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MLB Power Rankings: Cardinals, Blue Jays looking scary

Sep 18, 2015, 12:32 PM EST

Photo by USA Today

Here is a look at Major League Baseball with analysis from Nationals Insider Mark Zuckerman and Nationals writer Chase Hughes:

LAUNCH PHOTO GALLERY

30. Phillies – Hughes: (LW: 30) The Phillies are setting records for the lowest attendance in Citizens Bank Park’s 11-year history, further proving that few sports fanbases can truly stay loyal when their team is losing.

29. Braves – Hughes: (LW: 29) Good to see President Jimmy Carter out and about at a Braves game despite his grim diagnosis. He was even on the ‘Kiss Cam’ Thursday night.

28. Rockies – Hughes: (LW: 28) If I’m the Rockies, I’m selling high on Carlos Gonzalez and getting some young pitchers to make the most of Nolan Arenado and D.J. LeMahieu as they enter their primes.

27. Reds – Hughes: (LW: 27) The key acquisition in the Johnny Cueto trade, Brandon Finnegan is now converting to the Reds’ rotation.

26. Brewers – Hughes: (LW: 24) Good to see pitcher Jimmy Nelson walk off on his own accord after a scary moment on Thursday night when he got hit in the head.

25. Athletics – Zuckerman: (LW: 26) Billy Beane always surprises in the offseason. What does he have in store this time?

24. Marlins – Hughes: (LW: 25) Giancarlo Stanton had another setback involving scar tissue in his hand. At this point, why not just call it a year?

23. Tigers – Zuckerman: (LW: 23) Major rebuilding project about to get underway in Detroit.

22. Padres – Hughes: (LW: 19) Tough news for Josh Johnson, who needs a third Tommy John surgery. He was once one of the game’s best starters.

21. Red Sox – Zuckerman: (LW: 22) Completely botched signings of Hanley Ramirez (.717 OPS) and Pablo Sandoval (.663 OPS).

20. Diamondbacks – Hughes: (LW: 18) A big thunderstorm poured rain through Arizona’s roof that landed on fans behind home plate on Tuesday. Yikes.

19. White Sox – Zuckerman: (LW: 21) Jeff Samardzija (9-13, 5.27) has been an unmitigated disaster on the South Side.

18. Mariners – Zuckerman: (LW: 20) Remember when they were trendy World Series picks (like from yours truly)? Yikes.

17. Rays – Zuckerman: (LW: 16) A team with AL’s second-best ERA (3.69) should be in contention, but they’re last in league in runs scored.

16. Orioles – Zuckerman: (LW: 17) Can they go through another winter watching big-name free agents depart? Davis, Wieters, Chen on the clock.

15. Indians – Zuckerman: (LW: 15) They’re finishing strong, but it’s going to be too little, too late in Cleveland.

14. Angels – Zuckerman: (LW: 14) Pretty big disappointment this season: From 98 wins in 2014 to fighting for .500 in 2015.

13. Twins – Zuckerman: (LW: 11) They just keep hanging around close enough to make this interesting down the stretch.

12. Nationals – Hughes: (LW: 13) Bryce Harper is having one of the best seasons in recent history and he won’t be playing in the playoffs. Neither will Mike Trout. That’s unfortunate for baseball.

11. Giants – Hughes: (LW: 12) It looks like the Giants will miss the playoffs. Even years, man.

10. Astros – Zuckerman: (LW: 9) Division title slipping away, and if they’re not careful a wild card berth could as well.

9. Rangers – Zuckerman: (LW: 10) Slowly but surely crept their way up the ladder, now in position to win AL West.

8. Yankees – Zuckerman: (LW: 7) Home field for the AL wild card should probably be their focus at this point.

7. Mets – Hughes: (LW: 8) The Mets have really taken off and are now on pace for 92 wins this season. What’s crazy is that the Cardinals already have 92 with 16 to play.

6. Dodgers – Hughes: (LW: 6) The Dodgers DFA’d trade deadline acquisition Mat Latos after only five starts. That was quick.

5. Cubs – Hughes: (LW: 5) Jake Arrieta may have something to say about Zack Greinke’s dominant run towards another Cy Young award.

4. Royals – Zuckerman: (LW: 3) They’ve lost 9-of-12. Still going to win Central, but not heading to October with momentum.

3. Pirates – Hughes: (LW: 2) The Pirates not only lost Jung Ho Kang for this season, he’s out for 6-8 months with a brutal knee injury.

2. Blue Jays – Zuckerman: (LW: 4) Tulowitzki’s injury hurts, but even without them, they still look like AL’s best team right now.

1. Cardinals – Hughes: (LW: 1) The Cardinals are on pace to win 102 wins this season without Adam Wainwright. I know that’s been said before, but it’s just amazing.

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  1. Eugene in Oregon - Sep 18, 2015 at 1:22 PM

    I almost always root for the NL team in the World Series (yes, even the Cards and the Giants after they eliminated the Nats the past few years…albeit without a lot of enthusiasm in either case). But if the Blue Jays make it that far, I think I’ll be flying my Canadian flag.

    • Doc - Sep 18, 2015 at 1:53 PM

      Me too, Eugene!

      If they get in, the added bonus is that they beat the hated Yankees!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Ellie - Sep 18, 2015 at 1:26 PM

    I look forward to the day when the disgusting cheaters who currently occupy the top spot are where they belong at number 30. For ever.

  3. TimDz - Sep 18, 2015 at 2:02 PM

    I wonder if Jeffrey Loria is sweating it out over Stanton’s injury….If Stanton continues to get injured, he may not opt out of that monster contract….Pretty sure that isn’t what Ol’ Jeffrey was bargaining for..

    • DaveB - Sep 18, 2015 at 2:58 PM

      Yep … I’ve been really surprised at how owners are willing to sign those contracts as they seem especially risky. You lose out when the player does really well (see Zack Greinke) AND when the player does poorly or gets hurt.

  4. therealjohnc - Sep 18, 2015 at 3:35 PM

    Just a quick note about Mark Z’s comment on the Royals – that they are “not heading to October with momentum.” That is:

    Record going into the playoffs doesn’t matter. There has been no correlation demonstrated between September record and playoff success. None. My personal favorite is the 2000 NY Yankees, who managed to lose a 2015-Braves-like 15 of 18 games heading into the offseason … and won the World Series.

    September records are a ready made narrative, a post hoc ergo propter hoc waiting to happen. If the team is hot in September and loses, they “exhausted themselves” head into the playoffs. If the team is cold in September and loses they “couldn’t turn it on.” Etc.

    The important part is to get in; how is really irrelevant. Whether a team is hot; cold; rested; sprinting or anything else, the important part is to basically be healthy and make it there. After that, what happens happens.

  5. jd - Sep 18, 2015 at 3:40 PM

    ‘The Cardinals are on pace to win 102 wins this season without Adam Wainwright. I know that’s been said before, but it’s just amazing.’ and also Matt Adams, Matt Holliday and John Jay.

    I’m impressed.

  6. Section 222 - Sep 18, 2015 at 3:41 PM

    “a post hoc ergo propter hoc waiting to happen.” That’s good. I’m going to use it someday, and I apologize in advance if I don’t give you a h/t.

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