Having won 14 of 16 games since Aug. 28, the Toronto Blue Jays have slugged their way into an American League wild-card spot and are set for a wild stretch run, entering Monday tied with the Boston Red Sox for the AL wild-card spots, a game ahead of the New York Yankees.
Toronto scored 44 runs over the last 23 innings of a weekend series against the Baltimore Orioles and leads the majors in average (.269), home runs (95) and OPS (.822) since the All-Star break.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has a shot at winning baseball’s first Triple Crown since Miguel Cabrera in 2012. Guerrero leads the AL with a batting .319 average, his 44 homers are tied for the lead and his 102 RBI are tied for third through Sunday.
The Blue Jays play six of their next nine against the first-place Tampa Bay Rays, but also have seven against the Minnesota Twins before finally getting a shot at the Yankees to kick off the final week of the season.
Here’s how USA TODAY Sports’ seven-person panel voted this week:
Rank (movement from last week)
1. San Francisco Giants (+1)
- Big week ahead with four vs. Padres, three vs. Braves.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers (-1)
- Max Scherzer becomes 19th pitcher with 3,000 career strikeouts.
3. Tampa Bay Rays (–)
- Nelson Cruz had five homers and 12 RBI in the first 11 games of September.
4. Milwaukee Brewers (–)
- Brewers should be the first team to clinch a division title in 2021.
5. Houston Astros (–)
- Kyle Tucker is hitting .338 with 10 home runs in 41 games since the break.
6. Toronto Blue Jays (+3)
- All of a sudden Toronto is position to host to a wild-card game.
7. Chicago White Sox (-1)
- Lance Lynn comes off the IL with nine strikeouts in five shutout innings.
8. Boston Red Sox (–)
- Chris Sale becomes latest to miss time with COVID-19 positive.
9. New York Yankees (-2)
- Yankees lost 11 of 13 after reeling off 13-game winning streak.
10. Atlanta Braves (+1)
- Braves could become first team in history to have four infielders with 30+ homers.
11. San Diego Padres (–)
- Adam Frazier has a .576 OPS in 38 games with Padres.
12. Oakland Athletics (-2)
- Chris Bassitt throws his first bullpen session after being hit in the face by line drive.
13. Seattle Mariners (-2)
- Within three games of a wild-card spot entering the second week of September.
14. Cincinnati Reds (–)
- Nine of Cincinnati’s last 18 games are against the last-place Pirates.
15. St. Louis Cardinals (–)
- Wild-card hunt won’t be easy with next 10 vs. Mets, Padres and Brewers.
16. Philadelphia Phillies (–)
- Lefty Ranger Suarez has a 1.38 ERA in 78 innings this season.
17. New York Mets (–)
- Javy Baez hit .306 with a .949 OPS in his first 31 games with the Mets.
18. Cleveland (–)
- Amed Rosario is hitting .312 in 51 games in the second half.
19. Los Angeles Angels (–)
- Shohei Ohtani primed to break Troy Glaus’ club record of 47 homers.
20. Detroit Tigers (–)
- Victor Reyes hitting .320 with an .889 OPS since the All-Star break.
21. Colorado Rockies (–)
- Rockies can play spoiler down the stretch with games vs. Braves, Dodgers and Giants.
22. Kansas City Royals (–)
- Looks like Adalberto Mondesi’s future is at third base in Kansas City.
23. Chicago Cubs (–)
- Frank Schwindel’s sample size gets bigger: .366 average, 32 RBI in 38 games with Cubs.
24. Miami Marlins (+1)
- Two-time Olympic medalist Eddy Alvarez hits his first career homer.
25. Minnesota Twins (-1)
- Bailey Ober’s last seven starts: 3.03 ERA, 36 K, 3 BB in 35.2 IP.
26. Washington Nationals (–)
- Lane Thomas (Jon Lester trade) has a .933 OPS in 95 AB since joining Nationals.
27. Pittsburgh Pirates (–)
- Yoshi Tsutsugo (7 HR, 1.096 OPS in 24 games) may have found himself a home.
28. Texas Rangers (–)
- Reliever Brett Martin (3.38 ERA) leads the team with 59 appearances.
29. Arizona Diamondbacks (–)
- Daulton Varsho (.994 OPS in second half) is a “special talent,” Torey Lovullo says.
30. Baltimore Orioles (–)
- Cedric Mullins 30/30 watch: 29 homers, 28 steals through Sunday.