The All-Star break is a chance for Major League Baseball to collect itself, take a deep breath, assess the landscape for the second half of the season and see what really awaits us.
Is a team a contender? Great, then they’ll be pondering how they can get better and prepare themselves for a run at the postseason. Is a team a disappointment? Too bad, but it might be a good time to unload valuable assets to a contender?
There’s not much of an in-between these days, not in the times of tanking. We pretty much know — with a few exceptions — who’s good and who’s not. It’s really just a matter of if they can put it all together well enough to make it to October and go on a run.
Which brings us to our midseason assessment — the All-Star break Power Rankings. Yes, we usually come to you on Mondays, but this seemed like a better place to take stock of the league as a whole.
The Dodgers continue to be the team to beat, with a few other titans right behind them. The Boston Red Sox and Washington Nationals, after tough starts, seem to be figuring things out. There are a bunch of teams sitting around .500 and a bunch of teams that won’t ever sniff .500.
Here’s how I see all teams in MLB heading into the second half.
THE TOP 10
1. Los Angeles Dodgers (60-32; last week: 1)
There’s not a lot of room for argument here: The Dodgers are the best team in baseball. They’ve got the most wins, the best run differential, the second-best ERA in the league, an MVP contender in Cody Bellinger, the All-Star Game starter in Hyun-Jin Ryu. They’re fantastic at winning close games. Could this finally be the year another championship comes back to Dodger Stadium?
2. New York Yankees (57-31; last week: 2)
If you’d have told me the Yankees would lose Luis Severino for the entire first half, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton for large stretches of time, Miguel Andujar for basically the entire first half, I’d have told you they were in trouble. Somehow, they’ve still been this good. The Yankees are deep, scary and if their pitching is right, have everything they need to win No. 28.
3. Houston Astros (57-33; last week: 4)
The Astros have looked unbeatable at times this year. And plenty beatable at other times. Luckily for them, there’s been more of the first than the second. They’ve got a great core, a stellar lineup, perhaps the best 1-2 punch atop their starting rotation in the entire league in Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole. They’re legit.
4. Minnesota Twins (56-33; last week: 3)
If you haven’t really been paying attention to baseball this season, you’re probably surprised to see the Twins here. They finally seemed to make good on the prospects in their pipeline. They’ve got one of the best offenses in baseball. Their pitching has been surprisingly good and first-year manager Rocco Baldelli has these guys in position to be playing in October.
5. Atlanta Braves (54-37; last week: 5)
The Atlanta youth movement is here. Ronald Acuña Jr. is a star. Ozzie Albies and Dansby Swanson complement him well. Austin Riley has made a big impact in his rookie year. There are question marks in the rotation, but so far the Braves look like the team to beat in the NL East.
6. Tampa Bay Rays (52-39; last week: 6)
The Rays started off so good and cooled down a bit, but there’s nothing about them that makes the early season success seem like a fluke. Austin Meadows, Brandon Lowe and Tommy Pham have been great. Tyler Glasnow’s injury has hurt, but they have Charlie Morton and Blake Snell to fall back on. They’re never going to have that L.A. or NYC pizazz, but this is a formidable team.
7. Boston Red Sox (49-41; last week: 9)
The Red Sox got off to a pitiful start, which isn’t particularly uncommon for a defending World Series champ. Now? They’re doing the best they’ve done all season. The offense is tied with Minnesota for most runs scored and they’re within striking distance of a postseason berth. Almost 50 wins at the break after that ugly start? It could be worse.
8. Milwaukee Brewers (47-44; last week: 7)
The Brewers are a bit confusing. The run differential is -17. They rank in the middle of the league in stats like runs scored and ERA, but they win games. At the center of everything is Christian Yelich, who is now one of the game’s biggest stars. If their pitching can improve around him (their starters rank No. 19 in ERA), they’re a team that can hang in October.
9. Chicago Cubs (47-43; last week: 8)
There were a lot of doomsday predictions for the Cubs in the preseason. And so far, they’ve been fine. Good, even at times, just not great. With Javy Baez and Kris Bryant, the offense has firepower. Injuries to their pitchers are a concern, as is Jose Quintana’s general performance. There’s not a lot of room for error in the NL Central, so the Cubs have some work to do.
10. Cleveland Indians (50-38; last week: 11)
The Indians have gained a good amount of ground on the Twins in the AL Central recently. They’re 22-9 since June 1 and seem like they’re at least on target for a run at the postseason. The pitching is fantastic, and even better when they have a healthy Corey Kluber. If Jose Ramirez, their slumping 2018 MVP candidate, can get right, the Indians can make a run.
11. Oakland A’s (50-41; last week: 12)
12. Philadelphia Phillies (47-43; last week: 13)
13. Texas Rangers (48-42; last week: 10)
14. Arizona Diamondbacks (46-45; last week 15)
15. Washington Nationals (47-42; last week: 18)
The Nationals, after a very dismal spring, are 23-9 since June 1, vaulting them back into respectability here. The D-backs and Rangers are certifiably better-than-expected at the midway point, while the Phillies need a boost to help their postseason aspirations. The A’s are always a bit of a wild card themselves, but right now, they’re within reach of the wild card.
STUCK IN THE MIDDLE
16. St. Louis Cardinals (44-44; last week: 16)
17. Colorado Rockies (44-45; last week: 14)
18. San Diego Padres (45-45; last week: 17)
19. Los Angeles Angels (45-46; last week: 19)
20. Pittsburgh Pirates (44-45; last week: 22)
The Cardinals sure seemed better than a .500 team at times this year, so finding themselves here right now has to be a disappointment. The Rockies and Angels each are probably a bit disappointed with their mid-term records too, while almost .500 isn’t too bad for the Pirates. (Imagine if they still had Austin Meadows!) The Padres, they looked pretty good for a while there. Good things are ahead for this franchise rich in young talent, but it’s starting to look like just topping .500 is a realistic goal.
IT’S NOT LOOKING GOOD DOWN HERE
21. Cincinnati Reds (41-46; last week: 21)
22. Chicago White Sox (42-44; last week: 20)
23. San Francisco Giants (41-48; last week: 23)
24. New York Mets (40-50; last week: 25)
25. Seattle Mariners (39-55; last week: 24)
Let’s give some credit to the Reds here. They have a better run differential than the Phillies, Brewers, Rangers and Cardinals. They’re probably not going anywhere this year, but it’s an impressive showing. The White Sox also aren’t making the postseason, but being this close to .500 at the All-Star break should be an achievement. The Mets are a mess, as we all well know, and the story is whether they’ll trade some of their pitchers. The Giants and the Mariners? It’s also time to start assessing the trade deadline.
26. Toronto Blue Jays (34-57; last week: 27)
27. Miami Marlins (33-55; last week: 26)
28. Kansas City Royals (30-61; last week: 28)
29. Detroit Tigers (28-57; last week: 29)
30. Baltimore Orioles (27-62; last week: 30)
We know the Orioles are bad, so there’s no need in rehashing the particulars there. It’s actually a bit surprising the Tigers are this bad, though. They have some good players (Matthew Boyd, we see you) but the results are just rough — a -157 run differential, only 12 wins at home so far and they’ve only won six games since June 1. The Royals and Marlins, at least, aren’t as soul-crushingly bad as Baltimore and Detroit. Meanwhile, since these are the Power Rankings, I felt compelled to give the Blue Jays a Vlad Jr. one-spot bump after his showing in the Home Run Derby.
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