Angels fly to top of Power Rankings

Division-rival A's unseated at No. 1 by Halos despite Richards' injury

Angels fly to top of Power Rankings

The Angels are back on top in the American League West and find themselves looking down at every other team in the Major Leagues with five weeks remaining in the regular season.

That's right. Not only do the Halos have the best record in baseball, they've won seven of their last 10 games and are poised to overcome the loss of starter Garrett Richards to season-ending knee surgery.

The Angels lost the series to the A's over the weekend, but their offense is clicking. Mike Trout has the numbers to make him a top candidate for the AL MVP Award for the third year in a row despite striking out a career-high 144 times this season, and Josh Hamilton is 6-for-19 with eight RBIs since taking two days off to recover from a horrible slump.

Erick Aybar, Albert Pujols, Kole Calhoun and company are all doing their part.

But the race to the top of the AL West is far from over.

The Angels will host the A's for four games at Angel Stadium next week, and then return to Oakland for the second-to-last series of the season.

But can either team match up with the Nationals or the Dodgers? Are the Brewers the best team in baseball?

Don't forget about the Orioles, and don't sleep on the Mariners or Royals.

For the fourth consecutive season, has set up a panel of experts to vote on the top 15 teams each week. The group includes vice president and executive editor Carlton Thompson, executive editor Matthew Leach, columnists Mike Bauman, Hal Bodley, Anthony Castrovince, Richard Justice, Tracy Ringolsby, Phil Rogers and Lyle Spencer, along with reporters Alyson Footer and Jesse Sanchez.

What do you think? Agree or disagree? Have your opinion counted by submitting your Power Rankings.

1. Angels: The Halos will be without Richards for the remainder of the season because of a knee injury, but rumors of the club's demise have been greatly exaggerated. The AL West leaders finished their 10-game road trip with seven wins to push them 25 games above .500.

2. Athletics: The A's once had a stronghold on the top spot in the AL West, but they have seen better days. Closer Sean Doolittle hit the disabled list with a strained right intercostal, catcher John Jaso has concussion symptoms, and third baseman Josh Donaldson underwent an MRI on his left knee. Oakland has lost seven of its last 10 games.

3. Nationals: The Nats are playing up to expectations and once again emerging as one of the World Series favorites from the National League. Washington has won 12 of its last 13 games, which includes a 10-game winning streak that was snapped by San Francisco on Friday.

4. Orioles: It's a good time to be an O's fan. Yes, Sunday's loss to the Cubs shrunk their AL East lead to six games over the Yankees, but Baltimore lost just 1 1/2 games on its lead despite going 4-5 on the recent nine-game road trip. The Orioles are 34-26 at Camden Yards and have 21 of their next 27 games at home.

5. Dodgers: The Dodgers got good news Sunday with the return of Hanley Ramirez from the DL, and they hope to have some of their regulars back in the starting lineup and rotation as the season winds down. Kevin Correia and Roberto Hernandez can only serve as substitutes for Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu for so long.

6. Mariners: Could this be the year Seattle returns to the playoffs? The Mariners have won 14 of their last 18 games to put themselves a season-best 13 games over .500 at 71-58 with a one-game lead over the Tigers in the chase for the AL's final Wild Card berth. Seattle has now equaled its 71-win total from last season with 33 games still remaining.

7. Brewers: The Brew Crew got another much-needed strong start from Mike Fiers -- 10 hits and four walks, with 32 strikeouts, allowed over four starts (28 innings) in place of the injured Matt Garza -- on Sunday to keep the Cardinals 1 1/2 games back in the NL Central and the Pirates at bay. This upcoming nine-game road trip will be critical in setting the tone before a crucial early September homestand against some of the NL's toughest teams.

8. Royals: As the offense has come along in the second half of the season, Kansas City has proven to be one of the most well-balanced teams in the league. The Royals are five games over .500 at home, 10 over on the road, have a better run differential (plus-35) than the powerful Tigers (plus-30) and are fourth in the AL in team ERA (3.55). Their upcoming homestand (against the Yankees, Twins, Indians and Rangers), much like the remainder of their schedule, is made up of teams largely out of playoff contention.

9. Tigers: Remarkably, after giving up 32 runs over their first two games against the Twins this weekend, Detroit bounced back to salvage a series split and stay within two games of the Royals in the AL Central. The Tigers' schedule down the stretch is considerably harder than Kansas City's, so they need to get clicking on all cylinders again to repeat as division champs.

10. Giants: San Francisco ran into a Washington buzzsaw this weekend against the white-hot Nationals, dropping to 4 1/2 games behind the Dodgers in the NL West. Now the Giants head back home -- where they're just 32-32 this season -- for an important stand against the Rockies and the first-place Brewers.

11. Cardinals: The Cards are playing with great energy as the crucial final month of the season approaches. The club had a chance to take over the top spot in the NL Central over the weekend, but Sunday's loss and Milwaukee's 4-3 win over Pittsburgh pushed the Cardinals back to 1 1/2 games behind the Brewers, while keeping the Pirates 3 1/2 behind the Redbirds. St. Louis still has a two-game NL Wild Card lead.

12. Braves: Atlanta has taken care of its own business, winning seven of its last 10 games, but the Braves' fate in the NL East may be out of their hands as the Nationals (winners of 12 of their last 13) continue to roll. With an eight-game deficit in the division, Atlanta may have to turn its attention to the NL Wild Card, where it trails the Giants by a game for the second spot.

13. Pirates: The Bucs fell five games behind the Brewers in the NL Central with Sunday's loss in Milwaukee, but they remain just 1 1/2 games out of the second NL Wild Card spot thanks to the Giants' loss to the Nationals. The good news? Andrew McCutchen capped his first week back from an avulsion rib fracture with home run in the ninth inning off Brewers closer Francisco Rodriguez.

14. Indians: The Tribe is pitching its way back into contention. Dating back to Aug. 9, Cleveland has won nine of 13 games, during which the team's rotation has turned in a 1.71 ERA mark with a .176 opponents' batting average and a 0.90 WHIP. What's more, the Indians have won three consecutive series wins and has won or split seven of their past eight series.

15. Yankees: Don't count out the Yanks yet. They completed a three-game sweep of the White Sox on Sunday to stay 3 1/2 games behind the Mariners for the second AL Wild Card spot. The Yankees are six games behind the first-place Orioles in the AL East standings as they embark on a seven-game swing against the Royals, Tigers and Blue Jays.