This week was the toughest when it came to deciding the top 10. So many 1st place teams are playing really good baseball. Nonetheless, here are your week 18 power rankings:
#1 Atlanta Braves
When you sweep the Cardinals, Rockies, and Phillies back-to-back-to-back, you earn the #1 ranking. During the Braves 10 game win streak, they have outscored their opponents by a cumulative 41 runs and extended their division lead to 12.5 games over the Nationals. By the way: Andrelton Simmons has struck out only 4 times since July 1st. Not bad for an 8th place defensive whiz.
#2 Pittsburgh Pirates
Still not sold that this is the best team in baseball, despite their record that says otherwise. However, they certainly opened plenty of eyes when they took 4 out of 5 from the (former) 1st place Cardinals last week. By the way: Andrew McCutchen is getting better and better every month… .994 OPS in July.
#3 Detroit Tigers
I don’t have the Tigers in front of the Red Sox/Rays because I think they are the better team. The Tigers still have to prove that. That being said, the Tigers are hot right now and face a much easier schedule down the stretch than the AL East frontrunners. By the way: The Tigers are 27-16 against their own division, which is best among the AL Central teams.
#4 Boston Red Sox
I have the Red Sox slightly ahead of the Rays just because they are the current leader and face the lowly Astros next. The Jake Peavy trade was a huge move for the Sox and should help them immensely, especially until Buchholz gets back. By the way: If it comes down to a tiebreak, the Red Sox have a better record within the East.
#5 Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays have a better rotation than the Red Sox at the moment and need to start taking advantage. Speaking of their rotation, Ace David Price has thrown 9 innings in 4 out of his last 6 starts while giving up 10 runs. By the way: Wil Myers has been overshadowed by Puig, but has been extremely impressive since his call up.
#6 St Louis Cardinals
I don’t like putting the Cardinals this low in the rankings, but they have been extremely streaky lately, including losing 7 in a row to the Braves and Pirates. Since then though, the offense has exploded and scored 13+ runs in 3 out of 4 games. This team is more balanced than the Pirates though and should win the Central. By the way: The only reason I am okay with the Cardinals not making a trade yet, is because the Pirates haven’t either.
#7 Los Angeles Dodgers
Dodgers have been on fire ever since Hanley and Puig showed up and started showing off. They have currently won 4 in a row and hold the second largest division lead in baseball at 5.5 games. By the way: The Dodgers have a surprisingly weak record against the NL West at 23-27, but boast a 16-7 mark against the NL Central.
#8 Texas Rangers
The Rangers are coming off a huge series against the 1st place A’s, in which they took 2 out of 3. Even if the Rangers don’t win the division, they have a fantastic chance at a wild card spot, because all the other teams will be beating up on each other within their respective divisions. By the way: Matt Garza’s behavior last weekend was unacceptable and incredibly immature.
#9 Cleveland Indians
This team makes no sense to me, but they have great chemistry and obviously know how to win games, so they are in my top 10. Their upcoming series in Detroit will be a big measuring stick for this team. Especially when you consider they have been bad on the road and brutal against the Tigers. By the way: The Indians are 20th in ERA, yet have the most shutouts in baseball.
#10 Cincinnati Reds
You know you are in a tough division when you are in 3rd place, yet lead the wild card by 4.5 games. The good news for the Reds is that they have kept themselves within striking distance. Plus, it doesn’t appear they will have any stiff competition for the Wild Card. By the way: This pitching staff has very quietly posted the best WHIP in the MLB.
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