|Photo by USA Today|
1. Los Angeles Dodgers (69-50; LW: 7) - Zuckerman: No, they don't have MLB's best record. But when you win 39 of 47, you deserve No. 1 ranking.
2. Atlanta Braves (74-47; LW: 1) - Roney: Beachy continues to provide a big boost to Atlanta's rotation, after a shaky debut. Better than trading for an ace at the deadline, for sure.
3. Boston Red Sox (72-50; LW: 2) - Roney: Their monster road swing isn't going all that great so far -- but the good news is, the Rays and Os are struggling even worse right now.
4. Pittsburgh Pirates (71-48; LW: 3) - Hughes: Pittsburgh is starting to slip as the Cardinals and Reds are surging. The NL Central is about to get real interesting.
5. Detroit Tigers (70-49; LW: 4) - Hughes: With the frontrunners for AL MVP and Cy Young in store, this could be their year. Verlander has to come around for it to happen, though.
6. St. Louis Cardinals (68-51; LW: 5) - Hughes: It doesn't matter who they throw out there or when, the Cardinals know how to win ballgames, especially this time of year.
7. Texas Rangers (70-51; LW: 9) - Zuckerman: Yu Darvish is only the 3rd pitcher in history with five 14-strikeout games in a season. The others: Nolan Ryan, Pedro Martinez.
8. Oakland A's (67-52; LW: 8) - Zuckerman: Six games left with Texas. Those will be huge in determining AL West champ.
9. Tampa Bay Rays (67-51; LW: 6) - Roney: Poor time to hit a rough patch, but there was bound to be some regression.
10. Cincinnati Reds (68-52; LW: 10) - Hughes: Cincinnati is showing no signs of slowing down which doesn't bode well for the Nationals, even if they're starting to pick things up.
11. Baltimore Orioles (65-55; LW: 11) - Roney: Ever notice how when teams lose their All-Star closer (Yankees last season, Boston this year, plenty of teams all the time), they don't suddenly become much worse? It's almost like you can find a capable closer anywhere...take note, Duquette.
12. Cleveland Indians (65-56; LW: 12) - Hughes: Cleveland looks well on their way to a winning season, but the playoffs may be more realistic next season.
13. Kansas City Royals (62-56; LW: 13) - Hughes: James Shields has been fantastic this year, but they have to look at how Wil Myers has started his career and wonder if a mistake was made.
14. Arizona Diamondbacks (62-57; LW: 14) - Zuckerman: Showed some serious late-inning mojo in sweep of Orioles.
15. New York Yankees (62-57; LW: 15) - Roney: Soriano is mashing like he never took off his pinstripes -- does it feel like mid-2000s sluggers have been finding themselves in New York all season?
16. Washington Nationals (59-60; LW: 16) - Roney: It's hard to believe that Strasburg only just recorded the first shutout of his career.
17. Seattle Mariners (55-64; LW: 18) - Zuckerman: Michael Morse update: 67 games played, .243 average, 12 homers, 26 RBI.
18. Colorado Rockies (57-65; LW: 21) - Zuckerman: Three regulars with OPS over .900: Tulowitzki, Cuddyer, Gonzalez. That shouldn't translate to a losing record.
19. Toronto Blue Jays (55-65; LW: 17) - Roney: Latest installment of Speed Kills: what Rajai Davis did to the Red Sox infield last night.
20. New York Mets (54-63; LW: 22) - Roney: Ike Davis' resurgence is what all teams hope for when they send hitters to the minors to clear their heads. He's not lighting the world on fire, but he's hitting like a major leaguer now.
21. San Diego Padres (54-66; LW: 19) - Zuckerman: A 4.21 ERA in that cavernous ballpark? How can that be?
22. Minnesota Twins (53-65; LW: 25) - Hughes: At 34 years old, it looks like Josh Willingham's career as a capable slugger is starting to wind down.
23. Philadelphia Phillies (53-67; LW: 23) - Roney: Good for the Phillies and Chase Utley, extending their union for the next few years -- and possibly the rest of Utley's career. Not enough players spend their careers with the same team, and Utley in another uniform would feel wrong.
24. Los Angeles Angels (53-66; LW: 20) - Zuckerman: Doesn't matter how good Mike Trout is. He can't carry this entire team on his own.
25. San Francisco Giants (54-66; LW: 24) - Zuckerman: Seeing them in person last three nights, completely understand the season they're having.
26. Chicago Cubs (52-68; LW: 26) - Hughes: Is Jeff Samardzija good enough to build a rotation around? His numbers this season don't really back that up.
27. Milwaukee Brewers (52-68; LW: 27) - Hughes: Milwaukee is bad, real bad. And even worse, they keep trending downward.
28. Chicago White Sox (46-73; LW: 29) - Hughes: The rebuilding project is in full effect with Paul Konerko even hitting waivers. Maybe we'll see you back in a few years, Southsiders.
29. Miami Marlins (46-73; LW: 28) - Roney: An outfield of Yelich, Ozuna, and Stanton, plus that rotation, make for a very talented young team. They could use a little more talent in the infield, but this team has serious potential in the coming years.
30. Houston Astros (39-80; LW: 30) - Zuckerman: 12 of 15 players with 100+ at-bats this season are hitting below .250.