1. Boston Red Sox (87-58, previous No. 2) – Having won eight of their last 10, the Red Sox have regained the top spot in the rankings as they now have the best record in baseball and are playing some of their best ball of the season. Their offense is red-hot, scoring 67 runs in their last five games, highlighted by scoring 20 in one game against Detroit last week. Boston will now play a three-game set in Tampa Bay beginning on Tuesday before returning home for a weekend series with the Yankees.
2. Atlanta Braves (85-57, previous No. 1) – Atlanta has now lost four games in a row and because of the Red Sox’ hot streak, the Braves have lost their No. 1 ranking here. The Braves still have the second best run differential in the NL at plus-130 and are the only team in the NL East to have a positive run differential. The Braves will look to get back to their winning ways with four games in Miami against the Marlins beginning Monday.
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3. St. Louis Cardinals (83-60, previous No. 5) – By sweeping the Pirates over the weekend, St. Louis has opened up a 1.5 game lead in the NL Central over both the Pirates and Reds. The Cardinals have the best run differential in the National League at plus-147, due in large part to their NL leading 4.81 runs per game. St. Louis will look to extend its NL Central lead with a six-game homestand this week - taking on the Brewers and Mariners.
4. Oakland Athletics (83-60, previous No. 8) – The Athletics picked a good time to win eight of their last 10 as they have overtaken the Rangers for first place in the AL West in a race that has been back-and-forth race all season. In their recent stretch, Oakland’s pitching as led the way, giving up just 2.6 runs per game over its last 10 games. For the year their staff has allowed 3.88 runs per game, second in the American League. The A’s will hit the road for six games this week, taking on the Twins, followed by a critical series with Texas.
5. Los Angeles Dodgers (83-59, previous No. 3) – After winning six games in a row, the Dodgers have lost their last four, but still maintain a commanding lead in the NL West and are just a few games back of the Braves for the best record in the National League. It was its offense which held Los Angeles back over the weekend, as in the four losses they managed just 12 runs. The Dodgers will open a seven-game homestand with games against the Diamondbacks and Giants this week.
6. Detroit Tigers (82-61, previous No. 4) – Even though Detroit lost two-of-three to the Red Sox last week, and two straight over the weekend, they still lead the AL Central by 5.5 games. The Tigers are second in the AL in runs per game with 5.09, but have scored less then five runs in six of their last seven games. Detroit will wrap up its road trip with three games against the White Sox starting on Monday before playing 10 straight games at home.
7. Cincinnati Reds (82-62, previous No. 9) – The Reds refuse to go away in the NL Central as they have won seven of their last 10 and are now tied with the Pirates, just 1.5 games behind the Cardinals. The good news for the Reds is if they do not win the division, they are in good position to be one of the two NL Wild Card teams as they have an eight game lead over the Nationals. Cincinnati will host the Cubs for three games beginning Monday and then travel to Milwaukee for a weekend set with the Brewers.
8. Texas Rangers (81-61, previous No. 7) - By way of losing six of 10 the Rangers have fallen out of the first place in the AL West and now trail the Athletics by 1.5 games. If the season were to end today, the Rangers would be one of the two Wild Card teams, but that is a tight race with five teams within 3.5 games. If the Rangers maintain the consistent play they’ve displayed all season they should be in good shape as they are third in the AL in runs allowed per game with 3.97 and fifth in runs scored with 4.51. Texas will host the Pirates and A’s this week.
9. Pittsburgh Pirates (81-61, previous No. 6) – The Pirates picked a poor time to lose four games in a row, which included being swept by the Cardinals, as now they find themselves tied with the Reds in the NL Central, trailing the Cards by 1.5 games. Like the Reds, they are in a good position to be one of the two Wild Card teams, but they’d like to avoid the play-in game as much as possible. They will travel to Texas for three games with the Rangers beginning Monday before a four-game weekend series with the Cubs at home.
10. Tampa Bay Rays (78-64, previous No. 10) – Tampa Bay is going through one of its toughest stretches of the season, at seemingly the worst time, as it has lost 11 of its last 15 games and is now 7.5 games out of first in the AL East. The Rays do hold one of the two Wild Card spots, but lead the Indians and Orioles by just two games. A huge series with the Red Sox is on tap beginning on Tuesday and then they will travel to Minnesota for a weekend set with the Twins.
11. Baltimore Orioles (76-66, previous No. 11) – It’s been the same deal virtually the entire season for the Orioles as they’ve done just enough to remain in the playoff race. Although they are 9.5 games out in the AL East, they trail the Rays by just two games for the final Wild Card spot. For them to make a run these next few weeks they will need to get better pitching as their team-ERA of 4.25 is 25th in all of baseball. Baltimore will host the Yankees for four games starting Monday.
12. Cleveland Indians (76-66, previous No. 12) – Like the Orioles, the Indians have been in the same position for much of the season, out of their division race, but a prime contender for a Wild Card spot. They too are two games behind the Rays as they hope to get into the play-in game. As is the case with the Orioles, the Indians pitching will need to improve, as their 3.96 team-ERA is 19th in baseball. Cleveland will host the Royals for three games starting on Monday.
13. New York Yankees (76-67, previous No. 13) – Things aren’t looking good for the Yankees as they are now 2.5 games out of the final Wild Card spot, but just lost three-of-four to the Red Sox and have the Orioles and Indians in front of them in the standings. Like has been the case all year, their offense will need to get going as they are tenth in the AL in runs per game at 4.14. The Yankees will travel to Baltimore for three games, which will be huge for both teams in the Wild Card race.
14. Kansas City Royals (75-68, previous No. 14) – Kansas City is doing everything it can to remain in the hunt for the final Wild Card spot by winning six of its last eight to now only be 3.5 games out of the final spot. The Royals’ pitching has led them to this point, as they are sixth in baseball with a 3.53 ERA. A critical series awaits the Royals as they will travel to Cleveland for three games before a weekend series in Detroit.
15. Washington Nationals (73-69, previous No. 16) – It was thought the Nationals might have a shot at the final Wild Card spot in the National League, but dropping six of their last 10 games puts them eight games back and with just a few weeks remaining. It may be too big of a hill to climb. Washington could make one last run at a playoff spot as it plays the Mets and Phillies this week, but would likely need to win all seven games for that scenario to take place.
16. Arizona Diamondbacks (72-70, previous No. 15) – It’s been a bit of a disappointing year for the Diamondbacks as with the roster they had it looked like they had a good chance of making the playoffs. Pitching has been an issue as their 4.20 team-ERA is eighth in the NL. Arizona will look to derail the Dodgers as they prepare for the playoffs, as they will play each other seven times in their next 10 games.
17. Los Angeles Angels (67-75, previously not ranked) – The Angels made a return to the rankings this week by winning seven of its last 10 games. Even with the winning streak the Angels have all but been eliminated from the playoffs. Their lineup is stacked, but it’s the pitching which has let them down as they have the third to last ERA in the American League at 4.29. The Angels will play a makeup game with the Twins Monday before three games in Toronto.
18. Philadelphia Phillies (66-77, previous No. 18) – A dismal 27-44 road record has been a major cause for the Phillies’ poor season. They have a talented roster, but they just couldn’t sustain a winning streak at any point in the year. Philadelphia will host the Padres for three games starting Tuesday.
19. Colorado Rockies (66-78, previous No. 17) – Even though the Rockies have scored 4.34 runs per game, third in the NL, they still will not make a trip to the postseason. Another major cause has been their play on the road as they are 25-47 on the year. Colorado will continue its road trip with games against the Giants and Diamondbacks this week.
20. San Diego Padres (65-77, previously not ranked) – By winning three in a row and six of 10, the Padres have returned to the rankings this week. An issue for San Diego this season has been its pitching as they have allowed 4.48 runs per game, which is the third-worst in the NL. San Diego will look to play spoiler in the NL Central as they travel to Pittsburgh for four games with the Pirates.
*Stats and records through Sunday, Sept. 7
Follow Metro sports writer Ryan Hannable on Twitter @hannable84