Last week’s rankings in parentheses. All stats through Friday’s games:
1. N.Y. Yankees (1): Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor attends Yankees’ game Wednesday. Liberals, rest easy. No deeper meaning to be drawn from fact she sat in right-field bleachers.
2. Texas (2): Josh Hamilton hit .177 in July and said it wasn’t because of injury but because he was “disobedient.” Hamilton said, “There’s consequences. It’s like a father and a kid. There are disciplines. You guys can chew on that and think about it.” Chew? And think? One question: At the same time?
3. Cincinnati (5): Reds broadcaster Marty Brennaman will have head shaved after he promised to do so if Reds won 10 games in a row. These locks belong to the Reds.
4. L.A. Angels (3): Angels GM Jerry Dipoto said there have been no contract extension talks with newly acquired pitcher Zack Greinke, that he wants the parties to get acquainted first. Yo, Jerry. There’s no time for an extended courtship. Greinke becomes a free agent in four months, ready or not, and you gave up a bunch to get him.
5. Washington (4): Nats are 63-43 — last time a team in Washington won more games than it lost was 1969, when Senators were 86-76 and finished fourth in AL East. Ted Williams was manager, Frank Howard hit 48 homers and walked 102 times and Mike Epstein hit 30 and walked 85. Those Senators had two future World Series heroes: Del Unser’s pinch-hit keyed a Game 5 ninth-inning rally for the 1980 Phillies — he played centerfield and hit .286 for the Senators; and Darold Knowles pitched in every game of the ’73 Series for Oakland; he saved 13 for ’69 Sens. President Richard Nixon attended five games, according to baseballalmanac.com, but didn’t draw up any lineup cards for Williams. Sens were 2-3 with Nixon there.
6. Atlanta (6): Dan Uggla tied for NL lead in walks (66), tied for second in strikeouts with 120. Second baseman are 1-2-3 in Ks in NL: Danny Espinosa (124), Uggla and Rickie Weeks (118).
7. Pittsburgh (7): Rookie Starling Marte has no walks in first 37 plate appearances. Perhaps leadoff is not his spot in the order?
8. Chicago White Sox (10): Adam Dunn leads baseball in home runs (31), walks (78) and strikeouts (153). That’s been done only once before, according to the score.com, by Babe Ruth in 1927 (60 homers, 137 Ks, 89 walks).
9. San Francisco (8): Angel Pagan bruised his hand when he swung his bat in frustration. Given his 64 strikeouts, it’s a surprise Pagan hit anything.
10. Oakland (11): A’s might be second in AL West, but they’re 28th in MLB in attendance, with just 1.1 million fans drawn. That means they’re ahead of only one other team (Cleveland) that’s not the Rays. Imagine what they’d be drawing if there wasn’t a moving van pointed at San Jose parked in front.
11. St. Louis (9): Cards may have used an advance on 2012’s good karma in 2011’s World Series Game 6. They lead all of baseball in run differential at plus-102 (Yankees are second at +88), but are tied for ninth-best record.
12. Detroit (12): Justin Verlander’s streak of 63 straight six-inning starts ended on Tuesday — with a complete game. Rain ended the game in the top of the sixth. But don’t harp on the unfairness. Verlander might not have made it anyway — he needed 107 pitches to get through five innings and trailed 4-1.
13. L.A. Dodgers (13): Ed Stevens, half the platoon combination replaced by Jackie Robinson in 1947, died at 87 late last month. “I had no animosity toward Jackie,” Stevens wrote in his book, “The Other Side of the Jackie Robinson Story” in 2009, according to the New York Times’ obit. “. . . But at that particular time Jackie Robinson could not have taken my job. I had more power, was a better fielder and made more consistent contact than he did.” Stevens was 22 when he lost his job to Robinson, and did slug .533 at Montreal in 1947 (Robinson slugged .462 there in 1946; however Robinson fanned just 27 times in 444 at-bats and walked 92 times to Stevens’ 76 strikeouts in 456 at-bats. So much for more consistent contact.) Stevens spent most of the next 14 years in the minors, hitting 257 minor league home runs, but for parts of three years in the majors with the Pirates, who barely qualified.
14. Tampa Bay (16): Rays centerfielder B.J. Upton hit 100th career home run on same day brother Justin of Arizona hit his 100th career home run. “He said he got his before mine. It’s all good man,” said B.J. ESPN.com said Uptons are fifth brother combination to each hit 100. First four, and how they rank, below.
15. Arizona (19): Justin Upton on a career-low pace for strikeouts, with just 86, or less than once ever four at-bats. A lot of good all that extra contact is doing him: he’s also on pace for career lows in home runs (nine), slugging percentage (.404) and OPS (.762).
16. Baltimore (15): Orioles said to be interested in Cleveland’s designated-for-assignment pitcher Derek Lowe, whose 5.52 ERA seems high until you consider two-fifths of Orioles’ rotation (Tommy Hunter at 5.68 and Zack Britton at 8.35) is higher.
17. Boston (17): Former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling said he likes manager Bobby Valentine, likes “him a lot.” Then said he wasn’t a big fan of Valentine as Mets manager and doesn’t like him as Red Sox’s manager, and that “I always feel like Bobby’s trying to reinvent the game . . . I don’t think this is going well,” said Schilling, with the powers of observation one would expect from an ESPN analyst. Good thing he likes Bobby. A lot.
18. Toronto (14): Jays made multiple moves to bolster the bullpen, but nothing to help their offense, which has scored 12 runs as they’ve lost six straight and fallen into last place.
19. Cleveland (18): Indians designate Johnny Damon for assignment, 231 hits shy of 3,000. We don’t want to say Damon’s career is done at age 38, but he was let go for Ezequiel Carerra, who has 20 minor-league home runs — in eight seasons.
20. N.Y. Mets (20): Teammates rip rookie Jordany Valdespin’s T-shirt and write on it as if they were graffiti artists and it was a subway wall. Laughs all around? Not quite. Mets were supposedly trying to urge Valdespin to dress above a high Class A level. Valdespin said “I would never do that.”
21. Seattle (24): Pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma flew to Japan between starts to visit his seriously ill father, fanned 13 Blue Jays in 4-1 victory when he returned. “I only hope at the end of the season, I’ll be able to see him again,” he said.
22. Philadelphia (22): Phillies insist on reliever Josh Lindblom in Shane Victorino, deal despite nine home runs allowed in 47.2 innings. Threw his 10th 2012 home run in first inning with new team. Now averaging one home run allowed every 4.9 innings. That’s not a ratio Citizens Bank Park will help.
23. Miami (23): Jose Reyes has NL-best 22-game hit streak after bunting for hits in first inning of both games of Friday doubleheader.
24. Milwaukee (24): MLB players, in Sports Illustrated poll, vote Brewers outfielder Nyjer Morgan most eccentric in baseball. Morgan gets 19% of vote — no telling how many were for his alter-ego Tony Plush.
25. Minnesota (26): Twins had two players reach base on all five plate appearances Friday: Justin Morneau (two doubles, two singles and one hit by pitch) and Jamey Carroll (a double, three singles and a walk).
26. Kansas City (25): Wil Myers, Royals top minor-league prospect, says he likes peanut butter, banana and honey sandwiches before games. Myers, 21, has 33 home runs and .304 average at two levels; maybe Jeff Francoeur, hitting .236 with .639 OPS for Royals, should try one. He couldn’t do worse.
27. San Diego (27): Padres call up Corey Burns from minors. When he appears, he’ll be the 27th pitcher the Padres have used in 2012. With almost two months to go.
28. Chicago Cubs (28): Chicago Tribune says Cubs allowed pitcher Ryan Dempster to listen to trade negotiations with Dodgers, who refused to give Cubs the prospects they wanted. “I think it’s really hard to criticize Ryan,” said team president Theo Epstein. Perhaps. Not so hard to criticize the Cubs, who failed to send Dempster to Atlanta, failed to send him to L.A., and took what they could get from Texas.
29. Colorado (29): Rockies owner Dick Monfort sends email to fans, acknowledging team’s poor play, change in management and extolling rookie infielder Josh Rutledge’s play. Love this nugget, though: “As the media portrayed accurately, the trade of Jeremy Guthrie for Jonathan Sanchez was hoping a change of scenery would bring improved performance. We will continue to watch, but so far that has not been the case for either man.” For the record, Sanchez may have started Friday’s 16-4 loss to Giants, but only two of the runs were his. Despite what his 9.53 ERA with the Rockies says.
30. Houston (30): Astros’ 3-24 July was fifth-worst ever in baseball history, according to yahoo.com. Of the four worst months ever, Philadelphia A’s (2-28 in July 1916 and 3-26 in August 1943) had two; worst was Orioles’ 1-22 April in 1988; 1982 Twins were 3-26 in May. Astros may not be done yet. They’re 0-2 going into play on Saturday in August.
Five brother combinations, according to espn.com, with at least 100 home runs apiece are the DiMaggios 486 (Joe, 361 and Vince, 125; Dom had 87); the Boyers 444 (Ken 282 and Clete 162); the Boones 378 (Bret 252 and Aaron 126) and the Alomars 322 (Roberto 210 and Sandy 112). Of course, the Aarons lead all brother combinations with 768 home runs, 755 by Hank and 13 by Tommie.