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It’s July, somehow, again. And the season is halfway over. Who let that happen? Enough astonishment at the passage of time, let’s get to some baseball. Your usual Power Rankings maestro, Drew Silva, is on vacation this week, but I’ve got you covered in the meantime. This week’s “power rankings” aren’t necessarily rankings, but rather a revisitation of each team and a selection of a first-half MVP (or MVPs) that have helped get their squad to where they are now -- or perhaps just making a name for themselves.
1. San Francisco Giants
First half MVP: Kevin Gausman
Gausman was my early favorite to get the ball for the National League in the All-Star game; however Gausman is likely to start next Sunday, which would take him out of consideration to pitch -- and perhaps start -- next Tuesday's game. Gausman has made 16 appearances and has allowed more than two runs just twice in the first half. He stands 8-2 with a miniscule 1.68 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 166/25 K/BB ratio through 16 starts covering 101 innings. On Monday night, he took a no-hitter into the seventh inning, when Nolan Arenado interrupted with a one-out liner to left.
2. Houston Astros
First Half MVP: Carlos Correa
The Astros have been such a generally solid squad, so there were plenty of guys to choose from here. While Jose Altuve would have also been a solid pick, Carlos Correa gets the team MVP nod here. Somewhat quietly, the 26-year-old has hit .298/.398/.529/.927 with 16 homers, 20 doubles, 156 total bases and it's worth pointing out -- again -- that he's a free agent at the end of the year.
3. Los Angeles Dodgers
First Half MVP: Max Muncy
Muncy currently leads the NL in walks (55) and on-base percentage (.416). He’s fourth in OPS (.974) and leads the Dodgers with 18 home runs. The All-Star nod will be the second for Muncy, who finished second in fan voting to start at first base behind Freddie Freeman of the Atlanta Braves. Muncy has not been asked to participate in the All-Star HR Derby yet, but will likely decline if he is asked. Muncy’s last derby was 2018, but ankle and oblique issues from earlier in the season are still a concern -- it’s not uncommon for players to decline the derby especially this year, as health considerations have caused a handful of guys to withdraw.
4. San Diego Padres
First half MVP: Fernando Tatis, Jr.
Tatis seems like the pedestrian choice, but he’s actually that good. Tatis leads the National League in home runs (26) and stolen bases (18). He’s slashing .305/.389/.695/1.084. That’s good, right? This is all after a handful of injured list stints, and a scary shoulder injury at the beginning of the season that made it questionable if he’d be able to return as quickly as he did. He may be much more than the Padres’ MVP, but also might be the NL MVP, if he keeps this up.
Since Tatis, again, a little too obvious, it might be wise to mention an honorable mention for the Padres. Jake Cronenworth earned his first career NL Player of the Week Award last week, after batting .391 with a 1.481 OPS, four home runs, two doubles, nine RBI, four walks, and seven runs scored in six games between June 21-27. He was also selected to the All-Star game, his first nod, and will be heading to Denver with Tatis.
5. Boston Red Sox
First half MVP: J.D. Martinez
Another team where there could be a handful of selections. Oh my, J.D. Martinez and his bounceback year! .303/.368/.553/.920 over 340 plate appearances including 17 home runs, 2 triples, 21 doubles. This season has been a bounce-back year for the three-time Silver Slugger, who hit .213/.291/.389 last season. His all-star nod is his fourth career All-Star nomination, three of which have come during his time with Boston.
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6. Tampa Bay Rays
First Half MVP: Mike Zunino
Zunino leads the Rays in home runs with 18. He’s one of two hitters on the Rays with an OPS currently north of .800 (Austin Meadows is the other.) Tyler Glasnow, who started the season in potential contention for the AL Cy Young award before going down with a UCL injury, gets the honorable mention nod here.
7. Chicago White Sox
First Half MVP: Carlos Rodon
White Sox starters have been so solid in the first half, so it seemed fitting to select a pitcher as the South Side’s MVP. The southpaw has been a mighty pleasant surprise for the White Sox, considering after battling injuries, he was non-tendered in the offseason and later offered a one year deal. Rodón is 6-3 with a 2.37 ERA and 122 strikeouts in 14 starts, including his no-hitter against Detroit earlier this year. He’s third in the AL in ERA and WHIP (0.94) and fourth in strikeouts. Lance Lynn and Yoan Moncada were also worthy of consideration.
8. Milwaukee Brewers
First Half MVP: Willy Adames
Wait, Adames wasn’t even with the Brewers for the entire first half! How is this fair? Well, for starters, he’s that good. The Brewers have a 30-11 record since bringing him aboard. since joining the Brewers on May 22, Adames is slashing .293/.377/.544 /.921 including 13 doubles, eight home runs, 29 RBI, and two stolen bases in 167 plate appearances over 41 games.
9. Oakland Athletics
First Half MVP: Matt Olson
He’s got power, he’s got grace. He’ll also steal a base. The A’s first baseman is having himself a heck of a year -- along with a handful of multi-hit efforts this year, he has 20 home runs, three stolen bases, and a .924 OPS over 339 plate appearances this year. Honorable mentions go to pitchers Chris Bassitt and Sean Manaea, both having career years.
10. New York Mets
First Half MVP: Jacob deGrom
Of course deGrom is the Mets’ first half MVP. We might have other choices, but deGrom, arguably the best pitcher in all of Major League Baseball, gets the nod here. The 33-year-old’s stats are too video game-like: first of all, that 0.95 ERA, 0.54 WHIP and finally, a 136/11 K/BB ratio across 85 innings. deGrom has given baseball fans many a scare as he’s battled multiple health issues leading to the midpoint. He seems like the obvious choice to start the All-Star Game, but sitting things out may be a good idea, seeing as how the Mets will need him healthy in order to make a postseason run.
11. Toronto Blue Jays
First Half MVP: Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was named American League Player of the Week for June 21-27 after going 9-for-23 (.391) with three home runs, seven RBI, four walks, and eight runs scored in a six-game span. Surprisingly that’s only his first PotW honor so far, as he’s been raking all year -- a .338/.442/.676 triple-slash line is all his, including 65 runs scored, 69 RBI and two steals over 346 plate appearances. With 27 homers going into Tuesday morning, Vladdy is second in the American League, trailing Shohei Ohtani, who has 31.
12. Chicago Cubs
First Half MVP: Kris Bryant
What a bounce-back year for Bryant, who’s been included in trade rumors for a long while now. Given Bryant’s performance, the Cubs will likely ask for plenty in return as his value is mighty high; however it’s still debatable on whether or not the Cubs will be sellers by the deadline. Bryant is one of a handful of players experiencing a wonderful revival season in 2021: he’s slashing .271/.353/.513 with 16 homers, four steals, and 42 RBI.
13. Cleveland Indians
First Half MVP: Jose Ramirez
Ramirez currently leads Cleveland in bWAR, at 3.0 -- and that makes sense, given he also leads the club in home runs at 18, and RBI, with 51. The 28-year-old’s OPS of .885 is also highest on the club. He can get on base, and has power; interestingly enough, Ramirez is 8-for-10 stealing bases on the season. An honorable mention nod goes to Shane Bieber who is currently on the injured list, but the reigning AL Cy Young winner had a marvelous start to his 2021 campaign before going down with a shoulder strain on June 14. He had a 7-4 record, 3.28 ERA, and 130 strikeouts over 90 2/3 innings, in 14 games started.
14. New York Yankees
First Half MVP: Aaron Judge
His .284/.379/.523/.902 line over 330 plate appearances was already impressive; Judge currently leads all of the Yankees’ position players in bWAR at 3.0. He also leads the Yankees in home runs, with 19 on the year. An honorable mention nod goes to Gerrit Cole, who may seem more hittable nowadays, but still deserves recognition for his first half: he had a 8-4 record, and a 2.91 ERA in 105 innings pitched over 17 starts, including 135 strikeouts.
15. Seattle Mariners
First Half MVP: Yusei Kikuchi
The 30-year-old southpaw got his first All-Star nod, and the proof is in the pudding: a fantastic fastball/changeup combo that has been working well all year. He carries a 6-3 record and 3.18 ERA this season, with a 1.03 WHIP over 93 1/3 frames with 93 punchouts.
16. Cincinnati Reds
First Half MVP: Nick Castellanos
The Reds have snuck ahead of the slumping Cubs to take second place in the NL Central. The Reds are seeming more and more like the team to challenge the first-place Brewers - who’s been responsible? How about Castellanos? Reds fans love him so much that they voted him to START the all star game. Castellanos has led the national league in batting average for a long while now, at .339. Fifth in MLB in OPS at .979. He’s batting .339/.392/.587/.979 over 339 plate appearances, including a major-league leading 27 doubles, and 105 hits.
17. Washington Nationals
First Half MVP: Kyle Schwarber
Schwarber is just breaking records left and right, and to say he’s “mashing” may be an understatement here. A .906 OPS alongside 16 homers in his last 18 games is nothing small. Unfortunately, he suffered a "significant" hamstring strain on July 2, a major bummer considering how well he’s been playing. It doesn’t look as if he’ll need surgery, but he's still going to miss a good amount of time, and his absence will likely be felt.
18. Philadelphia Phillies
First Half MVP: Zack Wheeler
What an unbelievable season Wheeler’s been having: he’s compiled a 2.05 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and 139/25 K/BB ratio over 114 innings, and 139 strikeouts. That’s some ace-level stuff. He’s not missing bats as much lately, but especially in his last start versus the Padres, he kept the ball on the ground, with 12 ground ball outs compared to just one fly ball.
19. Los Angeles Angels
First Half MVP: Shohei Ohtani
This one’s another “well, of course” pick -- it’s not every day that a player voted into the All-Star game as a designated hitter, also gets voted in by the players, as a pitcher. Babe Ruth who? The 27-year-old superstar has a 3.60 ERA and 83 strikeouts over 60 innings pitched this year. At the plate, he’s slashing .277/.363/.695/1.058 -- and a major-league-leading 31 home runs.
20. Atlanta Braves
First Half MVP: Ronald Acuna, Jr.
Acuña currently leads the Braves in bWAR at 3.0, and there’s certainly a reason for that: The 23-year-old star outfielder is having an incredible season, slashing .278/.386/.592 with 23 homers, 51 RBI, and 16 stolen bases over 342 plate appearances.
21. St. Louis Cardinals
First Half MVP: Nolan Arenado
Injuries are piling on the entire league lately, and the Cardinals have unfortunately befallen quite a few. Arenado has definitely been the standout for St. Louis; the star third baseman is slashing .264/.321/.500 with 16 homers and 53 RBI across 84 games played. Acceptable numbers, sure, but we have yet to see when he’s actually on fire at the plate.
22. Minnesota Twins
First Half MVP: Jose Berrios
The 27-year-old righty has allowed four earned runs or fewer in 15 consecutive starts to open the 2021 campaign, which is worthy for an MVP selection. The Twins’ ace has a 3.52 ERA, 96 strikeouts and a 1.14 WHIP over 94 2/3 innings.
23. Detroit Tigers
First Half MVP: Akil Baddoo
Akil Baddoo was a nice story early on as a Rule 5 Draft pick who got off to a terrific start, and is picking things up following a brief slump between late April and mid-May. The 22-year-old outfielder has batted .333 with a .927 OPS over his last 113 plate appearances. He also has seven steals in that span.
24. Miami Marlins
First Half MVP: Starling Marte
The Marlins are in talks to offer Marte a multi-year contract extension, and he’s reportedly seeking a three- or four-year deal in the range of $50 million, and may get dealt if no agreement is reached before the trade deadline. He's slashing .291/.400/.448 with six homers and 14 steals over 47 games this season.
25. Kansas City Royals
First Half MVP: Salvador Perez
The veteran catcher is up to 20 home runs this year, and will likely catch his 2017 and 2018 career best of 27 homers. Perez, who was voted into the All-Star Game by the fans, will be participating in the Home Run Derby, which should be exciting. The 31-year-old is having an outstanding season at the plate, slashing .280/.306/.511 with 20 homers and 50 RBI in 84 games.
26. Pittsburgh Pirates
First Half MVP: Bryan Reynolds
Reynolds leads the Pirates in bWAR at 3.6 - and yeah, that’s pretty high. The 26-year-old received an All-Star nod and will represent the Bucs in Denver, due to an electric first half. He’s slashing .307/.392/.530/.922 including 15 home runs and 46 RBI over 337 plate appearances.
27. Texas Rangers
First Half MVP: Adolis Garcia
Joey Gallo is having a similar year, and was also deserving of the MVP nod, but we’ll lean (not strongly, however) toward Garcia here. The 28-year-old rookie-eligible outfielder boasts an .828 OPS with 20 home runs, 58 RBI, eight stolen bases, and 40 runs scored in 75 total games this season. An honorable mention nod goes to Kyle Gibson, who has emerged this year as the Rangers’ ace.
28. Colorado Rockies
First Half MVP: German Marquez
The Rockies ace has been highly impressive this year, especially considering he’s pitching most of his starts in a very hitter-friendly ballpark. Márquez, getting a well-deserved All-Star selection, has given up just three runs over his last 29 innings of work. He's earned a 3.59 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, and 105 strikeouts over 105 1/3 innings in the first half of the season.
29. Baltimore Orioles
First Half MVP: Cedric Mullins
The 26-year-old outfielder is up to 15 homers with 15 stolen bases and a .318 batting average over 357 plate appearances. A .907 OPS is also highly worthy of recognition, too. An honorable mention nod goes to Ryan Mountcastle.
30. Arizona Diamondbacks
First Half MVP: Eduardo Escobar
The Diamondbacks have been another team with plenty of stars hit with injuries; Ketel Marte, Zac Gallen, Madison Bumgarner, and Carson Kelly come to mind. Escobar leads the Diamondbacks (that are healthy) in bWAR at 1.4, and has been the centerpiece in trade discussions lately. While he isn’t the perfect player, he’d be a solid addition to any lineup; he’s slashing .248/.295/.471/.766 with 18 homers and 54 RBI over 332 plate appearances.