Power Rankings: Who's on top at midpoint?

July 6th, 2021

Typically, the midway point of the season is also around the time when teams mostly hold steady in our Power Rankings. There’s usually not a ton of dramatic jumps or drops, a sign a lot of clubs are settling into whatever they’re going to be this season, even those off to the dreaded “disappointing start.”

But if we’ve learned anything in three-plus months, it’s that many clubs have been streaky. The Dodgers have looked unbeatable at times, and uninspired at others. The same applies to the Rays, Red Sox, Astros and Cubs -- they’ve had stretches of sheer dominance, only to then lose, badly, to struggling teams.

Conversely, other clubs have gotten our attention of late with improved play that has them ascending in the standings (we’re looking at you, Mariners, and you, too, Tigers).

The first half was about settling in; the second half is always a test of endurance. So far, October looks to be fairly wide open.

Biggest jump: Three teams jumped four spots: The Brewers (9 to 5), Reds (16 to 12) and Mariners (18 to 14). The Reds take a five-game winning streak into their game with the Royals on Tuesday, including a home sweep of the Cubs, in which all three games were decided by one run.

Biggest drop: The Rays dropped five spots, from 4 to 9. It’s been a rough stretch for the reigning American League champs. Before winning their opener with the Indians on Monday, they had lost six of 11. The schedule doesn’t let up for a while -- they end the first half with three each vs. the Indians and the Blue Jays.

Power Rankings Top 5:

1) Dodgers (3 last week)
The Dodgers were no-hit by the Cubs on June 24 and responded with nine straight wins, a streak that ended with a 5-4 loss to the Marlins on Monday. Los Angeles' pitching has been rock solid – through the nine-game winning streak, pitchers compiled a 1.64 ERA and a 31.6 percent strikeout rate, while the bullpen allowed just three earned runs over 35 1/3 innings.

2) Giants (1)
The Giants, winners of 25 of their past 37, deserve all of the first-half accolades they’ve received after becoming the first team to reach 50 wins, but it’s also worth noting they’ve played the third-easiest schedule so far, with opponents collectively compiling a winning percentage well below .500 to this point. More than a quarter of their games moving forward will be against the Dodgers and Padres.

3) Astros (2)
Here’s what we know about the Astros: at 52-33, they’re on pace for 99 wins, they just swept the Indians in Cleveland and they have a somewhat comfortable advantage in the AL West -- 3 1/2 games over the A’s, who, incidentally, are in town for a three-game set beginning Tuesday. Here’s what we also know: The Astros tend to play their worst ball against teams they should beat. They’ve been swept by the Tigers, Orioles and Rangers at various points this season. We’re not sure what that means for the upcoming homestand, but here’s something else we know: The Yankees are headed to Houston this weekend. Popcorn recommended.

4) Red Sox (6)
Entering their series in Anaheim on Monday, the Sox had won nine of 10, scoring 62 runs while batting .337 with runners in scoring position over that stretch. In their prior turn through the rotation, Boston’s starting pitchers compiled a 1.19 ERA.

5) Brewers (9)
The Brewers took advantage of an easier part of their schedule and strung together an 11-game winning streak while playing the D-backs, Rockies, Pirates and Cubs. The series with the Cubs was probably the most impressive -- the Brewers outscored their division rivals, 31-12, during a three-game set. And just like that, the Brewers have a stronghold on the NL Central; even after Monday's loss to the Mets, Milwaukee holds a six-game division lead.

The rest of the field of 30:

  1. Padres (5 last week)
  2. White Sox (7)
  3. A’s (8)
  4. Rays (4)
  5. Mets (10)
  6. Blue Jays (12)
  7. Reds (16)
  8. Indians (14)
  9. Mariners (18)
  10. Cubs (11)
  11. Yankees (13)
  12. Braves (17)
  13. Nationals (15)
  14. Angels (21)
  15. Cardinals (20)
  16. Phillies (19)
  17. Twins (24)
  18. Marlins (22)
  19. Tigers (25)
  20. Royals (23)
  21. Rangers (26)
  22. Rockies (27)
  23. Pirates (28)
  24. Orioles (29)
  25. D-backs (30)

Voters: Alyson Footer, Anthony Castrovince, Jesse Sanchez, Mark Feinsand, Nathalie Alonso, Mike Petriello, Sarah Langs, Andrew Simon, David Venn