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A's finding fans in latest Power Rankings

AL West leaders make biggest jump; Cardinals, Red Sox hold down top spots

Once again, it's getting wild out west.

The Oakland A's have emerged as one of the best teams in baseball, having long dispelled the notion that last year's American League West title was a fluke.

Once again, it's getting wild out west.

The Oakland A's have emerged as one of the best teams in baseball, having long dispelled the notion that last year's American League West title was a fluke.

But nobody expected Bartolo Colon to be leading the way for the first-place Athletics. The veteran right-hander is 9-2 with a 2.89 ERA and is making a strong case to be an All-Star next month. The bullpen has also been stellar, allowing only one run in 19 2/3 innings spanning the past five games.

In the National League, the first-place D-backs have a narrow lead in the NL West, but the Rockies and Giants are within striking distance and the Padres, winners of six in a row, might be the hottest team in baseball.

Don't blink. The division standings could look dramatically different next week.

And don't count out the Dodgers yet.

But can the best of the NL West compete with the NL Central or the AL East?

Once again, it's time to hear your voice and your vote. has set up a panel of experts to vote on the top 15 teams each week. The group includes vice president and executive editor Carlton Thompson, VP and executive producer Jim Jenks, columnists Mike Bauman, Hal Bodley, Anthony Castrovince, Richard Justice, Matthew Leach, Terence Moore and Tracy Ringolsby, reporters Barry M. Bloom, Marty Noble, Jesse Sanchez and Lyle Spencer, and MLB Network analyst Mitch Williams.

Agree? Disagree? The power to rank the teams is yours.

1. Cardinals
The Cards are coming off their first series loss since April, but they still have the best record in baseball and remain the team to beat in the NL Central. The pitching, especially the starting rotation, has been outstanding all season. The starters have the lowest ERA in the big leagues with a 2.97 mark.
Last week: 1

2. Red Sox
The Sox have a narrow lead in the AL East standings, and the offense could use Mike Napoli back in the lineup. The starting first baseman has missed the last two games because of "general illness" and is being treated for dizziness and nausea. It's unclear how long the club will be without Napoli.
Last week: 2

3. A's
The first-place A's have split their last eight games, but they have benefited from the Rangers' poor play to remain on top in the division. The bullpen has been stellar, allowing only one run in 19 2/3 innings spanning the past five games. Closer Grant Balfour is a perfect 17-for-17 in save opportunities.
Last week: 8

4. Reds
Talk about a home-field advantage. Reds pitchers have dominated at home, striking out at least 10 hitters 23 times this year, including 16 times at Great American Ball Park. Cincinnati hurlers have also struck out at least 11 hitters at home 10 times. What's more, they have at least 15 strikeouts in a game three times. Not surprisingly, the Reds are 24-12 at home.
Last week: 6

5. Tigers
While Justin Verlander understandably gets most of the attention, it is Max Scherzer who could make the record books in his next start. The right-hander has a chance to become the first pitcher in 112-year history of the franchise to start the season 10-0. The Tigers lead the second-place Indians by 4 1/2 games, the largest margin separating the top two teams in a division in the AL.
Last week: 5

6. Braves
The Upton brothers are among the most interesting set of teammates in the big leagues. Justin Upton has slowed down from his torrid pace and has only three home runs in the last month and a half. The slumping B.J. Upton appears more comfortable at the plate, and he is hitting .250 in his past 10 games, a stretch that includes a two-home run game.
Last week: 3

7. Orioles
This Manny is just being himself. O's third baseman Manny Machado is riding a career-high 14-game hitting streak. He also leads the big leagues in hits (99) and doubles (32) in 70 games this season.
Last week: 11

8. Pirates
The Pittsburgh pitching staff is a big reason why the club has stayed in contention all season, and it just got better. Gerrit Cole, the top pick from the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, was called up to the big leagues and became the first Bucs pitcher to win each of his first two Major League starts since Josh Fogg in 2002.
Last week: 9

9. Yankees
First, the good news: The Yanks snapped a five-game skid Sunday, and staff ace CC Sabathia appears to have returned to familiar form. Now, the not-so-good news: Mark Teixeira's right wrist problems are flaring up again, and he could be headed to the disabled list.
Last week: 7

10. Rangers
Texas is struggling, having lost six in a row and eight of its past 10 games. The Rangers have also dropped four straight series and are hitting just .219 in the past 16 games.
Last week: 4

11. Rockies
The Rockies are creeping up on the D-backs for the top spot in the NL West standings, and they could be the new division leaders by the end of action Tuesday. Michael Cuddyer and Carlos Gonzalez are two reasons why it could happen. Cuddyer is hitting .383 with nine RBIs during his current 14-game hitting streak, and Gonzalez has a hit in six straight games.
Last week: 14

12. D-backs
The first-place D-backs have lost three in a row and seven of their last 10 games. Once considered one of the team's strengths, the starting pitching has been inconsistent and the bullpen has not helped. Paul Goldschmidt continues to carry the offense and has put himself in the middle of the conversation for the NL MVP Award.
Last week: 10

13. Rays
A successful seven-game road trip against the Red Sox and Yankees could put Tampa Bay right back in the mix for the division lead. But for now, the club will have to deal with the reality that it has lost six of its past 10 games. David Price (left triceps strain) has been on the disabled list for a month, and his rehab was delayed because of soreness.
Last week: 12

14. Giants
Yes, the Giants are coming off of two heartbreaking losses and emerged from their stretch of 12 road games in 14 dates with a 6-8 record, but nobody is panicking in San Francisco. The reigning World Series champs fell only one game farther behind the D-backs in the NL West standings during this span.
Last week: 13

15. Nationals
The preseason World Series contenders are now 34-34 and only two games ahead of the Phillies in the NL East. Bryce Harper is still on the disabled list but Stephen Strasburg is healthy. The club will need both players if it expects to stay on top.
Last week: 15