Reds head to postseason with No. 1 ranking
Rangers unseated for top spot, Nats move up to No. 2 in weekly polling
It's come to this.
With the postseason to begin Friday with the Wild Card playoff games, the most powerful teams have risen to the top of the standings.
Here's what we know now: The Orioles, Yankees and Rangers have all qualified for the postseason in the American League. They are joined by the Nationals, Braves, Reds and Giants in the National League.
The Tigers are knocking on the door to the AL Central title and the Cardinals are also close to a playoff berth in the NL, but teams like the A's, Angels, Rays and Dodgers have not given up hope.
You shouldn't, either.
It's time to start thinking about the playoffs and which team will be left standing at the end.
It's time to start thinking about your favorite team winning it all because it can happen.
Welcome to the final week of the regular season and once again, it's time to hear your voice and 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 Reds went into Monday tied with the Nationals for the top seed in the NL and were eyeing home-field advantage through the postseason. Staff ace Johnny Cueto is on a roll and poised for the playoffs, finishing with 19-9 record and 2.78 ERA. His ERA was the lowest by a Reds pitcher since Jose Rijo in 1993.
The Nationals could wrap up the NL East title at home on Monday. Rookie of the Year candidate Bryce Harper hit his 22nd home run on Sunday, two shy of the most hit by a teenager in a single season, a record established by Tony Conigliaro, who hit 24 in 1964 for the Red Sox.
The two-time defending AL champs are back in the postseason thanks in large part to Adrian Beltre, who some believe is the team's MVP. In addition to stellar defense, the veteran is hitting .319 with 36 home runs and 101 RBIs while playing through nagging injuries all season.
The NL West champs are gearing up for the postseason and lining up their rotation for a long playoff run. Is Buster Posey the NL MVP? He is sure is playing like it, boasting a .337 batting average with 23 home runs, 100 RBIs and 77 runs scored.
The Braves have won seven of their past eight games and are gaining momentum heading into the first NL Wild Card game. It's already been a season to remember for Chipper Jones and the veteran would love to cap off his career with another World Series title.
The Yankees need a lift to propel them past the Orioles for the AL East title and help could be on the way. Robinson Cano is heating up at the plate and Mark Teixeira, who hasn't played since Sept. 8 because of a left calf strain, is expected back in the starting lineup at first base.
This season has gone to the Birds and that's a good thing for those in Baltimore. The O's clinched a postseason spot on Sunday and are tied with the Yankees atop the AL East. Adam Jones has emerged as the team MVP, hitting .288 with a career-high 32 home runs, 103 runs scored and 81 RBIs.
It's a good time to be a baseball fan in the Motor City. The Tigers hope to clinch the AL Central and a postseason berth as early as Monday. Miguel Cabrera continues to rank first in all Triple Crown categories and could walk away with the AL MVP honors.
The Cardinals' magic number sits at two to clinch the second Wild Card and the club could clinch a playoff spot as early as Monday. The Cards will likely go through the playoffs without shortstop Rafael Furcal, who is recovering from right elbow surgery.
The A's will square off against the Rangers for three games starting Monday and still have their eyes on the AL West title. Oakland has a 54-26 record since the start of July and a 69-38 record since June 2 -- the best mark in the Majors - but is only 30-24 inside the division.
For all of the praise that Mike Trout has received, it is Torii Hunter who has emerged as the team's MVP down the stretch. The Angels have an uphill battle heading into the final games of the season, sitting three games back of the second AL Wild Card spot with three games remaining.
David Price picked up his 20th win on Sunday and continues to build his case for the AL Cy Young Award. The Rays are three games back of the Athletics with three games left to play in the race for the last Wild Card spot.
The White Sox have lost 10 of their last 12 games and are teetering on elimination. Any White Sox loss or any Tigers victory in the final three games will dash the club's playoff hopes.
The Dodgers have won five in a row and have outscored their opponents 34-7 during that stretch. But is it too late? The Dodgers trail the Cardinals by two games in the race for the second NL Wild Card with three games to play.
The Brewers are out of playoff contention but their efforts should not be overlooked. Sunday's loss was their sixth in nine games but it followed a 24-6 run that propelled the team back into the postseason hunt.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.