The question isn't who the best team in baseball is -- well, at least that's not the most important question. The Yankees and Rays are so much better than everyone else right now, the question isn't which one is No. 1 in the MLB Power Rankings, but can anyone catch these two juggernauts?
These two American League East powerhouses are the only teams in baseball with a winning percentage above .600. They are also two of eight teams to have winning records both at home and on the road. However, a close examination of those splits shows that the Yankees and Rays have a decided advantage at home and on the road, while the other six teams are just squeaking by away from home.
After the big boys, Minnesota swept both Kansas City and Seattle -- no large feat -- to have a perfect 6-0 week. It's their streak of eight wins in a row that has them climbing the rankings quickly.
San Francisco had a terrific month of July and no team has won more times in their last 30 ballgames -- 21 times -- than the Giants.
- 1. Rays | Record: 65-39 | Previous Week: 2
In September 2008 the Rays called up David Price in and he played a major role on the staff in the postseason. Jeremy Hellickson is getting the call a bit earlier, he starts on Monday, but some with Tampa Bay are likely hoping they catch lightning in a bottle for the second time in three years. The nice part is that this pitching staff is loaded whether it happens or not. - Josh Alper
- 2. Yankees | Record: 66-38 | Previous Week: 1
Losing two out of three to Tampa Bay is a pretty good rationale for why the Yankees decided to gild the lily in trades for Lance Berkman, Austin Kearns and Kerry Wood. The team didn't have unmanageable flaws, but went the extra mile to fill their holes because there simply isn't much separation between them and the team nipping at their heels. - Josh Alper
- 3. Twins | Record: 59-46 | Previous Week: 13
The Twins were able to shore up their bullpen with Matt Capps before the deadline, but you have to wonder if not getting another starter will hurt them in the long run. Of course, none of that seems to matter at the moment as the team has reeled off eight straight wins and is back within a 1/2 game of Chicago. Could we be headed for a third straight tiebreaker in the AL Central? - Tom Fornelli
- 4. White Sox | Record: 59-45 | Previous Week: 8
The White Sox weren't able to land the big bat that it seems they desperately coveted before the trade deadline, but they did get Edwin Jackson, even if nobody is completely sure they wanted him. If pitching coach Don Cooper can work the same magic on Jackson that he has on past White Sox hurlers, Jackson may end up as more than just a consolation prize. - Tom Fornelli
- 5. Giants | Record: 61-45 | Previous Week: 4
That was quite a season-turning July for the Giants. They were 40-37, fourth in the division and fifth in the wild card, when the month began. In July they went 20-8. They hit .290 and scored 141 runs, both tops in the league. Now they lead the wild card and they are just 1 1/2 games behind the Padres in the NL West. - Jeff Fletcher
- 6. Phillies | Record: 57-48 | Previous Week: 14
Ryan Howard's twisted ankle, suffered Sunday, meant every member of the Opening Day lineup but Jayson Werth has suffered some sort of injury. Not that it has taken too drastic a toll. The Phils are just 2 1/2 games out of a playoff spot. - Ed Price
- 7. Red Sox | Record: 60-45 | Previous Week: 17
Did Theo Epstein not make a deadline deal because he figures the return of injured players will serve the same purpose or because he didn't want to sacrifice prospects on a longshot run at a playoff spot? He'll never tell but it's probably a combination of both factors that kept the Sox from doing any significant wheeling and dealing. - Josh Alper
- 8. Cardinals | Record: 59-46 | Previous Week: 6
The addition of Jake Westbrook gives their rotation the depth it desperately needed, but it places a lot of pressure on rookie Jon Jay. Jay's off to a great start, but there's little in his minor-league profile that suggests he can keep hitting .378. So can the Cards' extremely talented pitching staff hold off the Reds? That's the question at the beginning of August. - Pat Lackey
- 9. Padres | Record: 61-42 | Previous Week: 5
If baseball had a Rookie of the Year award for executives, Padres general manager Jed Hoyer would be a unanimous winner. Hoyer had a nearly perfect offseason. Then on the morning of the trade deadline, he acquired right fielder Ryan Ludwick from the Cardinals in a three-way trade that cost San Diego only a B-minus prospect and a C-minus prospect. Ludwick, meantime, began his Padres career with a pinch-hit single, without which National League-leading San Diego may not have beaten the Marlins to avert a three-game sweep Sunday. Bonus point: Ludwick, an above-average hitter, fielder and teammate, is under San Diego's control through 2011. - Tom Krasovic
- 10. Reds | Record: 59-47 | Previous Week: 11
Cincinnati hasn't been in first place alone since July 24, but it has a three-game set against the Pirates this week that, at a 1/2 game back, could give it a chance to do just that. With the Cardinals playing Houston, the Reds can't afford to squander this opportunity against the Pirates, either. After the Pirates come the Cubs, so there's a chance the Reds could find themselves in first come next week's showdown with the Cardinals in Cincy. - Pat Lackey
- 11. Rangers | Record: 61-44 | Previous Week: 3
It's very true that Cliff Lee is proving to be a huge benefit to the Rangers, especially since he's pitched at least eight innings in each of his five starts since arriving in Texas. Now Texas hitters need to hold up their end of the bargain by scoring him some runs. In those five starts for his new team, the Rangers have only scored a total of 10 runs. Two runs per game isn't enough for any pitcher to have prolonged success in the win department.
- 12. Braves | Record: 59-45 | Previous Week: 7
Atlanta leads the NL East despite a 19-19 record inside the division. The Braves have instead beat up on the NL Central (18-10, including 5-1 vs. the Pirates and 5-2 vs. the Brewers). Before finishing up with 18 straight against NL East teams, Atlanta has 24 of its next 40 outside the division, 13 against the Central and 11 against the West. - Ed Price
- 13. Marlins | Record: 53-52 | Previous Week: 9
Florida is 19-16 under interim manager Edwin Rodriguez. Not great, but it's progress. Since Rodriguez took over, the Marlins have gone from 7 1/2 out in the NL East to 6 1/2 out. - Ed Price
- 14. Athletics | Record: 52-52 | Previous Week: 10
Trevor Cahill, who just pitched eight shutout innings in a victory over the first-place Rangers his last time out, continues to quietly have one of the best seasons in the AL. Cahill is 10-4 with a 2.93 ERA. If he keeps it up, he will be the A's first pitcher since Tim Hudson in 2003 to pitch at least 150 innings with an ERA below 3.00. - Jeff Fletcher
- 15. Blue Jays | Record: 54-51 | Previous Week: 16
The Jays believe that the picks they'll get if Scott Downs, John Buck and others leave as free agents will be just as valuable as anything they could have gotten at the trading deadline. That signals a very long-range outlook for the franchise, as does the decision to trade finished product Brett Wallace to Houston for 19-year-old outfielder Anthony Gose. - Josh Alper
- 16. Rockies | Record: 55-50 | Previous Week: 19
During Sunday's game against the Cubs, Carlos Gonzalez -- for a quick moment -- took the lead in the NL batting title race from Cincinnati's Joey Votto. Votto later regained the lead, but the talk about whether or not Car-Go can compete in this race have begun. While that is great news, as was the sweep of the Cubs, Colorado can't be happy that it dropped a series to the lowly Pirates last week.
- 17. Dodgers | Record: 54-51 | Previous Week: 15
Although the Dodgers spent most of their time looking for pitching on the trade market, the reason they've been losing lately has been their offense. Since the All-Star break, they've scored 2.1 runs per game and they've hit .199. - Jeff Fletcher
- 18. Angels | Record: 54-53 | Previous Week: 22
We'll say it again: this isn't the Angels' year. On top of everything else that has plagued the Scioscias, Major League Baseball seems to be helping the Texas Rangers, who somehow came up with extra money to spend in the trade market despite supposedly being paupers because of their failed ownership. The Angels have their own challenges. such as getting pitcher Dan Haren back to peak form. They say they'll help Haren, the ace they acquired in July, by tweaking his pitch selection and fielding better for him than the Diamondbacks did. - Tom Krasovic
- 19. Mets | Record: 53-52 | Previous Week: 23
Not making a move at the trade deadline was the right move. The Mets are too far out to give up any of their (few) solid prospects for a quick fix, yet there was no reason to sell off anyone either. At this point, any kind of run seems unlikely; the Mets haven't won two straight since June 22-23. - Ed Price
- 20. Tigers | Record: 52-52 | Previous Week: 18
So the Tigers have fallen back to .500 on the season after losing players such as Brandon Inge, Carlos Guillen and Magglio Ordonez, and they weren't able to land much help at the trade deadline either. Maybe they can get Adam Dunn on waivers this month, but depending on how their four-game series (in three days) goes with the White Sox this week, it may be too late. - Tom Fornelli
- 21. Astros | Record: 45-59 | Previous Week: 25
It's difficult to envision a world in which Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt play for the Yankees and Phillies, respectively, but here we are. The rest of 2010 will go to watching and evaluating players like Brett Wallace and Chris Johnson and trying to lay the foundation for the Astros of the future. - Pat Lackey
- 22. Indians | Record: 44-61 | Previous Week: 21
You can say that the Indians had a successful trade deadline in that they were able to shed some contracts and possibly picked up a pitcher for the middle of their rotation next season in Corey Kluber. Of course, you could also say that the Indians have been selling at the deadline the last few years now, and nothing seems to be changing. - Tom Fornelli
- 23. Nationals | Record: 46-59 | Previous Week: 27
Since coming to the majors on Sept. 1, 2005, third baseman Ryan Zimmerman has seven walk-off homers -- the latest last Saturday -- and 12 walk-off plate appearances, both best in the majors. - Ed Price
- 24. Royals | Record: 45-60 | Previous Week: 24
While the Royals weren't able to move Jose Guillen, and couldn't trade David DeJesus thanks to an injury, they were still able to move parts like Scott Podsednik, Kyle Farnsworth and Rick Ankiel. Any time you can move veteran players who have no real value to your future for some young talent, you've done well. The Royals' farm system is pretty stocked right now. - Tom Fornelli
- 25. Brewers | Record: 48-58 | Previous Week: 12
On Monday it seemed like the Brewers were building towards something with their fifth straight win, but they've dropped five in a row since then to all but end their slim playoff hopes. That means GM Doug Melvin can start thinking about this offseason's huge question: can the Brewers fix their problems to make a run at the playoffs in 2011, or should he trade Prince Fielder before the year starts to maximize his return? - Pat Lackey
- 26. Cubs | Record: 46-59 | Previous Week: 20
With five straight losses, the Cubs are in danger of falling behind the Astros in the NL Central. That's a real possibility with Ted Lilly gone. On the bright side, rookie Starlin Castro really heated up in July, hitting .361/.398/.546 on the month. - Pat Lackey
- 27. Diamondbacks | Record: 39-66 | Previous Week: 26
It's not the fact that Arizona conducted a firesale, the Diamondbacks have been getting beat up in the press this week for the level of talent they've received in trade. It's tough to bring back top-notch talent when the team has to dump salary and replenish a thin farm system. It's going to be a least a year, maybe longer, before Arizona finds out how they did in all their trading this week. Is it possible to be patient, D'backs fans?
- 28. Pirates | Record: 36-68 | Previous Week: 29
Another year, another flurry of activity at the trade deadline in Pittsburgh. This year, the Pirates shipped off five players that were all signed as free agents prior to the 2010 season. In return, they get some desperately needed defensive help behind the plate (Chris Snyder), another arm to throw into a rotation that's been mostly a mess this year (James McDonald), plus some prospects and fringe players. It was a good haul given the players traded, but for 2010 at least the Pirates are still in last place. - Pat Lackey
- 29. Orioles | Record: 32-73 | Previous Week: 30
Word out of Baltimore was that part of their reticence to make trades before the deadline was the fear that they'd lose in the range of 115 games this season. The stupidity of caring about the score when all is lost is beyond the pale. The Orioles should be selling and selling hard, or else they'll avoid one 115-loss season to buy themselves three 95-loss years later. - Josh Alper
- 30. Mariners | Record: 39-67 | Previous Week: 28
Not only did the Mariners get swept by Minnesota, but they only scored three runs over the entire weekend and were held scoreless in 26 of the 27 innings played against the Twins. Seattle has a MLB-worst 344 runs scored this year and as a team is batting a miserable .234 (also last in MLB). Bats in Seattle must wake up if this team wants to turn things around.