With 21 of 30 teams still within 10 games of their division lead, just about anyone is capable of making a run to the postseason. However, your week 14 top 10 looks as follows:
#1 St. Louis Cardinals
After a brief hiatus from the top spot while Pirates were streaking, the Cardinals have won 3 in a row to put themselves back in 1st place. Big chance for the Cardinals to finish the first half strong too, their final 6 games are against the Astros and Cubs. By the way: Anyone starting to worry about the starting pitching a little bit? Their starters only have 5 wins in the last 14 games while losing 6.
#2 Boston Red Sox
The Pirates have a better record, but the Red Sox have more balance and hold a 3.5 game lead in a deeper division. If anyone is still wondering whether or not the Sox can maintain their current level of play, the fact that they have taken 5 out of the last 6 series against their AL East opponents should answer that for you. By the way: Big Papi now has an OPS of 1.003 after 71 games, while only striking out 2 more times than he has walked.
#3 Oakland Athletics
While extremely streaky, the A’s can still beat you in plenty of different ways, which is why I still have them in front of the Pirates. 7th in runs and 6th in ERA makes the A’s one of the more balanced 1st place teams in all of baseball. By the way: It is a shame that Josh Donaldson was left off the AL All Star roster. .319 with 15 HR, and 58 RBI should be rewarded with an All Star selection, I don’t care how small his market is.
#4 Pittsburgh Pirates
As I have made clear all year long, I don’t know much of a beating this pitching staff can take and keep right on trucking. Over 314 innings for their bullpen is 2nd most in the majors and the next closest playoff team has only 279.2. By the way: Andrew McCutchen could become the superstar he deserves to be if he can get this offense to the postseason.
#5 Atlanta Braves
Braves struggled a bit last week, but still have the best bullpen ERA and 5th best starters ERA. We are still waiting to find out what they are going to do once Brandon Beachy is ready to return to the rotation, but having a potential ace in your back pocket is never a bad thing. Maybe they will find a way to trade Paul Maholm, since his contract will be up this year. By the way: #votefreddie.
#6 Texas Rangers
The starting pitching is really starting to worry me. They are now 21st in quality starts and have only won 3 of their last 10 games. While they have gone 6-4 in those 10 games, I just don’t know if that starting staff can keep up with that of the A’s. By the way: I know Joe Nathan has been rolling right along, but I am still not convinced his 38 year old body is ready for a pennant race.
#7 Cincinnati Reds
I know they have been playing the 3rd wheel to the Cardinals and Pirates, but I still think this team should be able to win this division. Their offense has been underachieving and is much better than the Pirates, while their rotation is much deeper/more experienced than the Cardinals. By the way: How deep is their rotation? Their worst starter ERA is 3.70, which belongs to a guy (Homer Bailey) who just threw a no hitter.
#8 Detroit Tigers
The Tigers have had the most quality starts, arguably the best offense, and hands down the best hitter in baseball, yet they continue to play mediocre baseball (except against the Indians). I still think this team will clinch their division first, but my faith is a little bit shaken. By the way: Verlander said he had found the problem with his mechanics and then shut out an explosive Jays offense for 7 innings. If he is right, this team has arguably the best 1-2 punch in the MLB right now.
#9 Tampa Bay Rays
Here they come! I have been waiting for this team to really get going, and by winning 5 in a row and 9 out of 10, they certainly have. David Price has come back with a vengeance (16 innings, 1 ER, 15 K…albeit against the Astros and White sox, but still) while the offense continues to overachieve. By the way: It appears Fernando Rodney has completely righted the ship. Over his last 9 appearances, he has allowed 0 runs while racking up 13 strikeouts, notching 7 saves, and recording a win.
#10 Baltimore Orioles
To be honest, I didn’t really like putting the Orioles in my top 10, but they are here by default. I just don’t think Scott Feldman is going to be enough to make up for all of the deficiencies this pitching staff has. It is a nice little addition, but not enough, in my opinion, to compete in this division long term. By the way: Adam Jones has never walked much, but 9 walks in 375 AB’s is crazy low…. must be nice to hit in a lineup where everyone is terrified to walk you.
Tell me how wrong I am on twitter @Cole_Stevenson