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Phil Rogers' MLB power rankings

Pitching pushes Rangers to the top

Phil Rogers

On Baseball

5:46 PM CDT, September 17, 2012

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1. Rangers (3): No question that this is the deepest pitching staff — starters and bullpen — in the American League. Ron Washington and Mike Maddux are turning Koji Uehara into another weapon for the middle innings.

2. Nationals (1): Dropped their last seven games to the Braves and Phillies. A post-Stephen Strasburg shutdown collapse would be like something from the pen of Poe.

3. Reds (4): Johnny Cueto's three-game losing streak will be quickly forgotten if he turns in a couple of strong starts as Dusty Baker gets his guys ready for October. The bigger issue is getting Aroldis Chapman back on track.

4. Athletics (7): Can they overtake the Rangers? They have seven games left with the two-time defending AL champs and would love to avoid the one-game wild-card playoff.

5. Braves (5): Kris Medlen has been the hottest pitcher in the majors, if not the best, since the All-Star break. He and his fellow pitchers held the Nationals to six runs in three games over the weekend.

6. Yankees (9): They are 1-4 in CC Sabathia starts since he came off the disabled list. Ivan Nova's successful return, the pending return of Andy Pettitte and the continued success of Phil Hughes and Hiroki Kuroda lessen Sabathia's significance, however.

7. Orioles (6): Randy Wolf, who was released by the Brewers, moves into Jason Hammel's spot in an already thin rotation. The lineup looks better all the time, however.

8. Rays (2): Rookie Chris Archer may have pitched his way onto the playoff roster, if the Rays can make the playoffs. They just don't score enough runs to enjoy easy wins.

9. White Sox (10): Adam Dunn's return is huge. The Sox are 25-11 when he hits a homer. And welcome back, Matt Thornton. You were missed.

10. Angels (8): They have six games left against the Rangers, who would love to knock them out of the wild-card race.

11. Giants (11): Buster Posey just might steal the NL's Most Valuable Player award. Who can beat him?

12. Tigers (12): Lost their last 10 one-run games, including Sunday's ninth-inning crusher in Cleveland, and Monday's pivotal game in Chicago.

13. Brewers (15): Think of Marco Estrada and Wily Peralta as Zack Greinke and Randy Wolf. Oh, yeah, Ryan Braun could win a second consecutive MVP, couldn't he?

14. Cardinals (13): The cavalry (Chris Carpenter) is coming!

15. Phillies (16): Vaunted pitching staff allowed the Astros to score 24 runs in four games over the weekend. Was that the momentum stopper it seemed?

16. Dodgers (14): Clayton Kershaw's hip injury could be a death blow for a team that already had lost Chad Billingsley and Ted Lilly, and opted not to meet the Cubs' asking price for Ryan Dempster.

17. Padres (20): Impressive second half (37-23) continues. They've matched the Giants' record in the second half, and among NL teams only the Reds, Nationals and Braves have more wins since the All-Star break.

18. Diamondbacks (17): Justin Upton has been out-homered by his older brother, B.J. That wasn't supposed to happen.

19. Mariners (21): With another one or two bats, this could be a dangerous team.

20. Pirates (18): Slapped around by the Cubs when it mattered.

21. Royals (22): With Wil Myers in the wings, they'll be working hard to offload Jeff Francoeur in the offseason.

22. Blue Jays (19): With Jose Bautista a medical casualty, Edwin Encarnacion emerges as a 40-home run hitter. Signing him to a three-year, $29 million extension in July looks like a very smart move.

23. Marlins (24): Will Jacob Turner haunt the Tigers, who traded him for Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante?

24. Red Sox (26): Everyone seems to know Bobby Valentine isn't coming back except Valentine.

25. Mets (23): Horrible second half continues.

26. Rockies (25): Will they be able to sign free-agent pitchers? It's hard to imagine how they are going to address their pitching deficit.

27. Cubs (29): Alfonso Soriano could have been a difference-maker for a playoff team like the Rays or Tigers. It's hard to see why teams would trade for him in the offseason when they passed on him in July and August, unless a non-contender like the Padres, Marlins or Indians enters the picture.

28. Twins (28): They have less starting pitching than the Cubs, and that's saying something.

29. Indians (27): It's hard to believe Manny Acta can hold on to his job given the 11-37 record since July 26.

30. Astros (30): It's fun to imagine Larry Bowa as the manager of a team built around kids and run by statistical analysts.

progers@tribune.com

Twitter @ChiTribRogers