|Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images|
By Kenneth Teape (@teapester725)
With the MLB Season reaching its midpoint and the All-Star Break, let's take a look at where each team stands. Here are GothamCitySportsNews' First Half MLB Power Rankings:
1) St. Louis Cardinals (57-36) – Looking like the class of MLB again. The rotation is strong again with Adam Wainwright leading the way. The lineup is balanced with Carlos Beltran returning to form, and the team is loaded with All-Stars and seemingly with no weak spots. The Cardinals look poised for a strong second half and postseason run.
2) Pittsburgh Pirates (56-37) – The surprise team of the first half for the third year running. A dominant bullpen and some help for Andrew McCutchen in the lineup should end their streak of losing seasons. Would really benefit from adding a bat and another arm in the bullpen as Mark Melancon and Jason Grilli each appeared in over 40 games so far.
3) Boston Red Sox (58-39) – The best record in the AL at the halfway point is not something many people expected out of the Red Sox. Adding Matt Thornton to the bullpen before the break will help but expect more moves from Boston before the deadline passes.
4) Tampa Bay Rays (55-41) – The Rays are currently the hottest team in baseball. On June 23rd they were in last place in the AL East only two games above .500; since they have gone 16-4 and sit atop the wildcard standings. A tough start to the second half looms though with a 10-game road trip through most of the AL East with stops in Boston, Toronto and New York.
5) Oakland Athletics (56-39) – Oakland is getting it done this season uncharacteristically; it is the hitting not the pitching that has carried them thus far. Even more surprisingly it is not Yoenis Cespedes, fresh off his Home Run Derby victory. Cespedes has struggled in the first half but will look to use the momentum from his derby victory for a better second half.
6) Texas Rangers (54-41) – People questioned their decision to let Josh Hamilton walk in the offseason but they have just kept chugging along. The potential BioGenesis suspensions could cause some problems for the Rangers if Nelson Cruz is going to miss time. Adding some pitching through trades is another area of concern.
7) Cincinnati Reds (53-42) – The Reds are the third team from the NL Central in the top seven. That's one tough division. It wasn’t the prettiest first half of baseball but the Reds are in prime position to snag a wild card spot as Shin Soo-Choo has solidified the top of that order.
8) Atlanta Braves (54-41) – The wonders of playing in the NL East. The Braves have the luxury of playing a majority of their schedule against underachievers (Nationals and Phillies) and some of the lesser talented teams in baseball (Mets and Marlins). Injuries are starting to mount though; Jose Costanza, Reed Johnson and Joey Terdoslavich were the starting outfielders recently while Paul Janish and Tyler Pastornicky pinch hit. Ouch.
9) Baltimore Orioles (53-43) – Picked by many to regress after a surprising 2012 season the Orioles are right in the thick of things. They sit five games behind in the AL East and are there solely on their hitting and superb fielding. Chris Davis leads the MLB in homeruns while Manny Machado is on pace to break the all-time doubles record in a season. Now if only the pitching could perform as well.
10) Detroit Tigers (52-42) – They are in big trouble if they do not figure out the bullpen. The Indians, with new manager Terry Francona, look like they are in this for the long haul and will not be going away anytime soon. It does help that they have reigning MVP and triple crown winner Miguel Cabrera in the middle of their lineup alongside the likes of Prince Fielder, Victor Martinez, Torii Hunter and Austin Jackson.
11) Cleveland Indians (51-44) – The Indians closed the half strong taking five of six from the Royals and Rays. It will be interesting to see what position they take as the trade deadline comes near; will they be buyers to try and overtake the Tigers for the division or will they sit tight and hope this group of players continues doing well?
12) New York Yankees (51-44) – Things are not looking up in the Bronx. Many are surprised they are even doing this well as they have been decimated by injuries. Things do not look bright in the second half for the Yankees who come into the break scoring as many runs per game as the Mariners.
13) Arizona Diamondbacks (50-45) – The Diamondbacks, like the Braves, are lucky to be playing in a lackluster division. The NL West may be the worst division in all of sports as no other team is currently above .500. Their whole staff has been pretty underwhelming all season (with the exception of Patrick Corbin) and to hold off the hard-charging Dodgers it will take more than Paul Goldschmidt.
14) Washington Nationals (48-47) – One of the bigger disappointments of the first half has to be the Nationals. After becoming the darlings of the MLB last season by taking the NL East they are struggling to stay above .500. They need Bryce Harper to bounce back after his injury as he has been ice cold with one homer and a .196 average in the last two weeks; the home run came in his first at-bat back from the DL.
15) Los Angeles Dodgers (47-47) – Since June 22 the Dodgers have been as hot as the Rays going 17-5. Yasiel Puig put a charge into the team but the real catalyst has been Hanley Ramirez. Ramirez has been hitting the cover off the baseball to the tune of .390/.457/.732 over the same time span. Ramirez is finally looking like the former MVP candidate he was with the Marlins before injuries and a position change threw him off his game.
16) Philadelphia Phillies (48-48) – GM Ruben Amaro says the team is in position to buy but that is hard for anyone else to believe. The Phillies have struggled with injuries all season long and recently lost starting outfielder Ben Revere for 6-8 weeks because of surgery. It may be time for the Phillies to blow it up and start over, a process they will inevitably be forced to go through.
17) Colorado Rockies (46-50) – An easy schedule out of the break and players getting off the DL are a perfect combination for the Rockies who are still in contention in the weak NL West. Superstar shortstop Troy Tulowitzki has already suffered his major injury to land him on the DL so he should be good to go for the second half and continue putting up MVP numbers.
18) Kansas City Royals (43-49) – They have the whole second half to make up ground but their playoff hopes easily could rest in their first seven games. The Royals will take on the Tigers for three and Orioles for four to start the second half. Picking up some wins against teams ahead of them in the division and wild card race would be huge; if they flounder the upward climb becomes that much more difficult.
19) Toronto Blue Jays (45-49) – Right there with the Nationals for disappointing team of the first half. They have a terrible record against their division foes at 18-27 and if they are unable to turn that around they can kiss the playoffs goodbye. There is a very high chance that they are active at the trade deadline moving pieces that aren’t working for them and getting some other talent into the fold.
20) Los Angeles Angels (44-49) – Another highly disappointing team. The Angels won the offseason but are once again losing in the regular season. The signing of Josh Hamilton looks like a disaster as all he’s done consistently this season is strikeout. This team is as unpredictable as any as they took series from the Red Sox and Cardinals to only lose four of five against the Cubs and Mariners.
21) New York Mets (41-50) – Their record this season is well off the pace they had last season when they entered the break at 46-40. Things have turned around recently as the Mets sport the best offense with 132 runs scored since Father’s Day and a 17-11 record. They also hold the third best road record in the NL at 24-23; if they could ever get it going at home they could be onto something.
22) Chicago Cubs (42-51) – Starlin Castro had an underwhelming first half overall but looks to be coming alive of late. After getting benched June 25th he has a slash line of .303/.346/.487, much better than his season numbers of .243/.280/.351. The Cubs will also be big players in the pennant races as they can help out teams immensely through trades as they have some of the hottest targets on the market. Even though they have a losing record, they at least can take some pleasure in saying at least they aren’t the White Sox.
23) San Francisco Giants (43-51) – My how the mighty have fallen. The reigning World Series champs look like a far cry from the team that took home the title last October. Their pitching has abandoned them this season and the offense just is not good enough to carry a pitching staff that has not been pitching up to standard. The Giants are 8-20 in their last 28 games with the only bright spot being Tim Lincecum’s no-hitter last week.
24) Seattle Mariners (43-52) – The Mariners offense still does not match the performance of their pitching staff but it is better this season after the dimensions of Safeco Field were changed. Raul Ibanez has been a pleasant surprise hitting 24 home runs in the first half of the season while Felix Hernandez is putting together yet another Cy Young-worthy campaign.
25) San Diego Padres (42-54) – Not much was expected out of the Padres this season but the play of Chase Headley has got to hurt. In a weak division they have a chance still to get back into it sitting 8.5 games out but without him playing well they have no chance.
26) Minnesota Twins (39-53) – The Twins have fallen off recently losing 12 of their last 15 games and putting them squarely on the sell side of the deadline market. It will be worth keeping an eye on as players such as closer Glenn Perkins and first baseman Justin Morneau could tip the pennant race in favor of one team if they are moved.
27) Chicago White Sox (37-55) – Bringing up the cellar of the AL Central is nowhere a team wants to be, especially one with as much talent as the White Sox thought they had coming into the season. They are now singing a new tune, as they have basically said anyone could be had on the roster outside of starting pitcher Chris Sale and first baseman Paul Konerko.
28) Milwaukee Brewers (38-56) - The Brewers are not nearly as bad as their record makes them out to be. All-Stars Carlos Gomez and Jean Segura are putting together career years but without Ryan Braun holding down the middle of the lineup and the pitching staff being as poor as they have been collectively the Brewers will be heading nowhere fast.
29) Miami Marlins (35-58) – The record is ugly for the Marlins as they rank last in almost every offensive category; that should change slightly with Giancarlo Stanton back in the lineup. The real surprise of this team has been the pitching staff led by potential ROY candidate Jose Fernandez. Fernandez was the Marlins top pitching prospect and they brought him up to the majors after pitching in only High-A last season but it has paid off. Fernandez has dominated this season and looks like a future ace for years to come. The Marlins are also sporting the best record since May 30th in the NL East at 22-17, just to put into perspective how lucky the Braves really are to call that division home.
30) Houston Astros (33-61) – If not for the Marlins the Astros would rank last in almost every offensive category in MLB. But unlike the Marlins, the Astros did not return an all-world power hitter to their lineup recently to improve things. The pitching staff hasn’t being anything to write home about either, making the Astros the cellar dwellers for the first half power rankings. There are some bright spots on the team such as catcher Jason Castro and power hitting first baseman/left fielder Chris Carter.