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MLB Power Rankings: Could the Yankees or Astros make a deep run in the playoffs as a lower seed? – CBS Sports

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MLB Power Rankings: Could the Yankees or Astros make a deep run in the playoffs as a lower seed?

The Dodgers remain at the top, but who is number two?

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Mike Meredith/CBS Sports

There are only two weeks left in the 2020 Major League Baseball regular season. It’s been quite the journey, right? The delayed season, the COVID shutdowns, all the doubleheaders (and those to come) and we’ve got just two weeks left. The Cardinals, by the way, have 18 games left in 14 days and still won’t play the full 60 (they’re scheduled for 58 games). 

As we look forward to a crazy final two weeks before what is likely to be an insane postseason, it’s worth wondering if there are threats to make a deep playoff run who have been lying in the weeds to this point. Last week I looked at possible Cinderella stories among teams not currently in playoff position, but what about those in position? Let’s highlight three AL teams. 

New York Yankees: Prior to Wednesday, the Yankees had lost 15 of 20 and were letting teams like the Orioles and Tigers hang around in playoff contention. Did the Yankees finally wake up and drop the hammer? They’ve now won five in a row and after a four-game, head-to–head sweep have run away from the Orioles. They sit just a half-game back of the Blue Jays for the five seed in the AL with three games against those Blue Jays in Yankee Stadium for the first half of this coming week. D.J. LeMahieu and Gleyber Torres have returned from injury while Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton eye a return for next weekend. 

Losing 15 of 20 is bad, but in a 162-game sprint, I don’t think everyone would’ve panicked as much. As it stands, the Yankees could well be just as dangerous as we thought they’d be, come October. 

Houston Astros: The Astros have lost nine of their last 11 and are actually under .500. They are also in playoff position due to being in second place in the AL West. 

They’ve had tons of injury issues and the offensive firepower simply hasn’t been where we’ve grown accustomed to seeing in the last few years (yes, raising legitimate questions). Still, Jose Altuve is coming back soon, it’s possible Justin Verlander comes back, even if it’s in relief and there’s just too much raw talent here for me to dismiss them in October. In any playoff series, seeing the likes of Zack Greinke, Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa, George Springer, Altuve and Verlander would give any team pause. 

Cleveland: The way certain things have gone recently in the AL Central, it looks like Cleveland is ticketed for the seven seed in the American League. That means someone like the A’s (without Matt Chapman) would have to win two of three against Shane Bieber, Zach Plesac and whoever else Terry Francona decides to start from his stellar pitching staff. It’s a tall order. 

There’s just so much potential fun here in looking forward to October. First up, though, the final two weeks of the regular season will be crazy as well. Let’s rank ’em. 

Biggest Movers

Rk

Teams

 

Chg

Rcrd


1

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Dodgers

Still winning at a furious pace, but they’ve been banged up and had several players (Cody Bellinger, for one) not playing like they can. Scary. 33-14

2

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Padres

The seeding system looks like it’s going to screw the Padres. They appear to be headed for the four seed despite having the second-best record in the NL (in fact, they have a shot at second-best record in all of baseball). 1 31-17

3

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Twins

That six-game losing streak a few weeks ago appears to have been just a little lull. The Twins have won 10 of 12 since. 5 30-18

4

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White Sox

I’ve seen some spin about the White Sox beating up on bad teams. They are 21-3 against the Tigers, Royals and Pirates. And my response? So what. Good teams beat up on weaklings and the Tigers are actually 19-17 when they aren’t getting crushed by the Sox. The Royals are 19-19 against non-Sox teams. 2 30-16

5

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Athletics

Losing Matt Chapman is such a huge blow. Not only offensively, as he’s arguably the best defensive third baseman in baseball, too (sorry, Rockies fans). 1 29-17

6

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Rays

When Tyler Glasnow is on, he’s as good as anyone in baseball. The 73 strikeouts in 46 1/3 innings is elite. But why does he get knocked around every once in a while? 4 30-17

7

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Braves

I wish I could remember who tweeted it so I could properly credit them, but someone pointed out last week that the 2020 Braves might end up with more home runs than the 2015 Braves. They have 82 homers in 47 games right now. In 2015, they hit 100 in 162 games. 28-19

8

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Cubs

Alec Mills with a no-hitter? Jason Heyward as their best offensive player? #2020 4 28-20

9

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Blue Jays

OK, Jays. Let’s see what you’re made of. The next 11 games come against the Yankees (seven) and Phillies (four). 26-20

10

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Yankees

The Orioles don’t have the talent to be hanging around with the Yankees, but they were. Kudos to the Yankees to turn it on and bury them this weekend. That’s what true contenders do. Now let’s see if they get fully right before October. 4 26-21

11

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Indians

So much for the run toward the top seed. They have now lost six straight. 6 26-21

12

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Cardinals

They just can’t shake .500. They haven’t been more than two games above .500 or two below .500 all season. They’ve been exactly .500 13 different times. 1 20-20

13

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Astros

Look at the rest of their schedule. It’s time to get right. Rangers (seven games), Diamondbacks (three) and Mariners (three) are all they have left. 3 23-24

14

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Marlins

Everyone get aboard the Sixto Sanchez Hype Train while you can. The young stud has a 1.69 ERA and 0.91 WHIP through five career starts. And we’ve seen enough to know that in a 60-game season, the Marlins are legit. 6 23-21

15

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Phillies

There’s so much to like about Alec Bohm’s game, but how about him appearing to have the so-called “clutch gene?” Pretty fun stuff. 2 23-22

16

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Giants

You know how it seems like the Dodgers have a knack for taking on players other teams want to discard and making them into something (Justin Turner, Chris Taylor, Max Muncy, etc.)? They were the last team to have Donovan Solano before the Giants grabbed him. That’s fun. 3 23-24

17

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Mariners

The Mariners sit just 1 1/2 games behind the flailing Astros for the second place spot in the AL West. That would get them to the six seed, too. Longest playoff drought in MLB about to be snapped? The Astros are trying to let them. 5 21-25

18

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Brewers

They were all set to take the first two games of the series against the Cubs and then Jason Heyward hit a three-run homer off Josh Hader. Then the Brewers lost 12-0 and were no-hit by Alec Mills on Sunday. What a gut punch of a weekend. Still, they remain just two games back of the Cardinals and have 10 games left against them. That’s “control your own destiny” territory with ease. 2 20-24

19

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Reds

Good series win over the Cardinals, but the Reds are still 2 1/2 games out of a playoff spot. The run has to start immediately and four against the Pirates should help. 2 21-26

20

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Mets

In baseball history, only Greg Maddux and Randy Johnson have won three consecutive Cy Youngs. Why do I bring this up right here? C’mon. You know why. 1 21-26

21

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Rockies

Playoff teams shouldn’t be losing series to the Angels. The Rockies have now gone 10-22 since their 11-3 start. 6 21-25

22

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Royals

Brad Keller threw a shutout on Sunday (though against the Pirates it should only count as like 1/3 of a shutout) and he now has a 2.06 ERA and 1.01 WHIP through seven starts. 7 20-28

23

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Nationals

He’s only 21 and Juan Soto just keeps getting better. The new wrinkle this season is walking more than he strikes out, like a prime Chipper Jones season (only with more power). 2 17-28

24

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Orioles

It was fun while it lasted, but ultimately all this season really did was screw up the Orioles’ plan to stockpile high draft picks. I suppose there’s probably enough time to fall back into the top five. 6 20-26

25

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Tigers

Look at the year Jeimer Candelario is putting together. He’s hitting .325/.385/.571 with 11 doubles, three triples and seven homers. 2 20-26

26

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Rangers

Hey, at least the World Series is being played in their new home park, right? That’s something good in 2020 for the Rangers. 4 17-30

27

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Angels

Watching Albert Pujols tying Willie Mays at 660 home runs was pretty cool. 3 20-28

28

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Red Sox

It’s been kind of quiet — likely because the Red Sox started the season 6-18 — but Alex Verdugo is having an excellent season. Remember, he was the main position player coming over for Mookie Betts. 2 17-31

29

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Diamondbacks

I mused about Zac Gallen being just 1-0 through eight starts on a bad team last week. Then he lost two starts in a week. My bad, Zac. 2 17-31

30

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Pirates

Here’s your favorite to get the 2021 number one overall draft pick. They already have the worst record and the rest of the schedule is against the Reds, Cardinals, Cubs and Indians. 2 14-30

Watch Now:
Highlights: Orioles at Yankees
(1:14)

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