We are a little over a third of the way through the Major League Baseball season. We know the Astros and Marlins are the biggest pretenders in the league as they are each going to approach 100+ losses. The Twins, White Sox, Mets, Brewers, and Cubs are most likely not going to compete. These teams just have too much ground to try and make up.
That highlights the Cardinals, Red Sox, Reds, Yankees, Athletics, Braves, Diamondbacks, Rangers, Tigers, Orioles, and yes, the Pirates as our contenders come September.
The Cardinals are the current NL Central division leaders (42-22), as we could see three teams reach the postseason from that division this year with the Reds at 39-26 and Pirates right behind at 38-26.
The Yankees and Red Sox are battling for first in the AL East, believe it or not, while the Braves and Tigers are in complete control of their respective divisions as of today.
Then there are teams like the Nationals, Phillies, Padres, Rockies, Dodgers, Royals, Indians, Rays, Giants, Angels, Blue Jays, and Mariners that will go one way or the other in the next month.
The Nationals and Giants have the best chance of playing better ball and sneaking into a playoff spot because they have done it before. Teams like the Phillies, Rockies, and Rays are middle-of-the-league types of teams that will need to heat up even more just to have a shot at the postseason.
Then there’s the Angels, Dodgers, and Blue Jays who each had lofty expectations coming into the season, but have dramatically disappointed to this point. The Dodgers have had a ton of key injuries, but have been revived with the addition of Yasiel Puig, so there is a chance they could rocket into 1st while their notable players start to find their way back with the team.
The Blue Jays have also had their fair share of injuries with guys like Brandon Morrow, Jose Reyes, and Josh Johnson finding their way onto the disabled list. They will need to play out of their minds in the 2nd half to catch up with teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, Orioles, and Rays.
The Angels story is pretty simple: play better baseball. Josh Hamilton will have to catch fire at some point to help this team score more runs and win more ball games. The recent returns of Jered Weaver and Tommy Hanson should help the team ERA of 4.45 (26th in MLB).
So without further ado, here are my current power rankings as of today.
What they have done: They bring consistency every day. Their starting pitching has been the best in baseball – Adam Wainwright, Shelby Miller, Michael Wacha, Lance Lynn, and Tyler Lyons have the Red Birds ranked 1st in team ERA at 3.17; not-to-mention the fact that the Cardinals can hit too. They are 1st in the National League in AVG, led by Yadier Molina batting .350 on the season. Carlos Beltran leads the team in homers with 14, and Allen Craig leads in RBI with 47. Matt Holiday isn’t having a typical Matt Holliday season and the Cardinals are still finding a way to get it done.
Boston Red Sox (40-26)
What they have done: Continue to be a powerhouse ball club in the American League. No one expected the Red Sox to be where they are with their AL leading 40 wins. They have received production from everyone this year. When Shane Victorino went down, Daniel Nava stepped right in and hit .300. When Will Middlebrooks went down, Jose Iglesias was called up, stepped in and hit .449 in 24 games, and now he is here to stay. Dustin Pedroia has fared well in the 3-spot this year, batting well over .300. David Ortiz continues to play well at this stage in his career, as he leads the team in both homers and RBI.
What they have done: Picked up the pace. Winners of seven of their last ten, the Tigers are controlling the AL Central like many thought they would. Victor Martinez has finally found his swing after missing all of last season. Max Scherzer has emerged as one of the best starters in the American League as he sits at 9-0 on the season. Then there’s Miggy being Miggy, as he is batting .363 with 18 homers and 69 RBI.
Cincinnati Reds (40-26)
What they have done: The Reds have kept up with the best team in baseball. With how great the Cardinals have been, the Reds are only three games back. If the Reds continue to play well, they could eventually leap frog the Cardinals into 1st in the Central. Cincinnati has a huge series coming up with the Pirates next week, so they will need to probably win two of the three games to stay in 2nd if they are still there by then.
Oakland Athletics (39-27)
What they have done: Reached the Rangers for a tie for first place in the AL West. Don’t forget the As, not the Rangers, won this division last year. The Athletics have continued to
play great baseball and have now shown that they are for real. They have won seven of their last ten thanks to the return of Josh Reddick and the continued pitching success of Bartolo Colon. The As will be tested this month with series against the Rangers, Reds, Cardinals, and Mariners, who aren’t playing that bad of baseball. Let’s see if they can keep it rolling.