It is almost as if baseball was waiting for the NBA and NHL finals to end before really letting the pennant race heat up. 24 of 30 teams in the MLB are within 10 games of a playoff spot, while the Pirates, Angels, Dodgers, and Indians are all surging. Where does your team rank in this week’s power rankings? Here you go:
#1 Pittsburgh Pirates
No matter how pessimistic I may be about the durability of the Pirates bullpen to pitch them through their offensive struggles, I have to give credit where credit is due. 9 straight victories and the best record in baseball at the end of June is no joke. By the way: How awesome is this for baseball and the fan base in Pittsburgh?
#2 Boston Red Sox
The Cardinals have a better record, but the Sox are in a deeper division and have been playing more consistent baseball as of late. Not only that, but the Sox also managed to cool off the red hot Blue Jays, taking 3 out 4. By the way: We knew this offense could be really good if they stayed healthy, but I don’t think anyone imagined it being THIS good. 1st in runs.
#3 St. Louis Cardinals
As I have been saying all year, the downside for the Cardinals is that they cannot have any sort of hiccup because of the teams behind them. Well, the Cardinals have been struggling in a mighty way, by their standards at least. They have now lost 9 out of 15 despite playing the Astros, Cubs, and Marlins in that span, which puts them 2 games behind the Pirates. By the way: All of a sudden the back end of this rotation is a serious question mark. The Cardinals really need Jake Westbrook to step up.
#4 Atlanta Braves
The Braves, inspired by the Chipper Jones retirement ceremony, swept the 1st place Diamondbacks this weekend and have won 5 out of 6. Even better news, Jason Heyward hit .312 in June and had 14 multi hit games. By the way: After a rough first few starts (5.08 ERA in May), Julio Teheran has been really really good. 2.65 ERA in May and 1.95 in June.
#5 Texas Rangers
It really has surprised me how this team responded to their losing skid. I am starting to believe that this team, despite mediocre starting pitching (19th in quality starts) can actually win this division, but they are going to need Kinsler to be healthy. By the way: I know I sound like a broken record, but I don’t know how much I trust an overworked Joe Nathan down the stretch.
#6 Baltimore Orioles
Coming off a huge sweep of the reeling Yankees, the Orioles 2nd ranked offense will look to have another good week against the White Sox and Yankees. I still think the Rays and Jays both have a serious run left in them though, so the Orioles can’t start to scuffle. By the way: Chris Davis mya be getting most of the attention, and deservedly so, but Manny Machado is having an unbelievable year for 20 years old.
#7 Oakland Athletics
This team continues to be what it is, streaky and good at home. Still gotta like the A’s to pass up the Rangers though, with how much better their starting pitching has been. By the way: Dear Mr. Cespedes, it’s time for you to grow up as a hitter. You are far too talented to have a .288 OBP. That will be all.
#8 Cincinnati Reds
This team is much like the next team on this list. Has all of the pieces just can’t seem to put it all together. I think it might be time for the Reds to start taking a more aggressive approach at the plate. They are 20th in average, but 9th in OBP. By the way: People shouldn’t take for granted how much Cueto means to this rotation and it is looking more and more like he may be our modern day Mark Prior.
#9 Detroit Tigers
How a team can be 1st in AVG, 2nd in quality starts, 9th in ERA, and still be so mediocre is beyond me. Verlander needs to get it going. His stuff is way too good to have a 1.4 WHIP at this point in the season. By the way: Tigers’ haters need to send Chris Davis a thank you note, otherwise Miguel Cabrera would be running away with a second straight triple crown.
#10 Cleveland Indians
To Indians fans: I apologize in advance for my pessimistic outlook, but this team CANNOT pitch. I will not believe for one second that a team with the 27th ERA, that is also 26th in quality starts, will make the postseason. By the way: Even Ace Justin Masterson hasn’t been fantastic when you really look closely. He has given up 4+ runs 7 different times this year.
Tell me how wrong I am on twitter: @Cole_Stevenson