Really eventful deadline this year – lots of teams in the mix in the NL looking to assert their playoff position, and a lot of atrocious teams in the AL looking to burn the entire thing down and start fresh. As Orioles GM Dan Duquette put it today, “I hear it’s easier to demolish the entire house and rebuild from the ground up rather than renovating one room at a time.” And he’s exactly right.
- Boston Red Sox (75-33)
Key Acquisitions: Ian Kinsler
The Red Sox have been an absolute juggernaut all year and seemingly do not lose baseball games anymore. With a .694 winning percentage, the Sox are six games ahead of the second best record in baseball (NYY), and are in a division that suddenly looks very appetizing post deadline. The Blue Jays, Rays and Orioles now all look to be depleted rosters who are completely in rebuild mode – paving the way for the Red Sox to coast to a 105+ win season. The Red Sox did add second baseman Ian Kinsler, who should be a minor upgrade – and could reasonably play at a Pedroia level (after hitting .219 through June 30th – .320/.393/.467 since). With all of that said, it doesn’t help at all that Chris Sale just hit the DL with shoulder inflammation, but this team has just done too much to not be number one.
2. New York Yankees (67-37)
Key Acquisitions: JA Happ, Lance Lynn, Zach Britton
All season we’ve been looking at this Yankee team talking about how good the offense is, and how much they needed another starting pitcher. The Yankees addressed exactly that problem, adding Happ and bullpen ace Zach Britton. From what I’ve seen on Twitter and heard from Yankees fans, I don’t think people really understand how good Happ is. By xFIP or SIERA which are generally seen as the best metrics for measuring pitchers, Happ is one of the 25 best starting pitchers in baseball, ahead of arms such as Mike Foltynewicz, Blake Snell and Jose Berrios. The Yankees did pay a substantial price to get Happ, giving up two major league level players in Billy McKinney and Brandon Drury…. but those guys just had no spots on the current Yankee roster. Look for the Yankees to pick up some ground on Boston as they have one of the weakest schedules in baseball for the remainder of the season (.477 wpct). With Happ, the Yanks rotation should be serviceable enough to give Britton and their otherworldly bullpen a chance to close games out.
3. Houston Astros (67-41)
Key Acquisitions: RHP Roberto Osuna, RHP Ryan Pressly, C Martín Maldonado
The Astros have been red hot for months now, and have arguably been the best team in baseball since May. However, with Altuve and Correa on the DL this team starts to look a lot less invincible. Luckily for them, they still have an unbelievable starting rotation and a great bullpen that just got a whole lot better adding Ryan Pressly and Roberto Osuna. The team did successfully unload Ken Giles who repeatedly showed character issues in clashes with manager AJ Hinch, but onboarded Osuna who is currently serving the longest domestic violence suspension in league history. Aside from that Osuna is really really good out of the bullpen, and Ryan Pressly ranks 26th in the MLB in SIERA among relievers (2.74) and 20th in K%(32.4%) just ahead of Blake Treinen. Defensively, Maldonado will be a major upgrade as he grades out as one of the best defensive catchers in the league, and I believe he holds the Statcast all-time record for best pop-time on a throw to second base.
4. Los Angeles Dodgers (59-48)
Key Acquisitions: Manny Machado, Brian Dozier, John Axford
While their record certainly doesn’t justify their top five ranking, there are a lot of reasons for that – mainly injuries. This deadline no team looked more desperate to set themselves apart than the Dodgers who went out and got the two biggest names on the market in Machado and Dozier. Admittedly, they paid a steep price for Machado as a rental, but this team knows that their window to win is open now and they have a legitimate chance to play in the World Series again this year. This was an offense that was already top 10 in the MLB in wRC+ (2nd in NL) and just added Machado and Dozier who hit a combined 67 homeruns in 2017. Add that to a lineup that has Turner healthy, Max Muncy, Cody Bellinger and Matt Kemp and the Dodgers are in a good position to score a lot of runs. It also doesn’t hurt that Kershaw is back and is starting to look like vintage Kershaw (2.23ERA, 2.52FIP since DL return) again.
5. Cleveland Indians (57-48)
Key Acquisitions: Brad Hand, Adam Cimber, Leonys Martin
The Indians have not played nearly to their potential this season, and if power rankings were only forward looking they might jump ahead of LAD on my list. The Cubs have a strong claim to this spot, but when it comes to October – the Indians have something that really no other team other than HOU has, dominant starting pitching. At the deadline the Indians gave up the top prospect in their system for Brad Hand which should be a perfect complement to a bullpen that has really struggled this season (5.05ERA, 29th in MLB). Adding Hand and Cimber directly addresses that need, and I fully expect Andrew Miller to return and dominate down the stretch like the top 5 reliever that he’s been over the last 5 years. With two Cy Young candidates, and two MVP candidates on offense this team has a chance to go on a special run down the stretch to potentially catch the top three teams in the AL.
Here’s Fangraphs Rest of Season Projections: