The Boston Red Sox started off the year slowly, became the team we all expected them to be, and are again struggling as the year begins to come to a close.
As the team has struggled throughout September, how far have they fallen in the MLB Power Rankings? Well, I still like them to make the playoffs, but I do worry about the way they've been playing.
The Atlanta Braves are seemingly their National League equivalent—a team that is struggling after playing so well for the majority of the season.
Both teams are among the league's best and are almost locks to make the playoffs, but have both fallen because of recent struggles?
Yesterday, the Chicago Cubs handed the Astros their 100th loss of the season. The team has been the worst team in the league all year, and their recent play hasn't changed that.
Houston is 4-6 in their last ten games, which is good for them, as they aren't the worst team in their division in that same stretch.
It's been a very long year for the team, and I'm sure they are just wanting it to end.
Along with being just 59-92 this year, the Twins have gone just 1-9 in the last 10 games, further establishing themselves as one of the worst teams in baseball this year.
The Twins haven't hit or pitched well all season, so it's just been bad all around.
Like the Astros, they are ready for the season to be over so that they can come back stronger in 2012.
Another year, same story.
The Mariners have pitched pretty well again this year (despite trading away a couple of arms at the deadline), yet they just can't get any support from what is without a doubt the game's worst offense.
As long as the Mariners have guys like Felix Hernandez and Michael Pineda pitching, they will always have a chance. If the young offensive players can step up, the Mariners could be a sleeper team in 2012.
The Orioles haven't had a great season, but they are 6-4 over their last ten games, so there are some positives.
Mark Reynolds has been the big run producer they've expected, along with providing his usual low batting average. The offense as a whole has actually been about average, but they haven't had very good pitching all year.
The Royals have a very bright future, even if it means that the present is a bit of a struggle.
The Royals have gone 7-3 over their last 10 games but still stand at just 67-87. The big thing will be getting some pitching before next year, as the offense has been pretty good this season.
With guys like Alex Gordon and Billy Butler leading a young group coming up that is headlined by Eric Hosmer, brighter days are ahead for the Royals.
The Padres have again had spectacular pitching this year; unfortunately, it has again come with basically no offense.
The Padres have some talent and could make a move next year, but they have been out of this year's race for a while.
It's another year without a World Series title for the Chicago Cubs, and they are probably still a few years away from true contention.
The Cubs have been slightly below average on offense all year, and they have had poor pitching. Doing both just doesn't factor into success.
The Pirates were at one time battling for first in their division, yet they have clinched yet another losing season.
This year did show signs that this team could do some things in the next few years. Only time will tell if the young players continue to improve.
Mike Stanton and the Florida Marlins have some things to build on, but the talent is there for a possible playoff run in 2012.
One thing that must change: the Marlins need better production out of Hanley Ramirez, who has an OPS of just .712 this year.
Overall, the Marlins have some young talent and some potentially very good players. They just need to put it together next year.
With Moneyball coming out this Friday, Billy Beane is still using those same concepts to try and make a winner out of the Athletics.
Overall, the Athletics have had some good pitching to go along with a lackluster and inconsistent offense.
The Athletics will be in the discussion for a division title next year because of that pitching staff. Time will tell if they can get any more offensive production.
The Nationals are coming, it's just a matter of when exactly their young players are all together.
For now, though, they are slightly below average, but I would say they play better than that.
Michael Morse has been the player that they imagined he would be once given an opportunity, and that makes their future look even brighter.
The Mets have had success all year when at the plate. It's their play in the field that has made the difference.
Jose Reyes has been about as good as anyone in the league, but he hasn't been good enough to carry this team to a winning record. Had they been in contention, he may have been the favorite for the MVP award.
Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez form one of the better hitting combos in the league and will be together for awhile.
Add in Drew Pomeranz looking good through his first two starts, and the future looks bright for the Rockies, even if things haven't been very positive this season.
The Reds struggles this year come straight from their below-average pitching staff. While their offense hasn't been as explosive as it was last year, it has still been very good.
As long as the Reds can keep their offense intact, they will score a ton of runs. The problem is building a staff that is just as good.
Paul Konerko and Mark Buehrle continue to chug along in their great careers, but they weren't enough to carry the team to the playoffs this season.
The team has struggled mightily over the last 10 games, going 2-8, and that's why they have slid down a bit in the rankings.
The Indians were running away with the division at one point, but now won't even make the playoffs.
It is a disappointment, but the Indians were supposed to be pretty bad before the season, so it should still be taken as a positive year overall, at least in my opinion.
The Indians have a good group of young players to build on, and they should be one of the top contenders for the next few years.
The Dodgers are where they are mainly because of just two players: Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw.
Kemp may be the MVP, and Kershaw is probably the favorite for the Cy Young as of right now.
Rookie Dee Gordon has shown signs to being a good player to build on, so the future looks bright.
They are out of the playoff race and have been for a while, but the team has played hard all year despite controversy surrounding the organization.
While Jose Bautista leads virtually every offensive category for the team, Ricky Romero is doing the same thing as a pitcher.
If the Blue Jays played in another division, I think they would have been a playoff team this year. Instead they have to deal with the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays. Never a fun thing to do.
Maybe next year, Jays' fans.
The Giants are still fighting for a playoff spot. They are five games out of the division and four games out of the wild card at the time of this writing.
The problem has been a very weak offense that hasn't helped out the pitching staff nearly enough.
Still, if the Giants can find a way into the playoffs, their pitching could lead them to another title run.
Like the Giants, the Cardinals are still fighting for a playoff spot, and Albert Pujols is trying to carry them there.
After a slow start, Pujols has put up another good season and is the focal point in their playoff push.
The Cardinals are a balanced team with a great offense and a good pitching staff. They don't look like they will make the playoffs, but they might find a way to get in.
The Angels are 4.5 out of the division and four games out of the wild card, and it's going to be tough to make it to the playoffs. The Rangers are playing very well at the top of the division, and the Angels trail the Red Sox and Rays in the wild card.
They may not make the playoffs, but the Angels are one of the best teams in baseball.
The Braves have struggled the last few weeks, but having a nice lead in the wild card standings makes them a likely playoff team. Nonetheless, there are some reasons for concern.
This is still a team that struggles to put up big numbers offensively and has been seemingly carried almost single-handedly by Dan Uggla in the second half, with Freddie Freeman and Chipper Jones also having some big hits.
The pitching is still pretty good and can carry them if they make it to the postseason—they just have to make it there.
The Rays have made their playoff push. With the Red Sox having stumbled in September, the Rays have played well and are now very much in the race for the wild card spot.
The Rays have been led by guys like James Shields, Evan Longoria, David Price and Jeremy Hellickson.
With the way those guys have been playing, the Rays might make it to October as a true World Series contender.
The Brewers are basically playoff locks at this point and have played very good baseball all year long.
They are led offensively by Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder, but have also gotten a lot of good work out of Nyjer Morgan.
The pitching has also been great all year long, making the Brewers one of the most balanced teams in the entire league. They've been just decent as of late, or I would have them one spot higher.
The Brewers will be a dangerous playoff team because of their explosive offense and good pitching.
The reigning AL champion Texas Rangers are in position once again to make a deep playoff run.
The offense is right up there with the best in the league, and they have a good balance of power and speed.
The pitching has been as good as it has been in a long time in Texas, too, so that just makes them even more dangerous.
The Diamondbacks may not have one real strength, but they are a very balanced team that has played baseball as well as anyone the past few months. They are the second-best team in the NL, but may be the most dangerous team in the playoffs.
Justin Upton and Ian Kennedy have without question been the two leaders of the team all season, and both should be up for season awards, though I don't think either will truly be considered.
After being in my top three the entire season, the Red Sox have slipped just a tad. It has to do with their recent struggles and No. 3 team's strong play.
The Red Sox are still a very serious favorite and are more than likely going to make the playoffs, but they need to get things straightened out pretty soon.
The Tigers are another team on this list that are led by a pitcher and a hitter. For the Tigers, it's Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera, but they are not alone.
Victor Martinez, Jhonny Peralta and Alex Avila have helped Cabrera out all year and give the Tigers a good offense from top to bottom.
The trade for Doug Fister has perhaps been the key to the Tigers really taking over the AL Central. In nine starts as a Tiger, Fister is 6-1 with a 2.12 ERA.
If the season ended today, the Yankees would have home field advantage in the playoffs. This would be critical, since they are 46-27 at Yankee Stadium this season.
While the Yankees pitching is good, the offense is probably second only to the Red Sox group of hitters. Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano lead a balanced and potent lineup.
C.C. Sabathia has headlined the rotation all year and will have to continue to do so.
Home-field advantage and the game's best rotation? At this point, the Phillies have to be the World Series favorite.
The offense isn't what it once was, but it is still as good as any in the NL and is good enough to win a series against any AL team.
The Phillies have been the league favorite all year, and they will be until someone can manage to knock them out of the playoffs.