With the midpoint of the 2018 season upon us, it’s time to check back in with our July Power Rankings.
Teams now are clearly contenders, pretenders, or non-tenders. As the contending group looks at the also-rans to pick their bones and acquire some stretch-drive talent, the fun of the MLB trade deadline looms.
While we wait to see what shakeups await our favorite teams and players, let’s dive into another round of rankings!
All records and stats as of Tuesday July 9, 2018.
1. Houston Astros (Last month: 3; 56-31) — Really, any team listed in the top six could have a decent case for a No. 1 ranking, but the Astros have reeled off a 12-game winning streak this month. They also have not lost more than three games in a row all year and have five winning streaks of five games or more. And the reigning MVP Jose Altuve (.334/.398/.472) is still incredible, while Justin Verlander is marching toward another Cy Young (9-4, 2.12 ERA, 178 ERA+). His closest competition is maybe rotation-mates Gerrit Cole (9-2, 2.50, 151) and Charlie Morton (10-2, 2.55, 148). Also, Alex Bregman has become another star for the ‘Stros (16 homers, 27 doubles, 152 OPS+).
2. Boston Red Sox (LM: 2; 58-29) — The Sox have such an interesting offense — five everyday betters with great numbers (Mookie Betts, JD Martinez, Andrew Benintendi, Xander Bogaerts, and Mitch Moreland) and four that are just putrid (Christian Vazquez, Eduardo Nunez, Rafael Devers, and Jackie Bradley, Jr.). The starting staff is mostly solid, with Chris Sale and Rick Porcello leading the way, with the bullpen doing a fine job. That said, they’ll probably acquire Manny Machado and Bryce Harper while Dave Dombrowski burns the farm to the ground…/sarcasm/
3. New York Yankees (LM: 1; 55-28) — Despite anticipated pitching woes, the lineup is so up-and-down good that this team is still mashing — 5.16 runs per game is second only to Boston and 141 homers is tops in MLB. Can the offense and crazy-great bullpen carry them into October?
4. Seattle Mariners (LM:4; 55-31) — If the Mariners go .500 in their remaining 76 games, they finish with 93 wins. This is a sneaky-good offense despite sitting mid-pack in runs per game (4.38) and a good-not-great staff (11th in MLB at 4.09 runs per game). All this with a down year from icon Felix Hernandez and missing arguably their best player Robbie Cano.
5. Milwaukee Brewers (LM: 5; 50-35) — We all knew Ryan Braun, Lorenzo Cain, Travis Shaw, and Christian Yelich would be contributors to a strong Brew Crew offense this year, but where did Jesus Aguilar (team-best 19 home runs and 55 RBIs, 159 OPS+) come from? Wow.
6. Cleveland Indians (LM: 13; 47-37) — The Tribe still has not fully broken out, but in June the team outscored its opponents 113-91 and has firmly taken the lead in the weak AL Central. The season-ending shoulder injury to Danny Salazar hurts, but with a front three of Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, and Mike Clevinger, the Indians are still a playoff threat. Not to mention the crazy-good years Jose Ramirez (24 doubles, 24 homers) and Francisco Lindor (27 doubles, 23 homers) are having. They just need some relief aid, which should be plentiful in July deals.
7. Chicago Cubs (LM: 6; 48-35) — No. 4 starter Tyler Chatwood has issued 66 walks in 73 ⅓ innings. Yu Darvish (4.95 ERA in 40 innings) has been a bust as well. But the bullpen is excellent — a third-in-NL 3.19 ERA for the unit — and every single regular in the lineup, including semi-regulars Ben Zobrist and Ian Happ, has an OPS+ north of 100. A very good team, despite a few weak spots.
8. Atlanta Braves (LM: 8; 49-35) — Much like the team right below, the Braves seem to have arrived a year early. Freddie Freeman’s excellence (153 OPS+) is expected, but the strong showings of Johan Camargo (120) and, in particular, Nick Markakis (143), are pleasant surprises in the Peach State. On the mound, Mike Foltynewicz (2.02 ERA) and Sean Newcomb (3.10 ERA) look great, too. As a Tigers fan, I have to ask: What the f***, Anibal (2.89)? What the f***?
9. Philadelphia Phillies (LM: 11; 46-37) — In our preseason predictions, young arm Aaron Nola (2.48) was lauded, but the breakout of Zach Elfin (2.97, 137 ERA+) has been a nice surprise, especially as Jake Arrieta (3.54, 115) slides into mediocrity. The bullpen will need some help for the Phils to hang in there, though.
10. Arizona Diamondbacks (LM: 12; 48-38) — After his craptacular April/May, Paul Goldschmidt has blasted a line of .379/.478/.789 over the last 28 days. His season line now sits at .277/.385/.538 with 19 homers. That’s more like the Goldy we know and love. Hope is that the return of center fielder A.J. Pollock (141 OPS+) can help the Snakes fight off the coming Dodgers.
11. Los Angeles Dodgers (LM: 15; 46-39) — If your preseason picks had Max Muncy (2.9 bWAR) as the Dodgers’ best hitter, Ross Stripling (2.7 bWAR) as their best pitcher, and Matt Kemp (.318, 15 homers, 145 OPS+) playing like it was 2011 again, then stop reading and get on the next flight to Vegas.
12. Oakland Athletics (LM: 18; 47-39) — Matts Olson (18 homers) and Chapman (119 OPS+) look like cornerstones of Billy Beane’s next Frankenstein’s monster, while Jed Lowrie (.293/.355/.502) has apparently morphed into Ponce de Leon. And that bullpen looks full of trade bait. Sweet, sweet trade bait…
13. Los Angeles Angels (LM: 9; 43-43) — Wunderkind Shohei Ohtani is back as a hitter (.280/.361/.517, 142 OPS+), and Mike Trout is still insane (.310/.454/.626, 199 OPS+). Yes, that OPS+ means Trout is essentially twice as good as an average hitter. Mercy! As for the rest of the team? Well…
14. San Francisco Giants (LM: 16; 45-42) — The Giants have hung around while Bumgarner, Cueto, and Samardzija have battled injuries. If they can get healthy, the G-Men could still make a nice push later this summer. Also, Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria still look weird in those cream and orange unis.
15. Colorado Rockies (LM: 14; 43-43) — Nolan Arenado, defensive wizard, hitting machine, and 2019 free agent, has recently stated he is tired of losing. Arenado made his MLB debut on April 28, 2013. Since then, Colorado has run up a 398-474 record, good for a .456 winning percentage. If Arenado is sick of losing, he should either learn to pitch or start packing his bags.
16. St. Louis Cardinals (LM: 10; 43-41) — Marcell Ozuna (.277/.321/.406) has been decent, while Dexter Fowler (.171/.276/.278) has been swallowed up by injuries. It’s the bats of Jose Martinez (131 OPS+) and Matt Carpenter (133) carrying the offense, while pitchers Jack Flaherty (3.19 ERA), Miles Mikolas (2.61), and Michael Wacha (3.20) have been very good. This team, on paper, is much better than the results have shown. Maybe they have a run in them yet?
17. Washington Nationals (LM: 7; 42-42) — When preseason predictions are made, a lot of things are assumed. Good health, consistent production, everything going just right. Maybe it’s a function of us missing the game over the winter. Maybe it’s the eternal optimism that comes with being a fan. Whatever the case, we have pooped the bed on this one.
18. Tampa Bay Rays (LM: 23; 40-45) — I still think it’s weird that, as much of an amateur baseball haven the state of Florida is, it cannot sustain ANY type of decent MLB team. At least the Rays appear to be trying, unlike those jokes further south. Blake Snell (11-4, 2.24) is pretty amazing. Watch him, damn it! Watch him!
19. Toronto Blue Jays (LM: 21; 40-45) — Kevin Pillar is still amazing on defense, and Teoscar Hernandez is having a nice season too. But outside of those two, there isn’t much worth crowing about north of the border. Oh, someone seems to have kidnapped Marcus Stroman and replaced him with an inferior version (1-5, 6.02 ERA, 56 hits in just 49 ⅓ innings). He’s gotta be hurt more than he’s letting on, right?
20. Pittsburgh Pirates (LM: 20; 40-45) — The Pirates have a lot of slightly-above-average talent, and a lot of slight-below-talent. You know what that adds up to? An average team having an average season.
21. Minnesota Twins (LM: 19; 35-47) — Offseason adds Jake Odorizzi (4.57 ERA, 91 ERA+) and Lance Lynn (5.49, 76) have been awful, while the homegrown talents of Jose Berrios (3.52, 118) and Kyle Gibson (3.58, 116) have done fine. Overhyped by most at the start of the year, myself included, we often forget that injuries cannot be predicted and development, such as that of Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano, is not linear.
22. Detroit Tigers (LM: 17; 38-49) — An 11-game losing streak sunk the Tigers down to where we all thought they’d be coming into the year. Detroit has fashioned a bottom-tier offense, an adequate defense, a mid-tier starting staff, and a still crappy bullpen. Hope for a few trades to keep building the system, Tigers fans.
23. Cincinnati Reds (LM: 26; 37-49) — One day in the future, we may look back on Joey Votto (.291/.425/.440) as one of the greatest players to never win a ring. Because the Reds have no pitching. We often talk of how the Angels are “wasting” Mike Trout’s greatness. No, they’re not. They have actively spent money to contend with him on the roster; they’ve just spent poorly (see Pujols, Albert and Hamilton, Josh). The Reds, on the other hand, have not made a real stab at contention for the bulk of Votto’s career. It’s just been one long circle-jerk rebuild with no pitching.
24. Texas Rangers (LM: 25; 38-48) — These guys are bad, but they’re not unsightly bad. Well, except for Joey Gallo (98 OPS+), Robinson Chirinos (97), Ronald “Who?” Guzman (92), the entire bench (led by Isiah Kiner-Falefa’s 81), and garbage person Rougned Odor (77). Remember, 100 OPS+ is average. So, maybe this team is unsightly bad after all.
25. San Diego Padres (LM: 22; 37-50) — This season, the Padres’ top player, according to Baseball Reference’s WAR is reliever Kirby Yates at 1.7. As for the rest of the team, well, it’s a bonafide “Who’s That?” of baseball. That said, off the final 10 teams in these rankings, the Padres probably the brightest future coming soonest.
Note: Hold your nose, kids, it’s about to get nasty…
26. Chicago White Sox (LM: 27; 30-55) — Irrepressible toad Bruce Rondon has an ERA of 8.00 with 22 walks in 27 innings. A million-dollar arm with no clue or care what to do with it. A complete and utter waste of talent.
27. Kansas City Royals (LM: 28; 25-60) — And the Royals’ GM is “publicly musing” about signing a sex offender under some bullshit guise of morality. F*** off, Dayton.
28. New York Mets (LM: 24; 33-49) — A dumpster fire that the ownership seems to more than happy to douse with gasoline. Here’s hoping Thor and deGrom get traded somewhere better.
29. Miami Marlins (LM: 30; 35-52) — Here’s how forgettable wretched this team is. Each time I compile these rankings, I write out a checklist of all 30 teams to make sure each is included. When scribbling out the five NL East teams, I wrote “Phillies” down twice.
30. Baltimore Orioles (LM: 29; 24-60) — The Birds are 5-14 in one-run games, 14-40 against righties, 7-23 in their last 30 games. The only thing interesting about them is wondering what they get for Manny Machado and any other veterans they trade away.