Momentum is important in Major League Baseball and the most important part of this season is starting to get into gear.
With a little bit more than a month left before the playoffs, any team that is lucky enough to end up in the postseason will want to be in top form when it begins.
That is why it is so important to do well right now and that is why the following four teams are so interesting. Some of them are securing their postseason positions while others are making charges at grabbing their playoff invitations.
While momentum is in their favor right now, we shall see if the rest of the season will be just as kind to these four teams.
Record on July 20: 55-42
Record on Aug. 19: 76-48
The Atlanta Braves have emerged as one of the best teams in baseball.
While they admittedly have not had much of a challenge all season for the top spot in the National League East, their remarkable success over the past month has launched them into a virtually guaranteed playoff spot.
To put this in a little more perspective, the Braves have only lost one series over the past month. Immediately after the All-Star game, they dropped two of three to the Chicago White Sox. Since then, they have won or tied every series. That is a sustained hot streak.
Freddie Freeman has emerged as a powerful run producer and even though Justin Upton is not as hot as he was at the beginning of the year, the Braves are rolling right now and they have not shown any signs of slowing down.
Record on July 20: 49-47
Record on Aug. 19: 72-52
The Los Angeles Dodgers have been on fire over the past month, making it kind of funny to think that Don Mattingly was almost fired as manager back in May.
That dominance came to a head between August 7 and August 17 when the Dodgers went on a 10 game winning streak. That streak consisted of three shutouts, and an offense that was able to outscore its opponents 60-21. They were simply executing everywhere on the diamond.
On top of that, the Dodgers have had most of their success without very much production from star outfielder Matt Kemp. Yasiel Puig has obviously been a pleasant surprise in the outfield and their pitching staff has been led by the great Clayton Kershaw.
The Dodgers are looking great, meaning that the National League West is pretty much a done deal.
Record on July 20: 52-44
Record on Aug. 19: 73-51
There are two interesting stories that surround the Detroit Tigers and demonstrate why they have been so successful.
First off, their pitching staff has been one of the best in recent memory. Max Scherzer has been particularly strong with an 18-1 record.
The other obvious story in Detroit is Miguel Cabrera’s pursuit of a second consecutive AL Triple Crown. While he might have a hard time overcoming Chris Davis in the home run category, Cabrera's presence in the lineup has been a large part of Detroit’s success.
When you put these factors together, you get success.
Starting on July 26 and ending on August 8, the Tigers went on a 12 game tear. During that time, they were able to sweep the Cleveland Indians in a four-game set which was obviously incredibly important in the division.
Record on July 20: 54-43
Record on Aug. 19: 72-53
If the baseball season had ended on July 20, the Texas Rangers would have been out of the playoff picture by a half-game. Of course, since then, they have gone on a strong run and climbed into the top of the American League West.
Admittedly, most of the end of July was rather miserable for the Rangers, but in August, they have gone 12-4. That is why I felt the need to include them in this presentation. They haven't been hot for as long as some of these other teams, but it is the right time for them to start playing great baseball.
As usual, the Rangers are hitting the ball hard and Adrian Beltre, in particular, is having another great season. Their bullpen is also doing an excellent job of finishing out games.
The Rangers have been close to a few World Series championships lately, so maybe this year will be the year in Arlington.
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