This week's MLB power rankings are sure to ruffle some feathers on the West Coast.
If only it were the St. Louis Cardinals, Baltimore Orioles or Toronto Blue Jays moving into the No. 1 spot, that would have been quite the pun.
Instead, it's the surging Cleveland Indians who have finally unseated the Los Angeles Dodgers after months in the top spot.
Whether it's a case of a 92-win team on autopilot, injuries to its two best players in Clayton Kershaw and Corey Seager or just the inevitable bump in the road, they simply haven't looked like baseball's best team of late.
Aside from the shuffling at the top, last week also gave us some exciting news on the trade front as Justin Verlander (Astros) and Justin Upton (Angels) changed teams ahead of the waiver deadline.
For now, just remember these rankings are fluid and teams rise and fall based on where they were ranked the previous week. If a team keeps winning, it will keep climbing—it's as simple as that.
Here's a look at where all 30 teams stand:
There's a new sheriff in town, and it's the red-hot Cleveland Indians.
They enter the week riding an 11-game winning streak amid a stellar 20-4 stretch of games overall, and that's enough for us to finally have a new No. 1 team in these rankings.
The Tribe boast a staggering plus-84 run differential during that 24-game span, and they've built a comfortable nine-game lead in the AL Central standings in the process.
Corey Kluber took home Pitcher of the Month honors for August after going 5-1 with a 1.96 ERA, 0.63 WHIP and 54 strikeouts in 46 innings.
Not to be outdone, it was a busy week for the Houston Astros as well.
They swept the Mets over the weekend and still hold a commanding 13.5-game lead in the AL West, but the bigger story came off the field as Justin Verlander was acquired in a blockbuster deal with the Detroit Tigers.
That came after several players on the roster were none too happy about the team's quiet July.
"I mean, I'm not going to lie, disappointment is a little bit of an understatement," ace Dallas Keuchel told reporters after the deadline came and went without a major addition. "I feel like a bunch of teams really bolstered their rosters for the long haul and for a huge playoff push, and us just kind of staying pat was really disappointing to myself."
Beyond those two teams, the entire American League is a crapshoot.
The Boston Red Sox had a chance to cement their place atop the AL East standings, but instead they dropped three of four to the rival New York Yankees over the weekend, and their division lead was trimmed to 3.5 games in the process.
That leaves the Yankees with a two-game lead for the No. 1 wild-card spot and a 3.5-game cushion for a playoff berth in general, but there are a number of teams still in the hunt.
The Minnesota Twins hold a 1.5-game lead over the Los Angeles Angels and Baltimore Orioles, who both improved their stock last week.
The Angels made a splash ahead of the waiver deadline as they added Justin Upton and Brandon Phillips to bolster the offense, while the Orioles swept another wild-card hopeful in the Seattle Mariners—who are now 2.5 games back.
Falling under the "not dead yet" category we have the Texas Rangers, who breathed some life into their playoff hopes with series wins over the Astros and Angels last week to pull within three games in the standings.
The Kansas City Royals (3.5 games back) and Tampa Bay Rays (four games back) spun their tires with 3-3 showings last week as they remain on the periphery.
National League Playoff Picture
It would have been easy to just leave the Los Angeles Dodgers in the No. 1 spot in these rankings for another week and call it a day.
After all, they still have nine more wins than any other team and an insurmountable 13.5-game lead in the NL West standings.
However, with Clayton Kershaw and Corey Seager both sidelined and little of significance to play for over the final month, they don't look like baseball's best team right now.
After a 1-6 performance last week that included their first series sweep of the season at the hands of the Arizona Diamondbacks, they've now gone 1-8 with a minus-21 run differential in their last nine games.
Speaking of the D-backs, they followed up that sweep of the Dodgers by doing the same to a potential NL Wild Card Game opponent—the Colorado Rockies.
If we could play the arbitrary starting point game for a moment, Arizona has gone 12-1 in their last 13 games and Colorado is 4-9 during that same span. That recent performance is pretty clearly reflected in their current ranking.
The Washington Nationals have the NL East in the bag with the largest division lead in baseball at 15 games over a Miami Marlins team that was our biggest faller this week. They surged to No. 12 in the rankings a week ago amid a hot streak, but series losses to the Nationals and the last-place Philadelphia Phillies sent them tumbling back down.
So with the East and West division titles locked up, it will be the NL Central and the wild-card picture that's worth watching over the final month.
The Chicago Cubs have taken care of business against some lesser opponents of late with a 12-4 record in series against the Blue Jays, Reds, Phillies, Pirates and Braves.
However, that recent run of success is still only good enough for a 3.5-game lead in the standings over a Milwaukee Brewers team that simply won't go away.
A six-game losing streak in early August looked like the beginning of the end for the Brew Crew. Since then, they've gone 13-6 in their last 19 games to pull within a mere half-game of the Rockies for the No. 2 wild-card slot.
The St. Louis Cardinals (three games back) and Marlins (five games back) are both still within spitting distance of a wild-card spot themselves, though time is working against them at this point.
MVPs of the Week
AL MVP: 3B Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Indians
Stats: 14-for-26, 6 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 6 RBI, 7 R
The Indians are baseball's hottest team and Jose Ramirez might be baseball's hottest hitter.
The 24-year-old saw his bat go ice cold during a 21-game stretch from Aug. 3 to Aug. 26 as he hit .160/.218/.247 and went homerless in 87 plate appearances.
He finally snapped out of it with a multi-hit game on Aug. 27, and he's now hitting .533/.548/1.233 with 12 extra-base hits in 31 plate appearances over his last seven games.
"I said he'll be fine, I told you he was a good hitter," manager Terry Francona told reporters. "And that's what good hitters do, they get to their level. Sometimes they do it in kind of unique ways or weird ways, but he's just a really good hitter."
When things are going right at the plate, luck is often on your side, as we saw during his two-homer performance on Sunday.
A tip of the cap is also due to Baltimore Orioles starter Dylan Bundy.
He turned in the best start of his career on Friday (9.0 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 12 K) to wrap up an August that saw him go 4-0 with a 2.00 ERA and 45 strikeouts in 36 innings.
NL MVP: SP Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals
Stats: 1 GS, W, 9.0 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 8 K; 2-for-4, HR
For all the attention heaped on Max Scherzer over the first few months of the season, Stephen Strasburg has begun to put together a compelling NL Cy Young case of his own.
The 29-year-old tossed his second career shutout against the Miami Marlins last week and also homered for the second time this season.
He's now 11-4 with a 2.90 ERA (fourth in NL), 1.07 WHIP (third in NL), 164 strikeouts (ninth in NL) and 10.4 strikeouts per nine innings (fourth in NL).
"He's scary," teammate Jayson Werth—who faced him in a simulated game last month—told reporters. "He's big. He hides the ball. It's explosive in the zone. Especially to a right-handed hitter—he ran one in on me, and I said, 'Oh, [expletive].' I don't know if I can even pick that up every time."
He added: "He's just a big, hairy, scary, furry animal out there."
The one-two punch of Scherzer and Strasburg should give the Nationals as good a chance as anyone of knocking off what will be a heavily favored Dodgers team come October.
Stats of the Week
Let's dive into some of the better nuggets from around the league.
We'll start with a Diamondbacks team that has gone from 93 losses a year ago to looking like one of baseball's best teams here in 2017.
What's been the key to that rapid turnaround? Starting pitching.
With four weeks to go, the Diamondbacks have a 3.53 starters' ERA this year, good for third in the majors. They ranked 29th in the majors and last in the NL with a 5.19 starters' ERA a year ago.
The Cubs, on the other hand, have relied far more heavily on their offensive firepower this season after boasting the best ERA in the majors a year ago.
With his 20th home run of the season on Wednesday, rookie Ian Happ became the sixth Cubs player to reach the 20-homer mark—a franchise record.
He joins Anthony Rizzo (31), Kris Bryant (25), Kyle Schwarber (24), Javier Baez (21) and Willson Contreras (21).
That over-the-fence power helped the Cubs to a MLB-leading 191 runs during the month of August, the most they've scored in August since 1930 (216 runs).
We already touched on what a huge week Jose Ramirez had for the Indians, and here's one more impressive note from his big day on Sunday.
The last Indians player with five extra-base hits in a game: Kelly Shoppach in 2008.
Surprising side note: Shoppach had an .865 OPS with 21 home runs and a 3.4 WAR that season.
And with that, we've reached both our Kelly Shoppach reference quota for the year and the end of this week's interesting stats.
Have a good Monday, everyone.
Must-See Upcoming Matchup
Justin Verlander's Houston Debut vs. Seattle Mariners (Tuesday)
The Astros have been circling the starting pitching market dating back to the winter meetings, and they finally pulled the trigger last week with the addition of Justin Verlander.
The 34-year-old didn't come cheap.
The Astros sent top-100 pitching prospect Franklin Perez, rising catching prospect Jake Rogers and high-ceiling outfielder Daz Cameron to Detroit in the deal, while also taking on $40 million of the $56 million left on his contract and including a player to be named later.
What are the Astros getting in return?
Verlander hasn't quite matched his Cy Young-caliber performance from a year ago, but he's been lights out of late, going 5-1 with a 2.32 ERA, 0.89 WHIP and 73 strikeouts in 62 innings while tallying eight quality starts in his last nine games.
He'll make his Astros debut Tuesday against Ariel Miranda and the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field.
It'll be the story of the day and perhaps the week in baseball as the Astros look to wrestle the title of AL favorites back from the streaking Indians.
All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted and accurate through Sunday.
Looking for someone to yell at about where your favorite team was slotted in the latest rankings? I'll meet you in the comments section.
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