The competition is tighter than ever, especially in the American League. The playoff pushes and pennant races are locked and loaded. Here we go!

(Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

(Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

Top 6
1. Braves – Holding firm in the top spot. Just a .500 road record at 34-34. 36 games above .500 at home. Yep, that’s the difference.
2. Red Sox – the only team to take a series from the Dodgers since mid-June. A World Series preview? I think so.
3. Tigers – quietly just getting better and who isn’t pulling for Miguel Cabrera to win his second consecutive Triple Crown?
4. Dodgers – If they don’t win the whole thing, their incredible run from mid-June through the end of August will be forgotten.
5. Rangers – They have a lot of games left with Oakland. Something tells me that they are just a little bit better.
6. Rays – that pitching. That pitching. That pitching. They will find a way to score enough runs. But everyone knows why they will be there in the end.

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4 Stats
1. While the world looks at Chris Davis, Adam Jones is truly the Orioles MVP. He’s only getting better. While Davis numbers may have hit a higher high, Jones’ escalation is gradual and consistent. .299/27/95 and an .837 OPS. MVP season-type numbers.
2. Paul Goldschmidt is having a similar season in Arizona. .298/31/101 and a .944 OPS. The advantage he has is Miguel Cabrera and Chris Davis play in the American League.
3. Francisco Liriano was the next Steve Carlton in 2006. Consistently delivering 7-innning or better masterpieces. In mid-September that year, he hurt his arm. Sat out all of 2007 and was never the same. Until now. 14-6 with a 2.74 ERA, he’s in the Cy Young discussion again.
4. Max Scherzer will be the only 20-game winner this year. It’s still one of the hardest things to do in baseball. So many variables, so when you actually win 20, it’s noteworthy.

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Bottom 3
1. Astros – Just 14 losses shy of 100. 110 may be more like the final number.
2. Marlins – I’m trying really hard to name five players on that roster. I’m still trying …
3. White Sox – just three games behind the Twins to get out of the AL Central cellar.

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