It’s been a while since our last rankings, almost as long as last night’s marathon game in St Pete. Without any further ado, here’s the top ten.
- The Red Sox(57-36, 1st AL East) won six straight heading into the all-star
break. And the break didn’t slow them down as they took two of three at division rival Tampa Bay. There are injury concerns with Jon Lester (lat strain) and Clay Buchholz (lower back strain), but fortunately for the Sox Josh Beckett’s knee issues that held him out of the all-star game last week didn’t seem to bother him as he fanned six over eight shutout innings, retiring 22 straight batters at one point. As a bonus, the team ends July with 13 straight against teams currently with losing records (Orioles, Mariners, Royals and White Sox).
- Who else would be number two but the Phillies (59-35, 1st NL East). Philadelphia became the first team since the ’86 Mets to have three starters with nine-plus wins and ERAs less than 3.00 at the all-star break. That Mets team went on to win the world series over Boston, which is a good omen for the phanatics in the city of brotherly love.
- Let’s keep it on the East Coast for our number three team. The Yankees (55-37,
2nd AL East) have two guys with 25 home runs, and neither of them is Alex Rodriguez. Mark Teixiera is one of them, but who’d expect the other to be Curtis Granderson. The former Tiger is only five away from his career high of 30, set in his last year in Detroit in ’09. And he is second on the team with 15 steals, and should get some MVP consideration if his second half is as good as his first.
- Winners of 11 straight, the Rangers (51-45, 1st AL West) are the hottest team in baseball. They’ve done it with offense, scoring more runs than any team in baseball not from Boston. They have a good chance of being the first losing World Series team to return to the fall classic the next year since the Braves in ’91 and ’92.
- The Braves (56-39, 2nd NL East) have the second best ERA in the NL, bested only by the Phillies. While the Phillies have done it with all-stars Halladay, Oswalt and Lee, the Braves have been led by Jair Jurrjens. The Curacao native has bounced back nicely from a forgetful 2010 campaign that saw him go 7-6 with a 4.64 ERA in only 20 starts. This year Jurrjens is 12-3 and has an NL best ERA of 2.26.
- The Giants (55-41, 1st NL West) are just behind the Braves for the second best ERA in the senior circuit (3.17 compared to Atlanta’s 3.16). But they’ve also scored the least runs of any division leader (in fact they’ve only outscored four teams in all of baseball. All of them, coincidentally, are on the West Coast). Is it too late to bring back Barry Bonds?
- Quick geography lesson: Tampa is actually further west than Cleveland. Which means the Rays (50-43, 3rd AL East) should be in the Central and the Indians in the East. It’s too bad for Tampa Bay that they aren’t, their record would be good for first in the Central but instead they’re sitting games seven back of the Red Sox.
- At this point it’s really a toss-up between the five teams within a half game of leading the AL and NL Central. But I give a slight edge to the Brewers (51-45, 1st NL Central). Milwaukee made the biggest addition so far of the season, adding Francisco Rodriguez from the Mets for two players to be named later. K-Rod has pitched twice in a Brewers uniform, allowing just one hit in two innings while striking out three batters.
- The Pirates(49-44, t-2nd NL Central) are the feel good story of the year. The
team hasn’t been in contention since Barry Bonds left town after the ’92 season. Bonds won the MVP that year after hitting .311 with 34 home runs, 103 RBI and 39 steals. This year’s team is led by Andrew McCutchen. The 24 year old Centerfielder has 14 homers, just two shy of his career high. And he’s already tied career high in RBI with 56.
- The Tigers (50-45, t-1st AL Central) edge out the Indians because Detroit is 5-5 in their last ten, and Cleveland is only 4-6, and dropped two in a row to Baltimore.