- Philadelphia Phillies (1) 54-32
The Phillies retain the #1 spot by defeating the Red Sox in a possible World Series preview. But then again the way the playoffs are isn’t Rangers/Braves also a “possible” World Series preview!? Well either way, the big bats of the Red Sox were cooled off by the arms of the Phillies, including Vance Worley who pitched a dandy in the middle game of the series. The way Lee and Halladay complete games, missing 3 closers may not be a big deal for Philly…but if they need a shutdown 9th, Antonio Bastardo may be up for the challenge (0.90 ERA). They’ll have a chance to put even more distance between themselves and Atlanta as they host the Braves in Philly over the weekend.
- New York Yankees (2) 50-33
The Yankees dominant play since the Red Sox series continued during interleague play. Despite a rare blown save by Mariano Rivera that stopped the Yankees winning streak, the Yanks feasted on the NL. They humbled the 1st place Brewers and took 2 of 3 from the crosstown Mets. And remember when starting pitching was an issue? Well, they have so much depth with Phil Hughes coming back that they sent down a guy in Ivan Nova who was on pace to win 16 games! The biggest revelation though has been their pen. Besides Robertson to Rivera, Wade, Logan and Ayala have all picked up the slack.
- Boston Red Sox (3) 49-35
They did bounce back from the series loss to Philly by sweeping the lousy Astros, but the Red Sox have to be concerned about John Lackey again. Since coming off the DL he had been “better” but still not great. The Blue Jays pounded him on the 4th of July and his ERA is back up to a horrific 7.47. Bottom line is for Boston to win it all they are going to have to get more pitching behind Beckett and Lester. As the Philly series showed no matter how great your offense is, good to great starting pitching can humble it.
- Atlanta Braves (8) 50-36
The Braves bounced back very well from a disappointing series loss to San Diego, by being one of the rare NL teams to enjoy interleague play. Besides the starting pitching which is outstanding, led by CY Young favorite Jair Jurrjens, they are starting to get some run production from off season acquisition Dan Uggla. Despite a batting average still well under the Mendoza line, he has now hit 12 home runs and is starting to help a weak Atlanta lineup. The Braves have stellar starting pitching and arguably the best pen in the NL. If they can score a few more runs, they can put more separation between themselves and everyone else as the clear 2nd best team in the National League.
- Tampa Bay Rays (4) 47-38
It’s all about the Yankees and Red Sox in the AL East, but very quietly the Rays are right there. This makes the upcoming 2 weeks very interesting and extremely important to Tampa. The final series before the All-Star break features 4 games in New York against the Yankees. And then right out of the break they have a 7 game homestand that may well determine if the Rays are going to be a real factor in the AL East, with 3 games against Boston and then 4 more against the Yankees. Even if things go badly for Tampa look on the bright side…those 7 games will certainly help their attendance figures, which are last in the AL.
- San Francisco Giants (6) 48-38
The pitching rich Giants finally got something from Barry Zito! With the disappointing Jonathan Sanchez on the DL, Zito was given another shot and actually showed some resemblance to the guy they gave a boat load of cash to. But the most fascinating contributor to the 1st place Giants has been ALL STAR Ryan Vogelsong. The journeyman has officially gone from the no name guy who bounced around the minors to All-Star with a shocking 6-1 2.13 season.
- St. Louis Cardinals (NR) 46-40
The Cardinals may have survived a 7 game losing streak and a stretch where they lost 12 of 15. Despite the poor play, the Cardinals (with the help of the Brewers being tripped up by interleague play) are alive and well in the NL Central. But the biggest plus for them may be the incredible recovery of Albert Pujols. It was thought that Albert wouldn’t return until as late as mid August. But reports have surfaced that King Albert may be back as soon as NOW. You’d have to think Albert returning to the lineup may be the thing that sparks the Cards to a big hot streak.
- Milwaukee Brewers (5) 45-41
The Brewers may eventually win the NL Central, but boy did they disappoint when they got a shot against the big boys. Earlier this season they lost 2 of 3 to both Boston and Tampa Bay, but this past week they took the broom from the New York Yankees. And more bad news for Milwaukee…look above you in the power rankings. A team that looked to be possibly fading away with an injury to their superstar…not only has been winning, but they may get that guy back a MONTH AND A HALF earlier than anticipated.
- Cleveland Indians (NR) 45-38
The Indians continue to hang around longer than most of us expected. While Detroit got assaulted by the Mets and lost a series to the defending world champions, the Indians have quietly played well on the road for a change. After being swept by the Giants in a series where they only scored 4 runs the Indians bounced back by winning 2 of 3 against a pair of quality NL teams. First it was Arizona and then it was the inter-state rival Reds. Despite playing well at home they get a major test as the red hot Yankees are in town.
- Arizona Diamondbacks (10) 46-40
Will this be Arizona’s final week in the top 10? Well, lately they have not played good baseball as they have lost 6 of 8. But what’s daunting for Kirk Gibson and the surprising Diamondbacks is their upcoming 6 games are in Milwaukee and St. Louis. This may be the week the Giants finally put some serious room between themselves and second place Arizona.
What’s wrong with this list? Let Evan know in the comments?