The All-Star Game took place a week later than usual, which means that even with the slight extension of the season due to the lockout, most teams are already well past the 90-game mark.
Some storylines relevant at this point come as no surprise -- the Yankees and Astros are good, possibly historically so, and the Dodgers are a juggernaut, again, running away with the NL West.
But there are a few fun items to follow that perhaps we were not expecting. Like the Mariners taking a 14-game winning streak into, and out of, the All-Star break, after underachieving for much of the first half. Four weeks ago, Seattle was 10 games under .500. Since then, the club has won 22 of 25, and occupies the second Wild Card spot in the American League.
And it gets better -- the Mariners play seven of their next 10 games against the first-place Astros, including three at home this weekend to get the second half rolling. Houston is ahead in the division by a lot -- nine games -- but as recently as two weeks ago, it was looking like it might win the AL West by 20 games. That appears to no longer be the case.
Biggest jump: The Mariners jumped six spots, from 13 to 7. Keep an eye on budding superstar Julio Rodríguez, runner-up of the Home Run Derby, who is on track for another decade’s worth of All-Star appearances.
Biggest drop: The Red Sox dropped eight spots, from 8 to 16. Not much to dissect here – they’re 5-12 in July and have four series in a row coming up vs. contenders – Toronto, Cleveland, Milwaukee and Houston.
Power Rankings Top 5:
1) Yankees (64-28; last week: 1)
DraftKings World Series odds: 4-1
The Yankees, who outscored the Red Sox 27-3 in the final two games of their three-game weekend set heading into the break, are on pace for 113 wins. The trendy story heading into the break was about Matt Carpenter and his recent exploits. The DH/infielder is 19-for-43 (.442) with seven homers and 21 RBIs in his past 13 games.
2) Dodgers (60-30; last week: 3)
DraftKings World Series odds: 3.8-1
So much has happened since the Dodgers last played -- the Draft, the All-Star Game at Dodger Stadium, Mookie Betts leading the crowd in the (unofficially) largest “Happy birthday” proclamation in history -- that perhaps a reset is merited here. The Dodgers have posted a 13-2 mark this month, are 10 games ahead in a competitive NL West and are getting contributions from every inch of the roster. They open the second half with a four-game set with the Giants, creating immediate intrigue coming out of the break.
3) Astros (59-32; last week: 2)
DraftKings World Series odds: 5-1
Despite the Mariners’ 14-game win streak, they haven’t been able to shave very much of their deficit in the AL West, thanks to the Astros keeping pace, for the most part, throughout the past nearly three weeks. Houston has won 14 of its past 19 games, and outscored opponents 94-57 during that stretch.
4) Mets (58-35; last week: 4)
DraftKings World Series odds: 7-1
The Mets lost to the Cubs on Sunday, falling a win short of matching their highest win total prior to the All-Star break in their history. They’re 58-35, one shy of the ’86 Mets, who were 59-25 (.702) en route to a 108-win World Series championship season. Meanwhile, Pete Alonso has set a Mets record with 78 RBIs by the All-Star break. The only NL player with more RBIs by the break in the past decade was Josh Bell, who had 84 in 2019.
5) Braves (56-38; last week: 5)
DraftKings World Series odds: 8-1
The Braves’ slow start is barely a memory now that they’ve been rolling for the better part of six weeks. The NL East race is shaping up to be a doozy between the Mets, who have had a stronghold on first place since the beginning, and the Braves, who have been gaining on them slowly but deliberately since early June. Austin Riley is a big piece of Atlanta’s renaissance -- during his current 13-game hitting streak, he’s batting .407 (22-for-54) with seven homers and 13 RBIs. He has six homers in his past nine games.
The rest of the field of 30
- Padres (last week: 6)
- Mariners (13)
- Twins (10)
- Brewers (7)
- Cardinals (14)
- Rays (11)
- Blue Jays (9)
- Phillies (12)
- Giants (16)
- Guardians (15)
- Red Sox (8)
- Orioles (18)
- White Sox (17)
- Marlins (19)
- Rangers (20)
- Rockies (22)
- Angels (21)
- D-backs (23)
- Pirates (25)
- Tigers (24)
- Reds (27)
- Cubs (26)
- Royals (28)
- A’s (30)
- Nats (29)
Voters: Alyson Footer, Anthony Castrovince, Paul Casella, Mark Feinsand, Nathalie Alonso, Mike Petriello, Sarah Langs, Andrew Simon, David Venn, Brett Blueweiss.