1. New York Yankees (74-44) The Yankees have a 23-7 record since the all-star break. Mark Teixiera’s 30 home runs and 86 RBI may just be MVP worthy.
2. Los Angeles Angels (70-45) Former ace John Lackey has returned to his old form since the all-star break. Lackey is 4-1 with a 1.79 ERA since the breather. Meanwhile, Jered Weaver has 140 strikeouts, 7th in the AL to go along with 12 wins.
3. Los Angeles Dodgers (70-48) The Dodgers got a much needed performance out of Randy Wolf Sunday. After Chad Billingsley strained his hamstring, and Hiroki Kuroda took a line-drive to the face – Wolf’s 7.2 innings and 3-4 day at the plate saved the series for the men in blue. The Dodgers now have two holes in their rotation – one which still hasn’t been filled, the other will be filled by 25-year-old Charlie Haeger. Haeger will make his second ever start against the Cardinals tonight on ESPN2. Haeger has given up 10 runs in 4.1 innings. You have to wonder why Jeff Weaver won’t be getting the call for either hole…
4. Texas Rangers (66-50) The Rangers probably should have swept their series with the Red Sox this weekend, but they’ll settle for two out of three with a 1/2 game lead in the wild card. They’ve dominated the Sox all season going 7-2 against the Nation and it’s because of their fully revamped lights out pitching staff. Kevin Millwood performing well for the Rangers is a given, but it’s the young guys: Tommy Hunter (4-1) 2.20 ERA, Dustin Nippert (4-1) 2.61 ERA, Derek Holland (3-2) 3.13 ERA, who have risen to the occasion since the all-star break. Those three keep that going, along with another young hurler Scott Feldman, who has been performing all season, and this team will be hard to beat in the postseason.
5. Boston Red Sox (66-51) The team that everyone thought was the best early in the season has only gone a discouraging 12-17 since the all-star break. Suddenly, the clutch veterans of the first half of the season have turned into the archaic, injured has-beens in the second half. The Sox find themselves out of the playoff picture for the first time since April. They’re 4-12 against teams over .500 since the break. If this doesn’t change the Sox will be home in Boston this October.
6. St Louis Cardinals (67-52) This just in: Matt Holliday loves to face NL pitching. The biggest pick up of the trade deadline has 22 RBI in 21 games with the Cards to go along with that not too shabby .459 BA. For Albert Pujols, every day is now a “holliday”, that is Pujols hasn’t seen this many hittable pitches ever, and it’s all thanks to the protection Holliday gives him in the lineup.
7. Tampa Bay Rays (63-54) The Rays are not just fighting the Sox anymore. This is one team that should have tried to do something big at the trade deadline. They needed to bolster their pitching staff, yet failed to do so.
8. Philadelphia Phillies (65-49) The Phillies got a solid first start out of Pedro, but find the Marlins coming hard in their rear view mirror. Pedro will make his second start against the suddenly surging Diamondbacks tonight. J.A. Happ has been a great surprise for the defending champions. So much so that they decided to bench Jamie Moyer instead of Happ. Happ is 9-2 with a 2.66 ERA.
9. Colorado Rockies (65-53) Could we see the second coming of Rocktober? No one would like it better than Jim Tracy who jump started this team back in the right direction they found at the end of 2007. The Rockies are 46-24 since firing Clint Hurdle and lead the NL wild card by two games.
10. Detroit Tigers (62-55) The Tigers are allowing everyone to hang in there in the AL Central. They haven’t pulled away from the pack and the White Sox have to feel they have a great chance at making the postseason. The Tigers and White Sox play each other six of the last nine games, so this race could come down to the last game.
11. San Francisco Giants (63-54) The Giants have struggled over the last week. They went 2-5 posting a .206 team BA in that time period, while also not exactly performing to their best level pitching wise either (3.81 ERA). The Giants have a…well… gigantic four game series this weekend at Coors Field.
12. Florida Marlins (63-55) Hanley Ramirez has been worth every penny down in South Florida. He leads the league with his .356 BA. He also has great power numbers (18 HR and 82 RBI) to go along with his great speed (22 SB.)
13. Chicago Cubs (60-55) The Jeff Samardzija experiment was an epic failure on national television. The Cubs are fading away in the NL Central, and there may be no way for them to catch the Cards anymore. They’re going to have to hope the NL wild card hopefuls choke down the stretch if they have any chances of snapping their curse.
14. Atlanta Braves (61-55) Adam LaRoche has enjoyed his return to Atlanta. He’s batting .372 with three homers and seven RBI in just 13 games since rejoining his former club. The starting pitching has also taken over since the all-star break. The top three starters are a combined 10-2 with less than a 3.20 ERA in that time span.
15. Seattle Mariners (61-57) I feel like I haven’t talked enough about Ichiro Suzuki this year, so here goes nothing. There’s this Japanese guy in the Seattle outfield…he’s good. If you ever want to learn how to hit, find a Japanese translator, and pick this guy’s brain. And this year, he’s doing the unthinkable… he’s improved his batting average 50 points since last year. The thing is, last year he had a .310 BA! Only one person wouldn’t be happy with that, and he’s Ichiro.
16. Chicago White Sox (60-58) Gordon Beckham is living up to the hype in the South side. The rookie has a .343 batting average with 23 RBI in his 27 games since the all-star break.
17. Milwaukee Brewers (58-59) Things aren’t looking good for the Brew crew. They really need to find pitching if they want to be competitive in the future or else having two 30 HR, 100 RBI guys will be a waste.
18. Minnesota Twins (56-61) .377. That is not a misprint. That is Joe Mauer’s batting average throughout the course of an entire major league baseball season.
19. Toronto Blue Jays (55-61) Giving up Alex Rios for absolutely nothing made little sense. The guy still has 14 HR, 63 RBI, and an okay .262 BA. The team has enough pieces to contend next season if all the pitching staff returns healthy.
20. Houston Astros (57-61) This team is kind of just there. There’s nothing special about them, but nothing terrible about them. They just go about their business in a quiet, average manner. Carlos Lee’s power numbers are noticeably down, but he still has an impressive .313 BA.
21. New York Mets (55-62) You need only to look at the Mets 1 through 5 hitters on opening day compared to their last game to know how hurt they are, both physically and mentally. On Opening Day, the Mets sent out a lineup of Jose Reyes, Daniel Murphy, David Wright, Carlos Delgado and Carlos Beltran. Compare that to Angel Pagan, Luis Castillo, Gary Sheffield, Jeff Francouer and Fernando Tatis and you know something’s not going right.
22. Arizona Diamondbacks (54-64) Mark Reynolds is leading a resurgent bunch of snakes. Reynolds leads the league in homers (38). The guy’s not your stereotypical home run hitter either. He has 21 stolen bases this season. It’s too bad all the young talent from the NL-West winning 07 team hasn’t progressed like Reynolds.
23. Cleveland Indians (51-66) The Tribe’s been streaking a bit as of late. They’re 14-8 their last 22 games and find themselves a mere 11 games out of first in the division. I’m still stunned by the epic failures of this team, but…umm… they’re still in it…
24. Oakland A’s (52-65) Another team I’ve been disappointed with this season is the A’s. They’ve also had a little bit of success recently going 11-8 their last 19 games. It’s funny that both teams are playing their best baseball without their best players. It’s also funny that their best players have moved on playing at all-star calibers with the teams they were traded to.
25. Baltimore Orioles (48-69) If you just glanced at yesterday’s score, you’d probably say the game was a blow out. It was 17-8 after all, but that entire nine-run difference occurred in the 13th inning.
26. Cincinnati Reds (50-67) The Reds are a league worst 8-22 since the all-star break and things don’t seem to be getting better any time soon for Dusty’s boys. Bronson Arroyo has thrown himself into the spotlight for the wrong reasons saying he takes 12 different supplements a day including supplements in Korean he can’t even read. This just in: Arroyo is not exactly the sharpest tool in the shed.
27. San Diego Padres (49-70) Adrian Gonzalez is starting to heat up again. He’s 11 for 16 his last four games with three home runs. Problem is… there’s never anyone on base for him to hit in. He only has four total RBI with three homers.
28. Pittsburgh Pirates (46-70) Only one win in their last 13 games. WOW, that’s just ugly. You would almost hate to see this team end the season in last out of everyone because if they get the first overall pick next season, there’s a 90% chance the player will turn out to be great for half a season only to be traded to another team.
29. Kansas City Royals (46-71) Maybe the Royals should try making all their games go into extra innings. With the Royals 3-2 victory over the division-leading Tigers Sunday afternoon, they improved to 5-1 in extra inning games this season.
30. Washington Nationals (43-75) The big question in the nation’s capital is can the Nats get the #1 and #2 overall picks in next year’s draft? If the team doesn’t sign Stephen Strasburg, they will receive the second overall pick as compensation for Strasburg, and thus… the possibility would turn into reality if the Nats stay in their favorite spot… the cellar of the entire league.
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