Who is the best team in baseball right now?
No, don't go look at the standings and see who has the best record. Actually use your head and think about it. I'm talking about trying to figure out who you would predict to win it all if there was a fictional 30-team tournament right now, if we could set up such a thing realistically (which we can't). Not three weeks ago, not three weeks from now. Now. Which team is best? That's basically what I do every week when deciding to pick a No. 1 team in the rankings. And it has gotten very difficult.
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What about the Nationals? They held the best record in baseball for a while, but they've also lost five games in a row, complicating matters at the top.
Or how about the Yankees? They have the best power-hitting club in baseball, a lock-down back end of the bullpen (Monday night's meltdown notwithstanding) and a big one-two punch atop the rotation in CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda. But just last week they were swept by the White Sox and are currently without Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez in the lineup.
Speaking of the White Sox, what about them? As I just said, they swept the Yankees. They also hold a two-game lead in the AL Central and sport a 15-10 record in August. Of course, they just lost two straight to the upstart Orioles.
The Orioles? Can we consider them? We've previously covered here how much they're defying the odds, but they just keep doing so and are 16-8 in August.
Or what about the Reds? They have the best record in baseball and have been getting it done without perhaps the game's best player for a while. Joey Votto should be back soon, too.
We obviously can't forget about the Rangers. They sport the best record in the American League and a triple-digit positive run differential. They're the two-time defending AL champs and looking like a strong bet to make a third run. Also, since they lost three straight to the Yankees, they've gone 10-3.
Then there's the group with the Rays, A's, Giants, Cardinals, Tigers, Braves, Dodgers and Pirates that cannot be counted out. With no team really separating itself from the field, it's possible that any of these clubs would emerge as champion from my fictional tournament.
So deciding how they would fall is pretty tough right now. Seeing that this is merely a subjective exercise done by one humble man, the only conclusion we can really draw is that September and October are going to be ... really freaking awesome. All hail baseball.
As always, rankings, comments and stats are through Tuesday. Please feel free to contact me via email with comments: firstname.lastname@example.org.