The dog days of August are finally behind us, and with them are the playoff hopes of many teams. Now, only 11 or 12 teams can say they still have realistic playoff hopes, while everyone else just gets ready for next year.
Records are as of the games played on August 31st.
SLR = team’s record Since Last Rankings | Prev = Previous Ranking (April/May/June/July)
1) New York Yankees (82-50 | 16-13 SLR | Prev: 3/3/1/1)
They’ve been deadlocked with Tampa Bay for awhile atop the AL East. Of course, the team that doesn’t win the division pretty much has the Wild Card locked up too, so no problems there. The Yankees have also played well despite not having Alex Rodriguez in their lineup, which is probably more telling than at first glance.
2) Tampa Bay Rays (81-51 | 17-12 SLR | Prev: 1/1/7/2)
A point was made the other day during a home game against Toronto that nobody attends their games, with only 11000+ attending the aforementioned Toronto game. Its a shame, really, but between the Rays and Marlins perhaps baseball in Florida is best left for March.
3) Cincinnati Reds (77-55 | 19-8 SLR | Prev: 18/7/8/10)
After getting swept by the Cardinals the Reds have been Red hot, having the best record in August and gaining a stranglehold on the NL Central.
4) Atlanta Braves (77-55 | 18-11 SLR | Prev: 19/6/5/7)
Omar Infante has been an excellent utility player this year, now getting full time in the wake of Chipper Jones’ season-ending injury. If he gets enough at bats, he’s likely to win the NL batting title.
5) Minnesota Twins (76-56 | 18-10 SLR | Prev: 4/2/12/8)
The Twins have taken and compiled a decent lead in the AL Central despite Justin Morneau having been out for nearly two months now. Everything’s been working well for them, from timely hits to strong pitching and defense. The bullpen has been boosted further with the addition of Fuentes from the Angels.
6) San Diego Padres (76-55 | 14-13 SLR | Prev: 6/4/4/3)
The Padres are in the midst of a six game losing streak. With San Francisco once again hot on their trails, the Padres can ill afford to fall back to earth.
7) Philadelphia Phillies (74-58 | 18-10 SLR | Prev: 5/12/14/12)
The Phillies are finally getting healthy and if they can’t snatch the division away from Atlanta they should do well enough to grab the Wild Card though the Giants are still right with them in that race.
8) Texas Rangers (74-58 | 13-15 SLR | Prev: 10/15/2/4)
Cliff Lee has not pitched as well in Texas as he had in Philadelphia and Seattle. With Texas having the division pretty much locked up, focus should be made in getting Lee ready for their playoff run.
9) San Francisco Giants (73-60 | 13-15 SLR | Prev: 7/14/17/5)
The Giants keep adding pieces to try and spark a lacking offense. Their top three starting pitchers will need to pitch as well as they are capable of for the Giants to reach the playoffs.
10) Boston Red Sox (74-58 | 15-13 SLR | Prev: 23/9/3/11)
The Red Sox may be the best team to miss the playoffs aside from possible the team in the NL that misses the Wild Card. Being third in a division where the two ahead of you often share baseball’s best record is tough. Trying to catch either one with an injury-depleted roster makes things only tougher. Just a tough luck year for Boston.
11) Chicago White Sox (72-60 | 14-15 SLR | Prev: 27/22/15/6)
The White Sox, not content with fading away in September, have picked up Manny Ramirez from a Dodger team that had gotten tired of him. Having his services just for September, can Chicago really catch up with a sound Minnesota team? Its not very likely.
12) Colorado Rockies (69-62 | 15-12 SLR | Prev: 15/13/16/14)
All year I’ve been saying the Rockies are about to make their move. Well, with only being 4 back in the Wild Card race the Rockies better make their move now.
13) Toronto Blue Jays (69-63 | 15-13 SLR | Prev: 12/5/18/14)
Jose Bautista has the home run title secured this year, though there’s that feeling that he may be unable to replicate this feat next year in years after that. Their young pitching has come along nicely as well, though they are also being cautious in preparation for next season.
14) St. Louis Cardinals (69-61 | 11-15 SLR | Prev: 2/10/10/9)
Sweeping the Reds to take the NL Central lead were the high point for the Cardinals. Since then, they’ve gone 5-12 and fallen to 7 games behind Cincinnati. Their offense is struggling mightily.
15) Los Angeles Dodgers (68-65 | 14-15 SLR | Prev: 20/8/9/16)
In the likely event they miss the playoffs, it will be the first time a Joe Torre managed team failed to reach the playoffs since his final year with the Cardinals in 1995, which was strike-shortened. That’s 14 straight playoff appearances whose streak will be snapped this season.
16) Florida Marlins (66-65 | 13-14 SLR | Prev: 11/18/20/15)
Dan Uggla has had a strong year, and Josh Johnson is perhaps the least known Cy Young candidate, which actually really hurts his chances.
17) Oakland Athletics (65-66 | 13-15 SLR | Prev: 16/11/19/17)
Oakland’s offense, not surprisingly, is near the bottom of the league in home runs and run production. Their pitching has been a bright spot and will be their strength going into next season.
18) Detroit Tigers (65-67 | 13-16 SLR | Prev: 8/16/13/19)
What’s the point in getting ready for 2011 is there’s no guarentee they won’t choke away the second half of that season too?
19) New York Mets (65-67 | 12-16 SLR | Prev: 9/17/6/18)
The Mets have had their share of problems, one of which has been their inability to hit in the clutch. A healthy Carlos Beltran and Jason Bay next season should help with that, but this year is sunk for the Mets.
20) Houston Astros (61-71 | 17-12 SLR | Prev: 30/29/26/24)
The Astros continue to improve month after month. If they get really hot they could break even at .500 while playing spoiler for many NL playoff contenders. Nobody wants to play Houston right now.
21) Los Angeles Angels (64-69 | 11-16 SLR | Prev: 17/20/11/20)
The Angels are going through the motions right now, as they aren’t going to make the playoffs. Such an instance has been rare for the team under Mike Scioscia, who will probably be back in contention next season.
22) Milwaukee Brewers (62-70 | 14-13 SLR | Prev: 24/23/21/21)
This may be the last year Prince Fielder is a Milwaukee Brewer. His departure would cap a continual decline of talent for Milwaukee the past couple of years, though that’s not to say they’d be heading into 2011 with little or no talent.
23) Washington Nationals (57-76 | 11-18 SLR | Prev: 13/29/24/23)
OH NO STEPHEN STRASBURG IS… really hurt. Tommy John surgery means he’ll be gone for a full calender year and he won’t be making another significant impact until 2012 most likely.
24) Arizona Diamondbacks (54-79 | 16-13 SLR | Prev: 22/27/27/27)
The Diamondbacks actually posted a winning record in the month despite having practically no pitching left. The D-backs do not hit for average at all and were pretty hot at the plate power-wise this month.
25) Kansas City Royals (56-76 | 12-16 SLR | Prev: 26/24/23/26)
If its any consolation for the Royals, they could avoid last in the division for the 2nd time in three years. With Gil Meche basically done, the Royals should focus on bringing in someone behind Zach Grienke should they wish to compete for the division next year.
26) Chicago Cubs (56-77 | 10-19 SLR | Prev: 14/21/22/22)
With Lou Pinella’s sudden instant retirement due to his ailing family, along with Derrek Lee getting traded to Atlanta, the Cubs are left to just sit around and rot for this final month.
27) Baltimore Orioles (49-83 | 17-11 SLR | Prev: 28/30/30/30)
The Orioles under Showalter were on fire for quite some time, and were able to finish six games over .500 for the month. If Showalter is finally making the most out of the talent that has been there in Baltimore, they should be a team to look out for next year. Should be.
28) Cleveland Indians (53-79 | 10-18 SLR | Prev: 25/28/28/25)
The talent Cleveland received for their various top players have not panned out thus far. Indeed, trading for the future was not the best plan if Cleveland intended to be competitive, which at this point I’m not entirely sure of.
29) Seattle Mariners (52-80 | 13-14 SLR | Prev: 21/26/25/28)
Seattle will look for new direction following the firing of Don Wakamatsu. With Felix Hernandez perhaps their best player, focus should be on building around him. Of course, they tried that last offseason and that didn’t work at all.
30) Pittsburgh Pirates (44-88 | 8-21 SLR | Prev: 29/25/29/29)
It was found out that the Pirates had been acquiring quite the profit despite such rampant losing. With the Pirates having the worst record in August, hearing such news probably does not please the few fans that have not since shifted focus to the Steelers and even the Penguins.