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How baseball's contenders, and pretenders, rank

The Times' national baseball writer takes a look at the teams from top to bottom.

August 27, 2011|By Kevin Baxter
  • Phillies ace Cliff Lee congratulates newly acquired outfielder Hunter Pence, who scored on a hit by Wilson Valdez, during the second inning of a game against the New York Mets at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.
Phillies ace Cliff Lee congratulates newly acquired outfielder Hunter… (Ron Cortes / McClatchy-Tribune )

The season's finish line, just a month in the distance, is in sight. Some teams are starting their finishing kick; others are simply playing out the string. Times staff writer Kevin Baxter takes a look from top to bottom (records and stats though Friday's games.)

1. PHILADELPHIA (83-46): On pace for 105 wins, equaling the most by an NL team in 13 seasons.

2. BOSTON (80-51): A baseball-best 42-26 on the road.

3. N.Y. YANKEES (78-51): Rookie Ivan Nova (13-4) has won last nine decisions

4. MILWAUKEE (79-54): Haven't lost consecutive games since July 24, going 25-5 over that span.

5. ATLANTA (79-54): Braves are 56-13 when scoring first and 56-6 when leading after six innings.

6. TEXAS (75-58): Rangers are hitting 29 points higher and averaging 1.7 more runs a game at home.

7. .ARIZONA (73-59): Giants are the only winning team left on the D'backs' schedule.

8. ANGELS: (71-60): Peter Bourjos tops regulars in hitting (.306), runs (22) and slugging (.565) in second half.

9. DETROIT (72-59): Catcher Alex Avila hitting .403 with .511 on base and .764 slugging percentage in August.

10. SAN FRANCISCO (70-62): Giants, 18-22 since the All-Star break, continue to slump without Wilson in the 'pen.

MAY BE TOO FAR BACK TO CATCH UP

11. TAMPA BAY (71-59): Leads league in ERA (3.62) and opponents' batting average (.233) in second half.

12. ST. LOUIS (69-63): Berkman, Holliday combine for just 11 homers last six weeks. Pujols has 13.

13. CLEVELAND (64-64): Jim Thome's return to Cleveland is too late to make a difference.

14. CHICAGO WHITE SOX (64-65): Paul Konerko quietly on pace for fifth 30-homer, 100-RBI season.

WAIT UNTIL NEXT YEAR

15. TORONTO (66-65): Jose Bautista could become first Jay to lead AL in homers in consecutive seasons.

16. CINCINNATI (65-66): Joey Votto hitting .431 with runners in scoring position.

17. N.Y, METS (62-68): Only thing undecided now is where Jose Reyes will play next season.

18. PITTSBURGH (61-70): Bucs led division on July 25, then lost 23 of next 31.

19. COLORADO (63-69): Coors Field has seen a baseball-best 733 runs scored, an average of 10.8 per game.

20. WASHINGTON (62-68): Boast tough bullpen duo in Tyler Clippard (2-0, 1.91 ERA), Drew Storen (six wins, 34 saves).

BOOKED WINTER VACATIONS WEEKS AGO

21. DODGERS (61-69): Have baseball's best ERA (2.54) in August.

22. SAN DIEGO (60-72): Averaging a league-high 5.26 runs a game this month.

23. MINNESOTA (55-76): Joe Mauer has fewer career homers at Target Field than rookie Rene Tosoni.

24. FLORIDA (59-72): Has league's worst record (6-17) in August.

25. OAKLAND (60-71): Has the AL's third-best ERA (3.69), third-worst batting average (.248).

26. KANSAS CITY (54-78): Only Cubs pitchers have walked more batters than the Royals.

27. SEATTLE (56-74): Ichiro leads team in hitting – again – but this time he's batting just .273.

28. CHI CUBS (57-75) Even Carlos Zambrano couldn't bear to watch as title drought reaches 103 years.

29. BALTIMORE (52-77): Opponents are hitting .280 against the staff with baseball's worst ERA.

30. HOUSTON (43-89): Astros have been outscored by a baseball-high 157 runs this season.

kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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