MLB Power Rankings: The American League is strong, but don't sleep on the crowded list of contenders in the National League

Last week, we looked at the great divide between the good and bad teams in the American League, where it looks pretty clear that there are established powers who aren't going anywhere (Yankees, Red Sox, Astros and Indians -- the latter of whom is finally hitting its stride). At press time there were four teams on pace to win over 100 games while no league in history has ever produced more than two 100-win teams. As things stand, no team outside playoff position is within six games of a playoff spot. 

Over in the NL, it's the opposite. No team is on pace to win 100. There are only four teams legitimately not in contention with the Pirates (seven games back of the second wild-card spot) in limbo. 

The top teams in the American League are clearly the best teams in baseball, but the NL representative could still very much win the World Series. Remember the 83-win Cardinals in 2006? How about the Wild Card Cardinals in 2011 or Wild Card Giants in 2014? Just get there, baby. 

Who could do it from this year's NL? 

The Brewers have the best record and have some of those wins that make you get that "feeling." You know, like Jesus Aguilar's two-homer game and walk-off win on Friday night. The offense is still inconsistent and the rotation doesn't feel sturdy enough to last in first place all season, but the bullpen has been outstanding and they just keep winning. They could well win it all, sure. 

The Cubs are weathering injuries to their pitching staff along with an inconsistent offense, but there's no doubt there's enough talent here to win it all. Anyone who says otherwise isn't paying attention.

The Nationals haven't really hit their stride all season, but remain right in the mix. The offense should be much better and it probably will be eventually. Starting a rotation in the playoffs with Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg is a big plus and now there's Kelvin Herrera at the back-end of the bullpen with Sean Doolittle

The Braves have a fun offense capable of a crooked number any given inning and several relievers who have been excellent. In a playoff series right now. Sean Newcomb and Mike Foltynewicz at the top of the rotation could hold any opposing offense in check. We just can't rule out a deep run. 

The Phillies, by the same token, can run out Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta to start a playoff rotation. They need to settle in with a good bullpen mix and the offense could stand to be more consistent, but they have pieces capable of getting hot at the right time. 

The Diamondbacks have a very good pitching staff and Paul Goldschmidt is back to his old self. They'll get back A.J. Pollock, too, and don't rule out a big bat addition like last season. They also have a few bats (Jake Lamb, anyone) who should heat up. I could definitely see them in late October. 

The Dodgers are the defending NL champs and though they won't get Corey Seager back, most other pieces from last year remain. Also, since that awful 16-26 start, the Dodgers have the best record in baseball at 25-9. It would be foolish to think they can't make another run. 

It's not out of the question that the Cardinals, Rockies or Giants could pull it off, either. That's 10 of the 15 teams and we're almost to July. That's fun! 

Watching elite teams is fun. Watching a mess of a league beat itself up is pretty damn fun, too. It's not a mutually exclusive issue. Fun knows very few bounds in this, our baseball. 

Biggest Movers
7 Indians
9 Tigers
Rk
Teams
 
Chg
Rcrd
1 Astros Jose Altuve is hitting .345 and we're barely even batting an eye because we're so used to it. He's spoiled us. --35-18
2 Red Sox They've actually only won four of their last nine games, but it doesn't even really matter. 127-25
3 Yankees They looked like they'd never lose a game again and then got swept by the Rays. Hello, baseball, you beautifully fickle beast. 134-17
4 Indians Just like that, the Indians have the biggest divisional lead in baseball. It was only a matter of time. 726-25
5 Diamondbacks Patrick Corbin had a 6.46 ERA in his previous four starts but then went out and threw one of the best pitched games of the season on Friday in Pittsburgh. Baseball, man. Ebbs and flows! 427-25
6 Brewers *Ah Jesus, I like him very much.* --29-24
7 Mariners Rough week, but they were playing elite teams. Don't give up on 'em just yet! 323-31
8 Cubs Unacceptable to lose four in a row to the Reds, but funks do happen over the course of 162. 330-20
9 Dodgers The most home runs Enrique Hernandez has ever hit in a season was 13 in 2013 in Double-A. He already has 12 in just 205 plate appearances this season. 134-18
10 Phillies Rhys Hoskins has been on fire this month, one he entered hitting just .233/.363/.415. Good sign for the Phils. 331-21
11 Braves Series loss to the Orioles is pretty unacceptable, but ebbs and flows over 162, man. 429-24
12 Nationals Juan Soto homering in a game that technically took place before he made his MLB debut is one of the most awesome quirky stories in years. 221-31
13 Cardinals Nearly 36-year-old Yadier Molina had two two-homer games last week. 126-25
14 Angels I'm totally here for the late-arriving-but-still-worth-it Tyler Skaggs breakout season. 223-28
15 Athletics Probably not a good sign when my AL Sneaky Sleeper needs Edwin Jackson for a start. 127-25
16 Giants Madison Bumgarner had a 4.67 ERA through his first three starts, but went eight scoreless innings last time out. If he's fixed, that's obviously a big boost in our wide open NL playoff race. 121-30
17 Rockies They've started to win some games in Coors Field, though those recent ones came against the Mets and Marlins. Not sure those count. I'll have check and get back to you. 123-27
18 Rays The Rays have had an eight-game winning streak along with a six-gamer and five-gamer. They are still below .500, too. Weird baseball is weird, man. 430-19
19 Twins Jose Berrios in his last four starts: 28 1/3 IP, 21 H, 4 ER, 6 BB, 35 K. Not too shabby. 135-16
20 Pirates Here's how long baseball seasons are. The Pirates were in first place for 17 straight days in April. Does anyone even remember this? And it's not even July yet. 125-24
21 Blue Jays Gotta keep the streak going here, so please trade Curtis Granderson to a blue team, front office. 220-32
22 Reds Since May 7, the Reds are 24-18. This is who I figured them to be heading into the season when I thought they'd flirt with .500. (I'll actually admit to having them finishing above the Brewers in my preseason predictions. The lesson, as always, is that I'm an idiot). 623-28
23 Rangers Before Sunday's loss, the Rangers had followed a seven-game winning streak with a seven-game losing streak. (You know what's coming, right?). Baseball, man. 225-24
24 Tigers The Tigers climbed to within one game of .500 and 2 1/2 games of first place and were never heard from again. 919-30
25 Padres Interesting spot here with the Padres and elite closer Brad Hand. They could probably get a very good return, but he's under team control through 2020 and they are expecting to turn it around before then. Also, relievers are volatile and sometimes fall apart without warning. Tough choice. Stay tuned. 428-24
26 Marlins You know who is having a heck of a year that nearly no one is noticing? Derek Dietrich. 216-33
27 Mets Since May 21, the Mets are 7-25. Hint: That's not very good. 125-26
28 White Sox There's been a lot of bad this season with Yoan Moncada, but he also flashes brilliance on occasion, like his six-RBI game on Sunday. The future is bright. 123-28
29 Orioles Remember when Chris Davis was good? 116-36
30 Royals Feeling pretty good about my under 71.5 wins bet right now. 117-34
CBS Sports Writer

Matt Snyder has been a baseball writer with CBS Sports since 2011. A member of the BBWAA, he's now covered every World Series since 2010. The former Indiana University baseball player now lives on the... Full Bio

Our Latest Stories