Red Sox sitting pretty at top of Rankings
AL East leaders since May 27, Boston boasts most wins in Majors
Baseball fans in Boston are feeling excited heading into the final week of play before the All-Star break, and it's hard to blame them.
The Red Sox lead all Major League teams with 54 wins.
What's more, the Sox have been in first place or tied for first in the American League East for 80 days this season -- including a stretch of 42 consecutive days since taking over the top slot on May 27 -- and they show no signs of slowing down.
When you consider that Boston's pitching has been solid all season, and the offense -- led by a pair of All-Stars in David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia, along with Jacoby Ellsbury -- is among the Major League leaders in several categories, it's hard to knock Red Sox fans for believing their team is the best in baseball.
But are the Red Sox even the best team in the AL?
Fans that cheer for the Tigers, A's, Orioles, Rangers, Rays and Indians have their own opinions.
Can any team in the AL match up with the powerhouses in the National League Central or NL East?
The D-backs lead the NL West, but are they the best team in the division?
It's time to discuss the most powerful teams in the game, and it's time to hear your voice.
For the third season, MLB.com has set up a panel of experts to vote on the top 15 teams each week. Three former Major League players -- Larry Dierker, Mitch Williams and Frank Thomas -- are part of the process, as are columnist Peter Gammons and Carlton Thompson, vice president and executive editor of MLB.com. Former general manager and current MLB.com analyst Jim Duquette, along with MLB.com columnists Mike Bauman, Hal Bodley, Anthony Castrovince, Richard Justice, Matthew Leach and Jesse Sanchez are also part of the group.
Agree? Disagree? The power to rank the teams is yours.
1. Red Sox
The AL East leaders have won seven of their last 10 games, and the starting rotation is a big reason for the success. Red Sox starting pitchers have allowed two earned runs or fewer in eight straight games, combining for a 2.39 ERA in that stretch.
Last week: 2
The Pirates have lost two in a row and are now tied with the Cardinals on top of the division with the best record in the NL. Starling Marte is having a season to remember and is already the first player in Pirates history to pair 27 steals with 32 extra-base hits before the All-Star Game.
Last week: 1
The Cardinals have won three in a row to climb back into a tie with the Pirates on top of the NL Central, and that's not even the best news for the team. St. Louis dodged a substantial setback, as an MRI taken on Yadier Molina's bothersome right knee revealed no structural damage. He's expected back in the lineup on Tuesday.
Last week: 3
The AL West leaders have won eight of their last 11 to move a season-high-tying 15 games over .500. Bartolo Colon is 11-3 with a 2.78 ERA, already his highest wins total since 2005, and the A's are streaking into the All-Star break.
Last week: 6
The Rangers are embarking on an important road trip through Baltimore and Detroit, and it might be just what the club needs heading into the break. Texas owns the AL's best road record at 24-18 and has won six of its past seven road games.
Last week: 4
The Braves could use a winning streak. With four losses in their past five games, they have seen the lead over the second-place Nationals shrink to four games in the NL East, their slimmest advantage since May 20.
Last week: 5
Justin Verlander is starting to come around and Max Scherzer is pitching like the staff ace. Scherzer is 13-0 and has compiled nine consecutive quality starts this season. He's also recorded at least six strikeouts in each of his 17 starts. Including Scherzer and Verlander, the Tigers had six players named to the AL roster for next week's All-Star Game.
Last week: 10
The Reds could use the comforts of home or a winning streak anywhere. The club lost all three series and six of eight games on its most recent road trip and is 20-22 on the road this season. Cincinnati will play just three of its next 20 games at home.
Last week: 8
The Rays are 11-3 since June 23, and the starting rotation leads the big leagues with nine wins and 12 quality starts during that span. David Price has returned to familiar form, notching a complete-game victory Sunday.
Last week: 11
Chris Davis, the leading vote-getter for the All-Star Game, leads the big leagues with 33 home runs and remains the driving force of Baltimore's offense. He's had plenty of help this season. Center fielder Adam Jones and shortstop J.J. Hardy were also selected to start next week's All-Star Game.
Last week: 7
The D-backs have won five in a row and are coming off a three-game sweep of the Rockies that saw them outscore Colorado, 22-2. Patrick Corbin is making a case to start the All-Star Game and Paul Goldschmidt is living up to his "America's First Baseman" nickname.
Last week: 12
After taking two of three from the Orioles over the weekend, the Yankees are 6-1 this month and remain within striking distance of the first-place Red Sox. Mariano Rivera is coming off a blown save, but he has still converted 29 of his 31 save opportunities this year, reaching the 25-save plateau for the 16th time in his career.
Last week: 13
The second-place Nats trail the Braves by four games in the division and might be poised for a winning streak. A healthy Bryce Harper is back in the lineup, and the club bolstered its bench Monday, acquiring right-handed hitter Scott Hairston from the Cubs.
Last week: 14
Don't count out the Angels in the race for the AL West title yet. The club has won 10 of its past 12 games and is just two games under .500 for the first time since April 7. The Angels are also 6-1 in their last seven series.
Last week: 15
Jason Kipnis is ready for another streak. The first-time All-Star went 0-for-4 on Saturday, ending his hitting streak at 16 games and his on-base streak at 36 games. He is also only the fourth Indians player since at least 1916 with at least 19 stolen bases, 35 extra-base hits and 50 RBIs in the first half, joining Grady Sizemore (2008), Roberto Alomar (1999) and Joe Carter ('87).
Last week: NR