Now that Excel is doing most of the work for me, I'm not going to deal with ties, because, frankly, any sort of tiebreaking system would be fairly subjective.
I don't want that with this, and if two teams are tied, then, in the eyes of this system, they're equal.
- Cardinals (1) - Seemingly number 1 since we started this thing (but that's not true), the Cards have cruised to a magic number of 14. They'll have clinched by the start of the Rams' season.
- A's (3) - As far as the Street v. K-Rod debates that have been raging across the web (and in Jeff Brantley's commentary), they're both really, reallly good pitchers, and they're both young (Street's younger). Does anybody really think that the closers are going to be the difference in this month of baseball? The difference will be if the A's can score enough runs without Crosby to keep winning, and if the Angels can score enough without any real offense outside of Guerrero to keep up. I won't give my opinion on Street v. K-Rod, but it's awfully close.
- Red Sox (2) - Guess what? After all the talk about the Yanks and Sox not being alone in the race, what do we have in September? Yanks/Sox. Enjoy the expanded ESPN coverage for yet another year.
- Indians (4) - It's fairly amazing. The Indians, our number 4 team, have a pretty good shot of missing the playoffs altogether. While the system likes them better than the White Sox and has for a few weeks, the Indians have the misfortune of trying to break into the bipolar system of American League dominance of the Yanks and Red Sox. Call them the France of the Cold War, 1960s, but I'd take Hafner, Martinez, and Peralta over Charles De Gaulle any day.
- Yankees (5) - Guess what? After all the talk about the Yanks and Sox not being alone in the race, what do we have in September? Yanks/Sox. Enjoy the expanded ESPN coverage for yet another year.
- White Sox (8) - Is it time to worry in Chicago? A 12-16 month in which they were outscored 119-98 isn't exactly heartwarming or comfortable, and they just lost 7.5 games in the standings to the Indians in that month (who went 19-8). It's been done once, it can be done again, I guess. The current margin? Just 7 games.
- Braves (7) - Welcome, Joe Hamrahi, to SB Nation. The blog's just getting started, but it looks to be another good one. I do like to monitor the blogs on the network for interesting commentary and the news about the team... it's a good way to keep up with the league.
- Mets (9) - It's interesting how quickly Victor Diaz has gone out of favor in the eyes of a lot of Met fans. To me, I don't get that at all. In 271 major league plate apperances, he's hitting .271/.347/.513 for his career. I don't know whether or not that's sustainable, but if he doesn't improve on that ever and stays at or about that level for a few years, the Mets have themselves a good ballplayer. He's not a superstar, but he can hit. Why is that so difficult to accept?
- Angels (6) - One game separates the A's and Angels, who are prepared for yet another exciting pennant run with the A's. The Angels could have run away with this, though, and a big reason is because of two of their big offseason acquisitions. Orlando Cabrera and Steve Finley have combined for a VORP of 6.9 for the season. Finley was mercifully benched at this point, but just think of all the better places to have spent that $11 million for this season...
- Astros (10) - They've given up fewer runs than anyone, but they just don't score at all. They're 13th in the NL in run scoring, and pretty much their entire offense has come from Ensberg, Berkman, and Biggio. Even stathead favorite Jason Lane has been something of a disappointment, with only a .306 OBP.
- Marlins (11) - Frequently termed "the scariest team in the wild card hunt," and with fairly good reason. Houston's pitching is better, but it's not by much. I'd take Cabrera and Delgado, at this point, over any two-player combo in the league.
- Twins (12) - They've admirably held in the race in the post-Hunter month, but they're just not going to be able to survive in such a strong American League wild card race. The truth is that the Twins would probably be much happier to be in the NL's race this year...
- Phillies (13) - They're still winning the wild card, but from the chatter of Phillies' fans, you'd never know it. Are they just resigned because they're just not as good as the Mets and Astros Pythagorean-wise? (They trail those teams by 6.5 games and 4 games, respectively.) Or is it something deeper? Abreu'll get mentioned on a few MVP ballots, but he's cooled off substantially, and I can think of a few more viable candidates off the top of my head (Lee, Pujols, A. Jones, Wright, Ensberg, Jason Bay even).
- Blue Jays (14) - There's something admirable about a team who loses its best player and comes back the next year a better team, and they're fun to root for. The Blue Jays are certainly "a team" in every sense of the word... their top 11 at bat getters have OPSes between .711-.807. Nothing higher, nothing lower.
- Rangers (15) - So that explains the offense at home, hmm? Not small dimensions and a ball that carries very well? Well, Buerhle does have an interesting argument:
Rangers Opponents, Home - .283/.351/.437
Either home field advantage is working in strange ways, or the Rangers pitch better in their bandbox than elsewhere. I don't think that cheating is afoot, but it's certainly interesting.
- Cubs (16) - Derrek Lee is still my vote for MVP because without Lee, the Cubs are flailing around in last place and could be one of the worst teams in the league. That could change for Pujols, though, if he has a good final month. I don't know if "well, they probably would have made the playoffs without him" is a good rationale for the MVP voting... I haven't quite made up my mind about that.
- Tigers (17) - The Tigers are just about average in a year where exceptional was the only way to compete in that division. Essentially, the Tigers took one step forward and the Sox and Indians took three. They'll have to speed this up to be in the running for '06.
- Nationals (17) - I saw Joe Sheehan on ESPN News yesterday slamming Jim Bowden. I admire that, actually; Bowden commenting on his team's lack of offense is really his department, no? I could understand it if Robinson had criticized them because it's not his fault that Guzman and Castilla are wastes of money... but it was Bowden's job to bring in talent.
- Brewers (20) - It must be fun to be a Brewer fan, for a change. Rooting for home-grown talent is the best thing, and they're chock full of it. Prince Fielder popped a walk-off homer yesterday, and that's gotta help the morale. Ryan Braun's hitting .355/.396/.645 in the Sally League (A). Must be fun...
- Orioles (19) - The boos continue to rain on Palmeiro, and it might be time for him to consider retirement. We'll have a better idea of his HOF chances in five years. He's certainly qualified, but I don't know about his eligibility now, with the steroids thing. (And by eligibility, I mean vote-ability).
- Padres (21) - Back to .500! Small steps, my friends, small steps. I still think that the Padres are a legitimate contender and that they've "underachieved" thus far this season, but I don't have much basis for that other than the fact that I thought they'd win 90 games. Either way, as fun as it is to joke about a free ride through the NLDS via San Diego, I would be scared of San Diego in the playoffs.
- Reds (22) - Since May 1, Griffey's grabbed his youth and hasn't let go. He's hitting .311/.378/.615 in that span, has that "spring in the step" (actually, I have no idea about that; I don't get to watch too many Reds games)... that stretch resembles his age-27 season, where he hit .304/.382/.646 and won the MVP. If he's not the comeback player of the year....
- Dodgers (24) - I think it was Aaron Gleeman who criticized Jim Tracy's lineup selections, like not playing Choi and Saenz enough. It's a fair point... but I don't know how much better they could be, even with that. They have two good hitters - Kent and Bradley. Choi's good but he's never proven that he can hit lefties (I do think he deserves one full season to prove that). Everyone else has been hurt. They'll be much better next year. Probably.
- Mariners (23) - Old Seattle beat New Seattle 2-0 in a very interesting game... but Felix Hernandez remains like a deity. I can't remember such a dramatic groundball pitcher (3.52 G/F) who was so overpowering (.274 K/PA) from any time recently. Anybody got anything?
- Devil Rays (27) - Jonny Gomes fans - it's possible that he's established a new level of play with a higher batting average to add to his already strong power. Call me a skeptic, but he'd never hit higher than .256 in a AA or AAA season. I'd be shocked if he hit .282/.384/.560 again. .250/.355/.500, maybe. That's not bad at all, really, it looks like Adam Dunn-light.
- Diamondbacks (25) - 4 years, $33 million, 6.82 ERA. And the winner of the "Worst Contract of the Offseason Award" is... Russ Ortiz. Thanks for playing.
- Pirates (25) - The Pirates team VORP, offensively, is 173.0. Without Jason Bay, it's 109.7. He's an odd choice for MVP, but imagine how horrible the Pirates would be without him. (For the record, Matt Lawton is second on the team, and he was traded in July).
- Giants (28) - Bonds is swinging in the cage! The Giants might actually attract interest again.
- Rockies (29) - The Rockies haven't been all that horrendous since the All-Star break, you know... they're still pretty horrible, but maybe the NL West is closer to them than we thought.
- Royals (30) - I'll give the Royals a break this week, and I won't type anything too negative.