Power Rankings: Which teams lived up to expectations -- and which didn't

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The regular season is in the books, and after a season-long duel between the Astros and Dodgers to earn the No. 1 slot in the Power Rankings, we finished on the same note that we struck last week -- with Houston as our unanimous No. 1 among our voters heading into the postseason.

Considering the Astros came into the year ranked second behind the reigning champion Red Sox, they almost had nowhere to go but down, but they managed to surpass even our high expectations while separating themselves from the Dodgers and Yankees among the majors' superteam trio.

With an eye toward where we started the season, some teams wound up as surprises, with the Twins, A's and Rays all having seasons worth bragging about, as they head into the postseason after starting the year outside our top 10. And certainly there are a number of disappointments, with the Red Sox, Cubs, Phillies and Rockies all earning consideration for suffering the biggest setbacks while seeing their seasons end without reaching the playoffs.

For Week 26, our panel of voters was Bradford Doolittle, Christina Kahrl, Eric Karabell, Tim Kurkjian and David Schoenfield.

Previous: Preseason | Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7 | Week 8 | Week 9 | Week 10 | Week 11 | Week 12 | Week 13 | Week 14 | Week 15 | Week 16 | Week 17 | Week 18 | Week 19 | Week 20 | Week 21 | Week 22 | Week 23 | Week 24 | Week 25

  1. Houston Astros
    2019 record: 107-55
    Preseason ranking: 2
    Week 25 ranking: 1

    The Houston franchise debuted in 1962 and won more than 100 games just once in 55 seasons, but now the Astros have done it three consecutive seasons as they chase their second World Series title. Not much went wrong this regular season. Alex Bregman keeps getting better and he might earn American League MVP honors. George Springer, Michael Brantley and the incredible rookie Yordan Alvarez also led the offense, while Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole are arguably the most valuable pitchers in the sport. Manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow are good at their jobs. Now all that is left is more October baseball. -- Eric Karabell

    ICYMI: Postseason roundtable: Can anyone stop the Astros?

  2. Los Angeles Dodgers
    2019 record: 106-56
    Preseason ranking: 4
    Week 25 ranking: 2

    The Dodgers were actually No. 4 in the preseason rankings, so you can argue that they exceeded expectations. They won the most games since the franchise moved to L.A. in 1958, won a seventh straight division title, led the National League in runs scored and easily led in fewest runs allowed. Cody Bellinger will probably win the MVP Award, they shattered the NL team record for home runs, and the 1-2-3 punch of Hyun-Jin Ryu, Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw went a combined 44-14 with a 2.87 ERA. It's World Series or bust. -- David Schoenfield

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  3. New York Yankees
    2019 record: 103-59
    Preseason ranking: 3
    Week 25 ranking: 3

    The Yankees end up in the same spot where they began back in March, but the route to get here was wildly unpredictable and wildly fun. They soared past 300 home runs, and much of that power didn't come from Aaron Judge or Giancarlo Stanton, but from guys such as DJ LeMahieu, Gio Urshela, Mike Tauchman and Mike Ford. Gleyber Torres nearly hit 40 and Brett Gardner hit a career-high 28 as he played more than expected due to all the Yankees' injuries. It's been 10 years since the Yankees' last World Series appearance. This is their best team in a decade. -- Schoenfield

    ICYMI: Urshela exits with ankle sprain

  4. Minnesota Twins
    2019 record: 101-61
    Preseason ranking: 17
    Week 25 ranking: 6

    This could be the best season in Twins history if it ends with the franchise's fourth World Series title. Hey, who can forget the 1924 Senators (plus the '87 and '91 Twins)? Minnesota really powered up this season, breaking new MLB ground and surpassing 300 home runs, with shortstop Jorge Polanco, DH Nelson Cruz, outfielder Max Kepler and catcher Mitch Garver as the most valuable offensive players, and right-handers Jake Odorizzi and Jose Berrios leading the pitching staff. Lefty Taylor Rogers emerged as a reliable closer and manager Rocco Baldelli, in his first season, should win honors as well. The Twins might not be favored this October, but they have surprised us all season, so why stop now? -- Karabell

  5. Oakland Athletics
    2019 record: 97-65
    Preseason ranking: 15
    Week 25 ranking: 5

    Expectations before the season were perhaps unfairly low for a team that earned a wild card in 2018, but doubt about the rotation proved to be overblown, and an offense anchored by Matt Chapman, Matt Olson and Marcus Semien delivered. Beyond breakthrough seasons from Mark Canha and Ramon Laureano in the outfield, this was also the year the Jeff Samardzija trade after 2014 paid off in full, with Josh Phegley catching over 100 games, Chris Bassitt earning a spot in the rotation and Semien sure to wind up getting a bunch of MVP awards. -- Christina Kahrl

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  6. Atlanta Braves
    2019 record: 97-65
    Preseason ranking: 8
    Week 25 ranking: 4

    The Braves improved upon their No. 8 preseason ranking and cruised to the NL East title, grabbing the division lead on June 12 and never looking back, locking it up with a 17-2 stretch in August and early September. Ronald Acuna Jr. went 41/37 and Freddie Freeman set career highs in home runs and RBIs, but there were two huge keys: Josh Donaldson was healthy and actually led the team in WAR, and rookie Mike Soroka was a revelation and will receive some Cy Young support. -- Schoenfield

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  7. Tampa Bay Rays
    2019 record: 96-66
    Preseason ranking: 13
    Week 25 ranking: 7

    In some ways, this might have been the most Rays season ever. Tampa Bay wasn't devoid of expectation this season, clocking in at No. 13 in our preseason rankings. Back then, it seemed like they opened the season battling for a wild-card road trip because everyone had understandably penciled in the Yankees and Red Sox atop the AL East. Well, that's what it looked like for exactly one day. On July 27, the Rays lost a 12-inning heartbreaker at Toronto to slip a half-game back of the Red Sox, with the Yankees already running away with the division. Tampa Bay overtook Boston the next day, and that was it. The Rays were in first or second place at the end of every other day during the 2019 season. -- Bradford Doolittle

  8. Washington Nationals
    2019 record: 93-69
    Preseason ranking: 9
    Week 25 ranking: 10

    On the bright side, Anthony Rendon is a top-three MVP candidate, Juan Soto did not suffer a sophomore slump and the rotation trio of Stephen Strasburg, Max Scherzer and Patrick Corbin was as good as advertised, although some back issues slowed Scherzer in the second half. That was enough for the Nationals to win a wild-card spot. The bad news: A historically awful bullpen cost the Nationals any chance of winning the division and hampers their chance of reaching and winning the World Series. -- Schoenfield

    ICYMI: Olney: Nationals need Scherzer to be Mad Max

  9. Cleveland Indians
    2019 record: 93-69
    Preseason ranking: 7
    Week 25 ranking: 9

    The best team outside of the playoff field has plenty to second-guess about what it might have done last winter -- invest in an outfield bat, any outfield bat? -- but a cadre of young pitching led by Shane Bieber did more than help it withstand Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco combining for just 19 starts. With Francisco Lindor under club control for two more years, the Indians head into the offseason early with perhaps the same strengths and the same problem -- armed with the pitching to win with, while trying to shore up their offense. -- Kahrl

  10. St. Louis Cardinals
    2019 record: 91-71
    Preseason ranking: 11
    Week 25 ranking: 8

    Four consecutive losses that forced them to start ace Jack Flaherty in Game 162 -- rather than in Game 1 of their division series -- cast a shadow over the Cardinals' chances in the postseason, but their qualification drove their top-10 finish in our Power Rankings. Until that final-week losing streak, the Cardinals actually had the NL's best second-half record (46-23 through Sept. 23), with Flaherty playing a huge part: He had a 0.97 ERA and 0.74 WHIP in his 14 starts after the All-Star break before throwing seven shutout innings to clinch the NL Central on Sunday. -- Tristan H. Cockcroft

    ICYMI: Inside the week the Cardinals returned to MLB elite

  11. Milwaukee Brewers
    2019 record: 89-73
    Preseason ranking: 5
    Week 25 ranking: 11

    Coming off a division title, our voters were high on this year's Brewers, slotting them just ahead of the Cubs and six spots ahead of the Cardinals. Finishing at No. 11 might seem like a disappointment, but only if you didn't pay attention to anything that happened in between. After Christian Yelich went down, it certainly appeared as if Milwaukee's playoff hopes were dashed. Instead, for the second straight September the Brewers emerged as the hottest team in baseball as the regular season concluded and moved on to the playoffs. To do that without Yelich is a tremendous validation of the processes in place in Brewtown. -- Doolittle

  12. Boston Red Sox
    2019 record: 84-78
    Preseason ranking: 1
    Week 25 ranking: 13

    Going from World Series champs to third place in the AL East and out of the playoffs makes the Red Sox one of the season's most disappointing teams. The main culprit was the starting pitching, which was expected to be one of Boston's primary strengths. Instead, the Red Sox rotation ranked 21st in innings pitched, 20th in ERA and 20th in walks per nine innings pitched. The trio of Chris Sale, David Price and Nathan Eovaldi, all of whom had injury issues, went a combined 15-17 and the Sox went 27-32 in games started by them. -- Steve Richards

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  13. New York Mets
    2019 record: 86-76
    Preseason ranking: 14
    Week 25 ranking: 14

    The Mets made things interesting in the final month of the regular season as they made a wild-card run, but ultimately they fell short. Still, what a fun, wild season, with never a, um, dull moment! The Mets bounced back from a pair of losing seasons to win more than they lost, as rookie first baseman Pete Alonso made history with his powerful performance and versatile Jeff McNeil earned regular work. Jacob deGrom figures to win his second consecutive NL Cy Young award. They will all be back, as the Mets certainly expect to contend in 2020 as well. -- Karabell

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  14. Arizona Diamondbacks
    2019 record: 85-77
    Preseason ranking: 20
    Week 25 ranking: 15

    In the offseason, Paul Goldschmidt, Patrick Corbin and A.J. Pollock departed, so it was hard to see things going really well in Arizona. Then the D-backs dealt Zack Greinke before the trade deadline. Yet the team somehow stayed within sniffing distance of the playoffs until the final two weeks and had three more wins than in 2018. Ketel Marte, Eduardo Escobar and Christian Walker were the breakout bats, Nick Ahmed took his game up a notch, and Arizona has to feel good about 24-year-old catcher Carson Kelly, who came over in the Goldschmidt trade. -- Richards

  15. Chicago Cubs
    2019 record: 84-78
    Preseason ranking: 6
    Week 25 ranking: 12

    The Cubs ended last season as our No. 6 team and were still at No. 6 entering this season. They ended up announcing Joe Maddon's departure in St. Louis the day before this middle-of-the-pack, season-ending ranking came out. That pretty much tells you what the trajectory of this disappointing season looked like for the Cubs. Chicago's run differential ranked fourth in the NL, but its won-lost record was tied for seventh. The team was less than the sum of its parts, and whether or not that's Maddon's fault, something had to change. -- Doolittle

    ICYMI: From savior to scapegoat: Why Cubs are moving on from Maddon

  16. Philadelphia Phillies
    2019 record: 81-81
    Preseason ranking: 10
    Week 25 ranking: 16

    The Phillies looked like contenders for a while, but the lack of pitching was clearly too much of a burden to overcome. This should be an interesting offseason because ace Aaron Nola and closer Hector Neris need lots of help. On offense, catcher J.T. Realmuto and right fielder Bryce Harper certainly did their jobs and versatile Scott Kingery emerged as a valuable regular. Rhys Hoskins struggled down the stretch, while Jean Segura disappointed. The Phillies will need them to bounce back, along with leadoff hitter Andrew McCutchen. Harper has more than a decade left with the franchise, so Phillies fans should be patient, but there is a foundation in place. -- Karabell

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  17. San Francisco Giants
    2019 record: 77-85
    Preseason ranking: 26
    Week 25 ranking: 19

    Managerial careers can be funny things if you evaluate them just on win-loss records; Terry Bevington has a higher career winning percentage than Casey Stengel, after all. Which is why there's no question that, career record below .500 or not, Bruce Bochy can look forward to his induction into Cooperstown after winning three titles with the Giants at the start of this decade. It's sort of fitting that the Giants' long-shot bid for one last postseason appearance on his watch came up short while leaving his career record with the Giants two games below .500 after a final-weekend sweep by the Dodgers. Head honcho Farhan Zaidi should be rebuilding in earnest from here on out. -- Kahrl

    ICYMI: Bochy loses to Dodgers in final game as Giants manager

  18. Texas Rangers
    2019 record: 78-84
    Preseason ranking: 25
    Week 25 ranking: 18

    With a starting rotation that seemed to be held together by bubble gum and shoelaces, the Rangers weren't expected to do much. But Mike Minor and Lance Lynn not only stayed healthy, they were among the best starters in the American League, keeping Texas afloat through the summer. The Rangers still were .500 on Sept. 12, longer than most would have predicted. -- Richards

  19. Cincinnati Reds
    2019 record: 75-87
    Preseason ranking: 18
    Week 25 ranking: 17

    It was a disappointing season for the Reds, a sleeper playoff team as judged by some but ultimately one that finished a dozen games under .500. The Reds finished one spot worse than we had them come season's end, perhaps not even worse because of the number of truly weak teams that finished beneath them. As close as 3.5 games out of the division lead on July 4, the Reds went just 33-41 after the All-Star break. -- Cockcroft

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  20. Los Angeles Angels
    2019 record: 72-90
    Preseason ranking: 16
    Week 25 ranking: 20

    The Angels lost more than they won for the fourth consecutive season, as most of the players around superstar Mike Trout simply did not perform well enough. The pitching deserves more blame, though, as injuries -- and tragedy -- decimated the rotation. Remarkably, swingman Trevor Cahill is the lone Angels pitcher to surpass 100 innings, and they were not good innings. Closer Hansel Robles was the lone Angels hurler to generate more than 1.2 WAR. Offseason additions to the rotation and perhaps the lineup will be needed if Trout is going to win his first playoff game in 2020. -- Karabell

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  21. Colorado Rockies
    2019 record: 71-91
    Preseason ranking: 12
    Week 25 ranking: 25

    Few teams' seasons were as disappointing as the Rockies' was in 2019, as the 2018 playoff team began the season 12th in our Power Rankings on Opening Day but fell nine spots with a 91-loss campaign. The Rockies' 27-46 second-half record tied for sixth-worst in baseball, driven by their major league-worst 6.06 ERA after the break. For the season, their 5.56 team ERA was third worst in franchise history. -- Cockcroft

  22. San Diego Padres
    2019 record: 70-92
    Preseason ranking: 23
    Week 25 ranking: 21

    Despite finishing last in the NL West and replacing its manager in September, the team has a lot to look forward to in 2020. Rookies Fernando Tatis Jr. and Chris Paddack played huge parts, especially in the team's strong first half, which saw them play .500 ball (45-45 through July 7). Dinelson Lamet also made a strong recovery from Tommy John surgery, posting a 3.97 ERA in 13 second-half starts. -- Cockcroft

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  23. Chicago White Sox
    2019 record: 72-89
    Preseason ranking: 24
    Week 25 ranking: 22

    The ChiSox were what we thought they were, though there were moments during the season in which it felt like they could have been more. On the last day of May, Chicago beat Cleveland 6-1 for their fifth straight win. It moved the White Sox into a tie with the Indians for second place, albeit 10.5 games behind Minnesota. By the end of the season, the White Sox had fallen more than 20 games behind Cleveland. Chicago had some important positive developments at the big league level this season, but its ability to build depth still needs to be proved. -- Doolittle

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  24. Pittsburgh Pirates
    2019 record: 69-93
    Preseason ranking: 19
    Week 25 ranking: 26

    Pirates pitching, which we forecast in the preseason could be set to surprise, flopped with a 5.18 ERA for the season, fifth worst in baseball. Injuries to Jameson Taillon and Chris Archer and poor years by Trevor Williams and Mitch Keller were largely responsible, but the offense couldn't do much to rescue this squad -- though we anticipated that the offense would be a problem area. -- Cockcroft

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  25. Toronto Blue Jays
    2019 record: 67-95
    Preseason ranking: 22
    Week 25 ranking: 23

    This season was never about wins and losses in Toronto, although the Jays' record was about what one would have expected. This year was about Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio getting their feet wet in the majors and stirring some excitement north of the border. Brighter days should be ahead. -- Richards

  26. Seattle Mariners
    2019 record: 68-94
    Preseason ranking: 21
    Week 25 ranking: 24

    Ranked 21st in March with a projected record of 76-86, the Mariners ended up worse than that, even after a surprising 13-2 start. That was a complete fluke, and they were under .500 by early May. Veterans were traded off, young players struggled, they set an all-time MLB record for players used and they went 1-18 against the Astros. They said goodbye to Ichiro Suzuki in Japan in March and goodbye to Felix Hernandez in September. Let the future begin. -- Schoenfield

  27. Kansas City Royals
    2019 record: 59-103
    Preseason ranking: 28
    Week 25 ranking: 27

    The Royals stunk just a little bit worse than anticipated, but according to the probabilities at Baseball Reference, K.C.'s chances to make the playoffs peaked at 2.4% on May 2. With not much on the docket in terms of high-priority graduations from the farm system, the Royals tried to bridge the rebuilding gap with an offense with some speed, which theoretically would have the added benefit of an elite, athletic defense. It was worth a try, but the most exciting development during the Royals' season was Jorge Soler's run at 50 homers. -- Doolittle

  28. Miami Marlins
    2019 record: 57-105
    Preseason ranking: 29
    Week 25 ranking: 28

    The Marlins were expected to be the NL's worst team, and they were; there's no prize for living down to low expectations. What few positives there are to glean include seeing catcher Jorge Alfaro settle in while players such as Jon Berti, Sandy Alcantara and Jordan Yamamoto earned futures in Miami. Brian Anderson is good. With Martin Prado's salary coming off the books and Starlin Castro probably seeing his 2020 option bought out, the Fish will have $30 million back in the till to spend on payroll, which we all know they'll reinvest, right? -- Kahrl

  29. Baltimore Orioles
    2019 record: 54-108
    Preseason ranking: 30
    Week 25 ranking: 29

    Sadly, the Orioles ended up pretty much where we figured they would -- with a 108-loss season on top of their 115 losses in 2018. And if we were to compile our "way, way too early Power Rankings for 2020," the O's would be right back here again. Unfortunately, we don't see the light at the end of the tunnel for Baltimore just yet. -- Richards

  30. Detroit Tigers
    2019 record: 47-114
    Preseason ranking: 27
    Week 25 ranking: 30

    Yowza, how were we optimistic enough about the Tigers to rank them ahead of anybody? That they won even this many games owes much to a solid trio of starting pitchers -- Matthew Boyd, Daniel Norris and Spencer Turnbull. The best development of the year was flipping Shane Greene and Nicholas Castellanos for prospects at the deadline. Miguel Cabrera just delivered 12 homers and a .320 wOBA in his age-36 season. He hasn't slugged over .400 since 2016, and he's signed for four more years and $124 million, and is probably the only guy on the 40-man roster guaranteed to be cashing checks from the Tigers in 2023. -- Kahrl