Here are this week's rankings:
1. Chicago Cubs (73-43 overall record, No. 1 ranking last week) -- The Cubs' fine-tuning continues as they focus on one goal -- ending their Word Series curse. Could acquiring recently released closer Jonathan Papelbon be their final tweak to the roster? He has a history with general manager Jed Hoyer and president Theo Epstein.
2. Cleveland Indians (67-49, No. 6) -- Acquiring reliever Andrew Miller has been a significant help. Now that outfielder Michael Brantley will have season-ending surgery, the Indians will need to find one more meaningful offensive pickup, but their pitching, from top-to-bottom, is the best in the American League.
3. Washington Nationals (70-47, No. 2) -- There's never a dull moment in Washington, as sour closer Papelbon asked for, and was granted, his release. The bigger question centers on outfielder Bryce Harper's struggles at the plate. Without his reappearance, the Nationals' chances to upend the Cubs take a nosedive.
4. Toronto Blue Jays (67-52, No. 5) -- Right fielder Jose Bautista is back on the disabled list, and yet the train keeps on rolling. Right-hander Jason Grilli has been playing a key role as the bridge to righty closer Roberto Osuna.
5. Texas Rangers (70-50, No. 4) -- The Rangers have a 5.5-game lead in the AL West, and the two players they picked up at the trade deadline, catcher Jonathan LuCroy and reliever Jeremy Jeffress, are a big reason why. Right-hander Matt Bush has been fading for a few weeks now, so Jeffress has been key.
6. Baltimore Orioles (66-51, No. 3) -- The Orioles saved themselves a further drop in the rankings with an amazing 8-7 comeback win against the Giants in San Francisco Aug. 14, but Baltimore had to win three of its last four games just to salvage a 5-5 record during the road trip.
7. Boston Red Sox (65-52, No. 8)
The Boston Globe
Dan Shaughnessy wrote a fascinating column
summing up the dilemma in Boston. The Red Sox have an amazingly potent offense -- when they blow out opponents. Yet they are just 4-32 in games decided by one or two runs. While those numbers don't guarantee that's the way the team will play throughout its last 45 games, it sure is something to follow.
8. San Francisco Giants (66-52, No. 10) -- The Giants have been near dreadful since the All-Star break. Heading into a three-game series with the Orioles Aug. 12-14, the Giants had gone 8-16 since the break. After splitting the first two games, San Francisco was up 7-1 heading into the seventh inning of the rubber match only to falter and lose, 8-7, for a devastating loss.
9. Los Angeles Dodgers (65-52, No. 7) -- The Dodgers are 14-12 since the All-Star break, and it looks like they are on a roll. But their success really has more to do with the Giants' struggles since the break. The Dodgers still maintain a cushion over the Marlins, Pirates and Cardinals for the first Wild Card spot. But it now looks unlikely left-hander Clayton Kershaw will return this season.
10. Seattle Mariners (63-54, No. 12) -- A 10-3 run during the last week and the emergence of Edwin Diaz as a lights out closer has the Mariners believing they are now a dangerous Wild Card contender.
11. St. Louis Cardinals (62-56, No. 11)
12. Detroit Tigers (63-55, No. 9)
13. Houston Astros (61-57, No. 13)
14. Pittsburgh Pirates (60-56, No. 16)
15. Miami Marlins (62-56, No. 14)
16. New York Yankees (61-57, No. 18)
17. New York Mets (59-59, No. 15)
18. Kansas City Royals (58-60, No. 19)
19. Philadelphia Phillies (56-63, No. 20)
20. Chicago White Sox (56-61, No. 21)
21. Colorado Rockies (56-63, No. 17)
22. Oakland Athletics (52-67, No. 27)
23. Milwaukee Brewers (52-64, No. 25)
24. Tampa Bay Rays (48-69, No. 24)
25. Cincinnati Reds (48-69, No. 28)
26. San Diego Padres (50-68, No. 26)
27. Minnesota Twins (47-71, No. 23)
28. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (49-69, No. 22)
29. Arizona Diamondbacks (49-69, No. 29)
30. Atlanta Braves (44-74, No. 30)