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We need a new No. 1 team in baseball, right? The Yankees have held down the top spot for a few weeks and just got Gerrit Cole back in the rotation, but they have now lost three straight series. Sure, the series came against tough competition, but the Top Dog shouldn't be bothered by that. They've lost six of their last eight, so a drop is in order. 

The candidates to take the top spot:

Orioles

Within the last week and a half, the Orioles have won head-to-head series over the Yankees and Phillies. They were the team taking down the top two candidates, so shouldn't they take the spot? Logic would say so. 

The Orioles, however, followed up those series wins by getting swept in Houston. They were outscored 27-13 in the three losses and the bulk of those runs came late in a game that was already over (they made a 14-3 deficit into a 14-11 loss). I was ready to promote the Orioles back to the top spot, but they just looked so awful in Houston that I'm not sure. 

The depth of the rotation is certainly a concern. 

Phillies

They have the best record in baseball both by games (the Yankees are 0.5 games back) and winning percentage. Their +114 run differential is the best in baseball. They had a bit of a rough patch recently, but are coming off a 4-2 week with two series wins. In looking at the personnel, they certainly look the part. There isn't a glaring weakness. They have the best ERA in baseball and are fourth in runs scored. They've dealt with some key injuries, too. 

On the negative side, their schedule strength is noticeably lower than the Yankees and Orioles. Plus, they just lost a series to the O's. 

Dodgers

They've certainly got the star power. Even with Mookie Betts hurt for a while, they've got two MVPs in the lineup on a nightly basis. They are so loaded that their general manager came out and said injuries to Betts and Yoshinobu Yamamoto don't change their trade deadline plans. They are only two runs behind the Phillies in run differential, so that's negligible. They are, however, four games back of the best record and that's enough to think maybe they shouldn't be on top, especially since 55 of their 79 games have come against sub-.500 teams, the highest such number from this group. 

Guardians

The Guardians have played 40 road games, the highest such number of this group and that feels like it matters, given that the Guardians are a ridiculous 26-9 at home. One could argue the Guardians are the hottest team in this group right now, as they've won five straight. Over a bit of a larger recent sample, though, they are 13-9 since Memorial Day. 

At +104, their run differential is slightly behind the big guns, but it's not far enough off to drastically downgrade them. 

Among the four teams listed and the Yankees here for our top five, the Guardians have played the weakest schedule. The percentage is dragged down by the Guardians having faced the pathetic White Sox seven times (and they are somehow 3-4 in those seven games). 

I do think there is a clear-cut top five right now and you could probably order them however you wish. I'm demoting the Yankees out of principle with the three straight series losses, but otherwise any one of these teams has a case for No. 1. 

Biggest Movers
8 Astros
12 Blue Jays
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Teams
 
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1 Phillies My preseason pick to win the World Series was the Phillies. We all know how much of a crapshoot the playoffs are, but I'm feeling pretty damn good about this one so far. 2 63-37
2 Orioles I just couldn't put them first after that series in Houston. They had it locked down with just one win there. -- 60-39
3 Yankees Gerrit Cole is back and they appeared to dodge a major bullet with Aaron Judge's hand getting hit with a pitch. Giancarlo Stanton going down really hurts, though. He's quietly been very good this season. 2 60-42
4 Guardians Now here's a big week coming, with the Guardians hitting the road to face the Orioles for three and Royals for four. 1 59-40
5 Dodgers I'm sure it sounds bad, but the regular season really doesn't matter. They are going to win the NL West. It's all about setting themselves up for a deep playoff run. Watching how everything falls with the rotation will be very interesting. If they got the best version of everyone, who goes to the playoff bullpen from Yamamoto, Clayon Kershaw, Tyler Glasnow, Bobby Miller and Walker Buehler? 1 60-41
6 Braves Here they come? The Braves have won eight of their last 10 and the offense is showing real signs of life with Ozzie Albies, Matt Olson and Austin Riley starting to pick things up a bit. Also, Jarred Kelenic might be taking to the leadoff spot. 3 54-45
7 Brewers Some cracks starting to show? The Brewers are 9-10 since they first built that seven-game lead in the Central. They still have a good cushion, though. 1 57-43
8 Red Sox Heading into the season, the Red Sox were thought by many to be the one AL East team that wouldn't contend. They are now sitting in a wild-card spot. They've won nine of 11. 3 53-46
9 Mariners I went to great lengths to praise the Mariners last week and now they've lost four of five -- including a series to the Marlins. Tsk tsk. 2 53-49
10 Twins Can Royce Lewis please be kept on the field, Baseball Gods? Good grief, man. He's now only played in 88 career games, but he's hitting .316 with 27 homers and 71 RBI. -- 55-44
11 Royals Uh oh. The Royals have lost 11 of their last 14 games. They've actually fallen out of playoff position for the first time in a while, too. 3 56-45
12 Astros That's five straight wins and they are as close to .500 as they've been since they were ... 0-2. 8 52-48
13 Cardinals I just love trying to sort out the NL wild-card race when things like "Cardinals lose a series to the Marlins and then sweep the Giants" happen. Every single week it's something like this, man. -- 52-48
14 Padres Fernando Tatis Jr. hasn't played since being removed from Friday's game due to getting hit with a pitch in the elbow area. It's pretty concerning because they absolutely need him in the lineup at a high level. -- 52-50
15 Mets The Grimace thing is, rationally speaking, kind of nonsense, but I'm always up for a fan base rallying around something nonsensical. The 2019 Nationals fans rode Baby Shark to a title. 3 51-48
16 Rangers Perhaps they are turning things around now. Max Scherzer looked great on Sunday in his 2024 debut and the Rangers have now won four straight. 8 48-52
17 Diamondbacks We're just about halfway into this season and Corbin Carroll is hitting .211/.305/.313. He's been a bit better in June, specifically in getting on base, but they need a lot more from him -- namely in the power department. -- 51-50
18 Nationals The Nats have now won 11 of 15. In looking at their personnel, it sure doesn't seem like a group that could make noise in the postseason, but how many of us had the D-backs taking the NL pennant last June? The good thing about having a bit of an old school GM in Mike Rizzo is he'll be aggressive in front of the trade deadline with a chance to make a playoff run. Some execs would look at projections and playoff percentages and play it conservative, but that isn't him. 1 47-53
19 Rays Yandy Díaz now has a 16-game hitting streak, during which he's hit .366 with 26 hits. 4 50-50
20 Pirates The Pirates haven't won or lost more than two in a row in well over a month. It was a three-game losing streak that ended May 11. Since then they've only won or lost one or two in a row, a span of 38 games. 2 51-49
21 Reds The Reds are now 19-21 at home. A serious contender should certainly have a winning home record, unless it can be world-beaters on the road like the Astros last year. Then again, the National League doesn't have many "serious contenders," so maybe it won't matter much. 5 48-53
22 Cubs Remember when George Costanza was trying everything he could think of to get fired and it wasn't working? I thought of that last Monday when Hector Neris blew another save. Of course, it isn't just him. The Cubs have 16 blown saves now. 3 49-53
23 Giants That's five straight losses and they are in a bad way right now. Maybe returning home will help? 8 48-53
24 Blue Jays So much for that run toward the top 10. The Blue Jays just went 0-6 on the week. They are now at their low-water mark of the season at seven games under .500. 12 45-54
25 Tigers Brace yourself for some hilarious/maddening inconsistency. Here are the number of runs the Tigers have scored per game in their last nine games: 0, 13, 1, 1, 1, 0, 2, 1, 11. 4 50-51
26 Angels Jo Adell is hitting .184 with a 12 home runs in 206 at-bats. Dare I dream that we have another Dave Kingman/Rob Deer star? -- 43-57
27 Athletics The A's had lost nine in a row coming into the week and then took a series from the Royals while going 3-3 overall. Not bad! 1 40-62
28 Marlins This past week, the Marlins won three straight games on walk-offs, the first time the franchise has done that since Aug. 9-11, 1999. 1 35-65
29 Rockies The only NL player with more extra-base hits than Ezequiel Tovar is Shohei Ohtani. 2 37-64
30 White Sox They are on pace to go 43-119. -- 27-75