Braves, Angels surge in Power Rankings
Division-leading Rangers, Reds, Nationals maintain top three spots
Many eyes in the baseball nation have been looking in one direction, staring at the race between the Yankees and Orioles for the top spot in the American League East, while the Rays sneak up on both of them.
The Washington Nationals remain the team to beat in the National League East but the hard-charging Braves are not going down without a fight.
The beasts of the east are definitely living up to their nicknames. But maybe it's time to look west for the most powerful teams in the game.
The Giants have a solid hold on the NL West, the A's are on a roll and the Angels are surging. The Dodgers are right there, in contention for a Wild Card berth.
And don't forget about the Rangers, of course.
The Cardinals, White Sox and Tigers have given fans in the middle of the country plenty to be interested in this season. Don't expect that to come to an end during the final weeks of the regular season.
The powerful are beginning to separate themselves and once again, it's time to hear your voice and your vote.
For the third season, MLB.com has set up a panel of experts to vote on the top 15 teams each week. Three former Major League players -- Larry Dierker, Mitch Williams and Frank Thomas -- are part of the process, as are columnist Peter Gammons and Carlton Thompson, vice president and executive editor of MLB.com. Former general manager and current MLB.com analyst Jim Duquette, along with MLB.com columnists Mike Bauman, Hal Bodley, Anthony Castrovince, Richard Justice, Matthew Leach and Jesse Sanchez are also part of the group.
Agree? Disagree? The power to rank the teams is yours.
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The Rangers maintain a 3 1/2-game lead over the A's in the AL West and will be looking for an offensive spark against the Indians in a series that starts Tuesday. Texas scored only five runs in losing two of three to the Rays over the weekend.
The offense has struggled at times and Johnny Cueto hasn't been pitching well but the Reds still hold an 8 1/2-game lead over the second-place Cardinals in the NL Central with 21 games remaining. Their magic number to clinch the division is 14.
One can argue that the best pitcher in the best rotation in the big leagues has been Gio Gonzalez, not Stephen Strasburg. Gonzalez has hurled 16 shutout innings in his past two starts and is one win away from becoming the season's first 19-game winner. As expected, but earlier than expected, Strasburg has been shut down for the season.
The Braves have won five in a row and seven of their last eight games. It's already been quite a month, especially considering they went 9-18 in September a year ago and in the process lost a 9 1/2-game lead they owned in the NL Wild Card race.
The Halos have won six straight, 11 of 12 and have climbed into the race for the AL Wild Card, trailing by just a game entering Monday. What's more, they have given up an average of just 1.8 runs per game over their past 11 contests, never allowing more than three runs in any game during that stretch.
New York has watched its 10-game division lead over Baltimore dwindle to one. The resilient Yanks split their four-game series with the Orioles but might be without Mark Teixeira for the rest of the regular season after the slugger aggravated his ailing left calf during the weekend.
Everything seems to be coming together at the right time for the 2010 World Series champs. The pitching has been effective, Buster Posey is having an MVP-caliber season and the offense is on pace to score more than 700 runs, easily surpassing last year's total of 570.
The A's have won three in a row, seven of their past 10 and lead the race for the top spot in the AL Wild Card by 1 1/2 games. They have been creeping up on the first-place Rangers, trailing them now by 3 1/2 games.
The folks in Tampa Bay are feeling confident and it's hard to blame them. The Rays are coming off series wins against the Yankees and Rangers and are right in the middle of the playoff hunt. They trail the Yankees by only two games in the division and are one game out in the Wild Card race.
The Orioles are playing meaningful games for the first time in a long while and it's a good time to love the birds in Baltimore. The O's trail the Yankees by only one game in the AL East and hold one of the Wild Card spots after the weekend split against New York.
The Cards are in the hunt for the Wild Card and could use some good news on the injury front. David Freese (left ankle) didn't play Sunday and Jake Westbrook's right oblique injury is going to keep him off the mound. Lance Berkman could be shut down because of discomfort in his right knee.
The second-place Tigers are coming to town Monday for a pivotal four-game series. A sweep by the White Sox would give the South Siders a comfortable six-game lead in the AL Central.
The Dodgers failed to make up ground in a crucial weekend series against the Giants and might have to shift their focus to winning one of the Wild Card spots. Matt Kemp is struggling and might still be feeling the effects of his collision with a wall in Colorado last month.
After being swept by the Angels, the Tigers are two games behind the White Sox. Detroit has lost five of six heading into its four-game series against Chicago that starts Monday at U.S. Cellular Field.
The Pirates are coming off a 2-4 homestand against the Astros and the Cubs but remain in the middle of the race in the NL Wild Card standings. The Pirates and Reds square off for three games in Cincinnati starting Monday.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.