Fresh MLB Power Rankings: Braves Climb into Top 5, Angels Move into Top 10

Joel ReuterFeatured ColumnistSeptember 10, 2012

Fresh MLB Power Rankings: Braves Climb into Top 5, Angels Move into Top 10

0 of 30

    With just over three weeks remaining in the 2012 MLB season, playoff races around the league are beginning to heat up.

    Remaining schedules are starting to figure more prominently, as contenders look to make up ground by beating up on some of the lowly teams, and those teams in turn look to play spoiler.

    With that, here are this week's MLB power rankings. Be sure to check back here each Monday morning for an updated look at where your favorite team stands.

     

    *Note: Rosters taken from MLBDepthCharts.com.

30. Houston Astros (44-96, Previous: 30)

1 of 30

    Last Week's Record

    3-3

     

    Team Outlook

    The Astros had a successful week, as they took two of three from the division-leading Reds in Cincinnati and prolonged the inevitable milestone of 100 losses for a bit longer.

    They still have a chance to play spoiler, with six games against the Cardinals and three against the Pirates. Right-hander Edgar Gonzalez has been a bright spot in September, going 2-0 with a 1.74 ERA in two starts since joining the rotation.

     

    Current Lineup

    2B Jose Altuve
    SS Tyler Greene
    1B Brett Wallace
    C Jason Castro
    RF Jimmy Paredes
    LF Fernando Martinez
    3B Matt Dominguez
    CF Brandon Barnes
    Pitcher

     

    Current Rotation

    SP Lucas Harrell
    SP Jordan Lyles
    SP Bud Norris
    SP Fernando Abad
    SP Edgar Gonzalez
    SP Dallas Keuchel
    CL Wilton Lopez

29. Chicago Cubs (54-86, Previous: 29)

2 of 30

    Last Week's Record

    3-4

     

    Team Outlook

    After being swept by the Nationals, the Cubs turned things around and doled out a sweep of their own in three games against the Pirates in Pittsburgh.

    The team shut down emerging ace Jeff Samardzija for the season at 174.2 innings, and he'll be replaced in the rotation by Jason Berken, who was claimed off of waivers from the Orioles on Friday after going 5-6 with a 3.50 ERA in 26 Triple-A starts.

     

    Current Lineup 

    RF David DeJesus
    3B Luis Valbuena
    1B Anthony Rizzo
    LF Alfonso Soriano
    SS Starlin Castro
    C Steve Clevenger
    CF Brett Jackson
    2B Darwin Barney
    Pitcher

     

    Current Rotation

    SP Travis Wood
    SP Justin Germano 
    SP Chris Volstad
    SP Chris Rusin
    SP Jason Berken 
    CL Carlos Marmol

28. Colorado Rockies (56-83, Previous: 26)

3 of 30

    Last Week's Record

    1-6

     

    Team Outlook

    It's been a long season in Colorado, and things didn't get any better this past week. The team has currently dropped five straight after putting together a nice 11-5 stretch prior to that.

    Moving forward, the team has gotten promising contributions from youngsters Josh Rutledge, Tyler Colvin and Wilin Rosario. They still need to sort out their pitching staff, though, if they hope to make their way back to contention.


    Current Lineup

    CF Dexter Fowler
    SS Josh Rutledge 
    LF Carlos Gonzalez
    C Wilin Rosario
    RF Tyler Colvin
    1B Jordan Pacheco
    3B Chris Nelson
    2B D.J. LeMahieu
    Pitcher

     

    Current Rotation 

    SP Jeff Francis
    SP Drew Pomeranz
    SP Tyler Chatwood
    SP Alex White
    SP Jhoulys Chacin
    CL Rafael Betancourt

27. Cleveland Indians (59-81, Previous: 28)

4 of 30

    Last Week's Record

    3-3

     

    Team Outlook

    After struggling through a 1-15 stretch, the Indians have righted the ship a bit. They played well this past week, facing the Tigers and Twins on the road.

    Rays castoff Russ Canzler has moved into the everyday DH role and gone 10-for-26 in seven games since being called up. The International League MVP last season, he hit .265 BA, 22 HR, 79 RBI in Triple-A this year and could be auditioning for an everyday job next year.

     

    Current Lineup

    RF Shin-Soo Choo
    2B Jason Kipnis
    SS Asdrubal Cabrera
    C Carlos Santana
    CF Michael Brantley
    1B Casey Kotchman
    DH Russ Canzler
    3B Jack Hannahan
    LF Ezequiel Carrera 

     

    Current Rotation

    SP Justin Masterson
    SP Ubaldo Jimenez
    SP Zach McAllister
    SP Corey Kluber
    SP Jeanmar Gomez
    CL Chris Perez

26. Minnesota Twins (58-82, Previous: 27)

5 of 30

    Last Week's Record

    3-3

     

    Team Outlook

    The Twins enjoyed an offensive explosion in beating the White Sox 18-9 on Tuesday, and they finished the week a game behind the Indians in the AL Central as they try to make their way out of last place.

    Eduardo Escobar, who was acquired from the White Sox in the Francisco Liriano trade, has taken over as the starting shortstop. The 23-year-old will look to shore up a position that has been a revolving door in recent years.

     

    Current Lineup

    CF Ben Revere
    2B Jamey Carroll
    C Joe Mauer
    LF Josh Willingham
    1B Justin Morneau
    DH Ryan Doumit
    RF Chris Parmelee 
    3B Trevor Plouffe 
    SS Eduardo Escobar

     

    Current Rotation

    SP Scott Diamond
    SP Cole De Vries
    SP Samuel Deduno 
    SP Brian Duensing
    SP Liam Hendriks
    SP P.J. Walters
    CL Glen Perkins

25. Boston Red Sox (63-78, Previous: 22)

6 of 30

    Last Week's Record

    1-5

     

    Team Outlook

    There are few teams more excited for the season to come to an end than the Red Sox, as the 2012 campaign has been a nightmare. The team appears headed for a reload as a result.

    Utility infielder Pedro Ciriaco (.306 BA, 2 HR, 17 RBI, 11 SB) has performed well as the everyday third baseman, and career minor leaguer Mauro Gomez (.310 BA, 24 HR, 74 RBI, .960 OPS at Triple-A) has played well in his first taste of big league action. The team is finding production from unexpected sources.

     

    Current Lineup

    LF Scott Podsednik
    2B Dustin Pedroia
    CF Jacoby Ellsbury
    RF Cody Ross
    1B James Loney
    C Jarrod Saltalamacchia
    DH Mike Aviles
    SS Jose Iglesias
    3B Pedro Ciriaco

     

    Current Rotation

    SP Jon Lester
    SP Clay Buchholz
    SP Felix Doubront
    SP Aaron Cook
    SP Daisuke Matsuzaka
    CL Andrew Bailey

24. Kansas City Royals (63-77, Previous: 23)

7 of 30

    Last Week's Record

    3-4

     

    Team Outlook

    The Royals took two of three from the division-leading White Sox to close out the week. They have gone a solid 21-17 since the beginning of August and will look to close out this season on a positive note.

    The team has opted against calling up top prospects outfield Wil Myers and right-hander Jake Odorizzi down the stretch, but expect the duo to have every chance to win a job in the spring. They've put up terrific numbers in the minors this season.

     

    Current Lineup

    RF David Lough
    SS Alcides Escobar 
    LF Alex Gordon
    DH Billy Butler
    C Salvador Perez
    3B Mike Moustakas
    CF Lorenzo Cain
    1B Eric Hosmer
    2B Johnny Giavotella

     

    Current Rotation

    SP Bruce Chen
    SP Luke Hochevar
    SP Luis Mendoza
    SP Jeremy Guthrie
    SP Everett Teaford
    SP Will Smith
    CL Greg Holland

23. Miami Marlins (63-78, Previous: 25)

8 of 30

    Last Week's Record

    4-3

     

    Team Outlook

    The Marlins rank as one of baseball's most disappointing teams this season, but there is still talent on their roster. They showed as much in taking two of three from the Nationals to close out the week.

    Outfielder Justin Ruggiano (.321/.384/.563, 13 HR, 33 RBI, 12 SB) has been a revelation this season, as the 30-year-old never got a chance in Tampa and joined the Astros as a free agent in the offseason before being dealt to the Marlins for catching prospect Jobduan Morales in May.

     

    Current Lineup

    LF Bryan Petersen
    2B Donovan Solano
    SS Jose Reyes
    RF Giancarlo Stanton
    1B Carlos Lee
    CF Justin Ruggiano
    C Rob Brantly
    3B Donnie Murphy
    Pitcher

     

    Current Rotation

    SP Josh Johnson
    SP Mark Buehrle
    SP Ricky Nolasco
    SP Nathan Eovaldi
    SP Jacob Turner
    SP Wade LeBlanc
    CL Steven Cishek

22. New York Mets (65-75, Previous: 19)

9 of 30

    Last Week's Record

    1-5

     

    Team Outlook

    The Mets ran into some good competition last week, as they faced playoff hopefuls in Atlanta and St. Louis, and it will be more of the same this coming week when they open things up against the Nationals.

    Their second-half collapse was disheartening, but there are certainly still positives to take away from this season, as Matt Harvey (3-4, 3.04 ERA, 8 GS) has pitched well in his debut, and R.A. Dickey (18-4, 2.64 ERA) has emerged as a bona fide ace.


    Current Lineup

    SS Ruben Tejada
    2B Daniel Murphy
    3B David Wright
    1B Ike Davis
    LF Lucas Duda
    RF Mike Baxter
    C Kelly Shoppach
    CF Andres Torres
    Pitcher

     

    Current Rotation

    SP R.A. Dickey
    SP Jeremy Hefner
    SP Chris Young
    SP Matt Harvey
    SP Jon Niese
    SP Collin McHugh 
    CL Frank Francisco

21. Toronto Blue Jays (64-75, Previous: 24)

10 of 30

    Last Week's Record

    4-2

     

    Team Outlook

    Injuries derailed any hopes the Blue Jays had of contending this season, but they've begun to get healthy and could string together some wins down the stretch, as they've currently won four straight.

    Third baseman Brett Lawrie and catcher J.P. Arencibia rejoined the lineup this past week after missing significant time. While it has been a tough season, the experience that young guys like Moises Sierra, Anthony Gose and Adeiny Hechavarria have gained will be invaluable moving forward.


    Current Lineup

    3B Brett Lawrie
    CF Colby Rasmus
    1B Edwin Encarnacion
    DH Adam Lind
    SS Yunel Escobar
    2B Kelly Johnson
    C J.P. Arencibia
    RF Moises Sierra
    LF Rajai Davis

     

    Current Rotation

    SP Ricky Romero
    SP Brandon Morrow
    SP Carlos Villanueva
    SP Henderson Alvarez
    SP Aaron Laffey
    CL Casey Janssen

20. Seattle Mariners (67-74, Previous: 18)

11 of 30

    Last Week's Record

    2-4

     

    Team Outlook

    The Mariners have been a different team in the second half, going 31-23 since the All-Star break. Their young players have improved throughout the course of the season, and they are a franchise heading in the right direction.

    They have as tough a schedule as anyone to close out the season, with six games against the Rangers, three against the A's, three against the Orioles and three against the Angels. They'll certainly be in a position to play the role of spoiler.


    Current Lineup

    2B Dustin Ackley
    LF Michael Saunders
    3B Kyle Seager
    C John Jaso
    DH Jesus Montero
    RF Eric Thames
    1B Justin Smoak
    CF Franklin Gutierrez
    SS Brendan Ryan

     

    Current Rotation

    SP Felix Hernandez
    SP Jason Vargas
    SP Kevin Millwood
    SP Hisashi Iwakuma
    SP Blake Beavan
    SP Erasmo Ramirez
    CL Tom Wilhelmsen

19. San Diego Padres (66-75, Previous: 21)

12 of 30

    Last Week's Record

    4-2


    Team Outlook

    The Padres have played their best baseball of the season down the stretch, as they've gone 14-5 in their last 19 games and quickly closed on the Diamondbacks for third place in the NL West.

    After keeping Carlos Quentin, Huston Street and Chase Headley at the deadline, and with one of the best farm systems in all of baseball, they are a team to watch in 2013. Their return to contention could be a quick one.

     

    Current Lineup

    RF Will Venable
    SS Everth Cabrera
    3B Chase Headley
    LF Carlos Quentin
    C Yasmani Grandal
    1B Yonder Alonso
    CF Cameron Maybin
    2B Alexi Amarista
    Pitcher

     

    Current Rotation

    SP Edinson Volquez
    SP Clayton Richard
    SP Eric Stults
    SP Andrew Werner
    SP Casey Kelly
    SP Andrew Cashner
    CL Luke Gregerson

18. Arizona Diamondbacks (69-72, Previous: 17)

13 of 30

    Last Week's Record

    3-3

     

    Team Outlook

    The Diamondbacks are still on the fringe of contention, but their role down the stretch is more likely to be that of spoiler. They took two of three from the NL West-leading Giants this past week and have six games remaining against them.

    It's been a disappointing season after winning the division last year, but they have a terrific young core and should be right back in the thick of things next season and for many years beyond that.


    Current Lineup

    CF Chris Young
    2B Aaron Hill
    LF Jason Kubel
    1B Paul Goldschmidt
    RF Justin Upton
    C Miguel Montero 
    3B Chris Johnson
    SS John McDonald
    Pitcher

     

    Current Rotation

    SP Ian Kennedy
    SP Trevor Cahill
    SP Wade Miley
    SP Patrick Corbin
    SP Tyler Skaggs
    CL J.J. Putz

17. Philadelphia Phillies (69-71, Previous: 20)

14 of 30

    Last Week's Record

    5-1

     

    Team Outlook

    The Phillies have been a huge disappointment this season, but there is some reason for optimism, as they've gone 23-14 since the beginning of August.

    There is no question the team has gotten old, and they will have some work to do as far as rebuilding, but they may not be as bad off as they appeared early in the year. With a terrific rotation and veteran stars on offense, they could be back in contention next season.


    Current Lineup

    SS Jimmy Rollins
    LF Juan Pierre
    2B Chase Utley
    1B Ryan Howard
    RF Domonic Brown
    CF John Mayberry, Jr.
    3B Kevin Frandsen
    C Erik Kratz
    Pitcher 

     

    Current Rotation

    SP Roy Halladay
    SP Cliff Lee
    SP Cole Hamels
    SP Kyle Kendrick
    SP Tyler Cloyd
    CL Jonathan Papelbon

16. Milwaukee Brewers (69-71, Previous: 16)

15 of 30

    Last Week's Record

    4-3

     

    Team Outlook

    The Brewers offense has been solid all season, as they rank third in the majors in runs scored and have been led by the trio of Ryan Braun, Aramis Ramirez and Corey Hart.

    The pitching staff is another story, and with Zack Greinke gone and Shaun Marcum set to hit free agency, the team will have some decisions to make moving forward.

    Michael Fiers (9-7, 3.05 ERA) has been great, and youngsters Mark Rogers and Wily Peralta are also in a good position for a rotation spot next season.


    Current Lineup

    RF Norichika Aoki
    2B Rickie Weeks
    LF Ryan Braun
    3B Aramis Ramirez
    1B Corey Hart
    C Jonathan Lucroy
    CF Carlos Gomez
    SS Jean Segura 
    Pitcher

     

    Current Rotation

    SP Yovani Gallardo
    SP Michael Fiers
    SP Marco Estrada
    SP Shaun Marcum
    SP Wily Peralta
    CL John Axford

15. Pittsburgh Pirates (72-67, Previous: 15)

16 of 30

    Last Week's Record

    2-4

     

    Team Outlook

    They are still just 2.5 games out of a wild-card spot, but the Pirates are mired in a rough patch right now and have gone 5-13 over their past 18 games. With that, the Cardinals have passed them to move into second place in the NL Central and into a wild-card spot.

    Second base prospect Brock Holt (12-for-29) has been fantastic in replacing the injured Neil Walker, and Starling Marte is once again in the everyday lineup with Travis Snider shelved. They're still very much in the playoff hunt, but they need to turn things around fast.


    Current Lineup

    2B Brock Holt
    LF Starling Marte
    CF Andrew McCutchen
    1B Garrett Jones
    3B Pedro Alvarez
    RF Alex Presley
    C Rod Barajas
    SS Clint Barmes
    Pitcher

     

    Current Rotation

    SP A.J. Burnett
    SP James McDonald
    SP Wandy Rodriguez
    SP Jeff Karstens
    SP Jeff Locke
    SP Kevin Correia
    CL Joel Hanrahan

14. Detroit Tigers (73-66, Previous: 10)

17 of 30

    Last Week's Record

    1-5

     

    Team Outlook

    It was a tough week for the Tigers, as they now trail the White Sox by two games in the AL Central and have a huge series coming up against Chicago to open this week.

    The team's final 13 games of the season are against the Twins and Royals, and they meet the struggling Indians for three games to close out this coming week, as they are still in a great position to make the playoffs.

     

    Current Lineup

    CF Austin Jackson
    LF Andy Dirks
    3B Miguel Cabrera
    1B Prince Fielder
    DH Delmon Young
    RF Brennan Boesch 
    SS Jhonny Peralta 
    C Alex Avila 
    2B Omar Infante 

     

    Current Rotation

    SP Justin Verlander
    SP Doug Fister
    SP Max Scherzer
    SP Rick Porcello
    SP Anibal Sanchez
    CL Jose Valverde

13. Los Angeles Dodgers (74-67, Previous: 13)

18 of 30

    Last Week's Record

    2-4

     

    Team Outlook

    The Dodgers dropped two of three from the NL West-leading Giants to close out the week, and they failed to gain any ground in the division, as they were swept by the Padres to open the week and currently sit 5.5 games back in the division and 1.5 games back for a wild-card spot.

    Matt Kemp is currently battling a sore shoulder, and ace Clayton Kershaw was scratched from his Sunday start with a hip issue. If those two players miss any significant amount of time, the team will have its work cut out for it down the stretch.


    Current Lineup

    2B Mark Ellis
    LF Shane Victorino
    1B Adrian Gonzalez
    CF Matt Kemp
    SS Hanley Ramirez
    RF Andre Ethier
    3B Luis Cruz
    C A.J. Ellis
    Pitcher

     

    Current Rotation

    SP Clayton Kershaw
    SP Aaron Harang
    SP Chris Capuano
    SP Josh Beckett
    SP Joe Blanton
    CL Kenley Jansen

12. Chicago White Sox (75-64, Previous: 14)

19 of 30

    Last Week's Record

    3-3

     

    Team Outlook

    The White Sox open next week with an incredibly important four-game series against the Tigers, who they currently hold a two-game lead over in the AL Central.

    Rookies Jose Quintana and Hector Santiago have made a major impact in the rotation, and the White Sox will need their starting pitching to continue to perform at the level it has if they hope to hold on and capture a division title.


    Current Lineup

    CF Alejandro De Aza
    3B Kevin Youkilis
    DH Adam Dunn
    1B Paul Konerko
    RF Alex Rios
    C A.J. Pierzynski
    LF Dayan Viciedo
    SS Alexei Ramirez
    2B Gordon Beckham 

     

    Current Rotation

    SP Jake Peavy
    SP Chris Sale
    SP Jose Quintana
    SP Francisco Liriano
    SP Hector Santiago
    CL Addison Reed

11. St. Louis Cardinals (75-65, Previous: 9)

20 of 30

    Last Week's Record

    3-3

     

    Team Outlook

    While they have managed to pass the sliding Pirates in the NL Central, the Cardinals themselves have not played great of late, going 4-8 in their last 12 games.

    They are currently 1.5 games up on the Dodgers for the final wild-card spot, but they have a tough road ahead with series against the Dodgers, Nationals, Reds and vastly improved Padres. This is where the team's postseason experience could pay dividends as they look to defend their title.


    Current Lineup

    CF Jon Jay
    RF Carlos Beltran
    LF Matt Holliday
    1B Allen Craig
    3B David Freese
    C Yadier Molina
    2B Skip Schumaker
    SS Pete Kozma 
    Pitcher

     

    Current Rotation

    SP Kyle Lohse
    SP Adam Wainwright
    SP Jaime Garcia
    SP Jake Westbrook
    SP Joe Kelly
    CL Jason Motte

10. Tampa Bay Rays (77-63, Previous: 12)

21 of 30

    Last Week's Record

    4-2

     

    Team Outlook

    The Rays have gone 21-11 since Evan Longoria returned to the lineup. Their entire season has turned around, and they are now pushing the Yankees for the AL East title just two games back.

    They have a huge week coming up as they face the Orioles and Yankees on the road, and where they are by the end of those two series could go a long way towards determining whether they make the playoffs.

     

    Current Lineup

    LF Desmond Jennings
    CF B.J. Upton
    RF Matt Joyce
    3B Evan Longoria
    SS Ben Zobrist
    DH Luke Scott
    1B Carlos Pena
    2B Ryan Roberts
    C Jose Molina

     

    Current Rotation

    SP David Price
    SP James Shields
    SP Alex Cobb
    SP Matt Moore
    SP Jeremy Hellickson
    SP Chris Archer
    CL Fernando Rodney

9. Los Angeles Angels (77-63, Previous: 11)

22 of 30

    Last Week's Record

    6-0

     

    Team Outlook

    The Angels swept a pair of playoff hopefuls in the A's and Tigers this past week, and they are back in the playoff picture, just a game out of the final wild-card spot, which currently belongs to the Orioles.

    Ace Jered Weaver will miss his next start with shoulder tendinitis, and the team will certainly need him to pitch like he has all season down the stretch if it hopes to make a serious postseason run. If he misses more than one start, the team may consider giving top prospect Nick Maronde a start.


    Current Lineup

    CF Mike Trout
    RF Torii Hunter
    1B Albert Pujols
    DH Kendrys Morales
    2B Howie Kendrick
    LF Mark Trumbo
    SS Erick Aybar
    3B Alberto Callaspo
    C Chris Iannetta

     

    Current Rotation

    SP Jered Weaver
    SP C.J. Wilson
    SP Dan Haren
    SP Zack Greinke
    SP Ervin Santana
    CL Ernesto Frieri

8. Baltimore Orioles (78-62, Previous: 8)

23 of 30

    Last Week's Record

    4-3

     

    Team Outlook

    The Orioles are 11-5 in their last 16 games, and after splitting a four-game series with the Yankees this past week, they are currently just one game back in the AL East and hold the second wild-card spot.

    The team was dealt a blow when Nick Markakis fractured his thumb this past week, and he is expected to be out for six weeks. While he has been a key contributor, Markakis missed time earlier this season and the team kept winning, so it has the pieces to overcome this loss.


    Current Lineup

    LF Nate McLouth
    SS J.J. Hardy
    DH Wilson Betemit
    CF Adam Jones 
    C Matt Wieters
    1B Mark Reynolds
    RF Chris Davis
    2B Omar Quintanilla
    3B Manny Machado

     

    Current Rotation 

    SP Wei-Yin Chen
    SP Joe Saunders
    SP Chris Tillman
    SP Miguel Gonzalez
    SP Zach Britton
    SP Jason Hammel
    CL Jim Johnson 

7. New York Yankees (79-61, Previous: 6)

24 of 30

    Last Week's Record

    3-4

     

    Team Outlook

    The Yankees had a chance to extend their lead over the Orioles this past week, but instead, they split a four-game series with them in Baltimore. They maintain a one-game lead in the division over the Orioles and a two-game lead over the Rays.

    Mark Teixeira's calf injury has not gotten better to this point, and he'll have an MRI that could result in him missing the upcoming Red Sox series and perhaps the remainder of the season depending on his status (h/t N.Y. Daily News).


    Current Lineup

    SS Derek Jeter
    RF Nick Swisher
    2B Robinson Cano
    3B Alex Rodriguez
    1B Mark Teixeira
    CF Curtis Granderson
    C Russell Martin
    DH Raul Ibanez
    LF Ichiro Suzuki

     

    Current Rotation

    SP CC Sabathia
    SP Hiroki Kuroda
    SP Phil Hughes
    SP Freddy Garcia
    SP David Phelps
    CL Rafael Soriano

6. San Francisco Giants (79-61, Previous: 5)

25 of 30

    Last Week's Record

    3-3

     

    Team Outlook

    The Giants took two of three from the division rival Dodgers to close out last week, as they've extended their division lead to 5.5 games. Their next 19 games are against the Rockies, Diamondbacks and Padres before they close out the season with three games against the Dodgers.

    Catcher Buster Posey (.327 BA, 20 HR, 87 RBI) is a legitimate MVP candidate this season, and he's been an anchor in the middle of the team's lineup all year. As long as the starting rotation continues to pitch like they have, they'll be tough to catch in the division.

     

    Current Lineup 

    CF Angel Pagan
    2B Marco Scutaro
    3B Pablo Sandoval
    C Buster Posey
    RF Hunter Pence
    1B Brandon Belt
    LF Gregor Blanco
    SS Brandon Crawford
    Pitcher

     

    Current Rotation

    SP Tim Lincecum
    SP Madison Bumgarner
    SP Matt Cain
    SP Barry Zito
    SP Ryan Vogelsong
    CL Sergio Romo

5. Oakland Athletics (79-60, Previous: 4)

26 of 30

    Last Week's Record

    3-3

     

    Team Outlook

    The A's rattled off a nine-game winning streak two weeks ago, but they had that streak snapped when they were swept by the Angels. They bounced back with a three-game sweep of the Mariners and currently hold the top wild-card spot in the American League.

    The team lost ace Brandon McCarthy to a gruesome injury when he took a line drive off the head and suffered a fractured skull. He's likely lost for the season, and the team will need what is now an incredibly young rotation to step up in his absence.


    Current Lineup

    CF Coco Crisp
    DH Seth Smith
    RF Josh Reddick
    LF Yoenis Cespedes
    1B Chris Carter
    3B Josh Donaldson
    SS Stephen Drew
    C Derek Norris
    2B Cliff Pennington

     

    Current Rotation

    SP Tom Milone
    SP Jarrod Parker
    SP Brett Anderson
    SP A.J. Griffin
    SP Daniel Straily
    CL Grant Balfour

4. Atlanta Braves (81-60, Previous: 7)

27 of 30

    Last Week's Record

    6-1

     

    Team Outlook

    The Braves used a stellar week to build on an already big lead for the first wild-card spot in the NL, as they have a 5.5-game cushion over the Cardinals for that spot and have pulled within 5.5 games of the Nationals in the NL East.

    After a short benching, Dan Uggla has returned to the starting lineup, though he has been moved down the lineup where there will be less pressure on him.

    Meanwhile, Kris Medlen has continued his brilliance as a starter, as he's gone 7-0 with an 0.81 ERA in eight starts. He'll be counted on big time down the stretch.


    Current Lineup

    CF Michael Bourn
    LF Martin Prado
    RF Jason Heyward
    3B Chipper Jones
    1B Freddie Freeman
    C Brian McCann
    2B Dan Uggla
    SS Paul Janish
    Pitcher

     

    Current Rotation

    SP Tim Hudson
    SP Mike Minor
    SP Kris Medlen
    SP Paul Maholm
    SP Tommy Hanson
    CL Craig Kimbrel

3. Cincinnati Reds (84-57, Previous: 1)

28 of 30

    Last Week's Record

    2-4

     

    Team Outlook

    The Reds had a somewhat easy slate last week as they faced off against the Phillies and Astros, but they dropped two of three in each series. This coming week, they'll take on the struggling Pirates and Marlins as they look to extend their 8.5-game lead in the NL Central.

    Zack Cozart (oblique) and Scott Rolen (back) are both battling injuries right now, but that is offset by the return of Joey Votto to the lineup. Todd Frazier actually ranks as a better option than Rolen at third base, even if Dusty Baker doesn't see it. 

     

    Current Lineup

    2B Brandon Phillips
    SS Zack Cozart
    1B Joey Votto
    LF Ryan Ludwick
    RF Jay Bruce
    3B Scott Rolen
    CF Drew Stubbs
    C Ryan Hanigan
    Pitcher

     

    Current Rotation

    SP Johnny Cueto
    SP Mat Latos
    SP Bronson Arroyo
    SP Homer Bailey
    SP Mike Leake
    CL Aroldis Chapman

2. Texas Rangers (83-57, Previous: 3)

29 of 30

    Last Week's Record

    4-3

     

    Team Outlook

    After taking three of four from the Royals, the Rangers dropped two of three to the Rays as they closed out the week with a 3.5-game lead over the A's and a six-game lead over the Angels. They have a chance to gain some ground this coming week as they face the Indians and Mariners.

    The team's pitching continues to be just good enough to win games behind their high-powered offense, and in the end, it's hard to imagine anyone catching them in the AL West. They're still the favorites in the AL in my mind, and they have been all season.

     

    Current Lineup

    2B Ian Kinsler
    SS Elvis Andrus
    CF Josh Hamilton
    3B Adrian Beltre
    RF Nelson Cruz
    DH Michael Young
    LF David Murphy
    C Geovany Soto
    1B Mitch Moreland

     

    Current Rotation

    SP Derek Holland
    SP Yu Darvish
    SP Matt Harrison
    SP Scott Feldman
    SP Ryan Dempster
    CL Joe Nathan 

1. Washington Nationals (86-54, Previous: 2)

30 of 30

    Last Week's Record

    5-2


    Team Outlook

    The Nationals swept a four-game series from the Cubs in dominant fashion last week before dropping two of three to a subpar Marlins team. Still, they have the best record in baseball and a 5.5-game lead over the Braves in the NL East.

    Ace Stephen Strasburg has officially been shut down for the season at 159.1 innings with a 15-6 record and 3.16 ERA. In his place, the team will turn to former Opening Day starter John Lannan, who went 9-11 with a 4.30 ERA in 24 Triple-A starts.


    Current Lineup

    RF Jayson Werth
    CF Bryce Harper
    3B Ryan Zimmerman
    1B Adam LaRoche
    LF Michael Morse
    SS Ian Desmond
    2B Danny Espinosa
    C Kurt Suzuki
    Pitcher

     

    Current Rotation

    SP Gio Gonzalez
    SP Jordan Zimmermann
    SP Edwin Jackson
    SP Ross Detwiler
    SP John Lannan
    CL Tyler Clippard