Heading into the season, there weren't many who were sure about what team to pick in the AL West. The reason wasn't the same as the arguments about who would take the AL East -- where most believed there were three stellar teams. With the AL West, it was because most believed the four-team division would be a bastion of mediocrity. Yet, here we are. Now that the A's are on fire, the AL West is easily the best top-to-bottom division in the majors.
- 1. Yankees | Record: 96-56 | Previous Week: 1
Despite the best record in the majors, the Yankees have question marks -- notably in the rotation. Andy Pettitte did OK on Monday after skipping a start to rest his shoulder, but A.J. Burnett and Joba Chamberlain have not been sharp, and neither has started a postseason game. - Ed Price
- 2. Red Sox | Record: 89-61 | Previous Week: 2
Boston holds out hopes for winning the division, mainly because it visits Yankee Stadium for three games next weekend. If the Red Sox could pull off the comeback in the AL East, it would face the AL Central winner in the first round of the postseason and force the Yankees to play their nemesis, the Angels, without home-field advantage. - Ed Price
- 3. Angels| Record: 90-61 | Previous Week: 3
For the first time in franchise history, the Angels have had three consecutive 90-win seasons. This will also mark their first time reaching the playoffs three years in a row. The Angels reached the postseason three times in their first 24 years, and now it'll be six of eight. - Jeff Fletcher
- 4. Dodgers | Record: 91-60 | Previous Week: 4
Jon Garland may turn out to be one of the most underrated midseson acquisitions. Garland, acquired from the Diamondbacks just before the Aug. 31 deadline for postseason eligibility, has gone 3-0 with a 2.33 ERA for a Dodgers team that has had to patch together its rotation. - Jeff Fletcher
- 5. Phillies | Record: 88-62 | Previous Week: 6
Tuesday's split of a doubleheader in Florida left Philadelphia 46-30 on the road this season, the best such record in the majors. The franchise record is 48 road victories, and the last NL team to play .600 ball away from home was the 2005 Cardinals. - Ed Price
- 6. Cardinals | Record: 89-63 | Previous Week: 5
The offense hasn't been consistent at all, but the Cards have arguably the two best starting pitchers in the National League. It's going to be awfully tough for any team to beat them in a seven-game playoff series, with Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright getting two starts each.
- 7. Rockies | Record: 86-65 | Previous Week: 8
Troy Tulowitzki is going to become only the third active shortstop to have more than one 800-OPS season before his 25th birthday. The others are Alex Rodriguez and Hanley Ramirez. - Jeff Fletcher
- 8. Twins | Record: 78-73 | Previous Week: 15
They're playing great baseball right now, and they control their own destiny, considering they trail the Tigers by 2 1/2 games and have a four-game set in Detroit next week. Thankfully, we have at least one race of intrigue.
- 9. Tigers | Record: 80-70 | Previous Week: 10
The Twins have made up five games on the Tigers in the past two weeks. At this pace, Detroit will be watching the playoffs from home after leading the division for an overwhelming majority of the season.
- 10. Braves | Record: 81-70 | Previous Week: 11
The Braves went 10-8 against the Phillies, 4-2 against the Cardinals and 4-3 against the Dodgers. So why isn't Atlanta joining those teams in the playoffs? Because it was just 15-14 against the four last-place teams it played (three NL plus Baltimore). - Ed Price
- 11. Giants | Record: 81-70 | Previous Week: 7
The pitching-rich Giants have suffered from a poorly-timed starting pitching slump. After pulling within 2 1/2 games of the Rockies, their starters proceeded to have a 11.41 ERA over the next six games, and the Giants lost four of them. - Jeff Fletcher
- 12. Rangers | Record: 82-68 | Previous Week: 9
They aren't going to make the postseason just yet, but the direction here is extremely positive. Expect the Rangers to again be in the mix in 2010.
- 13. Mariners | Record: 79-72 | Previous Week: 14
Despite talk of his Cy Young candidacy, Felix Hernandez is probably still underrated for what he's done so early in his career. He's won 55 games and he's not even 24 years old. CC Sabathia (60), Dontrelle Willis (58) and Jeremy Bonderman (56) are the only active pitchers to win more games before their 24th birthday. - Jeff Fletcher
- 14. Marlins | Record: 81-71 | Previous Week: 13
Hanley Ramirez's .352 average not only leads the National League, but it would be the highest average for an NL shortstop since Arky Vaughan of the 1935 Pirates. In the modern era, only one other NL shortstop has hit .350 -- Honus Wagner, who did it five times in 1901-08. - Ed Price
- 15. Cubs | Record: 78-72 | Previous Week: 12
Six games over .500 and they are probably the biggest disappointment of the season -- either them or the Rays, though the Rays have to compete with Boston and New York. It's not the 1970s anymore, when this record would have been welcomed. Expectations are a bit different now, and this is just not acceptable. Jim Hendry should be fired for the Milton Bradley signing alone.
- 16. Rays | Record: 77-74 | Previous Week: 17
Tampa Bay is just the third team to have 180 homers and 180 stolen bases, joining the 1996 Rockies and 1998 Blue Jays. Yet none of those clubs were playoff teams. Reason No. 23,525 that pitching is everything. - Ed Price
- 17. A's | Record: 72-79 | Previous Week: 21
With the youngest pitching staff in the league, the A's have been better than the league average in ERA, WHIP, hits per nine innings, and walks per nine innings. They also have the league's best bullpen ERA. If only they could hit, this season might have meant more than a good start on 2010. - Jeff Fletcher
- 18. Brewers | Record: 74-77 | Previous Week: 20
The Crew has plenty of offense. They need to find some way to get better starting pitching before 2010. You can't just outhit opposition all season and expect to be more than a run-of-the-mill team.
- 19. White Sox | Record: 73-79 | Previous Week: 16
What a disastrous season it has been for Carlos Quentin -- following his uber-breakout 2008 campaign. He's battled injuries and inconsistency, though the two could be related.
- 20. Blue Jays | Record: 68-83 | Previous Week: 18
Edwin Encarnacion, the third baseman acquired from Cincinnati in exchange for Scott Rolen, hadn't reminded anyone of Rolen before homering twice Tuesday. Still, in 33 games for Toronto, Encarnacion has hit .236 with six homers and 17 RBI. And he has six errors -- one more than Rolen had in his 88 games. - Ed Price
- 21. Reds | Record: 70-81 | Previous Week: 22
2010 is going to be a big year for Cincy. The Reds have shown signs of emergence with the kids. They've won seven of 10 now. This followed a five-game losing streak, which was preceded by a stretch where they won 12 of 14. If they can stay healthy and play with consistency, good things are on their way.
- 22. Padres | Record: 69-83 | Previous Week: 23
Kevin Correia has put himself into an interesting spot with his breakout year. Correia is 11-10 with a respectable 4.08 ERA, including 4-1 with a 2.67 ERA since Aug. 7. He's arbitration eligible this winter, meaning he's earned himself a big salary bump. Maybe too big for the Padres, who might opt to sell high on him by trading him. - Jeff Fletcher
- 23. Astros | Record: 70-81 | Previous Week: 19
What a mess. Nine losses in a row, an aging roster, a fired manager and no real hope on the horizon. They need to blow everything up.
- 24. Diamondbacks | Record: 66-86 | Previous Week: 24
The Diamondbacks better be damn sure they can contend in 2010 if they plan on keeping Brandon Webb. The injured ace reportedly won't restructure his 2010 option. After the season, the 'Backs can't be sure they'll be able to re-up with him. Thus, they might be wise to pursue a trade.
- 25. Mets | Record: 65-87 | Previous Week: 25
The last few months have been tryouts for 2010, and the Mets have to be wondering what they have in former No. 1 pick Mike Pelfrey, who makes his 30th start tonight. Pelfrey is 10-11, but more indicative is his 5.10 ERA and 196 hits allowed in 171 1/3 innings. - Ed Price
- 26. Royals | Record: 63-88 | Previous Week: 26
Last season the Cy Young voters showed they understood the award was for the best pitcher in the league when voting Tim Lincecum the NL winner, despite playing on a sub-par Giants team. This year, they'll realize that Zack Greinke is just as deserving, despite some talking heads acting like he may not win it. His 2.08 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 229 strikeouts, six complete games and three shutouts make him the most dominant pitcher in the majors for 2009. It would be a travesty if he didn't win the award, and the voters know that. You'll see.
- 27. Orioles | Record: 60-91 | Previous Week: 27
What is it about the second half that crushes Baltimore? This millennium (since 2001, that is), the O's are 248-402 after the All-Star break, easily the worst mark in the majors. This year's mark
is 20-43. - Ed Price
- 28. Indians | Record: 61-89 | Previous Week: 28
And that's nine losses in a row! You know what the biggest problem is? They can't make up their mind as to whether or not they're rebuilding (trading away high-priced players) or playing for now (signing Kerry Wood, trading for Mark DeRosa before the season). Make a decision, Tribe, otherwise you'll be bad for a very long time.
- 29. Pirates | Record: 56-93 | Previous Week: 29
On the other hand, the Pirates have fully committed to the rebuilding effort. They'll be down here for the rest of this season and probably for most of next season. Come 2011 and 2012, though, and they'll have a foundation. This is the way you clean up a mess.
- 30. Nationals | Record: 51-99 | Previous Week: 30
Rookie shortstop Ian Desmond, who has hit .343 in nine games since being called up Sept. 4, didn't get out of Single-A until 2008, his fifth pro season. But at Double-A and Triple-A this year, Desmond, 24, hit .330 with 21 steals and a .401 on-base percentage. - Ed Price