Power Rankings: Pre-deadline deals start shaking things up

Dodgers lead Week 16 Power Rankings (1:21)

David Ross' top five teams match ESPN.com's list, with the Dodgers at the top and the Diamondbacks in the sleeper spot at No. 5. (1:21)

While the Dodgers and Astros still rule the roost in the rankings, what a difference a few pre-deadline deals can make in this week's shake-up of the top 10. The Cubs swap for Jose Quintana, the starting pitcher they needed? Just like that, they're up two slots and picking up steam. The Yankees, looking to arrest their slide in the standings, get Todd Frazier to shore up their infield and David Robertson to reinforce their bullpen? Up two, as well. And the Brewers' slide since the All-Star break? Rewarded with a three-spot drop.

Will the deals to come in the next week or so shake up things even more? Well, that's the goal of every contender looking to reinforce its bid to reach October, isn't it?

That said, the biggest move made within the rankings this week was the Pirates' seven-slot climb up to No. 12 -- and they didn't need to swing a deal to get there. Inspired by Jameson Taillon's comeback from cancer, reinforced by Starling Marte's return from his PED suspension and enjoying the benefit of keeping Andrew McCutchen as he regained his place among the game's most dangerous hitters, they've put themselves back into the National League's playoff picture.

The single biggest drops came in the AL West, where the Rangers' five-spot stumble might reflect their struggle to decide whether to trade staff ace Yu Darvish, while the Angels slipped four slots.

This week's voters are Bradford Doolittle, Eric Karabell, Tim Kurkjian, David Schoenfield and Mark Simon.

Week 15 rankings | Week 14 | Week 13 | Week 12 | Week 11 | Week 10 | Week 9 | Week 8 | Week 7 | Week 6 | Week 5 | Week 4 | Week 3 | Week 2 | Week 1 | Preseason

1. Los Angeles Dodgers

Record: 68-31

Week 15 ranking: No. 1

After Clayton Kershaw's injury during Sunday's start, this might be a high-water mark of sorts. The Dodgers should be able to cruise to an NL West win no matter how much time their ace might miss, but will his absence force them to make a major move by the trade deadline to protect their chances of winning it all in October? -- Christina Kahrl, ESPN.com

2. Houston Astros

Record: 65-33
Week 15 ranking: No. 2

The Astros might be second in the rankings and in run differential to the Dodgers, but perhaps not for much longer. MLB's best offense has outscored the next-best teams by 40 runs, and now that the Astros have Collin McHugh and Charlie Morton back in the rotation, with ace Dallas Keuchel perhaps due back in a week, they might be able to start expanding that differential by preventing runs instead of just overwhelming opponents at the plate. -- Christina Kahrl, ESPN.com

3. Washington Nationals

Record: 59-38
Week 15 ranking: No. 3

Dusty Baker was intrigued when he was told that journeyman Edwin Jackson wanted to pitch specifically for him. In Jackson's first start for the Nats, he provided something impressive to his new manager, allowing two runs and three hits in seven efficient innings against the Angels. The fear factor would be that Jackson allowed two home runs and struck only out three. But given their big lead, the Nationals don't need Jackson to be great. Reasonably decent would suffice to help them get them to October. -- Mark Simon, ESPN Stats & Information

4. Boston Red Sox

Record: 55-45
Week 15 ranking: No. 4

According to Elias Sports Bureau, Chris Sale became just the fourth pitcher to reach 200 strikeouts in 20 or fewer starts, joining Hall of Famers Randy Johnson (three times), Pedro Martinez and Nolan Ryan. On top of that, Rick Porcello, Drew Pomeranz and David Price all have pitched much better lately, and Eduardo Rodríguez returned from the DL and should stabilize the fifth spot in the rotation. -- Michael Bonzagni, ESPN Stats & Information

5. Arizona Diamondbacks

Record: 56-42
Week 15 ranking: No. 5

General manager Mike Hazen got the outfield slugger his team needed in J.D. Martinez, so you can imagine the frustration in seeing him get a hand injury in his D-backs debut. Exploiting his availability can't come soon enough -- the Snakes face a tough schedule over the next three weeks, and they can't afford an extended slump if they want to keep the Cubs and Pirates at arm's length in the NL wild-card race. -- Christina Kahrl, ESPN.com

6. New York Yankees

Record: 51-46
Week 15 ranking: No. 8

Aaron Judge was the last remaining Home Run Derby participant without a home run in the second half, until Friday night. His 30-at-bats homer drought to start the second half was the longest by any derby participant since Prince Fielder in 2012 and the fifth-longest ever. He responded by homering in back-to-back road games for the first time all season. -- Sarah Langs, ESPN Stats & Information

7. Colorado Rockies

Record: 58-42
Week 15 ranking: No. 10

Just when you might have thought their 5-15 slump meant the Rockies might put one of the NL wild-card slots back in play, they snapped back behind Nolan Arenado, who homered five times in his past six games while their four rookies in the rotation rattled off five wins. With their 34 rookie wins, they're closing in on the expansion-era record of 43 (set by the Marlins in 2006). -- Christina Kahrl, ESPN.com

8. Cleveland Indians

Record: 51-45
Week 15 ranking: No. 6

Francisco Lindor's walk-off blast on Saturday might have captured the headlines, but the bigger deal was Danny Salazar's return to the rotation in that same game and throwing seven scoreless innings while allowing just one baserunner and whiffing eight with high-90s heat and high-80s changeups. If that's what the Tribe can expect down the stretch, they might finally gain some separation from the rest of the pack in the AL Central. -- Christina Kahrl, ESPN.com

9. Chicago Cubs

Record: 51-46
Week 15 ranking: 11

Jon Lester was rocked to the tune of 10 runs in the Cubs' final game prior to the All-Star break, but he has won both of his starts since (allowing just three runs in 15 IP) as his team mounts a second-half charge. Cubs fans also breathed a collective sigh of relief when Kris Bryant returned to the lineup after missing just two games with a sprained finger. -- Paul Hembekides, ESPN Stats & Information

10. Milwaukee Brewers

Record: 53-48
Week 15 ranking: No. 7

The Brewers had 100-1 odds to win the division to start the season, according to Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, but their division chances are looking lower than they have all season in light of how their second half began. They were up 5½ games at the All-Star break. They enter the new week with that lead officially blown. -- Sarah Langs, ESPN Stats & Information

11. Tampa Bay Rays

Record: 51-48
Week 15 ranking: No. 9

Manager Kevin Cash rolled the dice and paid the price when he sent Alex Cobb out for the ninth inning with a two-run lead Friday. Cobb allowed a game-tying home run, and the Rays ended up losing 4-3. Nonetheless, Cobb has been great lately, with a 2.35 ERA in his past eight starts. A complete game would have been a nice accomplishment; the Rays have only two in the past three seasons. -- Mark Simon, ESPN Stats & Information

12. Pittsburgh Pirates

Record: 49-50
Week 15 ranking: No. 19

The Pirates were 28-35 when Jameson Taillon returned from testicular cancer surgery on June 12. Taillon is 4-2 with a 2.87 ERA in seven starts since, and the Pirates seem to have been buoyed by his presence, climbing right back into the NL Central race. Most notable for Taillon and most necessary for his future success is limiting the long ball. He has allowed only one home run in those seven starts. -- Mark Simon, ESPN Stats & Information

13. St. Louis Cardinals

Record: 47-51
Week 15 ranking: No. 13

Shortstop Paul DeJong has been quite a find this season. He became the second Cardinals player to hit 10 home runs in his first 40 career games. The other is Albert Pujols. But you have to be a little wary with DeJong's numbers. He has struck out 55 times and walked only four times in his first 45 games. That will have to change for DeJong to be a long-term solution wherever they play him. -- Mark Simon, ESPN Stats & Information

14. Kansas City Royals

Record: 50-47
Week 15 ranking: No. 14

The Royals are creeping closer to the Indians in the AL Central, but they're also in the thick of the AL wild-card race. K.C. has proved it can get hot and go on a run -- only the Astros have a better record in the AL since June 1. Will GM Dayton Moore add offensive help at the deadline? Royals DHs are 12th in the league in wOBA, and their left fielders rank last. -- Michael Bonzagni, ESPN Stats & Information

15. Seattle Mariners

Record: 49-51
Week 15 ranking: No. 16

Just 2.5 games out in the wild-card race, GM Jerry Dipoto faces a tough question at the deadline: Should he double down on last winter's win-now design to shore up the Mariners' shot at winning a postseason series if they get there? Felix Hernandez and James Paxton have given them a solid one-two punch (combining for 10 quality starts in their past 12 turns), but the rest of the rotation is a mess and they could use an upgrade at first base. -- Christina Kahrl, ESPN.com

16. Minnesota Twins

Record: 49-48
Week 15 ranking: No. 15

Earlier in the week, the Twins were rumored to be upgrading their starting pitching via trade. That isn't a bad idea, because they have a 4.92 starters ERA, which ranks 24th in the majors. Only one potential playoff team is even close to them in starters ERA -- the Rockies, at 4.75, but they play half of their games at Coors Field. -- Sarah Langs, ESPN Stats & Information

17. Texas Rangers

Record: 48-50
Week 15 ranking: No. 12

Take Rougned Odor as a symbol for what's wrong with the Rangers -- his .715 OPS at home looks just good enough to play, but away from Globe Life's friendly fences, he's at .606. The lineup is full of poor-contact, low-OBP, park-inflated players like Odor, producing the next-to-worst OPS on the road in MLB despite ranking fifth in home run rate. Eking out a sweep of the Rays with a trio of one-run wins might keep the Yu Darvish trade rumors in "maybe" territory for now, but their lineup's problems should force consideration for a more significant overhaul. -- Christina Kahrl, ESPN.com

18. Atlanta Braves

Record: 47-50
Week 15 ranking: No. 18

The Braves might have to settle for cresting somewhere around .500 this season, but that's significant progress from last year's 93-loss campaign. Freddie Freeman is a stud and adapting well to playing third and first base, Ender Inciarte is having a great year and Julio Teheran has pitched well over the past month. Their big question is whether they deal a veteran starting pitcher at the deadline. -- Michael Bonzagni, ESPN Stats & Information

19. Baltimore Orioles

Record: 47-51
Week 15 ranking: No. 21

The Orioles scored 10 runs in back-to-back games this past week and seven-plus runs in four straight games. Offense isn't quite the issue, but starting pitching remains a problem -- the rotation has put up a 5.98 ERA. Since earned runs became official in the American League in 1913, the franchise has had a starters ERA above this year's mark just three times -- in 1936, 1937 and 1939, all as the St. Louis Browns. -- Sarah Langs, ESPN Stats & Information

20. Detroit Tigers

Record: 45-52
Week 15 ranking: No. 22

The Tigers' fire sale began on July 18 when they traded outfielder J.D. Martinez to the Diamondbacks for three infield prospects. Several other Tigers hitters are hot and could net some talent for their depleted farm system, which Keith Law had ranked 24th entering the season. GM Al Avila could go a long way in improving that during the next week to begin rebuilding in earnest. -- Michael Bonzagni, ESPN Stats & Information

21. Los Angeles Angels

Record: 49-51
Week 15 ranking: No. 17

Though just 2.5 games out of the second AL wild card, many expect the Angels to be sellers at the trade deadline. Veterans David Hernandez, Bud Norris and Yunel Escobar could all find themselves headed out of town with the purpose of restocking the fourth-worst farm system in baseball (according to Keith Law's organizational rankings). -- Paul Hembekides, ESPN Stats & Information

22. New York Mets

Record: 45-51
Week 15 ranking: No. 23

Yoenis Cespedes' injuries earlier this season seem to have had a long-term impact, even though Cespedes seems to be back to full speed, running-wise. Cespedes hasn't homered since June 23 and has just two extra-base hits in his past 81 at-bats. As the Mets look ahead to 2018, they need to figure out how to keep him healthy. They need Cespedes in the lineup producing at the level a $29 million player should be at. -- Mark Simon, ESPN Stats & Information

23. Toronto Blue Jays

Record: 44-54
Week 15 ranking: No. 20

Last week, the high-A Dunedin Blue Jays posted a photo of three members of their team -- Cavan Biggio, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette -- with the caption "Biggio, Guerrero, Bichette: The Sequel." The 44-54 Blue Jays might not have a ton to be thrilled about this season, but there are clearly better days on the horizon. -- Sarah Langs, ESPN Stats & Information

24. Miami Marlins

Record: 44-52
Week 15 ranking: No. 24

Giancarlo Stanton has not been the same hitter against inside pitches from right-handed pitchers since getting hit in the face against the Brewers in September 2014. But he has compensated for his weaknesses by honing his strengths; he's dominating right-handed pitchers in every other area. As such, he should finish well beyond his career-high home run total of 37 by season's end. -- Mark Simon, ESPN Stats & Information

25. Oakland Athletics

Record: 44-54
Week 15 ranking: No. 27

Last week's deal with the Nationals that sent Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle to D.C. should be only a prelude to the biggest task left for the A's this season: trading Sonny Gray (4-1 with a 1.62 and five quality starts in his past five turns), first baseman Yonder Alonso and infielder Jed Lowrie for the best prospects available. -- Christina Kahrl, ESPN.com

26. Chicago White Sox

Record: 38-57
Week 15 ranking: No. 25

GM Rick Hahn pulled off another doozy of a deal, shipping Todd Frazier and David Robertson to the Yankees for a package including 2016 first-round pick Blake Rutherford. With their farm system now packed to the gills, the Sox have dumped enough big league salary to be active in the market in time for the big free-agent classes in 2018 and 2019. -- Paul Hembekides, ESPN Stats & Information

27. Cincinnati Reds

Record: 41-57
Week 15 ranking: No. 26

With the idea of contending for this season long gone, the Reds have received trade interest in Raisel Iglesias, their 27-year-old reliever. Iglesias is owed just $16.6 million over the next three seasons, a relative bargain considering he has become one of MLB's most dominant late-game bullpen pieces, posting a 1.93 ERA in 102⅓ career innings in relief. -- Paul Hembekides, ESPN Stats & Information

28. San Diego Padres

Record: 43-55
Week 15 ranking: No. 29

The Padres are hovering around .500 in July and looking for their first winning month of the season. Wil Myers, Hector Sanchez and Cory Spangenberg have been showing some power lately, and Jhoulys Chacin has pitched well this month. They should still trade everything not nailed down at the deadline, but the Padres aren't the embarrassment some people expected before the season. -- Michael Bonzagni, ESPN Stats & Information

29. San Francisco Giants

Record: 38-62
Week 15 ranking: No. 28

Pablo Sandoval is back ... at least in the Giants organization, on a minor league deal. He never really found his stroke in Boston. In his Red Sox career, he hit .237 with a .646 OPS and 14 homers in 161 games and accumulated minus-2.0 WAR. In his much more lengthy Giants career? A .294 average, .811 OPS, 106 HRs in 869 games with 20.8 WAR. -- Sarah Langs, ESPN Stats & Information

30. Philadelphia Phillies

Record: 34-62
Week 15 ranking: No. 30

Phillies fans should be excited about their team's crop of pitchers on the way up from the minors, but Aaron Nola has quietly been carving up hitters in the big leagues for the past month. Only Clayton Kershaw owns a better ERA in the National League than Nola (1.70) since June 22. -- Paul Hembekides, ESPN Stats & Information