Power Rankings: Make way for a new No. 1

It was perhaps only a matter of time, but the season-long duel between the Dodgers and Astros for the top slot in our rankings has seen its first changing of the guard since L.A. overtook Houston back in Week 8. Blame getting Zack Greinke, blame Yordan Alvarez's latest feats of strength, but the Astros have regained No. 1 status after getting a majority of first-place votes. Since Opening Day, the Dodgers have been in the top slot in 14 of 19 weeks, the Astros claiming the title in the other five. Now that they have it, can they keep it?

That change wasn't the only big development this week, even in the top five, as the Indians inched one key rung ahead of the Twins. And the Mets' incredible in-season comeback saw them rise seven spots all the way back into our top 10, displacing the Nationals in the voting.

Teams losing significant ground this week included the Cardinals, Phillies, Giants and Pirates, with all four clubs dropping three spots. It remains to be seen if any of the first three clubs in that unhappy group can make good on their tenuous postseason hopes. If the Mets can, why not? As the old saying goes, it ain't over till it's over.

For Week 19, our panel of voters was composed of Bradford Doolittle, Christina Kahrl, Eric Karabell, Tim Kurkjian and David Schoenfield.

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  1. Houston Astros

    2019 record:77-41

    Week 18 ranking:2

    Top hitting prospect Kyle Tucker has played games at first base for Triple-A Round Rock, but good luck pushing Yuli Gurriel to the side. Gurriel hit 31 home runs total in his first two full seasons with the Astros and entered July with only eight. Yawn. Then Gurriel had a monster July, with 12 home runs and 31 RBIs, and little has changed this month. Gurriel knocked in eight runs in a home game against the Rockies last week. He is well on his way to more than 100 RBIs, and his starting job is secure. -- Eric Karabell

    ICYMI:Greinke rocked in Houston debut, but Astros keep rolling

  2. Los Angeles Dodgers

    2019 record:79-41

    Week 18 ranking:1

    From the files of the unexpected: A couple of weeks ago,Kristopher Negron was a bench player for the last-place Mariners (after spending most of the season in Triple-A). On Saturday, there was Negron batting third in the Dodgers lineup. Even he couldn't have predicted something like that happening. Dave Roberts was riding a bit of a hot hand, as Negron homered in his first two games with the Dodgers and hit .345 through his first nine starts. As far as the established stars, Clayton Kershaw has now allowed two runs or fewer in six consecutive starts, with a 1.66 ERA. -- David Schoenfield

    ICYMI: Ranking Dodgers rookies on their October potential

  3. New York Yankees

    2019 record:77-41

    Week 18 ranking:3

    Masahiro Tanaka had a 9.49 ERA since the All-Star break, worst among starters with at least five starts, but he tossed eight scoreless innings in Sunday's 1-0 win over the Blue Jays, just the third time a Yankees starter has gone at least eight innings this season (twice by Tanaka, once by James Paxton). The other big news was the continued mashing of Gio Urshela and Mike Tauchman. Urshela had back-to-back two-homer games and five homers during the week. Tauchman had a two-homer game and also had five homers during the week.-- Schoenfield

    ICYMI:Severino takes big step in bullpen session

  4. Cleveland Indians

    2019 record:71-47

    Week 18 ranking:5

    As the Indians sneak back toward the top, give the Tribe credit for banking on what Roberto Perez could do for them in a full-time role while picking up Kevin Plawecki to caddy for him. Beyond mashing a career-high 19 home runs, Perez is among the MLB leaders in runs generated by pitch-framing, and he and Plawecki have saved the Tribe 10 runs with their receiving skills. -- Christina Kahrl

    ICYMI: Where Tribe ranks among contenders after deadline

  5. Minnesota Twins

    2019 record:71-47

    Week 18 ranking:4

    Eleven Twins have already reached double digits in home runs, leaving them one short of the big league record set by last season's Yankees. Who needs to power up to get the Twins to the record? Well, it might be tough! Ehire Adrianza and Luis Arraez are not exactly power hitters, and Willians Astudillo might not return from his oblique injury until September. Still, celebrate the team cruising to the overall home run record and its significant depth. Eight players have a good chance for 20 home runs; last season, just two Twins did it. -- Karabell

    ICYMI:20 amazing facts from Year of the Home Run

  6. Tampa Bay Rays

    2019 record:69-50

    Week 18 ranking:6

    Here's a name to watch in September or, if not, then in 2020: Dylan Cozens. You might recall when Cozens formed a formidable power-hitting duo with Rhys Hoskins at Double-A Reading. In 2016, Cozens posted 40 homers and 125 RBIs for Reading, while Hoskins had 38 and 116. Cozens is a year younger than Hoskins. While Hoskins has gone on to become a lineup fixture for the Phillies, Cozens was released last week. Who picked him up? Tampa Bay, and you know what happens when the Rays spot something they like in a player. Cozens has missed all of 2019 with a toe injury, but Josh Tolentino of The Athletic reported there is a "slim chance" Cozens might return in September. -- Bradford Doolittle

    ICYMI: Stock Watch -- Rays target postseason return

  7. Atlanta Braves

    2019 record:70-50

    Week 18 ranking:8

    This wasn't how it was supposed to work out. Less than two weeks after picking up the three relievers at the trade deadline, the Braves suddenly have a closer controversy as Brian Snitker is showing a lack of patience, moving from Luke Jackson to Shane Greene and now to Mark Melancon -- who promptly blew a 6-2 lead in the bottom of the ninth inning Saturday in his first game as closer (with help from Greene). The Marlins won the game in the 10th off Sean Newcomb. Sunday, Snitker got a save from Jackson, so stay tuned. -- Schoenfield

    ICYMI: What deadline hole did the Braves fail to fill?

  8. Chicago Cubs

    2019 record:64-54

    Week 18 ranking:9

    After a split with the Reds over the weekend at Great American Ball Park, the Cubs' quest to solve their road woes continues. Chicago is 23-35 away from the Friendly Confines after Sunday's victory, and the fault lies almost entirely with the pitching staff. Entering Sunday's game, Chicago pitching was giving up 3.78 per game at Wrigley Field and 4.98 away from it. The main offender over a significant body of work has been Kyle Hendricks (1.98 home ERA, 5.16 road). The Cubs play all six of their games on the road in the coming week, with three each at Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. -- Doolittle

    ICYMI: Why can't the Cubs win away from Wrigley?

  9. Oakland Athletics

    2019 record:67-51

    Week 18 ranking:7

    What's keeping the A's in the American League wild-card race? Perhaps more than anything else, starting pitching. Expected to be a weakness before the season, not to mention after the suspension of Frankie Montas, they're instead getting great turns every fifth day from both Mike Fiers and Chris Bassitt. The duo has combined for nine quality starts in 12 turns since the All-Star break, combining for a 1.89 ERA. -- Kahrl

  10. New York Mets

    2019 record:61-57

    Week 18 ranking:17

    Think about what has changed for right-hander Zack Wheeler in the past few weeks. He was on the injured list with shoulder trouble, still prime trade-bait material, and his ERA was an unsightly 4.71. Since then, he got healthy, avoided a trade and has won his past three starts, permitting nary a run in the most recent two. He also lowered his ERA to a season-best 4.20. The schedule shows Wheeler facing the Braves and Royals this coming week, both on the road. If he and Steven Matz continue thriving, perhaps a playoff berth is not so daunting. -- Karabell

    ICYMI:Key matchups for Mets, other contenders down the stretch

  11. Washington Nationals

    2019 record:62-55

    Week 18 ranking:10

    The Nationals salvaged the final game of the Mets series with a 7-4 victory, but the horrendous loss Friday and eighth-inning loss Saturday turned what could have been a 6-0 week into a 4-2. They did finish 5-4 on the road trip and now get six at home against the Reds and Brewers. Max Scherzer will throw a simulated game Tuesday, and if that goes well, he could be back soon. -- Schoenfield

    ICYMI:How 'Baby Shark' helped Nats bounce back

  12. Boston Red Sox

    2019 record:62-58

    Week 18 ranking:12

    After striking out 13 batters Thursday, Chris Sale passed Gerrit Cole with a league-best 13.2 K's per nine innings, the third-highest rate by a qualifying starter in history. Sale's season has been a disappointment -- too many hits with runners on base -- but he and Cy Young contender Cole have identical walk rates and identical home run rates. -- Sam Miller

    ICYMI: Toast of MLB last year, 2019 Sox are toast

  13. Milwaukee Brewers

    2019 record:62-57

    Week 18 ranking:14

    The Brewers earned a lot of grit points in the past week. After limping out of Chicago on the heels of a three-game sweep, Milwaukee's record had slipped to just one game over .500. Worse, the back woes that plagued MVP Christian Yelich earlier this season resurfaced, forcing him out of the lineup. How did the floundering Brewers respond? With five consecutive wins, of course. Challenges remain, such as figuring out how to squeeze every bit of value from closer Josh Hader without grinding him into hamburger, but the Brewers aren't done yet. -- Doolittle

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  14. St. Louis Cardinals

    2019 record:61-55

    Week 18 ranking:11

    A three-game sweep by the Dodgers to begin the past week took the Cardinals from the National League's wild-card lead to a half-game back, as the team totaled just two runs in those three contests. The returns of Matt Carpenter and Marcell Ozuna from the IL haven't injected as much life into the offense as quickly as hoped: Ozuna has two home runs in seven games since activation but just five total hits, while Carpenter has added only one extra-base hit.-- Tristan H. Cockcroft

  15. Arizona Diamondbacks

    2019 record:59-59

    Week 18 ranking:15

    Arizona went 3-3 in the past week, fittingly: The Diamondbacks have been at exactly .500 27 times this season, including right now. Since they beat the Dodgers to improve to 40-40 on June 24, they've been exactly even at 40, 41, 42, 43, 45, 47, 50, 51, 52, 54, 54, 56, 57 and now 59 wins. -- Miller

  16. Philadelphia Phillies

    2019 record:60-58

    Week 18 ranking:13

    While Rhys Hoskins and Bryce Harper could finish the season 1-2 in the NL in walks, it is fair to wonder what happened to once-patient second baseman Cesar Hernandez, who entered the season with a 10% career walk rate. Last season, Hernandez drew free passes in 13.4% of his plate appearances, and only seven big leaguers drew more walks. This year, Hernandez might not reach half of his 95 walks from 2018. The Phillies need him to lead off, but that is going poorly because Hernandez is swinging at so many non-strikes. A return to patience would really aid the struggling lineup. -- Karabell

    ICYMI: Phillies fail to fill every hole at deadline

  17. Cincinnati Reds

    2019 record:56-60

    Week 18 ranking:20

    The Reds are winners of seven of 11 games since the three-team trade that brought starting pitcher Trevor Bauer from Cleveland and sent Yasiel Puig there. Rookie Aristides Aquino, Puig's replacement, has been on a historic tear, his three-homer outburst Saturday capping what has been a run of homering seven times in his first 10 games (counting his one-game debut last season) to tie Trevor Story's record for the most homers through that many career games.-- Cockcroft

    ICYMI: Whoa! Rookie Aquino homers three more times

  18. Texas Rangers

    2019 record:59-58

    Week 18 ranking:18

    Texas bookended a four-game losing streak with a pair of 1-0 victories this past week, its first two 1-0 wins of the season. The Rangers have been hanging on for dear life all season, but they're down to a single thread: Baseball Prospectus has their playoff odds at 0.1%. -- Miller

  19. San Francisco Giants

    2019 record:59-60

    Week 18 ranking:16

    Jeff Samardzija has been steadily nailing down 2019 as a complete bounce-back season from an injury-shortened 2018. In his past eight starts, he's given the Giants a 1.95 ERA, six quality starts (all SF victories) to bring his ERA down almost a full run to 3.55. If he keeps it up, that ERA would be his best since his breakthrough campaign in 2014 split between the Cubs and A's. -- Kahrl

    ICYMI:Like Giants, Sandoval not ready to be counted out

  20. Los Angeles Angels

    2019 record:58-61

    Week 18 ranking:19

    The Angels continue to struggle to find competent starting pitching, making a wild-card run seem daunting. Right-hander Felix Pena, the club leader in innings, suffered a torn ACL in his most recent outing. Rookie right-hander Griffin Canning is out with elbow inflammation. Jaime Barria, Jose Suarez and others have not stepped up. Can Mike Trout pitch? The Angels have struggling players and injuries on offense as well, but keeping the staff's ERA on the good side of 5.00 continues to be a problem. -- Karabell

    ICYMI:Mike Trout's one rule for hitting

  21. San Diego Padres

    2019 record:55-62

    Week 18 ranking:21

    The Padres have gotten good hitting after the trade deadline, their 5.6-runs-per-game average since ranking sixth-best. Rookie Fernando Tatis Jr., who hit leadoff homers in back-to-back games during the past week to give himself a franchise-record six for the season, continues to set the tone. He just had a 14-game hitting streak snapped Sunday, during which time he has batted 19-for-60 (.317) with six homers.-- Cockcroft

  22. Colorado Rockies

    2019 record:53-65

    Week 18 ranking:22

    A five-game road losing streak to begin the past week dropped the Rockies' record on the road to 3-15 since July 1 and plunged the team further into last place in the NL West. It also now has Colorado closer to the NL's worst record than the league's second wild card. The team's pitching staff has been a real letdown in August, with a 6.99 ERA.-- Cockcroft

  23. Chicago White Sox

    2019 record:52-64

    Week 18 ranking:25

    We haven't heard as much about ebullient White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson lately, but he continues to provide evidence he's taken his offense to a new level. After sitting out a month with a bad ankle sprain, Anderson's second-half production remains on par with what he put up during his breakout start to the campaign. He's hitting .360 since the break and stands at .324 on the season, hitting .323 at home and .325 away. He's hit .327 against righties and .316 off lefties. All of this is evidence of a new level of consistency. -- Doolittle

    ICYMI: Why Luis Robert can't hit when Keith Law is there

  24. Toronto Blue Jays

    2019 record:49-72

    Week 18 ranking:24

    Toronto phenom Bo Bichette, who debuted July 29, has more doubles this season than Justin Smoak, the Blue Jays' everyday first baseman -- and also more than Khris Davis, and for that matter Chris Davis.-- Miller

    ICYMI: Bo knows hitting -- and Jays rookie has record to prove it

  25. Seattle Mariners

    2019 record:48-71

    Week 18 ranking:27

    Justus Sheffield, the key guy received in the James Paxton trade, struggled so much in Triple-A that he was demoted to Double-A, where he has dominated with a 1.49 ERA in 10 starts, averaging 6.6 innings per outing without allowing a home run. More important, he's throwing strikes again (1.9 walks per nine compared to 6.7 in Triple-A). He made one relief appearance earlier this season for the Mariners, and it makes sense for them to promote him in September and give him four or five starts down the stretch. -- Schoenfield

    ICYMI: M's Beckham suspended for PEDs

  26. Pittsburgh Pirates

    2019 record:48-69

    Week 18 ranking:23

    It's fair to ask when this team might win again. The Pirates are mired in a 4-24 skid since the All-Star break, sinking them from 2 games back in the NL Central race to 15 back, not to mention placing them just four games ahead of the Marlins for the NL's worst record. Josh Bell's hitting woes have set the tone; until Sunday's pair of homers, he hadn't hit one since the All-Star break.-- Cockcroft

    ICYMI:Cervelli begins rehab from latest concussion

  27. Kansas City Royals

    2019 record:43-69

    Week 18 ranking:28

    Mike Montgomery threw seven shutout frames with 12 strikeouts in Detroit on Saturday, resulting in a game score (81) that ranks as the second-best among Royals starters this season. If we copied that sentence and mailed it back to 2010, it would hardly seem surprising. With the gem, however, the onetime elite K.C. prospect has officially come full circle. It was an encouraging step in Montgomery's quest to finally become a rotation staple; his ERA over five starts (4.63) won't turn any heads, but he got 24 strikeouts against just three walks over 23 innings in those outings. -- Doolittle

  28. Miami Marlins

    2019 record:44-73

    Week 18 ranking:26

    With his first 20-homer season already under his belt and his OPS now above .800, the emergence of Brian Anderson as a solid starter at third base or right field creates some interesting choices for the Fish as far as what to do with him. He'll be 27 next season, and the Marlins won't contend for years yet, but he won't be arbitration-eligible until after 2020, making him an interesting, cost-controlled target for contenders looking for help at the corners this winter. -- Kahrl

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  29. Baltimore Orioles

    2019 record:39-78

    Week 18 ranking:29

    The bad fun fact for the Orioles: After a 23-2 drubbing Saturday, they've allowed six or more home runs in a game seven times this year, more than the rest of the American League's teams combined. The good fun fact: Their walk-off win Sunday was their first of the year, so they won't be the first team without a walk-off win since 1995.-- Miller

  30. Detroit Tigers

    2019 record:35-80

    Week 18 ranking:30

    After losing JaCoby Jones for the season to a fractured wrist, the lone happy note left in the lineup might be Niko Goodrum showing he could be an effective everyday player at second or short. So as long as he's still in action, there's no place to go but up for everybody else, right? The Tigers' rate of scoring since the All-Star break has improved slightly, ranking 29th among MLB teams, but their offense is still in last place overall in the Year of the Home Run. -- Kahrl

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