By Mike Ivcic
Records through Thursday, June 14.
1. Los Angeles Dodgers (40-24) 1 â Losing 2 of 3 to the Angels at home won’t make Dodgers fans feel good, until they realize that 3-3 in interleague games is quite good for an NL team.
2. New York Yankees (37-25) 6 â Winners of 6 straight and 9 of 10, the Yankees are back atop the AL East â and now the entire American League. Their ascent coincided with the arrival of Andy Pettitte, and that simply can’t be a coincidence.
3. Washington Nationals (38-23) 4 â The bomb that Bryce Harper hit into the second deck at Rogers Center this past week is proof that he’s got everything it takes to be a star in this league.
4. Texas Rangers (37-27) 3 â Since their 8-game winning streak in April brought them to 12-2, Texas has been a .500 ballclub. It’s the reason they weren’t able to bury the Angels when they had the chance, and will now likely be in a race all season long.
5. San Francisco Giants (36-28) 5 â After watching his performance this week, think the Giants are happy with their big-money investment into the right arm of Matt Cain?
6. Tampa Bay Rays (35-28) 2 â It’s not that the Rays got swept by the Mets â it’s that their pitching got lit up at home against an NL lineup. That has to be concerning Joe Maddon right now.
7. Cincinnati Reds (35-27) 8 â Watching Joey Votto face David Wright at Citi Field this weekend will be like watching a hitting clinic. Not surprising that their respective teams would both make the playoffs if the season ended today.
8. Baltimore Orioles (37-26) 9 â Baseball as a whole is better off now that a player like Brian Roberts is back on the field and playing the game. So, too, are the Orioles.
9. New York Mets (35-29) 14 â Sweeping the Rays takes the sting off of getting swept by the Yankees. No one thought this team would be in second place this late into June.
10. Chicago White Sox (34-29) 7 â They may have gone 2-4 against the Astros and Cardinals, but in doing so they actually widened their lead in the AL Central. I think we’ve discovered the weakest of the six divisions in baseball this season.
11. Los Angeles Angels (34-30) 13 â It’s amazing that the turnaround of just one player has singlehandedly shot this team past a third of the league in less than a month. Guess that’s why they paid Albert Pujols $25 million/year for the next 10 years.
12. Atlanta Braves (34-29) 11 â I almost didn’t drop the Braves at all, but not winning a single game against the Yankees at home deserves at least a slight bump down. Probably not good for the confidence, either, considering they return the trip to Yankee Stadium next week.
13. St. Louis Cardinals (33-31) 16 â The Cardinals are 19-13 against the NL Central, but have only played 5 division games since May 5. They’ll love their chances if they can stay close with 6 against the Royals and 3 against the Tigers in the next week and a half.
14. Miami Marlins (32-31) 10 â The Marlins are just 9-13 in division games and just 10-18 if you include both the NL and AL East. If they want to be considered an elite team, they’re ultimately going to have to win games against the better competition.
15. Pittsburgh Pirates (32-30) 18 â After getting swept by the Orioles, Pittsburgh now gets a reeling Indians team, a bad Twins team, and an underachieving Tigers team. If they want to stay in the race, they need to make their move now.
16. Cleveland Indians (32-30) 12 â It’s not just that they got swept by their in-state rivals, it’s that they lost those three games by a combined 24-9. Plus, anytime Derek Lowe and Dusty Baker start feuding makes the game that much more interesting.
17. Boston Red Sox (31-32) 17 â They’re not good enough to really compete, but they’re just good enough to prevent a major trading deadline firesale â and that means they’re in the worst possible position as a franchise.
18. Toronto Blue Jays (31-32) 15 â A once-promising season is quickly turning into desperation for the Jays. Edwin Encarnacion leads the team with a .281 average, which is a clear indication that, despite scoring lots of runs, this team doesn’t get on base nearly enough.
19. Arizona Diamondbacks (31-32) 20 â Slowly the D-backs are rising, but they may have dug too deep a hole to repeat as NL West champs. A wild card slot, though, is certainly within reach.
20. Philadelphia Phillies (31-34) 21 â Yes, they beat the Twins twice, but the Phillies simply can’t be considered a playoff contender until they start winning series against other legitimate playoff-caliber teams.
21. Detroit Tigers (30-33) 22 â The Tigers batting average is .265, opponents .264. The Tigers OPS is .744, opponents .746. The Tigers have hit 62 homers, opponents 64. The stats bear out the record â this is basically a .500 baseball team.
22. Milwaukee Brewers (28-35) 19 â The Brewers have played 63 games but just 27 of them against NL Central teams. With 52 games remaining within the division, including 46 after the All-Star break, Milwaukee can still make a move on the Reds, Cardinals, and Pirates.
23. Oakland Athletics (29-35) 24 â This may well be the streakiest team in baseball. They don’t win or lose just one game at a time. If they could find a way to match their 9-game losing streak with one on the winning side, they’d be right in the playoff race.
24. Kansas City Royals (27-34) 23 â The Royals just swept Milwaukee at home â and improved their home record to 11-20 on the year. Perhaps that’s why they’re in fourth place in a weak division.
25. Houston Astros (27-36) 27 â And the flip-side to the Royals are the Astros, who are 9-22 on the road this season. That ruins a surprising 18-14 home mark.
26. Minnesota Twins (25-37) 28 â The Twins starting pitching has had such short outings that only one player qualifies for league leaders based upon innings pitched â Carl Pavano and his whopping 6.00 ERA.
27. Seattle Mariners (27-38) 25 â They stay ahead of San Diego just because they are the better team. But that 6-pitcher no-hitter last Friday might be the highlight of the season for the Mariners.
28. San Diego Padres (23-41) 30 â The sweep of Seattle jumps the Padres a couple of spots this week. They continue their AL West swing with a visit to Oakland â three more winnable games for a team that won’t have a whole lot of them left on the schedule.
29. Colorado Rockies (24-38) 26 â The Rockies have now lost 8 straight games and desperately need Troy Tulowitzki back, since apparently Coors Field is the only place where runs are scored anymore.
30. Chicago Cubs (21-42) 29 â He’s been a good soldier for a number of years, but trading Ryan Dempster would be the best move the Cubs could make between now and the trading deadline.
Three series to watch this weekendâ¦
1) MIA @ TB (6/15-6/17) â The Rays destroyed the Marlins last weekend, but are now reeling from losing three straight to the Mets. Both these teams desperately need the wins, especially with the Nationals and Yankees starting to pull away slightly in the respective East divisions.
2) NYY @ WAS (6/15-6/17) â Alright, Nationals â time to prove it one more time. Winning this series with the much-improved Yankees â two teams that haven’t lost at all this past week â would be the final stamp of legitimacy for Washington. A loss here only means the questions will continue to linger a bit longer.
3) CHW @ LAD (6/15-6/17) â The Dodgers continue to win games without Matt Kemp, which means they’ll only be better once he returns. They host the AL Central leaders in Chicago, who have some slight breathing room now over Cleveland.
Check out Mike Ivcic’s weekly column, “The Tenth Inning,” every Monday and the weekly “Power Rankings” every Friday, only at ultimatecapper.com
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