MLB Fans Everywhere Gear Up for the “Home Stretch” of the 2021 Campaign

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Los Angeles Dodgers. Photo Credit: Facebook

By: Marvin A. Azrak

After a trade deadline that has completely changed the perception of the league, MLB fans everywhere are gearing up for the “Home stretch”of the 2021 campaign, with many teams such as the Dodgers, Yankees, and Padres improving their rosters and making themselves heard as a championship contender. So how does this affect the latest batch of my Power Rankings? While some teams at the top strengthened their grip on the “High slots”, others put themselves in a position for a run for the history books, and then of course we have the “Rebuilders” all playing a role during the final two months of regular season that has just experienced another loop in the 186 day rollercoaster. Let’s take a look!

MLB POWER RANKINGS 8/3/21(PARENTHESIS INDICATE WHERE TEAM WAS AT THE START OF THE SEASON)

 

  1. LOS ANGELES DODGERS(64-43) (1)

The reigning World Series champions may not be in first place or even guaranteed a game past the Wild Card for that matter at the moment ,but after the acquisition of a living Hall of famer, in two time CY Young award winner(2016, 2017), World Series champion(2019), and an eight time All-star(2013-2021 with no all-star game in 2020 due to COVID), in 36-year-old Max Scherzer from the Washington Nationals, as well as World Series champ and 2021 all-star in second basemen Trea Turner. Even better for LA, no major leaguers were sent back to Washington, which means in addition to a superstar rotation headlined by superstars Clayton Kershaw ane Walker Buhler, Max Scherzer will now join a crew that also features veterans in David Price, unsung 2020 postseason hero in Julio Urias, a young stud in Dustin May, and Tony Gonsolin. Max is 8-4 with a 2.76 ERA and 147 strikeouts over 111 innings so far this season.

After being the ace in Washington since 2013, the right-hander now takes his talents to a team who are looking like the juggernauts to repeat as World Series champions. Meanwhile, what Turner provides to the team is even more depth to a star-studded lineup that features stars such as Cody Bellinger, Mookie, Betts, Justin Turner, Max Muncy, Will Smith, Corey Seager, Chris Taylor, and a bench sporting Albert Puljos, Gavin Lux, and Matt Beaty. Once again, the rich have gotten richer. Scherzer will make his first start in an LAD uniform against the Houston Astros on Wednesday(8/4) at Dodger Stadium in a blockbuster 2017(And 2019 In Scherzer’s case) World Series rematch with both teams having their sights set on another Fall Classic berth this year. On a side note, the team also acquired back-end starter Danny Duffy from the Kansas City royals, further solidifying the depth in their rotation.

 

  1. SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS(67-39) (23)
San Francisco Giants. Photo Credit: Wikipedia.com

Nope, nobody expected this except for probably the most die-hard of Giants fans. How this team astonishingly transcended from a non-playoff contender last season to having the best record In baseball with no real “Superstars” on this team is frankly mind-blowing, and is one of the most inspiring runs in sports history. All season we have waited for a downfall that has never dawned upon us, and San Francisco management has pushed all their chips to the table after acquiring star third baseman Kris Bryant from the suddenly rebuilding Chicago Cubs at the trade deadline, who then went out and walloped a home-run in his Giants debut Sunday, a 5-3 series-clinching win over a powerhouse in the Houston Astros. This team never ceases to amaze people each time they take the field and with the best record in baseball, and leading a top-heavy NL West over the Dodgers and Padres. If the Giants can hold onto to their division title, they would force LA and San Diego to battle it out in a winner-take-all Wild Card game at the end of the season for the right to move on in the playoffs.

 

  1. HOUSTON ASTROS(64-42) (10)
Houston Astros – Photo Credit: Wikipedia.com

You can call them “Cheaters” all you want, but this team can play baseball. Michael Brantley, Jose Altuvie, and Carlos Correa have been leading everyone’s least favorite team to another first place finish atop the AL West, despite their bullpens constant struggles, and a starting pitching staff that boasts a combined ERA of 6.98 in their past six games. Acquiring reliever Kendall Gravemen(0.82 ERA) from the Seattle Mariners, Yimi Garcia(3.47 ERA) from the Miami Marlins, and Phil Maton(4.97 ERA) for a bullpen that has a previously combined dreadful 4.14 ERA is just what this team needs to reach that next level of what a squad with championship aspirations is expected to do by being ahead of your opponent on both sides of the ball.

 

  1. CHICAGO WHITESOX (62-44) (5)
Chicago White Sox – Photo Credit: AP

All season long this team has lived up to its billing, and are now starting to run away with an AL Central division that sees them as the only real threat to any other teams hoping for a title. Already being led by a potent lineup led by Tim Andreson, Adam Eaton, Yoan Moncada, Jose Abreu, Adam Engel, Brian Goodwin, Leurey Garcia, and Seby Zavala, the Chisox went out and acquired a starting-caliber second baseman in Caesar Hernandez from the Philadelphia Phillies. The team also bolstered it’s already “Super Pen” with the acquisition of closer Craig Kimbrel from the Chicago Cubs, joining a group possessing Liam Hendricks, Codi Hunter, Aaron Brummer, and Garret Crochet. Basically, you better score in the first four innings of a playoff game, or you may be done for the evening.

The south siders also boast a starting rotation led by CY Young candidate Lucas Giolito, but also have Dylan Cease, Dallas Keuchel, Lance Lynn, and Carlos Rodon(Threw a no-hitter earlier this season) lined up behind him. Don’t mess with the Sox!

 

  1. TAMPA BAY RAYS(64-43) (6)

You may look at this team and think to yourself “No wonder they’re so good, after making it to the World Series last year.” But I’m here to tell you it has felt anything but that easy in south Florida, as the Rays have set a record for most pitchers on the IL in a season with 14, including ace Tyler Glassnow who has been out for the last couple months, and will be out for the remainder of the season with an elbow injury. Yet this team led by manager Kevin Cash has “Refused to lose”, and haven’t let anything faze them, including their AL East rival Red Sox, who Tampa just swept aside over the weekend, firmly placing them into the top spot in another division regarded as “Top-heavy” in baseball with four teams over the .500 mark. At the deadline, the Rays acquired slugger Nelson Cruz(21 HR , 282 BA), 53 RBI) from the Minnesota Twins, to bolster an offense, that doesn’t hit for power but makes a lot of contact, so adding a guy like Nelson to the mix will help balance the trend within the group only making them tough for pitchers to navigate through.

Tampa Bay Rays – Photo Credit: AP
  1. BOSTON RED SOX(63-44) (19)
  2. MILWAUKEE BREWERS(64-43) (15)
  3. SAN DIEGO PADRES(61-47) (2)
  4. OAKLAND ATHLETICS(60-47) (14)
  5. TORONTO BLUE JAYS(54-47) (12)
  6. NEW YORK METS(55-50) (5)
  7. NEW YORK YANKEES (56-49) (8)
  8. SEATTLE MARINERS(57-50) (22)
  9. CINCINNATI REDS(56-50) (18)
  10. Braves (52-54) (3)

Injuries to superstars like Ronald Acuna JR has taken a toll on them, aside for the inconsistency.

  1. PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES(53-53) (16)
  2. CLEVELAND INDIANS (52-51) (17)
  3. ST LOUIS CARDINALS (53-520 (13)
  4. LOS ANGELES ANGELS(52-54) (9)

MIKE TROUT TO THE “IL” FOR MOST OF THE YEAR CRUSHED THE HOPES OF A GOOD SEASON.

  1. DETROIT TIGERS(51-57)(26)
  2. MIAMI MARLINS(45-61)) (25)
  3. BALTIMORE ORIOLES(38-67) (27)

Are 7-3 in the last 10 games.

  1. MINNESOTA TWINS (44-62) (10)

I’m just as shocked as you are.

  1. KANSAS CITY ROYALS(45-59) (21)
  2. WASHINGTON NATIONALS (49-57) (11)
  3. CHICAGO CUBS(51-56) (20)
  4. COLORADO ROCKIES (46-60) (28)
  5. PITTSBURGH PIRATES (40-66) (30)
  6. TEXAS RANGERS(39-67) (29)
  7. ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS (33-74) (24)

Marvin Azrak is a member of the Jewish Voice student journalists initiative program. He specializes in sports writing