1. Boston Red Sox (58-39, previous No. 1) – The Red Sox endured a tough 10-game West Coast trip and came out of it 5-5, with a four-game winning streak in the middle.They hold on to the No. 1 spot with a major league leading 58 wins. Their offense continues to impress as at one point last week they had recorded nine or more hits in 18-of-19 games before settling down over the weekend. They will be tested right away coming out of the break with series against the Yankees, Rays and Orioles.
2. St. Louis Cardinals (57-36, previous No. 2) – St. Louis enters the All-Star break winning seven of its last nine games and it ownsthe best record in the National League. Even with the best record the Cardsare only up one game in the NL Central with the Pirates right behind. They lead the NL in a number of offensive categories including batting average (.276), hits (882) and runs per game (4.97). The Cards will play their next seven games at home against the Padres and Phillies.
3. Pittsburgh Pirates (56-37, previously No. 3) – Going into the break winners of three of four, the Pirates are still right there going neck and neck with the Cardinals for first place in the NL Central. Right now there isn’t a better pitching staff in baseball as they have an NL-leading 3.07 ERA and as a team are allowing just 3.34 runs per game. The Pirates open the second half with a brutal 10-game road trip taking on the Reds, Nationals and Marlins.
4. Oakland Athletics (56-39, previous No. 4) – The Athletics are for real and they showed it by taking three-of-four over the weekend from the Red Sox to take a two-game lead over the Rangers in the AL West. Winners of seven of their last 10, they have allowed two runs or less in four of those games. Oakland will take on the Angels and Astros on the road beginning Friday.
5. Tampa Bay Rays (55-41, previous No. 8) – The Rays moved into the top five this week by winning nine of their last 10, moving into sole possession of second place in the American League East. Theyare getting it done in close games as four of their last five wins have come in one-run games. After being in the bottom third in the AL in team ERA about a month ago, Tampa has quickly gotten back to its regular form and is now fifth in the AL at 3.86. The Rays will play their next 10 games on the road, all against AL East opponents in the Blue Jays, Red Sox and Yankees.
6. Texas Rangers (54-41, previous No. 5) – Losers of four of their last five, the Rangers have fallen out of first place in the AL West. Their offense has been the issue during this stretch as they have scored two runs or less in all four of those losses. Texas’ offense has dipped of late and is something it will look to get back on track as it plays its next seven games at home against the Yankees and Orioles.
7. Atlanta Braves (54-41, previous No. 6) – Entering the break with a split with the Reds over the weekend, Atlanta has regained its six-game lead in the NL East over the Nationals. The Braves’3.24 team ERA is right behind the Pirates for the best in the NL and they have a plus-78 run differential, also second in the NL. The Braves will play their next seven games on the road taking on the White Sox and Mets.
8. Baltimore Orioles (53-43, previous No. 11) – The Orioles made one of the biggest jumps in the rankings this week by getting into the top 10, winning four of their last five games. Their offense has been the key as they are third in all of baseball in runs and easily have the most home runs in the AL with 130. Baltimore will open the second half of the season with a seven-game road trip stopping in Texas and Kansas City.
9. Cincinnati Reds (53-42, previous No. 7) – Cincinnati was at the top of the NL Central for much of the first half of the season, but has fallen off the past few weeks and is now in third place, 4.5 games back of first. They haven’t been even close to the same team at home as they are on the road as they have a 30-16 mark in Cincy, compared to 23-26 on the road. Lucky for the Reds, they will take on the Pirates at home next weekend.
10. Detroit Tigers (52-42, previous No. 9) – The AL Central is now one of the most competitive divisions in baseball with the Tigers and the Indians battling one another for first place. The Tigers went .500 this past week, but still rank second in the AL in runs per gameat 5.08, trailing only the Red Sox. A seven-game road trip with games against the Royals and White Sox awaits Detroit to open the second half.
11. Cleveland Indians (51-44, previous No. 14) – Cleveland is one of the hottest teams in baseball of late as it has quickly closed the gap in the AL Central. Winners of four in a row going into the break they are feeling good about themselves, especially allowing just 2.25 runs in those four games. The Indians will play their next six games on the road taking on the Twins and Mariners.
12. New York Yankees (51-44, previous No. 12) – With everything that has gone on surrounding the Yankees in the first halfit is pretty amazing they are still in contention in the AL East. They will go into the break losers of two straight, but can feel good about their pitching as they are tied for second in the AL in ERA at 3.73. They open the second half with a crucial weekend series in Boston against the first place Red Sox.
13. Arizona Diamondbacks (50-45, previous No. 10) – Although they dropped three spots in the rankings after losing four of seven this past week, the Diamondbacks are still in first place in the NL West. They’ve been able to survive because of their offense, as they are fifth in the NL, averaging 4.23 runs per game. Arizona will travel to San Francisco for a weekend series with the Giants next weekend.
14. Washington Nationals (48-47, previous No. 13) – The Nationals remain in striking distance in the NL East, but will need to start to make a move soon. They’ve received solid pitching, but are second to last in the NL in runs per game with just 3.73. Right after the break is a perfect time for them to make their move as their next 11 games are at home.
15. Philadelphia Phillies (48-48, previous No. 17) – Philadelphia is another team that remains at the very back of the playoff hunt and they will need to make a move up the standings relatively soon. They’ve won seven of their last10 games and have limited opponents to three runs or less in six of those games. Like the Nats, they will need to get their offense on track as they average just 3.86 runs per game. A tough nine-game road trip will greet the Phillies beginning next weekend.
16. Los Angeles Dodgers (47-47, previous No. 18) – Winners of seven of their last 10, the Dodgers have moved into second place in the NL West, despite a .500 record. They certainly have the talent on their roster to make a move at anytime, especially with their pitching, as they are sixth in the NL with a 3.62 ERA. The Dodgers will open their second half on the East Coast taking on the Nationals and Blue Jays.
17. Colorado Rockies (46-50, previous No. 19) – A poor month of July has moved the Rockies out of the top spot in the NL West and into third place. The Rockies will need to get their offense back on track as they’ve averaged just 2.43 runs in their last seven games. Colorado will open the unofficial second half of the season with a 10-game homestand with games against the Cubs, Marlins and Brewers.
18. Toronto Blue Jays (45-49, previous No. 16) – The Blue Jays lost four of six on their road trip to close out the first half and now enter the break 11.5 games back of the Red Sox for first place in the AL East. Toronto has been able to score runs, butits lack of pitching has been the issue as a 4.22 team ERA is well below the league average. With 10 straight games to open the second half of the season the next week or so will be extremely important.
19. Los Angeles Angels (44-49, previous No. 15) – After it looked like the Angels were going to make a run and get back into playoff contention, they go into the breakhaving lostfour of their last five. Their offense has been quieted as in five of their last six games they’ve scored three runs or less. They will open the second half with home games against the Athletics and Twins.
20. Seattle Mariners (43-52, previously not ranked) – Winners of three in a row and five of their last eight, the Mariners make their debut in the rankings this week. With decent pitching, their inability to score runs has been the problem as they rank third to last in the AL in runs per game with 3.93. They will travel to Houston for a three-game set with the Astros beginning on Friday.
*Stats and records through Sunday, July 14
Follow Metro sports writer Ryan Hannable on Twitter @hannable84