Here is a look around Major League Baseball with analysis of each team from Nationals Insider Mark Zuckerman, Chase Hughes and myself, Steve Roney:
1. Angels (LW: 1) – Roney: It’s great news for baseball that Mike Trout will finally play in October.
2. Orioles (LW: 4) – Zuckerman: On track to clinch their division before any other team in baseball.
3. Nationals (LW: 2) – Zuckerman: A 4-2 trip to Seattle and Los Angeles is no small accomplishment. This is looking like a special team.
4. Athletics (LW: 3) – Roney: No team will benefit more from the expanded rosters than Oakland. I still like them to finish strong.
5. Dodgers (LW: 5) – Roney: As if they didn’t have enough outfielders, Joc Pederson has finally arrived. Not quite the first at-bat he envisioned though, I imagine.
6. Cardinals (LW: 10) – Hughes: If I'm an NL contender, the Cardinals scare me more than anybody. They are on fire and just got back Molina and Wacha.
7. Royals (LW: 6) – Hughes: At this point it's hard not to root for the Royals. They haven't been to the playoffs since '85, and that ballpark deserves a postseason showcase.
8. Giants (LW: 11) – Roney: Jake Peavy has actually worked out great for the Giants, posting a 2.66 ERA in 7 starts.
9. Tigers (LW: 8) – Hughes: Justin Verlander will only talk about the pennant race, guys.
10. Mariners (LW: 9) – Roney: Robinson Cano has actually lived up to his contract – he’s been one of the league’s top-10 hitters by just about every measure.
11. Brewers (LW: 7) – Hughes: Ron Roenicke has been the favorite for NL Manager of the Year all season. Not if they keep losing, though.
12. Braves (LW: 12) – Zuckerman: A .483 team since late-April, yet somehow still in the thick of the NL Wild Card race.
13. Indians (LW: 18) – Hughes: Barring a big-time winning streak (and soon), it may be over in terms of Cleveland's playoff hopes.
14. Pirates (LW: 15) – Hughes: The Pirates and Brewers seem to want the Braves to make the playoffs. What is happening in the NL?
15. Yankees (LW: 14) – Zuckerman: Derek Jeter's final month in pinstripes isn't going according to plan.
16. Blue Jays (LW: 16) – Zuckerman: They were in first place on July 4. Feels like an eternity ago.
17. Marlins (LW: 13) – Zuckerman: Last-ditch playoff push isn't going to happen, but a winning record would be a nice building block for 2015.
18. Padres (LW: 21) – Roney: Amidst a league-wide power outage, Seth Smith leads the Padres with 12 homers. After learning about baseball in the ‘90s, that feels a little surreal.
19. Rays (LW: 19) – Zuckerman: They've posted a .581 winning percentage since June 10. Unfortunately, too little, too late.
20. Reds (LW: 17) – Hughes: Not all rookie managers have done well with playoff-ready rosters. Though, to be fair, injuries have been the biggest problem this year in Cincy.
21. Mets (LW: 20) – Zuckerman: Winning pct. last 5 seasons: .488, .475, .457, .457, .471. Progress in Queens, or stagnation?
22. Phillies (LW: 22) – Zuckerman: Props to them. They've won 4 of last 5 series, all against winning teams.
23. Cubs (LW: 25) – Hughes: It's been great to see all the prospects the Cubs have called up lately. Bummed we won't get a look at Kris Bryant, though.
24. White Sox (LW: 24) – Hughes: Have to like the White Sox sending Adam Dunn to a contender. Classy move.
25. Red Sox (LW: 23) – Zuckerman: From worst to first and now back to worst. Can they turn it back around in 2015?
26. Twins (LW: 26) – Hughes: Tough to see Alex Meyer go down with a shoulder injury, right when it looked like he would get the call.
27. Astros (LW: 28) – Roney: Don’t know that I would’ve axed Bo Porter just yet. With that roster, what was he realistically expected to do?
28. Diamondbacks (LW: 27) – Roney: Don’t know that I would’ve kept Kirk Gibson around this long. Wonder if this means they don’t love anyone in-house enough to bother with an interim?
29. Rockies (LW: 29) – Roney: Bright spot: Nolan Arenado (.296/.337/.500) looks like the hitter they thought for so many years that Ian Stewart would be.
30. Rangers (LW: 30) – Roney: They’ve used an MLB-record 60 players this year. That kind of says it all.