Strengths and weaknesses for every division leader in MLB
Every team in Major League Baseball has about 50 games to go in the regular season.
Most division leaders are involved in tight races that will be decided in late September.
All six teams have one thing in common. They have their strengths and weaknesses.
It's a very important topic because it'll decide whether a team is in good shape to make a big run or not.
So, without further ado, here is a breakdown of every division leader's strengths and weaknesses.
New York Yankees- AL East (Lead by 2 over TB)
The New York Yankees own baseball's best record at 68-41, not including tonight's game against the Red Sox. They have a two game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays who have lost five straight games.
The Yankees of course have may strengths. They have a fantastic starting lineup that includes an All-Star at virtually every position.
Robinson Cano has emerged as an MVP candidate this season, and the Yankees added Lance Berkman at the trading deadline.
Their starting rotation is led by the dominant CC Sabathia, who has been lights out at home; 13-0 since the 2009 All-Star Break.
Even the Yankees have some weaknesses. Mostly in the starting rotation. After Sabathia, there are some question marks.
A.J. Burnett has been inconsistent this season with an ERA pushing five. Phil Hughes has not been the same after the Yankees skipped him a start. Andy Pettitte has been injured and on the disbaled list, and Javier Vazquez is not a given.
The bullpen leading up to Mariano Rivera is also shaky, with the acquisition of Kerry Wood.
They also have to be worried about some older veterans in the starting lineup, and Jeter has been in a big slump.
San Diego Padres- NL West (Lead by 2 over SF)
The San Diego Padres have the best record in the National League at 64-46. They have a two game lead over the San Francisco Giants who have lost two straight games.
The Padres are all about their pitching staff. Their 3.28 team ERA is best in Major League Baseball.
They have a rotation of Mat Latos and Jon Garland leading the way, and their bullpen is tremendous.
Heath Bell has become an elite closer and relievers Luke Gregerson and Mike Adams have been unhittable setting him up.
Come playoff time, the Padres will be in prime position to go deep with their pitching.
If anything is going to derail the Padres, it would be their hitting. Their offense hasn't been as bad as people thought it would be this season, but it's not potent by any means.
At the trade deadline, they tried to improve their offense by acquiring Ryan Ludwick and Miguel Tejada.
But it's a lineup that has Jerry Hairston and Everth Cabrera in the middle infield, which is not scary at all.
If the lineup keeps on producing enough though, the Padres will be fine.
Atlanta Braves- NL East (Lead by 2 over PHI)
The Atlanta Braves have been leading the NL East since May 31, and have a record of 64-47. They own a two game lead over the Philadelphia Phillies, who beat the Mets on Sunday.
Just like many teams in the year of the pitcher, the Braves are powered by a fine starting rotation and overall pitching staff.
They recently got Jair Jurrjens back and added him to the likes of Tim Hudson, Tommy Hanson, and Derek Lowe.
What is really their biggest strength is the backend of their bullpen. Teams would love to have a great 8-9 inning punch, but the Braves have a great 7-9 inning punch.
They have the young Jonny Venters, and the veterans Takashi Saito and Billy Wagner for the last three innings respectively.
If the Braves have any kind of weakness, it would be their offense. Although not terrible, they've had some injury problems this season.
Of course, Chipper Jones is always injury prone, and Troy Glaus after a hot streak has been thrown off due to injuries. They weren't getting any pop out of Melky Cabrera, so they traded for Rick Ankiel.
The good thing about not having a great offense is that they can win the close games with their lights out bullpen.
Texas Rangers- AL West (Lead by 7.5 over OAK)
The Texas Rangers have led the AL West since June 8 with a record of 64-47. They lead the Oakland A's by 7.5 games, and the A's have won two in a row, surpassing the Angels.
The Texas Rangers have always been known for their hitting and they are third in the Majors in that category this season, batting .274.
They have a feared starting lineup, and they shockingly through all of their financial difficulties added players at the trade deadline.
They improved their already powerful offense by adding Jorge Cantu and Cristian Guzman to the right side of their infield.
They of course added Cliff Lee atop their starting rotation. They could probably go deep just because they'll beat you to death with their offense, led by Josh Hamilton and Vladimir Guerrero.
The Rangers actually don't have too many weaknesses. Their starting rotation which isn't necessarily name brand, has been solid from top to bottom.
At the same time, the inexperience of their younger starters, C.J. Wilson and Tommy Hunter could play a role come September and October.
The Rangers are also going with two young hitters on an every game basis, Julio Borbon and Elvis Andrus, who could tire down the stretch.
So it would be the younger players that could become a weakness for the Rangers later on.
Cincinnati Reds- NL Central (Lead by 2 over STL)
The Cincinnati Reds have led the NL Central since August 2 and are winners of four straight. They are in first place through 112 games for the first time since 1995.
They have a two game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals, who lost on Saturday to the Marlins. The Reds and Cardinals will begin a three-game series in Cincinnati on Monday.
The Cincinnati Reds are the Rangers version of the National League. They have decent pitching but a fantastic offense.
Their .273 team batting average is tops in the NL. Led by Joey Votto, along with some fine hitters around him, the Reds offense is the team's biggest strength.
They also have a decent starting rotation led by Bronson Arroyo.
What could be a weakness, just like the Rangers, is the young Reds pitching staff.
After Bronson Arroyo, they have three starters age 24 or younger who have never pitched in a pennant race. In fact, two of them (Mike Leake and Travis Wood) are rookies.
They both have innings limits, and both can melt under pressure since they've never been tested.
Especially in the series starting Monday, a battle for first place. It'll be a great measuring stick to see how they perform.
Chicago White Sox- AL Central (Lead by 0.5 over MIN)
The Chicago White Sox have led the AL Central since July 11. They lead the Minnesota Twins by a slim half game and begin a three-game series with them on Tuesday in Chicago.
The Twins have won two straight games. Both teams are 33-20 at home, and while the White Sox are 30-28 on the road, the Twins are 30-29.
The White Sox have fine starting pitching, and throw out starter after starter that can shut a team down.
Over his last 12 starts dating back to June 8, Gavin Floyd has been amazing. He's 6-2 with a 1.19 ERA, and he hasn't allowed more than two earned runs over that span.
The White Sox will be a tough team, if they get to the playoffs, to beat in a short series with a staff that also includes Mark Buehrle and John Danks.
They also have a good bullpen with Jenks, Thornton, and Putz closing games out.
If the White Sox have any weaknesses, it would be their offense. They have some spots being taken by light hitters.
Guys falling under that category would be Juan Pierre, Gordon Beckham, and A.J. Pierzynski.
Other than that, they have a fine team, that got off to a slow start this season. The also have some guys in their lineup that can really hit.
Perhaps the backend of their rotation is a little iffy with Freddy Garcia and Edwin Jackson taking up the fourth and fifth spots.