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MLB Power Rankings: Buckle up folks -- it's gonna be a wild NL playoff chase

by | Baseball Writer
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We talked mostly AL last week, so let's take a closer look at the NL this week.

It feels like a long time since a league felt so wide open in the first week of August. If any of the following made the World Series, I wouldn't be surprised: Dodgers, Nationals, Brewers, Cardinals, Giants, Pirates (really!).

It's hard to see it happening, but would it be crazy to see the Braves or Reds in the World Series? I don't think so.

Of course, some of these teams -- yes, possibly even the Dodgers -- will miss the playoffs. We've seen enough ups and downs from everyone that not too much would surprise me over the final seven-plus weeks.

And can we definitely count out the Marlins for a wild-card spot (5½ back)? The Mets would be pretty surprising, but at seven games back, they aren't 100 percent out of it.

I feel pretty confident in saying that the Dodgers, Nationals, Brewers and Cardinals are the top four teams while the Giants, Pirates, Braves and Reds have enough talent for a run.

Of course, there are cases against each team ...

The Dodgers seem like the best team, but they were only 31-30 through their first 61 games. They also can be inconsistent and start a grueling road trip Wednesday (2 @ LAA, 3 @ MIL, 4 @ ATL).

The Nationals also battle inconsistency. After an extended stretch of good play, they've lost seven of 11, including four losses to the Marlins and Phillies.

The Brewers lost 11 of 12 less than a month ago. Any team capable of that once can do it again.

The Cardinals' offense does not produce consistently. The Padres are the only MLB team to score fewer runs.

The Giants have gone 19-31 since June 8. That alone is an indictment.

The Pirates don't have a very good rotation and now might be without Andrew McCutchen for a little bit.

The Braves have lost seven straight. They are 0-4 against teams with winning records since June 22.

The Reds are without two middle-of-the-order All-Stars until late August. Say what you will about Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips -- two polarizing players -- but that is a crushing blow to the lineup.

Everyone is flawed on some level. Only four teams make the divisional series round (and let's face it, the wild-card game is like the NCAA basketball tournament play-in round, where it's technically the playoffs but still doesn't really feel like the playoffs) and there are at least eight worthy contenders -- maybe as many as 10, if we stretch it pretty thin.

Talk about a fun pennant race.

Please feel free to contact me with comments on Twitter (@MattSnyderCBS) or via email: matt.snyder@cbs.com. You aren't required to be rude and condescending, but it's the preferred path.

The Dodgers are one of six or more NL teams that could realistically reach the World Series. (USATSI)
The Dodgers are one of six or more NL teams that could realistically reach the World Series. (USATSI)

RANK TEAM MOVE (LW)
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