With three-fourths of the season in the books here’s how the best teams rank, in our assessment.
10. Oakland Athletics: 67-56 record; 4.1 runs scored, 3.8 runs allowed*—The surprising Athletics have blown past the spend-happy Angels into second place now in the AL West and are just one and a half games behind the Rays in the Wild Card race. Winners of 30 of their last 44 games since the first of July, the A’s have done it with pitching—of their seven starters with eight or more starts this season, six have an ERA below 4.00. Previous: NR
9. San Francisco Giants: 69-55 record; 4.3 runs scored, 4.0 runs allowed—Despite the loss of Melky Cabrera, San Francisco has third baseman Pablo Sandoval back in the lineup after missing 18 games with an injured hamstring. Catcher Buster Posey is showing why his presence after last year’s absence was paramount to the Giants’ success as he’s third in the NL in average (.327) and fourth in RBIs (79). Previous: NR
8. St. Louis Cardinals: 68-56 record; 4.9 runs scored, 3.9 runs allowed*—The Cardinals still have the highest run-scoring differential in the game (plus 123 runs) but have been unlucky in the close contests. They are just 13-21 in one-run games and have lost nine of 12 extra-inning affairs. Previous: 6
7. Chicago White Sox: 68-55 record; 4.7 runs scored, 4.1 runs allowed—The inconsistent White Sox, who just finished a sweep of the Yankees after getting swept themselves by the Royals, continue to lead Detroit for first in the AL Central. Twenty-three-year-old starters Chris Sale and Jose Quintana are a combined 20-6 with a 2.69 ERA in 40 games this season. Previous: 7
6. Tampa Bay Rays: 69-55 record; 4.2 runs scored, 3.7 runs allowed*—Since August 5, the Rays have made up four-and-a-half games on the first-place Yankees by winning 13 of 16 games during that time. The catalyst would seem to be Evan Longoria, who came back August 7 after missing 85 games with a torn left hamstring. Previous: 10
5. Atlanta Braves: 71-53 record; 4.6 runs scored, 3.9 runs allowed*—The Braves have gone 25-14 since the All-Star break to take control of the NL Wild Card. The unlikely starting pitching trio of Ben Sheets, Kris Medlen, and Paul Maholm have gone a combined 10-5 with a 2.19 ERA in 16 second half starts for Atlanta. Previous: 5
4. Texas Rangers: 72-51 record; 5.1 runs scored, 4.3 runs allowed*—The Rangers seem to be searching for a spark, but new addition Ryan Dempster hasn’t provided it. The former Cub, who had a 2.25 ERA in 16 starts with Chicago this season, has a 6.04 ERA through four starts with Texas. Adrian Beltre hit as many home runs Wednesday night (three) as he had in his past 35 games combined. Previous: 4
3. Cincinnati Reds: 76-49 record; 4.4 runs scored, 3.8 runs allowed*—The still-hot Reds are now an amazing 26-11 without middle-of-the-order hitter Joey Votto in their lineup, who has been out since July 16. During that time the Reds’ lead over second place has gone from one game to seven and a half games. Previous: 3
2. New York Yankees: 72-52 record; 4.9 runs scored, 4.1 runs allowed—Despite the sweep to Chicago the Yankees are still alright. Joe Girardi’s club is expected to get ace C.C. Sabathia back from the disabled list before the end of the month. Meanwhile, Derek Jeter has hit .380 in August and is now third in the American League in average at .324. Previous: 1
1. Washington Nationals: 77-47 record; 4.4 runs scored, 3.5 runs allowed—Despite the best record in baseball, all is not well with the Nationals and their two young stars. Bryce Harper has hit just .188 in the second half of the season, while Stephen Strasburg is scheduled to be shut down before the postseason as a precautionary move—something no pennant competitor would want to do. Previous: 2
*—designates statistics not including Thursday night’s games.
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