Nationals rise into top spot

Updated: September 10, 2012, 1:46 PM ET
Week:

ESPN.com

After a one-week hiatus, the Washington Nationals move up one and are back in the top spot in our Power Rankings.

The Texas Rangers also move up one spot to take over the No. 2 position, while the Cincinnati Reds fall two spots to No. 3.

The Atlanta Braves, winners of five in a row and seven of their past eight games, move up four spots to take over the No. 4 position. The Baltimore Orioles rise two spots to No. 5.

This week's voters were Jim Bowden of ESPN Insider, Tim Kurkjian of ESPN The Magazine, David Schoenfield of the SweetSpot Blog Network/ESPN.com and Jayson Stark of ESPN.com. Many of the team comments come courtesy of the fan bloggers on the SweetSpot Blog Network. Meanwhile, you can rank the teams yourself.

Tell us what you think about the Power Rankings: Use the hashtag #ESPNMLBPOWER.

2012 Power Rankings: September 10
RANKTEAM / RECORD TRENDINGCOMMENTS
1
1
Last Week: 2
Adam LaRoche is having a big season offensively as he leads the Nationals in home runs (29) and RBIs (92). -- ESPN.com
2
Rangers
83-57
1
Last Week: 3
Yu Darvish appears to be hitting his groove at a very opportune time for the likely playoff-bound Rangers, as he boasts a 2.17 ERA and 34 strikeouts against just six walks and one homer in his past four starts (29.0 IP). -- Joey Matschulat: Baseball Time in Arlington
3
Reds
84-57
2
Last Week: 1
Joey Votto had four hits and five walks in his first 15 plate appearances after returning to the lineup. Despite stumbling a bit recently the Reds maintain an 8 1/2-game lead in the division, and Votto's return has Cincinnati fans maintaining high hopes. -- Chad Dotson: Redleg Nation
4
Braves
81-60
4
Last Week: 8
The Braves have lost only once since we last updated the power rankings, and they threw three consecutive shutouts during that span. Kris Medlen's innings management sits in sharp contrast to how the Nationals handled Stephen Strasburg, as he's looking like a top-of-the-rotation starter now and has no limitations for the rest of the season. -- Franklin Rabon: Capitol Avenue Club
5
Orioles
78-62
2
Last Week: 7
The Orioles kept pace with the Yankees over the weekend, but their playoff odds may have dropped substantially with the loss of Nick Markakis for the next 4-6 weeks. Baltimore's first Markak-less week is of paramount importance, as the O's have six lined up with Tampa and Oakland -- a total of 2 1/2 games separate the three in the wild-card hunt. -- Nick Faleris: Camden Depot
6
Giants
79-61
--

Last Week: 6
After taking two of three from the Dodgers over the weekend, the Giants find themselves 5 1/2 games up in the NL West and in pretty good position to finish out the year. Consider this: the Giants will play only one .500 or better team over their remaining 22 games -- L.A., in a three-game series to close the season. -- Chris Quick: Bay City Ball
7
2
Last Week: 5
Oakland is in position to host the AL wild-card play-in game, but three teams are within 2 1/2 games and that means the A's can't let up. Tommy Milone showed no signs of such Sunday, striking out 10 Mariners. Weirdly, he also recorded zero ground-ball outs. -- Jason Wojciechowski: Beaneball
8
Yankees
79-61
4
Last Week: 4
The Yankees, who maintain the slimmest of a lead in the AL East, got a big boost when Alex Rodriguez returned and hit .308 with a .982 OPS his first week back. Their last big test happens this week as they face the Rays in a three-game series, beginning Friday. Their schedule is much easier the rest of the season. -- Rob Abruzzese: Bronx Baseball Daily
9
Rays
77-63
--

Last Week: 9
The Rays and their red-hot bats were a throwing error and six inches from sweeping both New York and Texas. Their trip to Baltimore and New York this week might decide their October fate. -- Mark Heilig: The Ray Area
10
Angels
77-63
3
Last Week: 13
The Angels, winners of 11 of 12 games (and 15 of 18), sit just a game out of the second wild-card spot. On Monday, the Angels start a four-game series in Anaheim against the Athletics, as they try to continue their postseason push. Monday's starter, Dan Haren, has a 1.45 ERA with 17 strikeouts in his past three starts. -- Justin Millar: Halos Daily
11
1
Last Week: 10
A 3-3 week at home against the Twins and Royals isn't going to cut it. The Tigers come to Chicago next for four games, the last series of the regular season between the two clubs. Detroit leads the season series against the White Sox 10-4, and has won the past seven games in a row. -- Diane Firstman: Value Over Replacement Grit
12
Tigers
73-66
--

Last Week: 12
The Tigers have faltered of late, mainly due to their offense. A key battle with Chicago looms and for the Tigers to win the division, they'll need to enter enemy soil and beat the tar out of the White Sox. -- Josh Worn: Walkoff Woodward
13
2
Last Week: 11
The Cardinals salvaged the last game of their series with the Brewers to maintain a loose hold on the final wild-card spot. Top prospect Shelby Miller had an impressive debut, tossing two shutout innings in a game against the Mets last week. -- Matt Philip: Fungoes
14
Dodgers
74-67
1
Last Week: 15
Adrian Gonzalez is batting just .242 with a .304 on-base percentage in 15 games since the Dodgers acquired him Aug. 25 from the Red Sox. -- ESPN.com
15
Pirates
72-67
1
Last Week: 14
A.J. Burnett is 0-2 with a 4.56 ERA in his past four starts. In that time, he's also averaged just under six innings per start. -- ESPN.com
16
1
Last Week: 17
With two more strikeouts Sunday, Antonio Bastardo raised his K/9 ratio to 13.81, inching him ahead of Jason Grilli into fourth among all relievers with 40-plus innings pitched. The pitchers he trails? Craig Kimbrel, Aroldis Chapman and Ernesto Frieri. -- Paul Boye: Crashburn Alley
17
Brewers
69-71
2
Last Week: 19
The Brewers own the National League's second-best offense by runs scored and trail the Cardinals by just one run. The entire starting lineup is under team control for next season -- stay used to the Brewers consistently putting up big numbers on offense, even without Prince Fielder. -- Jack Moore: Disciples of Uecker
18
2
Last Week: 16
Arizona is 5-10 against the Padres in 2012, and only three games better than them overall. The Diamondbacks have allowed 36 runs in their past six games. An eight-game homestand against the Dodgers, Padres and Giants begins Tuesday. -- Diane Firstman: Value Over Replacement Grit
19
1
Last Week: 18
Felix Hernandez is 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA in his past two starts, the first against the Angels and the second against the A's. -- ESPN.com
20
Padres
66-75
2
Last Week: 22
Chase Headley now leads the NL in RBIs (102). He'd be the first Padre to lead the league in that category since Dave Winfield in 1979. -- Diane Firstman: Value Over Replacement Grit
21
Mets
65-75
1
Last Week: 20
After being swept by the Braves in Flushing, the Mets have now lost 19 of their past 23 games at home and have scored three runs or fewer in 10 consecutive home games. They play 13 of their final 22 games at Citi Field. -- Joe Janish: Mets Today
22
1
Last Week: 23
Ricky Romero is winless in each of his past 13 starts. During that stretch, he's compiled a 7.98 ERA. -- ESPN.com
23
Red Sox
63-78
2
Last Week: 21
The Red Sox's slide continues, and the distractions won't go away. They've lost 11 of their past 12, and their first losing season since 1997 is imminent. The end of the season has never looked so good. -- Evan Brunell: Fire Brand of the AL
24
Royals
63-77
--

Last Week: 24
Jeremy Guthrie continues to pitch well for the Royals. In 10 starts for Kansas City, he's 4-3 with a 3.23 ERA. He's allowed three or fewer runs in seven of those 10 starts. -- ESPN.com
25
Marlins
63-78
--

Last Week: 25
Rookies Jacob Turner and Rob Brantly have been fun to watch so far since they have been in the majors, but Turner especially. His fastball, at times, can be unhittable. -- David Gershman: Marlins Daily
26
Twins
58-82
--

Last Week: 26
Justin Morneau lifted the Twins to victory Sunday with a two-homer performance. Batting .317 with eight bombs and 35 RBIs since the All-Star break, the former MVP figures to be an intriguing trade candidate during the offseason with Chris Parmelee waiting in the wings. -- Nick Nelson: Twins Daily
27
Rockies
56-83
--

Last Week: 27
Going into Sunday's second game of the doubleheader against the Phillies, Rockies pitchers had allowed only 12 runs (eight earned) last week. Unfortunately, the offense was shut down, and the team finished the week 1-6. -- Travis Lay: Blake Street Bulletin
28
Indians
59-81
--

Last Week: 28
The Indians won their first series since July 24-26, taking two of three from the second-place Tigers. In true Tribe fashion, they then lost a series against the last-place Twins. September call-up Russ Canzler has been a welcome offensive addition, hitting safely in seven consecutive games since joining the roster. -- Susan Petrone: It's Pronounced "Lajaway"
29
Cubs
54-86
--

Last Week: 29
Darwin Barney set the all-time NL record for consecutive errorless games as a second baseman on Saturday with 124 and is working his way toward the major league record of 141. -- Joe Aiello: View from the Bleachers
30
Astros
44-96
--

Last Week: 30
Have the Astros struck gold with Matt Dominguez? In nine games since being called up, the 23-year-old third baseman is batting .375 (12-for-32) with three home runs and seven RBIs. -- Austin Swafford: Astros 290