Every second week, CBCSports.ca's Mike Dennis breaks down the balance of power in Major League Baseball.
Record : 73-45
Last 10 : 8-2

There's only one dark cloud hovering over the major league-leading Nationals, and that's Stephen Strasburg. GM Mike Rizzo announced the NL East front-runners will hold firm to its innings limitation for the 14-5 Strasburg, shutting him down for the playoffs.
2. CINCINNATI REDS[up from 7]
Record : 71-47
Last 10 : 5-5

That’s a nice 21-8 run the Reds have put together since Canadian Joey Votto went out of the lineup with a bad knee. Votto of Etobicoke, Ont., was forced to undergo a second arthroscopic surgery on his knee and said he won’t rush back like last time. Still, Cincy has opened up a wide gap in the NL Central over Pittsburgh and St. Louis.
3. NEW YORK YANKEES[down from 1]
Record : 70-48
Last 10 7-3

Andy Pettitte won't be back in the Yankees lineup until September at the earliest due to his slowly mending broken ankle. The Bombers are missing CC Sabathia at the top of the rotation but their offence is still overwhelming most opponents. Nick Swisher's grand slam against Texas on Aug. 13 made him the seventh player in the New York lineup with 200 career home runs.
4. TEXAS RANGERS[down from 2]
Record : 68-49
Last 10 : 5-5

The Rangers can thank the swooning Los Angeles Angels for their place atop the AL West standings despite the failure of National League pitchers Ryan Dempster and Roy Oswalt who have been far from good since joining the junior circuit. Leading MLB in team batting is helping to keep the Rangers out front.
5. ATLANTA BRAVES[up from 10]
Record : 69-49
Last 10 : 7-3

El Bravos keep chopping down any threats to their status as the leading wild-card contender in the National League as they’ve opened up a nice gap over the rest of the field. Adding the recently acquired Paul Maholm to the rotation picking up the slack for the injured Tommy Hanson helps.
6. TAMPA BAY RAYS[up from 17]
Record : 64-54
Last 10 : 8-2

Juggling Joe Maddon loves moving his players around and has slotted Zorilla, Ben Zobrist, at shortstop of late. That’s where the multi-talented Zobrist started when he first came up to the Rays in 2006. He gives Tampa Bay a strong left side of the infield with Evan Longoria finally back at third base after three months on the DL.
Record : 65-54
Last 10 : 6-4

With the Dodgers over their mid-season doldrums and locked in a great fight with the Giants for control of the NL West, the L.A. club is benefitting from a revival from starting pitcher Chad Billingsley who won five decisions in a row to even his record at 9-9.
8. SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS[down from 4]
Record : 64-54
Last 10 : 5-5

Any thoughts of putting the Giants ahead of the Dodgers were squashed by the 50-game suspension to outfielder Melky Cabrera for using testosterone. San Francisco has strengthened its depth with the acquisitions of Hunter Pence and former Blue Jay Marco Scutaro, stretching their lineup.
9. PITTSBURGH PIRATES[down from 5]
Record : 65-53
Last 10 : 3-7

Mid-August and the Pirates are hanging in there. Nice to see after such a long run of sub-.500 baseball. Seems strange, though, that they're looking to the ex-Houston Astro (Magic) Wandy Rodriguez to bolster their starting rotation. We'll see.
10. CHICAGO WHITE SOX[down from 8]
Record : 65-52
Last 10 : 6-4

Another team that’s refusing to roll over in the pursuit of a division crown is the White Sox. Despite Paul Konerko’s absence with concussion symptoms Chicago keeps battling with the irascible and highly annoying A.J. Pierzynski reaching a career high 23 home runs.
11. BALTIMORE ORIOLES[up from 15]
Record : 64-54
Last 10 : 7-3

The Orioles flew into rarefied air 11 games over .500 and decided to give uber-prospect Manny Machado a shot at third base, a problem position all season long. The third overall pick in the 2010 draft socked three home runs and five extra-base hits in his first five games as Baltimore closed the gap on the AL East-leading Yankees.
12. ST. LOUIS CARDINALS[up from 16]
Record : 64-54
Last 10 : 5-5

Cardinals still flying in formation with Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday ranking 1-2 in the RBI department. St. Louis has never finished a season with players ranked first and second in that category. The Cardinals are also hopeful of returning Jaime Garcia to the rotation after a shoulder injury sidelined him for two months.
13. DETROIT TIGERS[down from 11]
Record : 63-55
Last 10 : 5-5

Having a losing road record isn't going to help the Tigers claw their way back atop the AL Central ahead of the White Sox. The good news in Detroit is that Doug Fister, now 7-7, is starting to motor like he did the second half of last season while Max Scherzer just moved ahead of teammate Justin Verlander for the AL strikeout lead.
14. LOS ANGELES ANGELS[down from 6]
Record : 62-57
Last 10 : 4-6

After having the best record in baseball from May through the all-star break, the Angels came back to earth just as Texas was stumbling a bit in the west. Zack Greinke has stepped into the Hollywood spotlight as a possible quality arm in their rotation.
15. OAKLAND ATHLETICS[down from 12]
Record : 62-55
Last 10 : 4-6

Not so fast with those plans for Moneyball2. The A's are starting to show a few cracks with rookie first-half sensation Jarrod Parker struggling without a win in a month and Ryan Cook demoted from the closer's role.
Record : 59-59
Last 10 : 4-6

In the .500 and under division are the Diamondbacks who must devise a way to keep Ian Kennedy away from pitching against St. Louis. Kennedy took a 1-2 record and 10.13 career ERA into his latest start against the Redbirds. Yup, five runs allowed (three earned) and another loss for Kennedy, now 10-10 on the season.
17. BOSTON RED SOX[down from 14]
Record : 58-61
Last 10 : 4-6

You say you want a revolution? Not in the Red Sox clubhouse although Yahoo.com leaked a three-week old story about a meeting between the Boston owners and players that all parties agreed happened but wasn’t cause for any heads to roll. Without any Will (Middlebrooks, broken wrist) there’s no way the Red Sox will hold any meetings about being in the playoffs.
18. TORONTO BLUE JAYS[up from 19]
Record : 55-63
Last 10 : 2-8

Remember when Ricky Romero was 8-1 for the Blue Jays and Jose Bautista, J.P. Arencibia and others were belting homers at the Rogers Centre and all over the American League? Seems like a long time ago as Romero lost his ninth straight decision and the Jays, who have used 32 pitchers this season, continued their nose dive.
19. NEW YORK METS[down from 18]
Record : 56-62
Last 10 : 3-7

Another first half modest success story the Mets have one major problem. How can they get R.A. Dickey to pitch every game! Just as opposing hitters haven’t figured out how to handle Dickey's knuckleball that’s produced a 15-3 record, the Mets haven’t learned how to clone him to fill out their rotation.
Record : 54-64
Last 10 : 5-5

The Phillies have broken a record. No, not for longest plunge from perennial contender to non-factor in the NL East, but for longevity. Jimmy Rollins played his 1,731st game at shortstop to break the mark of one of his previous managers, Larry Bowa. That's one of the few good breaks Philly's had this season.
21. CLEVELAND INDIANS[down from 13]
Record : 54-64
Last 10 : 4-6

After impersonating Fausto Carmona during his big-league career, Roberto Hernandez made his Indians debut on Aug. 15 in L.A. as himself, allowing 10 hits, five earned runs in six innings. At 10 games below .500 and sinking, Cleveland manager Manny Acta may soon be seeking witness protection.
22. SEATTLE MARINERS[up from 25]
Record : 55-64
Last 10 : 4-6

King Felix Hernandez didn't need five relievers to help him throw a no-hitter like his Seattle mates had done previously this season. He was unhittable and perfect all by himself, notching the 23rd perfect game in major league history, 1-0 over Tampa Bay.
23. MIAMI MARLINS[down from 21]
Record : 53-66
Last 10 : 4-6

After 30 scoreless innings through three shutouts, the Marlins bit the Phillies hard by striking for six runs in the eighth inning to break open a close game and win, 9-2. Most of the damage came after Philadelphia's Roy Halladay had left the game.
24. SAN DIEGO PADRES [up from 27]
Record : 52-68
Last 10 : 6-4

Chase Headley accomplished a personal first, hitting homers from both sides of the plate in the same game in a somewhat rare San Diego win. It was the highlight of a three-homer, 11-RBI week that netted him NL player of the week honours.

25. MILWAUKEE BREWERS[down from 20]
Record : 53-64
Last 10 : 5-5

The Brewers have a bad taste in their mouths when it comes to road trips, losing 14 of 15 away games following the all-star break. They overcame a four-run deficit in Colorado only to blow the lead in the ninth to fall a dozen games below .500.

26. KANSAS CITY ROYALS[down from 24]
Record : 51-66
Last 10 : 6-4

The Royals produced back-to-back wins from the comedy act of Will Smith and Jeremy Guthrie. The former is a six-foot-five lefty out of Georgia, while the latter toiled previously for the Orioles before spending the first part of this season in Colorado.

27. MINNESOTA TWINS[up from 28]
Record : 50-67
Last 10 : 3-7

It used to be Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau that were the building blocks for the Twins, but is it time to add Josh Willingham to the foundation? Minnesota resisted trade offers for the 33-year-old outfielder who passed last year’s career high of 29 home runs and is closing in on topping last year's 98 RBIs as well.

28. CHICAGO CUBS[down from 26]
Record : 46-70
Last 10 : 3-7

The Cubs were entertaining ideas of moving starting pitcher Matt Garza to a team willing to offer up prospects, but an elbow injury nixed that and Garza may be done for the campaign.
29. COLORADO ROCKIES[no change]
Record : 45-71
Last 10 : 7-3

Break out the champagne, the Rockies won two in a row at home. Whoa, make that three straight. That’s the first time that's happened since June 28 and 29.
30. HOUSTON ASTROS[no change]
Record : 39-80
Last 10 : 3-7

Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow e-mailed Houston season ticket holders that the team's "future is bright" and that they want the team to be the 2013 version of the Oakland A’s. Well the Astros can get a good view of the A's when they look up from the basement of the AL West where they’ll be living next season.