Rangers take back top spot

Updated: September 17, 2012, 2:10 PM ET
Week:

ESPN.com

The Texas Rangers quietly have the best record in the American League, and they move back into the top spot in our Power Rankings.

The Washington Nationals, despite getting swept by the Atlanta Braves during the weekend, fall just one spot to the No. 2 position, while the Cincinnati Reds hold tight to the No. 3 spot.

The Oakland A's, winners of eight of their past 10 games, jump three spots to No. 4, while the San Francisco Giants rise one to the No. 5 spot.

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 17
RANKTEAM / RECORD TRENDINGCOMMENTS
1
Rangers
87-59
1
Last Week: 2
Adrian Beltre has surpassed his home run and Wins Above Replacement totals from 2011, and he has emerged as the leading candidate for the Rangers' MVP, as well as a potential top-three AL MVP candidate. -- Joey Matschulat: Baseball Time in Arlington
2
1
Last Week: 1
Ross Detwiler is 4-2 with a 3.02 ERA in nine starts since the beginning of August, and during that stretch he has allowed only three home runs in 53 2/3 innings pitched. -- ESPN.com
3
Reds
88-59
--

Last Week: 3
With a win Sunday, Cincinnati's magic number dropped to five. As early as Wednesday, the Reds could be the first team to clinch a playoff spot. The hunt for a Reds October is nearly complete. -- Chad Dotson: Redleg Nation
4
3
Last Week: 7
Brandon Moss is 10th in baseball in slugging percentage among hitters with at least 100 plate appearances. Chris Carter is 14th. Finding a first baseman is exactly as easy as everyone says it is! -- Jason Wojciechowski: Beaneball
5
Giants
83-63
1
Last Week: 6
The Giants are 7 1/2 games ahead of the second-place Dodgers. Recently, this team has been mainly winning by ... hitting? The pitching staff has put up a mediocre 4.21 ERA since the beginning of August, yet the Giants have outscored their opponents 228-181 in that span. -- Otis Anderson: Bay City Ball
6
Braves
84-63
2
Last Week: 4
After finishing off a sweep of the Mets, the Braves were then swept by the Brewers. They then turned around and swept the Nationals. It's likely too little, too late to catch Washington, but Atlanta remains firmly in control of a wild-card spot. Mike Minor and Kris Medlen seem to be coming into their own, while Jason Heyward is staring down 30 homers. -- Franklin Rabon: Capitol Avenue Club
7
Yankees
83-63
1
Last Week: 8
The Yankees may be turning the corner at exactly the right time. They just took back-to-back series against the Red Sox and Rays, and they'll get Andy Pettitte back Tuesday. With a weak schedule coming up, a trip to October seems likely. Rob Abruzzese: Bronx Baseball Daily
8
Orioles
82-64
3
Last Week: 5
Even with some struggles in Oakland, Baltimore has solidified its playoff run with strong showings against the Yankees and Rays. This week, the O's tackle the Mariners and the Red Sox -- the latter undoubtedly looking forward to a chance for payback after last September's memorable final game. -- Nick Faleris: Camden Depot
9
Angels
80-67
1
Last Week: 10
A disappointing 3-4 week dropped the Angels to 2 1/2 games behind Baltimore for the final wild-card spot. Now would be a good time for the slumping Albert Pujols (.226 average in September) to put the Angels on his back and reward Arte Moreno for December's spending spree. -- Andrew Karcher: Halos Daily
10
1
Last Week: 11
A three-game sweep in Minnesota puts Chicago two games up on Detroit heading into Monday's makeup game against the Tigers. Adam Dunn returned from a seven-game absence due to an oblique injury to go 4-for-7 with a homer in two games. -- Diane Firstman: Value Over Replacement Grit
11
Rays
78-68
2
Last Week: 9
David Price said it best after the Rays' lone win on their all-important six-game road trip: "I don't know how many games we have left, but we need to win a lot of them." -- Mark Heilig: The Ray Area
12
Tigers
77-68
--

Last Week: 12
With roughly two weeks remaining in a season that resembles the struggle of a small child attempting to jump out of a shallow well, the Tigers are inches away from the AL Central lead. Without someone to push them up over the ledge, the team may not be able to grasp the cusp of a playoff berth and, in turn, could run out of time. -- Josh Worn: Walkoff Woodward
13
--

Last Week: 13
The Cardinals tried hard to sacrifice bunt themselves out of the second wild-card spot and were swept by the Padres early in the week. They split with the Dodgers to remain one game up. -- Matt Philip: Fungoes
14
Dodgers
76-71
--

Last Week: 14
With Clayton Kershaw joining Chad Billingsley and Ted Lilly on the sidelines, the Dodgers are without their top three starting pitchers for the stretch run. -- Jon Weisman: Dodger Thoughts
15
1
Last Week: 16
Dropping three of four to the lowly Astros was the last thing the Phillies wanted to do while chasing the second wild-card spot. The bullpen was once again an issue, allowing 10 runs in 14 innings in Houston. -- Bill Baer: Crashburn Alley
16
Brewers
74-72
1
Last Week: 17
We all know why Ryan Braun will probably not win the MVP, but his performance certainly warrants it: his .312/.387/.602 line (including 40 home runs and 24 steals) comes out to a .415 wOBA. Only Mike Trout's .421 eclipses it league-wide and Andrew McCutchen is the closest NL competitor at .410. -- Jack Moore: Disciples of Uecker
17
1
Last Week: 18
A 3-2 week leaves the Diamondbacks 4 1/2 games out of the second wild-card spot with 16 games to play. Ten of those 16 are against the Rockies and Cubs, but the pitching and offense haven't been in sync for weeks. -- Diane Firstman: Value Over Replacement Grit
18
Pirates
73-72
3
Last Week: 15
A 1-5 week after a sweep at the hands of the Cubs has turned this season from a potential playoff berth to a desperate struggle to break the sub-.500 season streak. Reaching the playoffs is still a long shot, but things have turned sour in Pittsburgh. -- PaulSporer: Pitt Plank
19
Padres
71-76
1
Last Week: 20
A 7-2 homestand puts the Padres at five under .500 for the first time since April 16 (when they were 3-8). It's a long shot, but San Diego has crept to within six games of the second wild-card spot. A 10-5 finish would put them at .500 for the year. -- Diane Firstman: Value Over Replacement Grit
20
1
Last Week: 19
Did two rough starts sink Felix Hernandez's bid to win the AL Cy Young Award? Hardly. Hernandez still leads the AL in Fielding Independent Pitching and remains among the league leaders in innings, ERA, Expected Fielding Independent Pitching (xFIP) and WAR. A strong finish could vault him to his second Cy in three seasons. -- Brendan Gawlowski: Pro Ball NW
21
Mets
66-80
--

Last Week: 21
The Mets have lost eight of their past nine and are 20-40 since the All-Star break. Fans do have something to look forward to, though, as David Wright is eight hits away from becoming the Mets' all-time hits leader. -- Joe Janish: Mets Today
22
Royals
66-80
2
Last Week: 24
Salvador Perez has been tearing it up in September. He is batting .357 with a .964 OPS in 56 at-bats this month. -- ESPN.com
23
Red Sox
66-81
--

Last Week: 23
With only two weeks left in the season, the Red Sox have three modest goals: play the spoiler role, evade a 90-loss season and avoid a full-blown Bobby V mutiny. Yes, folks, this is what rock bottom feels like. -- Chip Buck: Fire Brand of the AL
24
2
Last Week: 22
In a season where highlights have been few and far between for the Blue Jays, Edwin Encarnacion continues to be a pleasant surprise. The Blue Jays' first baseman/DH reached the 40 home run plateau last week, becoming the eighth player in franchise history to do so. "EE" leads all first basemen with an OPS of .947. -- Callum Hughson: Mop-Up Duty
25
Marlins
65-82
--

Last Week: 25
The Marlins should be pleased that the Phillies lost three of four to the Astros, just for embarrassment prevention purposes. -- David Gershman: Marlins Daily
26
Twins
60-87
--

Last Week: 26
Liam Hendriks has dominated the minors, with a 2.65 ERA and 1.06 WHIP, but he hasn't been able to translate that success to the majors, where opponents have hit .324/.373/.524 against him. -- Nick Nelson: Twins Daily
27
Indians
61-86
1
Last Week: 28
Lonnie Chisenhall earned his first career walk-off RBI on Sunday as the Indians defeated the Tigers 7-6. Since Chisenhall's return from the DL on Sept. 10, he has hit .300 with a home run and four RBIs. He had been out of action since he suffered a broken wrist when he was hit by a pitch on June 29. -- Stephanie Liscio: It's Pronounced "Lajaway"
28
Rockies
58-87
1
Last Week: 27
The road to 100 continues. The Rockies have lost nine of their past 11. With 17 games remaining, they must win at least five to avoid 100 losses. -- Travis Lay: Blake Street Bulletin
29
Cubs
58-88
--

Last Week: 29
Alfonso Soriano, at the age of 36, is three RBIs short of his career-high 104, set with the Rangers in 2005. -- Joe Aiello: View from the Bleachers
30
Astros
48-99
--

Last Week: 30
I don't know what's more incredible -- that the Astros won a series against the Phillies and are over .500 in September or that the eight wins they have this month matches their total from July and August combined. -- Austin Swafford: Astros 290