Last week’s rankings in parentheses. Stats through Monday’s games:
1. Washington (4): Neither the Nats nor the Metrorail has yet to commit to paying for extra service for Nats home playoff game. Cost, according to Washington Post, is $29,500 per game, or as Post put it, “a couple of innings of work” for $21 million outfielder Jayson Werth.
2. Texas (2): Headline on ESPN.com’s Jean-Jacques Taylor column on Josh Hamilton said Rangers star “lacks mental toughness” because Hamilton was out with a sinus infection. “We’re talking about something a couple of tablets usually knocks out,” wrote Taylor. I’m going to guess that Hamilton — who overcame substance-abuse issues to become the AL MVP — can play center field with a sinus infection at a higher level than Taylor can write a column with one.
3. Cincinnati (3): Reds manager Dusty Baker may return to team Tuesday after being hospitalized with an irregular heartbeat. Reds’ division title is Baker’s second with team and his fifth in 19 years of managing. He’s won division titles with all three teams (Giants, Cubs and Reds) he’s managed.
4. N.Y. Yankees (1): Eduardo Nunez said Yankees captain Derek Jeter encouraged him earlier this month after a crucial ninth-inning error. “He said, ‘Just play the game and do your thing,’ ” said Nunez. Nunez was — errors have always been his thing. He’s made 18 in 74 career games at shortstop, just 51 of them starts.
5. Atlanta (5): Brewers give Chipper Jones a year’s supply of bratwurst for his retirement. And here we thought they wanted him to enjoy his retirement.
6. San Francisco (11): Outfielder Melky Cabrera, suspended for PED use, asks to be ineligible for NL batting title. Let’s see him disavow his .346 average when it’s time to talk salary.
7. Baltimore (12): It’s true phenom Dylan Bundy isn’t your typical 19-year-old. After making his MLB debut, retiring two batters in Sunday’s loss at Boston, Bundy said he was so excited, “I didn’t go to bed until about 12 or 1 . . . which is late for me.” Monday afternoon, we presume?
8. Oakland (9): Sports Illustrated aids pitcher Brandon McCarthy’s recovery by naming him one of the 100 most influential sports tweeters. McCarthy has 81,028 followers, or almost as many as the A’s have in Oakland.
9. Tampa Bay (7): Rays go incognito to Boston and wear wigs; that’s fitting because Rays, with MLB’s fourth-best run differential, may look like a playoff team but aren’t — they trail by three games with nine to play.
10. St. Louis (10): Cards have five players with 20 homers or more — Carlos Beltran (30), Matt Holliday (27), Allen Craig (22), Yadier Molina (21) and David Freese (20). The five have combined for 120 of the team’s 152. No other Cardinal has more than Matt Carpenter’s six.
11. L.A. Angels (15): Torii Hunter’s son, Torii Jr., a top high school football player, committed to Notre Dame and says he wants to visit the campus with dad. No problem, son. Dad just might be free anytime after Oct. 3, the day the regular season ends.
12. Chicago White Sox (6): Adam Dunn said there’s no pressure, then hits two home runs to give him 41 for season — his sixth season with at least 40 home runs. Only 11 other players have done that. Who are they? Answer below.
13. Detroit (13): Manager Jim Leyland before Sunday’s doubleheader: “This is a real tough day. I’m holding my breath.” We’re guessing he was turning blue after losing two to lowly Twins.
14. Milwaukee (20): Milwaukee sports writer Tom Haudricourt suggests MVP candidate Ryan Braun will be left off some MVP ballots because of his overturned drug suspension from the last offseason. If so, we have to ask who’s holding the ballots? Dino Laurenzi, the collector who kept Braun’s urine samples in his basement rather than shipping them? Braun may not have deserved last year’s MVP award — even before the controversy — but he no more deserves to be left off the ballot this year because of it than Nyjer Morgan deserves to be on it.
15. L.A. Dodgers (14): If Dodgers miss postseason, they can blame veteran reliever Jamey Wright, who has never made the playoffs in a 17-year career, despite playing for nine teams. They can’t blame Wright’s pitching — his .669 OPS against is 129 points less than his career average.
16. Arizona (16): D’backs end season for rookie pitchers Tyler Skaggs and Trevor Bauer, citing the former’s lack of velocity and the latter’s approach. GM Keith Towers said Bauer gets “a little strikeout happy.” Because that’s what Bauer needs to do with his plus-fastball: ape Armando Galarraga and not Stephen Strasburg.
17. Philadelphia (18): Phillies manager on the idea of moving Chase Utley to third and playing Freddy Galvis every day at second: “He (Galvis) saves you runs.” He better. That .617 OPS will cost you runs, too.
18. Pittsburgh (8) Pirates were 10-16 last September, but that seems good compared to this year’ 5-17. That’s 15-33 combined in the last two Septembers, which is why there’s no October for the Bucs. Again.
19. Seattle (17): Mariners show off improved offense. After finishing last in runs scored in 2010 and 2011, M’s climb all the way to 29th, thanks to Astros.
20. San Diego (23): Padres have used 30 pitchers this year, of whom: 15 have started (only Clayton Richard and Edinson Volquez more than 15 games); 22 have won games; 21 have lost games; six have saved games; and 28 have thrown home runs.
21. Kansas City (24): Royals right fielder Jeff Francoeur will lead AL in assists, a year after teammate and left fielder Alex Gordon led the league in assists. Hope they don’t forget to thank their pitchers, who provided all the base runners to throw out.
22. N.Y. Mets (21): Mets broadcaster and former first baseman Keith Hernandez will shave off his mustache for charity Thursday. No word on whether Seinfeld’s Elaine Benes will be present for the trim.
23. Boston (19): ESPN.com asks if Blue Jays manager John Farrell should be the next Red Sox manager; Boston.com asks if it should be ex-Sox catcher Jason Varitek. Wonder how Bobby Valentine, still the manager with eight games to play, is voting?
24. Toronto (22): Broadcaster Gregg Zaun, ex-Jays catcher, rips manager John Farrell in aftermath of Yuniel Escobar’s pejorative written in eye-black and resulting suspension. Farrell’s response: “I can tell you this – that consequences do exist and yet we prefer to keep those in-house.” There’s consequences on the Jays? Who knew?
25. Miami (25): Reliever Heath Bell on manager Ozzie Guillen: “It’s hard to respect a guy that doesn’t tell you the truth or doesn’t tell you face-to-face. There’s probably reasons why.” Probably. As in, maybe Ozzie doesn’t want to go Col. Jessep on Bell. “I stunk in April,” Bell said, accurately. “I think I’ve had a tremendous second half,” Bell, the owner of a 6.97 August ERA, went on, not so truthfully.
26. Minnesota (27): Jamey Carroll’s home run earlier this month was his first since 2009, his first in 1,384 at-bats and his 13th in 10 years. But bear in mind he didn’t get to hit against Twins staff this year.
27. Cleveland (26): Indians manager Manny Acta says he’ll put best team on the field vs. White Sox, because “you’ve got to respect the game.” No word from Acta on why the Indians have so disrespected the first 154 games (63-91).
28. Colorado (28): Rookie catcher Wilin Rosario on his 20 passed balls: “Every ball I miss, you can see most of the time I don’t miss that same ball again.” Rockies are less than convinced. They’ve tried Rosario at third base and first base, and he missed balls there, too, making one error in one game at first and one in three games at third.
29. Chicago Cubs (29): Cubs manager Dale Sveum upset that infielder Luis Valbuena was picked off second by the Reds. Sveum should have looked at the positive: Valbuena, a .221 hitter, was on second base.
30. Houston (30): Astros posted on Facebook that pitcher Joe Niekro, who leads the team with 144 career wins, would attend team’s Legends luncheon. One problem: Niekro died in 2006. Astros apologized for the post.
The 11 players, according to baseballalmanac.com, other than Adam Dunn to have at least six 40 home run seasons: Babe Ruth (11); Hank Aaron, Barry Bonds, Harmon Killebrew and Alex Rodriguez (all with eight); Ken Griffey Jr. and Sammy Sosa (seven); and Willie Mays, Mark McGwire, Albert Pujols and Jim Thome (six).
Sources: newsday.com, insidebayarea.com, chron.com, denverpost.com, baseballalmanac.com, espn.com, mlb.com, sfgate.com, masnsports.com, mlive.com, latimes.com, azcentral.com, philly.com, jsonline.com, nydailynews.com, vancouversun.com, twincities.com