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MLB Power Rankings: Time to separate the contenders from the pretenders

by | Baseball Writer
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In glancing around most of the divisional races as we near the halfway point of the season, I believe we owe some gratitude to former commissioner Bud Selig.

Yes, really. I know it makes the skin crawl for some to admit that Selig did something to make the game more entertaining for the masses, but the wild cards do it.

Thank you, Bud, for the wild card spots, particularly in 2016 -- at least that's how it is shaking up so far. 

Sure, maybe come September things will be significantly different and the one-and-done format, specifically, can seem unfair when a 98-win team goes home after one game -- as the Pirates did last season -- but look around the league right now going into Wednesday.

AL East

The Orioles are on pace to win 98 games and have a 4 1/2 game lead. SportsLine pegs their divisional chances at 55.6 percent.

AL Central

The Indians are also on pace to win 98 games and have a six-game lead. SportsLine gives them a 97.4 percent chance to take the division.

AL West

The Rangers are on pace to win 106 games and have a 10 game lead. SportsLine gives them a 94.8 percent chance to win the crown here.

NL East

The Nationals lead the Marlins by 4 1/2 games and the Mets by five games. It's not bad like some of the other divisions, but it's not within a series. The SportsLine projections give the Nats a 94.5 percent chance, too.

NL Central

The Cubs, despite their recent struggles that seem to have given their haters new life, are on pace to win 107 games. They have a 10-game lead and 96.1 percent chance to win the division, per SportsLine.

NL West

The Giants hold a six-game lead and have a 84.3 percent chance to win this thing, per SportsLine.

On the other hand, the wild card races right now have a lot of teams mixing it up. Excluding the six division leaders, there are still 14 teams within five games of the second wild card. That means only 10 teams are more than five out of a playoff spot as we are just two days away from July. The A's, Diamondbacks and Brewers are 6 1/2 out, leaving only seven teams who we can probably say aren't contenders. That's great news and nearly all of it comes via the Wild Card.

Again, things could change. We aren't even to the halfway point of the season, though we're just a few days away from it. Let's hope the second half is as exciting as the first half has been for as many fan bases as possible. Right now it would appear that only the Wild Card spots will help the cause.

Please feel free to contact me with comments either on Twitter (@MattSnyderCBS) or via email: matt.snyder@cbs.com. As for the rankings below, there's a huge gap between six and seven and then 7-15 was probably as difficult a time as I've had all season.

Texas Rangers
The Texas Rangers look like the best team in baseball right now. (USATSI)

RANK TEAM MOVE (LW)
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