Jason Hammel and the A's maintain their top spot in the rankings. Credit: Getty Images
1. Oakland Athletics (72-46, previous: 1) – Even with the A's dropping two straight games, they still are at the top of the baseball world for yet another week. Their plus-167 run differential is 83 runs more than the next closest team in the American League. Coming over from Boston at the trade deadline, Jon Lester has boosted the already dominant A’s rotation as he has a 2.44 ERA, third in the American League. The Athletics will continue a series with the Royals before a weekend series in Atlanta.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers (68-52, previous: 3) – Los Angeles has reeled off two straight wins to now open up a five-game lead in the NL West. They have an impressive 38-25 record on the road this season, which has guided them to their current first place status. Staff ace Clayton Kershaw has a miniscule 1.78 ERA, easily the best in all of baseball. The Dodgers will wrap up a nine-game road trip before returning home for a weekend series with the Brewers.
3. Baltimore Orioles (68-50, previous: 4) – Winners of seven of its last 10 games, Baltimore has opened a six-game lead in the AL East, which is the biggest division lead in all of baseball. Aside from Nelson Cruz, Nick Markakis is having a productive season at the plate as he is hitting .293, 16th-best in the American League. The Orioles will continue their series with the Yankees before a nine-game road trip where they will take on the Indians, White Sox and Cubs.
4. Los Angeles Angels (68-49, previous: 2) – The Angels lost ground in both the division and wild card races this past week as they have lost six of their last 10 games. Still, Mike Trout continues to dominate, game-in-and-game out, as his 6.2 WAR is the best in baseball. Los Angeles will host the Phillies for two games before departing for a 10-game road trip where they are 29-26 this season.
5. Milwaukee Brewers (66-53, previous: 5) – The Brewers seem to have gotten back to their winning ways as they have won six of 10 and have opened a 2.5 game lead in the NL Central. Wily Peralta is quietly having a very good season as his 14 wins are tied for most in the National League. Milwaukee has three more games left with the Cubs, before a weekend set in Los Angeles and the first place Dodgers.
6. Kansas City Royals (64-53, previous: 15) – Kansas City is the hottest team in the game at the moment as it has won eight straight and nine of 10 to jump the Tigers for first place in the AL Central. The Royals' pitching has been the key as in their last 11 games, they have held their opponents to three runs or less in nine of those games. It has also helped to have Greg Holland at the back-end of their bullpen as his 35 saves lead the American League. The Royals will continue their series with the A’s before going on a nine-game road trip with stops in Minnesota, Colorado and Texas.
7. Toronto Blue Jays (63-57, previous: 8) – Toronto has dropped seven of its last 10 games to slip six games behind the Orioles in the AL East, but the Jays remain just two games out of the final wild card spot. There is no question the Jays have the offense in order to contend – they just need to get better pitching as only Mark Buehrle is in the top 20 in the AL in terms of ERA. The Blue Jays are in the middle of an eight-game road trip, currently in Seattle before going to Chicago and taking on the White Sox over the weekend.
8. Washington Nationals (63-53, previous: 9) – The Nationals continue their solid play of late to stay on top of the NL East over the Braves. Their plus-79 run differential is by far the best in the National League. Although they may not be as flashy as some of the other top starters in the game, Tanner Roark (2.86) and Jordan Zimmerman (3.06) are in the top 12 in the National League in ERA. Washington will take on the Pirates on the road before returning home for 11 straight.
9. Seattle Mariners (63-55, previous: 14) – Seattle has reeled off wins in seven of its last 10 games to get back into the wild card mix. After a slow start to his time in Seattle, Robinson Cano has caught fire as he is now hitting .333, the second best mark in the American League. The Mariners will host the Blue Jays for two more games before departing for a nine-game East Coast trip.
10. Pittsburgh Pirates (63-55, previous: 11) – The Pirates have done what they needed to do to get back in the playoff picture after getting off to a very slow start to the season as they lead the NL wild card race and are 2.5 games back in the division. After a week of contemplating the move, the Pirates finally put star outfielder Andrew McCutchen on the 15-day disabled list with a fractured rib and cartilage injury in the left side. They are hopeful he doesn’t need to miss much more time once the 15 days are up.
11. Detroit Tigers (63-53, previous: 6) – Losers of three straight games, Detroit has fallen out of first place in the AL Central. Their pitching and defense has been lacking of late as in their last six games they have allowed an average of five runs a game. Although they have lost their division lead, they still lead the AL wild card race, but with the addition of David Price at the deadline and their past success in the postseason, they will want another division title. After a home-and-home with the Pirates, the Tigers have a weekend series at home against Seattle.
12. St. Louis Cardinals (62-55, previous: 10) – St. Louis has slipped to third in the NL Central – three games behind the Brewers, but still would be the second wild card team if the postseason began today. Their offense has been their downfall this season as besides Matt Adams’ .304 batting average, the Cards really don’t have anyone else producing at the plate. Following two more games against the Marlins, the Cardinals will return home for four games with the Padres.
13. San Francisco Giants (62-56, previous: 7) – San Francisco has played a few poor stretches of late and it is currently in the midst of another right now as it has lost four straight. The Giants still would be the second wild card team if the playoffs began today, but they have plenty of teams on their tail. Despite his 8-9 record, Tim Hudson has posted a 2.81 ERA, which is 14th in baseball. The Giants have a good chance to get back on the winning track with games against the White Sox, Phillies and Cubs on tap.
14. New York Yankees (61-57, previous: 13) – The Yankees have lost three straight games and have fallen seven games out of first in the AL East. Their playoff hopes are getting slimmer by the day as they are three games out of the final wild card spot, but have two teams ahead of them. New York is hopeful to get Masahiro Tanaka back in early September, but by then the Yankees could be completely out of the playoff race as they have battled the injury bug all season long.
15. Atlanta Braves (60-58, previous: 12) – Atlanta is another team struggling of late as it has lost eight of its last 10 games to allow the Nationals to open a four-game lead in the division. The Braves are now 2.5 out of the second wild card spot as well. Offense has been Atlanta’s biggest problem this season as it hasn't been able to score runs. Only Justin Upton is having a good season at the dish as his 21 homers are tied for fourth in the NL.
16. Cincinnati Reds (60-58, previous: 17) – The Reds are certainly within striking distance for both the NL Central and the wild card, but the issue for them is the number of teams currently in front of them in the standings. Johnny Cueto continues to shine this year as his 2.05 ERA is second best in the NL. They will need his dominance to continue the rest of the year beginning with two games against the Red Sox before going on a seven-game road trip.
17. Cleveland Indians (59-59, previous: 16) – Cleveland is hanging on by a thread in the playoff hunt as it is 5.5 games back in both the division and the wild card. The Indians' pitching has been the downfall as they have a 3.86 ERA, eighth in the AL. The Indians do have a chance to make a run as 11 of their next 14 games are against teams with losing records.
18. Miami Marlins (58-60, previous: 19 – Even though the Marlins are two games under .500, they still have an outside shot at making the postseason as they are just six games out in the NL East. Giancarlo Stanton continues to put on a show seemingly every night with his monster home runs. He currently has 31 on the year, which leads the NL.
19. Tampa Bay Rays (58-60, previous: 18) – Once the Rays traded David Price, they seemingly gave up all hope for any shot at the postseason. They currently sit 10 games out of first in the American League East, but do hold a 31-28 record on the road.
20. New York Mets (57-62, previous: 21) – Like the Marlins, despite being five games under .500, the Mets too are not quite done in the NL East as they are 7.5 games out. Sure, it would take a miraculous run, but it is not impossible. Their pitching will need to catch fire as they don’t have anyone in the top 20 in the NL in ERA as Jonathon Niese and Zack Wheeler are ranked 21 and 23, respectively. The Mets begin a seven-game homestand against the first place Nationals and then the Cubs.
21. Chicago White Sox (56-63, previous: 20) – It was another losing week for the White Sox as they have now lost seven of their last 10 games to remain in fourth place in the AL Central. Despite his team's poor record, rookie Jose Abreu continues to rake, as his 31 home runs and 86 RBIs lead the American League.
22. San Diego Padres (55-62, previous: 22) – The Padres have actually been one of the better teams in the second half as they have now won three straight and seven of 10, but still remain double-digit games out of first place in the NL West. They will be able to impact the playoff race as they have series’ coming up against the Dodgers and Cardinals.
23. Minnesota Twins (53-64, previous: 23) – What else is there to say about the Twins this season? They are currently in last place in the AL Central, 11 games out of first place and will miss the playoffs for the fourth straight season.
24. Philadelphia Phillies (53-66, previous: 25) – Philadelphia is still in the basement of the NL East. Despite that, Cole Hamels is having another tremendous season as his 2.37 ERA is fourth in the NL. There will certainly be interest in the left-hander during the offseason as the Phillies were quiet at the trade deadline. The Red Sox could be a team of interest as they lost Jon Lester and the Phillies have reportedly been scouting a number of Red Sox games this season.
25. Boston Red Sox (52-65, previous: 24) – The Red Sox took two-of-three against the Angels on the road over the weekend, but the club is still in the midst of a nightmare of the season. The issue is the offense as the team has an ERA of 3.87 at this point in the season, compared to a 3.83 ERA at this point last season, but have scored 147 fewer runs. Boston will play two games in Cincinnati against the Reds before beginning an 11-game homestand.
26. Arizona Diamondbacks (51-67, previous: 26) – A dismal 25-39 record at home this season has been a major reason for the lack of success for the Diamondbacks. Lack of pitching has also been a cause as they have allowed 4.74 runs per game, the second most in the National League.
27. Chicago Cubs (50-67, previous: 27) – It will be interesting to see how general manager Theo Epstein approaches this offseason and how hard he goes after big-name free agents as the 2015 will be fourth season in Chicago and Cubs fans have been waiting for another winning team.
28. Houston Astros (49-70, previous: 28) – The Astros have 49 wins, but because of the Rangers that isn’t even the worst in their own division. Houston certainly has its eye on the future, but the question remains – exactly how far away are they?
29. Texas Rangers (46-71, previous: 30) – The Rangers may be the team in baseball that wants the season to end the fastest as the team that is always in playoff contention has the most losses in the entire American League.
30. Colorado Rockies (46-72, previous: 29) – Colorado can certainly hit as they have the two best hitters for average in the NL in Troy Tulowitzki (.340) and Justin Morneau (.321), but it cannot pitch as it's 4.99 team ERA is worst in the majors.
*All stats and records are as of Tuesday, August 12.
Follow Metro sports writer Ryan Hannable on Twitter:@RyanHannable