FOX Sports MLB Analyst
It’s been a minute since the Seattle Mariners sat alone in first place this late in the season — or, about 10,519,200 minutes.
With its 11th win in 12 games, Seattle overtook the Rangers in the American League West on Sunday. The last time the Mariners were the outright division leader through 130 games was Aug. 24, 2003, per MLB.com. (Shout out to Edgar Martinez and Bret Boone.)
Here’s my latest top 10, with a few interesting factoids about each club and a new member.
1. Atlanta Braves (84-45; last week 1)
The Braves are the only team with more than 200 home runs. The margin between them and the No. 2 Dodgers, who have 200 even, is equal to that of L.A. and the No. 15 Cubs. In short: Atlanta can mash with anyone, and with five players likely to finish with 30 or more home runs, its power runs deep.
2. Baltimore Orioles (81-49; LW 2)
The Orioles have won seven of nine, this after winning just four of their previous nine. The bigger story right now, though, is the uncertain status of as All-Star closer Félix Bautista after he was placed on the injured list with an elbow injury. Baltimore is tied for the fewest blown-lead losses in the majors.
3. Los Angeles Dodgers (80-49; LW 3)
Mookie Betts made his long-awaited return to Fenway Park this weekend and continued his torrid pace. He’s hitting .554 since August 11th, easily the best in the majors. The Dodgers are just as hot, as they have not lost a series this entire month.
4. Seattle Mariners (74-56; LW 5)
Seattle just swept Kansas City at home. What’s more interesting is what the hottest team in baseball has done on the road. With five weeks remaining in the regular season, the Mariners have won 16 road games since the All-Star break. That’s one fewer than they won in the second half last year. Seattle’s 12 road wins in August are the most in franchise history.
5. Milwaukee Brewers (73-57; LW 7)
The Brew Crew have won eight in a row and scored at least five runs in each game. Prior to this stretch, the Brewers had scored five-plus runs in just 10 of 31 games. Add this offensive boost to a pitching staff with a 3.55 ERA in August, and it’s created a four-game cushion in the NL Central.
MLB Power Rankings: Braves maintain top spot, Brewers move up
6. Philadelphia Phillies (72-58; LW 8)
Bryce Harper is back to full strength. Despite his miraculous May return from Tommy John surgery, his power went missing for nearly two months. But since August 16th, Harper is the only player in baseball hitting over .400 with five or more homers. The Phillies, meanwhile, have won seven of 10.
7. Houston Astros (74-58; LW 6)
Even with consecutive wins over the Detroit Tigers, Houston is just 6-8 over its past 14 games. The Astros have actually gained 2.5 games worth of ground in the AL West since then, but now they’re behind the Mariners.
Astros’ Mauricio Dubón, Martín Maldonado smack BACK-TO-BACK homers
8. Tampa Bay Rays (80-52; LW NR)
Welcome back! The Rays’ stay outside the top 10 was short-lived. Tampa Bay has won six of seven, including a 5-1 mark at home. Its offense also woke up, averaging 5.83 runs during this stretch.
9. Texas Rangers (73-57 LW 4)
The Rangers are the only one team in baseball to win less than two games since Aug. 16. The primary reason is their offense. Texas has scored three runs or fewer six times in 10 games, its 3.6 runs per game during this stretch ranking 25th in the majors.
Twins’ Michael A. Taylor WALKS IT OFF on a walk to defeat Rangers
10. Chicago Cubs (69-61; LW 10)
The Cubs have slightly fallen in their division despite winning seven of nine. They can close the gap this week with a three-game series at home against the Brewers. Milwaukee has won four of seven meetings thus far, with all of those taking place before Chicago turned its season around.
Out: Toronto Blue Jays (9)
Ben Verlander is an MLB Analyst for FOX Sports and the host of the “Flippin’ Bats” podcast. Born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, 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.
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