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August 14, 2017

Ladies and gentlemen, your impossibly unlikely leaders in the race for the second wild-card spot ... the Angels!

Seriously, what kind of odds would you have given a team with just one playoff berth in the past seven seasons ... coming off a 2016 campaign in which it lost 88 games ... with a de facto staff ace pitching for his fifth team in four major league seasons ... all during a season in which their best player (the best player on the planet) spent a month and a half on the disabled list?

Give a ton of credit to Andrelton Simmons for these shockingly good tidings, which includes a six-game winning streak. After a slow start to the season, Simmons has batted a terrific .334/.382/.526 over his past 58 games. Meanwhile, Simmons continues his reign as the best defensive player in baseball, making highlight-reel play after highlight-reel play.

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It’s that defensive dominance that’s made Simmons a viable MVP candidate: Even though his offensive numbers lag well behind the likes of Jose Altuve, Aaron Judge, and Trout, his glove might save 30 more runs than the average shortstop this season. In fact, we can raise the ante here. Simmons shouldn’t merely considered a darkhorse pick for Most Valuable Player this year. His Ozzie Smith-like defense should prompt us to take a closer look at his burgeoning career. Because it has been, and continues to be, pretty damn impressive.

11. Milwaukee Brewers (61–59, plus-14, LT: 5)

10. St. Louis Cardinals (61–57, plus-55, LT: 14)

9. Chicago Cubs (61–55, plus-42, LT: 11)

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