MLB Power Rankings: Cubs now the best team in baseball? – CBSSports.com

Who is number one?

No, don’t just look at the standings. Who do you feel like the actual best team in baseball is at this point? Be honest and fair. I’m guessing I’d get up to six different answers from the masses, maybe seven or eight. That’s because a lot of these teams could be ordered in different ways without much legitimate argument against the order.

The clear-cut two best teams in the AL are the Royals and Blue Jays. The Jays were my number one last week and have baseball’s best run differential. They have baseball’s best record since the Troy Tulowitzki trade, but they’ve also gone 4-5 in their last nine games, beginning the day after Tulowitzki went down.

The Royals, meantime, are 7-13 in September, limping toward the finish line to win the mediocre AL Central.

At the top of the standings are the St. Louis Cardinals, where they’ve been all year. Do they actually have the look and feel of baseball’s best team right now, though?

First of all, Yadier Molina was just lost to injury and we can’t be sure when he’ll be back. Even with him, though, the only series they’ve won this September came against the Brewers and Reds. They’ve lost series to the Cubs (twice), Pirates and Reds. They have a 10-10 record overall in September. And now without their field general, they’ll surely get at least a little worse. After all, I keep getting emails saying he’s the best catcher in baseball and maybe the best of all time. So they have to be downgraded without him, right?

The Pirates look real strong, having the second-best record in baseball and having taken series recently from the Dodgers and Cardinals on the road. Of course, they also just lost three of four at home to the Cubs.

So can I really justify putting the Cubs at the top?

Yes, I can. The only team with a better record in all of baseball since Aug. 1 is the Blue Jays (33-14) and it’s by mere percentage points over the Cubs (34-15). No one has won more games than the Cubs in that time. In September, the Cubs have the best record in baseball at 15-6.

As previously mentioned, the Cubs won three of four from the Pirates in Pittsburgh last week and have taken four of six from the Cardinals this month. Those are the only teams in baseball with a better record and the Cubs have taken it to them this month. With the youngsters on the roster coming into their own, the bullpen showing great improvement this month and Starlin Castro playing the best baseball of his career, this is a totally different team than the start of the year. So that trumps the overall record difference here.

Sometimes people ask me my methodology in these rankings and it’s not a secret. The body of work most assuredly matters, but so long as the teams are close in season-long record, who is playing the best right now trumps it. The over-riding thought process is that if two teams close to each other in the standings played a seven-game series right now, who would I predict to win? I could be wrong because baseball is unpredictable, but I think I’d take the Cubs right now over anyone.

There are two weeks for that to change and it very well might, but that’s where I am right now.

Obviously many will disagree and that’s cool. As I said, I think there are ways to justify upwards of six teams as the top dog right now. Hopefully that bodes well for an exciting October (and November).

Please feel free to contact me with comments either on Twitter (@MattSnyderCBS) or via email: matt.snyder@cbs.com. I’m looking forward to all the nice feedback from the St. Louis area again this week!

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