PHILADELPHIA, PA - AUGUST 2: Maikel Franco #7 of the Philadelphia Phillies is dosed with water after hitting a game winning walk-off three-run home run in the ninth inning during a game against the Miami Marlins at Citizens Bank Park on August 2, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies won 5-2. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)

Hunter Martin/Getty Images

As the top three teams in baseball continue to jockey for position atop our weekly MLB power rankings, the postseason picture as a whole has become increasingly clear in the wake of the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

Can the Philadelphia Phillies and Oakland Athletics hold on and secure surprise playoff spots? Which American League East powerhouse will be forced into the Wild Card Game? Who will come out on top in tight races in the National League Central and the NL West?

There’s a lot left to be decided in the weeks to come.

Just remember, these rankings are fluid. 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 where all 30 teams stand heading into the rest of this week’s action:

Teams That Impressed

Andrew Benintendi delivered the walk-off winner Sunday.

Andrew Benintendi delivered the walk-off winner Sunday.Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

The Boston Red Sox now hold a 9.5-game lead over the New York Yankees in the AL East standings following a four-game sweep at Fenway Park over the weekend.

That’s the largest division lead of the season for the Red Sox, who are on pace to win a franchise-record 113 games. The current record belongs to the 1912 team that won 105 games and a World Series title.

Meanwhile, over in the NL East, the Philadelphia Phillies rebounded from a series loss to the Cincinnati Reds two weeks ago to post a 5-1 record last week, including a four-game sweep of the Miami Marlins.

The Phillies have a 1.5-game lead in the division standings and a 19-11 record since the beginning of July when they sat three games back in the standings. With 17 games remaining against the Marlins and Mets, the Phillies are in excellent position to at the very least snag a wild-card spot.

Speaking of the wild-card race, the Oakland Athletics made a strong move in the hunt for the No. 2 spot on the AL side of things.

In what has essentially turned into a two-way race with the Seattle Mariners, the A’s now hold a 2.5-game advantage after an undefeated week that included sweeps of the Toronto Blue Jays and Detroit Tigers.

Oakland went 17-8 with a plus-26 run differential in July.

The Atlanta Braves (5-1) and Cleveland Indians (4-2) won both of their series last week among other teams in the thick of the playoff hunt, while fringe contenders in the St. Louis Cardinals (5-2), San Francisco Giants (4-2) and Washington Nationals (5-1) did the same.


Teams That Disappointed

Wade LeBlanc was shelled for 10 hits and seven earned runs against the Astros on Wednesday.

Wade LeBlanc was shelled for 10 hits and seven earned runs against the Astros on Wednesday.Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images

We’ve already touched on several of the teams that fall into this category, but let’s recap.

Obviously, it was a tough week for the New York Yankees. A four-game sweep at the hands of your archrivals is never easy to swallow, and the Yankees are now staring down the largest division lead in baseball.

It was also a rough week for the Seattle Mariners.

Now only did they go 2-5 with series losses to the Houston Astros and Blue Jays, but they also watched the Athletics—the only team standing between them and a playoff spot—rattle off a 6-0 week and make a significant move in the wild-card standings.

The Colorado Rockies saw their own wild-card hopes dealt a considerable blow with a 2-5 week against a pair of NL Central contenders in the Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers.

They still sit just two games back in the NL West standings and 2.5 back for the second wild-card slot, but there are multiple teams ahead of them in both races.

Further down the rankings, the Los Angeles Angels (1-5) continued their slide into second-half irrelevance, while the Cincinnati Reds (1-5), Miami Marlins (0-6) and New York Mets (1-5) each dropped a pair of series.


MVPs of the Week

Hitter: Matt Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals

Stats: 11-for-26, 2 2B, 4 HR, 7 RBI, 7 R, 8 BB

Matt Carpenter wrapped up an otherworldly month of July with a .333/.447/.774 line that included eight doubles, 11 home runs, 21 RBI and 22 runs scored over 26 games and 114 plate appearances.

That earned him NL Player of the Month honors, and he hasn’t missed a beat since the calendar turned to August.

In seven games so far this month, he’s gone 7-for-19 with two doubles and three home runs, including his 29th of the season on Sunday. That tops his previous career high and ties him with Nolan Arenado for the NL lead.

With no clear-cut front-runner in the NL MVP race, Carpenter has at least put himself in the conversation with his torrid month-plus at the plate. Even if the Cardinals fail to make a second-half push and fall short of reaching the postseason, he could walk away with the hardware if he keeps producing at his current level.


Pitcher: Nathan Eovaldi, Boston Red Sox

Stats: 1 GS, W, 8.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K

Chris Archer’s move from the Tampa Bay Rays to the Pittsburgh Pirates was the headline-grabbing deal of this year’s trade deadline. Cole Hamels’ departure from the Texas Rangers to the Chicago Cubs was a high-profile move, and All-Star J.A. Happ’s trade to the Yankees was viewed as major in the race for the AL East title.

But Nathan Eovaldi is the one who has made the biggest impact on the mound with his new team so far.

Boston acquired Eovaldi from the Rays in exchange for high-floor pitching prospect Jalen Beeks, and prior to the trade, he was 3-4 with a 4.26 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 53 strikeouts in 57 innings in his return to the mound following a 2017 season he lost to injury.

The 28-year-old made his Red Sox debut on July 29, allowing just four hits in seven scoreless innings against the Minnesota Twins.

His encore performance proved to be even better, as he twirled eight scoreless frames against the rival Yankees on Saturday at Fenway Park, allowing three hits and needing just 93 pitches.

Strangely enough, the last time Eovaldi completed eight innings was back on May 7, 2016. At the time of that start, he was a member of the Yankees and pitching against the Red Sox.


Video Highlights of the Week

Longest Home Run: Franmil Reyes, San Diego Padres (477 feet)

Franmil Reyes was well off the top prospect radar in a loaded San Diego Padres system when the season began, but he pushed his way into the MLB picture when he exploded for a .346/.442/.738 line with 14 home runs in his first 154 plate appearances at Triple-A.

The 23-year-old hasn’t enjoyed the same level of success at the next level, hitting .234/.281/.458 while striking out at a 37.8 percent clip.

However, he has continued to flash some intriguing power with seven home runs, including this mammoth shot off Cubs starter Jon Lester.

Reyes was sitting on a fastball with a 3-0 count, and he crushed a room-service pitch right over the middle of the plate.

It’s still unclear what his ceiling is going forward, especially with so much talent making its way through the San Diego system, but he’s provided some reason for excitement in 2018. 


Best Defensive Play: Tanner Roark, Washington Nationals

It’s not often we have an opportunity to show a pitcher some love in our best defensive play section.

This one is a lot harder than it looks, especially with the lightning-fast Billy Hamilton busting it down the first-base line.

If the ball got past Tanner Roark on this play, it would’ve been an infield single.

Hamilton already has 10 infield hits on the year, and that would have been a tough play for the second baseman to make.

To his credit, Roark has always been a plus defender and a solid athlete.

He has 2 DRS this season. He also has eight hits, and his seven RBI tie him with Lester for the lead among pitchers (excluding pitcher/designated hitter Shohei Ohtani).


Must-See Upcoming Matchup

Milwaukee Brewers vs. Atlanta Braves (Friday-Sunday)

Kevin Gausman will make his home debut as a member of the Braves on Friday.

Kevin Gausman will make his home debut as a member of the Braves on Friday.Adam Hunger/Associated Press

Whichever team fails to win the NL West between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Dodgers might have something to say about it, but this series could wind up being a preview of the NL Wild Card Game.

Then again, these two squads could also walk away as division winners themselves. The Brewers trail the Cubs by just one contest in the NL Central, while the Braves trail the Phillies by 1.5 games in the NL East.

At any rate, this series is plenty important for two teams looking to cement their place as postseason contenders.

If the rotation order goes unchanged, the Brewers will throw standout rookie Freddy Peralta in the opener Friday at SunTrust Park against newly acquired Kevin Gausman, who will be making his home debut.

Veterans Wade Miley and Julio Teheran are lined up for Game 2 on Saturday, with Chase Anderson and Sean Newcomb slated to square off in the finale Sunday.

Just keep in mind as you watch that this may be a series we look back on in a couple of months for some context in the winner-takes-all Wild Card Game.


All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted.

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