Our first post-All-Star break MLB Power Rankings are all about the status quo. Not a lot has changed in the last week-and-a-half. The positioning of the top teams hasn't changed much, and most of them have one general theme in common -- quite frankly, no one has been that impressive
Our first post-All-Star break MLB Power Rankings are all about the status quo. Not a lot has changed in the last week-and-a-half. The positioning of the top teams hasn't changed much, and most of them have one general theme in common -- quite frankly, no one has been that impressive in July.
Still, short-term issues don't necessarily cloud long-term expectations, and most of the top teams seem to have the personnel to get through the grind of the season with their postseason chances intact. If there's one club that may have cause for worry, it's the Rangers, who have played a little better lately but have lost a ton of ground in the American League West over the last month. If there's any club that almost has to make a move before the Aug. 1 Trade Deadline, it's probably Texas.
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Biggest jump: The Cardinals jumped three spots, from 12 to nine. They lost recent series to the Marlins and Dodgers but swept the Padres in a four-game home set in the middle, giving them a 6-4 post All-Star record. They're still 7 1/2 games back in the National League Central, but only a smidge out of the second Wild Card spot.
Biggest drop: The Blue Jays dropped from seven to 10. That might seem a little harsh, considering they've played .500 (4-4) since the last rankings were posted. Toronto is mentioned more in Wild Card conversations, but it should be noted that the Jays are three games behind Baltimore in the AL East and will be hosting the Orioles for a three-game set this weekend.
Power Rankings top five:
It appears the Cubs are slowly working their way out of what was a dreadful start to July, winning three series since the All-Star break. The prevailing theory about why the Cubs seemingly hit a brick wall before the break was that they were simply gassed -- because of a makeup game on July 7, they played 24 straight without an off-day. Perhaps rest and relaxation was all they needed. They took two of three against two contenders (Rangers, Mets), while wrapping up a homestand with a series win over division-rival Milwaukee. The pitching seems mostly to be back on track, having compiled a 2.28 ERA in eight games heading into Sunday. And with electric left-hander Aroldis Chapman set to solidify the back end of the bullpen, Chicago has the feel of a potential championship team.
The Nationals have been just so-so -- 4-5, one series win and two series losses -- since second-half play started, but they're still tied for the second-most wins in baseball with 58 and have a healthy lead in the NL East. Over their past 24 games, they're 15-9 and have outscored opponents 122-82. A peek at the upcoming schedule, however, suggests the Nats are in for a challenge. Between now and Aug. 10 they play only one sub-.500 team -- the D-backs (Aug. 1-3). The rest of that span consists of 11 games against two first-place teams, the Indians and Giants.
The Tribe was swept in Baltimore over the weekend, but if there's a bright side, it's that the three-game skid was a season high, and they still have a six-game lead in the AL Central. That's thanks in large part to a 30-13 (.698) record within the AL Central, the best intradivision record of any team in the Majors. More encouraging for the Indians? They are entering a long stretch of home games -- 20 of their next 25. They're 26-16 at Progressive Field this year.
The Giants snapped a season-high six-game slide on Saturday with a 2-1 win against the Yankees, but that was only a temporary reprieve -- they're still 1-7 since play resumed after the All-Star break. The Giants' lead is narrowing in the NL West, but long-term, the outlook is sunnier. The Giants are hopeful that Hunter Pence, despite suffering a small setback recently while rehabbing, will be back soon, and the pitching has, for the most part, held up well. Pence's return is imperative -- the difference in the Giants' record when he's in the lineup as opposed to when he's been on the DL in the last two years is staggering.
The Orioles in the first half put up dominant offensive numbers, which was expected, but they also pitched better than preseason projections suggested, which made them very competitive in the division. In the early stages of the second half, the pitching has been terrific -- a team ERA of 2.93 is third-lowest in the Majors -- and that has compensated for slow offensive production. The O's are off to a 6-4 second-half start and will open the week with a three-game home set with the Rockies before playing a makeup game in Minnesota.
The rest of the top 20
6. Red Sox (8)
7. Rangers (5)
8. Astros (10)
9. Cardinals (12)
10. Blue Jays (7)
11. Dodgers (9)
12. Marlins (13)
13. Mets (11)
14. Tigers (16)
15. Pirates (14)
16. Mariners (15)
17. Royals (17)
18. Yankees (19)
19. White Sox (18)
20. Rockies (20)
Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.