Power Rankings mark Rangers' rise

Power Rankings mark Rangers' rise

Power Rankings mark Rangers' rise
There are less than six weeks remaining in the regular season, and the most powerful teams in the big leagues are starting to position themselves for a playoff run.

Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton has once again found himself in a hot-hitting groove at the plate in Texas, and Adrian Beltre is emerging as the team's most valuable player on the field and in the clubhouse.

Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano is back on track, Alex Rodriguez is on the mend and New York will look to build on its division lead as the season enters its final month.

Don't look now, but Cincinnati slugger Joey Votto is on his way back, and that's not good news for the rest of the National League Central.

Out West, the Giants have once again pitched themselves to the top spot in the NL, while Chipper Jones' Braves trail the Nationals by only 4 1/2 games in the NL East.

There's no doubt that the new-look Dodgers have star power in their lineup, but do they have enough pitching to power their way to the postseason?

Raise your hand if you think several division races will decided during the final week of the season.

For the third season, MLB.com has set up a panel of experts to vote on the top 15 teams each week. Three former Major League players -- Larry Dierker, Mitch Williams, and Frank Thomas -- are part of the process, as are columnist Peter Gammons and Carlton Thompson, vice president and executive editor of MLB.com. Former general manager and current MLB.com analyst Jim Duquette, along with MLB.com columnists Mike Bauman, Hal Bodley, Anthony Castrovince, Richard Justice, Matthew Leach and Jesse Sanchez are also part of the group.

Agree? Disagree? The power to rank the teams is yours.

This Week's Power Rankings
This WeekMovementPower PlayerLast Week
1

Last week, Beltre became the second player in Major League history with a three-homer game and a cycle in the same week. Has he emerged as the team's MVP? Hamilton is hitting .300 this month, after hitting only .177 in July.

4
2

Cano appears to have snapped out of his offensive funk and it could not have come at a better time. The All-Star second baseman finished the recent road trip with eight hits in 21 at-bats, including multihit games in three of his last four games. A-Rod has made "significant" progress, but a timetable for his return has not been set.

3
3

The first-place Red have dropped only two series (9-2-2) since the All-Star break and will receive another boost to the offense soon. Votto is poised to rejoin the Reds in Houston on Friday. The club is 27-12 without him.

2
4

The first-place Nats are coming off a four-game losing streak and facing some adversity heading into the final month of the season. All five Nationals starters have ERAs under 4.00, but ace Stephen Strasburg and his dwindling innings count continue to get most of the national attention. After Sunday's loss, manager Davey Johnson was heard yelling at general manager Mike Rizzo, "You come down and manage the team."

1
5

The White Sox have won six in a row, and Adam Dunn is having a season to remember. The slugger leads the Majors with 38 home runs and has 87 RBIs despite a batting average of just .204. The White Sox lead the second-place Tigers in the American League Central by 2 1/2 games.

9
6

Chipper is nursing a sore left oblique, but Jason Heyward and company have not skipped a beat. Heyward is one stolen base shy of being the first Braves player to hit 20 home runs and steal 20 bases in a season since Andruw Jones in 2000.

5
7

The starting pitching gets plenty of credit for the team's success each year, but the contributions from the catchers should not be overlooked this season. Buster Posey (67 RBIs) and Hector Sanchez (25 RBIs) have combined for 93 RBIs this season.

8
8

The Rays lead the Orioles and the A's in the AL Wild Card race by a few percentage points, but they still trail the Yankees by four games in the AL East standings. David Price is leading the way, making a strong bid for the AL Cy Young Award, with 16 wins and a Major-League best 2.28 ERA.

6
9

The new-look Dodgers acquired Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto in a blockbuster deal with the Red Sox with the hopes that the new talent on offense will push them past the Giants in the NL West standings. But some still wonder if the Dodgers have enough starting pitching to push them over the top.

7
10

If you believe in momentum, you must believe the Cardinals are overflowing with it lately. The Cardinals took two of three from the Reds to cut Cincinnati's lead in the NL Central to six games. St. Louis had four players with multiple hits in Sunday's 8-2 win.

11
11

The Tigers are not worried about Miguel Cabrera's sore right ankle, but they're also not going to ignore the situation. The AL MVP has been hampered by the ankle when he's in the batter's box and was given the day off Sunday. He should be back at third base Tuesday, but the club will continue to monitor him.

14
12

The A's have won two in a row, eight of their last 10 and are making a serious run at the first-place Rangers in the AL West. Moreover, Oakland is 32-15 since the end of June and is tied with Tampa Bay and Baltimore for the top spot in the AL Wild Card race. Could this be their year?

12
13

Things are coming together in Baltimore. The O's added a proven starter Sunday, acquiring left-hander Joe Saunders from the D-backs to help their playoff push. What's more, right-hander Jason Hammel could make his return from the disabled list on Sept. 6.

13
14

The Pirates have lost 13 of their last 19 games and are trying to avoid another late-season fade. Not surprisingly, Joel Hanrahan still leads the NL with 34 saves, but he has had only one save opportunity since Aug. 8.

10
15

You know Mike Trout is having an MVP-caliber season when people start to wonder why he is "only" hitting a respectable .286 in August. Last week, the rookie became the youngest player since at least 1901 to record 40 steals and 20 homers in a season.

15