MLB Power Rankings: Dodgers, Angels, Tigers, Mariners come on strong
1. Oakland Athletics (51-31, previous: 1) – From top to bottom, there is little doubt the Athletics are currently the best team in baseball as they have dominated their opponents no matter who it has been. Oakland has a run differential of plus-134, with the next closest in the AL being plus-56. Although not standing out like Josh Donaldson, Coco Crisp is having a solid season, hitting .289/.383/.447. His on-base percentage is sixth in the entire AL. Following it’s series in Detroit, Oakland will play six straight at home taking on the Blue Jays and Giants.
2. Milwaukee Brewers (51-33, previous: 2) – With how sharp the Giants have fallen off, the Brewers are now clearly best team in the National League. Milwaukee isn’t just led by catcher Jonathan Lucroy (.334), as Scooter Gennett (.311) and Carlos Gomez (.310) are both also in the top 10 in batting average in the NL. Winners of seven of their last 10, the Brewers will look to ride the momentum with five straight road games against the Blue Jays and Reds.
3. Los Angeles Dodgers (48-37, previous: 6) – The Dodgers are one of the hottest teams in the National League at the moment as they have won eight of their last 10 games to take over first place in the National League West. Their pitching has really turned it on of late with Josh Beckett (2.11) and Zack Greinke (2.78) in the top 15 in the National League in ERA. Clayton Kershaw is simply dominating the opposition though his 2.02 ERA doesn’t qualify for league stats due to the number of innings he’s pitched.
4. San Francisco Giants (46-36, previous: 2) – Despite Tim Lincecum’s no-hitter against the Padres last week, earning him National League Player of the Week honors, the Giants are certainly scuffling as they have now fallen out of first place in the National League West and have lost four straight and seven of 10. Their offense has been the biggest issue during the streak as the have scored three runs or less in six of their last seven games. They will take on the Cardinals before a four game weekend series in San Diego.
5. Los Angeles Angels (45-35, previous: 7) – The Angels have flew somewhat under the radar this season because of the way the Athletics have played in the division, but they currently sit atop the American League wild card standings. With Mike Trout pacing the offense, Los Angeles is getting a strong season out of starter Garrett Richards – who is currently 8-2 with a 2.76 ERA. They should continue their winning ways with their next two series’ coming against the White Sox and Astros.
6. Detroit Tigers (45-34, previous: 9) – Detroit is hot as it enters July, winning of eight of its last 10, including a dramatic ninth inning comeback win over the A’s Monday night. The Tigers’ offense is starting to click as Victor Martinez (.323), Miguel Cabrera (.314) and Ian Kinsler (.307) are all in the top-8 in batting average for the entire American League. Following it’s series with Oakland, Detroit will host the last place Rays for four games.
7. Seattle Mariners (45-38, previous: 8) – Seattle is coming along strong of late, winners of eight of it’s last 10. It has turned the AL West into one of the most competitive divisions in the game. Infielder Kyle Seager took home American League Player of the Week honors as he paced the majors with 14 hits and a .958 slugging percentage while leading the AL with eight RBIs. Like the Angels, the M’s also have series’ against the Astros and White Sox coming up, giving them a good chance to pick up ground in the division.
8. Toronto Blue Jays (45-39, previous: 4) – Toronto is starting to lose ground fast in the AL East as it has lost three straight and four of five to now hold just a one-game lead over the Orioles at the top of the division. The Blue Jays’ offense has been the catalyst to this point in the season, but they have scored three runs or less in five of their last nine games. It will be difficult for them to get back to their winning ways as they play the Brewers, Athletics and Angels prior to the All-Star break.
9. Atlanta Braves (45-38, previous: 14) – Atlanta has won five straight games, currently the longest win streak in all of baseball. Julio Teheran continues to deserve better as his 2.34 ERA is seventh in all of baseball, but he has just a 7-5 record to show for it. The Braves’ offense, currently second to last in baseball in runs scored will need to pick it up during the second half.
10. Washington Nationals (44-38, previous: 10) – As the weather has warmed, so have the Nationals as they have won three straight and seven of 10 to keep pace with the Braves, trailing them by just .5 game in the division. The Nationals have a plus-43 run differential, by far the best mark in the division and second best in the entire NL. Starter Tanner Roark is having a good year, as he is 7-5 with a 2.98 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP, ninth in the NL.
11. St. Louis Cardinals (44-39, previous: 5) – For a few weeks it appeared the Cardinals would look to challenge Milwaukee in the division, but things haven’t gone well of late for St. Louis. Going .500 in their last 10 games isn’t going to help them gain any ground on the red-hot Brewers. Matt Adams continues to pace their offense, as his .325 batting average is third in the National League. Fortunately for the Cardinals they are right there for the top NL wild card spot.
12. Baltimore Orioles (43-39, previous: 11) – Even with everything the Orioles have had to deal with this season (injuries, suspensions) they haven’t let that impact them too much as they are right there in second place in the AL East, trailing the Blue Jays by just a game. Nelson Cruz continues to have a solid first season in Baltimore, taking advantage of Camden Yards as the designated hitter is hitting .281 with 25 homers and 66 RBIs.
13. Kansas City Royals (43-39, previous: 12) – It has been a strange season for the Royals as it has been hard to figure out exactly what kind of team they are. Just 3.5 games behind the Tigers in the division and right in the thick of the wild card race, Kansas City wouldn’t stun anyone if they shot up the standings or fell out of it altogether. Jason Vargas has come onto the scene this season posting a 7-3 record and a 3.53 ERA, good for top 20 in the AL.
14. Cincinnati Reds (43-39, previous: 15) – After getting off to a horrendous start, the Reds have kicked it into high gear the past couple of weeks, currently winners of eight of their last 10. Unfortunately, because of their poor start, the Reds are still seven games out of first place in the NL Central. Starter Johnny Cueto has the best ERA in the game, 1.88, the only player below 2.00, but only sports an 8-5 record. Cincinnati will need to maintain this terrific pace for much of the second half if they want to have a shot at making the postseason.
15. Pittsburgh Pirates (42-40, previous: 17) – Pittsburgh is back to playing the same type of ball it displayed in 2013 when it made the postseason, but with how poor of a start the Pirates had to the year, they trail the first place Brewers by eight games and sit in fourth place in a crowded NL Central. It will be quite the uphill battle for them to return to October.
16. New York Yankees (41-40, previous: 13) – The Yankees have gone 3-7 in their last 10 games, which didn’t allow them to take advantage of Toronto’s poor play at the top of the division. Even so, the Yankees are just 2.5 games out of first place. The biggest key for them is improved pitching, both in the bullpen and rotation (excluding Masahiro Tanaka). After getting off to a relatively slow start, Jacoby Ellsbury has raised his average to .288, 19th in the American League, hitting third for New York.
17. Miami Marlins (39-43, previous: 16) – It certainly has been a season full of ups and downs for the Marlins, and this past week was one of their downs as they have lost four straight and seven of 10 to fall 5.5 game out of first place. Miami will play three home games before finishing the first half of the season with nine straight on the road.
18. Cleveland Indians (39-43, previous: 18) – After it appeared Terry Francona’s Indians were making a strong push to challenge the Tigers at the top of the division, the wheels have started to come off as they have dropped seven of 10 games and now stand 7.5 games back. Cleveland has gone an impressive 23-15 at home, but is just 16-28 on the road.
19. Boston Red Sox (38-45, previous: 21) – The Red Sox are sure glad the month of June is over as the team went 12-16 and averaged just three runs a game for the entire month. A number of key players struggled, particularly Xander Bogaerts – who hit just .135. Fortunately for the Red Sox, they are still alive for a playoff spot due to how bad the division has been.
20. Chicago White Sox (39-44, previous: 23) – The White Sox have won three games in a row, but still remain eight games out of first place in the dreadful AL Central. A team ERA of 4.33 is good for 26th in baseball, which won’t get anyone near being in playoff contention.
21. Minnesota Twins (37-44, previous: 19) – It’s been a tough year for Minnesota as it hasn’t been able to get anything going the entire season. The Twins currently sit in last place in the AL Central and don’t have one player hitting over .300.
22. Texas Rangers (37-45, previous: 20) – The struggles continue in Texas as the Rangers have now lost eight of their last 10 games to fall an astonishing 14 games back of the Athletics in the division before the All-Star break.
23. New York Mets (37-46, previous: 22) – It’s the same old deal for the Mets as they cannot get any momentum going and currently sit eight games out in the NL East. One of the few bright spots this season has been starter Jon Niese, as despite his 5-4 record, he’s posted a 2.88 ERA. The Mets will finish a series in Atlanta before playing 10 straight home games before the All-Star break.
24. Philadelphia Phillies (36-46, previous: 25) – Things have gone from bad to worse for the Phillies as they have lost four straight and eight of 10 to find themselves 8.5 games back in the division. The Phillies don’t have anyone hitting higher than Chase Utley’s .293 average as it appears they could be sellers by the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
25. Colorado Rockies (36-47, previous: 24) – The Rockies have really struggled in the past two months or so as, for awhile, it looked like they would be right there with the Dodgers and Giants in the division. They now sit 11 games back and have allowed 434 runs, the most in the National League.
26. Houston Astros (36-48, previous: 26) – Houston does have a bright spot in second baseman Jose Altuve – who leads the American League in hitting with a .344 batting average.
27. San Diego Padres (36-47, previous: 27) – The Padres are certainly glad to turn the calendar over to July as their .171 batting average was the lowest batting average in a full calendar month in the live ball era during the month of June.
28. Tampa Bay Rays (36-49, previous: 30) – Winners of seven of its last 10 games, Tampa Bay is out of the cellar of the rankings, but it is still out of the playoff picture. Will David Price be dealt?
29. Arizona Diamondbacks (35-49, previous: 28) – It’s remarkable for a team playing as poorly as Arizona has this season that they still have a winning record (20-19) on the road, but are 15-30 at home.
30. Chicago Cubs (35-46, previous: 29) – General manager Theo Epstein’s phone will certainly be ringing this month with teams looking for pitching help as the Cubs have two good ones in Jeff Samardzija and Jake Arrieta.
*All stats and records are as of Tuesday, July 1.
Follow Metro sports writer Ryan Hannable on Twitter: @RyanHannable