By Mike Ivcic
Final edition of the 2013 Ultimate Capper Power Rankings this week. As always, this is just one person’s completely subjective list. Be sure to check back next week as we preview the final seven days of the regular season. Smell that? October’s almost here!
1. Boston Red Sox (92-59) – Missed this one in the preseason. Best team in baseball.
2. Atlanta Braves (89-60) – Still no idea how they’re this good with such an underperforming outfield.
3. Detroit Tigers (86-63) – Provided Cabrera’s healthy, this team is built for October. My pick to win it all.
4. Los Angeles Dodgers (86-63) – Ultimately, this could be the team to beat in the NL.
5. St. Louis Cardinals (87-62) – Never underestimate the Cardinals postseason experience.
6. Oakland Athletics (88-61) – Slowly but surely, I’m starting to buy into this team.
7. Pittsburgh Pirates (87-62) – I hate the Steelers and Penguins, but I want the Pirates to win the World Series.
8. Cincinnati Reds (84-66) – Votto and Chapman give this team a good chance in one game winner-take-all.
9. Tampa Bay Rays (81-67) – Not playing great, but will probably again do just enough to get in.
10. Cleveland Indians (81-68) – Good chance to catch Texas and at least play beyond game 162.
11. Washington Nationals (79-70) – Playing well, but just too little, too late.
12. New York Yankees (79-71) – A season of “what ifs” with almost their entire infield’s injury issues.
13. Kansas City Royals (78-71) – Like the Pirates, I’m pulling hard for this team.
14. Texas Rangers (81-67) – David Freese went deep, and this franchise hasn’t ever been the same.
15. Baltimore Orioles (79-70) – No playoffs most likely, but baseball’s back in Baltimore.
16. Arizona Diamondbacks (75-73) – The epitome of a .500 baseball team – nothing bad, nothing great.
17. Los Angeles Angels (72-77) – It’s not his fault, but Mike Scioscia is likely done after this season.
18. Toronto Blue Jays (68-81) – All the trades in the world can’t buy “heart.”
19. Philadelphia Phillies (69-80) – Could very easily be entering into “no-man’s land” for the next couple years.
20. San Francisco Giants (69-81) – Early June was brutal. The defending champs never recovered.
21. San Diego Padres (68-80) – Nothing spectacular, but definitely some things to build on for 2014.
22. New York Mets (67-82) – The fate of the franchise rests on the health of Matt Harvey’s right elbow.
23. Seattle Mariners (66-83) – At least this city has the Seahawks…
24. Colorado Rockies (68-82) – And this city has the Broncos…
25. Minnesota Twins (64-84) – But the Vikings are 0-2. Some good youth to build around here, though.
26. Chicago Cubs (63-86) – Remember I said this in two years – watch out for the Cubs in 2015.
27. Milwaukee Brewers (65-83) – Need a whole lot more than Ryan Braun to get back to being one of the NL’s elite.
28. Chicago White Sox (58-91) – Sox higher ups can’t be happy with major late-season fade.
29. Miami Marlins (55-94) – Sad as this sounds, the Marlins have actually been much better than expected.
30. Houston Astros (51-98) – I love the theory, but eventually the Astros have to start winning… right?
Playoff “Dead” List
September 16 – Baltimore Orioles – I don’t really want to do this – I’d rather be writing about the Yankees or the Athletics in this space – but the Orioles did themselves in by losing three of four to New York at home during the week. I have to eliminate someone from the AL race here, so it leaves the Rays, Rangers, Indians, and Yankees to battle for the two wild card spots over the final two weeks. We’ll let you know next week which two of those teams will be in the postseason, but suffice it to say that at this point, it won’t be Baltimore.
September 16 – Washington Nationals – They’ve been impressive over the last two weeks, beating most of the teams they should have beaten all year long, but that’s biggest problem. The Nationals simply dug themselves too big of a hole to overcome, even with the Reds and Pirates meeting six times in the final ten days of the season. They may not be mathematically eliminated, and they still may make this an interesting race before the season finally ends sitting just 4.5 games behind Cincinnati, but ultimately Washington will be postseason spectators.
September 9 – Arizona Diamondbacks
September 2 – Kansas City Royals
August 26 – San Francisco Giants
August 19 – Philadelphia Phillies
August 12 – Colorado Rockies
August 5 – Los Angeles Angels
July 29 – Toronto Blue Jays
July 22 – San Diego Padres
July 15 – Minnesota Twins
July 8 – Chicago White Sox
July 1 – Milwaukee Brewers
June 24 – Seattle Mariners
June 17 – Chicago Cubs
June 10 – New York Mets
June 3 – Houston Astros
May 27 – Miami Marlins
Three series to watch this week…
1) TEX @ TAM (9/16-9/19) – Four games for the wild card lead. Baseball couldn’t have asked for much more from their schedule-makers than this gem of a series. The Rangers have been downright awful in September for the second straight season, having now lost six straight games and virtually any shot at the AL West after getting swept by the A’s. They need a split here at minimum to get back on track.
2) BAL @ BOS (9/17-9/19) – The Red Sox have all but wrapped up the AL East title, while the Orioles are clinging to their postseason lives and desperately need at least a series win here, if not a sweep, to make a move in the AL Wild Card prior to their series with the Rays over the weekend.
3) CLE @ KCR (9/16-9/18) – Both teams enter the series with the chance to pull off a bit of a surprising finish and make a run, but only one will leave the series with that shot still realistically intact. The Indians are in a better position at the start, but a big part of me still roots for the Royals.
Three series to watch this weekend…
1) BAL @ TAM (9/20-9/22) – Depending upon how the midweek series goes for each team, the Rays may be 6 games up and this series may be almost irrelevant by the time Friday shows up – or the Orioles may actually be ahead in the standings. That would certainly bring a different dynamic to Tropicana Field.
2) CIN @ PIT (9/20-9/22) – We’ve highlighted this fact multiple times in multiple places, but the Reds and Pirates begin the close of their schedule with three in the Steel City. Both teams are feeling the pressure – the Reds getting pressed from behind by Washington, the Pirates trying to avoid the one-game wild card game and possibly even finish as the number two seed and get homefield advantage against the Dodgers. Should be a fun last ten days.
3) SFG @ NYY (9/20-9/22) – I could have gone with Texas and Kansas City here, but I’m fascinated that the Yankees are still alive in the playoff hunt considering all of the injuries to, and lack of production from, their big-money players. Plus, anytime the Giants and Yankees play meaningful games harkens back to a simpler, less-complicated time in the history of baseball (and America), and I, for one, will thoroughly enjoy this series.
If the playoffs started today…
1) Boston Red Sox
2) Oakland Athletics
3) Detroit Tigers
4) *Texas Rangers
5) *Tampa Bay Rays
The Rangers lead the season series with the Rays 2-1 and would host the one-game wild card playoff.
1) Atlanta Braves
2) *Los Angeles Dodgers
3/4) *Pittsburgh Pirates
3/4) *St. Louis Cardinals
5) Cincinnati Reds
*The Dodgers, Pirates, and Cardinals all have the same record. The Dodgers won the head-to-head season series against both teams and would be the 2-seed. The Pirates won the season series 10-9 over the Cardinals and would host a one-game playoff to determine the NL Central champion. The winner would be the 3-seed and play the Dodgers, the loser would be the 4-seed and host the Reds in the one-game Wild Card playoff game.
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