One week remains in the 2013 MLB regular season. Some teams have come a long way, while others faltered down baseball's leaderboard.
Much has changed since flipping the calendars to April. This season has presented us with Yasiel Puig's audacity to enjoy playing a game, the goldest of gloves from Manny Machado and Andrelton Simmons, and Chris Davis generating more power than Paul Bunyan.
Then again, for all of baseball's transformations, we can rely on some things to remain the same. Clayton Kershaw is still awesome, Joey Votto leads the land in on-base percentage and what do you know, we will spend the offseason deciding whether Miguel Cabrera or Mike Trout should take home American League MVP honors.
With a mere seven days left before the 162-game season ends, let's see how every team should feel as October quickly approaches.
1. Boston Red Sox (95-62)
Shane Victorino and Mike Napoli were both perceived to be overpaid by a Boston team fighting to revert back to the middle. Instead they have combined to generate nine wins while combining to earn less than Josh Hamilton.
2. Detroit Tigers (91-65)
The offense leads all of baseball in batting average and on-base percentage, and yet the starting pitching should frighten postseason competitors. Max Scherzer's 2.74 FIP and 230 strikeouts (not his 20 wins) make him a veritable Cy Young contender, Doug Fister has stepped up before, and Justin Verlander is still Justin Verlander. And oh yeah, Anibal Sanchez leads the American League with a 2.54 FIP.
3. St. Louis Cardinals (91-65)
Best offense in the National League? Check. A legitimate ace in Adam Wainwright? Check. Shutdown relievers? Check. Shelby Miller and Lance Lynn will be the keys to St. Louis pushing for its third World Series in less than a decade.
4. Atlanta Braves (92-63)
Justin Upton has taken steps backwards in his development as a future star, and his brother B.J. fell down the stairs. But possessing baseball's stingiest run-preventing pitching staff helps eliminate those shortcomings. The fact that Andrelton Simmons has saved more runs than any other fielder in a single season also helps (per Baseball-Reference).
5. Los Angeles Dodgers (90-66)
This ranking results from looking at the full picture rather than a still shot. The Dodgers are baseball's hottest team, winning 67 of their last 101 games after starting an ugly 23-32. We all know how brilliant Yasiel Puig, Clayton Kershaw and Hanley Ramirez are, but how about closer Kenley Jansen? The closer has registered a 1.93 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, 107 strikeouts and 16 walks in 74.2 innings, so the opposition better not fall behind in the playoffs.
6. Oakland Athletics (93-63)
There's not a single household name on this team, but Oakland gets it done with a deep cast of characters delivering value on Oakland's investment. If you want to watch a traditionalist's face turn red, tell him or her that Josh Donaldson has the same WAR as Miguel Cabrera.
7. Cincinnati Reds (89-67)
Brandon Phillips receives all the praise for his 102 RBI, but Joey Votto and Shin Soo-Choo boast the NL's two highest on-base percentages ahead of him in the batting order. If only those two could explain to Phillips why reaching base is important.
8. Pittsburgh Pirates (89-67)
Are these Pirates for real? Their division rivals trounce them in the run-differential department, but a rejuvenated Francisco Liriano and a thriving Gerrit Cole have sparked the rotation while Andrew McCutchen is distancing himself from the rest of the NL MVP contenders.
9. Tampa Bay Rays (87-69)
The Rays have seemingly avoided a stunning downward spiral by winning nine of their last 12 games. Alex Cobb, who has successfully returned from a concussion to post two straight double-digit strikeout outings against Wild Card foes Texas and Baltimore, plays a big part in them salvaging the season.
10. Cleveland Indians (86-70)
Between Corey Kluber's 3.25 FIP, rookie Danny Salazar's 10.99 K/9 ratio and Ubaldo Jimenez's 51-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio through his past six starts, the Indians are a dangerous underdog vying for a spot in the crowded AL Wild Card pursuit. Their offense also ranks seventh in runs scored.
11. Texas Rangers (84-71)
Who would have thought the Rangers would need to rely on their pitching to sneak into the play-in game? They're no slouches offensively behind the criminally under-appreciated Adrian Beltre, but they need Derek Holland to snap out of his funk to avoid ruining what was previously a superb season.
12. Kansas City Royals (82-73)
After another disappointing start, Eric Hosmer is hitting .322 with 16 home runs since the beginning of June. Although they're also out of the hunt barring a miracle, the Royals have unleashed Yordano Ventura, who threw a 101.9 mph fastball in his major league debut.
13. Washington Nationals (84-72)
National League offenses can rest easier knowing that Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann and Gio Gonzalez won't sneak into the postseason. This ultra-talented squad has finally put it together this month with a 16-5 record, but the Nats dug themselves too deep of a hole with a sluggish start.
14. Baltimore Orioles (81-75)
While the ledger indicates that the Orioles dipped after earning a Wild Card spot last season, this year's version is a much smoother model despite the lagging record. Baltimore has earned all of these wins with baseball's third-highest slugging percentage.
15. New York Yankees (82-74)
The only team with a record above .500 despite a negative run differential, the Yankees finally appear to be out of contention with a four-game margin to make up in a week. While Mariano Rivera posted his worst fielding independent pitching mark (3.05) since 2000, the fact that the 43-year-old is still pitching effectively after recording sub-three FIPs for 13 straight season is amazing.
16. Arizona Diamondbacks (79-76)
Now we advance to the teams swimming above the .500 mark. They won't make the playoffs, and their offense could have used some more pop with a .397 team slugging percentage, but boy they did look gritty doing it. Paul Goldschmidt saved them from fading further with his 35 homers and .963 OPS.
17. Los Angeles Angels (76-79)
The Angels' rotation has stuttered terribly with a 4.21 team ERA. Meanwhile, they still owe Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols a combined $309 million (via Cot's Baseball Contracts). But Mike Trout is the first player to deliver two straight 10-win seasons since Barry Bonds. Mike Trout is awesome.
18. San Francisco Giants (72-84)
It's a shame a once-powerhouse rotation crumbled to shambles, because Hunter Pence wasted the best season of his career in a losing effort. The 30-year-old joined the 20-20 club for the first time with 25 homers and 21 steals while slugging .484 and flashing improved leather in the outfield.
19. San Diego Padres (72-83)
Andrew Cashner could be in line for a monster 2014 campaign. The hard-thrower closed out his first year as a starter with a 1.22 ERA over his last seven starts, striking out seven batters each in all but one of those gems.
20. Toronto Blue Jays (71-84)
Remember how high expectations were during the spring? The Blue Jays were supposed to run this town, but their pricey acquisitions instead all ran down. Injuries compounded the lineup and R.A. Dickey's second-half revival (3.65 ERA, 8.32 K/9 rate after the All-Star break) is too little, too late.
21. Colorado Rockies (71-86)
Considering he pitches roughly half of his games in Coors Field, Jhoulys Chacin's 3.21 ERA is commendable on what is otherwise the National League's worst pitching unit. Now if they can just keep Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez healthy.
22. New York Mets (71-84)
Hey, at least David Wright returned from the disabled list to play the meaningless final week of the season. The Mets haven't had any other stars go down to crushing injures, so what's the worst thing that can happen?
23. Milwaukee Brewers (69-86)
All the misfortune compiled by the Ryan Braun saga and worthless seasons from Yovani Gallardo and Aramis Ramirez hides Jean Segura's emergence as a great shortstop and Carlos Gomez's Gold Glove defense in center field.
24. Philadelphia Phillies (71-84)
Locking up Ryan Howard now looks like a devastatingly crippling move, but Jimmy Rollins also aged terribly this year. The 34-year-old shortstop has hit a measly six home runs with a .347 slugging percentage.
25. Chicago Cubs (65-91)
Anthony Rizzo has not made the anticipated leap to prominent middle-of-the-order bat with a .231/.323/.418 slash line, but Starlin Castro completely dived into the abyss, wielding a .281 on-base percentage and minus-0.2 WAR. Are these the guys the Cubs plan to rebuild around?
26. Seattle Mariners (68-88)
On the bright side, Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma formed a potent one-two punch in the rotation, earning a combined 2.88 ERA. On the down side, the .264/.339/.433-hitting Kyle Seager represents their best offensive contributor.
27. Minnesota Twins (65-90)
Kevin Correia leads Minnesota's starting pitching staff with 100 strikeouts, a 4.29 ERA and 1.44 WHIP. That tells you all you need to know about the Twins this season.
28. Chicago White Sox (61-94)
Chris Sale enters the final week with a 2.97 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 221 strikeouts for a team with the lowest run total in the American League. Chris Sale is 11-13. Still think win-loss records have merit when evaluating a starting pitcher?
29. Miami Marlins (57-99)
A .231/.292/.337 team slash line makes Miami's offense the worst we've witnessed in a long time. Jeffrey Loria should dial up Tony Stark pronto to have him build a protective force field around Jose Fernandez's pitching arm.
30. Houston Astros (51-105)
To be fair, Houston made no attempt to hide its intention of setting the franchise ablaze and starting from scratch. While Mark Appel and Carlos Correa blossom in the minors, the major league squad has allowed the most runs while its batters lead the league in strikeouts. At last another No. 1 pick is coming.
Note: All advanced statistics, updated as of Monday night, are courtesy of FanGraphs.com.
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