The All-Star Break is over. The playoff push has begun. We’ve only seen three days of MLB action since the baseball world departed San Diego, but that doesn’t mean that nothing has changed in our weekly power rankings. Several teams seem to be off to a new beginning, some for the better and some for the worse. So who moved around this week? Let’s find out.
30. Atlanta Braves (32-60, previously 30) – The Braves are dead last in the MLB in runs scored, team batting average, and team slugging percentage. That’s how you arrive at 60 losses this early into the season, something that the Braves have not done in a long, long time.
29. Cincinnati Reds (34-58, previously 29) – The Reds took two of three from the Milwaukee at home this weekend, shutting out the the Brewers on Sunday in which the only run scored was on a pass-ball. When you have to win games in that fashion though, it’s usually not a great sign for success, and Cincinnati has had none of that this season.
28. Minnesota Twins (33-58, previously 28) – The Twins were able to scrap out one win against first place Cleveland this weekend, taking home the contest on an 11th inning error for a walk-off victory. Hey, it could have been worse.
27. Tampa Bay Rays (35-56, previously 27) – The Rays were able to snap their eight-game losing streak with a win against first place Baltimore on Sunday. They might be able to make horrid stretches less of a commonality if SP Matt Moore’s 4.33 ERA didn’t lead the team’s entire rotation.
26. Milwaukee Brewers (39-51, previously 22) – Milwaukee isn’t having a good year, and failing to win a series against the Reds will bump you down a few spots even more. The Crew has now lost four of five games and will have a tough series against Pittsburgh coming up this week.
25. Arizona Diamondbacks (40-53, previously 26) – Arizona had only won two of 14 before digging out two wins in a row against the Dodgers to win the three game series at home. Nonetheless, the Diamondbacks still find themselves in the cellar of the NL West, and the Shelby Miller experiment has gotten so bad that the D-Backs have now sent him to the minors. Who would have guessed that back in the off-season?
24. Oakland Athletics (40-52, previously 24) – The A’s were able to quiet down the soaring Blue Jays by taking the first two games of a three game stand before dropping the finale on Sunday. With Stephen Vogt batting .285, he could be a target for teams looking to acquire an new catcher with some pop at the trade deadline.
23. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (40-53, previously 25) – The Angels had a dominant three-game sweep of the Chicago White Sox at home this weekend. A home sweep is something the Angels hadn’t accomplished since the end of April, when they did so against Kansas City. Pitching stole the show, as starters Hector Santiago, Matt Shoemaker and Jared Weaver only allowed one run combined over the entire weekend, with the former two throwing a pair of shutouts to open up the series. Maybe this is when the Angels finally start playing like the team we expected them to at the start of the year.
22. Colorado Rockies (42-49, previously 21) – Last week in the All-Star Game, Nolan Arenado may have cost the National League home field advantage in the World Series when he appeared to forget how many outs there were when he hit into a game ending double play. They erased that memory with an 11-2 victory over the Braves immediately out of the break, but it is the Braves, and a 1-0 loss was just embarrassing on Sunday considering the power that Colorado has.
21. San Diego Padres (41-51, previously 23) – San Diego has had a knack for consistently being one of the best 2nd half teams over the past few seasons, too often doomed by a giant hole from early on. Here they go again, sweeping the MLB-best Giants over the weekend. San Diego rallied for six home runs (two by Matt Kemp) over the weekend off aces Johnny Cueto, Madison Bumgarner and Jeff Samardzija, while Edison Edwin Jackson held San Francisco hitless until the 7th inning on Sunday. The Padres are only 10 games under .500 with plenty of baseball left.
20. Philadelphia Phillies (43-50, previously 20) – Jacob DeGrom of the Mets got the best of Philadelphia on Sunday, as the Phillies fell victim to his first career shutout in a 5-0 loss. That won’t help them escape their designation of the team with the worst OBP in all of baseball, sitting at only .296 on the year.
19. Chicago White Sox (45-46, previously 17) – The White Sox fell back below .500 after their offense went completely MIA in a three game sweep at the hands of the Angels over the weekend. Chicago may boast some great hitting talent with guys like Todd Frazier and Jose Abreu, but you would never guess that this weekend as the Sox only tallied one run the entire series. Ouch.
18. Seattle Mariners (46-46, previously 19) – Like Robinson Cano’s lackluster home run derby outing a week ago, the Mariners have been just like that as a team of late, dropping seven of their last ten games. Five of those losses have come against the Houston Astros. Luckily for them, Seattle gets to take on the White Sox at home this week, an opponent who as you saw above isn’t able to hit ball very good of late.
17. New York Yankees (45-46, previously 18) – The Yankees were able to avoid a sweep against arch-rival Boston with a win on Sunday night to stay only on win below .500, a game which manager Joe Girardi called the team’s “most important July game in a long time.” The Yankees continue to be the center of trade interest with players such as Carlos Beltran, Andrew Miller, and Aroldis Chapman, but New York will be hesitant to part ways with any of those players if they can get back to their winning ways in due time.
16. Kansas City Royals (46-45, previously 16) – Salvador Perez and Eric Hosmer shined in the All-Star game, each homering off their former teammate Johnny Cueto and Hosmer taking home the game MVP award. That was not so much the case over the weekend, as the Royals dropped yet another series, this time on the road in Detroit. KC is now 3-7 in their past 10 contests, and if the playoffs started today, the defending champs wouldn’t have the chance to defend the trophy at only one game above .500)
15. St. Louis Cardinals (47-44, previously 14) – Miami’s bats got the better of St. Louis this weekend, as the Cardinals surrendered six or more runs twice in a 2-1 home series loss to the Marlins. However, in the middle of those two losses was a 3-hit shutout gem by Adam Wainright. St. Louis will need more outings like that this week, as they host a Padres squad whose bats caught fire in a sweep of San Francisco over the weekend.
14. Detroit Tigers (48-44, previously 15) – Detroit took two out of three at home against the Royals this weekend to change the mood after a 2-5 stretch entering the All-Star break. Nick Castellanos has continued to connect at the plate with a .304 batting average, but Jarrod Saltalamacchia stole the show this weekend with a two run walk off homer in Sunday’s 4-2 victory.
13. Pittsburgh Pirates (47-45, previously 13) – Pittsburgh won an 18 inning game over Washington on Sunday thanks to some heroics by Starling Marte, avoiding a three game sweep in the process. Marte is now batting .315 on the season, making him the leader among all Pittsburgh batters. On the other side of the ball, Mark Melancon has now reached an impressive 27 saves on the season, posting a 1.43 ERA in the process.
12. Miami Marlins (49-42, previously 11) – Miami was able to march into Busch Stadium and take two of three from the Cardinals over the weekend, though they were baffled by Adam Wainright in a 5-0 loss on Saturday. While Miami is only 22nd in runs scored at 378 on the season, their team BA of .273 is the 2nd best in baseball.
11. New York Mets (49-42, previously 12) – Jacob DeGrom recorded his first career shutout on Sunday, only surrendering one hit in a 5-0 win over the Phillies. That’s the kind of performance the Mets need from the young lad with ace Noah Syndergaard still inactive after injuring himself just before the All-Star break. Next up for New York: their first trip back to Wrigleyville after sweeping the Cubs in the NLCS last October.
10. Houston Astros (50-42, previously 10) – The Astros reached 50 wins on Sunday after once again taking a series against the struggling Seattle Mariners. It seems like just yesterday when 50 wins was all that the Astros could accomplish for the entire season, but here we are, with the Astros now only 4.5 games out of first place in the AL West. Jose Altuve’s .346 batting average continues to wow fans left and right, and he will need to keep it up given that 41 of Houston’s 70 remaining games come against teams over .500.
9. Los Angeles Dodgers (52-42, previously 8) – In what was a rough weekend for the leaders in the NL West, the Dodgers found themselves dropping two of three from the dreadful Diamondbacks this weekend, with All-Star Kenley Jansen blowing a routine save opportunity Saturday before the Dodgers dug themselves a 6-0 hole on Sunday. Given that the Giants were swept by the Padres, it was a blown chance for LA to close in on first place in the NL West, only 5.5 games behind San Francisco at the moment. The Dodgers now face a difficult series against Daniel Murphy and the Washington Nationals in the nation’s capital this week.
8. Toronto Blue Jays (52-42, previously 7) – Toronto ran into some trouble in Oakland this weekend as they dropped the series, but the Blue Jays remain only three games behind Baltimore for first place in the AL East, riding a 7-3 stretch at the moment. Edwin Encarnacion now has a ridiculous 81 RBIs on the season, the most of any player in the American League. Toronto will have a great chance to close in on first place when they face the struggling Diamondbacks in Arizona this week.
7. Boston Red Sox (51-39, previously 9) – Though David Price got rocked on Sunday night, the Red Sox have seemingly found their groove once again, winning eight of their last ten games, punctuated by a 2-1 series win over the Yankees this weekend. David Ortiz received a standing ovation as he exited his final All-Star Game last Tuesday, and Big Papi has continued to have quite a farewell performance as he is batting .327 with 72 RBIs on the season. The Red Sox now prepare to host the MLB best San Francisco Giants for the first time since 2007, so get ready for a good little two game series as they face off against a familiar friend in SP Jake Peavy.
6. Cleveland Indians (54-37, previously 5) – Cleveland has cooled off considerably since their remarkable 14 game win streak that lasted from mid-June to the beginning of the month, only going 5-7 since the magical stretch came to an end. The Tribe now may have to be without catcher Johnny Gomes for an unforeseeable amount of time after he left Sunday’s game with a shoulder injury. Nonetheless, Cleveland still sits 6.5 games ahead of Detroit for first place in the AL Central.
5. Baltimore Orioles (53-37, previously 6) – Baltimore got a bit of a break with a series against Tampa this weekend, though Evan Longoria may have gotten the best of the O’s with a two homer game in a 5-2 Ray’s victory on Sunday. Baltimore won the series though, and Zach Britton has established himself as one of the premier closers as he has not blown one save all season. While we are talking about pitching, we should also applaud Chris Tillman’s performance this season, as the starter recorded his 13th win of the year Saturday and has now tallied 101 strikeouts in 2016. Pretty good stuff.
4. Texas Rangers (55-38, previously 3) – The Rangers have only won four games in July, a slump that nobody saw coming after their three months of the 2016 season. It didn’t get any easier this weekend as Texas had to travel to Wrigleyville for a series against the Chicago Cubs, dropping two out of three in the process. Cole Hamels however was brilliant in Sunday’s 4-1 victory, and maybe its just the spark the squad needs to get back to cruise control. The Rangers now head out west for a series against the Angels this week.
3. Chicago Cubs (55-36, previously 4) – Perhaps the All-Star break was just what the Cubs needed after only winning two of eleven contests leading up to it. Chicago won their first series in over two weeks this weekend by taking two of three against Texas the friendly confines of Wrigley Field. Kyle Hendricks and Jason Hammel were back to their normal selves in wins on Friday and Saturday respectively, combining for just a single earned run over the course of those two days. Now the Cubbies host the Mets for the first time since they were swept out of the playoffs by New York last fall.
2. San Francisco Giants (57-36, previously 1) – The Giants still own the best record in baseball at 21 games over .500, but their time in the No. 1 seed was short lived thanks to a disastrous weekend in San Diego, getting swept by the Padres in three games. Madison Bumgarner, Jeff Samardzija, and Johnny Cueto were all rocked by San Diego’s offense, as each allowed two homers and four or more runs in their respective starts. On Saturday night, San Francisco appeared to have an extra inning come-from-behind win locked up, but instead closer Santiago Casilla couldn’t get an out and recorded the 20th “balk-off” in MLB history. Yikes.
1. Washington Nationals (56-37, previously 2) – Yet again we have a new leader, as the Washington Nationals have overtaken the top spot in our weekly power rankings. They may have dropped an 18 game marathon to Pittsburgh on Sunday, but the Nats have looked solid in back-to-back series wins against the Bucs and Mets, riding a five game win streak into Sunday’s game. Daniel Murphy has maintained a .350 batting average, which makes him a serious candidate for the NL MVP award. Let’s also talk about how Stephen Strasburg remains undefeated at 13-0 and how Max Scherzer has 171 strikeouts this season. This team is scary folks, and I mean scary on both sides of the ball.
Biggest Jump: Boston Red Sox/San Diego Padres/LA Angels of Anaheim (+2)
Biggest Drop: Milwaukee Brewers (-4)