|Photo by USA Today
By Steve Roney
There are many reasons for the Dodgers' ascension — from Adrian Gonzalez' consistency and Yasiel Puig's flash to the shutdown pitching. Blazing hot after the break, they're exactly the sort of team that no one wants to run into in October.
Here's how Nationals Insider Mark Zuckerman, Nats writer Chase Hughes, and I see the rest of the league shaking out:
1. Atlanta Braves (77-49; LW: 2) – Zuckerman: The bullpen is so good, they've basically turned every game into a 6-inning affair.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers (73-52; LW: 1) – Hughes: Everyone knows about Yasiel Puig, but Hanley Ramirez has been as important as anyone to their unbelievable run over the past few months.
3. Pittsburgh Pirates (74-51; LW: 4) – Roney: Pedro Alvarez may never hit for average, but his power is seriously impressive — as is leading the team with 83 RBI despite a .234 average.
4. Boston Red Sox (75-54; LW: 3) – Zuckerman: Everyone may have shared Dempster's sentiments, but his A-Rod plunking may have cost Boston that game.
5. Detroit Tigers (73-52; LW: 5) – Roney: It almost doesn't matter that Prince Fielder is disappointing. Miguel Cabrera is set to top last year's batting average, RBI, and home run totals — which won him the Triple Crown and 2012 MVP.
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