By Ryan Knuppel

Things are starting to heat up in the race for first place in many MLB divisions. The National League West is only separated by a half game between 1st place and 2nd place. 1 ½ separates the top spots in the NL Central while the AL East is only separated by 3 games.

The American League Central is only separated by one game between the top team and the second place spot. Things are definitely starting to get tight at the top of the divisions and were not even close to the halfway mark yet. Now let's jump on in and see what teams are hot and which ones are not in MLB.

American League

The hottest team in the American League, not only over the last 10 days but all year long, has been the Houston Astros. The Astros are in 1st place in the West, holding a 37-16 record, 11 games up on the Angels. Over the last 10 games, the Astros have gone 8-2 and rank at the top or near the top of basically every offense of category tracked by MLB.

They lead the American League in team batting average, have scored the most runs and are 2nd in home runs. Not only do they have a great offense, they have one of the best pitching staffs in all of baseball led by 8 game-winner and Cy Young candidate Dallas Keuchel. These Astros are going to be tough with this offense and even more dangerous as the year goes on with the pitching staff.

One of the hottest teams in the major leagues right now is a team that has had their roster depleted with injuries all year long but are starting to get healthy. The Toronto Blue Jays are 7-3 in the last 10 games and although they are still in last place in the American League East, they are getting healthy and are starting to hit the ball.

The Blue Jays got Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitski back earlier this week, will get Francisco Liriano back on Friday, saw JA return on Wednesday and are definitely a team to keep your eye on to gain ground in the division. Do not count these Blue Jays out because when their roster’s healthy, they are as good as any team in the major leagues. Look for them in our expert picks at Game Advisers.

Without a doubt the Baltimore Orioles have played some of the worst baseball in the American League over the last 10 days. The Orioles were swept by the Houston Astros and then were swept by the Minnesota Twins in back-to-back series. They have gone from having one of the best team batting averages in the AL, down to 4th in a matter of two weeks.

Just 10 days ago the Baltimore Orioles were in 1st place in the American League East, but now sit in the 3rd spot trying to hold off the Tampa Bay Rays.

National League

The Los Angeles Dodgers are the hottest team in the National League over the past 10 games, going 8-2 in the last 10 games and have now taken over 1st place in the West from the Colorado Rockies.

The Dodgers have the biggest run differential in the NL at +87. With their pitching staff holding teams to a record low 183 runs this year, and an offense that is as potent as any in the National League, the Dodgers have to be the NL favorite this year.

The Washington Nationals have the best record in the NL East and lead the Atlanta Braves and New York Mets by 8 1/2 games. Over the last 10 games the Nationals have gone 7-3 and have the 2nd best run differential in the National League at +63.

It doesn't appear at this point in time that any other team in the National League East are going to get remotely close to catching the Nationals. With one of the best offenses in the league, complemented with the best picture in the National League, Max Scherzer, the Nationals appear to have a path to the playoffs. Stay here for all their scores and odds.

Just 2 weeks ago we were talking about the Philadelphia Phillies being in 2nd place by 6 games. Fast-forward to today, and the Phillies are now 17-33 on the year, going 2-8 in their last 10 games currently in last-place in the East by 14 1/2 games.

There offense is pretty much non-existent and the pitching staff is getting pounded to the tune of a 4.82 ERA. Phillies need to find a way to get some hitting or this game could be over prior to the halfway mark in the season.

Another team that has really shocked us over the last 3 weeks is the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cards had the 1st spot in the NL Central just 3 weeks ago, and now currently sit in 3rd place. Over the last 10 days, they have gone 3-7 and as a team have only scored 211 runs on the year.

Things are not looking good for St. Louis but due to the fact that they’re only a game and a half out of first place with plenty of time to go in the season, there's no reason to panic Cardinals fans.

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