With the All Star Break getting closer, we are getting closer to the midway point in the season. At this point in the season, one team stands out as the best in the league, but the top five is essentially a crap shoot. Who are the top five teams in the league right now and what team is trying to fight their way back to the top?
1. St. Louis Cardinals — 48-29
Overall, the Cardinals are one of the best all-around teams in the sport. They are second in the league in runs scored with 85 and batting average with .276, while also producing the third best on base percentage at .336. Offensively, they are led by Yadier Molina, Carlos Beltran, Allen Craig and Matt Holliday. The pitching staff is led by Adam Wainwright in the rotation and the ninth inning is controlled by the surprising Edward Mujica and his 2.20 ERA.
2. Detroit Tigers — 42-33
With a run differential of +76, the Tigers offense and pitching staff have worked well all season at getting big leads and holding onto them. With perennial Triple Crown candidate Miguel Cabrera beating up on pitchers all year and Justin Verlander doing what he does best, the Tigers are a team that nobody in the American League will want to face in October.
3. Cincinnati Reds — 45-33
The Reds sit 3.5 games behind the Cardinals in the National League Central but have all the makings of a championship contender. Offensively, first basemen Joey Votto leads the way along with help from Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips, while Mike Leake has been unstoppable thus far. Leake leads the team in wins (7) and ERA (2.61) and is well on his way to the best season of his career.
4. Boston Red Sox — 46-33
The AL East leaders are tied with the Tigers for the AL lead in run differential at +76. As a team, they have scored the most runs in the league with 406, are second in OBP (.348), second in slugging percentage (.445) and third in batting average (.273). Offensively, the Red Sox are getting a lot of support from the ageless David Ortiz who leads the team in average, home runs, RBIs and OPS.
5. Atlanta Braves — 45-33
If you would have told me that the Braves would be this far ahead in the NL East and all three of their outfielders, Dan Uggla and Brian McCann were all batting less than .250, I would have called you crazy. All five of them are struggling, but they have been able to hold their league in the division despite poor play in the past two months. This is because of timely hits from Freddie Freeman, Chris Johnson, Jordan Schafer and Evan Gattis and great pitching from Mike Minor, Kris Medlen, Julio Teheran and Paul Maholm in the rotation and Craig Kimbrel in the ninth inning.
On their way up: Pittsburgh Pirates