1. Boston Red Sox (92-59, previous No. 1) – One would imagine the Red Sox would have slowed down by now, having virtually clinched the AL East title, but they have done the exact opposite as they have continued to roll, winning five of six and 17 of their last 21 after their weekend sweep of the Yankees. They also became the first AL team with 92 wins in their first 151 games since the Yankees in 2010. The Red Sox will look to clinch the AL East, as well as the best record in the American League this week with six home games against the Orioles and Blue Jays.
2. Atlanta Braves (89-60, previous No. 2) – Atlanta has the NL East locked up and its sights are now set on the best record in the NL. The Braves currently have a slim two-game lead over the Cardinals. This will be particularly important in the playoffs as they are a league-best 52-22 at home, compared to 37-38 on the road. The Braves do have a good chance to improve their road record this week with games against the Nationals and Cubs.
3. Oakland Athletics (88-61, previous No. 4) – By way of winning eight of its last 10 and the Rangers losing six straight, Oakland has opened a 6.5 game lead in the AL West with just two weeks left in the season. The A's offense has been impressive of late as in their last 10 games they have averaged six runs a game. They will look to pull even further away from Texas with games against the Angels and Twins this week, all at home where they've gone 47-27 this year.
4. St. Louis Cardinals (87-62, previous No. 3) – The Cards are involved in the best division race in baseball as they and the Pirates are neck and neck in the NL Central, both playing great ball lately. The Cardinals have won seven of their last 10 and have the same record as Pittsburgh. Their pitching has been leading the way as in their last eight games they have allowed just 1.9 runs per game. The Cardinals will hit the road for seven straight games starting Monday in Colorado before a weekend set with the Brewers.
5. Pittsburgh Pirates (87-62, previous No. 9) – By winning six of seven, the Pirates are deadlocked with the Cardinals at the top of the NL Central standings. Their pitching has been dominant, as in their last seven games they have allowed only 2.43 runs per game. Pittsburgh will open a seven-game homestand beginning Monday with the Padres and wrapping it up this weekend against the Reds.
6. Detroit Tigers (86-63, previous No. 6) – The Tigers have the second-best run differential in the American League at plus-169 and are atop the AL Central by five games over the Indians. Although they average 5.02 runs per game, their offense has been skidding of late scoring four runs or less 10 times in their last 14 games. They have a chance to wrap up the division this week with seven games at home, beginning with the Mariners Monday followed by the White Sox at week's end.
7. Los Angeles Dodgers (86-63, previous No. 5) – Los Angeles has struggled a bit lately, losing three straight and seven of its last 10 games, but still has a 10.5 game lead in the NL West. Something that the Dodgers will look to get going before the playoffs is their offense as they have averaged just 4.05 runs a game on the year. The Dodgers will play 10 of their last 13 games on the road, starting with four games in Arizona on Monday.
8. Cincinnati Reds (84-66, previous No. 7) – Despite not being able get over the hump in the NL Central, the Reds will likely join the second-place finisher in the division as one of the two wild card teams as they should hold off the surging Nationals. The Reds have won six of 10, but still are 3.5 back in the NL Central. Cincinnati will look to take advantage of its schedule with three games against the Astros to open the week, before a weekend series in Pittsburgh against the Pirates.
9. Cleveland Indians (81-68, previous No. 12) – The Indians have won four straight and seven of 10 to now just be a half game behind the Rays and Rangers in the wild card standings. In a four-game weekend sweep of the White Sox, the Indians allowed a combined six runs. Because of their schedule, the Indians should be the one of the favorites to clinch a playoff spot as they have the Royals, Astros, Twins and White Sox the rest of the way.
10. Tampa Bay Rays (81-67, previous No. 10) – After having the best record in the American League a few months ago, the Rays are now in a dogfight just to make the playoffs. Tampa is tied with the Rangers for the two wild card spots, but they have four teams within 3.5 games behind them. Their pitching is starting to come around again as they have allowed three runs or less in five of last seven games. The schedule doesn’t do the Rays any favors as they play four games each against the Rangers and Orioles this week at the Trop.
11. Texas Rangers (81-67, previous No. 8) - Texas certainly picked a bad time to lose six straight games and nine of 10 as now its attention has shifted from the AL West to the wild card. The Rangers' pitching is what has been the problem of late, as in their last 10 games they’ve allowed an average of 5.1 runs per game. The Rangers will look to turn things around this week with seven straight road games against the Rays and Royals, which will go a long way in determining their playoff fate.
12. Washington Nationals (79-70, previous No. 15) – By winning eight of their last 10, the Nats are still holding out slim hope that they may be able to sneak into the final wild card spot as they are currently 4.5 games out, although the teams in front of them, specifically the NL Central, have all been playing well of late. Washington will play its next seven games at home taking on the Braves and Marlins.
13. Baltimore Orioles (79-70, previous No. 11) – Baltimore is one of six teams competing for the two Wild Card spots in the American League and will enter the week 2.5 games back of grabbing one of the two spots. The Orioles have lost five of seven and will need to turn things around quickly as there isn’t much time left. They have a tough week ahead with road games against the Red Sox and Rays.
14. New York Yankees (79-71, previous No. 13) – The Yankees surely didn’t look like a team worthy of making the playoffs as they were swept over the weekend at Fenway Park, being outscored 22-7 in the three games. Scoring 4.13 runs per game isn’t getting it done for the Yankees as they are usually at the top of the AL in that category. The Yankees do have a favorable schedule the rest of the way with games against the Blue Jays and Giants this week, but they’ll need some help to get into the postseason.
15. Kansas City Royals (78-71, previous No. 14) – It’s pretty amazing to think that with two weeks left in the season the Royals are seven games over .500 and 3.5 games back of the final Wild Card spot. They’ve gotten to this point because of their pitching and defense as they have only averaged 4.03 runs per game, and only four teams have averaged less in the AL. Kansas City needs to have a big week, but it won’t be easy with games against the Indians and Rangers.
16. Arizona Diamondbacks (75-73, previous No. 16) – Now begins the point in the rankings where these teams have no shot at making the playoffs. The Diamondbacks have won two straight and are two games over .500, but unfortunately because of how dominant the NL Central has been they don’t have a shot a wild card spot. Arizona will host the Dodgers for four games beginning on Monday.
17. Los Angeles Angels (71-77, previous No. 17) – The Angels are actually playing some of their best baseball of the season winning seven of their last 10. They have a good chance to affect the playoff race as they have eight games with the Athletics and four against the Rangers the rest of the season.
18. San Francisco Giants (69-81, previously not ranked) – Winning three straight and seven of 10 games has gotten the Giants back into the rankings. Like the Angels, the Giants can play a role in the AL playoff race as they will play the Yankees next weekend at Yankee Stadium, but overall it’s been a disappointing year for the defending World Series champs.
19. Philadelphia Phillies (69-80, previous No. 18) – A dismal minus-129 run differential this season, has been a major reason for the Phillies disappointment. It will be an interesting off-season in Philadelphia to say the least. Seven games at home is on tap for the Phillies this week taking on the Mets and Marlins.
20. San Diego Padres (68-80, previous No. 20) – San Diego is 20 games under .500 at home this season, which is part of the reason for their poor season. As is the case with some other teams out of contention, they have the chance to play spoiler in a playoff race as they will take on the Pirates for four games beginning Monday.
*Stats and records through Sunday, Sept. 15
Follow Metro sports writer Ryan Hannable on Twitter @hannable84