With less than two months left in the regular season, it becomes more clear each day which teams are and which are not serious contenders for the playoffs.
While a few clubs have been favorites to go all the way since April, others are just becoming relevant and beginning to stand out as a legitimate threat.
There is still a lot of baseball to be played. It is likely that at least one division race will play out until the last day of the regular season.
These are the top 10 postseason contenders as we head into the pennant race.
They are currently 2.5 games behind the Tigers and and showed their potential by taking two out of three games from the division rival in a critical series.
The Indians showed that they were serious about 2011 when Ubaldo Jiminez was acquired from the Rockies at the trade deadline.
He got his first win as an Indian against the Tigers and will give them a chance to take the AL Central.
However, the Chicago White Sox are not far behind the Tribe, and all three AL Central leaders will have to play their best baseball going into the final stretch of the season.
The Detriot Tigers currently lead the AL Central division, but not by much.
While the team is lead by Cy Young candidate Justin Verlander, the rest of the starting rotation needs to step up if the Tigers are going to have continued success.
In order to secure the division, Miguel Cabrera, Jhonny Peralta and Vic Martinez will need to continue producing good numbers at the plate and supporting their pitching staff.
They only have a 2.5-game lead on the Cleveland Indians, and Chicago is not far behind.
The Arizona Diamondbacks are a good young team lead by MVP candidate Justin Upton and a potent offense, that ranks seventh in the majors in runs scored.
In a recent hot streak, they were able to gain ground in the NL West and take a two-game lead over the defending division champions.
Granted, the Diamondbacks were able to take the lead by winning 11 of their past 15 games, while the Giants lost 11 of their past 15.
While Arizona has made themselves a legitimate contender with a month-and-a-half to go, they will have to keep up their recent success to run away with the division.
San Francisco will be an obstacle that they will have to face down the stretch. While Arizona is hot now, it will be difficult for them to contend with the Giants pitching staff.
The defending World Champs have had a roller coaster ride of a season, from the loss of Buster Posey to the entrance of journey-man Ryan Vogelsong.
The pitching has been phenomenal as usual, and the offense has struggled perhaps more than suspected. The Giants had a strong first half, but everything began to fall apart at the beginning of August.
Just as it looked like they were getting an offensive boost from the acquisition of Carlos Beltran, the offense struggled terribly in a slump in which they won just four of their last 15 games.
The Giants dropped their NL West lead and fell two games behind the Arizona Diamondbacks.
However, if this team can beat out rivals for the NL West title, they will go far in the playoffs with their pitching. Perhaps a run at a repeat title will be made.
The defending AL Champs have won eight of their last 10 games. The pitching staff lead C.J. Wilson is hot.
Texas is a favorite to run away with the division. However, they will have to stay hot going into the postseason where they will likely be matched up as the underdog.
The Brewers division has produced one of the tightest races this season. Four out of six NL Central teams proved to be legitimate contenders for most of 2011.
However, in the past few weeks the Brewers have asserted themselves as the rightful owners of first place. The Pirates regressed in a terrible losing streak, and neither Cincinnati or St. Louis have been able to catch up to Milwaukee.
The Brewers have a potent lineup, containing All-Stars Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks, Ryan Braun and Corey Hart.
2009 Cy Young award winner Zack Greinke heads the pitching rotation. Although Weeks was recently sent to a stint on the DL, Milwaukee is the team to beat in the NL Central.
The Braves have one of the best all-around pitching staffs in baseball and a solid lineup. The trade deadline addition of Michael Bourne only made them that much better.
This team has found a place of it’s own, and that is the wild-card standings, which they dominate. No wild-card team is within less than four games of Atlanta.
This team will need continued success to secure their spot, but chances are that Atlanta will run away with the extra playoff spot soon.
The New York Yankees continue year after year to put a potent lineup on the field.
However, this season has brought about uncertainty due to a struggling pitching staff. While ace C.C. Sabathia continues to dominate, the rest of the rotation is in flux.
It is likely that either A.J. Burnett or Phil Hughes will be taken out of the starting rotation and moved to the bullpen, as neither have been able to perform as they once did.
However, this is a team that is given wins by their offense. If the rest of the rotation can keep dishing out decent starts, the Yankees lineup will continue to win them games.
This team will be dangerous in the postseason, which they can be counted in on, as the lead the AL Wild Card by 8.5 games.
After picking up Carl Crawford and Adrien Gonzales in the offseason, the Boston Red Sox became favorites to win the American League title even before Opening Day 2011.
Nine days later, the Red Sox were 0-9, the worst start to a season in franchise history.
Since then they have become the team that everyone believed they would. They are leading the majors in every offensive category.
The Sox are the AL favorite.
The Philadelphia Phillies also became the number one pick for the NL title in 2011 before the start of the season when the signed Cliff Lee, aka Mr. Postseason.
The Fightin’ Phils boast what has been named one of the best starting pitching rotations of all time.
The lineup is also potent all the way through. Speed, power and men who can get on base can be found evenly distributed in spots 1–8 of the batting order. The pre–trade deadline addition of Hunter Pence, didn’t hurt either. He’s hitting .348 since joining the team two weeks ago.
The team's biggest power–hitter, Ryan Howard, is having a down year, hitting just .257, although he has 26 home runs. However he is leading the league in RBI’s, which tells you that he is in the middle of a potent batting order.
Philadelphia was beat out by San Francisco last year in the NLCS. They responded by bulking up their chances in the offseason, getting even better than they already were.
This is the best team in baseball by record, and they are also the team to beat in the National league.