Finn Factor Baseball Power Ratings: Mid-August Edition

MLB Power Ratings

It’s been two weeks since the dust has settled following the MLB trade deadline. Which teams are aggressively waving the white flag on 2021 Major League Baseball season? WgerTalk handicapper Tony Finn offers his mid-August MLB state of the union with about ~40 games remaining in the regular season.

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MLB State of the Union

A handful of organizations that actively took part in the July 30th negotiations have waived the white flag less than two weeks removed from the 2021 swapmeet that was as crazy a deadline as I can ever recall. A dozen days following the player personnel frenzy finds a pair of franchises having relinquished the top spot in the division standings. Additionally, both of the league’s Eastern Divisions have seen changes at the top. As a comedy routine, “Who’s on First” isn’t a perfect fit for a weekly column nor a lead-in to the Finn Factor MLB Power Poll Week 19. However, it should come as no surprise to those who know me that I am often at my best when writing with the background music of “One Size Fits All” by Frank Zappa and the Mothers.

The 2021 MLB trade deadline was chaotic, with hundreds of moving parts. Major League Baseball didn’t have a gluttony of player-prey available, but that didn’t prevent MLBs general managers from taking part in a feeding frenzy. The large number of deals made between franchises was record-setting in many ways, but I am betting that the 2021 postseason will reveal that if you take all of the trades combined, they will be viewed as inconsequential when we roll up in October. The player personnel exchanges that took place two weeks ago are nothing, but an overture for the coup is the result for the sellers.

Then what will be from this summer’s buys, sells, and trades most probably won’t turn heads. It’s unlikely that one of this summer’s sellers will instantly morph into a contender. However, it is more than plausible that his summers sellers were the winners in the late July player auction.

Expecting one or more of the personnel moved in the final days of July to be championship special is a stretch. Reviewing the business dealings executed on or before the July 30th deadline doesn’t find a hidden gem.

There won’t be a movie made of anyone 2021 MLB trade deadline deal. Hollywood hasn’t made a full-length film about the 1987 exchange relocating Hall of Fame right-hander John Smoltz to Atlanta via Detroit for Doyle Alexander. I’ve neither heard nor seen previews of a cops and robbers flick about the Houston heist of Hall of Fame infielder Jeff Bagwell. Expecting now-Dodgers Max Scherzer to have a starring role in the future entry of the Mad Max franchise – the sequel to Fury Road – is a Major League Baseball future I’m betting won’t cash.

Nearly two weeks post-trade deadline and a smidge less than eight weeks remaining in the regular season require us to investigate who is hot and not. I know we will find the disappointment that “Nobody” is not occupying first nor is “Naturally” manning the bag for the Abbot and Costello groupies.

August 13 MLB Power Ratings

1. Houston Astros – Record: 68-46 (Previous ranking: 1)

Since the trade deadline, the Astros are 4-6, holding on to the top spot in the American League West division. Houston heads into the closing series of Week 19 for three vs. the Angels in Anaheim. Dusty Baker’s boys own a 1.5 game lead on the Oakland A’s and the softest remaining schedule in the AL.

The Strohs three-game set against the Halos will not include opposing MVP favorite Shohei Ohtani, who earned his seventh season in the Thursday matchup against the Toronto Blue Jays. Houston’s lead over Oakland is the narrowest division lead in the AL, and only the National League East is narrower with the Mets one-half game back of the Phillies.

You haven’t seen any of the major MLB portals giving the smallish divisional lead much air time. Not only do the networks, including that of MLB, but they also appear unconcerned about the distance that the A’s have closed since July 30th, neither do the Astros players and coaches. All things equal, I, too, give Oakland little to no chance to outplay Houston and their easy peasy remaining slate.

2. San Francisco Giants – Record: 74-41 (Previous ranking: 2)

The Giants finished April in the first place. San Francisco stood a half-game ahead of the Dodgers in the National League West with a 16-10 record on the morning of May 1. San Fran entered July with a 50-29 mark on the season. However, on August 1st, the Giants were still standing atop the NL West mountain. The franchise ten games post-trade deadline finds the Giants 8-2 in those ten tilts, owning a five-game lead over the second-place Dodgers.

Trade deadline addition infielder Kris Bryant hit safely in seven of his first ten games with San Francisco. Bryant batted .307 with seven runs scored, three RBI, four walks against six strikeouts, and one home run.

3. Los Angeles Dodgers – Record: 69-46 (Previous ranking: 3)

The Dodgers own nearly as large a lead for the first wild card spot as the Giants do in the divisional race. I throw a large number of bitch pitches at skipper Dave Roberts as one should be allowed. That said, the in-game decisions that Roberts has and is still making are making him look minor league.

Those who defend Roberts like to tell me how much the players like coach Dave and that he has worked his way through a maze of injuries to have his team right in the thick of the fight for a spot in the postseason bracket. Clayton Kershaw hasn’t pitched since July 3 because of inflammation around his pitching elbow. Mookie Betts was the most recent Dodger placed on the injured list with the same ball-and-chain hanging around his neck. That ball-and-chain hanging around his neck is causing him back and hip pain.

The Dodgers were more profound than any team in the league twice over when the season began. The skill-set of this 2021 team is trumped only by the talent of the 40-man roster.

With 47 regular-season games left for both Los Angeles and the Giants and Dodgers, let it be known. If the Giants have a pedestrian rest of August and September and play 24-23 baseball the rest of the way out, the Dodgers will need to go 30-17, making them 99-63 at seasons end, the record it would take to win the division if the Giants play .500 baseball the rest of the way.

I am giving 5-1 that the Dodgers are not the first-place team in the NL West on October 4th.

4. Tampa Bay Rays – Record: 70-45 (Previous ranking: 4)

I wrote in the last Finn Factor MLB Power Poll that “Starting pitching, the middle and late relief, as well as the addition of Nelson Cruz are the reasons that Tampa Bay will threaten the American League with a second straight AL East title.”

Tampa Bay’s bullpen has had an AL-best ERA of less than 3.00 since April 22, and Thursday night’s 8-1 victory over the Boston Red Sox pushed the Rays string of scoring at least eight runs to six consecutive games. Also, winning two of the three at Fenway to begin the week has the former Devil Rays five games ahead of the second-place Red Sox, whom they continue to torture whether the two franchises are on the same diamond or not.

5. Milwaukee Brewers – Record: 70-46 (Previous ranking: 6)

The Brewers continue to show their blue-collar mentality and true grit at the plate, improving batting average, on-base percentage, and OPS since the trade deadline. They head into a weekend series against an offensively challenged Pittsburgh, followed by three in St Louis and three at home against Washington.

By the time the Brewers host the second-place Reds on August 24th, the Milwaukee fanbase will be staring at a double-digit lead in the division. The Brew Crew are winning without Josh Hader, who’s on the Covid IL, and with MVP candidate Willy Adames who hit .400 over the past week.

6. Chicago White Sox – Record: 68-48 (Previous ranking: 7)
7. Oakland Athletics – Record: 67-48 (Previous ranking: 9)
8. Philadelphia Phillies – Record: 60-55 (Previous ranking: (13)
9. Atlanta Braves – Record: 59-56 (Previous ranking: 16)
10. New York Mets – Record: 59-55 (Previous rank: 5)
11. San Diego Padres – Record: 66-51 (Previous ranking: 10)
12. Toronto Blue Jays – Record: 62-52 (Previous ranking: 11)
13. New York Yankees – Record: 63-52 (Previous ranking: 14)
14. Boston Red Sox – Record: 66-51 (Previous ranking: 5)
15. Cincinnati Reds – Record: 62-54 (Previous ranking: 12)
16. Seattle Mariners – Record: 61-55 (Previous ranking: 18)
17. Cleveland Indians – Record: 55-58 (Previous ranking: 15)
18. Los Angeles Angels – Record: 58-58 (Previous ranking: 17)
19. Washington Nationals – Record: 50-65 (Previous ranking: 19)
20. Miami Marlins – Record: 48-67 (Previous ranking: 20)
21. Chicago Cubs – Record: 52-65 (Previous ranking: 21)
22. St. Louis Cardinals – Record: 58-56 (Previous ranking: 22)
23. Detroit Tigers – Record: 57-60 (Previous ranking: 23)
24. Minnesota Twins – Record: 50-65 (Previous ranking: 24)
25. Colorado Rockies – Record: 51-64 (Previous ranking: 27)
26. Kansas City Royals – Record: 49-64 (Previous ranking: 25)
27. Pittsburgh Pirates – Record: 41-74 (Previous ranking: 28)
28. Texas Rangers – Record: 40-75 (Previous ranking: 29)
29. Baltimore Orioles – Record: 38-75 (Previous ranking: 26)
30. Arizona Diamondbacks – Record: 36-80 (Previous ranking: 30)

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