The Sun's national baseball writer, Peter Schmuck,...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

The Sun's national baseball writer, Peter Schmuck, ranks the major leagues' 28 teams.

Rank, Team, Previous rank, Comment

1. California Angels -- 1 -- Four strong left-handed starters make them all but slump-proof.

2. Cleveland Indians -- 2 -- Tough series against Red Sox knocked them out of top spot.

3. Atlanta Braves -- 3 -- Best team in NL. Was there ever any doubt?

4. Cincinnati Reds -- 4 -- Hard to look good against Braves pitching, but nothing has changed.

5. Boston Red Sox -- 9 -- Winning streak may have knocked the wind out of other AL East contenders.

6. Los Angeles Dodgers -- 5 -- Creeping up on suspect Rockies.

7. New York Yankees -- 7 -- Strange chemistry experiment seems be successful.

8. Houston Astros -- 6 -- Big edge in wild card race, but can they keep it without Bagwell?

9. Colorado Rockies -- 8 -- Next six games -- at Atlanta and Cincinnati -- could do them in.

10. Seattle Mariners -- 12 -- There was a time when .500 was enough to contend in AL West.

11. Texas Rangers -- 13 -- May be Yankees biggest rival for AL wild card berth.

12. Chicago Cubs -- 14 -- Could be positioned well for wild card consideration if Houston fades.

13. Kansas City Royals -- 16 -- Pitching meltdown may end wild card bid.

14. San Diego Padres -- 17 -- Can't be counted out in strange NL West race.

15. Milwaukee Brewers -- 18 -- If they could play .500-plus at home, they'd be playoff bound.

16. Philadelphia Phillies -- 11 -- Even Fregosi can't hide his frustration.

17. Montreal Expos -- 15 -- Hot Marlins could challenge for third place.

18. Baltimore Orioles -- 10 -- This may be the perfect place for a manager who's nickname was "The Vulture."

19. Toronto Blue Jays -- 19 -- Offensive lineup too good to be this bad.

20. Detroit Tigers -- 20 -- Back where everyone expected them to be.

21. San Francisco Giants -- 21 -- Not out of range, but appear to be out of gas.

22. Florida Marlins -- 24 -- Starting to smell a little better.

23. Chicago White Sox -- 22 -- Pitching staff never recovered from loss of McDowell.

24. Oakland A's -- 23 -- McGwire only reason left to pay attention, and he's hurting again.

25. Pittsburgh Pirates -- 26 -- Long wait is over: Exhibition football has begun.

26. New York Mets -- 27 -- Four years from now, this will all make sense.

27. St. Louis Cardinals -- 25 -- Lifeless on the Mississippi.

28. Minnesota Twins -- 28 --Just three more months until the Kirby derby.

Note: Statistics through Wednesday's games

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