The final weeks of the regular season are upon us, and the marathon has turned into a sprint.
Baseball fans across the country are starting to daydream about the postseason -- and it's hard to blame them. It's also the time reality steps in and separates the contenders from the pack.
Will this be the year the Rangers finally win a World Series? Or will it go down as the season they were caught in the standings by the A's during the final month of the season?
The Dodgers are charging, but how far can they go without ace Clayton Kershaw?
What's going on in the American League East between the Yankees, Orioles and Rays is just fun, isn't it?
You are really missing out if you have not seen the Nationals, Giants or Braves play this season.
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 have a three-game lead in the AL West, and Josh Hamilton is heating up. The All-Star outfielder has four home runs and nine RBIs in his past 10 games, and he is once again playing like an MVP. For the season, the slugger has 42 home runs and 123 RBIs.
The Reds have a comfortable lead in the division and are positioning themselves for home-field advantage in the playoffs. The bullpen has been stellar, but the offense has been inconsistent lately, resulting in a 5-5 record in their past 10 games.
Even without Stephen Strasburg, the Nats still arguably have the best starting rotation in the big leagues. It will be up to Jordan Zimmermann, Gio Gonzalez, Edwin Jackson and Ross Detwiler to carry the load down the stretch as the club tries to lock down home-field advantage in the playoffs.
The Giants have a comfortable lead in the National League West and are starting to run away with the division. The starting pitching has been steady as usual and the bullpen has been exceptional, due in large part to solid performances from Sergio Romo and Santiago Casilla.
The Braves are coming off a three-game sweep, have won seven of their past 10 games and lead the pack in the race for NL Wild Card. Braves fans have to love seeing Dan Uggla produce. The veteran infielder has 11 hits in his past 10 games, including four home runs.
After taking two of three from Tampa Bay over the weekend, the Yankees reclaimed sole possession of first place, but they know they're in for a fight with the surging O's. The return of Andy Pettitte on Tuesday could be a spark for a staff that's been in search of depth all year.
The A's have cemented themselves as the team to catch for the first Wild Card spot in the AL. They could even make a late run at the division title, as they currently trail Texas by three, with seven of their 16 remaining games against the Rangers.
Though they've been in first place since July 24, the White Sox haven't been able to put much separation between themselves and the second-place Tigers. Monday marks the lone remaining game between the two clubs, and both have favorable schedules down the stretch.
With their win on Sunday, the O's clinched their first winning season since 1997. But manager Buck Showalter has his club focused on more important things, and thus far Baltimore hasn't shied away from the challenge of a September pennant race.
The defending champs still hold the upper hand in the race for the No. 2 NL Wild Card slot, but there's plenty to be wary of in their rearview mirror. With six games this week against the Astros and Cubs, the Cards will be looking for some separation.
The Dodgers are just one game out of a Wild Card spot, and they open the week with a series against the Nats, whom they're 3-0 against. The spotlight's on Josh Beckett now, with Chad Billingsley already shut down and Kershaw out indefinitely.
The Tigers are still in striking distance, and they had put together a four-game win streak entering Sunday. That's over now, but their next four games are against teams they're chasing: Chicago and Oakland. Detroit is closer to a Central title than a Wild Card berth.
Mike Trout's MVP march has the Angels 2 1/2 games out of a Wild Card spot. They've got the West-leading Rangers and Central-leading White Sox for the next six games -- fortunately for the Halos, those games -- as well as their following three, against Seattle -- are at home
Two ejections Sunday added frustration to a lost opportunity against the Yanks over the weekend, when New York took two of three. Now the Rays have a chance to beat up on the bottom of the division, with a combined nine straight against the Red Sox and Blue Jays.
Milwaukee is 2 1/2 out of a Wild Card spot and play its next 10 games on the road. The first series in that stretch, against the Pirates, should be telling -- Pittsburgh is just a half-game behind the Brew Crew. Division leaders Washington and Cincinnati make for a tough stretch.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.