Welcome back everyone, it's been a bit since I've had the pleasure of putting together an article, and with the 4th of July holiday now behind us and the All-Star break around the corner, it is the perfect time to roll out my MLB first-half Power Rankings.
The Dodgers and Yankees lead the way after superb first halves to the season, but there are plenty of other contenders out there, and several wide-open races. I've ranked the top 15 teams based on their overall performance through the first-half with an indicator next to each team as to how they are currently trending based on their play as of late. There is plenty to cover, so let's jump right into it - without further ado the @sportsguychris first half MLB Power Rankings:
1) LOS ANGELES DODGERS (60-30) ⬆️
The Dodgers continue to cruise along with the best record in baseball. As expected, they rank at the top or near the top in all pertinent categories, including: 1st in the NL in ERA, tied for 2nd in saves, 1st in batting average against in terms of pitching, and 3rd in the NL in both runs scored and batting average, and second in HRs with 144. At this point, it's the Dodgers and then everyone else in the NL...
2) NEW YORK YANKEES (57-29) ⬆️
The Bronx Bombers are once-again bombing it and have been on a two-month sustained stretch of very good play. The offense is leading the way as they rank in 2nd in the AL in runs scored, 3rd in HRs, and 4th in batting average. And that's with significant time missed by both Aaron Judge & Giancarlo Stanton. They also lead the AL in saves with 31.
3) HOUSTON ASTROS (55-33) ⬆️
The Astros are once-again doing it with pitching, as they lead the AL in both batting average against & strikeouts, and are 2nd in team ERA. The dominant pitching is the only thing going for them, though, as Houston currently sits 3rd in the AL in team-batting average. They have control of the once-again highly competitive AL West.
4) MINNESOTA TWINS (55-32) ⬆️
The biggest surprise in all of baseball just continues to go full-steam ahead. The catalyst behind the Twins breakout season has been some truly incredible offensive numbers. They lead all of baseball in Home Runs with 165 - 15 more than the Brewers, and well ahead of the Yankees. It's not just the long-ball that's been cooking in the Twin Cities however, as they also lead the league in runs scored, batting average, slugging %, and OPS! No one saw those kind of offensive numbers, and as we head into the All-Star break, it's time to take notice of what this team could do come October...
5) ATLANTA BRAVES (53-36) ⬆️
The Braves signed Dallas Keuchel on June 7th and then took off. There has certainly been a lot more to their recent hot-streak in addition to signing Keuchel, however. The club has the bats going after a slow start to the season, and now rank 4th in the NL in average, 2nd in runs scored, and 3rd in HRs. They are 20-7 in their last 27 games, and are heading into the All-Star break with all kinds of momentum & a firm grip on the NL East.
6) TAMPA BAY RAYS (50-39) ↔️
Well, after a 16-5 start to the season, Tampa is exactly .500 since (34-34). Considering how the Yankees and Red Sox have come on strong since that point, that is still something to feel pretty good about. As is their dominant pitching: they lead the league in team-ERA, and are 2nd in strikeouts & batting average against. They may need to add a bat or two if possible at the deadline, but for now, the pitching continues to have this team right in the mix.
7) MILWAUKEE BREWERS (47-42) ⬇️
The BrewCrew are trying desperately to hang-on to a precarious lead in the NL Central, where everyone is suddenly in contention. A hot start to the season has faded and the Brewers continued to be plagued by inconsistency at the plate and on the mound. Christian Yelich continues to dominate, leading all of baseball in HRs, but he needs some help. It's long-ball or nothing for the Crew, as they lead the NL in HRs with 150, but are just 8th in runs scored & 9th in batting average. Interestingly, the pitching staff is tied for 1st in the league in strikeouts. Although Josh Hader probably has a lot to do with that.
8) OAKLAND ATHLETICS (49-40) ⬆️
The A's have managed to go on a little streak as of late, and after a slow start (very similar to last season), have started to heat-up significantly heading into the break. They rank between 4th & 8th in the AL in virtually all offensive categories, and are also 5th in team-ERA. They have went from being a .500 club to chasing the Astros in the AL West, thanks to a current 13-4 streak.
9) BOSTON RED SOX (47-41) ↔️
The defending champs continue to just kind of move along. They've overcome an incredibly slow start to the season, as the bats have gotten increasingly better as the season has moved along. They are now 2nd in the AL in batting average (.271), 3rd in runs scored, 1st in OBP, and 3rd in slugging. If the bats can continue to produce, this team will once again find themselves playing in October.
10) CHICAGO CUBS (46-42) ↔️
It's still the Cubs & Brewers fighting for the NL Central, but neither team has been able to really take control of the division. All five teams are within 4 games of each other as the break quickly approaches. For the Cubbies, it's been a combination of injuries and lackluster play to this point. This club is way-too-talented however, to not break out of it in the second half. The pitching has been solid at least through the injury woes, as they rank 3rd in the league in ERA. The All-Star break will provide a much-needed breather for this club.
11) CLEVELAND INDIANS (48-38) ↔️
Yes, the Indians are 10 games above .500, but continue to struggle mightily from the plate. The benefits of playing the Royals and Tigers are certainly helping in the once - again overall weak AL Central. Yes they are 4th in the AL in team-ERA, but they are just 12th in the league in runs scored, and 12th in batting average at just .241 - that just doesn't scream contender no matter how you look at it.
12) TEXAS RANGERS (47-41) ↔️
Another surprise club has been the Rangers to this point. They are trailing both the A's and Astros in the difficult AL West, but have been solid across the board from the plate. They rank between 4th and 8th in most offensive categories (just like the A's), including 4th in the league in runs scored. Mediocre pitching numbers may keep them from the postseason, but they've been a pleasant surprise to this point.
13) ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (44-42) ↔️
The Cardinals are right in the thick of it in the NL Central (just 1.5 behind Milwaukee), and once again can thank solid pitching. They are 4th in the league in team-ERA and tied for 3rd in batting average against. You have a feeling that they will remain in the clogged NL Central race throughout the second half...
14) COLORADO ROCKIES (44-43) ⬇️
The Rockies started slow, then got hot, then cooled a bit, and now find themselves a game above .500. Yes they are no where close the NL-West leading Dodgers, but it's tough ignore the solid offensive numbers (1st in the league in runs scored & batting average). The friendly confines of Coors Field can once again be thanked for those offensive numbers, however in an interesting twist, they are just 10th in the league in HRs.
15) CINCINNATI REDS (41-44) ⬆️
The Reds are tied with the Pirates at 4.0 games behind the Brewers in the jumbled NL Central. They are a surprise entrant to the 'Power Rankings' this week, and it's mainly thanks to incredibly strong pitching. They are 2nd in the NL in batting average allowed (just .229) & ERA (3.65), and are 3rd in strikeouts. A combined winning record against the Brewers & Cubs to this point (12-10), has them jumping into the power rankings heading into the All-Star break ahead of the Nationals, Phillies, and Padres, who are all just outside of the rankings heading into the All-Star break.
There you have it, the first half of the season (actually a little more than that in terms of actual games played) is almost in the books, and the All-Star break is around the corner. Barring huge collapses, the Yankees, Astros, and Twins appear to be in great positions for October baseball in the AL, but will have to deal with the Rays, Red Sox, Indians, and Athletics. Only 5 of those 7 clubs will make the postseason, so it should be a very entertaining and wild ride down the stretch.
The NL is even more unpredictable to this point, with 9 teams, YES 9 teams all within 3.5 games of each other for the two Wild Card spots. And all 5 of the NL Central clubs are within 4 games of one another. It really is the Dodgers and then everyone else in the NL to this point, who will emerge down the strerch is anybody's guess!
Enjoy the All-Star festivities everyone and thank you all for your support as always. I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section! Who do you have atop the rankings? Who did I get right? Who did I get wrong? As always, happy reading & writing!