By Ben Verlander
FOX Sports MLB Analyst
With September now upon us, the playoff push has officially arrived.
Of the 30 teams in Major League Baseball, 18 still realistically have a chance to grab a playoff spot. But only 12 of those 18 teams can make it.
September is set to be a wild month in MLB. Here are my updated power rankings as it gets underway.
MLB Power Rankings: Astros, Dodgers, Mets show no signs of slowing down
Ben Verlander’s latest Power Rankings feature the Los Angeles Dodgers, Houston Astros, Seattle Mariners, Tampa Bay Rays, New York Mets and Atlanta Braves.
The Phillies were supposed to be a team that out-slugged every opponent. After a middling start to the season offensively, they have certainly picked it up and now lead MLB in batting average with runners in scoring position. As we enter September, the Phillies are holding down the third and final NL wild card.
Since their huge splash at the trade deadline, the Padres haven’t exactly been firing on all cylinders, going 14-15 after their Aug. 2 trade for Juan Soto. They aren’t setting the baseball world on fire, but San Diego is still in position to make the playoffs. If the Padres get in, this team is talented enough to do some damage.
Since the All-Star break, the Yankees have won three of 14 series; they’re in the midst of their worst 50-game stretch since 1991. This from a team that was once on pace to break the record for wins in an MLB season. Despite this horrid stretch, however, the Yankees still lead MLB in runs scored, with 206, which reinforces just how good this team was before this rough stretch.
Can Aaron Judge lead the Yankees to the postseason?
Ben Verlander and Alex Curry talk about the Yankee’s continued struggles with their worst 50-game stretch since 1991. Is it possible for the Tampa Bay Rays to take over the AL East?
The Rays’ starters give up an American League-best 1.87 runs per game, which is keeping this team in every game they play. They have been surging of late and were one hit away from sweeping the Yankees out of town over the weekend. At one point, the Yankees’ division lead was 15.5 games, but now it’s all the way down to five.
Since July 1, the Mariners’ 38-17 (.691) record is second-best in baseball, behind only the Dodgers at 44-13 (.772). With an underrated three-headed monster at the top of the rotation, with Luis Castillo, Robbie Ray and Logan Gilbert, the M’s can match up with anyone in October, and they have the potential to do some damage. Right now, they’re holding down the top wild card in the American League.
Yankees and Rays heat up the AL East
Ben Verlander and Alex Curry break down the AL East battle between the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays and look at how the teams compare.
The Cardinals are surging, and a huge part of that surge is … Albert Pujols. Since the beginning of August, no batter with a minimum of 10 games played has a higher OPS in than Pujols’ 1.224. Just a month ago, the Cardinals were in second in the NL Central, and now have an 8.5-game advantage over the Milwaukee Brewers.
The NL East is shaping up to be an absolute battle over the final month of the season. As things stand, the Braves trail the Mets by just one game. Since June 2, the Braves are 59-24. No team in Major League Baseball has been better over the past three months.
New York Mets and Atlanta Braves heat up the NL East
Ben Verlander and Alex Curry look at the New York Mets, the Atlanta Braves and the NL East. Which team will come out on top?
The Mets took two of three games against the Dodgers last week. No matter whom they face, they usually wind up looking like the best team on the field. In October, they’ll match up well with anybody, with Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer at the top of the rotation along with Chris Bassitt, an All-Star in his own right. Also, the Mets’ .327 OBP ranks third in all of baseball.
The Astros have a six-game lead on the American League, and that’s due to their pitching this season. Houston’s starting pitchers have posted 77 quality starts this year, the best in baseball; no other team has more than 75. The Astros’ bullpen has also been dominant, posting an ERA of 2.87; no other team has a bullpen ERA under 3.00. With Alex Bregman heating up and being named the AL Player of the Month for August, this offense is no slouch, either. The Astros are a complete team and clearly the best team in the American League.
Shohei Ohtani, Aaron Judge and Alex Bregman lead Team of the Month
Ben Verlander gives us his Team of the Month for August, led by the Astros’ Alex Bregman, the Rays’ Randy Arozarena, the Cardinals’ Paul Goldschmidt and the Mets’ Francisco Lindor, Jeff McNeil and Edwin Diaz.
The Dodgers were the first team in baseball to 90 wins this season, and they’re the first team since the 2018 Boston Red Sox to reach the mark before September. The Dodgers are also the only team with a home winning percentage over .700 and a road winning percentage over .600. Despite myriad pitching injuries, the Dodgers have remained the clear best team in baseball this season.
Here’s to another great week of Major League Baseball!
Ben Verlander is an MLB analyst for FOX Sports and the host of the “Flippin’ Bats” podcast. Verlander was an All-American at Old Dominion University before he joined his brother, Justin, in Detroit as a 14th-round pick of the Tigers in 2013. He spent five years in the Tigers organization. Follow him on Twitter @BenVerlander.
Get more from Major League Baseball Follow your favorites to get information about games, news and more.