MLB power rankings: Athletics cement spot on top, LA teams follow
1. Oakland Athletics (56-33, previous: 1) — There is no stopping the Athletics as they have now won five games in a row to easily have the best record in baseball. Their plus-140 run differential is pretty impressive as well. As if they didn’t already have one of the best rotations in the game, Oakland got even better this past week as they made the first big trade of the season when they acquired starters Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from the Cubs.
2. Los Angeles Angels (52-36, previous: 5) — The Angels have the second-best record in all of baseball, but unfortunately for them, they are second in their division. They’ve won five in a row and eight of their last 10 games to take a firm grip on the top wild-card spot. Mike Trout continues to show why he’s one of the best players in the game as his batting line of .304/.399/.596 are all good for top 10 in the American League.
3. Los Angeles Dodgers (51-40, previous: 3) – The NL West is shaping up to be one of the most competitive races in the second half with the Dodgers and Giants going back and forth. The Dodgers have some of the best arms in baseball with both Josh Beckett and Zach Greinke in the top 10 in the National League in terms of ERA, with Clayton Kershaw not eligible because he hasn’t pitched the minimum number of innings needed. There is no doubt the Dodgers are for real.
4. Milwaukee Brewers (52-38, previous: 2) – Despite dropping six of its last 10 games, Milwaukee still has the best record in the National League. Starters Kyle Lohse and Wily Peralta are having solid seasons as they are 9-3 and 9-5, respectively, with ERAs under 3.40. The Brewers will close out the first half of the season with home games against the Phillies and Cardinals.
5. Baltimore Orioles (49-40, previous: 11) – The Orioles were looked at as a possible playoff team at the beginning of the season and now they are finally starting to play like it. They have won seven of their last 10 games to now lead the AL East by three games. Adam Jones and Steve Pearce shared AL Player of the Week honors this past week as Jones batted .423 (11-for-26) with a double, two homers, five RBIs, four runs scored and a stolen base. Pearce batted .333 (10-for-30) with two doubles, three homers, nine RBIs, eight runs scored and two steals.
6. Seattle Mariners (49-40, previous: 6) – With the record the Mariners have, they would be leading the other two divisions in the American League, but they are in the best division in baseball this year with both the A’s and Angels ahead of them. Despite being third in the division, they are second in the wild-card race, so it would seem the AL West has a good chance of getting three teams into the postseason. Third baseman Kyle Seager was named to the All-Star Game earlier in the week to replace Edwin Encarnacion.
7. San Francisco Giants (49-40, previous: 4) – San Francisco has slipped a bit of late. They are currently losers of seven of their last 10 games and sit one game back of the Dodgers in the NL West. The Giants average 3.92 runs per game, which is in the middle of the back in the NL. That is certainly something to keep an eye on in the second half as it’s affecting their starters like Tim Hudson, who has an ERA of 2.53, but is only 7-5.
8. Atlanta Braves (49-40, previous: 8) – Atlanta has lost two games in a row, but they won eight in a row before that as they lead the Nationals by a half game in the NL East. There is no question the Braves have the pitching to make the postseason, but their offense bares watching as they are currently averaging just 3.71 runs a game, 13th in the NL. Atlanta will close out the first half on the road taking on the Mets and Cubs.
9. Detroit Tigers (48-37, previous: 14) — Detroit has had numerous opportunities to run away with the division, but they haven’t at any point this year as currently they are just 3 1/2 games up on Kansas City as the Tigers have lost three straight. They could be a team that is very active at the deadline as they already showed how good they can be by making it to the ALCS last season. They just need a few more pieces to get them over the hump.
10. Washington Nationals (48-40, previous: 9) — Although their records aren’t the best in the game, Washington and Atlanta will be a race to watch in the second half in the NL East with the Nationals just a half game behind. Jason Werth took home National League Player of the Week honors last week as he led the majors with a 1.000 slugging percentage land paced the N.L. with nine RBI, while his 20 total bases were tied for the league lead.
11. St. Louis Cardinals (48-42, previous: 10) — St. Louis refuses to go away in the NL Central as they have played consistent ball most of the year and currently are just four games behind Milwaukee. Adam Wainwright is having one of his best seasons as the right-hander is 11-4 with a 1.79 ERA, to lead all of baseball. The Cardinals are also reportedly interested in adding another starting pitcher at the trade deadline, which would certainly benefit them moving forward.
12. Toronto Blue Jays (47-34, previous: 7) — Things are not going so well for the Blue Jays on or off the field lately. On the field, they have lost five straight and eight of their last 10 to fall out of first place in the AL East. Off the field, they have lost slugger Edwin Encarnacion for two to four weeks with a strained right quad. He joins Jose Bautista and Mark Buehrle, who were already on the disabled list. They will need to get these three players healthy in order to make a second-half run.
13. Pittsburgh Pirates (47-42, previous: 15) — Winners of seven of their last 10 games, the Pirates have closed the gap in the NL Central to just 4 1/2 games, despite their minus-3 run differential this season. The Pirates will need to get more production out of their lineup besides Andrew McCutchen as he has carried them this season, hitting .319 with 13 home runs and 54 RBIs.
14. Cincinnati Reds (46-42, previous: 13) — After a dreadful start, the Reds are finally coming around and playing like the team they were for the majority of last season. They have put themselves in a position to contend in both the NL Central and the wild card as they are currently five games behind the Brewers in the division. They did get some bad news with Joey Votto being placed on the 15-day DL with a strained left quad.
15. Kansas City Royals (46-42, previous: 12) — The Royals are just 3 1/2 games behind the Tigers for first place in the AL Central, which might be their best shot at making the postseason with the two wild-card teams likely coming from the AL West. Yordano Ventura is quietly having a good season on the mound. Despite his 6-7 record, his 3.07 ERA is 11th in the American League.
16. New York Yankees (45-43, previous: 16) — It has been a strange season in New York as they are two games above .500, but just 3 1/2 games out of first in a below-average American League East. Injuries have definitely played a factor as it was learned late last week it is likely CC Sabathia does not pitch another game this season. Rookie Masahiro Tanaka continues to impress though, as his 12-3 record and 2.27 ERA have drawn the eyes of many around the game.
17. Cleveland Indians (43-45, previous: 18) — It has been a year of ups and downs for the Indians, which has eventually all evened out as they currently sit two games below .500. Michael Brantley is having a successful season for manager Terry Francona as his .323 average is fourth in the AL.
18. Miami Marlins (43-46, previous: 17) — Even though Miami hasn’t played as well as it did early on in the season, they still are contenders in the NL East, just six games behind the Braves. Casey McGehee is having a very good season for the Marlins as he is batting .322, which is eighth in the entire league.
19. Chicago White Sox (43-47, previous: 20) — The White Sox are playing good baseball of late as they have won seven of their last 10 games. The biggest knock on them has been their lack of pitching, but it has been pretty good lately. Just 10 days ago the White Sox didn’t have any shutouts on the year and now they have three, including back-to-back shutout wins over the Mariners and Red Sox.
20. Tampa Bay Rays (41-51, previous: 28) — Tampa Bay has rattled off wins of eight of its last 10 games and is no longer in last place in the AL East. The biggest question still remains if, and to whom, the Rays trade David Price.
21. New York Mets (40-49, previous: 23) — Although it doesn’t look good at all, the Mets are still holding out some hope in the NL East as they are still not out of things yet. They are nine games behind the Braves, but they will need to get thing going relatively quickly. One of their best pitchers, Jon Niese, was put on the disabled list with a left shoulder strain in the past few days, which doesn’t help the club. It will also be interesting how they approach the trade deadline.
22. San Diego Padres (40-49, previous: 27) — The Padres are playing better baseball, but they are still 10 games behind the Dodgers in the NL West, scoring an MLB-low 268 runs this season.
23. Minnesota Twins (39-49, previous: 21) — Things seem to be going downhill quickly in Minnesota as they have now lost seven of their last 10 games and are now 10 1/2 games out of first in the AL Central. The Twins will host next week’s All-Star Game, which will certainly bring some excitement to the area.
24. Boston Red Sox (39-50, previous: 19) — Each week it seems the Red Sox are finally ready to get things jump started. But that has yet to happen as now the Red Sox are in last place in the AL East — 10 games behind the Orioles. Last week they were swept by the Cubs and then lost two of three to Baltimore at home. It will be very interesting to see how they approach the trade deadline with who they are willing to trade, or if they will even make trades at all.
25. Chicago Cubs (38-49, previous: 30) — The Cubs already dealt away Samardzija and Hammel. Does general manager Theo Epstein have anything else up his sleeve?
26. Texas Rangers (38-51, previous: 22) — It seems to get worse and worse each week for the Rangers, as they have now fallen 13 games below .500 and a whopping 18 games out of first place.
27. Philadelphia Phillies (38-51, previous: 24) — Losing eight of their last 10 games certainly leads people to believe the Phillies will be sellers at the deadline. They certainly have talent contending teams would like to acquire, especially in pitchers Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee, as well as some of their outfielders.
28. Arizona Diamondbacks (38-53, previous: 29) — Arizona has put virtually its whole team on the trade market, although Bronson Arroyo will not be one of them as it was announced Monday he will need Tommy John surgery.
29. Colorado Rockies (37-53, previous: 25) — It is getting ugly in Colorado as they are now in last place in the NL West, 13 1/2 games out of first place and behind the Diamondbacks.
30. Houston Astros (37-54, previous: 26) — With a minus-82 run differential, the Astros have the worst record in baseball.
Follow Metro sports writer Ryan Hannable on Twitter @RyanHannable.