Power Rankings: Contenders clash in climb toward No. 1

Astros, Red Sox hold firm at top of power rankings (1:47)

David Ross is impressed with what the Athletics are doing, and Tim Kurkjian agrees with most of the newest power rankings, except for the Astros being No. 1. (1:47)

As we count down the hours until the non-waiver trade deadline on Tuesday afternoon, we're finding out just how big a move some teams can make in our Power Rankings. This week, the Diamondbacks made the biggest jump, moving up five spots to return to the top 10. Will they cement that status with a big trade while trying to keep up with the Dodgers, holding steady at No. 5 now that they have Manny Machado in the fold? And similarly, two teams took especially big tumbles, with the Braves falling from the top 10 with their four-spot decline and the Giants almost leaving the top 20 as their playoff hopes dry up.

Perhaps even larger questions loom for two teams that have an opportunity in the week to come to break away from their closest rivals. The Red Sox continue to get support among our voters, but even more important than gaining another first-place vote or two to displace the Astros at No. 1, the Red Sox have an opportunity to put the American League East race away and separate themselves from a Yankees team already hampered by Aaron Judge's absence. But standing in their way at the start of this week is a Phillies team that has its own major opportunity to try to build a bigger lead in its race to win the National League East.

With those two teams going head-to-head to open the week, they both can't simultaneously achieve their objectives. Will one of them break away and force the other back into a tighter race in its own division? As we head into August's dog days and then the stretch run, every series has added importance. You can see how their series develops on ESPN at 7:00 p.m. ET both Monday and Tuesday nights.

This week, our panel of voters is composed of David Schoenfield, Eric Karabell, Tim Kurkjian, Bradford Doolittle and Sarah Langs.

Week 16 Rankings | 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. Houston Astros

Record: 67-40
Week 16 ranking: 1

After seeing the Yankees acquire Zach Britton and J.A. Happ, the Red Sox trade for Nathan Eovaldi and the Indians get Brad Hand and Adam Cimber, will the Astros make a major move to match? Though Houston has a great offense and pitching staff and sits atop the AL West, the Astros might need to do something with their tough schedule ahead. Eighteen of their next 20 games between now and Labor Day are against teams at .500 or better. -- Jacob Nitzberg, ESPN Stats & Information

2. Boston Red Sox

Record: 74-33
Week 16 ranking: 2

Through the end of July last season, Chris Sale had a 2.37 ERA and 211 strikeouts over 21 starts. He was a front-runner for the American League Cy Young Award, but he tired down the stretch, posting a 4.64 ERA over his past 13 outings including the playoffs. Sale capped off July this season with six scoreless innings over Minnesota, lowering his AL-best ERA to 2.04. He has thrown seven fewer innings over one more start compared to last year, and Boston hopes its ace has a lot more left in the tank down the stretch. -- Dan McCarthy, ESPN Stats & Information

3. New York Yankees

Record: 67-37
Week 16 ranking: 3

The Yankees took a tough blow last week as they lost Aaron Judge, their most productive hitter with a team-best .947 OPS, for at least three weeks with a fracture in his right wrist. Judge had rounded into form in July, hitting .329 with a .964 OPS. New York could look internally to fill the offensive gap, or it could turn to the trade market to rent another bat. Whatever path New York chooses, it has a key test ahead with a three-game series at Fenway Park this week. -- McCarthy

4. Chicago Cubs

Record: 61-44
Week 16 ranking: 4

Jose Quintana lasted just three innings Saturday after allowing six runs, including a grand slam, on 51 pitches in the first inning. The start continued a trend for the Cubs, who got just 27 innings from their starters in six games between Monday and Saturday. The acquisition of Cole Hamels couldn't come at a better time for a team that ranks 22nd in MLB in innings per start. -- Kenneth Woolums, ESPN Stats & Information

5. Los Angeles Dodgers

Record: 59-47
Week 16 ranking: 5

The Dodgers keep marching to their own beat, using a six-man rotation with so many of their pitchers on the mend and back in action, while juggling four different starting second basemen, using pairings like corner infielder Max Muncy at the keystone when contact killer Clayton Kershaw starts. But beyond the daily lineup mayhem, Matt Kemp is continuing to prove his comeback is no fluke; he's having his best season at the plate since 2012 thanks in part to an MLB-best 1.234 OPS against fastballs. -- Christina Kahrl, ESPN.com

6. Cleveland Indians

Record: 57-47
Week 16 ranking: 6

With Lonnie Chisenhall and now Tyler Naquin out while Michael Brantley has put up just a .722 OPS the past two months, the Indians' need for help in the outfield has gotten dire at the deadline, because Rajai Davis in center and a Melky Cabrera/Brandon Guyer platoon in right might only cut it if their objective is winning the AL Central instead of challenging for a pennant. Look for the Tribe to add a rental bat between now and Sept. 1. -- Kahrl

7. Oakland Athletics

Record: 61-46
Week 16 ranking: 8

The A's run of exciting comebacks and walk-off wins last week ended abruptly when the Rockies held them to just four runs in three games in Coors Field, a reminder that even with a bullpen reinforced by Jeurys Familia, you can't protect leads you don't have, especially with a rotation that's still light on steady contributors to keep the A's close in games against opposing aces. Will they find a starting pitcher they can afford to add at the deadline? -- Kahrl

8. Arizona Diamondbacks

Record: 59-48
Week 16 ranking: 13

The Snakes' offense has started to sizzle in the second half, scoring five or more runs in nine of their first 10 games since the break. Adding infielder Eduardo Escobar should help them keep that up -- he's hitting line drives at a career-best rate while joining the "launch angle revolution" by hitting more fly balls than ever, fueling his first season slugging above .500 and an MLB-leading 38 doubles. -- Kahrl

9. Milwaukee Brewers

Record: 61-47
Week 16 ranking: 10

The Brewers acquired Joakim Soria, who posted a 2.56 ERA for the White Sox this season, including a 0.89 ERA for them since June 1, to add to an already loaded bullpen. The Brewers' bullpen ranks third in the NL in ERA (3.34) and leads the NL in strikeout percentage (27 percent). But their trade for third baseman Mike Moustakas will put pressure on their defense down the stretch, since it forces Travis Shaw from the hot corner to play second base for the first time in his career at any level -- unless the Brewers are not yet done making moves. -- Nitzberg

10. Philadelphia Phillies

Record: 58-47
Week 16 ranking: 9

The addition of Asdrubal Cabrera helps the Phillies' infield, which has struggled offensively. But shortstop continues to be a weakness. Phillies shortstops have a .613 OPS, which ranks 28th in the majors. They're hitting just .228 and have a 25 percent strikeout rate. The bullpen remains an area that can certainly be improved as well. Their relievers' 3.91 ERA ranks 13th in the majors.-- Langs

11. Atlanta Braves

Record: 55-47
Week 16 ranking: 7

Friday night's contest between the Braves and Dodgers served as a look forward for the Braves, as staff ace Mike Foltynewicz faced off against Clayton Kershaw. Unfortunately for the Braves, Kershaw dominated. It's entirely possible these teams meet in the NL wild-card game in just a couple months, so this is a matchup we may see again. -- Woolums

12. Colorado Rockies

Record: 57-47
Week 16 ranking: 12

Colorado has been the NL's best team in the past month or so, going 19-6 since June 27. The Rockies have done it with pitching, as they lead the majors with a 3.04 ERA in that span. Tyler Anderson has posted a 1.02 ERA in his five starts over the past month, and opponents are hitting just .144 against Anderson in that span, lowest in the majors among qualified starting pitchers. -- Nitzberg

13. Washington Nationals

Record: 52-53
Week 16 ranking: 15

As the postseason becomes more of a distant goal for the Nationals, the question arises as to whether they might sell. The Bryce Harper discussion notwithstanding, there are plenty of other intriguing pieces on the Nationals. Daniel Murphy has dealt with injury issues, but he'll be a free agent after the season. So will Ryan Madson and recently acquired Kelvin Herrera. Anthony Rendon has one more year of arbitration eligibility before being a free agent for 2020, so he could be a notable name on the market as well. -- Langs

14. Seattle Mariners

Record: 62-43
Week 16 ranking: 11

It wouldn't be a trade deadline if Jerry Dipoto didn't make a move. So far, it has been a minor move, acquiring Sam Tuivailala. One of the darker storylines of the Mariners' season is the continued decline of Felix Hernandez. His 5.58 ERA and 1.41 WHIP would be the worsts of his career. And of course, this may be the first year that the Mariners make the postseason in his tenure with the team. -- Langs

15. Los Angeles Angels

Record: 54-53
Week 16 ranking: 18

While it seems at times that Mike Trout can do everything on his own, the fact is he can't. Since Shohei Ohtani returned to the lineup on July 3, the Angels are averaging 4.7 runs per game, up from 4.0 during his monthlong absence. If he qualified for the batting title, Ohtani would be just the third player besides Mike Trout and Justin Upton with at least an .800 OPS in the Angels' lineup. The Angels have to find a way to get Trout some extra support in the lineup. -- Woolums

16. Pittsburgh Pirates

Record: 55-52
Week 16 ranking: 17

The Pirates have stormed their way back to relevance after it appeared their season was over in June. The Pirates won 11 straight games, their first double-digit win streak since winning 10 straight in June-July of 2004. Outfielders Starling Marte (1.055 OPS) and Gregory Polanco (.948) have been swinging especially hot bats in July, as well as Josh Bell before his landing on the DL over the weekend. -- Woolums

17. St. Louis Cardinals

Record: 53-52
Week 16 ranking: 14

Matt Carpenter continues to tear it up in the second half. He has a 1.303 OPS since the All-Star break, which is seventh highest in the majors and third highest in the National League. All this for a player who was hitting .155 with a .579 OPS at the end of April. He now sits at .272 and .948 on the year. -- Langs

18. Tampa Bay Rays

Record: 53-53
Week 16 ranking: 19

This season, the Rays have started a pitcher who has thrown fewer than four innings 43 times. The next closest team in baseball in that regards is the Padres with 18. Tampa Bay's strategy of going with a bullpen starter every fifth day quickly expanded due to necessity, as injury and availability hampered the team. Last week's trade of Nathan Eovaldi to Boston means the bullpen will continue to shoulder the load multiple times through the rotation. -- McCarthy

19. Minnesota Twins

Record: 48-56
Week 16 ranking: 20

Minnesota made the first of what could be many moves at this year's deadline, shipping reliever Ryan Pressly to the Astros and infielder Eduardo Escobar to the D-backs. Perhaps even more importantly, the team recalled third baseman Miguel Sano after a long stint in the minors. If the Twins want to contend anytime soon, Sano will need to get back to his old slugging ways. -- Woolums

20. San Francisco Giants

Record: 53-54
Week 16 ranking: 16

It's worth evaluating what the Giants could do at the deadline if they decided to become sellers. Aging outfielders Hunter Pence and Andrew McCutchen are both in the final years of their deals. Joe Panik is controllable through 2020, so they'd likely require a decent amount back for him, but he could be a helpful piece for a team looking to shore up its infield. And of course, there's the Madison Bumgarner question. He has a club option for next season and is not under contract beyond that. There aren't a lot of pitchers with a career 3.01 ERA on the market. -- Langs

21. Cincinnati Reds

Record: 48-58
Week 16 ranking: 22

Eugenio Suarez had a huge week, including tying the Reds' franchise record with a home run in five straight games. Suarez is making a name for himself as an elite offensive third baseman. The only third basemen who have a higher OPS than he does this season are Jose Ramirez and Nolan Arenado, who are MVP candidates in their respective leagues. -- Woolums

22. Toronto Blue Jays

Record: 48-56
Week 16 ranking: 21

Since July 1, Toronto's .409 winning percentage ranks 22nd in baseball, consistent with where they're ranked. One person who has done his best to push the team to wins is Lourdes Gurriel Jr. His .423 batting average in July is the best in baseball. He has turned a corner since his first few months of the season, when he hit .222 over 21 games. He has had some exceptional success against fastballs this month, hitting .556 with a 1.523 OPS in plate appearances to end in the pitch. -- McCarthy

23. Detroit Tigers

Record: 45-62
Week 16 ranking: 24

While the Tigers determine which players to trade before Tuesday's deadline and look ahead to the future, they can look at one bright spot with the pro debut of No. 1 overall pick Casey Mize. Pitching for the Tigers' Gulf Coast League affiliate on Thursday, Mize threw two scoreless innings and recorded four strikeouts. His next outing will be in A-ball with Lakeland on Tuesday. -- Nitzberg

24. Texas Rangers

Record: 45-62
Week 16 ranking: 23

The Rangers already have been active at the deadline, sending Cole Hamels to the Cubs. Adrian Beltre's name has been tossed around a fair amount, and he is in a contract year. If they wanted to get in on the bullpen market as sellers, Keone Kela could be an attractive addition for contenders if the Rangers wanted to go that route. -- Langs

25. New York Mets

Record: 44-59
Week 16 ranking: 25

The Mets continue to be sellers, trading Asdrubal Cabrera to the Phillies for a prospect. It was amusing that of all teams to land with, Cabrera ended up with the Phillies, given that a home run he hit off Philadelphia may go down as his most memorable moment with the Mets. On Sept. 22, 2016, he hit a walk-off three-run homer in the bottom of the 11th off Edubray Ramos, as the Mets worked toward earning the first wild card that year. The question remains if Noah Syndergaard or Jacob deGrom will now also be on the move; Zack Wheeler's name has been floated a lot lately. -- Langs

26. San Diego Padres

Record: 42-66
Week 16 ranking: 27

Though the Padres have sold off some assets, two of their core players who are not going anywhere have had very different months. Wil Myers has hit well since coming off the DL in June, and since the calendar turned to July he ranks in the top 10 in the NL in both slugging and OPS. Eric Hosmer, on the other hand, is hitting .168 this month, fourth-worst in the majors among 186 qualified hitters; his .423 OPS ranks dead last. -- Nitzberg

27. Miami Marlins

Record: 46-61
Week 16 ranking: 26

Rookie Trevor Richards rattled off his third straight quality start for the Marlins, lowering his ERA more than a full run, down to 4.06. Perhaps even more notable, he notched five swinging strikeouts -- all with his changeup -- in each of the past two turns. Not too shabby for an undrafted free agent who spent parts of two seasons in the independent leagues before signing with the Marlins organization in July 2016. -- Kahrl

28. Chicago White Sox

Record: 37-68
Week 16 ranking: 28

Just five seasons into his major league career, Jose Abreu has made his mark on White Sox history. He's tied for 10th in franchise history in home runs (with Ron Kittle), and he ranks 10th in career OPS among players who've played more than one season with the team (putting him between Magglio Ordonez and Jermaine Dye). If he's the last big piece moved for the franchise's rebuild, he's also the latest Cuban great to have had a remarkable run on Chicago's South Side. -- Kahrl

29. Kansas City Royals

Record: 32-73
Week 16 ranking: 29

Trading Mike Moustakas to Milwaukee ends his long reign at the hot corner in Kansas City, marking another move away from the Royals' World Series-winning lineup of 2015. Since making his debut on June 10, 2011, Moustakas played 885 games at third base, which ranks third all time in Royals history, behind Hall of Famer George Brett (1692) and Joe Randa (940). -- Nitzberg

30. Baltimore Orioles

Record: 32-74
Week 16 ranking: 30

After dealing away Zach Britton and Manny Machado, the Orioles are in full rebuild mode. One player who has significantly improved over the past few weeks is Jonathan Schoop. Through his first 55 games, Schoop struggled to a .208 average, but he has hit .309 since, including 10 of his 17 home runs on the season. The Orioles will need his bat if they want to finish with a win percentage over .300. -- McCarthy