbers than David Price (5 GS, 1-2, 4.41 ERA, 1.10 WHIP) since the two were swapped in a three-team deal at the deadline, and Smyly has the added value of being under team control through 2018.

    The issue has been the offense, as Evan Longoria is having a down year, and outside of veterans Ben Zobrist and James Loney, consistent production has been hard to come by.

     

    Silver Slugger of August

    2B Ben Zobrist (115 AB, .278/.351/.374, 11 2B, 13 RBI, 21 R)

     

    Top Pitcher of August

    SP Drew Smyly (5 GS, 3-1, 1.50 ERA, 0.69 WHIP, 29 K, 36.0 IP)

18. Miami Marlins (66-69, Previous: 18)

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    Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

    Last Week: 2-4

    After a terrific start to the month of August, the Miami Marlins closed things out at 3-7 in their last 10 games, leaving them on the fringe of contention at 6.5 games back for the second NL wild-card spot.

    The young outfield of Christian Yelich (.289/.370/.423, 78 R, 16 SB), Marcell Ozuna (.261/.312/.436, 19 HR, 72 RBI) and Giancarlo Stanton (.292/.401/.550, 33 HR, 98 RBI) looks like it will be the cornerstone of the offense moving forward.

    On the pitching side of things, Jarred Cosart has been fantastic since coming over from the Astros at the deadline. And with Cosart, Jose Fernandez, Henderson Alvarez and Nathan Eovaldi, the Marlins have a terrific young staff to build around as well.

     

    Silver Slugger of August

    RF Giancarlo Stanton (97 AB, .289/.431/.567, 3 2B, 8 HR, 25 RBI, 14 R)

     

    Top Pitcher of August

    SP Jarred Cosart (5 GS, 3-1, 1.64 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 17 K, 33.0 IP)

17. Cincinnati Reds (66-71, Previous: 19)

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 3-3

    A 12-17 showing in August essentially put an end to the Cincinnati Reds' playoff hopes here in 2014, and they looked to have finally waved the white flag with their decision to trade setup man Jonathan Broxton prior to the waiver trade deadline.

    Their pitching remains some of the best in baseball, as the Reds rank third in starter's ERA at 3.30 and ninth in team ERA at 3.50. It's the offense that has been the issue, as injury-plagued seasons from Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips and a down year from Jay Bruce have been too much to overcome.

    This will be a big offseason for them. They have some huge decisions to make regarding the starting rotation, with Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon all headed for free agency after the 2015 season. Expect at least one of those guys to be extended, and perhaps one to be traded as well.

     

    Silver Slugger of August

    3B Todd Frazier (99 AB, .283/.351/.404, 3 2B, 3 HR, 14 RBI, 13 R)

     

    Top Pitcher of August

    SP Johnny Cueto (6 GS, 4-2, 3.05 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 39 K, 44.1 IP)

16. New York Yankees (70-65, Previous: 13)

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    Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

    Last Week: 3-4

    With series losses to the Detroit Tigers and Toronto Blue Jays on the road last week, the New York Yankees find themselves 3.5 games out of the second wild-card spot heading into the final month of the season.

    Thoughts of a September return for rookie phenom Masahiro Tanaka were put on hold, as least temporarily, when he was shut down over the weekend due to arm soreness, according to Jack Curry of YES Network (via Yahoo Sports).

    That means they'll continue to rely on Brandon McCarthy, Hiroki Kuroda, Michael Pineda and Shane Greene to lead the rotation down the stretch as they look to make up some ground in the standings. They've stuck around to this point, which is a testament in itself to the Yankees' ability to find a way to win.

     

    Silver Slugger of August

    CF Jacoby Ellsbury (102 AB, .324/.366/.539, 5 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 16 RBI, 13 R)

     

    Top Pitcher of August

    SP Brandon McCarthy (6 GS, 2-4, 2.95 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 40 K, 39.2 IP)

15. Toronto Blue Jays (69-67, Previous: 17)

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    Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

    Last Week: 3-3

    Despite a 9-17 showing in August, the Toronto Blue Jays are still just five games back for the second AL wild-card spot, but they need their starting rotation to get back on track quickly if they hope to make a legitimate push down the stretch.

    The starters had a 4.78 ERA for the month, with Mark Buehrle (5 GS, 5.76 ERA) and Marcus Stroman (5 GS, 6.39 ERA) in particular struggling mightily.

    Offensively, the Blue Jays are still one of the more dangerous teams in the league, and All-Star Jose Bautista is currently riding a five-game home run streak. If they can get Edwin Encarnacion, who is hitting just .170/.241/.340 in 53 at-bats since coming off the DL, back on track, that could take a lot of pressure off the pitching staff.

     

    Silver Slugger of August

    RF Jose Bautista (98 AB, .245/.336/.531, 4 2B, 8 HR, 20 RBI, 10 R)

     

    Top Pitcher of August

    SP Drew Hutchison (5 GS, 2-2, 3.93 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 32 K, 34.1 IP)

14. Cleveland Indians (70-64, Previous: 14)

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    Colin E. Braley/Associated Press

    Last Week: 4-1

    The Cleveland Indians are 6-1 in their last seven games, and with another strong week, they could make a push for the top 10 in these rankings. For as good as the Kansas City Royals were in August, the Indians were not far behind, going 17-9 with an identical plus-20 run differential.

    Improved starting pitching has been the biggest story, as Carlos Carrasco (3-0, 1.82 ERA), Danny Salazar (2-2, 2.77 ERA), T.J. House (1-1, 2.89 ERA) and Trevor Bauer (1-1, 3.34 ERA) all threw the ball well alongside ace Corey Kluber in August.

    That will need to continue if the Indians are going to put together another late-season playoff push, as the offense remains below average, coming off a month in which Cleveland was one of just two AL teams that failed to top 100 runs scored.

     

    Silver Slugger of August

    LF Michael Brantley (105 AB, .286/.327/.467, 10 2B, 3 HR, 19 RBI, 10 R)

     

    Top Pitcher of August

    SP Carlos Carrasco (6 G, 3 GS, 3-0, 1.82 ERA, 0.78 WHIP, 29 K, 29.2 IP)

13. Pittsburgh Pirates (71-65, Previous: 15)

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    Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

    Last Week: 4-2

    A seven-game losing streak in the middle of August looked like it might be the end of the Pittsburgh Pirates' playoff hopes, but they have gone 7-3 since, including series wins against the St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds last week.

    The trio of Starling Marte, Russell Martin and Jordy Mercer have boosted their offensive production alongside All-Stars Andrew McCutchen and Josh Harrison, and the lineup as a whole looks to be as balanced as it has been at any point in the team's recent run of success.

    Keeping the starting rotation healthy and performing at a high level down the stretch will be key, as the Pirates have relied heavily on the surprise contributions of Vance Worley and Jeff Locke in front of a bullpen that is not nearly as dominant as it was a year ago.

     

    Silver Slugger of August

    UT Josh Harrison (118 AB, .347/.374/.602, 12 2B, 3 3B, 4 HR, 9 RBI, 21 R)

     

    Top Pitcher of August

    SP Edinson Volquez (6 GS, 3-0, 2.11 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 31 K, 38.1 IP)

12. Milwaukee Brewers (73-63, Previous: 6)

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    Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

    Last Week: 1-5

    The Milwaukee Brewers' quick West Coast road trip did not go well, as they dropped two of three to the San Diego Padres before being swept by the San Francisco Giants over the weekend.

    That wrapped up a 13-14 month, and the Brewers enter September tied atop the NL Central standings with the St. Louis Cardinals, with the Pittsburgh Pirates close behind at just two games back.

    Kyle Lohse (5 GS, 7.30 ERA) and Wily Peralta (6 GS, 4.81 ERA) were both hit hard in August, as the rotation has not looked nearly as strong of late. The bullpen has also fallen off in the second half, and the team will need to right the ship quickly if it wants to avoid dropping down the standings.

     

    Silver Slugger of August

    3B Aramis Ramirez (100 AB, .380/.421/.540, 8 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 13 RBI, 10 R)

     

    Top Pitcher of August

    SP Mike Fiers (5 GS, 4-1, 1.80 ERA, 0.66 WHIP, 41 K, 35.0 IP)

11. St. Louis Cardinals (73-63, Previous: 10)

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    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    Last Week: 3-4

    Despite a minus-nine run differential in August, the St. Louis Cardinals managed to gain the two games they needed in the standings to tie the Milwaukee Brewers for first place in the NL Central.

    Catcher Yadier Molina returned to action Friday after missing nearly two months, going 5-for-13 in his three games of action against the Chicago Cubs. He's certainly capable of giving the offense a big shot in the arm.

    Meanwhile, rehabbing starter Michael Wacha pitched for Double-A Springfield on Sunday, allowing one hit in two scoreless innings of work as he continues to eye a return later this month.

    Little has gone according to plan for the Cardinals this season, and they have been far from the dominant force many predicted them to be. But here we are on Sept. 1 and they have still found a way to sit atop the division standings.

     

    Silver Slugger of August

    CF Jon Jay (76 AB, .382/.474/.487, 2 2B, 2 HR, 15 RBI, 15 R)

     

    Top Pitcher of August

    SP Lance Lynn (5 GS, 3-0, 1.99 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 24 K, 31.2 IP)

10. Seattle Mariners (73-62, Previous: 9)

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    Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

    Last Week: 2-4

    The Seattle Mariners ended a brilliant month of August with a thud, losing series to the lowly Texas Rangers and Washington Nationals at home, but they still managed a 17-10 record and plus-43 run differential.

    They are currently a half-game back of the Detroit Tigers for the second AL wild-card spot, and they will look to secure that spot on the strength of the best pitching staff in all of baseball, with a 3.02 team ERA and 1.15 team WHIP.

    It's a tough road ahead, as the Mariners have seven games left with the Los Angeles Angels, six with the Oakland A's and four with the Toronto Blue Jays. This team has the pieces to pull it off, though, and there might not be a more dangerous team to meet in a one-game Wild Card Round playoff.

     

    Silver Slugger of August

    2B Robinson Cano (95 AB, .305/.400/.516, 5 2B, 5 HR, 12 RBI, 19 R)

     

    Top Pitcher of August

    SP Hisashi Iwakuma (6 GS, 4-1, 2.39 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 33 K, 37.2 IP)

9. Atlanta Braves (72-65, Previous: 11)

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    Al Behrman/Associated Press

    Last Week: 4-2

    The Atlanta Braves took care of business last week with series wins against the New York Mets and Miami Marlins, salvaging the month to finish 14-14 and trimming the Washington Nationals' lead in the NL East to six games in the process.

    Chances are the the Braves will be playing for a wild-card spot down the stretch as opposed to a division title, and they currently trail the NL Central's co-leaders by 1.5 games for that second spot.

    The trio of Freddie Freeman (.330 BA, .919 OPS), Jason Heyward (.321 BA, .811 OPS) and Justin Upton (.291 BA, .946 OPS) are all coming off of big months at the plate, but the rest of the offense has been terrible, and the starting pitching outside of Alex Wood has not been good enough to overcome that.

     

    Silver Slugger of August

    LF Justin Upton (103 AB, .291/.383/.563, 5 2B, 1 3B, 7 HR, 28 RBI, 16 R)

     

    Top Pitcher of August

    SP Alex Wood (6 GS, 3-2, 1.96 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 40 K, 41.1 IP)

8. Kansas City Royals (74-61, Previous: 4)

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    Ed Zurga/Associated Press

    Last Week: 2-3

    Much like the Seattle Mariners, the Kansas City Royals ended a fantastic August on a sour note, as they carry a three-game losing streak into the season's final month. That said, they still hold a half-game lead over the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central standings.

    From a pitching standpoint, the Royals are a team built for postseason success, as they have a legitimate ace in James Shields, proven veterans behind him and arguably the best bullpen trio in baseball in Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland.

    They averaged a terrific 4.41 runs per game in August, and while that's probably not sustainable the rest of the way, the Royals are undoubtedly a better offensive team than they were in the first half. They'll have a decision to make once Eric Hosmer returns, as Billy Butler has thrived offensively since moving from DH to first base.

     

    Silver Slugger of August

    LF Alex Gordon (106 AB, .292/.356/.585, 2 2B, 1 3B, 9 HR, 16 RBI, 21 R)

     

    Top Pitcher of August

    SP Danny Duffy (6 GS, 3-1, 2.41 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 28 K, 37.1 IP)

7. Oakland Athletics (78-58, Previous: 2)

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    Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    Last Week: 2-5

    It's fair to say that the Oakland Athletics no longer look like the best team in baseball after going 12-17 in August and watching what was a four-game lead in the AL West turn into a five-game deficit.

    However, the A's still have a 4.5-game lead for the first AL wild-card spot, and it will take a massive September collapse for them to miss the playoffs entirely. They may not have much momentum heading into the final month, but they also have just nine games remaining against teams with a winning record.

    Oakland acquired DH Adam Dunn over the weekend in an effort to add some punch to an offense that tallied just 3.55 runs per game in August after averaging an even five runs per contest over the first four months of the season.

     

    Silver Slugger of August

    3B Josh Donaldson (96 AB, .313/.427/.490, 8 2B, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 9 R)

     

    Top Pitcher of August

    SP Jon Lester (6 GS, 3-2, 2.66 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 37 K, 40.2 IP)

6. Detroit Tigers (74-62, Previous: 8)

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    Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

    Last Week: 4-3

    The Detroit Tigers were just 16-15 in August, losing 4.5 games in the standings and the division lead to the Kansas City Royals, and they enter September clinging to a half-game lead for the second AL wild-card slot.

    A solid start from Justin Verlander his last time out (7 IP, 1 ER, 8 K) is certainly a positive sign. This is right about the time he kicked it into gear last season, when he had a 2.27 ERA and 10.9 K/9 in six September starts.

    The Tigers kick off this coming week with a big four-game series against a surging Indians team in Cleveland before heading home to take on another hot team in the San Francisco Giants.

     

    Silver Slugger of August

    DH Victor Martinez (117 AB, .350/.442/.547, 5 2B, 6 HR, 30 RBI, 20 R)

     

    Top Pitcher of August

    SP Max Scherzer (6 GS, 2-2, 3.24 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 53 K, 41.2 IP)

5. San Francisco Giants (74-62, Previous: 12)

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Last Week: 6-1

    Don't look now, but the San Francisco Giants once again look like the team that was arguably the best in baseball over the first two months of the season.

    Since a five-game losing streak dropped them to a season-high six games back in the NL West on Aug. 12, the Giants have gone 12-5 and trimmed that deficit to just 2.5 games in the process.

    If nothing else, they look to be in a good position to capture one of the NL wild-card spots, and they'll look to continue their hot play this coming week when they head on the road to face the Colorado Rockies and the Detroit Tigers.

     

    Silver Slugger of August

    C Buster Posey (107 AB, .336/.372/.579, 4 2B, 2 3B, 6 HR, 17 RBI, 19 R)

     

    Top Pitcher of August

    SP Madison Bumgarner (6 GS, 4-1, 1.57 ERA, 0.63 WHIP, 56 K, 46.0 IP)

4. Los Angeles Dodgers (77-60, Previous: 5)

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Last Week: 3-2

    Despite dropping a series to the San Diego Padres over the weekend, the Los Angeles Dodgers still closed out August with a winning record at 15-13, and given the injuries they were dealing with, that is no small feat.

    Juan Uribe and Hyun-Jin Ryu have returned from the DL, but the long-term health of Hanley Ramirez is still a legitimate concern heading into the final month. With Yasiel Puig slumping badly in August (.216 BA, .544 OPS, 0 HR, 4 RBI), the team needs him in the lineup now more than ever.

    It looks like the Dodgers will have their hands full holding off a red-hot San Francisco Giants team in the NL West standings, and those two teams still have six games left head-to-head. The Dodgers kick off a nine-game homestand with a three-game series against the Washington Nationals next week.

     

    Silver Slugger of August

    1B Adrian Gonzalez (95 AB, .337/.377/.537, 7 2B, 4 HR, 20 RBI, 12 R)

     

    Top Pitcher of August

    SP Clayton Kershaw (5 GS, 3-1, 1.80 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 44 K, 40.0 IP)

3. Washington Nationals (77-58, Previous: 1)

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    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Last Week: 2-4

    A sweep at the hands of the Philadelphia Phillies snapped a 12-1 hot streak for the Washington Nationals and was enough to knock them out of the No. 1 spot, but they rebounded to take a series from the Seattle Mariners over the weekend.

    This still looks like the best all-around team in the National League heading into the final month of the season, and with a plus offense, talented starting rotation and solid bullpen trio of Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard and Rafael Soriano, the Nationals are built for success in October.

    They open this week with a three-game series against the Dodgers in Los Angeles, before they look for some redemption with a weekend series at home with the Phillies, as they look to extend their six-game lead in the NL East.

     

    Silver Slugger of August

    3B Anthony Rendon (115 AB, .287/.344/.496, 7 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 15 RBI, 22 R)

     

    Top Pitcher of August

    SP Jordan Zimmermann (6 GS, 4-0, 2.21 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 35 K, 40.2 IP)

2. Baltimore Orioles (79-56, Previous: 7)

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    Patrick Smith/Getty Images

    Last Week: 6-1

    By all accounts, the Baltimore Orioles are coming off of their best month of the season, as they were 19-9 with an MLB-best plus-48 run differential. That was thanks to scoring a whopping 4.82 runs per game and posting a 3.08 ERA as a team.

    The Orioles starting rotation may not carry much name recognition, but Chris Tillman has been a bona fide ace since the All-Star break (9 GS, 4-0, 1.85 ERA, 0.87 WHIP), and the rest of the staff has fallen into place behind him.

    The offense leads all of baseball with 176 home runs, including an MLB-high 35 from Nelson Cruz, the bullpen has been a legitimate weapon since the addition of Andrew Miller and the defense remains one of the best groups in the league even without Manny Machado.

    Whether a relatively inexperienced group can find success in October remains to be seen, but with a nine-game lead in the AL East heading into September, that certainly looks to be where the Orioles are headed.

     

    Silver Slugger of August

    SS J.J. Hardy (90 AB, .322/.378/.533, 4 2B, 5 HR, 18 RBI, 16 R)

     

    Top Pitcher of August

    SP Chris Tillman (6 GS, 4-0, 1.33 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, 33 K, 40.2 IP)

1. Los Angeles Angels (83-53, Previous: 3)

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Last Week: 6-1

    The Los Angeles Angels are a ridiculous 15-4 in their last 19 games, and they are currently riding a six-game winning streak that was capped off with a four-game sweep of the rival Oakland Athletics over the weekend.

    Losing Garrett Richards was no doubt a huge blow to this team, but it appears to be something the Angels have rallied around. Matt Shoemaker (7-2, 1.67 ERA) and Hector Santiago (3-0, 1.47 ERA) have both been on fire since the All-Star break, and even C.J. Wilson has looked better of late, with a 2.63 ERA in his last four starts.

    The starting pitching is the only real question, as the bullpen has been terrific since adding Huston Street to the mix and the offense leads all of baseball at 4.69 runs per game.

    The Angels are an easy choice for the top spot, and they look like the best team in baseball by a sizable margin heading into September.

     

    Silver Slugger of August

    1B Albert Pujols (110 AB, .282/.363/.464, 8 2B, 4 HR, 16 RBI, 14 R)

     

    Top Pitcher of August

    SP Matt Shoemaker (7 G, 6 GS, 6-1, 1.31 ERA, 0.77 WHIP, 38 K, 41.1 IP)

     

    Unless otherwise noted, all stats are courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and cover games from Monday, Aug. 25, through Sunday, Aug. 31. All injury information comes via MLB Depth Charts team pages, per Baseball Prospectus.

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