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2023 Vendetta MLB Power Rankings: September

MLB Power Rankings

(AP Photo/John Bazemore)

MLB Power Rankings
(AP Photo/John Bazemore)

2023 Vendetta MLB Power Rankings: September

We are now entering the final month of the 2023 MLB regular season–so you know what that means: Power Rankings time! This month, we only had two voters. There was plenty of movement, for better and worse, but since we don’t want to reveal a ton of spoilers, let’s hop into this month’s power rankings!

30. Oakland Athletics

Last month: 30

Average: 30

(Matt Hanifan 30, Jack Sabin 30)

Say it ain’t so–the Athletics earned their first home sweep of the season over the weekend over the Angels after being on the wrong end of home sweeps eight separate times this season! They have won four of their last five and had one of their better months in August, going 9-18 with only a minus-53 run differential! They still come as the last-ranked team in our monthly power rankings, anyway, so it couldn’t get much worse.

29. Kansas City Royals

Last month: 29

Average: 29.5

(Matt 29, Jack 28)

Cole Ragans’ emergence is the biggest story in Kansas City right now. In eight starts since getting traded from Texas in the Aroldis Chapman trade, Ragans has a 1.51 ERA (1.65 FIP) with 63 strikeouts in 47.2 IP to just 11 walks; his 34.2 strikeout rate trails only Freddy Peralta, Nick Pivetta and Spencer Strider over that span, while his ERA- (34) and FIP- (39) rank atop MLB (min. 40 IP) over that span. You can’t ignore how productive Bobby Witt Jr. has been since the start of June, slashing .309/.350/.549 (899 OPS; 139 wRC+) with 18 home runs, 57 RBIs and 22 stolen bases.

28. Colorado Rockies

Last month: 28

Average: 28.5

(Matt 28, Jack 29)

The Rockies still come in as the worst team in the NL, which is why they come in at No. 28 in our power rankings, and they’re not really any closer to competing in terms of their current and possible future roster than they are now. Some serious overhaul needs to occur this offseason for that to change.

27. Chicago White Sox

Last month: 27

Average: 27

(Matt 27, Jack 27)

Change has arrived in the South Side of Chicago. Last week, the White Sox fired general manager Rick Hahn and executive vice president Kenny Williams. While the ownership elected to hire internally–which begs the question of how much the process will change–the White Sox needed a new decision-maker after an extremely frustrating last 3-4 seasons.

26. St. Louis Cardinals

Last month: 23

Average: 25.5

(Matt 26, Jack 25)

As we mentioned in our August power rankings, the Cardinals did not ship Nolan Arenado or Paul Goldschmidt despite being one of the MLB’s worst and most disappointing teams. They’ve turned to their youth movement and have gotten encouraging results from Jordan Walker and Zack Thompson, but the squad has remained uninspiring collectively as they’re on track to have their worst record since 1978 (69-93).

25. Detroit Tigers

Last month: 26

Average: 25

(Matt 24, Jack 26)

The Tigers only need three more wins to match last year’s win total of 66 and are only 15 more wins from their best record since 2016. Spencer Torkelson continues to rip the cover off the baseball, sporting a .889 OPS with 13 doubles and 17 home runs over his last 252 plate appearances–good enough for a 40 HR pace over 600 plate appearances. Kerry Carpenter also enjoyed a very productive August, slashing .347/.405/.653 (1.059 OPS; 187 wRC+), clobbering nine home runs and 20 RBIs.

24. Washington Nationals

Last month: 25

Average: 24.5

(Matt 25, Jack 24)

The Nationals have honestly surprised me this year. I know they are still last in the NL East but only by a few games. The more important thing in my opinion is their 62-76 record. Now that’s good by any means but nobody expected this Nationals team to be good. Many just expected them to be one of, if not the worst teams in all of MLB. But that simply has not been true. Guys like C.J. Abrams, Lane Thomas, Keibert Ruiz and Mackenzie Gore give hope to the future of this team while showing they have the ability to win games right now. It’s still early in this rebuild, but so far the Nationals seem to be doing what they need to do. They will find themselves in an even better spot once Steven Strasburg and Patrick Corbin finally decide to retire. Until then that’s a lot of money still on the books. I guess it’s good the Nationals’ window is still a few years away. — Jack Sabin

23. Pittsburgh Pirates

Last month: 24

Average: 22.5

(Matt 23, Jack 22)

The Buccos’ best development this season has been Mitch Keller, who’s having the best full season of his career. He has a 2.03 ERA with a 2.68 FIP over his last five starts, surrendering just one run over his last 15 innings of work with 17 strikeouts. They’ve already surpassed their 2021 and 2022 win totals and are on track to have their most wins since they won 82 games in 2018.

22. New York Mets

Last month: 22

Average: 22.5 (tie goes to team with best record, then run differential, etc.)

(Matt 22, Jack 23)

I would love to just spend this entire time trashing the Mets. But truth be told, this second half hasn’t been quite as bad as I expected. After the Mets basically sold their entire team, many expected the rest of the year to be a dumpster fire. Now while it hasn’t been sunshine and rainbows, it hasn’t been horrible either. They have just been kind of mid. The Mets calling up Ronny Mauricio gives fans something to be excited about I guess. But the next few years are going to be brought for the Mets–especially while they offload all these huge contracts they are still on the book for. I guess the question becomes what happens to guys like Francisco Lindor and Pete Alonso? Only time will tell. — Sabin

21. Los Angeles Angels

Last month: 15

Average: 21

(Matt 21, Jack 21)

What a fall from grace the Angels have incured, dropping six spots in this month’s power rankings. In case you decided to live under a rock from the trade deadline to now … are you sitting down? I have some news for you. The Angels fell apart in Angels fashion … like, hard. All the key names they acquired at the deadline — Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Randal Grichuk, most notably — aren’t with the team anymore! Shohei Ohtani also tore his UCL, and they’re delaying UCL surgery, even though it’s been deemed “inevitable” that he will need to receive it. Oh, and one more thing: They went 8-19 in August and are 12.5 games out of the final Wild Card spot after being in the race mere weeks ago. Yikes!

20. San Diego Padres

Last month: 16

Average: 19.5

(Matt 20, Jack 19)

Blake Snell is likely the current favorite to win the NL CY Young, sporting a 2.50 ERA — despite a 3.69 FIP — with a 31.1 percent strikeout rate. Since May 30, he sports a 1.29 ERA, 2.89 FIP and a 35.0 K%, surrendering north of two runs in just two of his 18 starts over that span. The Padres, who are nine games below .500, have still been arguably the most disappointing team in MLB given their talent, but Snell has stepped up every 5th day. He deserves his flowers.

19. New York Yankees

Last month: 17

Average: 19

(Matt 18, Jack 20)

The Yankees sunk their playoff odds like the Titanic in August, which led them to call up Everson Pereira and, most recently, Jasson Dominguez and Austin Wells. The Martian (Dominguez) homered in his inaugural at-bat while Wells and Pereira have both struggled. In all fairness, all three have limited Triple-A experience–so expect bumps. But it’s encouraging to see the Yankees pick a direction and see what they have, at minimum, with their youngins. It’s not about wins and losses for the Yankees right now, as uncharacteristic as it sounds.

The Yankees, who fell to No. 19 in this month’s power rankings, called up “The Kids.”

18. Cleveland Guardians

Last month: 20

Average: 18.5

(Matt 19, Jack 18)

Minnesota’s 20-6 embarrassment over Cleveland Monday pushed the Guardians to six back of the division. Time is running out for the Guardians, who made recent investments in Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, whom they claimed off waivers. They got Josh Naylor back from the IL this week in hopes of sparking their offense that sunk back to No. 28 in wRC+ (77) in the month of August. On the bright side? It’s been very encouraging to see what Tanner Bibee, Logan Allen and Gavin Williams have been able to produce on the bump — along with their bullpen.

17. Miami Marlins

Last month: 12

Average: 16.5

(Matt 17, Jack 16)

The Marlins might end up being the biggest winners of the 2023 Trade Deadline. I mean it feels like every trade they made landed them someone who is helping them win right now. Josh Bell and Jake Burger have been huge additions to a Marlins lineup that was seriously lacking power outside of Jorge Soler. The two have continued their hot season while in Miami and it’s boded well for the Marlins thus far. David Robertson has become another reliable arm in the bullpen giving them plenty of quality innings. This Marlins team is still rather young, but they are building something special down in Miami, they play their cards right they can be serious contenders in the NL very soon. — Sabin

16. Arizona Diamondbacks

Last month: 8

Average: 16.5

(Matt 16, Jack 17)

The fall from grace the Diamondbacks have gone through has truly been a great one. At one point, they were fighting for the top of the NL West with the Dodgers and one of the hottest teams in MLB. They then made a trade for Paul Sewald to sure up their bullpen and many expected a strong second half to the year. But it’s been anything but that for this Diamondbacks team. They now find themselves at 70-67 fighting with the Marlins for the last wild card spot. So what’s been the issue? In short, the starting pitching had been horrible. The last seven outings from Diamondbacks starting pitching have yielded 31 runs in 36.0 innings. Guys like Zac Gallen and Merril Kelly have been good all year, but outside of those two, there just hasn’t been the depth in the back end of this rotation. Something that the Diamondbacks will regret not addressing at the deadline. For now, they hope to sneak into that last wild card spot and maybe do some damage late. — Sabin

15. Cincinnati Reds

Last month: 11

Average: 14.5

(Matt 15, Jack 14)

Perhaps no team recently has been affected by injuries as much as the Reds have. It was a promising start for a young Reds team in the middle of a rebuild. Nobody expected them to even be decent so their hot start was a great story for MLB. A team led by multiple younger/exciting kids and was overall just a fun team to watch. But alas as the season went on they started to cool off and the inconsistencies of their youth started to show. Along with that, was a string of injuries the Reds have had to deal with. Names like Johnathan India, Matt Mclain, Hunter Greene and Hunter Ashcraft are just a few of the many players who have been forced to miss time. This isn’t the year for the Reds, but they can certainly put MLB on notice in years to come. — Sabin

14. Boston Red Sox

Last month: 14

Average: 14.5

(Matt 14, Jack 15)

Boston’s starting pitching has predictably been murky all season, and that has been the biggest reason for their demise. They posted baseball’s sixth-worst ERA- (119) in August, and while their FIP indicates there should be some positive regression, it’s still below average. Thankfully for Boston, Chris Sale returned and has held his own while there continue to be positive flashes from wunderkind Brayan Bello, who sported a 3.51 ERA in August and featured yet another quality start Monday against Tampa. 

The Sox are No. 14 in our Sept. power rankings.

13. San Francisco Giants

Last month: 9

Average: 12.5

(Matt 13, Jack 12)

The Giants’ offense has been the biggest reason for their demise over the last month. They finished August with a bottom-five wRC+ (79) and the seventh-highest strikeout rate (25.4 K%). They’ve scored one run or fewer in four of their last six games and 11 additional times since July 19. They’re lumped into the chaotic NL Wild Card race, currently only one game back. But with series against Chicago, Cleveland, Arizona, San Diego and Los Angeles, they’re going to need to turn it around sooner rather than later if they don’t want to miss the postseason for the seventh time in eight years.

12. Minnesota Twins

Last month: 21

Average: 12.5

(Matt 12, Jack 13)

Royce Lewis won’t stop hitting grand slams; he’s clobbered THREE over his last eight games and has hit seven of his 11 home runs over his last 12 alone. He’s missed time due to injury but features a .317/.363/.545 slash line this season, albeit over a smaller sample of 179 plate appearances. As long as the former No. 1 overall pick can stay on the field, he’ll be a mainstay on the left side of the infield for Minnesota for the foreseeable future.

11. Toronto Blue Jays

Last month: 7

Average: 11

(Matt 11, Jack 11)

The Jays are seven games back of the Tampa Bay Rays and 10.5 back of Baltimore for the division lead, but are jostling with Houston and Texas for the third-and-final wild card spot. They’re on the outside looking in but have six incredibly important series against Texas, Boston, New York (twice) and Tampa (twice) in the month of September that will ultimately solve their demise. They fall just outside the top-10 in our power rankings this month.

10. Chicago Cubs

Last month: 18

Average: 10

(Matt 10, Jack 10)

Go Cubs Go! They’ve been the polar opposite of their south-side counterparts, fighting with the Brewers for the NL Central title with the NL’s third-best run differential and cracking our top-10 this month. They went 18-9 in August and are three games up on the D-Backs and Reds for the third wild card spot–a spot few predicted they’d be in this season. Justin Steele has turned into a legitimate NL CY Young candidate, tossing his second straight shutout (8.0 IP, 12 K) against the Giants Monday. Chicago’s also gotten excellent production from Javier Assad amid Marcus Stroman’s injury, in addition to a massive bounce-back campaign from Cody Bellinger

The Dodgers, who crack our top-3 in our power rankings, lost their star left-handed pitcher for the season (most likely) Monday.

9. Milwaukee Brewers

Last month: 13

Average: 8

(Matt 7, Jack 9)

Freddy Peralta has been MLB’s most dominant pitcher–along with Ragans–over the last month, tallying a 1.71 ERA with a 1.62 FIP and a remarkable 44.2 strikeout rate since July 26 (seven starts, 42 IP). Peralta, Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff form an elite three-man rotation that will almost certainly give teams fits in October, but the biggest question mark will continue to be if the offense can consistently produce. They’re 15-7 with series wins over Texas (sweep), Minnesota (sweep), San Diego (sweep) and Philadelphia since Aug. 9, despite the offense ranking No. 20 in wRC+ (90) over that span. Perhaps they need to be just average to make a deep run? 

8. Philadelphia Phillies

Last month: 10

Average: 8

(Matt 9, Jack 7)

The Phillies might just be the best second-half team in all of MLB (Mariners not included). But this will now make it two years in a row the Phillies make a late second-half surge. This year is a bit different as it’s coming a little earlier which should land them that top spot in the NL Wild Card. Bryce Harper and Trea Tuner have been nuclear essentially doubling their home run numbers in just one month–providing this lineup the boost of power it’s desperately needed. If the two of them can stay hot, this is easily one of the most complete lineups in all of baseball. Aaron Nola has shown flashes recently despite the poor start to the year. Zack Wheeler is still doing his thing and the addition of Michael Lorenzon has worked wonders for the Phillies thus far. — Sabin

7. Houston Astros

Last month: 5

Average: 7.5

(Matt 8, Jack 7)

The Astros were swept at home by New York over the weekend after finishing 17-11 with a plus-44 run differential in August. It marked their third time getting swept at home this year — the other two coming to Cincinnati and Seattle, who leads Houston (and Texas) by one game in the AL West. They have the easiest remaining schedule by a considerable amount but are going to need to pitch much better than they have recently if they stand a chance at lasting in October. Their road series against the Rangers beginning Monday will be huge.

6. Texas Rangers

Last month: 3

Average: 6

(Matt 6, Jack 6)

After rattling off an eight-game win streak and 12 of 14 to begin August, the Rangers have lost 13 of their last 17–including four of their last five. They held at least a share of the AL West each day since April 8 until falling behind on Aug. 17 (after being up by 6.5 games). Their bullpen has been poor over this daunting stretch, posting an MLB-worst 151 FIP- — 23 percentage points better than the next-worst–coupled with the fourth-worst ERA- (153). Their offense has also regressed slightly, but eight of their 13 losses have come by three runs or fewer. They’re going to need to turn it around if they want to have a deep October run, which is always in play with Bruce Bochy pushing the buttons.

5. Tampa Bay Rays

Last month: 6

Average: 4.5

(Matt 4, Jack 5)

It’s been a rough last two months for Tampa, who went 8-16 in the month of July and subsequently lost star shortstop Wander Franco for the foreseeable future for … some (disgustingly bad) bad guy stuff. They still posted the No. 6 offense in MLB (122 wRC+) for the month of August, headed by Josh Lowe, Randy Arozarena and Yandy Diaz, who found his swing again after cooling off post-May. Their pitching staff is still beat up, but they’re returning Taj Bradley this month and still have a formidable trio of Tyler Glasnow, Aaron Civale and Zach Eflin.

The Rays, who crack the top-5 in our Sep. power rankings, lost a huge piece to their middle infield.

4. Seattle Mariners

Last month: 19

Average: 4

(Matt 5, Jack 3)

No team had a better month of August than the Mariners, who went 21-6 with a plus-68 run differential. Their lineup that struggled to find its footing … well, finally found its footing, led by Julio Rodriguez. He slashed .429/.474/.724 — an absurd 1.197 OPS, 231 wRC+ — in August, recording 10 doubles, seven home runs, 11 stolen bases and 30 RBIs. More importantly, his swing decisions were much better, resulting in a 42.6 percent hard-hit rate. Teoscar Hernandez, J.P. Crawford and Ty France followed with very productive months at the dish.

3. Baltimore Orioles

Last month: 2

Average: 3.5

(Matt 3, Jack 4)

The Orioles placed within the top 3 in this month’s MLB Power Rankings for the second consecutive month after entering the season outside the top 15. I know, in retrospect, it looks silly. They lead the AL East by 2.5 games and could be on the verge of their first AL East Title in nearly a decade. Gunnar Henderson is turning into a star right before our eyes while Kyle Bradish has flown under the radar with his near sub-3 ERA (139 ERA+). This is not a team to reckon with come October, even though question marks remain throughout their rotation.

2. Los Angeles Dodgers

Last month: 4

Average: 2

(Matt 2, Jack 2)

Perhaps the team with the best chance at dethroning the Braves atop the NL would be the Los Angeles Dodgers. Year in and year out, they are among the favorites to win the NL and 2023 has been no different in that regard. They did just drop three of four to Atlanta, but nobody doubts this Dodgers team has what it takes to knock off the Braves. Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman have been red hot as of late, creating a rather interesting NL MVP race. The addition of Lance Lynn has worked wonders as he has looked like a completely different pitcher while in L.A. The bullpen has shown an ability to hold it down late in games as well. The truth is this Dodgers team doesn’t really do anything bad, much like the Braves. The loss of Julio Urias is sure to hurt down the stretch, but the Dodgers always find somebody to fill in. — Sabin

1. Atlanta Braves

Last month: 1

Average: 1

(Matt 1, Jack 1)

I’ve pretty much written about the Braves every month for these power rankings. I don’t want to sound like a broken record but I really don’t know what else to say. This Braves team has pretty much been the best team in MLB the entire year and I don’t see that changing as we near the playoffs. Max Fried has returned from the IL with Kyle Wright soon to follow as he makes rehab starts. The addition of these two will be huge for the Braves and turn what many viewed as a weakness into their potential strength. This team will do damage come playoff time and I don’t think any of us will be surprised. The lineup speaks for itself and is filled to the brim with talent. If Fried and Wright can come back as advertised, I don’t see anyone beating the Braves. — Sabin


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