As the Oakland A’s continue to struggle, the Los Angeles Angels are flourishing, despite losing one of its best starters in Garrett Richards, to a knee injury.
The Angels are thirty games above the .500-mark, and own the best record in baseball, four games better than the Baltimore Orioles and 4 ½ games better than Oakland.
If the season ended today, the A’s and Detroit Tigers, once thought to be the cream of the crop in the American League, would be forced to duke it out in a Wild Card elimination game.
The Angels have instead distanced themselves from the field a bit, earning the top spot in KP’s latest edition of MLB Power Rankings at The Wife Hates Sports.
Throughout the month of August, the Angels gained seven games on the A’s, opening up the aforementioned lead in the AL West division. This stretch included a strong final two weeks to the month, and the second best gain in this week’s MLB Power Rankings at TWHS.
Only the Giants gained more ground, as outlined in this edition’s top five:
San Francisco Giants: +39 points
Los Angeles Angels: +36 points
Philadelphia Phillies: +31 points
Detroit Tigers: +23 points
Pittsburgh Pirates: +21 points
On the other side of the fence, the Milwaukee Brewers are free-falling, dropping out of the NL Central division lead for the first time in many months. Milwaukee easily trumps the rest of the league as the headliner in this week’s bottom five:
Milwaukee Brewers: -57 points
Chicago White Sox: -24 points
Boston Red Sox: -22 points
Tampa Bay Rays: -20 points
Arizona Diamondbacks: -19 points
The latest rankings are as follows, highlighting the clubs that had positive or negative jumps, while providing a key stat for every team during the month of August:
KP’s MLB Power Rankings: September 2, 2014
Note: Stats and point totals as of September 2, 2014 and do not include tonight’s games
1. Los Angeles Angels (178 points) –Previously: #2 (+36)
MVP candidate Mike Trout managed 7 HR and 21 RBI in August, but his .254 batting average and 36 strikeouts (in 118 AB’s) were very un-Trout-like numbers.
2. Oakland Athletics (148 points) –Previously: #1 (-8)
Six Oakland batters that played more than 20 games in August posted an average below the .250 mark.
3. Washington Nationals (142 points) –Previously: #3 (+4)
The Nats launched 40 HR in August, more than any other team in the National League.
4. Baltimore Orioles (139 points) –Previously: #4 (+10)
Baltimore’s +48 run differential in August was better than any other team in baseball. The O’s also smacked 47 home runs during the month, the most in baseball.
5. Los Angeles Dodgers (134 points) –Previously: #5 (+12)
Yasiel Puig (.216/.296/.247, 0 HR and 4 RBI in 26 games) had a brutal August.
6. Seattle Mariners (112 points) –Previously: #6 (-9)
The entire starting rotation was brilliant in August: James Paxton (1.65 ERA), Hisashi Iwakuma (2.39 ERA), Roenis Elias (2.39 ERA), Chris Young (3.05 ERA) and Felix Hernandez (3.31 ERA).
7. San Francisco Giants (107 points) –Previously: #10 (+39)
San Francisco’s bats woke up in August, posting an MLB-best .288 batting average.
8. Kansas City Royals (103 points) –Previously: #7 (-12)
Alex Gordon (.292/.356/.585, 9 HR, 16 RBI in August) has been the team’s biggest offensive spark in recent weeks, helping push the Royals ahead of the Tigers for the division lead.
9. Detroit Tigers (101 points) –Previously: #9 (+23)
In his five August starts with the Tigers, David Price posted a 1-2 record, 4.41 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 35 strikeouts in 32 2/3 innings.
10. St. Louis Cardinals (57 points) –Previously: #12 (+5)
The Cardinals got on base more consistently than any other team in August, posting a Major League best .343 mark across 29 games.
11. Milwaukee Brewers (53 points) –Previously: #8 (-57)
Hidden gem Mike Fiers has boosted the rotation, posting a 4-1 record, with a 1.80 ERA, 0.66 WHIP and 41 strikeouts in five August starts.
12. Atlanta Braves (50 points) –Previously: #13 (+7)
Aaron Harang’s 4.42 ERA in August was the worst on the pitching staff, and the only member of the group to post an ERA higher than 4.00.
13. Cleveland Indians (44 points) –Previously: #15 (+16)
Cleveland’s pitching has kept the team in the playoff chase, posting an MLB-best 2.39 ERA in August, which was nearly a half run better than any other team.
14. Pittsburgh Pirates (40 points) –Previously: #16 (+21)
Josh Harrison, Starling Marte, Russell Martin and Andrew McCutchen each posted an average above the .320 mark in August.
15. Tampa Bay Rays (37 points) –Previously: #11 (-20)
Tampa Bay’s pitching staff struck out 274 batters in August, which was the most in baseball, and 21 more than any other team.
16. Toronto Blue Jays (30 points) –Previously: #14 (-2)
The Jays floundered to a 9-17 record in August, scoring an MLB-low 86 runs and falling well behind in the American League Wild Card race.
17. New York Yankees (26 points) –Previously: #18 (+10)
Michael Pineda (2.31 ERA in four August starts), Shane Greene (2.93 ERA in five starts) and Brandon McCarthy (2.95 ERA in six starts) each have made major contributions to New York’s rotation.
18. Cincinnati Reds (10 points) –Previously: #17 (-6)
Jay Bruce (.220/.267/.339) and Brandon Phillips (.160/.222/.200) each had a forgettable August., while Todd Frazier (.283/.351/.404) continues to be the team’s most consistent bat.
19. Miami Marlins (-3 points) –Previously: #19 (-16)
Since joining the Marlins after the trade deadline, Jarred Cosart has been stellar, posting a 3-1 record, with a 1.64 ERA and 1.03 WHIP in five starts.
20. San Diego Padres (-8 points) –Previously: #20 (-7)
It was only ten games and 23 AB’s, but look at Yonder Alonso’s batting line for August: .522/.556/.957, 12 hits, four doubles, two home runs and 5 RBI.
21. New York Mets (-15 points) –Previously: #21 (-12)
The Mets posted MLB-lows in August for both team batting average (.216) and OBP (.270).
22. Philadelphia Phillies (-30 points) –Previously: #26 (+31)
Never dealt at either deadline, Jonathan Papelbon notched yet another brilliant month on the mound, posting a 0.75 ERA and striking out 15 batters in 12 innings.
23. Chicago Cubs (-45 points) –Previously: #25 (+4)
Rookies Jorge Soler and Javier Baez combined to hit 10 HR, with 22 RBI in just 127 AB’s in August. Soler managed 3 HR and 7 RBI on his own in just four games and 15 AB’s.
24. Minnesota Twins (-49 points) –Previously: #24 (-12)
Minnesota’s offense was the big surprise in August, posting an MLB-best 159 runs, seventeen more than any other team. Not surprisingly though, was the team’s pitching staff, which gave up 163 runs.
25. Chicago White Sox (-52 points) –Previously: #22 (-24)
Jose Abreu’s August line (.376/.466/.475) was stellar, but the rookie slugger’s power (2 HR in 28 August games) has severely declined as the season has progressed.
26. Boston Red Sox (-58 points) –Previously: #23 (-22)
Normally a pitching rich team with plenty of quality arms, Boston’s staff managed just 183 strikeouts in August, which was the fewest in baseball. That and the team’s 106 walks was the most.
27. Arizona Diamondbacks (-81 points) –Previously: #27 (-19)
The D’Backs were one of four teams to score fewer than 100 runs in August, and the team’s 91 runs in 27 games were the fewest in the National League.
28. Houston Astros (-85 points) –Previously: #29 (+1)
Sure, he’s still striking out a lot (39 of 111 AB’s in August), but Chris Carter was mashing like a champ last month, hitting 12 home runs, with 29 RBI and a .613 slugging percentage.
29. Colorado Rockies (-91 points) –Previously: #28 (-13)
It was another ugly pitching month for the Rockies, with not one arm posting more than two victories, as the staff itself posted another ERA above 5.00, along with a 1.44 WHIP.
30. Texas Rangers (-114 points) –Previously: #30 (-5)
The Texas bats were fairly silent last month, with no player hitting more than four home runs, Adrian Beltre slugging just two and Rougned Odor leading the team, with 15 RBI.
* All stats per MLB.com and ESPN.com
Note: RED = Falling 3+ spots from last week, GREEN = Rising 3+ spots from last week
The Wife Hates Sports’ MLB Power Rankings system has a method to its madness, attempting to be different and not just rank by popularity and record. It mixes a secret formula of six completely different categories, meshed into a points system. The categories don’t just include team results regarding record, but how each team has performed recently, as well as incorporating some statistics on both a team’s offense and pitching staff, too.