Brewers' surge not enough to crack game's corridor of power

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The Brewers recently won eight of nine games to extend their National League Central lead to a season-high 3 1/2 games and to claim another season-high, a No. 4 spot in SI.com's weekly MLB Power Rankings.

And that's as high as they -- and everyone else -- are likely to get.

It seems bordering on impossible that any club will crack the 2011 season's inner sanctum of the Phillies, Red Sox and Yankees, who have set themselves apart from the rest of the pack -- and here's a critically important point -- for the rest of the regular season. Anything can and will happen come October, but for now consider the merits of the Northeast's power brokers (sorry, Mets):

*The Phillies, Red Sox and Yankees are the only teams with a winning percentage of at least .615; no one else's is greater than the Braves' .571.

*The Phillies, Red Sox and Yankees are the only teams with positive run differentials in the hundreds with New York at +168, Boston at +142 and Philadelphia at +118; no one else is higher than the Rangers' +88 (and the Braves' +47 is next, distantly behind Texas).

*The Phillies, Red Sox and Yankees are the only teams with a playoff likelihood greater than 99 percent, according to Baseball Prospectus. The Phillies and Red Sox check in at 99.9 percent and the Yankees at 99.1 percent; no one else is at 80 percent, though the Braves, Tigers and Rangers are all greater than 75 percent.

It can't be ignored that the Phillies, Red Sox and Yankees are the only teams with payrolls greater than $160 million -- no one else's payroll is greater than the Angels' $139 million -- and for now they've assembled, by far, the best teams in baseball.

NOTE: All stats are updated through Wednesday, Aug. 3.

MLB Power Rankings