Dodgers add Yu Darvish to help end 30-year title drought
My first MLB Power Ranking in early June found the Houston Astros of the American League at the top. In early July, the Los Angeles Dodgers of the National League had taken over the top spot.
Now in early August those two ball clubs have clearly established themselves as still the top teams in their respective leagues. They were 1-2 overall a month ago, and they remain in those positions today.
Los Angeles has captured the NL West Division crown in six of the last nine years and the last four straight. But the Dodgers have not fared well in the postseason. The club has not even reached the World Series in nearly three decades, since last winning the Fall Classic back in 1988.
As the July 31 trade deadline approached, GM Farhan Zaidi took steps to give his ball club a better chance this coming October. Zaidi did so by acquiring starting pitcher Yu Darvish and lefty relievers Tony Watson and Tony Cingrani to plug holes in the LA pitching staff.
HOUSTON CONTINUES TO DOMINATE IN AL
Meanwhile over in the AL, Houston GM Jeff Luhnow also brought in some help. He acquired lefty Francisco Liriano, who has been a starting pitcher for much of his career, to bolster the Astros bullpen.
Houston has emerged over the last three seasons as one of the top teams in baseball, but has reached the postseason just once. Still a young team on the upswing, the Astros are looking to capture their first AL West Division crown since the 2001 campaign. They remain one of just eight MLB teams to never win the World Series.
Following games of Saturday, August 6, the Dodgers lead the NL West by 14.5 games. Just 15-14 after the first month of play, manager Dave Roberts‘ squad has fashioned a ridiculous 63-18 records since.
Manager A.J. Hinch and his Astros shuffled out of the gates to a 4-4 start, but have gone 66-36 ever since. Houston also leads their division, the NL West, by that same 14.5 game margin that the Dodgers have built.
FOCUS TURNS FROM TRADES TO PENNANT RACES
While teams can still make deals during the month of August for players who have cleared waivers, that July 31 deadline can cause anxiety, even for contenders.
“I think July has turned into month where everybody pays attention to outside the clubhouse,” said Hinch per Tony DeMarco of Fanrag Sports. “Now that this has passed, I’m glad we can get back to focusing on who’s here, and what lies ahead.’’
Roberts team has been so good that they have become the team that all others need to measure themselves against this season. It appears that come October, the NL pennant will have to go through Los Angeles.
“We’ve got no problem being a target,” said Roberts per Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports. “And I think our record speaks for itself.”
His team’s record does indeed speak for itself. That 78-32 record and .709 winning percentage mark the Dodgers as the best team in baseball as we move through the dog days of summer. And once again, they are at the top of my MLB Power Ranking.
Now, after the Dodgers and Astros, where do the rest of Major League Baseball’s 28 teams rank? Who might emerge to challenge these two front-runners by the time the September ranking is released? Let’s take a look.