Each week during the season Athlon Sports looks at the best and worst baseball teams and players in the league. Here's our MLB Power Rankings and Players of the Week for Sept. 3, 2012.
1. Reds — Cruising to NL Central title.
2. Nationals —Can Nats hold on without Strasburg?
3. Rangers— Jurickson Profar certainly looks like the real deal.
4. Yankees— Huge week coming up at Tampa and Baltimore.
5. Giants— Went 5-1 on back-to-back road trips.
6. Braves— Bravos feel like they can run down the Nats.
7. A’s—Where did all this winning come from?
8. Rays— Next 12 games against contenders.
9. Orioles— Within one good weekend of catching the Yanks.
10. Tigers —Maybe this time they really do have control of the division.
11. White Sox —Tigers’ ace Verlander beat Sox ace Sale on Sunday.
12. Dodgers— Must gain ground against the Giants this weekend.
13. Cardinals —Offense took about a week off.
14. Pirates —Back-to-back shutouts over St. Louis looked good at the time.
15. Angels—Won 9 of 12 to climb back in race; 7 of next 10 games vs. A’s.
16. Diamondbacks— Still nine games left with San Francisco.
17. Mariners— Continue to bank on starting pitching.
18. Phillies— Committed to being a spoiler down the stretch.
19. Brewers— One of the teams that contenders don’t want to play right now.
20. Mets— Can affect wild card race vs. Cards, Braves and Nats.
21. Padres— Last seven saves by four different pitchers.
22. Royals— Finishing with a flurry could yield 76 wins, most since 2003.
23. Red Sox— Can Bobby V and Dustin Pedroia coexist?
24. Blue Jays —Last two series Jays won were against Yankees and Tigers.
25. Marlins— Ozzie Guillen will likely get a mulligan on this season.
26. Twins— Need just eight wins to avoid 100 losses.
27. Rockies— Can the Rockies get one pitcher to 10 wins?
28. Indians— Need to learn from this season and move on.
29. Cubs— Optimistic about young players, but lots of holes to fill.
30. Astros— Total house cleaning on the field and in the front office.
AL Player of the Week
Adrian Beltre, Texas—Beltre is honored here for the second week in a row as he continues to creep into the MVP discussion. The Texas third baseman had three three-hit games last week and batted .478 with a 1.563 OPS. Among his seven extra-base hits were three home runs, and he drove in seven runs. Beltre closed the week with an 8-for-14 series against Cleveland, all the while playing excellent defense at the hot corner.
AL Pitcher of the Week
Hisashi Iwakuma, Seattle—You may not be familiar with Iwakuma, but he is quickly becoming one of Seattle’s top starters. Last week he was 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA and 0.75 WHIP. After a win at Minnesota, the slender righthander tossed 7.1 shutout innings against the Angels, giving up just five hits, no walks and seven strikeouts in the 2-1 win. The Mariners have won his last five starts.
NL Player of the Week
Pedro Alvarez, Pittsburgh—The Pirates’ third baseman is beginning to unlock the potential that made him the second overall pick in 2008. He began last week with 10 hits in four games, including 11 total bases in a win over St. Louis on Tuesday. He batted .458 with a 1.542 OPS and led the NL with four home runs. During the week, he either scored or drove home more than a third of the Pirates’ runs.
NL Pitcher of the Week
Bud Norris, Houston—It isn’t easy getting wins these days in Houston, but that doesn’t prevent Norris from pitching well enough to earn victories. In 12.2 innings over two starts, Norris had a 0.95 ERA and 0.71 WHIP pitching against San Francisco and Cincinnati. He left the Giants game after 6.2 innings with the score tied 1-1, then tossed six shutout innings over the Reds and left with a 1-0 lead. The Astros’ bullpen lost both games.