Here are my MLB power rankings at the All-Star break:
1. Los Angeles Dodgers (60-32, No. 2 last week):
The Dodgers have gone through a predictable lull recently as the best team in the National League. Their job is to be ready in all facets for deep postseason run to net them first their first World Series win in 31 seasons.
2. New York Yankees (57-31, No. 1): Everybody has angst about the Yankees' pitching. Somehow with all that angst and all those injuries, they have the best record in the American League going into All-Star break.
3. Houston Astros (57-33, No. 3): The Astros are awfully good as is, but with no Carlos Correa at shortstop right now and Jose Altuve playing at a human level, they are beatable. That dynamic changes with the acquisition of a top starting pitcher.
4. Minnesota Twins (56-33, No. 4): The Twins have a very powerful offense, and the top three in their rotation -- Jose Berrios, Jake Odorizzi and Kyle Gibson -- are pitching at high level. That's turned the Twins into a first-half story. It still feels that without another top starter and lockdown, late-inning option, they are swimming in awfully deep water.
5. Atlanta Braves (54-37, No. 5): The Braves spent smartly on lefty Dallas Keuchel, who will be a part of their rotation for the rest of the year. Now the need is a real closing option. Will GM Alex Anthopoulos pay the piper in young talent?
6. Washington Nationals (47-42, No. 8): With the way they're pitching, hitting and coming together, they can overtake Atlanta, but it's not vital they do so given the options they have to start a wild-card game. The Nats, who have been as good as anyone for the past six weeks (25-11), have very solid starting rotation depth and seemed to have fixed the late-inning situation on the fly.
7. Tampa Bay Rays (52-39, No. 6): The Tyler Glasnow injury is a killer, but suddenly Blake Snell is looking like Blake Snell again and young two-way player Brendan McKay is looking like he could be a thing. Still, this is yet another team with problems closing out games. And the offense seems a bat short.
8. Boston Red Sox (49-41, No. 10): It seemed ace lefty Chris Sale had rediscovered his magic, but you wouldn't know it by his last four or five starts.
9. Cleveland Indians (50-38, No. 14): The Indians made a calculation that they could cut payroll on the offensive side of things and still win with an incredible starting rotation. But they couldn't anticipate major injuries to right-handers Mike Clevinger and Corey Kluber, nor could they foresee Carlos Carrasco being diagnosed with leukemia. That manager Terry Francona has kept them in the wild-card hunt is quite an accomplishment. In fact, it may halt the beginnings of a rebuild that should be starting.
10. Chicago Cubs (47-43, No. 7): The Cubs continue to fail my smell test as a team with a true chance of making a deep run. In fact, I think the Cubbies are at the window looking in from the outside come playoff time.
11. Oakland Athletics (50-41, No. 15): The A's never seemed capable of another 90-win run, but manager Bob Melvin always seems to find a way to keep his team relevant. That they are still in the wild-card hunt is amazing. Right-hander Frankie Montas' 80-game PED suspension was a dagger and now must be overcome. But how?
12. Texas Rangers (48-42, No. 13): The Rangers aren't nearly good enough to win the AL West, but their surprise run at a wild card has been impressive and probably keeps them from selling off this month.
13. Milwaukee Brewers (47-44, No. 11): The Brewers didn't do an accurate self-assessment this offseason. The starting pitching wasn't even close to being good enough. Right-hander Jimmy Nelson needed to be big player, and it proved way too risky to count on him.
14. Philadelphia Phillies (47-43, No. 12): Like the Brewers, the Phillies bet heavily on their starting pitching on hand. Hindsight is always 20-20, but this is the team that should have bet on Keuchel with a two- or three-year contract and still been in on another starter. Not one starter out of Jake Arrieta, Aaron Nola, Nick Pivetta or Zach Eflin took a step forward.
15. Arizona Diamondbacks (46-45, No. 18): After losing lefty Patrick Corbin and outfielder A.J. Pollack to free agency and trading first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, it felt like they'd move backward. Being at or near .500 at the break is nothing short of amazing.
16. San Diego Padres (45-45, No. 15): The Padres' lineup is not an easy gauntlet to get through, but starting pitching not nearly what GM A.J. Preller was expecting. Matt Strahm (5.42), Nick Margevicius (6.41), Cal Quantrill (4.83) have all posted high ERAs. Only Eric Lauer (4.04), Joey Lucchesi (3.94) and Chris Paddack (2.84) have lived up to the hype.
17. Pittsburgh Pirates (44-45, No. 20): With the NL Central in the midst of a downturn, a 13-6 run to the break has the Buccos just 1.5 games out of first place.
18. Colorado Rockies (44-45, No. 9): The Rockies' recent struggles have them staggering going into break. They're 11-14 in their last 25 games and have lost six straight.
19. St. Louis Cardinals (44-44, No. 17): Given the Cardinals' spirited second half a season ago under new skipper Mike Shildt and the offseason acquisition of first baseman Paul Goldschmdt, it felt as if they'd be very dangerous in NL Central. They could still win the division, but they're one more cool streak away from inhabiting the cellar.
20. Chicago White Sox (42-44, No. 19): All things considered, the White Sox had a solid first half at 42-44. Right-hander Lucas Giolito has at times looked like a No. 1 starter, but the rest of the rotation has a long way to go with Michael Kopech and Carlos Rodon on the mend from Tommy John surgeries and top prospect Dylan Cease up for his first taste of the majors.
21. Los Angeles Angels (45-46, No. 21): The death of Tyler Skaggs and how the team deals with the unfathomable loss of a friend, teammate and contemporary is the story. Mike Trout has had an otherworldly power surge of late; he hit six homers in his last five games before the break.
22. Cincinnati Reds (41-46, No. 22): Since a 1-8 start, the Reds have pretty much hung with everyone in their division. They just haven't been good enough to make up that early stuck in the mud start, though they've gotten better as the year has gone on.
23. San Francisco Giants (41-48, No. 25): We'll find out what kind of poker player GM Farhan Zaidi is by July 31. It looks like he'll deal from all facets of the pitching staff. Lefty Madison Bumgarner is likely to leave for a couple prospects. Also, three arms from 'pen could all bring back one solid player each: lefties Tony Watson and Will Smith and right-hander Sam Dyson.
24. New York Mets (40-50, No. 23): While manager Mickey Callaway's seat is awfully warm, first-year GM and former agent Brodie Van Wagenen has looked the fool given the early returns of his offseason work. That includes the deal to bring infielder Robinson Cano and reliever Edwin Diaz to Queens; the two-year, $19 million deal for catcher Wilson Ramos, and the two-year, $20 million contract for infielder Jed Lowrie.
25. Seattle Mariners (39-55, No. 26): Since a 13-3 start, the Mariners have gone 26-52. GM Jerry Dipoto did a nice job with his reimagining of the Mariners, but questions will abound as to the fitness of Scott Servais as the club's manager for the future.
26. Toronto Blue Jays (34-57, No. 24): Not long ago you would have thought teams would be lining up for right-handers Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez. But with Stroman to miss the All-Star Game, his strained pectoral muscle couldn't have come at a worse time. But it's still likely he'll get dealt, whereas the downturn in Sanchez's value has to have the Jays scratching their collective head as to how to get any value out of him. Also, with Vlad Guerrero Jr. and Cavan Biggio in the big leagues, what's the holdup on shortstop Bo Bichette?
27. Miami Marlins (33-55, No. 27): The Marlins are just 12-19 during their last 31 games. For a brief time from late May to early June they played a 19-game stretch at 10-9 as the starting pitching seemed to make some strides, but there was an immediate downtick after that.
28. Kansas City Royals (30-61, No. 28): The Royals have also had their moments in the first 90 games, but the reality is the reality: they're in the early stages of big-time rebuild. The club's starting pitching at the big-league level doesn't hold an awful lot of promise. The Royals will battle the O's and Tigers for the top pick in next year's draft. The question is whether manager Ned Yost will choose to try and see this rebuild through.
29. Baltimore Orioles (27-62, No. 29):
The Orioles were
22-26 in games started by John Means, Dylan Bundy and Andrew Cashner
during the first half but just 5-36 when the likes of David Hess, Dan Straily and Gabriel Ynoa started. With those numbers telling the story, it makes you kinda think GM Mike Elias would truly have to be overwhelmed to deal Cashner or Bundy.
30. Detroit Tigers (28-57, No. 30): I actually feel Tigers have the best shot to catch the Orioles for the No. 1 pick in next June's draft. In the meantime, team owner Christopher Ilitch has awarded GM Al Avila an extension to his original contract which was due to run out at the end of 2020. Avila doesn't seem to be progressive enough to rebuild the Tigers back the right way.
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