Giants in precarious spot in NL wild card race

MLB Power Rankings: Latest slide has Giants in precarious spot appeared first on NBC Sports Bayarea

SAN FRANCISCO — The extended postseason was supposed to give hope to a lot more fans every September. In Year 1 of the new format, it is unclear whether this will end up being the case.

The Giants would be dead in the water in the old format, but technically they’re still alive — 0.8 percent playoff chance! — as they return home. However, it’s hard to find many, if any, Giants fans excited to watch the team in September. San Diego Padres and Milwaukee Brewers fans are equally disgusted with how their teams have played since the deadline, but both will spend September pushing for that last wild card spot.

In the American League, the picture is a little more entertaining. The Seattle Mariners, Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles are currently battling for three spots, with the Minnesota Twins, Chicago White Sox and Boston Red Sox on the sidelines. You won’t find many White Sox or Red Sox fans who believe their teams should still have hope.

The new format seems to have kept mediocre teams at bay longer than ever, which isn’t very exciting. Will any of them go on a run and catch lightning in a bottle in September? We’ll find out next month. For now, here’s our latest ranking of all 30:

30. Nationals (43-85): The main problem with their rebuild so far is that they are still waiting for the new guys to look like future stars. Josiah Gray and Keibert Ruiz, acquired last year for Max Scherzer and Trea Turner, have struggled this season, and CJ Abrams — a big piece in the Juan Soto deal — is batting .156 for his new team.

29. Pirates (48-79): Oneil Cruz had a strange rookie season. He throws harder than any player in baseball and recently hit a single at 122.4 mph, setting a Statcast record. The tools are truly MVP level. But he’s also hitting just .199.

28. A’ (48-81): Does anyone in baseball have a higher approval rating than Stephen Vogt? The veteran catcher will have his pick of TV jobs when he retires, and there’s also a decent chance someone will make him a manager right away. Had a great time over the weekend:

27. Royals (52-77): Bobby Witt Jr., their 22-year-old shortstop, is quietly having a very impressive rookie year. He has 18 homers and has hit 26 of 30 stolen base attempts.

26. Tiger (50-78): General manager Al Avila was recently fired and a decent portion of the blame can be placed on Javy Baez. Their big offseason acquisition has a .636 OPS and just 11 homers.

25. Reds (50-76): Michael Papierski, the man traded for Mauricio Dubón earlier this year, has played quite a bit for the Reds but still struggles at the plate. In 34 plate appearances, he has a .449 OPS.

24. Rockies (55-74): Some things never change. They are 36-32 at Coors Field, but are the only team with fewer than 20 road wins.

23. Marlins (55-72): Sandy Alcantara is going to win the Cy Young Award, the only question is if it’s unanimous. After a complete game win over the Dodgers, the right-hander is up to 185 2/3 innings with a 2.13 ERA. No one else in baseball has thrown more than 167 innings.

22. Cubs (55-73): Justin Steele might be the best pitcher most baseball fans haven’t heard of. He has a 3.18 ERA and has dropped to 1.49 over his last 10 starts.

21. Angels (55-73): Shohei Ohtani gets most of the attention at the plate, but he has a 2.67 ERA this season and leads all starters with 12.4 strikeouts-per-9. A year after winning the MVP award, he’s set to appear on some Cy Young ballots.

20. White Sox (63-65): Once the favorite to win the AL Central, they are five games behind the Guardians after being swept at home by the Diamondbacks.

19. Red Sox (62-66): Former Giants shortstop Christian Arroyo has a 110 OPS+ and has played all four infield positions. He had a nice career after some early struggles.

18. Rangers (58-69): They cleaned house earlier this month, firing their top baseball operations executive (Jon Daniels) and manager (Chris Woodward). Expectations were high after they signed Corey Seager and Marcus Semien, but they forgot to build a strong pitching staff.

17. Diamondbacks (59-67): Outfielder Corbin Carroll, one of the top five prospects in the game, will be called up on Monday. This will help him get his feet wet ahead of what should be a more exciting 2023 season in Phoenix, and may also lead to a slight NL West shift. They are just two games behind the Giants.

16. Giants (61-65): If they have other equipment — and there’s no indication they do — they need to find it this week. A three-game series against the Padres is their last chance to make up ground before they’re 100 percent buried in the wild-card race, and they’ll start the series with Carlos Rodón on the mound.

15. Beers (67-59): It should be Go Time for a team that went into a funk after the Josh Hader trade and fell out of a playoff spot. They host the Pirates this week and then visit the Diamondbacks and Rockies.

14. Twins (65-61): They had lost six in a row before the Giants came to town. There are now just two games left in the AL Central.

13. Orioles (67-60): We’re a few games into September baseball and the Orioles are 1 1/2 games out of a playoff spot. With upcoming series against the A’s, Red Sox, Nationals and Tigers, there’s a good chance the Orioles will still be right in the middle of the wild-card race when the final week of the season arrives.

12. Guardians (67-59): Emmanuel Clase has allowed just one earned run in his last 20 appearances. His ERA for the season dropped to 1.17.

11. Couples (70-59): Josh Hader has allowed 12 earned runs in 4 2/3 innings since the trade, a big reason the Padres haven’t been able to run away with a wild-card spot even as the Giants and Brewers contend. Hader returns to Oracle Park on Monday for the first time since the Yaz Slam.

10. Mariners (70-58): Curt Casali is just 1-for-11 since being activated by the Mariners, but unlike his former teammates, he is in position to make the playoffs. Seattle currently holds the second wild card spot in the AL.

9. Blue Jays (68-58): Rodón is tied for the lead in pitching fWAR at 5.1 and tied with the man he replaced. Kevin Gausman leads all AL pitchers after signing five-year deal this offseason.

8. Rays (70-57): In typical Rays fashion, they win by getting the most out of guys who struggled elsewhere. Infielder Isaac Paredes hit two homers in 57 games with the Tigers the past two seasons, but has 18 in his first year in Tampa Bay.

7. Phillies (72-56): They went 31-20 when Bryce Harper was in IL and will enter September with a very good chance to make their first playoff appearance since 2011. They have a four-game lead over the Brewers and a 10-game lead over the Giants .

6. Cardinals (74-54): They have the second-best record (24-10) in the Majors since the All-Star break, trailing only the Dodgers. Big damage has been done by Paul Goldschmidt, who has a shot at the Triple Crown. He leads the NL in batting average, is tied for the RBI lead and trails Kyle Schwarber by just two homers.

5. Yankees (78-50): It was a brutal second half, but they still have a big lead in the AL East and are almost a lock to get one of the two first-round byes.

4. Braves (79-50): No one is doing a better job right now of tapping high-level player talent. Their latest addition, Vaughn Grissom, has an .861 OPS after making the jump from Double-A to the Majors.

RELATED: Giants remain optimistic about rebound after dismal road trip

3. Mets (82-47): Jacob deGrom averages 93 mph on his slider and 92.9 mph with his changeup. The sport will be much better off if he stays healthy and manages to lead a deep playoff run.

2. Astros (82-47): The New York teams and the Dodgers get most of the national attention, but the Astros are very quietly cruising toward the top seed in the American League. With 82 more wins this year, Dusty Baker is up to ninth all-time.

1. Dodgers (88-38): They just had a 50-game hitting streak that included 41 wins and are on pace for 113, which would be the fourth-most all-time and the most by an NL team since the 1906 Chicago Cubs.

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