It is a long way to the finish line, but if current trends play out over the course of a full season, it's pretty much guaranteed three teams in the National League West -- Dodgers, Rockies and D-backs -- will qualify for the postseason.A glance at the Wild Card standings
It is a long way to the finish line, but if current trends play out over the course of a full season, it's pretty much guaranteed three teams in the National League West -- Dodgers, Rockies and D-backs -- will qualify for the postseason.
A glance at the Wild Card standings in both leagues tells very different stories. In the NL, the D-backs and Rockies are the top two Wild Card teams, with the next-best team -- the Cubs -- at a distant third place, 7 1/2 games back entering play on Monday.
The American League is the opposite. Practically every club is a contender in some capacity. In fact, all but three teams of the non-division leaders -- A's, Tigers and White Sox -- are within 3 1/2 games of the second Wild Card spot. That includes two teams below .500 -- the Orioles and Blue Jays.
That totals 12 teams in the AL that are in the playoff hunt, including the surprising Rays, who are two games over .500 and just one game back in the Wild Card standings.
Biggest jump: The most patient person within the Royals organization also happens to be the main decision-maker, which is good news for Royals faithful. General manager Dayton Moore pledged to give this group ample time to get back on track. Winners of nine of their past 12 games, the Royals have climbed to .500, a mere 2 1/2 games back in the division and two back in the Wild Card race. That pushed them up five spots, from 19 to 14. Also jumping five spots: the Mariners (20 to 15).
Biggest drop: The Rockies are still in the top five, but a very poor showing against the two teams they'll presumably be fighting with all season for the division title greatly impacted their standing as our No. 1 team a week ago. Since we last met, the Rox lost two of three to the D-backs and were swept by the Dodgers. The run differentials were not pretty -- they were outscored by the D-backs, 29-12, and by the Dodgers, 22-7.
Power Rankings Top 5:
1. Dodgers (4 last week)
An easy decision. The Dodgers, entering Monday's game with the Angels, had won 10 in a row and 16 of 17. During those 17 contests, they hit 41 home runs. They have the biggest run differential in baseball (+138). And their winning percentage when rookie sensation Cody Bellinger starts? A whopping .764. Since he debuted on April 25, the Dodgers have been the best team in baseball, topping the Astros by 3 1/2 games during that time frame.
2. Astros (3)
After dropping two of three to the Red Sox at home a little over a week ago, the general feeling was one of optimism, because the Astros were going back to what works best for them -- playing AL West teams on the road. Indeed, it was just what the doctor ordered. They swept a four-game set in Oakland and won two of three in Seattle, and with a double-digit lead in the standings, they're still not in a division race -- because from that high up top in the AL West, there really isn't one.
3. Nationals (2)
The Nats continue to be a fascinating story, mainly because their well-documented bullpen issues that have cost them a dozen wins likely won't affect their chances to win the NL East. For all of their late-game problems, the Nationals are the only team in the NL East with a winning record, and their lead has hovered around double digits for much of the season. The offense keeps on churning -- the top two hitters in baseball, average-wise, are Ryan Zimmerman (.345) and Daniel Murphy (.340). During a 10-game hitting streak, Murphy is hitting .350 (14-for-40) with two homers and 11 RBIs.
4. Diamondbacks (7)
We're not exactly sure how the D-backs won seven games in a row and ended up dropping a spot in last week's rankings. Hopefully the No. 4 spot is viewed as more appropriate for a team that is 15-6 in June, is averaging 6.19 runs per game this month and has a collective OPS of .801. Further, D-backs starting pitchers lead the NL with a 3.46 ERA. Zack Greinke has the fourth-lowest WHIP at 1.05, while Robbie Ray is 13th of all NL starters at 1.17.
5. Rockies (1)
Every team endures struggles at some point in the season, and it looks like the Rockies are in the midst of theirs. As they began a three-game set with the Giants on Monday, the Rox, over their previous 14 games, were 4-0 vs. San Francisco and 2-8 against everyone else. Over a week's time, Rockies pitchers have compiled a 9.00 ERA.
The rest of the Top 20:
6. Red Sox (5)
7. Yankees (6)
8. Twins (11)
9. Indians (8)
10. Brewers (9)
11. Cubs (10)
12. Rays (12)
13. Rangers (13)
14. Royals (19)
15. Mariners (20)
16. Orioles (14)
17. Angels (18)
18. Blue Jays (15)
19. Marlins (NR)
20. Pirates (17)
Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com.
Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.