Mike Trout and the Angels are cruising along as we inch toward the postseason. Credit: Getty Images
1. Los Angeles Angels (73-50, previous: 4) – For the first time since the beginning of the season there is a new team at the top of our rankings as the Angels have made the jump. Winners of five of their last six games, the Angels have moved into sole possession of first place in the AL West. Mike Trout continues to lead the team offensively as his 27 homers and 87 RBIs are fourth and third in the AL, respectively. After a series with the Red Sox the Angels will take on the Athletics in a pivotal series in Oakland over the weekend.
2. Oakland Athletics (73-51, previous: 1) – Losers of five straight games, the Athletics have lost their top spot in the rankings and their first place position in the AL West. The issue for Oakland of late has been its offense, as it has scored three runs or less in seven of its last eight games. Jon Lester suffered his first loss since June 7 on Sunday night against the Braves. Oakland will look to get back to its winning ways with a series against the Mets before a weekend series with the Angels.
3. Baltimore Orioles (71-52, previous: 3) – Baltimore saved its best baseball for the second half of the year and has now opened up a 7.5 game lead in the AL East, the largest of any division in the game. The free agent signing of Nelson Cruz looks better and better by the day as he leads the American League in home runs with 32 and is fifth in RBIs with 84. They will continue their nine-game road trip with games against the White Sox and Cubs to finish off the week.
4. Washington Nationals (70-53, previous: 8) – Washington is the hottest team in the game as it has won seven consecutive games to open a six game lead in the NL East. Pitching and defense has been the catalyst to the Nationals' run of late as they have allowed just 2.4 runs in their last 10 games. Tanner Roark has caught fire as the Nationals have won in six of his last seven starts. The Nationals will look to continue their streak with home games against the Diamondbacks and Giants this week.
5. Milwaukee Brewers (70-55, previous: 5) – Milwaukee has heated up of late and has won four straight and seven of its last 10 games to lead the NL Central by 2.5 games. Catcher Jonathan Lucroy continues his impressive season with a 5.2 WAR, fourth in the National League. The Brewers will look to continue their win streak with home games against the Blue Jays and Pirates this week before a nine-game road trip.
6. Los Angeles Dodgers (70-56, previous: 2) – Even with dropping three straight games the Dodgers still remain 3.5 games ahead of the Giants in the NL West. Their plus-50 run differential is the second best in the National League, with an impressive 40-26 record on the road. Despite being beaten by the Brewers over the weekend, Clayton Kershaw still has the best ERA in baseball at 1.86. Los Angeles will continue a long homestand with games against the Padres and Mets.
7. Kansas City Royals (69-55, previous: 6) – Playoff fever has certainly hit Kansas City as the Royals have already began selling playoff tickets. The Royals have won eight of their last 10 games and are two games up in the AL Central. Most leads the Royals get are safe with closer Greg Holland, who leads all of baseball with 38 saves. Kansas City will look to build on its division lead when it takes on the struggling Rockies and Rangers on the road this week.
8. Seattle Mariners (67-57, previous: 9) – The Mariners are in third place in the American League West, but lead the American League wild card race. Robinson Cano is swinging one of the best bats in the AL as his.329 average is second in both the American League and baseball. Seattle is in the midst of a nine-game road trip on the East Coast and after a series with the Phillies it will close it out in Boston over the weekend.
9. St. Louis Cardinals (67-57, previous: 12) – As is typically the case, it looks like the Cardinals will make the postseason – maybe not as the division champs but a wild card slot looks promising. Adam Wainwright continues to dominate as his 15 wins are tied for the most in the NL and his 2.40 ERA is third. Taking on the Reds and Phillies this week should provide them an opportunity to try and distance themselves from the other teams in the wild card.
10. Detroit Tigers (66-56, previous: 11) – Though Kansas City took over first place last week, the Tigers still would have a spot in the playoffs as one of the wild card teams if the playoffs began today. With the starting rotation they have, they certainly have the pitching to contend in October. Detroit is set to begin a seven-game road trip, but the good news is that the games are against the Twins and Rays.
11. San Francisco Giants (65-58, previous: 13) – The Giants are 3.5 games out of first in the NL West, but continue to have a hold on one of the NL wild card spots. Pitching has led San Francisco this season and its rotation is led by Madison Bumgarner and his 13-9 record with a 3.14 ERA. San Francisco has a brief six-game road trip coming up with stops in Chicago against the Cubs and in D.C. against the Nationals.
12. Atlanta Braves (65-60, previous: 15) – Even with having won four games in a row, the Braves are still six games back of the Nationals. Everyone knows how good the Braves' pitching staff is, but it is their offense that continues to hold them back. They really need their bats to heat up for the stretch run. Atlanta is in the middle of a 10-game road trip with stops in Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and New York.
13. Toronto Blue Jays (64-61, previous: 7) – Things are going downhill quickly for the Blue Jays – losers of seven of their last 10 games, they are now third in the AL East and 3.5 games out of the wild card. Toronto will need to get things going quickly as they cannot afford to keep losing ground. The Blue Jays have nine straight home games upcoming, all against AL East teams, which will be critical for them moving forward.
14. Pittsburgh Pirates (64-61, previous: 10) – All signs pointed to the Pirates making a run at the postseason once again, but they have lost six straight games and are now six games out of the NL Central, but two back in the wild card. Things have gotten tough on them with All-Star Andrew McCutchen on the disabled list. Pittsburgh has a rough stretch coming up as it has games against the Braves, Brewers and Cardinals.
15. New York Yankees (63-59, previous: 14) – Joe Girardi certainly deserves some votes for Manager of the Year as even with all the injuries New York has dealt with this season, it still is three games out of a wild card spot. It is also impressive that no regular player in the Yankee lineup has a batting average higher than Ichiro Suzuki’s .277. The Yankees have a relatively easy week coming up with home games against the Astros and White Sox.
16. Cleveland Indians (62-61, previous: 17) – Cleveland just hasn’t been able to put together a consistent stretch for seemingly the entire season. The Indians have showed flashes of being a playoff contender, but then go into funks where they cannot do anything right. Being 4.5 games out of the wild card and with four teams ahead of them, time is running out.
17. Miami Marlins (62-62, previous: 18) – Miami has been incredibly inconsistent this season, but is currently are on one of its highs as it has won seven of its last 10 and is just 3.5 games out of the NL wild card. Giancarlo Stanton seems to get better and better as the season goes on as his 6.1 WAR is the best in the National League. It's one of the biggest reasons why the Marlins still have a shot at the postseason.
18. Cincinnati Reds (61-64, previous: 16) – Things are looking grim in Cincinnati as it is seemingly out of the NL Central race and is now five games out of the second wild card spot. The Reds' pitching has been a major issue of late as they have allowed 26 runs in their last three games.
19. Tampa Bay Rays (61-63, previous: 19) – The 2014 season certainly hasn’t gone the way the Rays expected it to as they are 10.5 games out of first in the AL East with about a month and a half left to go in the season. They had to deal with a number of injuries in their starting rotation to open the season and just couldn’t recover – not to mention trading David Price at the trade deadline.
20. Chicago White Sox (59-66, previous: 21) – Even though the White Sox are out of the playoff race before September even begins, there are some positive signs for the future in 25-year-old staff ace Chris Sale as well as rookie slugger Jose Abreu.
21. New York Mets (59-67, previous: 20) – Being 12.5 games out of first in the NL East, the Mets are pretty much assured of not making the postseason once again. The biggest reason for the Mets’ sub-.500 record this season has been their inability to score runs, as their 3.77 runs per game is 13th in the NL. New York will now take on two first place teams on the road in the Dodgers and Athletics.
22. San Diego Padres (58-65, previous: 22) – A dismal start to the season killed the Padres, as they essentially took themselves out of the playoff race in the first two months of the season. Lack of offense was the biggest reason why as their 3.31 runs per game is the worst in the National League.
23. Boston Red Sox (56-68, previous: 25) – It has been a roller coaster past few years for the Red Sox as they went from worst-to-first last season on their way to a World Series title and now have gone from first-to-worst, as they are in the basement of the American League East. They are using the last two months of the year to get a good look at their young players to see where they fit in for next season, with many of the core veterans already under contract.
24. Philadelphia Phillies (55-70, previous: 24) – It has been a brutal year for the Phillies, as they are currently 16 games out of first in the NL East and have a minus-75 run differential – the second worst in the National League. Even with the poor season, outfielder Ben Revere has put up good numbers, as he is hitting .315 on the year.
25. Minnesota Twins (55-68, previous: 23) – It has been a rough go for the Twins this season as they are in last place in the American League Central and have seen former first baseman Justin Morneau tear it up with the Rockies as his .323 average leads the NL.
26. Chicago Cubs (54-70, previous: 27) – The Cubs once again are in last place in the NL Central, but they are getting a very good season from left-handed power hitter Anthony Rizzo, who has belted 28 homers – second in the NL.
27. Arizona Diamondbacks (53-72, previous: 26) – Being 16.5 games out of first place in the NL West, the biggest reason has been their lack of pitching and defense as they have allowed 586 runs on the year, which are the second most in the National League.
28. Houston Astros (51-73, previous: 28) – Like some of the other poor teams in the league, the Astros get to see one of the best hitters in the game every night as Jose Altuve’s .339 average leads all of baseball.
29. Colorado Rockies (49-75, previous: 30) – As if the season for Colorado was tough enough, they were forced to postpone last Saturday’s game at home because of a water main break outside the Coors Field.
30. Texas Rangers (48-76, previous: 29) – No one would ever believe at the start of the season that the Rangers would have the fewest wins in all of baseball at the end of August, but here they are.
*All stats and records are as of Tuesday.
Follow Metro sports writer Ryan Hannable on Twitter:@RyanHannable