Power Rankings: National League contenders jostle for a shot at L.A.

Yankees catching up to Red Sox in Power Rankings (1:37)

Tim Kurkjian breaks down his top five teams in the MLB Power Rankings through Week 21 and shares which teams are cracking the top 10. (1:37)

Twenty-one weeks into the season, it shouldn't be that much of a surprise that last week wasn't one for big moves within the rankings. Even with the wild-card races heating up, analysts and fans probably share a similar sense of the pecking order within this season. But there's at least one new thing to keep an eye on down the stretch: the balance of power within the National League.

Although the Dodgers remain the unanimous No. 1 among our voters, the interesting development is how the Cubs have slowly narrowed the gap between themselves and the injury-riddled Nationals for bragging rights for the National League's second-best squad in our voting. Even in the wake of a disappointing, break-even week for the Cubs, they're heading home with a shot to pick up ground in their division and in our rankings. Can they successfully defend their NL pennant to earn a second shot at a World Series title? Or will the Nationals fend them off as their injured stars return to action and take a crack at making the Dodgers as ultimately disappointing as the 2001 Mariners?

All of this said, two teams did make significant moves up or down. Riding the power bat of Giancarlo Stanton, the Marlins made a four-rung leap in the rankings while pushing themselves over .500 and into the NL's wild-card picture. Meanwhile, the one team to take a noteworthy tumble was the Royals, whose bid to keep pace in the American League's wild-card pack faltered, sending them down three spots.

This week's voters are Bradford Doolittle, Eric Karabell, Tim Kurkjian, David Schoenfield and Mark Simon.

Week 20 rankings | 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. Los Angeles Dodgers

Record: 91-38

Week 20 ranking: No. 1

On a roster as star-spangled as the Dodgers' is these days, it's worth noting that Yasiel Puig is quietly putting up a nice rebound season now that he's no longer the center of attention. He has already achieved career highs in homers, steals and defensive runs saved, plus a career-low strikeout rate. What's muting his turnaround? A lot of weak contact, as his career-low BABIP reflects a career-low 16 percent line-drive rate that is third-worst in MLB. If he starts squaring up down the stretch, watch out. -- Christina Kahrl, ESPN.com

2. Houston Astros

Record: 79-51
Week 20 ranking: No. 3

Even with the Astros three games below .500 since the break, they're getting some good news down the stretch. Ace Dallas Keuchel has thrown three consecutive quality starts, and Alex Bregman's development into a star player is reflected in his 1.016 OPS since the break, good for second in the AL. With Carlos Correa, Will Harris and Lance McCullers Jr. all at Triple-A on rehab assignments, the team that won the AL West race by June isn't far from getting back on the field. -- Christina Kahrl, ESPN.com

3. Washington Nationals

Record: 78-51
Week 20 ranking: No. 2

"He loves people. He's sincere. It comes across. It makes you want to play hard for the guy." That's Mets announcer Keith Hernandez on why Dusty Baker is beloved as a manager. Case in point: Baker promised his new setup man, Brandon Kintzler, that he'd find a way to get him the two saves he needs for 30 by year's end. Baker knows that down the road, Kintzler's being able to say he once had 30 saves will have significant meaning. You might not agree, but that's Baker staying true to his approach. -- Mark Simon, ESPN Stats & Information

4. Cleveland Indians

Record: 73-56
Week 20 ranking: No. 4

Corey Kluber keeps creeping closer to Chris Sale in the Cy Young conversation, having already passed Boston's ace in WAR and ERA and trailing in wins by just one and in strikeout rate by half a K per nine. But Kluber trails in innings pitched by a lot, which is no surprise, considering that his trip to the DL puts him at a four-start disadvantage. Kluber's career second-half ERA drops more than 20 points to 3.10; another strong finishing kick could help him grab a second Cy for his trophy case. -- Christina Kahrl, ESPN.com

5. Boston Red Sox

Record: 73-57
Week 20 ranking: No. 5

The Red Sox got some good news over the weekend. Dustin Pedroia was cleared to run the bases in the next few days. Boston needs him because their second basemen are bottom-five in the majors in OPS since Pedroia went out. David Price is throwing again as he tries to return from inflammation in his left elbow. Despite the injuries, the Sox have one of the best records in the majors in August and are in the driver's seat of the AL East. -- Michael Bonzagni, ESPN Stats & Information

6. Chicago Cubs

Record: 69-60
Week 20 ranking: No. 7

It's easy to be glass-half-empty about the Cubs after a week in which they broke even against the Reds and Phillies, but they head home leading the division with an offense that is handily leading the majors in scoring (5.9 runs per game) since the break and a rotation that is fourth in ERA in MLB in that time. The problem is the bullpen, which has a 4.87 ERA in the second half, which ranks 26th in the majors. -- Christina Kahrl, ESPN.com

7. New York Yankees

Record: 70-59
Week 20 ranking: No. 6

Through June 12, the Yankees were 38-23, a .623 win percentage that ranked second in the majors behind only that of the Astros (44-21, .677). That Yankees squad was scoring 5.9 runs per game. Since that point, the Yankees have gone 32-36, a .471 win percentage that ranks 19th in the majors. They're also scoring more than a run fewer per game, with just 4.7 per game in that span. -- Sarah Langs, ESPN Stats & Information

8. Arizona Diamondbacks

Record: 73-58
Week 20 ranking: No. 8

The Diamondbacks have already given up more runs in August than they did in any other month this season, contributing to their break-even record in August. The absence of Robbie Ray after he took a liner off his noggin contributed to that, but credit Patrick Corbin for doing his part to try to cover, notching a team-best six wins and 2.50 ERA since the break. -- Christina Kahrl, ESPN.com

9. Colorado Rockies

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

One contributing factor in the Rockies' losing record in August as the NL wild-card races heat up? The fading performance of closer Greg Holland. In this month, he has given up multiple runs in five different games while absorbing four losses and blowing three saves. His ERA since the All-Star break is an ugly 10.13, more than doubling his season mark while costing him his role, at least temporarily. -- Christina Kahrl, ESPN.com

10. Milwaukee Brewers

Record: 68-63
Week 20 ranking: No. 11

The Brewers' starting pitching has continued to keep the team in the NL wild-card race, and Zach Davies has been the leader, with a 1.67 ERA in his past eight starts. On Saturday, he made his fifth straight road start without allowing an earned run, which ties Roger Clemens and Walter Johnson for the longest such streak since earned runs became official (according to Elias Sports Bureau research). After their weekend series against the Dodgers, they host the Cardinals and Nationals this week. -- John Fisher, ESPN Stats & Information

11. Seattle Mariners

Record: 66-65
Week 20 ranking: No. 13

On Friday, Yonder Alonso became the third left-handed hitter to homer off Aroldis Chapman, doing so in the 11th inning of a 2-1 Mariners win. Seattle will stay on the East Coast to begin a three-game series in Baltimore on Monday as they try to keep their wild-card bid alive. M's hitters could be primed for a big series: Baltimore's three probable starting pitchers have a combined 5.82 ERA this season. -- Paul Hembekides, ESPN Stats & Information

12. St. Louis Cardinals

Record: 65-65
Week 20 ranking: No. 10

The emergence of longtime minor leaguer Tommy Pham as a high-quality major leaguer is one of the most amazing stories of this season. Pham, a 16th-round pick in 2006, was a part-time player the past two seasons but has been a revelation in 2017. At a time when hitters are striking out in abundance, Pham cut back dramatically on his strikeout rate, which was 39 percent in 2016. As for sustainability, that's a different discussion. His .369 BABIP makes us think it's an "enjoy it while it lasts" scenario. -- Mark Simon, ESPN Stats & Information

13. Los Angeles Angels

Record: 66-65
Week 20 ranking: No. 12

This seems like a good time to remind people that Eric Young Jr. is largely responsible for keeping the Angels afloat when Mike Trout went down. In Young's first 16 games, he slashed .333/.429/.556 with three home runs, 10 RBIs, 14 runs scored and six stolen bases. The Angels went 9-7 in those 16 when you probably figured they'd go 4-12. We bring this up now because it seems logical that Young will be recalled on Sept. 1, and he could make a huge impact as a pinch runner or late-game replacement down the stretch. -- Mark Simon, ESPN Stats & Information

14. Miami Marlins

Record: 66-63
Week 20 ranking: No. 18

The Marlins have won 13 of their past 16 games, averaging 5.9 runs per game in the process. Giancarlo Stanton has 17 home runs in August, but it's not just the power. This month, he's batting .394 (leading MLB) with a .482 OBP (third). The Marlins have also taken advantage of the schedule, with each of their past 13 games coming against teams with losing records. Looking ahead, six of their next 17 games are against the Nationals, but the other 11 are against the Phillies and Braves. -- John Fisher, ESPN Stats & Information

15. Minnesota Twins

Record: 67-63
Week 20 ranking: No. 16

The Twins are clinging to the second AL wild-card spot, with a 1.5-game lead over the Angels and Mariners. The team is trying to make its first playoff appearance since 2010, when the Twins were swept in the AL Division Series by the Yankees for the second consecutive season. It would be Minnesota's first experience with the wild-card play-in game and the team's first wild-card berth ever. -- Sarah Langs, ESPN Stats & Information

16. Texas Rangers

Record: 64-66
Week 20 ranking: No. 15

With the Rangers clinging to their place in the AL wild-card pack, the irony is that their status as one of just two teams in that race with a positive run differential suggests that they should be out in front. You can blame this year's reversal of fortune in one-run contests (and the early season bullpen struggles that contributed to that). After last year's AL-best 36-11 mark, the Rangers are an AL-worst 11-21 in tight games. -- Christina Kahrl, ESPN.com

17. Kansas City Royals

Record: 64-65
Week 20 ranking: No. 14

The Royals have one of the worst records in the AL this month, and they've lost five of six to the Indians in their past nine games, including this past weekend's three consecutive shutout losses. Despite all that, the Royals are still in the middle of the wild-card race. K.C. has proven that it can go on a run, but now it'll definitely need one, and it'll have to do so with Danny Duffy back on the shelf with elbow woes for the time being. -- Michael Bonzagni, ESPN Stats & Information

18. Baltimore Orioles

Record: 65-65
Week 20 ranking: No. 17

The Orioles have held their own in the AL East this season, going 30-22 (.577 win percentage). The issue has been everybody else. The Orioles have gone 35-43, just a .449 win percentage, against all teams other than their division rivals. Luckily for the O's, they play primarily divisional opponents in September, though the teams they'll play -- the Red Sox, Yankees and Rays -- are still in playoff races. -- Sarah Langs, ESPN Stats & Information

19. Tampa Bay Rays

Record: 65-67
Week 20 ranking: No. 20

The Rays trail the Royals by just a half-game in the AL wild-card standings and open a three-game series Monday in Kansas City with a chance to gain ground. However, Tampa Bay has won just one of its past 16 games at Kauffman Stadium, sporting a 7.86 ERA over that span. -- Paul Hembekides, ESPN Stats & Information

20. Pittsburgh Pirates

Record: 63-68
Week 20 ranking: No. 21

The Josh Harrison home run to end Rich Hill's no-hit bid will likely be the highlight of the season for the Pirates, whose season sunk against the rough schedule they faced the past couple of weeks. As for what to carry into 2018, Andrew McCutchen's resurgence and Felipe Rivero's emergence top the list. Strong finishes from Starling Marte and Gerrit Cole would give management a little more confidence about the team's direction heading into the offseason. -- Mark Simon, ESPN Stats & Information

21. Toronto Blue Jays

Record: 61-69
Week 20 ranking: No. 19

It's the end of August, and the Blue Jays have already lost 69 games. That's just five losses shy of tying their loss total from 2016. They are on pace for 86 defeats this season, which would be their most since they lost 88 games in 2013. How different were those 2013 Blue Jays? Colby Rasmus led that team in Wins Above Replacement, with 4.8. -- Sarah Langs, ESPN Stats & Information

22. Atlanta Braves

Record: 57-71
Week 20 ranking: No. 24

The Braves have been scoring runs lately, but their starters have an ERA over 5.00 this month, which has made wins hard to come by. Freddie Freeman continues to deliver in what should end up being his best season yet, batting .337 with a .940 OPS in August with his move back to first base full-time. -- John Fisher, ESPN Stats & Information

23. New York Mets

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

To quote George Costanza from the Seinfeld finale, "If you're bleak, you're bleak," and the 2017 Mets are as bleak as they come, given the abundance of prominent injuries they've suffered this season. Given how things have gone, it's hard for a Mets fan to look forward to Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard pitching in September because of the fear of the things that could go wrong. Fans of this team are used to that line of thinking. -- Mark Simon, ESPN Stats & Information

24. Detroit Tigers

Record: 56-73
Week 20 ranking: No. 23

Justin Upton and Justin Verlander are just about the only good things left for the Tigers, and there's still that small chance the team trades Verlander before the end of the month. Miguel Cabrera and Alex Wilson were both suspended for their roles in the brawl with the Yankees on Thursday, and Víctor Martínez was placed on the DL with an irregular heartbeat for the second time this season. He missed two weeks because of this same ailment in June. -- Michael Bonzagni, ESPN Stats & Information

25. Cincinnati Reds

Record: 55-76
Week 20 ranking: No. 26

In a season filled with historically bad pitching, 24-year-old Robert Stephenson provided the Reds a glimmer of hope Friday, when he recorded a career-high 11 strikeouts in a win over the Pirates. His fastball sat at 93-96 mph while he induced a career-high 15 swing-and-misses with his slider. -- Paul Hembekides, ESPN Stats & Information

26. Oakland Athletics

Record: 58-72
Week 20 ranking: No. 25

With 36 homers hit this season, Khris Davis is well on his way to a second 40-homer season with the A's. So why is he third on the team in WAR behind rookie Matt Chapman and infielder Jed Lowrie? Defense. Davis' minus-11 defensive runs saved, nine alone due to his ineffective throwing arm, rate worst among AL left fielders. -- Christina Kahrl, ESPN.com

27. San Diego Padres

Record: 57-73
Week 20 ranking: No. 27

One thing the Padres have done right this season is let their young guys play. They have the youngest average age for a batting lineup in the majors, with second baseman Carlos Asuaje (.736 OPS) and center fielder Manuel Margot (.746) looking like they'll stick, and former Yankee Jose Pirela has blossomed as a super-utility player, chipping in a team-best .852 OPS while starting at five positions. -- Michael Bonzagni, ESPN Stats & Information

28. San Francisco Giants

Record: 52-80
Week 20 ranking: No. 28

The Giants were eliminated from divisional contention on Sunday, which made them the first team to be eliminated from the divisional race in their 126th game or sooner since 1998, when it happened to both the Marlins and Devil Rays. This is the earliest the Giants have ever been eliminated from the division race by 10 games; they were eliminated in 136 games in 1976 and 1985. -- Sarah Langs, ESPN Stats & Information

29. Chicago White Sox

Record: 52-77
Week 20 ranking: No. 29

The White Sox were forced to place Yoan Moncada and Nicky Delmonico on the DL last week, thinning out an already depleted lineup for the near future. On the bright side, Jose Abreu has raised his slugging percentage from .498 to .534 since Aug. 11 and is now one of 10 players in MLB history with 25 home runs in each of his first four seasons. -- Paul Hembekides, ESPN Stats & Information

30. Philadelphia Phillies

Record: 48-81
Week 20 ranking: No. 30

This Phillies season continues to be about the future, but their future cleanup hitter is already here. Rhys Hoskins became the fastest player in MLB history to hit his first 10 home runs when he hit his 10th Saturday in his 17th career game. Six of his 10 homers have come with two strikes, and five of them have given the Phillies the lead. The team has needed the offense, as the pitching has really struggled lately, especially the starters, who have the worst ERA in the NL this month. -- John Fisher, ESPN Stats & Information