The All-Star game is approaching and as the second half looms, baseball is about to get real serious.
It looks like we could indeed have another playoff hopeful emerging in the American League while the National League is still wide open which should set us up for a lot of fun down the stretch drive.
Change is not afoot at the top of our rankings, but there is plenty of jockeying going on as we move down the shuffle.
Let’s see how Major League Baseball stacks up in our final pre-All-Star game Power Rankings!
1. Boston Red Sox (1st – AL East)
Record: 64-29 | L10: 9-1 | GB: — | Last Week: 1
Winning eight games in a row is a real good way to remain the top team in baseball.
The Red Sox have taken advantage of an easy July schedule so far by sweeping the Nationals and Royals before taking the first two of three against the last-place Rangers. They get the Blue Jays next before taking on the Tigers and Orioles coming out of the break.
Also, their offense is scorching hot with a team .964 (!!!) OPS over the last seven days, which explains the utter domination of late.
2. Houston Astros (1st – AL West)
Record: 62-32 | L10: 7-3 | GB: — | Last Week: 3 (+1)
Once again the Astros have put a little bit of breathing room between themselves and the Mariners thanks to seven wins over their last eight games.
They have an opportunity to further distance themselves from a surprise AL West contender in the form of the Oakland Athletics as they play two more against the A’s before finishing up their first half against the lowly and struggling Detroit Tigers.
3. New York Yankees (2nd – AL East)
Record: 59-31 | L10: 6-4 | GB: 3.5 | Last Week: 2 (-1)
They took two of three at Toronto over the weekend, but the Yanks have dropped two of three to the Orioles with the series concluding tonight, which is unacceptable when you’re competing with the Red Sox.
It should be interesting to see where Brian Cashman goes for his help at the deadline. My guess is either Jacob deGrom or J.A. Happ.
4. Milwaukee Brewers (1st – NL Central)
Record: 55-37 | L10: 7-3 | GB: — | Last Week: 5 (+1)
The Brewers impressively took three of four from the Braves over the weekend and have a chance to take another series with a win tonight in Miami.
I would have thought the offense was carrying this team, but that’s not the case. While the Brewers rank a solid 12th in team OPS, their team 3.55 ERA ranks sixth in all of baseball. They also have a dominant bullpen that as posted a tidy 3.15 ERA on the season, and that bodes well for postseason baseball.
5. Chicago Cubs (2nd – NL Central)
Record: 52-37 | L10: 8-2 | GB: 1.5 | Last Week: 6 (+1)
As exciting as the back and forth between the Yankees and Red Sox and the Astros and Mariners have been, don’t’ sleep on the NL Central race taking place between the Brewers and Cubs.
Is Javier Baez an MVP candidate? He’s hit 17 homers, stole 17 bases, knocked in 65 runs and combined with his elite defense across the infield, has been worth 3.1 wins before the All-Star break to rank seventh in NL.
6. Seattle Mariners (2nd – AL West)
Record: 57-35 | L10: 6-4 | GB: 4.0 | Last Week: 4 (-2)
A tough recent stretch has the Mariners dropping a pair of spots in the rankings.
They have dropped four of their last six and can hear the footsteps of the Oakland A’s who are now within a reasonable six games of their AL West counterparts.
Their most glaring weakness (starting pitching) has shown through over the last week as their starters have posted a 5.63 ERA. Expect the always-dealing Jerry Dipito to address this need within the next couple of weeks.
7. Philadelphia Phillies (1st – NL East)
Record: 51-39 | L10: 8-2 | GB: — | Last Week: 10 (+3)
Don’t look now but we have a new leader in the National League East.
The Phillies have rattled off eight wins over their last 10 games and their remaining five games are against the Mets, Orioles and Marlins who are a combined 75 games under the .500 mark on the season. The three-headed race between the Phillies, Braves and Nationals should be a fun one in the second half.
8. Los Angeles Dodgers (2nd – NL West)
Record: 49-42 | L10: 6-4 | GB: 1.5 | Last Week: 9 (+1)
There is a long jam of recent mediocrity between the next few teams, but I believe the Dodgers emerge at the top of the NL West as season’s end, so let’s move them up a spot.
How about the season Kenta Maeda is putting together in Dodger land? He’s posted a 3.24 ERA, 2.89 FIP and has struck out opposing hitters at a 28.7% clip. All of those figures would be MLB career highs as Maeda has been the Dodgers’ most reliable arm, possibly alongside Ross Stripling.
9. Oakland Athletics (3rd – AL West)
Record: 51-41 | L10: 7-3 | GB: 10.0 | Last Week: 12 (+3)
It stinks being 10 games over .500 and still 10 games back in your division, but that’s life in this year’ American League West.
Oakland’s pitching staff has pitched to a sparkling 2.88 ERA over the last seven days and combined with their top-10 bats in that same span, Oakland may just make things real interesting in the playoff picture in the junior circuit.
10. Arizona Diamondbacks (1st – NL West)
Record: 51-41 | L10: 4-6 | GB: — | Last Week: 11 (+1)
No one else has jumped up and forced their way into the top 10, so the Diamondbacks get the benefit of the doubt, especially after putting up 20 runs on the Padres on Saturday.
After struggling mightily through May, Paul Goldschmidt obliterated opposing pitching for a massive .374 ISO and 1.199 OPS in June and has a .306 ISO and 1.234 OPS in July.
Ah, the law of averages.
11. Atlanta Braves (2nd – NL East)
Record: 50-40 | L10: 4-6 | GB: 1.0 | Last Week: 7 (-4)
The braves take a tumble in our rankings and it’s not hard to see why.
They’ve dropped six of their last seven games and their offense has gone cold with just a .294 wOBA (23rd) over the last week. Their rotation is also showing some leaks as their starters have posted a ghastly 6.10 ERA over that same span. Look for Atlanta to make a push for rotation help at the deadline.
12. Cleveland Indians (1st – AL Central)
Record: 49-41 | L10: 5-5 | GB: — | Last Week: 8 (-4)
The Tribe has dropped four games in a row, the last two coming against the lowly Reds, at home.
Last night Trevor Bauer spun eight shutout innings and struck out 12. And the Indians lost 7-4. How, you ask? Cody Allen came on in a non-save situation and allowed six earned runs. Cleveland’s dumpster fire of a bullpen now owns an MLB-worst 5.37 ERA and needs major, major upgrades if they plan to contend for a championship.
13. St. Louis Cardinals (3rd – NL Central)
Record: 47-43 | L10: 5-5 | GB: 7.0 | Last Week: 13
The Cardinals may be seven out of their division, but they are just three games out of a Wild Card spot and their offense is white-hot.
After putting up 14 runs on the White Sox last night, St. Louis ranks second in the league with a .889 OPS over the last seven days and have scored eight or more runs in three of their last five. I wrote last week that they needed more from their offense, and that’s exactly what they’re getting.
14. Tampa Bay Rays (3rd – AL East)
Record: 47-44 | L10: 7-3 | GB: 16.5 | Last Week: 18 (+4)
The Rays are hot as they make a four-spot jump up the rankings.
Tampa has rattled off four straight wins, they now have three starting pitchers and they just announced plans to build a new stadium. What more could a Rays fan ask for?
15. Washington Nationals (3rd – NL East)
Record: 46-45 | L10: 4-6 | GB: 5.5 | Last Week: 15
The 4-6 over their last 10 looks bad, but the truth is Washington has won four of their last six games to pull themselves out the tailspin they found themselves in early last week.
They need to take advantage of a four-game set against the lowly Mets at Citi Field heading into the All-Star break before a monumental three-game set versus the Braves coming out of that break.
16. San Francisco Giants (3rd – NL West)
Record: 48-46 | L10: 4-6 | GB: 4.0 | Last Week: 14 (-2)
The Giants haven’t been able to get any momentum going lately in a division that is ripe for the taking.
Winning on the road has been a big issue as their 19-29 road record is the worst mark among teams over the .500 mark. They are going to need vintage Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija in order to take a stab at this division.
17. Los Angeles Angels (4th – AL West)
Record: 47-45 | L10: 6-4 | GB: 14.0 | Last Week: 17
The Angels also pulled themselves out of a tailspin by winning three their last four games and they continue a must-win series with the Mariners tonight in Anaheim.
The return of Shohei Ohtani to their lineup is huge, even if he doesn’t pitch again in 2018.
18. Colorado Rockies (4th – NL West)
Record: 46-45 | L10: 4-6 | GB: 4.5 | Last Week: 16 (-2)
Forget winning on the road, let’s talk about winning at home.
Colorado sports a brutal 18-23 mark at Coors Field, and those 18 home wins are the second fewest in the National League. Their home wOBA is a real nice .344 (4th), however, the problem has been pitching as their home ERA is worst in the majors at an ugly 5.79. They too have extreme bullpen issues.
19. Toronto Blue Jays (4th – AL East)
Record: 42-48 | L10: 5-5 | GB: 20.5 | Last Week: 19
The Blue Jays continue to be the definition of mediocrity as they await to sell pieces at the deadline.
The Blue Jays hit for plenty of power with a .181 ISO (5th), however, their .309 OBP (24th) ensures that a good chunk of those home runs are of the solo variety.
20. Pittsburgh Pirates (4th – NL Central)
Record: 42-49 | L10: 3-7 | GB: 12.5 | Last Week: 20
After dropping five in a row, the Pirates managed to win two of their last three to maintain their spot in the rankings.
It’s probably a good idea to move on for Corey Dickerson and open up full-time at-bats for Austin Meadows who has posted a very healthy .821 OPS and four steals in his first MLB go around this season.
21. Cincinnati Reds (5th – NL Central)
Record: 41-51 | L10: 7-3 | GB: 14.0 | Last Week: 22 (+1)
The Reds continue to play very good baseball and that includes last night’s epic comeback in Cleveland.
Did you know that Eugenio Suarez is tied with Nolan Arenado for second in the National League with a .986 OPS while his 3.3 WAR ranks sixth in the senior circuit? In fact, the Reds have three players in the top 14 in NL WAR with Scooter Gennett (3.0) and Joey Votto (2.7) also enjoying excellent campaigns.
22. Minnesota Twins (2nd – AL Central)
Record: 40-49 | L10: 5-5 | GB: 8.5 | Last Week: 24 (+2)
The Twins were sliding big-time at the time of our rankings last week, but they’ve rattled off five wins over their last six games since.
Still, it should be a yard sale in Minny at the deadline as Brian Dozier, Eduardo Escobar and Lance Lynn should be three notable names wearing other jerseys come August 1st.
23. San Diego Padres (5th – NL West)
Record: 40-54 | L10: 4-6 | GB: 12.0 | Last Week: 25 (+2)
Hey, the Padres responded from a 20-run beatdown on Saturday to notch a 4-3 win in Sunday, so kudos to them.
Maybe 23-year-old Eric Lauer is figuring some things out at the big league level. After struggling mightily into mid-June, Lauer has allowed only six earned runs over his last five starts and fell one out shy of a complete game shutout in last night’s win over the Dodgers.
24. Texas Rangers (5th – AL West)
Record: 40-53 | L10: 3-7 | GB: 21.5 | Last Week: 21 (-3)
The Rangers have dropped four of their last five games and seven of their last nine to fall three spots in the rankings.
Still, Shin-Soo Choo set a Rangers club record by reaching base in 47 consecutive games and carries a .899 OPS into tonight’s contest in Boston. They should get a nice prospect in return for that type of production.
25. Detroit Tigers (3rd – AL Central)
Record: 40-54 | L10: 4-6 | GB: 11.0 | Last Week: 23 (-2)
There’s been nothing pretty about the recent stretch from the Tigers.
Detroit has dropped 17 of its last 21 games and their pesky offense from earlier in the year is no longer. They’ve actually received some decent pitching, but the rebuild has a long ways to go before contending is a thought in the motor city.
26. Miami Marlins (5th – NL East)
Record: 38-56 | L10: 4-6 | GB: 15.0 | Last Week: 27 (+1)
The Marlins have won two of their last three contests and that gives them the edge over the Mets who own the same .404 winning percentage as the fish.
Having two of the more attractive names on the reliever market in Kyle Barraclough and Drew Steckenrider is handy for a rebuilding team while Derek Dietrich and Brian Anderson have delivered unexpectedly excellent results this season.
27. New York Mets (4th – NL East)
Record: 36-53 | L10: 4-6 | GB: 14.5 | Last Week: 26 (-1)
The Metropolitans have dropped four of their last five games and are in danger of falling into the basement in the NL East.
Their hot start to begin the season is now a distant memory while the team ponders trades for Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Jeurys Familia and Wilmer Flores, likely among others.
28. Chicago White Sox (4th – AL Central)
Record: 30-61 | L10: 2-8 | GB: 19.5 | Last Week: 28
Boy, it’s tough to maintain your spot in the rankings despite losing six games, but when the two teams below you are collectively 4-16 over their last 20, it seems to make some sense.
I wrote last week that right-hander Lucas Giolito needed to be demoted to save whatever confidence he has left, and he promptly hurled 7.1 innings of two-run ball at Houston, of all places. That should help the confidence, too.
29. Baltimore Orioles (5th – AL East)
Record: 26-66 | L10: 3-7 | GB: 37.5 | Last Week: 29
The Orioles are playing some nice spoiler right now as they have taken two of three from the Yankees with the series finale tonight in Baltimore.
The fire sale should be about ready to begin as Manny Machado, Zach Britton, Brad Brach, Michael Givens and perhaps even Kevin Gausman could be on the move over the next 19 days.
30. Kansas City Royals (5th – AL Central)
Record: 26-65 | L10: 1-9 | GB: 23.5 | Last Week: 30
The Royals snapped a nine-game losing streak with last night’s win in Minnesota, but the race to the basement is on and it appears the Royals want to win it.
Their offense ranks 29th in all of baseball and that could make for a lot of long days in that Missouri heat come late July into August.