How the Red Sox have risen

Will Middlebrooks not only brought pop to Boston's lineup, he made Kevin Youkilis expendable. AP Photo/Steven Senne

At May's midpoint, the Boston Red Sox ranked 23rd in the ESPN Power Rankings. It was the second straight week they had placed in the bottom 10 and third week out of four. In the next few weeks, they would hover back toward the middle of the pack, and as June has given way to July, the Olde Towne Team once again finds itself in the top 10, as it ranks eighth this week. The Red Sox have made that happen with a true team effort.

It's no secret that Andrew Bailey, Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury have missed all or most of the season. They're not the only ones. Walk your way down the roster, and you will see that many of the team's regulars have missed time -- Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Cody Ross, Ryan Sweeney and Kevin Youkilis (before he was traded) all spent time on the disabled list.

Second baseman Dustin Pedroia never went to the DL, but a thumb injury has limited his effectiveness. Pedroia's homer on Sunday was his first since May 10, and the 40-game stretch between homers was the second-longest dry spell of his career (47 games, 2009). On the pitching side, Daniel Bard and Mark Melancon both have faced demotions after struggling. Even peripheral players such as Aaron Cook, Rich Hill, Andrew Miller, Scott Podsednik, Jason Repko and Darnell McDonald -- before he was designated for assignment this past weekend -- have logged DL time.

Most teams deal with injuries and ineffectiveness during the course of the season, so Boston hasn't necessarily been special in having to deal with injuries. But where the Red Sox have stood tall is in how their team depth has shined.