Here are my latest MLB power rankings, with comments on each team with the trade deadline having come and gone. Click here for my take on what the Orioles did at the deadline.
1. Los Angeles Dodgers (26-10, No. 1 last week): Everybody else is scurrying to keep up with the best and deepest team in baseball. But two huge ifs factor into whether or not the Dodgers come away with the shortened season’s World Series crown — can Walker Buehler (on the injured list with a blister) and Clayton Kershaw stay healthy?
2. Tampa Bay Rays (25-11, No. 2): No need to pull off any trades. The Rays now just need two of their pitchers to get healthy in Charlie Morton and high-leverage reliever Nick Anderson. If Morton can get in position to give them some length, no team in baseball can match Morton, Tyler Glasnow and Blake Snell at the top of the rotation.
3. Oakland Athletics (22-12, No. 3): Under Billy Beane and GM David Forst, the A’s always seem to make smart but unspectacular deals at deadline time. The deals for infielder Tommy La Stella and lefty Mike Minor fit that description.
4. Cleveland Indians (21-14, No. 6): The comeback of Carlos Carrasco, the emergence of Shane Bieber as an ace and the depth of organizational options allowed GM Chris Antonetti to deal Mike Clevinger, who greatly damaged his standing in the clubhouse by going out in Chicago with Zach Plesac but only coming clean about break from protocol after flying with the team.
5. New York Yankees (19-14, No. 5): The Yankees stayed the course amid all the deadline moves around the league. They just need to get healthy again. Zack Britton, Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge, James Paxton, Giancarlo Stanton and Gleyber Torres are all on the IL.
6. Minnesota Twins (20-16, No. 4): Told you the starting pitching wasn’t up to a pitched battle for appearing in, much less winning, a World Series.
7. Chicago White Sox (22-13, No. 9): The fast-charging White Sox appear to be putting the Cubs in rear-view mirror in the battle for Second City relevance. The gauntlet of Tim Anderson, Jose Abreu, Eloy Jimenez, Yoan Moncada and Luis Robert is difficult for any opposing pitcher to run through. Lucas Giolito’s no-hitter was a huge confidence builder for the ace-quality hurler.
8. San Diego Padres (22-15, No. 7): The last time we proclaimed GM AJ Preller a genius for a bundle of trades, he ended up looking more like a dunce. It’ll be interesting to see if the chemistry experiment blows up in his face again. Is this really good team building or just saving face and job? Still, Mike Clevinger improves this team.
9. Chicago Cubs (20-14, No. 9): Yu Darvish is back to the spectacular version of himself. It sure would help if another starting pitcher — are you listening Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks? — would follow suit. They do appear ready to move recently healed Jose Quintana into a rotation spot over the sputtering Alec Mills. Last season’s signing of Craig Kimbrel (three years, $45 million) is not looking very good thanks to Kimbrel’s 10.13 ERA and 2.38 WHIP. This year, ownership allowed Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer to acquire Andrew Chafin, Joel Osich and Cameron Maybin at the deadline.
10. Houston Astros (19-14, No. 11): The pedigree of the club is starting to show with a 12-4 run during the past 16 games. While Lance McCullers in trending nicely, they miss the great one — Justin Verlander. The team is keeping their fingers crossed that Verlander will miraculously be back and ramped up in time to help them at the end of the season. The more likely outcome is that they make playoffs and Verlander is healthy next February.
11. Atlanta Braves (20-14, No. 8): I’m stunned Alex Anthopoulos failed to come up with a deadline deal to get a potential difference-making starting pitcher. They must be counting on Ian Anderson to be ready for a heavy load from here until the end of the season. Missed opportunity.
12. Toronto Blue Jays (18-15, No. 14): The Blue Jays made quite the statement that they intend to be in this thing by acquiring Taijuan Walker, Robbie Ray and Ross Stripling.
13. St. Louis Cardinals (13-13, No. 12): It’s like the Cardinals’ battle with COVID-19 got them off the rails. They are greatly aided by the increase in playoff teams (from five to eight in each league). If they put it together and get on a hot streak, they can match up with anybody in an all-important Game 1 with Jack Flaherty at the head of their rotation.
14. San Francisco Giants (17-19, No. 18): The Giants responded to their lofty perch smartly. Gabe Kapler is having a much better go of it in San Francisco than he did in Philly, but really going for it would not have made sense in terms of what it would have cost in prospects.
15. Colorado Rockies (17-18, No. 15): The Rockies picked up impact relief pitcher Mychal Givens from the Orioles and also tried to improve their outfield defense by adding Kevin Pillar, who has moved around quite a bit at this point. Not sure these moves move the needle.
16. Philadelphia Phillies (15-15, No. 21): The Phillies have won six of their last seven. I’ve always felt Joe Girardi was a difference maker. With Jake Arrieta suddenly looking as if his days as a solid contributor may be a thing of the past, Girardi and pitching coach Bryan Price have their work cut out for them. They are getting very nice work out of Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola and recently Zach Eflin. The Phillies have added David Hale, Heath Hembree, Blake Parker, David Phelps and Brandon Workman to the bullpen recently. It’s pretty hard to turn over a bullpen on the fly, but they had no choice.
17. Cincinnati Reds (15-20, No. 19): I expected more from David Bell’s squad to date, though it did just add late-inning stud Archie Bradley. In a truly unremarkable season, Jesse Winker appears to have arrived for his star turn, as he is batting .327/.433/.683. The flip side of that coin is Joey Votto is batting just .225 and Eugenio Suarez is batting .185. Suarez slugged 49 homers last season and drove in 100-plus runs in back-to-back seasons.
18. Milwaukee Brewers (16-18, No. 20): There are a lot of problems with the Brewers, but what alternate reality world are we in with Christian Yelich batting .197, when his career batting average is .298?
19. Miami Marlins (15-15, No. 22): Surprisingly, the Marlins are hanging tough in a lackluster NL East. But Marlins just aren’t getting enough out of their outfield — hence the deal for Starling Marte, who picked up from Arizona for lefty Caleb Smith and right-hander Humberto Mejia. But then they also gave up Jonathan Villar, showing once again that money dictates a lot of what goes on in the Marlins’ world.
20. New York Mets (15-20, No. 13): Sure hope former agent Brodie Van Wagenen heeded the Motel 6 slogan — “we’ll leave the light on for you” — with his agent practice.
21. Washington Nationals (12-20, No. 16): Turn out the lights, the party’s over. The Nationals were very fortunate to have Juan Soto in their system to replace Bryce Harper, but they didn’t have a ready replacement for third baseman Anthony Rendon. Age is starting to show in the rotation.
22. Arizona Diamondbacks (14-21, No. 17): Since being hired in October 2016, GM Mike Hazen has guided the D-Backs through three interesting and mostly positive seasons. Right now at 14-21, they look like they are taking a step backward.
23. Detroit Tigers (16-16, No. 27): Skipper Ron Gardenhire’s three-year contract runs out at the end of 2020. Right now, he’s looking like a sure bet to be asked back for 2-3 more years by GM Al Avila. Having this club at .500 is no small feat.
24. Kansas City Royals (14-21, No. 24): Want hope for Hunter Harvey? Look at what one-time top starting pitching prospect Kyle Zimmer has battled through to become a dominant bullpen asset. Zimmer was taken No. 5 overall in the 2012 MLB Draft. Now 29 years old, he’s healthy and has a 1.38 ERA and 1.07 WHIP in 13 innings.
25. Seattle Mariners (15-22, No. 26): GM Jerry Dipoto hasn’t met a trade he doesn’t like. Net result is that the team flounders. Not sure how much more ownership can take of the churn.
26. Texas Rangers (12-21, No. 25): The deadline gave them a chance to retreat and build on the fly. What they have now just ain’t working.
27. Baltimore Orioles (15-19, No. 23): The 12-8 start seems like a mirage after a 3-11 stretch. The trades continue.
28. Los Angeles Angels (12-24, No. 28): He’s had a brilliant career, but any team playing Albert Pujols everyday isn’t really trying to win now. Owner Arte Moreno needs to take a primer in importance of starting pitching.
29. Boston Red Sox (12-23, No. 29): GM Chaim Bloom is starting to dig into what looks like long rebuild.
30. Pittsburgh Pirates (10-22, No. 30): GM Ben Cherington, one of Bloom’s distant predecessors in Boston, is doing the same thing as Bloom in a cooler stadium.