Thursday, November 30 2023

Teamed with fellow rookie standouts Matt McLain (.325 AVG), Spencer Steer (11 home runs) and Andrew Abbott (1.14 ERA), young stalwarts Alexis Díaz (21-for-21 in save chances), Hunter Greene (100 strikeouts in 73.1 innings) and returning veteran Joey Votto, who has three homers in his first six games back from injury, the Reds are the best story in baseball right now. The question is whether they have the pitching to keep this up. 

Beyond them, the Brewers, Cubs and — yes — the Cardinals all also still have a better than 10% chance to win the division, according to FanGraphs. The Brewers are on the Reds’ tails, just a half-game back, while the Cubs are the only team in the division with a positive run differential (+32) and are coming on strong with wins in 11 of their past 14 games. This race could go down to the wire, and the pressure will be on considering the unlikelihood of the runner-up making the playoffs. 

3. AL West 

Who saw this offensive explosion coming in Texas? The Rangers completely overhauled their rotation this winter, but it has been their offense carrying them to the best record in the AL West. They’ve scored more runs than any other team in baseball, they’re converting at a mystifying rate when they get chances (.312/.369/.517 with runners in scoring position), they’re posting the best run differential in the sport (+152) and their pitching staff has the sixth-best ERA in baseball (3.75) despite losing Jacob deGrom for the year two months ago. 

Can the offense sustain this level of production? Even if it doesn’t, a 5.5-game lead over the Astros is a healthy cushion. The Rangers are now the odds-on favorites in the AL West, though the talent in Houston, Anaheim and Seattle — despite the Mariners‘ disappointing first half — will require Texas to maintain its level of play to claim its first division title since 2016. 

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5. AL Central 

Someone’s got to win, right? It’s looking like that team will be the Twins, though their surprisingly lackluster offense is not making it as easy as it should be. They hold a two-game advantage on the Guardians, who have the fifth-worst OPS in baseball. 

This actually might end up one of the fiercest division battles down the stretch, but, given how disappointing the AL Central has been, it’s hard to garner much excitement from the parity. Minnesota’s 340 runs scored would rank third or worse in every division other than its own, where it ranks first. 

Carlos Correa crushes solo home run helping Twins cut into Tigers’ lead

Here’s the latest list: 

1) Atlanta Braves  (50-27; LW 2) 

2) Tampa Bay Rays (54-27; LW 1)

3) Baltimore Orioles (47-29; LW 3) 

4) Texas Rangers (47-30; LW 4) 

5) San Francisco Giants  (44-34; LW 8) 

6) Arizona Diamondbacks (47-32; LW 5) 

7) Los Angeles Dodgers (43-34; LW 10) 

8) Miami Marlins (45-34; LW 7) 

9) Cincinnati Reds (41-37; LW 14)

10) New York Yankees (43-35; LW 9) 

11) Toronto Blue Jays (43-36; LW 12) 

12) Philadelphia Phillies (40-37; LW 11) 

13) Houston Astros  (42-36; LW 13) 

14) Los Angeles Angels (42-37; LW 6) 

15) Milwaukee Brewers (40-37; LW 15) 

16) Minnesota Twins  (40-39; LW 19) 

17) Chicago Cubs (37-39; LW 21) 

18)  Boston Red Sox (40-39; LW 16) 

19) Seattle Mariners (37-39; LW 18) 

20) Cleveland Guardians (37-40; LW 23) 

21) San Diego Padres (37-41; LW 17) 

22) New York Mets (35-42; LW 22) 

23) Chicago White Sox (34-45; LW 25) 

24) Pittsburgh Pirates (35-42; LW 20) 

25) Detroit Tigers (33-43; LW 24) 

26) St. Louis Cardinals (32-45; LW 26) 

27) Colorado Rockies (31-49; LW 27) 

28) Washington Nationals (30-47; LW 28) 

29) Oakland Athletics (20-60; LW 29)

30) Kansas City Royals (22-56; LW 30) 

Rowan Kavner covers the Dodgers and NL West for FOX Sports. He previously was the Dodgers’ editor of digital and print publications. Follow him on Twitter at @RowanKavner. 


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