• Power Rankings
Seattle, which started the year with a bang, but struggled through injuries and inconsistencies that produced two full mediocre months, appear to be a force in the AL West. The Mariners' rotation is slowly putting itself back together again, and a reshaped back of the bullpen seems to be working out well so far.
The Rangers are also getting healthier, rotation-wise, making a September swoon unlikely. But the Mariners, six back in the division, one out of the second Wild Card and 14-6 in August, look like a legitimate contender.
Biggest jump: We probably should know by now to never count out the Royals. The defending World Series champions who seemingly played themselves out of contention a month ago, have won eight in a row and 11 of 12, and have made themselves relevant in the AL Wild Card race, moving to within 3 1/2 games of the second spot. Their surge is reflected in the Power Rankings, improving five spots from 19 to 14.
Biggest drop: The Orioles dropped three spots, from five to eight. They've won one game in the past week, a 13-5 victory over the Astros in the series opener Aug. 18. Then they dropped the next three to Houston. And the week started with two losses to the Red Sox. The O's are now 2 1/2 games back in the AL East and are carrying a very slim lead for the second Wild Card. Five teams -- the Mariners, Tigers, Astros, Royals and Yankees -- are within four games of catching them.
Power Rankings Top 5:
1. Cubs: If the fifth month of the season -- one of heat, exhaustion and often, injuries -- is hardest month for teams to get through, no one told the Cubs, who are 15-4 in August. Kris Bryant's 469-foot three-run homer on Saturday was the 57th of his career, and he's already tied for the 12th most homers in Major League history for a player's first two seasons.
2. Rangers: The Rangers have a semi-comfortable lead in the AL West, but it's one that could be tested in the next couple of weeks. Texas is entering a stretch of games where it plays the surging Mariners seven times in 16 games, and it also plays series against tough opponents in the Indians and Astros. The schedule doesn't really let up until Sept. 9, when the Rangers play a three-game set in Anaheim against the Angels.
3. Indians: The Indians have played at around a .500 clip since their historic 14-game winning streak, but they have won when it really matters, posting a 33-17 record (.660) when playing the AL Central. Within the division, they're only 5-8 against the Twins, but 28-9 against everyone else.
4. Nationals: Third baseman Anthony Rendon is hitting .333 (37-for-111) with 12 doubles, six homers and 24 RBIs in 126 plate appearances since July 16. He leads all National League third basemen with 30 doubles, ahead of Bryant (29). Meanwhile, the Nationals enter Monday's game with the Orioles with a run differential of +145, the second best in the NL behind the Cubs (208).
5. Blue Jays: The Jays have put together a nice August, going 11-8 against opponents that are a lot tougher, record-wise, than what they have coming up. They open a homestand against two last-place teams -- the Angels and the Twins -- on Tuesday, before heading back out on the road to play the Orioles.
The rest of the Top 20:
6. Red Sox (9)
7. Dodgers (7)
8. Orioles (5)
9. Mariners (11)
10. Giants (8)
11. Cardinals (13)
12. Marlins (12)
13. Tigers (10)
14. Royals (19)
15. Pirates (16)
16. Astros (14)
17. Yankees (15)
18. Mets (17)
19. Rockies (18)
20. White Sox (20)