1. Boston Red Sox (1st – AL East)
Record: 59-29 | L10: 8-2 | GB: — | Last Week: 3 (+2)
The Red Sox own the best record in the big leagues as they’re a whopping 30 games over the .500 mark thanks to a three-game sweep of the Nationals in Washington.
Boston continues to boast one of the best offenses, rotations and bullpens in the game, but how long do they wait for Dustin Pedroia before the bull the trigger on a second baseman? Time will tell.
2. New York Yankees (2nd – AL East)
Record: 56-28 | L10: 6-4 | GB: 1.0 | Last Week: 1 (-1)
The Yankees don’t exactly deserve to get knocked off their perch at the top given the fact they took two of three from Boston over the weekend before taking two of three from the Braves this week, but that’s life in the AL East.
Gleyber Torres hit the shelf with a strained hip yesterday, so the Yankees’ depth will be tested with Neil Walker perhaps seeing more second base reps.
Also, are the Yankees going to allow first baseman Greg Bird and his current .200 average and .719 OPS to work out the kinks in an everyday role or do they go after someone like Jose Abreu at the deadline? Again, time will tell.
3. Houston Astros (1st – AL West)
Record: 57-31 | L10: 6-4 | GB: — | Last week: 2 (-1)
Uh oh, things are tight again in the AL West. Before sweeping a two-game set in Texas this week, the Astros dropped three of four to the Rays over the weekend, which has them with just a 1.5 game lead over the again-surging Seattle Mariners.
Gerrit Cole has allowed four earned runs in three of his last five starts and Justin Verlander has surrendered nine over his last two. They’ll be fine, but boy are they having a tough time separating from a very pesky Mariners’ club.
4. Seattle Mariners (2nd – AL West)
Record: 55-32 | L10: 8-2 | GB: 1.5 | Last Week: 4
The Mariners are hot again and still have a better record than any National League team, so they remain locked in at four in the rankings.
They took care of business with a four-game sweep of the Orioles last week before sweeping the Royals in three games over the weekend. Now, they have 10 games versus only the tail-spinning Angels and the Rockies before the All-Star break, and eight wins in that span could have them in first at the break.
5. Milwaukee Brewers (1st – NL Central)
Record: 51-35 | L10: 6-4 | GB: — | Last Week: 5
Also taking care of their own business are the Milwaukee Brewers as they took three of four from the Reds over the weekend before sweeping the Twins at Miller Park this week.
This team looks championship-caliber to me. Great offense, nice starting pitching and a dominant bullpen that ranks fourth in baseball with a 3.03 ERA. Perhaps one big starter later and we could be in for a sexy contender come October.
6. Chicago Cubs (2nd – NL Central)
Record: 49-35 | L10: 7-3 | GB: 1.0 | Last Week: 10 (+4)
Don’t look now, but the Cubs are hot. When we did this piece last week they had just been swept by the Reds in ugly fashion. Now, they have rattled off six straight wins and own the second-best record in the National League.
I mentioned a couple weeks ago to look out for when this offense wakes up and matches their excellent starting pitching and bullpen, and they have. The Cubs own the league’s best wOBA and OPS over the last seven days and this has all been without Kris Bryant (shoulder) who should be back imminently.
7. Atlanta Braves (1st – NL East)
Record: 49-36 | L10: 6-4 | GB: — | Last Week: 6 (-1)
The Braves avenged losing two of three to both the lowly Orioles and Reds last week with a weekend sweep of the Cardinals, however, they just lost another series at the hands of the New York Yankees.
The emergence of 24-year-old lefty Max Fried could very well help a starting rotation that lacks significant depth. Fried has hurled 11.2 innings of one-run ball with 17 strikeout over his last two starts. Still, look for the Braves to be in the market for rotation depth this month.
8. Cleveland Indians (1st – AL Central)
Record: 48-37 | L10: 6-4 | GB: — | Last Week: 8
The Indians have won four in a row, but sweeping the Royals is nothing to write home about, hence the lack of a jump up the standings.
This team still need bullpen help. Andrew Miller might be nearing a return, but as of right now Cleveland’s bullpen ranks 28th in both ERA and FIP, something that needs to be addressed in a big way before the July 31st trade deadline so that monster years from Francisco Lindor (.947 OPS) and Jose Ramirez (.998 OPS) don’t go to waste.
9. Los Angeles Dodgers (2nd – NL West)
Record: 47-39 | L10: 6-4 | GB: 0.5 | Last Week: 9
The Dodgers have won four in a row and now have Clayton Kershaw back and stretched out. In other words: heads up, Arizona.
The Dodgers’ offense is playing some series long ball at the moment as their 31 home runs and .260 ISO are by far the highest marks in the league over the last 14 days, led by Max Muncy who has a massive .488 ISO and seven home runs over those same 14 days. MVP, anyone?
10. Philadelphia Phillies (2nd – NL East)
Record: 47-37 | L10: 6-4 | GB: 1.5 | Last Week: 13 (+3)
The Phillies make a nice jump in the rankings thanks to a recent four-game win streak, two of which came as part of taking three of four from the slumping Nationals, a huge series win for the Phils.
How about Zach Eflin? After lumbering to a 6.16 ERA and a minuscule 12.5% strikeout rate in 11 starts last season, Eflin has pitched to a tidy 2.97 ERA (and a 2.90 FIP, mind you) with a 24.3% strikeout clip in the same amount of starts this season. He joins a promising rotation of Aaron Nola (2.41 ERA), Nick Pivetta (28% strikeout clip, 3.69 FIP) and Jake Arrieta (3.54 ERA) to form one of the surprisingly good rotations in all of baseball.
11. Arizona Diamondbacks (1st – NL West)
Record: 48-39 | L10: 4-6 | GB: — | Last Week: 7 (-4)
The Diamondbacks failed to put enough distance between themselves and the Dodgers when their rival was riddled with injuries, and now they may pay for it.
After an encouraging 7-1 stretch against the Pirates and Marlins, the D-backs were swept by the division rival Giants and just lost two of three to the Cardinals. Their offense has dried up with a .295 wOBA over the last seven days (23rd) and their pitching has yielded a 5.22 ERA in that same span. We could be witnessing a takeover in the west.
12. Oakland Athletics (3rd – AL West)
Record: 48-39 | L10: 8-2 | GB: 8.5 | Last Week: 14 (+2)
The A’s continue to creep up the rankings as they continue to win games and are indeed staying relevant in a very difficult AL West division.
They’ve swept the Padres twice over the last two and a half weeks, swept the Tigers in four games, took two of three from the Indians and can really make up some ground in the division with a four-game set at Houston next week after another three against Cleveland this weekend.
13. St. Louis Cardinals (3rd – NL Central)
Record: 44-41 | L10: 5-5 | GB: 6.5 | Last Week: 11 (-2)
The Cardinals still have a chance to sneak into the NL Central race, however, they are going to need more offensively.
The pieces are there with Matt Carpenter, Marcell Ozuna, Jose Martinez and Tommy Pham, but for some reason, St. Louis has been a bottom-half offense every month this season. That said, they are ninth in July with a .329 wOBA, so perhaps they can put together a good month and add at the end of it.
14. San Francisco Giants (3rd – NL West)
Record: 45-43 | L10: 6-4 | GB: 3.5 | Last Week: 15 (+1)
Man, the Giants were sneaking right back into the race with four straight series wins including a three-game sweep of the D-backs, but just took one on the chin in the form of a three-game series sweep at the hands of the Colorado Rockies, precisely the team they were looking to pull away from.
Don’t count these vets out, though. Madison Bumgarner is back and so is Johnny Cueto. On Saturday, right-hander Jeff Samardzija also comes off the DL to give them their big three back in the rotation. Now it’s: heads up, Arizona and Los Angeles.
15. Washington Nationals (3rd – NL East)
Record: 42-43 | L10: 8-2 | GB: 7.0 | Last Week: 12 (-3)
Oh boy, the Nationals are now one game under .500 and have lost five in a row after being swept in a three-game series against the Red Sox, at home.
I still think this team is too talented and experienced to continue to crater. Their lineup is very good, their bullpen is getting healthier, as will their rotation with the return of Stephen Strasburg, hopefully sometime soon. Let’s just hope they get healthier, and hot, before it’s too late.
16. Colorado Rockies (4th – NL West)
Record: 44-43 | L10: 6-4 | GB: 4.0 | Last Week: 18 (+2)
Their three-game sweep over the Giants was huge and thus has them moving up a couple spots in our rankings.
Their once-horrendous bullpen has pitched much better lately with a 3.71 ERA over the last seven days while their team .336 wOBA is the eighth-best mark in the bigs over that same span.
These guys are going to hit, they just need that bullpen to stay solid and an improved Jon Gray in the rotation and these guys are more than capable of making a run as they’re within 4.5 games of both their division and the Wild Card.
17. Los Angeles Angels (4th – AL West)
Record: 44-43 | L10: 3-7 | GB: 12.5 | Last Week: 17
Hey, Shohei Ohtani is going to be back in the lineup soon!
But, it’s too late. Ohtani isn’t going to be returning to the mound anytime soon and the Angels aren’t much closer to a Wild Card spot (11 games out) than they are to the Astros atop their division. This has to be the most disappointing team in baseball given the rash of offseason moves made to bolster their chances at a playoff berth.
18. Tampa Bay Rays (3rd – AL East)
Record: 43-43 | L10: 7-3 | GB: 15.0 | Last Week: 16 (-2)
The Rays don’t deserve to drop a pair of spots in all honesty, but losing two of three to the Marlins doesn’t exactly deserve a raise, either.
Still, the Rays have done well to maintain a .500 record in a division with the two toughest teams in baseball and their system could get a nice jolt with the season free-agent-to-be Wilson Ramos is enjoying with his very healthy .291/.340/.468 slash line.
19. Toronto Blue Jays (4th – AL East)
Record: 40-46 | L10: 5-5 | GB: 18.0 | Last Week: 19
The Jays just cannot get any sort of consistency going and should therefore be in full sell mode this month.
J.A. Happ is one of, if not the top starting pitcher on the market, but Toronto is taking a huge blow with Josh Donaldson’s recent set back and therefore extremely diminished trade value.
20. Pittsburgh Pirates (4th – NL Central)
Record: 40-46 | L10: 4-6 | GB: 11.0 | Last Week: 20
Pirates pitching took an absolute licking this week against the Dodgers who exploded for 17 runs in game one and 31 runs over the three games against Pittsburgh’s staff.
Said staff is in need of a makeover while their top trade chip in Francisco Cervelli is currently on the Disabled List at the worst possible time for his team.
21. Texas Rangers (5th – AL West)
Record: 38-49 | L10: 5-5 | GB: 18.5 | Last Week: 22 (+1)
The Rangers have lost three straight games which shouldn’t equate to moving up a spot in the rankings, but this is a testament to how bad some other clubs have been.
Only one team in the bigs has received worse starting pitching than the Rangers and the 5.32 ERA they’ve received from their starters this season? Who, you ask? Scroll down and find out!
22. Cincinnati Reds (5th – NL Central)
Record: 38-49 | L10: 6-4 | GB: 13.5 | Last Week: 23 (+1)
If only the Reds could get some starting pitching, this team would likely contend.
Their bats are powerful and their ball park is built to complement that. That said, Scooter Gennett is a free agent after next season, so should they take advantage of another huge season from their second baseman and trade him or re-sign him and inject some starting pitching into their rotation for 2019? I’m on the latter.
23. Detroit Tigers (2nd – AL Central)
Record: 38-50 | L10: 2-8 | GB: 11.5 | Last Week: 24 (+1)
Hey, they snapped their 11-game losing streak over the weekend, so that’s a thing.
While they started a new one in Chicago this week, the Tigers move up a spot based on the fact they are as close or closer to their division leader and have a better record than every team below them here. Also, they hold an intriguing trade chip in young right-hander Michael Fulmer. For some reason, that matters here.
24. Minnesota Twins (3rd – AL Central)
Record: 35-38 | L10: 2-8 | GB: 12.0 | Last Week: 21 (-3)
The Twins have taken six losses in a row, something that needs to be addressed by a punt three spots down the rankings.
Their minor league system will improve with an Eduardo Escobar deal, and Lance Lynn might fetch a prospect too, but is Miguel Sano every going to figure it out at the MLB level?
25. San Diego Padres (5th – NL West)
Record: 37-51 | L10: 2-8 | GB: 11.5 | Last Week: 25
The Padres are patiently waiting for some of their young bats to come around, but who knows when that will end.
Hunter Renfroe, Manuel Margot, Jose Pirela and Franchy Cordero are some nice young pieces, but it might be a few more long years in San Diego before their youngsters and prospects begin to meaningfully contribute.
26. New York Mets (4th – NL East)
Record: 34-49 | L10: 3-7 | GB: 14.0 | Last Week: 26
For some unknown reason, the Mets mash on the road but cannot get anything going at home.
Their .323 road wOBA ranks ninth in baseball while their .280 wOBA at home ranks them dead last in the bigs.
Anyway, Jacob deGrom to the Yankees, book it.
27. Miami Marlins (5th – NL East)
Record: 36-52 | L10: 5-5 | GB: 14.5 | Last Week: 27
The third consecutive team to maintain their ranking from last week, the Marlins took two of three from the Rays this week after taking two of three from the Mets over the weekend.
I wonder if they are pumped to potentially put a stake in the heart of the division rival Nationals in a four-game set in at Washington this weekend.
28. Chicago White Sox (4th – AL Central)
Record: 30-56 | L10: 5-5 | GB: 18.5 | Last Week: 28
I’m sorry, but Lucas Giolito needs to go to the minor leagues before he’s too scared to throw a baseball again.
The young right-hander owns a 6.93 ERA, a 6.36 FIP and a 6.40 xFIP. His peripherals prove he is not pitching well, to put it lightly. He’s allowed at least four earned runs in six of his last eight starts, isn’t striking anyone out with a putrid 13% strikeout clip and his walk rate is also 13%. At the age of 23, why is he being exposed like this instead of regrouping in the minor leagues? Yeesh.
Also, this is the team with the worst rotation ERA in the bigs at 5.35.
29. Baltimore Orioles (5th – AL East)
Record: 24-61 | L10: 1-9 | GB: 33.5 | Last Week: 30 (+1)
The Kansas City Royals are so bad that I need to move the Orioles up a spot.
Since his benching, Chris Davis has eight hits, including four homers and two doubles, with nine RBIs. Yep, that’s actually an improvement.
30. Kansas City Royals (5th – AL Central)
Record: 25-61 | L10: 2-8 | GB: 23.5 | Last Week: 29 (-1)
KC has dropped six games in a row and attendance is going to take a big hit in July and August with 100 degree weather and this product on the field.
It might just be me, but I feel a new voice is needed here, with no disrespect to Ned Yost.