By Keith Antigiovanni
The defending AL champion Texas Rangers continue to lead the AL West with a 66-51 record and are 1.5 games in front of the Anaheim Angels. Texas is trying to get back to the playoffs so they can return to the World Series and show that last year was not a fluke.
The KC Royals are last place in the AL Central thanks to the lowest payroll in the Majors (36 million).
The Tampa Rays are also struggling in third place in the AL East thanks to the big payroll Red Sox and Yankees. Until baseball gets a salary cap this situation will continue.
Atlanta has played very well thus far in the NL East despite being 8.5 games but the encouraging news is they lead the Wild Card and own a 5-4 lead over the Phillies this year despite having half their payroll. The Braves hope to continue to win, get into the playoffs and will match up well with anyone they face.
St Louis after a four game sweep over the weekend needs to win 2 of 3 in their current series to stay within striking distance of first place in the NL Central. The Astros are in last place with 28 games out but gained a bunch of prospects after they traded two of their everyday starters.
Arizona has also made progress the past few weeks and sit only 1/2 game back of first place while the Rockies, Dodgers and Padres have all faded from the playoff race in the NL West/