Nats first, Rangers vulnerable

Updated: September 24, 2012, 12:24 PM ET
Week:

ESPN.com

Having clinched a playoff spot this week, the Washington Nationals took back the No. 1 spot in our rankings. But the big story is the Texas Rangers, who appear to be sitting pretty at No. 2

However, as Paul Swydan points out today, the Rangers have a brutal schedule to end the season, and their last 10 games come against the Oakland Athletics and Los Angeles Angels, their top competition in the AL West. If Texas isn't careful, it could easily fall out of first place, so its late-season schedule bears watching.

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 24
RANKTEAM / RECORD TRENDINGCOMMENTS
1
1
Last Week: 2
The Nats clinched a postseason spot and now must figure out how to order their Strasburg-less rotation for the playoffs. -- ESPN.com
2
Rangers
90-62
1
Last Week: 1
Texas still has six games left against the A's, so its four-game lead is not entirely safe. -- ESPN.com
3
Reds
92-61
--

Last Week: 3
Pretty good week for the Redlegs. First team to clinch a playoff spot. First team to win a division title. Four wins in six games. Cincinnati just keeps rolling. -- Chad Dotson: Redleg Nation
4
Yankees
88-64
3
Last Week: 7
Things are going well for the Yankees right now. They got Andy Pettitte back this week, they've won seven of their last eight, and they don't face another team with a better than .500 record for the rest of the season. Now if only those pesky Orioles would go away. -- Rob Abruzzese: Bronx Baseball Daily
5
Giants
89-64
--

Last Week: 5
Big week for the Giants, who clinched their division and also saw one of their most important hitters -- Pablo Sandoval -- heat up and sock four home runs over the span of 13 plate appearances. Heading into the week, Sandoval had been homerless in 180 plate appearances, last homering on July 8. -- Chris Quick: Bay City Ball
6
Orioles
87-65
2
Last Week: 8
A week ago, the Orioles were a game out of first place in the AL East behind the Yankees. After going 5-1, they find themselves still a game out. It appears neither team will be giving it away to the other. -- Jon Bearr: Camden Depot
7
Braves
88-65
1
Last Week: 6
The Braves have all but clinched a wild-card spot, and all but been eliminated from the NL East. However, they did see firsthand last year that "all but" and "actually have" are two entirely different matters. The Braves would send Kris Medlen to the mound for the wild-card game and are hoping to get Brian McCann healthy so he can at least somewhat resemble the power bat he once was. -- Franklin Rabon: Capitol Avenue Club
8
4
Last Week: 4
A 2-4 week was not what the doctor ordered, especially with the Orioles and Rays each notching five wins. With seven of the A's final ten games coming against Texas and the Rangers holding a four-game lead, they can't afford to blow any more four-run 13th-inning leads. -- Jason Wojciechowski: Beaneball
9
Angels
84-69
--

Last Week: 9
Continuity was the theme of the week as the Angels won four out of six games (including a weekend sweep of the White Sox) and Arte Moreno confirmed Mike Scioscia's return for the 2013 season. The Angels still sit 2 1/2 games back of Oakland for the final wild-card spot, but six of their final nine games are against the sub-.500 Seattle Mariners. -- Drew Mumford, Jr.: Halos Daily
10
--

Last Week: 10
The White Sox have been floundering but got some help from the Twins, who swept a doubleheader from the Tigers on Sunday, and the Pale Hose remain one game ahead in the AL Central. -- ESPN.com
11
Rays
83-70
--

Last Week: 11
Just when I thought I was out, the Rays score 46 runs while ripping off five straight wins to pull me back in. -- Mark Heilig: The Ray Area
12
Tigers
80-72
--

Last Week: 12
Even though they were swept in Sunday's doubleheader, the Tigers enter the week one game behind the White Sox in an AL Central battle that seems more and more like it will go to the team that wants to lose it just a little bit less than the other. -- Josh Worn: Walkoff Woodward
13
--

Last Week: 13
Cardinals got a shot in the arm with Chris Carpenter returning from season-long DL and took six of seven from division foes Astros and Cubs to create some breathing room in wild-card race. -- Matt Philip: Fungoes
14
Brewers
79-73
2
Last Week: 16
The Brew Crew has won eight of 10 and is just 2 1/2 out of the wild card. -- ESPN.com
15
Dodgers
79-74
1
Last Week: 14
Dodgers starting pitchers are averaging 5 2/3 innings in September and, despite a 3.54 ERA, have one victory in 20 games, with seven losses and 12 no-decisions. -- Jon Weisman: Dodger Thoughts
16
1
Last Week: 15
The Phils have lost two straight and their late push seems to have hit a wall. Nice try, though. -- ESPN.com
17
--

Last Week: 17
Arizona is still hanging on the fringes of the wild-card race, but there are probably too many teams in front of the D-backs for them to make a real run. -- ESPN.com
18
Pirates
75-77
--

Last Week: 18
Not only are they not going to make the playoffs, but it looks like they will finish below .500 for the 20th straight season. -- ESPN.com
19
1
Last Week: 20
The M's offense has been brutal this year, but fans have to pleased to see 18 homers (and counting) from 24-year-old Kyle Seager. -- ESPN.com
20
Padres
73-80
1
Last Week: 19
A strong second half has fans feeling good about 2013. -- ESPN.com
21
Royals
70-82
1
Last Week: 22
They got to play spoiler by beating the White Sox twice last week, so there's that. -- ESPN.com
22
Red Sox
69-85
1
Last Week: 23
Reports have the Red Sox interested in re-signing first baseman James Loney, who has a sub-.600 OPS for Boston. Despite a weak free-agent class for first basemen, it's hardly inspiring news for a team with a lot of holes to patch. -- Evan Brunell: Fire Brand of the AL
23
Mets
69-83
2
Last Week: 21
A sweep of the Marlins should keep the Mets out of the cellar. Small victories! -- ESPN.com
24
--

Last Week: 24
The Blue Jays have lost six straight and saw their shortstop embroiled in controversy for a derogatory message on his eye black. Bad times all around. -- ESPN.com
25
Marlins
66-87
--

Last Week: 25
The Marlins have lost four straight and seven of their last ten games. Last place is almost assured, which is shocking when you consider their offseason spending. -- David Gershman: Marlins Daily
26
Twins
64-89
--

Last Week: 26
Scott Diamond turned in another quality start on Sunday, improving to 12-8 with a 3.64 ERA on the season. He'll be the only pitcher assured a spot in next year's rotation. -- Nick Nelson: Twins Daily
27
Indians
63-90
--

Last Week: 27
The glass half-empty Tribe fans will say the Indians lost a series with the Twins and a series with the Royals last week. The glass half-full fans will say at least the Indians weren't swept. The week ended with the Tribe scoring the most runs they've scored in a game all season in a 15-4 win over the Royals. -- Stephanie Liscio, It's Pronounced Lajaway
28
Cubs
59-94
1
Last Week: 29
Wait 'til next year? -- ESPN.com
29
Rockies
58-94
1
Last Week: 28
It doesn't appear the Rockies are trying to avoid losing 100 games for the first time in franchise history. They have lost nine in a row and should eclipse 100 losses by next weekend in Los Angeles. -- Travis Lay: Blake Street Bulletin
30
Astros
50-103
--

Last Week: 30
Looks like we won't even be getting a Roger Clemens cameo. -- ESPN.com