1– Chicago Cubs (78-45) SD Score +3.59; Record this week (5-2), Ranking Last Week – 1
Opponents – Brewers (4-0), at Rockies (1-2)
After sweeping the Brewers, the Cubs had a chance to win what would have been the series-deciding game against the Rockies, but lost 7-6 in the 11-inning thriller from Friday.
The crazy part is not only is Kris Bryant showing that he could be the NL MVP (15 for 29 in his last 7 games, 31 homeruns, .300/.393/.568), but Anthony Rizzo is also in that conversation (.293/.395/.562 and 25 homeruns). Any way you slice it, the Cubs are number one right now and look very tough to beat.
2 – Washington Nationals (73-50); SD Score +2.49; Record this week (4-3), Ranking Last Week – 2
Opponents – at Rockies (1-2), at Braves (3-1)
The Nationals have a level of consistency that will lead them into the postseason. The emergence of Tanner Roark doesn’t hurt either.
3 – Cleveland Indians (71-51); SD Score +1.86; Record this week (4-3), Ranking Last Week – 3
Opponents – Red Sox (0-1), White Sox (2-1), Blue Jays (2-1)
Though it was a tough week in the sense that five of the seven games played this week were one-run games, the Indians were able to win more than they lost. It could have been better, but also could have been worse. Taking a series against the Blue Jays had to be a confidence booster as well.
4 – Texas Rangers (73-52); SD Score +0.07; Record this week (4-2), Ranking Last Week – 4
Opponents – A’s (3-0), at Rays (1-2)
Fortunately, the opponents were not strong this week, but Texas is still winning more games than they lose. This week the Indians come to town.
5 – Toronto Blue Jays (70-54); SD Score +1.65; Record this week (3-3), Ranking Last Week – 5
Opponents – at Yankees (2-1), at Indians (1-2)
Despite playing two difficult teams on the road, the Blue Jays fared well. They could have extended their AL East lead, but they went 1-3 in one-run games.
6 – Boston Red Sox (69-54); SD Score +2.15; Record this week (5-2), Ranking Last Week – 8
Opponents – at Indians (1-0), at Orioles (2-0), at Tigers (2-2)
Despite facing three of the strongest teams of the AL, the Red Sox won five of seven. If they keep this level of play up, they will have a real shot at not only the AL East, but the AL crown.
7 – Los Angeles Dodgers (68-55) SD Score +0.97; Record this week (3-3) Ranking Last Week – 9
Opponents – at Phillies (2-1), at Reds (1-2)
Yet another .500 week, but now are atop the NL West and they host the Giants and the Cubs this week.
8 – St. Louis Cardinals (66-57); SD Score +1.45; Record this week (4-1), Ranking Last Week – 12
Opponents – at Astros (2-0), at Phillies (2-1)
The short week was needed and the Cardinals took advantage. They are still tied for the Wild Card.
9 – San Francisco Giants (68-56); SD Score +0.82; Record this week (2-5), Ranking Last Week – 7
Opponents – Pirates (0-3), Mets (2-2)
Life continues to be difficult for the Giants as they continue to struggle. Close games have been difficult and they were 0-3 in them this week. Huge series against the Dodgers coming up this week.
10 – Seattle Mariners (66-57); SD Score +0.89; Record this week (4-3), Ranking Last Week – 11
Opponents – at Angels (2-2), Brewers (2-1)
The Mariners stayed solid this week and remain in good shape in the AL West. A big part of that is the pitching of Hisashi Iwakuma. During August, he has a 1.69 ERA and a 19-2 Strikeouts to Walks ratio.
11 – Baltimore Orioles (67-56); SD Score +0.34; Record this week (1-5) Ranking Last Week – 6
Opponents – Red Sox (0-2), Astros (1-3)
The Orioles continue to fade and the schedule does not get easier with the Nationals and Yankees coming up.
12 – Detroit Tigers (65-59); SD Score +0.18; Record this week (2-5), Ranking Last Week – 10
Opponents – Royals (0-3), Red Sox (2-2)
Unfortunately for the Tigers, they faced two of the hottest teams in the entire league this week. The schedule lightens up this week.
13 – Houston Astros (64-60); SD Score +0.79; Record this week (3-3), Ranking Last Week – 13
Opponents – Cardinals (0-2), at Orioles (3-1)
Houston was able to gain some ground in the Wild Card race, as they’re now only three games behind Baltimore.
14 – Miami Marlins (65-59); SD Score +0.18; Record this week (4-3), Ranking Last Week – 14
Opponents – at Reds (1-3), at Pirates (3-0)
The Marlins have a little of that swagger back, but needed to win at least one of those one-run games. The good news is, they’re only a game and a half out of the Wild Card.
15 – Kansas City Royals (64-60); SD Score -0.49; Record this week (7-0), Ranking Last Week – 19
Opponents – at Tigers (3-0), Twins (4-0)
This week, the Royals broke their trend for now, as they beat both a good team and a bad team in the same week and got back over .500.
16 – Colorado Rockies (60-64); SD Score +0.50; Record this week (4-2), Ranking Last Week – 18
Opponents – Nationals (2-1), Cubs (2-1)
This will be the controversial ranking as they have a losing record. How do they move up 2 spots? They had a very impressive week as they took both series’ against the Nationals and Cubs, the best two teams in the Majors. The others in the log jam were either average or worse and Colorado’s SD score shows they’re much better than their record.
17 – Pittsburgh Pirates (62-59); SD Score +0.02; Record this week (3-3), Ranking Last Week – 15
Opponents – at Giants (3-0), Marlins (0-3)
Excellent sweep over the Giants, but then got swept against the Marlins, a team they need to beat in order to make the postseason. In the log jam of the Rockies, Pirates Mets and Yankees, they will be ranked solely by the numbers formula which measures SD Score and standings.
18 – New York Yankees (63-60); SD Score -0.56; Record this week (3-3), Ranking Last Week – 16
Opponents – Blue Jays (1-2), at Angels (2-1)
New York is still alive in the Wild Card hunt, but losing two to the Blue Jays hurt. They need to beat Seattle and Baltimore this week.
19 – New York Mets (62-62); SD Score -0.33; Record this week (3-4), Ranking Last Week – 17
Opponents – at Diamondbacks (1-2), at Giants (2-2)
This week could have gone much worse, but the Mets were able to take the last two from the Giants. They’re only 4 games back in the Wild Card, but need to have better weeks from here on out.
20 – Chicago White Sox (59-64); SD Score -0.86; Record this week (3-3), Ranking Last Week – 20
Opponents – at Indians (1-2), A’s (2-1)
This week was kind of a typical White Sox week. Mediocre.
21 – Philadelphia Phillies (58-67); SD Score -2.14; Record this week (2-4), Ranking Last Week – 21
Opponents – Dodgers (1-2), Cardinals (1-2)
Tough week for the Phillies, but it was against two of the best teams in the NL.
22 – Tampa Bay Rays (52-70); SD Score -0.30; Record this week (5-1), Ranking Last Week – 27
Opponents – Padres (3-0), Rangers (2-1)
We thought last week was a bit of a fluke, but the Rays stepped up and lost only one game this week. If they hadn’t gotten so cold in July and part of August, they would have a chance at the Wild Card.
23 – Los Angeles Angels (52-72); SD Score -0.72; Record this week (2-4), Ranking Last Week – 23
Opponents – Mariners (1-2), Yankees (1-2)
The Angels seemed to have lost the ability to make life hard for good teams.
24 – San Diego Padres (53-71); SD Score -0.98; Record this week (3-4), Ranking Last Week – 25
Opponents –at Rays (0-3), Diamondbacks (3-1)
At best, the Padres are an average team. They’ll be in full rebuilding mode after the season.
25 – Milwaukee Brewers (53-70); SD Score -1.52; Record this week (1-6), Ranking Last Week – 22
Opponents – at Cubs (0-4), at Mariners (1-2)
The Brewers are who we thought they were as they got manhandled against the best team in baseball and a very good one.
26 – Cincinnati Reds (53-70); SD Score -1.78; Record this week (5-2), Ranking Last Week – 28
Opponents – Marlins (3-1), Dodgers (2-1)
The Reds have been one of the better teams in baseball since the All-Star break. It’ll be interesting to see how they end the season.
27 – Oakland A’s (53-71); SD Score -1.78; Record this week (1-5), Ranking Last Week – 24
Opponents – at Rangers (0-3), at White Sox (1-2)
The A’s were also in spoiler mode, but have seemed to come back to earth.
28 – Arizona Diamondbacks (51-73); SD Score -2.12; Record this week (3-4), Ranking Last Week – 26
Opponents – Mets (2-1), at Padres (1-3)
Arizona has decent pitching with Robbie Ray and Zack Greinke, but they need to acquire a lot more talent to be competitive.
29 – Minnesota Twins (49-75); SD Score -1.63; Record this week (2-4), Ranking Last Week – 29
Opponents – at Braves (2-0), at Royals (0-4)
The Twins have lost 6 times to the Royals over the last 2 weeks. Not that it matters.
30 – Atlanta Braves (45-79); SD Score -2.73; Record this week (1-5), Ranking Last Week – 30
Opponents – Twins (0-2), Nationals (1-3)
I’m shocked the Braves beat the Nationals on Sunday to end their 7 game skid.
SD Score explanation:
Run production is one of the best measures of how a team is performing and how dominant or bad they are.
The formula takes each team’s runs scored and runs allowed totals and how many standard deviations from the league average they are.
Example: 1927 Yankees
The 27 Yankees score 975 runs (1927 AL average was 762 and SD of team runs for the AL was about 115). Take the difference from the league average (975-762=213) and divide by the SD (115), the 1927 Yankees were 1.85 SD above the league average in runs scored.
They allowed 599 runs (the SD in runs allowed for the 1927 AL was about 88.5), which was 163 runs less than the league average. 163/88.5 gives us a 1.84 SD above the league average in runs allowed.
Add 1.85 and 1.84 to get a final SD Score of +3.69 for the 1927 Yankees, which is amazing.
(SD ranking explanation found in “Baseball Dynasties: The Greatest Teams of All Time” by Rob Neyer and Eddie Epstein)