1. Toronto Blue Jays (22-12) – The Blue Jays still lead the best division in baseball after 34 games, but they also still haven’t played the top three teams in the division once. They make their first trip to the new Yankee Stadium on Tuesday, and will play the Red Sox at the end of the month. The offense continues to dazzle led by Aaron Hill. They lead the league in runs scored (204), RBI (195) and team BA (.294). Quite the start for the team up north.
2. Boston Red Sox (20-12) – The Red Sox make a trip out west to take on the resurgent Angels and the struggling Mariners. Boston leads the MLB in OPS, on base plus slugging percentage. Kevin Youkilis (1.224) and Jason Bay (1.134) are first and second in the league in this category. Youkilis also leads the league with his .393 BA, while Bay has filled in admirably for Manny Ramirez. The Fenway faithful may be saying Manny who when Bay’s career is over…
3. St. Louis Cardinals (20-12) – The Cardinals have 9 straight divisional games to play, so they can really take advantage of the Central in the next week and a half. Albert Pujols leads the MLB with 12 home runs, but that’s nothing new! By the way, Pujols also leads the NL with 33 RBI, 32 runs scored and his .696 slugging percentage.
4. Los Angeles Dodgers (22-11) – Andre Eithier is really getting hurt by not having Manny Ramirez in the lineup. He’s only gone 2-19 without Manny, and has 0 RBI in the four games. Jeff Weaver has come back from the minors to give two solid starts, while Jonathon Broxton continues to be almost invincible. 3-0, 0.56 ERA, and 8 saves. If the Dodgers continue to lead the NL in pitching (3.77 ERA), maybe they’ll be able to deal without Manny, but the 1-3 start without him has Dodgertown in shambles.
5. Kansas City Royals (18-14) – It’s Zack Greinke time. But wait a minute, Greinke gave up a run? And wait a minute? Did Greinke lose? Did you see Greinke’s ERA skyrocket to 0.51?! It’s a shame he was dealt his first loss only giving up one run, but it just makes his performance that more impressive this year, and is probably a fitting way for him to lose his first game – in Cy Young form. He leads the majors in wins (6), ERA (0.51), K’s (59), CG’s (4), and SHO (2). It’s not just Greinke who’s pitching well, however. The KC pitching staff has a 3.45 team ERA, the best in the majors.
6. Texas Rangers (17-14) – The Rangers lead the league with 53 home runs and their .492 team slugging percentage. The Rangers have gone 7-2 their last 9 games and stormed out to lead the AL West. It will be hard to stay in the lead with the Angels in the rear view mirror, however. The Rangers are still pummeling the ball into submission, but it’s the pitching that has stepped it up during this hot streak. The average runs given up per game is 3.23 for this 9 game streak, while it’s been an absolutely abysmal 5.91 the rest of the season. If the Rangers can find a happy medium, they may hang in there with the Angels all season.
7. Detroit Tigers (17-13) – The Tigers just completed first three game sweep against the Indians since 1990. The Tigers were led by their starting pitching in the series. Starters pitched 21 innings in the series. They only gave up 1 earned run on 12 hits, and recorded 23 strikeouts. Any time you average about twice as many strikeouts as hits in a series, you know you’re in good shape!
8. Los Angeles Angels (16-14) – The Angels have turned the worm, going 10-3 their last 13 games. Joe Saunders and Jered Weaver ironically have an identical 2.66 ERA, which is carrying the team while they wait for Ervin Santana and John Lackey to come back. Saunders had a complete game shutout against the Royals’ Zach Greinke, which may end up being the greatest pitcher’s duel of the season.
9. New York Mets (17-13) – Are the Mets finally starting to live up to their expectations? If the last week is any barometer, you would have to give an emphatic yes. The offense has scored 43 runs, and 8 home runs, while the pitching staff has only allowed 20 runs during the seven game winning streak.
10. Milwaukee Brewers (18-14) – The Brewers have gone 14-5 after a really poor start. The catalyst for the offense is Ryan Braun, who finally seems to be completely healthy again. Braun leads the team in just about every offensive category. 38-year-old Craig Counsell has been a pleasant surprise batting .333 in 24 games played.
11. Chicago Cubs (17-14) – Alfonso Soriano is starting to heat up. In his last four games, he’s hit 3 home runs to go along with 6 RBI. The previous seven games, he had 0 of each. The Cubs pitching staff is a bit of a worry right now. Ryan Demster is clearly not playing at the same level he played at last year. I hate to be the guy to point this out, but Chad Fox has a 135.00 ERA. Note: that is not a misprint. He was placed on the DL Sunday.
12. Cincinnati Reds (17-14) – Micah Owings is a pitcher, but don’t tell that to Dusty Baker. Owings came up to the plate with two outs in the bottom of the ninth Sunday. The Reds were down one run, and sure enough, Owings came through with the game-tying home run! Owings is batting a healthy .333, yet has a 5.08 ERA. Is it possible Owings will be the DH when interleague play comes around?
13. Philadelphia Phillies (15-14) – The 5.39 team ERA is the worst in the NL, but on the other hand, their 42 home runs leads the NL. The Phillies will need help from their pitching staff if they want to go back to the World Series. Any time Chan Ho Park has the third best ERA out of your starter, you know you’re in deep trouble. Funny thing is, his ERA is 6.67! Joe Blanton is a disaster with 6.82, but Jamie Moyer headlines the list of terrible pitching performances this year with his 7.26 ERA. The invincible Brad Lidge from a year ago, has returned to Houston form with an even higher ERA than the starters of 8.53.
14. Florida Marlins (17-15) – Somebody may need to throw a bucket of water on Hanley Ramirez, because the guy has caught on fire. The flames are burning nightmares in NL pitchers during the last eight games. Ramirez has gone 17-31 with 4 home runs and 7 RBI in that time. Ramirez raised his BA .103 since April 19, when he reached .245, but currently holds the third highest BA in the NL at .348.
15. San Francisco Giants (16-14) – Barry Zito is back?! He’s only given up 4 earned runs his last four starts. The pitching staff is unbelievable with the second best ERA in the NL. The scary thing is, you never get a break against them. You have three former Cy Young winners: Randy Johnson, Barry Zito and Tim Lincecum, but they don’t even have the best ERA on their own team! Matt Cain holds those honors with his 2.61 ERA.
16. New York Yankees (15-16) – Don’t look now, but Johnny Damon has homered in five of his last seven games. Who needs A-rod when you got Damon?! In all seriousness, it’s huge for the Yankees they have A-Rod back, and unbelievable he hit a home run on the first pitch he saw. A big series at the stadium against the Blue Jays is in store for this week. A-Rod can only do so much though, and if the team ERA stays at 5.79, he may not be enough.
17. Minnesota Twins (15-17) – Francisco Liriano hasn’t found his form from two years ago. His 5.75 ERA is a concern, but at least he’s recording about 7 strikeouts a game. Joe Nathan continues to be an exemplary closer, but the rest of the staff needs to pick it up. Joe Mauer is hitting a ridiculous .485 in his 9 games back with a 1.401 OPS. He also has 3 home runs and 10 RBI, fantasy owners who drafted him have been rewarded by showing patience for a month.
18. Seattle Mariners (16-16) – While the Mariners plummeted, going 2-7 their last nine games, the AL West rival Angels and Rangers have excelled. Seattle is struggling to score runs. They have the third least runs scored in the AL, and may start coming back to earth.
19. Tampa Bay Rays (15-18) – Evan Longoria may be the best third baseman in the league, and that’s saying a lot for a 23-year-old who’s playing in his first full season. He has 44 RBI in 33 games – an astounding number – leading the MLB. He also leads the league in slugging percentage (.754) and doubles (15). Teammate Carl Crawford leads the majors with 22 SB.
20. Chicago White Sox (14-16) – Another team struggling as of late. They’ve gone 2-6 their last eight games. The offense is really struggling with the second lowest runs scored in the AL, and no one batting above .294. Jose Contreras’ 8.19 ERA has been a disaster, and he’s now been relegated to a role in the bullpen.
21. Atlanta Braves (15-16) – The Braves last 10 games has been a bit unusual. The first five, they went 1-4, while the second five they went 4-1. In the end this averages out, and is probably about where the Braves will remain all summer, around the .500 mark. The good news is the bats are starting to wake up. During the 4-1 streak, the Braves scored 28 runs.
22. Houston Astros (14-17) – We’ll see if the weekend sweep against the Padres gives the Astros a little bit of momentum. If they can sweep the Rockies, they’ll get back to .500. Ace Roy Oswalt finally recorded his first win and Wandy Rodriguez is dominating. It’ll be interesting to see if this team can contend once Lance Berkman returns, in a wide-open NL Central.
23. Baltimore Orioles (13-19) – An absolutely brutal schedule is on the horizon. The Orioles will have to play Tampa Bay, KC, NY, Toronto and Detroit this month, with a three game breather against the Nationals. The Adam Jones trade is really starting to pay dividends. Jones leads the team in home runs (6) and BA (.358), while playing a gold-glove caliber center field.
24. Arizona Diamondbacks (13-19) – The Dbacks league worst .234 team BA is pathetic. Even though the pitching staff has been decent, they just can’t make up for the lack of run support. It’s sad that the NL manager of the year from two seasons ago is out of a job because of that lack of run support. The new manager, 34-year-old A.J. Hinch, finally got his first win, but this team is not looking good. Do the Dbacks think of becoming sellers this season? Surely they can get a lot for Dan Haren and a healthy Brandon Webb.
25. Pittsburgh Pirates (12-19) – The Pirates have hit rock bottom during their current 8 game losing streak. They’ve only scored 21 runs in those 8 games, and given up 54 runs. WOW. That’s more than double the runs they scored. It’s really amazing there are five teams ranked lower than them…
26. San Diego Padres (13-19) – 3-13 the last 16 games is not going to cut it. This team is on a worse losing streak than the Pirates, and looks rather hopeless in turning it around. They’re still looking for fourth and fifth starters, but Chad Gaudin may at least be solidifying his spot as the #3 pitcher in the rotation.
27. Colorado Rockies (12-18) – 1-8 in one run games is downright ugly, but the good news is they got their first one run win Sunday, and just by the law of averages, that record has to get a little bit better. It’s a big week for the Rockies who have the Astros and Pirates, two other teams that are struggling.
28. Oakland A’s (11-18) – The A’s get the benefit of the doubt over the Indians, though they have nothing to be happy about. The offense has scored the least runs in the AL to along with the worst BA in the AL. They may be the second biggest disappointment after the Indians this year.
29. Cleveland Indians (11-17) – The pitching is the worst in the MLB (5.83 ERA). This is just unacceptable. 128 BB is the most in the AL. Cy Young winner Cliff Lee is 1-5 this year, but still leads his starting rotation with a 3.45 ERA.
30. Washington Nationals (10-19) – The funny thing is: the Nationals actually had a great week. They went 4-2, with a 3 game winning streak, and they stopped the Dodgers home undefeated streak in the process. Ryan Zimmerman’s 28-game hitting streak continues to be the big story for the Nationals, while Adam Dunn’s 11 home runs also carry the offense. And most importantly, they’re only 1 game back for the second worst team in MLB! But they still have a lot of winning to do before they move up in the Sober Rankings… R
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