*** PHILLIES ARE IN BOSTON FOR A TWO-GAME SET WITH RED SOX AT FENWAY PARK *** PHILLIES TIED WITH METS, TWO GAMES BEHIND CUBS FOR THE SECOND NL WILDCARD PLAYOFF SPOT ***

Thursday, August 1, 2019

MLB Power Rankings: Dodgers back on top to open August

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The Tampa Bay Rays have been near the top all season

The Philadelphia Phillies are as high as they have been all season in the latest 2019 MLB Power Rankings. As the month of August opens, that still only leaves them at 14th overall in Major League Baseball.
However, while they rank as middle-of-the-pack in all of baseball, they are the sixth-highest ranked ball club in the National League. That means they statistically come out right about where they are in the standings, as a legitimate NL Wildcard contender.
In taking a look at the landscape of contenders over the final eight weeks of the regular season, the Phillies are likely going to have to beat out the division-rival Washington Nationals and whichever team finishes as runners-up in the NL Central Division, the Chicago Cubs or Saint Louis Cardinals.
The Nationals made a series of moves to shore up their one glaring weakness – the bullpen – at yesterday’s MLB trade deadline. The Cubs added a big bat in Nicholas Castellanos.
In looking ahead at the schedule, the Phillies have just four games left head-to-head with the Nationals. Those will take place in Washington at the end of September in the club’s final road series of the year. Having met 14 times already, the Nationals have taken nine games from the Phillies, who would need a sweep of that final series to gain a 9-9 split.
The Cubs will come to Citizens Bank Park for three games in the middle of August. The Phillies and Cubs have already split four games at 2-2 this season. The Phillies are done with the Cardinals, having won four of six games between the two teams.
My own personal feelings never have anything to do with the MLB Power Rankings published here at Phillies Nation. Instead, the rank is all about actual team performance: results in the standings and statistical breakdowns.
I take what I have found to be key statistical categories and rank each of the 30 teams in Major League baseball on their ability to win ball games and perform on offense, the pitching mound, and in the field. There is never any subjectivity on my part.
The MLB Power Rankings are updated here at Phillies Nation on roughly the 1st and 15th of the month for the remainder of the regular season using the following methodology.


RANKINGS METHODOLOGY

Introduced and then upgraded during the course of last season, my formula for compiling the rankings is always being researched to see if it can be improved upon.
That formula carried two categories over from the 2018 season: winning percentage and OPS against. The first is simple, reflecting each team’s ability to actually win ball games. The second reflects a pitching staff’s ability to control the game and limit damage.
As of my first ranking for the 2019 season, runs-per-game replaced last year’s “runs scored” in order to get the offensive component. This was an acknowledgement of the fact that teams play various numbers of games as of the time of each ranking. For example, it wouldn’t be fair to consider a club that had scored 100 runs over 50 games as effective as a club who scored 100 runs over just 45 games.
Also this summer, the defensive component was changed. The defensive metric beginning with the July 15 rankings was switched to “Defensive runs saved” as measured at Fangraphs, replacing the previous “fielding percentage” to gauge a team’s defensive effectiveness.
I then assign each of those four component category team rankings a 1-30 numerical value, and simply add those values up to determine an overall final ratings score. Where there is a tie, it is broken by win-loss percentage since, in the end, winning is what it’s all about.

2019 AUGUST 1 –  MLB RANKINGS

Returning to the top of the rankings for the first time since June 1 are the Los Angeles Dodgers. The National League’s top ball club in each of the previous 2019 Power Rankings, the Dodgers are one of just two teams ranked among the top three each time around this season.
Coming in as the August 1 runners-up and the top team in the American League are the previous rankings leaders, the Minnesota Twins. They are the other team to finish among the top three in each of the prior MLB Power Rankings this season.
The Cleveland Indians were the hot risers in the last rankings, and they remain scorching as August opens. But hotter than the summer sun during the month of July were the San Francisco Giants. At 11 games under .500 when the month began and ranked next-to-last back on June 1, the Giants have vaulted into the top 20 and NL Wildcard contention.
An enigmatic team would be the Arizona Diamondbacks. For the fifth consecutive period, the formula pushes the Dbacks out as a top 10 ball club. Yet Arizona has fallen below .500 in the standings at this point, sitting four games back in the loss column in the NL Wildcard race.
In parentheses are each team’s position in the June 1, June 15 , July 1 and July 15 rankings, shown in that order from left to right.
  1. Los Angeles Dodgers (1-3-2-2)
  2. Minnesota Twins (2-2-3-1)
  3. Houston Astros (3-1-1-5)
  4. Oakland Athletics (8-12-5-3)
  5. Tampa Bay Rays (4-4-4-4)
  6. Cleveland Indians (18-18-15-10)
  7. Arizona Diamondbacks (9-5-6-9)
  8. Boston Red Sox (6-6-10-8)
  9. Chicago Cubs (10-13-11-7)
  10. New York Yankees (5-8-9-6)
  11. Los Angeles Angels (19-17-19-11)
  12. Atlanta Braves (12-9-7-12)
  13. Washington Nationals (24-19-13-13)
  14. Philadelphia Phillies (15-14-18-16)
  15. Saint Louis Cardinals (14-15-14-14)
  16. Milwaukee Brewers (7-10-16-19)
  17. Cincinnati Reds (13-16-17-18)
  18. San Francisco Giants (29-27-25-21)
  19. Texas Rangers (16-11-8-15)
  20. San Diego Padres (17-20-20-17)
  21. Colorado Rockies (11-7-12-20)
  22. Kansas City Royals (21-21-22-22)
  23. Miami Marlins (23-26-21-23)
  24. New York Mets (22-23-24-25)
  25. Pittsburgh Pirates (20-25-23-24)
  26. Seattle Mariners (26-22-27-26)
  27. Toronto Blue Jays (28-28-26-28)
  28. Chicago White Sox (25-24-28-27)
  29. Baltimore Orioles (30-30-30-30)
  30. Detroit Tigers (27-29-29-29)

SPOTLIGHT TEAM: TAMPA BAY RAYS

Previous spotlight teams: Minnesota (6/1), Atlanta (6/15), Texas (7/1), Oakland (7/15)
It’s fair to ask, how are these guys doing it? The Rays are 14 games over the .500 mark while playing in a division with the behemoth Yankees and defending world champion Red Sox. They are tied with Oakland for the second AL Wildcard, two games up on those Bosox and four clear of both the Angels and Rangers.
Kevin Cash is now in his fifth season at the helm in Tampa. After three losing campaigns, he guided the Rays to a 90-win season a year ago. That was the sixth-best record in the AL, but still seven games back of Oakland for a Wildcard playoff spot.
The Rays get by with no one superstar. But they have nine batters who are in double-digits for home runs. 24-year-old, second year outfielder Austin Meadows is a potential star. Splitting his time between DH and the corner outfield spots, he has 16 homers, 40 extra-base hits, and 51 RBIs.
On the mound, Tampa has somehow survived to this point despite losing their two most talented starting pitchers. 25-year-old Tyler Glasnow has been on the IL since May with a strained right forearm. A recent MRI came back clean, but he is not likely to see a big-league mound again until September, if then.
26-year-old southpaw Blake Snell was the 2018 American League Cy Young Award winner. But after he struggled over 20 starts this season it was found that he had ‘loose bodies’ in his pitching elbow, requiring surgery. The surgery was successful, and the Rays hope to get him back for the final few weeks of the season.
It is questionable how long Tampa can stay in the race without those two big horses on the mound every four-to-five days. But if they can, and those two can return healthy in September, you would be foolish to count the Rays out.
It is also questionable how long Tampa can maintain a team in Major League Baseball, at least a competitive one over the long haul considering their current stadium situation. The idea had been floated to play half their games in Tampa, and half in Montreal. As the video above will reveal, that idea appears to be nothing more than a pipe dream for some old Expos fans.
Originally published at Phillies Nation as "MLB Power Ranking: August 1"

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