Power Rankings: Remixed races for the postseason go from mild to wild

D-backs make Kurkjian's top five (1:52)

A 10-game winning streak, including a sweep of the Dodgers, is good enough to slot the Diamondbacks in the fifth spot of Tim Kurkjian's power rankings. (1:52)

After 22 weeks, you'd think we would already know how everything was going to play out. But a week after we saw almost no movement in the rankings, this week showed that some things are less certain than we might think. The Dodgers? Amid their recent 1-8 stumble, they're no longer the unanimous No. 1 choice of our voters, losing two first-place votes to the hard-charging Indians. Cleveland muscled its way into the No. 2 spot that the Astros and Nationals had been trading back and forth as their own in recent weeks. And the Cubs keep creeping back up toward the top, one rung at a time.

But beyond that drama in the top 10, the real movement in the rankings this week comes from the teams fighting for their shot at the postseason. The American League's wild-card picture keeps getting wilder as the Yankees maintain their narrow lead over the latest challengers' surges to claim one or both spots. The Orioles are this week's single biggest winner with the voters, gaining five spots in the rankings as they pushed their way back into the pack. The Twins and Rays also gained ground while remaining in the hunt, ascending four and three rungs, respectively. And in this volatile pack of possibilities playing to reach that winner-take-all play-in game, the Mariners' six-rung fade reflects their failure to make headway.

Thanks to the Rockies' drift back toward the Brewers in the win-loss column, we also have a National League wild-card race to wonder about, with future shakeups in the rankings likely to follow. One NL club that failed to keep up, Miami, ended up being the other big loser along with Seattle following last week's action, as the Marlins dropped four spots.

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

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1. Los Angeles Dodgers

Record: 92-44

Week 21 ranking: No. 1

Does the Dodgers' recent slide back into merely excellent vs. aiming at the all-time wins record mean we've identified the key player in their mix of greatness, depth and celebrity? Corey Seager's recent absence from the lineup suggests as much. Though the shortstop started the first two games in their current 1-8 stumble, they're just 10-11 on the season when he's not in the starting lineup. -- Christina Kahrl, ESPN.com

2. Cleveland Indians

Record: 80-56
Week 21 ranking: No. 4

Jose Ramirez helped power the Indians to their 11th straight victory by delivering just the third game with five extra-base hits in Indians history, homering twice and doubling three times. Now they're three games back of the league-leading Astros -- within reach of claiming the AL's best record and home-field advantage through the ALCS. With their 33-16 record in the second half vs. Houston's 23-24 mark, there's every reason to expect they could seize it. -- Christina Kahrl, ESPN.com

3. Houston Astros

Record: 83-53
Week 21 ranking: No. 2

How badly did the Astros need Justin Verlander? In 28 starts this season, Verlander has 18 quality starts -- or more than the Astros have gotten in the entire second half (17 in 47 games). Adding the Tigers ace with Lance McCullers Jr. on the mend, on top of getting shortstop Carlos Correa back from the DL? All of sudden, things might start coming up all Astros down the stretch. -- Christina Kahrl, ESPN.com

4. Washington Nationals

Record: 82-54
Week 21 ranking: No. 3

Reliever Matt Albers has a pretty good thing going of late. In his past 11 appearances, he has allowed no runs and two hits with 13 strikeouts in 11⅓ innings. He has allowed only one of 10 inherited runners to score. In this new-look bullpen, Sean Doolittle, Ryan Madson and Brandon Kintzler do a lot of the heavy lifting, but Albers' could be highly valuable should he be needed in a key spot come October. -- Mark Simon, ESPN Stats & Information

5. Chicago Cubs

Record: 75-61
Week 21 ranking: No. 6

Anthony Rizzo is quietly having a career year in his age-27 season, setting personal bests in OBP and isolated power, and he's on the cusp of single-season highs in homers and walks. On the mound, getting Jon Lester back from the DL to complete the Cubs' rotation was good news, but seeing him snap the Cubs' quality start streak at five games? Not so much. But with the rest of the rotation back in gear, the Cubs might already be the NL's team to beat again. -- Christina Kahrl, ESPN.com

6. Boston Red Sox

Record: 77-60
Week 21 ranking: No. 5

The Red Sox are within shouting distance of the AL's best record, and the schedule lightens up now that they've finished their season series with the Yankees. Only seven of their final 25 games are against teams with winning records. The bad news is that the Indians and Astros, the two teams ahead of them, have easier remaining schedules. So this month might be all about getting David Price and Dustin Pedroia ready for October. -- John Fisher, ESPN Stats & Information

7. Arizona Diamondbacks

Record: 79-58
Week 21 ranking: No. 8

Sweeping the Dodgers and Rockies helped give the D-backs separation for one of the NL wild cards while also advertising how dangerous they'll be in a short series. While they got bad news about shortstop Nick Ahmed's recovery -- a broken right wrist on a HBP during rehab endangers his availability in October -- Robbie Ray has whiffed 19 of 47 batters faced in two victorious starts since his return from the DL. -- Christina Kahrl, ESPN.com

8. New York Yankees

Record: 73-63
Week 21 ranking: No. 7

At the All-Star Game, Aaron Judge talked about how he keeps the ".179," which was his batting average in 2016, in the notes app in his phone as a reminder to himself of where he's been. Unfortunately for Judge, his second-half batting average still resembles that 2016 mark. He's hitting just .177 in the second half with a .687 OPS -- just a bit higher than the .608 OPS he had in his 27 games in 2016. His strikeout rate -- which was already high -- has risen from 30 to 35 percent. -- Sarah Langs, ESPN Stats & Information

9. Colorado Rockies

Record: 72-64
Week 21 ranking: No. 9

If it wasn't for some guy named Giancarlo, Charlie Blackmon's second-half kick might have put him in this year's MVP consideration -- his 1.166 OPS ranks second in MLB since the All-Star break, behind Stanton's, and is larger than Judge's first half (1.139). However, the Rockies' 10-17 stumble capped by their getting swept by the Diamondbacks over the weekend is ominous for their playoff chances. The only series they haven't lost were the ones against NL East doormats Atlanta and Philadelphia. -- Christina Kahrl, ESPN.com

10. Milwaukee Brewers

Record: 72-65
Week 21 ranking: No. 10

The Brewers are 13-6 in their past 19 games, winning series from the Rockies, Dodgers and Nationals. And it's the rotation that keeps getting it done: Their starting pitchers have allowed three or fewer earned runs in 14 straight games. And midseason acquisition Stephen Vogt (.960 OPS with a hit in 10 of 11 games) has paid dividends. -- John Fisher, ESPN Stats & Information

11. Minnesota Twins

Record: 71-65
Week 21 ranking: No. 15

The Twins had themselves a day on Saturday, defeating the Royals 17-0. It was the largest shutout victory in franchise history, surpassing the 16-0 win the Twins posted on May 25, 1990, against the Red Sox. Scoring a lot has been a theme lately for the Twins, who lead the American League in runs per game since the calendar flipped to August. -- Sarah Langs, ESPN Stats & Information

12. Los Angeles Angels

Record: 70-67
Week 21 ranking: No. 13

Through August, Angels left fielders and second basemen combined for a .624 OPS, the worst mark in MLB. So Billy Eppler added Justin Upton and Brandon Phillips to fill those positions, potentially providing the Angels an inside track to the second AL wild card. The Halos still have nine games against the Mariners and Rangers -- meetings that will likely determine their bid to reach the postseason. -- Paul Hembekides, ESPN Stats & Information

13. Baltimore Orioles

Record: 70-67
Week 21 ranking: No. 18

Monday is Tim Beckham Orioles shirt day. Already. The Orioles acquired the former first overall pick at the trade deadline, and he has been a practically unrecognizable player compared to his career before Baltimore. He's hitting .364 with a .973 OPS in 32 games with the Orioles. In his 238 career games prior, he hit .247 with a .720 OPS. -- Sarah Langs, ESPN Stats & Information

14. St. Louis Cardinals

Record: 69-67
Week 21 ranking: No. 12

Lance Lynn continues to defy the numbers, pitching eight one-hit innings with four strikeouts and four walks in Saturday's loss to the Giants. Lynn has pitched to a 1.79 ERA in his past 11 starts despite a strikeout-walk ratio of 1.6. He has held opponents to a .178 batting average with runners in scoring position, which explains how he has been successful at keeping his ERA down. As to whether that's sustainable, it probably isn't. Opponents hit .233 (still good) with runners in scoring position against him last season. -- Mark Simon, ESPN Stats & Information

15. Texas Rangers

Record: 68-68
Week 21 ranking: No. 16

While much of the focus has gone to Joey Gallo's three true outcome-driven season at the plate, Mike Napoli has a chance, with his .194 average and 28 home runs, to become the first player in the history of the American League to hit 30 home runs without cracking the Mendoza line. Mark Reynolds was the first and only player -- so far -- to achieve the feat, back in 2010 with the D-backs. -- Christina Kahrl, ESPN.com

16. Tampa Bay Rays

Record: 68-70
Week 21 ranking: No. 19

The Rays knew they would benefit from getting Kevin Kiermaier's glove back on the field in mid-August, but who knew that they'd get so much from his bat upon his return? Kiermaier has hit safely in 12 of 15 games with eight multihit games. He's 9-for-21 when hitting a ground ball, a success rate that won't last long term, but if Kiermaier can stretch it out for another month, perhaps the Rays can find their way back into the AL wild-card race. -- Mark Simon, ESPN Stats & Information

17. Seattle Mariners

Record: 69-68
Week 21 ranking: No. 11

Amid a season beset by myriad pitching injuries, the Mariners traded for Mike Leake on Wednesday, which paid immediate dividends. Leake threw seven innings of two-run ball to beat the Athletics in his debut (and tied his season high with seven strikeouts). He'll start again on Friday against the Angels, the first of a critical three-game series in the Mariners' bid to keep up in the wild-card race. -- Paul Hembekides, ESPN Stats & Information

18. Miami Marlins

Record: 67-69
Week 21 ranking: No. 14

The Marlins exploded for 10 runs on Saturday to snap a five-game losing streak. Giancarlo Stanton went deep again, but his power surge has overshadowed a hot stretch from Marcell Ozuna. They've needed the offense with the rotation struggling. The Marlins are 14-9 in their past 23 games, and 14 of their final 23 games are against the Phillies, Braves and Mets, which might help them keep it up. -- John Fisher, ESPN Stats & Information

19. Kansas City Royals

Record: 67-68
Week 21 ranking: No. 17

Since the Royals last won consecutive games, on Aug. 22-23, they've lost 7 of 10 while being outscored 69-23. That span included a streak of 45 scoreless innings from their lineup, tied for the third-longest streak in MLB history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Keeping their veteran hitters for one last run before they reach free agency has done anything but pay off. -- Paul Hembekides, ESPN Stats & Information

20. Pittsburgh Pirates

Record: 65-72
Week 21 ranking: No. 20

First baseman Josh Bell has been a different player since the very end of July. The difference has come at the bottom of the strike zone, where Bell has been mashing as a left-handed hitter. Bell has also been a much more careful hitter from that side. In his past 98 plate appearances as a left-handed batter, he has nine strikeouts and 16 walks. Prior to that, he had 65 strikeouts and 31 walks from the left side. -- Mark Simon, ESPN Stats & Information

21. Toronto Blue Jays

Record: 63-74
Week 201 ranking: No. 21

Marcus Stroman's injury was scary to see on Saturday. His career path has been unique, which makes it easy to forget that this is really just his second full season in the majors. He has made 28 starts, four shy of his total from last season. He made 20 in 2014 and four in his injury-shortened 2015. With his 3.08 ERA, he has shown that he likely is closer to the pitcher he was in his debut season (3.65 ERA in 20 starts and six relief appearances) than the one he was last season (4.37 ERA in 32 starts). -- Sarah Langs, ESPN Stats & Information

22. Atlanta Braves

Record: 60-75
Week 21 ranking: No. 22

Nothing is going right for the Braves lately, who are 9-17 in their past 26 games. They've had trouble scoring, and then put a dozen on the board on Saturday -- and still lost to the Cubs. The good news for Braves fans is that Dansby Swanson has turned things around and played much better the past month. Since Aug. 11, he has an OPS of .955 and has walked more than he has struck out. -- John Fisher, ESPN Stats & Information

23. New York Mets

Record: 58-78
Week 21 ranking: No. 23

The signing of Nori Aoki is interesting in that Aoki is under Mets control through the end of 2018. Aoki's likely role if he stays a Met is either insurance in the event that Michael Conforto can't return at the start of the season while recovering from shoulder surgery, or as a versatile fourth outfielder if Conforto is ready for Opening Day. The Mets need certainty, and Aoki provides that; he has posted a positive WAR in all six of his MLB seasons. -- Mark Simon, ESPN Stats & Information

24. Cincinnati Reds

Record: 58-79
Week 21 ranking: No. 25

Despite owning the third-worst record in the National League, the Reds decided to pick up manager Bryan Price's 2018 option. His team has continued to exceed expectations offensively, ranking in the top five of MLB in home runs (49) and runs per game (5.7) in the month of August. -- Paul Hembekides, ESPN Stats & Information

25. Oakland Athletics

Record: 58-78
Week 21 ranking: No. 26

Jed Lowrie's 41 doubles with a month to play put him within reach not only for his career record (he hit 45 with the A's in 2013), but for the Oakland mark of 47 set by Jason Giambi in 2001. However, the A's all-time franchise record is 53, set by Al Simmons for the Philadelphia A's in 1926. -- Christina Kahrl, ESPN.com

26. Detroit Tigers

Record: 58-78
Week 21 ranking: No. 24

This week marked the end of an era in Detroit when the Tigers traded Justin Verlander. It's worth a look back at the 2012 World Series -- the team's last Fall Classic appearance. Verlander started Game 1 of that series, allowing two home runs to Pablo Sandoval and five earned runs in four innings. The Tigers' lineup that day? Austin Jackson, Omar Infante, Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Delmon Young, Jhonny Peralta, Avisail Garcia, Alex Avila and Verlander. Things have changed a bit since. -- Sarah Langs, ESPN Stats & Information

27. San Diego Padres

Record: 62-75
Week 21 ranking: No. 27

Austin Hedges doesn't hit much (.212 average), but his work behind the plate has been top-notch for the Padres this season. Hedges is both an elite pitch framer and pitch blocker. His 16 defensive runs saved (11 of which have come from strike-zone management) are one shy of the MLB lead. Though Hedges' bat makes him one of the weakest-hitting catchers for average in the league, he has improved his hard-hit rate from 6 percent in 2015 to 13 percent in 2017. -- Mark Simon, ESPN Stats & Information

28. San Francisco Giants

Record: 54-85
Week 21 ranking: No. 28

Matt Cain just isn't who he used to be, and that's been on display throughout this Giants season. In his latest outing, he lost his career-high 10th straight decision. The only other Giants pitcher to lose 10 straight decisions in the live-ball era (MLB since 1920) was Bill Lohrman, who also lost 10 straight from Aug. 4 to Sept. 24 in 1940. Cain's record-tying start wasn't as bad as that stat makes it sound -- in emergency-starter duty for a sick Madison Bumgarner, he allowed two earned runs over five innings. -- Sarah Langs, ESPN Stats & Information

29. Chicago White Sox

Record: 54-81
Week 21 ranking: No. 29

Jose Abreu reached the 80 RBIs plateau last week, making him the fourth player in MLB history with 25 homers, 80 RBIs and 150 hits in each of his first four seasons (joining Albert Pujols, Eddie Murray and Joe DiMaggio). Avisail Garcia hit safely in 10 straight games before Sunday and is on pace to have the highest batting average in a season by a White Sox player since Frank Thomas in 2000 (.328). -- Paul Hembekides, ESPN Stats & Information

30. Philadelphia Phillies

Record: 52-84
Week 21 ranking: No. 30

The Phillies right now are all about Rhys Hoskins, who hit his 12th long ball in 24 games on Saturday. And it's not just the power -- his OBP is over .400 and he has a hit in 18 of his 24 games. And another Phillie made a powerful impact: On Saturday, Tommy Joseph became the first player in franchise history to start his MLB career with two 20-homer seasons. -- John Fisher, ESPN Stats & Information