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2016 Week 21 MLB Power Rankings

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Cubs remain atop MLB power rankings (1:54)

Tim Kurkjian and Dallas Braden look at this week's MLB power rankings with the Cubs staying on top and how teams further down can still contend for a playoff spot. (1:54)

It's pretty much the same story at the top of the rankings, with the Chicago Cubs and Washington Nationals remaining No. 1 and No. 2 for the sixth straight week. The remainder of the top five continues to be dominated by the American League, with the Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays switching spots at No. 3 and No. 4 and the Cleveland Indians remaining at No. 5.

Elsewhere in the rankings, the Houston Astros and Kansas City Royals both moved up three spots after strong weeks that saw them climb back into the wild-card race in the American League. Is the top 10 next for either of them?

This week's voters are Jim Bowden of ESPN Insider, Eric Karabell of ESPN Fantasy, Tim Kurkjian of ESPN, David Schoenfield of the SweetSpot Blog Network/ESPN.com and Jayson Stark of ESPN.com. Most of the team comments come courtesy of the SweetSpot Blog Network.

Past rankings: Week 20 | Week 19 | Week 18 | Week 17 | Week 16 | Week 15 | Week 14 | Week 13 | Week 12 | Week 11 | Week 10 | Week 9 | Week 8 | Week 7 | Week 6 | Week 5 | Week 4 | Week 3 | Week 2 | Week 1 | Preseason

1. Chicago Cubs

Record: 82-47
Week 20 ranking: No. 1

The Cubs finished the week with a 4-2 record and head into the upcoming week with a series against the Pirates and the Giants and a chance to reinforce that they are the team to beat. -- Joe Aiello (@VFTB), View from the Bleachers


2. Washington Nationals

Record: 75-55
Week 20 ranking: No. 2

After scoring just 4.32 runs per game in July, the Nationals are racking up 5.92 per game in August. Nearly everyone is contributing, but you can credit Bryce Harper (.621 OPS in July, 1.004 in August) and Trea Turner (.738 OPS in July, .931 in August), the latter of whom is really coming into his own, with 16 hits in his past six games. -- Ryan P. Morrison (@ryanpmorrison), Inside the 'Zona


3. Texas Rangers

Record: 77-54
Week 20 ranking: No. 4

Texas enters this week with an 8½ game lead in the AL West over the Mariners and Astros and the best record in the AL by 2½ games. If the Rangers play .500 baseball the rest of the way, they'll finish with at least 92 wins. In order for Houston or Seattle to match that, each would need to go 24-8 the rest of the way, while playing one another six more times. -- Brandon Land (@onestrikeaway), One Strike Away


4. Toronto Blue Jays

Record: 74-56
Week 20 ranking: No. 3

Dioner Navarro was reacquired on Friday. He provides additional flexibility as a switch-hitter off the bench. Navarro served as Marco Estrada's personal catcher during his first stint with the team. Trade acquisitions Jason Grilli (setup) and Joaquin Benoit (seventh inning) have solidified the bullpen. -- Diane Firstman (@dianagram), Value Over Replacement Grit


5. Cleveland Indians

Record: 73-56
Week 20 ranking: No. 5

The Indians scored 16 runs during their seven-game road trip through Oakland and Texas, where they went 2-5. Twelve of those runs were scored in just one game -- Friday night in Texas. -- Stephanie Liscio (@stephanieliscio), It's Pronounced Lajaway


6. Los Angeles Dodgers

Record: 73-57
Week 20 ranking: No. 7

Clayton Kershaw will take the next step in his recovery from a herniated disk in his lower back on Tuesday, facing hitters in a simulated game setting. Los Angeles has already used 14 different starting pitchers. (The team record is 19, set in 1944.) -- Diane Firstman (@dianagram), Value Over Replacement Grit


7. Boston Red Sox

Record: 72-58
Week 20 ranking: No. 6

At the end of July, Drew Pomeranz had done little to impress with his new team, with 12 earned runs in 14.1 innings. But Pomeranz has rattled off five strong starts in August, yielding eight earned runs in 30 innings (2.40 ERA) and racking up 31 strikeouts in the process. -- Ryan P. Morrison (@ryanpmorrison), Inside the 'Zona


8. San Francisco Giants

Record: 71-59
Week 20 ranking: No. 8

In a critical midweek series, the Giants couldn't keep pace with the Dodgers, who now have a two-game lead in the National League West. Brandon Belt will miss some time with neck stiffness, and Jake Peavy hit the DL with a lower back strain, putting more stress on San Francisco. -- Jeff Wiser (@OutfieldGrass24), Inside the 'Zona


9. Baltimore Orioles

Record: 71-59
Week 20 ranking: No. 9

Last week, the Orioles took four of seven combined games from the Nationals and Yankees. But they also had three straight ugly losses between their third and fourth wins. The Orioles are treading water without Chris Tillman in the rotation and will send Wade Miley, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Yovani Gallardo to the mound as the scheduled starters for their upcoming three-game series with the Blue Jays. -- Matt Kremnitzer (@mattkremnitzer), Camden Depot


10. St. Louis Cardinals

Record: 68-61
Week 20 ranking: No. 11

With a 1.75 ERA, 0.84 WHIP and 86 strikeouts in 67 innings, reliever Seung Hwan Oh might be the team's second-most valuable pitcher (2.5 bWAR) after Carlos Martinez (4.0 bWAR). Luke Weaver has held his own while filling in for Michael Wacha, but the Cardinals' lead for the second wild-card spot has shrunk to half a game. -- Ryan P. Morrison (@ryanpmorrison), Inside the 'Zona


11. Detroit Tigers

Record: 69-61
Week 20 ranking: No. 12

The Tigers have six players with at least 17 home runs, which ties for the AL lead with the Red Sox. Alas, my quest to use an arbitrary cutoff point to find something that the Tigers excel at that their playoff rivals don't continues. -- Richard Bergstrom (@rbergstromjr), Rockies Zingers


12. Houston Astros

Record: 68-62
Week 20 ranking: No. 15

The arrival of Yulieski Gurriel created a discussion of who will play third base with Alex Bregman on the roster, but the pair continued to ease concerns on Saturday night, combining to go 4-8 with two doubles, a homer and five runs batted in. Gurriel DH'd again, while Bregman manned the hot corner. Jeff Wiser (@OutfieldGrass24), Inside the 'Zona


13. Seattle Mariners

Record: 68-62
Week 20 ranking: No. 10

Seattle surrendered some ground this week after re-emerging as a wild-card threat. The Mariners lost two of three against the Yankees at home, then dropped three of four while visiting the White Sox in Chicago. -- Jeff Wiser (@OutfieldGrass24), Inside the 'Zona


14. Miami Marlins

Record: 67-63
Week 20 ranking: No. 14

Miami has suffered 10 shutout losses this season, three of them by 1-0, including two in the past week. There has been a shuffle in the bullpen, with Fernando Rodney taking over the closer role and A.J. Ramos sliding into a setup spot. -- Diane Firstman (@dianagram), Value Over Replacement Grit


15. Kansas City Royals

Record: 68-62
Week 20 ranking: No. 18

The Royals were six games under .500 to start August, but with the help of 12 wins in 14, they charged to six games over .500. Alex Gordon has also flipped the script in what was shaping up as an underwhelming season, hitting seven homers in August to raise his OPS this month to .907 -- after marks of .654 or lower in each of the season's first four months. -- Ryan P. Morrison (@ryanpmorrison), Inside the 'Zona


16. New York Yankees

Record: 67-62
Week 20 ranking: No. 16

It was a solid week for the Yankees, as they took two of three from both the Mariners and Orioles. The rotation is holding up its end for the time being, and Gary Sanchez has paced the offense with the best 20-plus-game start to an MLB career in a very, very long time. His at-bats have become must-see TV, even if he's being intentionally walked, and the team as a whole continues to be much more entertaining than it was a month ago. -- Brad Vietrogoski, It's About the Money


17. Pittsburgh Pirates

Record: 67-61
Week 20 ranking: No. 13

Sweeping the Brewers in a four-game series over the weekend, the Pirates are 67-61 and just a half-game behind the Cardinals for the NL's second wild-card spot. The team is matched up with the Cardinals six more times this year. Eighteen of the Pirates' final 34 games are against the Brewers, Reds and Phillies. -- Ryan P. Morrison (@ryanpmorrison), Inside the 'Zona


18. New York Mets

Record: 66-64
Week 20 ranking: No. 17

Since returning from the DL on Aug. 19, Asdrubal Cabrera is 15-for-33 (.454) with four doubles, three homers and nine RBIs, and Yoenis Cespedes is batting .355 with four homers and eight RBIs. Since July 27, Neil Walker is batting .440 with a .490 OBP, seven homers, 15 RBIs and 19 runs. All three players are day-to-day this week with nagging injuries. -- Joe Janish, (@metstoday), MetsToday.com


19. Chicago White Sox

Record: 63-66
Week 20 ranking: No. 20

The White Sox have had their issues in 2016, but don't blame Chris Sale and Jose Quintana. The pair were at it again this week, as Sale pitched a complete game with 14 K's in a loss to Seattle on Thursday, while Quintana got revenge with 7⅔ innings of two-run ball in a win over the M's on Friday. -- Jeff Wiser (@OutfieldGrass24), Inside the 'Zona


20. Colorado Rockies

Record: 62-68
Week 20 ranking: No. 19

With Mark Reynolds gone for the season, Daniel Descalso becomes the Rockies' best first baseman. That's incompatible with the idea that the Rockies are a winning organization. The last Rockies first baseman to log more than 130 games was Todd Helton back in 2009. That was also the last year the Rockies made the playoffs. Signing or developing a reliable first baseman shouldn't be this hard. -- Richard Bergstrom (@rbergstromjr), Rockies Zingers


21. Philadelphia Phillies

Record: 60-70
Week 20 ranking: No. 21

If you checked the stats with your coffee on Sunday morning, you might have noticed the only two Phillies comfortably above the .322 OBP of an Average Joe National Leaguer were Odubel Herrera (.360) and Cesar Hernandez (.354). Maybe their cup of joe makes them jittery, though. They've been caught stealing 16 times in 49 attempts, a 32.7 percent rate that's just a sip worse than the 30.4 percent posted by their NL brethren. -- Richard Bergstrom (@rbergstromjr), Rockies Zingers


22. Milwaukee Brewers

Record: 56-74
Week 20 ranking: No. 23

In a time of rebuild, the Brewers have discovered multiple diamonds in the rough, one being utility man Hernan Perez. The 25-year-old has exhibited surprising power, with 13 homers and 47 RBIs, including his first career multihomer game on Saturday night against the Pirates. -- Gabe Stoltz (@Stoltzy3), Disciples of Uecker


23. Oakland Athletics

Record: 57-73
Week 20 ranking: No. 22

The A's had an up-and-down week but managed to take a series from the AL Central-leading Indians. After a tough loss on Monday, when Andrew Triggs pitched very well, the bats came alive as Oakland took the next two by 5-1 and 9-1 margins. -- Jeff Wiser (@OutfieldGrass24), Inside the 'Zona


24. Cincinnati Reds

Record: 55-74
Week 20 ranking: No. 28

Joey Votto continues to do things that mere mortals simply cannot. He has been on base in 39 of his past 41 starts and is batting .431 in the second half. Votto is on pace to be the first player to hit .400+ in consecutive months since 2010. -- Chad Dotson (@dotsonc), Redleg Nation


25. Tampa Bay Rays

Record: 55-74
Week 20 ranking: No. 26

It hasn't been a great season for Chris Archer, but since the All-Star break Tampa's ace has a 2.94 ERA in eight starts with 62 strikeouts in 54 innings. For the season Archer leads the AL in strikeouts with 202.-- ESPN.com


26. Los Angeles Angels

Record: 56-74
Week 20ranking: No. 25

The Halos received some effective starting pitching this week, but all eyes were on Albert Pujols, as he hit his 584th career home run in Wednesday's win over Toronto. The historic blast pushed him past Mark McGwire and into sole possession of 10th on the all-time home run list. Jeff Wiser (@OutfieldGrass24), Inside the 'Zona


27. San Diego Padres

Record: 55-75
Week 20 ranking: No. 24

San Diego claimed Oswaldo Arcia off waivers, making this the fourth major league team for Arcia this season. Travis Jankowski has an MLB-best .510 on-base percentage leading off games. -- Diane Firstman (@dianagram), Value Over Replacement Grit


28. Arizona Diamondbacks

Record: 55-76
Week 20 ranking: No. 27

Has Yasmany Tomas finally learned to bring his power into games? In 76 games during the season's first half, Tomas hit 13 home runs, with a .442 slugging percentage. In 34 games since the All-Star break, he has 13 home runs, with a .659 slugging percentage. -- Ryan P. Morrison (@ryanpmorrison), Inside the 'Zona


29. Minnesota Twins

Record: 49-81
Week 20 ranking: No. 29

That the Twins were swept in Toronto over the weekend, despite scoring 21 runs in three games, speaks to the truly embarrassing state of their pitching staff. The rotation's youngest members, Tyler Duffey and Jose Berrios, were both shipped to the minors last week. -- Nick Nelson (@NickNelsonMN), Twins Daily


30. Atlanta Braves

Record: 48-83
Week 20 ranking: No. 30

The Braves have a chance to make August their best month of 2016. That coincides with the arrival of Matt Kemp, which has gone well so far, especially for Freddie Freeman, who his hitting .315/.456/.719 with eight home runs since Kemp's arrival. -- Martin Gandy (@gondeee), Chop County