MLB Power Rankings: Wild-card roller coaster continues with two weeks left, Brewers move into top five

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As we head to the final two weeks of the 2023 Major League Baseball season, I’m left grappling with just how Jekyl and Hyde an assortment of contenders have been this season. There are always hot-and-cold teams and now that we’ve opened the playoffs up to 12 of the 30 teams, there will inevitably be inconsistent contenders. Perhaps it’s recency bias playing games with my brain, but it just feels extreme this season.
We can start with the following question: What in the world is going on with the Texas Rangers?
Good lord, man. The Rangers entered August in first place and won eight straight. They had won 12 of 14 before embarking on all kinds of losing. They dropped eight straight. Then they won three of four to tease their fans before losing seven of their next eight games. Then they won six straight, a stretch that included an emphatic four-game sweep of the Blue Jays in Toronto, outscoring them 35-9. They were back! And then they went to Cleveland against a mediocre-at-best Guardians team and got their teeth kicked in. They were outscored 23-6 in the three-game sweep. Terrible.
The Rangers are the most maddeningly inconsistent team from the bunch, but they are far from alone in being impossible to figure out.
The Cubs got off to a decent start, but were brutal from late April through June 8, falling to 26-36. From June 8 through Sept. 6, they went 50-28 (that’s a full-season pace of 104 wins). But now they’ve lost eight of 10.
The Diamondbacks had a three-game lead after winning on July 1. They then went into the tank for over a month, going 7-25 through Aug. 11. Then they won 12 of their next 15. Then they lost six of eight before winning five of six. On and on the roller coaster goes.
The Marlins went 19-8 in June and then 9-15 in July. They were 9-17 in August until winning on the 31st and starting a stretch where they won six in a row and — this is current — 12 of 17. They just swept the Braves. This is a team that lost five straight to the Cardinals and Rockies in July.
The Reds started 7-15. Remember that? They were 21-29 heading to Memorial Day weekend. Starting June 10, they won 12 straight and 20 of 24. They lost six in a row wrapped around the All-Star break but then won five straight and close July with nine wins in their last 12 games. Of course, they lost eight of their first nine in August. Right now they’ve won five of seven, but that followed a stretch where they were 6-10.
The Mariners were 38-42 heading to July. In July and August combined, they were 38-15 (a full-season pace of 116 wins, which sounds familiar). And now they are 5-11 in September. So they went from mediocre to the best team in baseball to bad.
The Blue Jays started 18-9 and played just a few games over .500 through Sept. 2. Then they won six of seven before getting obliterated by the Rangers are home for four games. And then they turned around and swept the Red Sox.
The Giants were 17-23 in the middle of May, then they got awesome for a bit. They won 25 of their next 34. After a seven-game winning streak in July, they were 13 games over .500. Then they lost six straight. From Aug. 5 through Sept. 6, they went 9-21. They then won five of six. Then lost three straight before Sunday’s win.
As a huge roller coaster fan, running through this was like a quick trip to Cedar Point. Exhilarating.
Will one of these teams put it together and get hot at the right time, which would mean a deep playoff run? It feels unlikely for most of them, given how unreliable they’ve proven to be. Still, the highs with all of these teams have been incredibly high (Top Thrill 2 high?). Keep an eye on any one of them for great entertainment and possibly good — or possibly terrible — baseball.

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