Here are my MLB power rankings at the All-Star break, with comments on all 30 teams.
1. San Francisco Giants (57-32, No. 1 last week): The longer the Giants stay in it, the tougher they will be to discard.
2. Houston Astros (55-36, No. 4): The starting pitching doesn’t look good enough, but that lineup is usually very tough for the opposing pitcher to navigate successfully.
3. Boston Red Sox (55-36, No. 2): Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers are the givens. If J.D. Martinez puts together a big second half, the Red Sox can win the American League East. A total wild card down the stretch could be a second-half return from Chris Sale.
4. Los Angeles Dodgers (56-35, No. 3): GM Andrew Friedman and manager Dave Roberts have to navigate successfully out of the trap they are in with Trevor Bauer. If the allegations against Bauer are accurate and true, I can’t realistically see him ever playing Major League Baseball again. When the Dodgers inevitably go down the road of voiding Years 2 and 3 of Bauer’s contract at a tidy $64 million, I’ll love to see how the MLBPA defends him.
5. Chicago White Sox (54-35, No. 7): I have to begrudgingly give the White Sox and skipper Tony La Russa their due. Can you imagine how good this team would be if Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert had each played 85 or more games in the first half?
6. San Diego Padres (53-40, No. 6): The Padres are just 17-15 during their past 32 games. Why? Can they fix it? For a team that has a huge payroll and not much history of team-wide success, this looks like it ends up with fingers being pointed at the manager, whether Jayce Tingler deserves it or not.
7. Milwaukee Brewers (53-39, No. 5): I knew they were heavily reliant on pitching, but team batting average of .220 — even in this 2021 baseball world we live in — can’t possibly cut it throughout 162 games.
8. Tampa Bay Rays (53-37, No. 9): Nobody can argue with the notion that the Rays have figured a lot of stuff out better than the competition. There is also no question that manager Kevin Cash is part of the Rays’ process. But I still see too much stuff he does that seems intended to prove the point as to how smart he is rather than winning a game.
9. Oakland Athletics (52-40, No. 8): Since Week 12, the A’s are 12-13, while the Astros have been scalding hot at 18-8. Mark Canha was placed on the IL on June 25 with a left hip strain. Since that date, the A’s are 6-8.
10. New York Mets (47-40, No. 10): Without having a crystal ball and knowing who the Mets may acquire at the trade deadline, I feel very comfortable predicting neither the Mets nor any of the other teams from MLB’s most disappointing division will be playing very deep into October.
11. Seattle Mariners (48-43, No. 11): The 17-8 run the Mariners are on has probably saved Scott Servais’ managerial tenure in Seattle. But like I wrote with the Brewers, it’s awfully hard to see a team batting .216 with an on-base percentage of .292 matching up well with any really good team.
12. Cincinnati Reds (48-42, No. 14): The Reds are playing with a good bit of character, but their pitching staff ERA of 4.38 is not stamping them as serious players — just a notch or two above mediocre in a season of a lot of less-than-mediocre play all over the map. I do like manager David Bell.
13. New York Yankees (46-43, No. 15): The Yankees went out West and lost two of three to that hot Mariners outfit, then they went to Houston. They won the first two games against the Astros and had a 7-2 lead on July 11. They blew it with Chad Green on the mound instead of shaky All-Star Aroldis Chapman, who is probably enduring the worst stretch of his MLB career. (Plus, staying away from Chapman meant he’d be fresh for the All-Star Game.) Not saying he’ll challenge Chapman, but once-great closer Zack Britton is due back July 15 in Boston from his latest injury.
14. Cleveland Indians (45-42, No. 12): Too many injuries to the starting staff, a long absence of Franmil Reyes and the loss of Francisco Lindor before the season have all played a part in what’s going on. I have learned to never underestimate the really good skippers. The Tribe will be in the hunt for the postseason, but without Shane Bieber what will it amount to?
15. Toronto Blue Jays (45-42, No. 13): Of course, I’m not close to the situation. But I wouldn’t make any FanDuel or DraftKings wagers on Charlie Montoya being around as manager in 2022.
16. Los Angeles Angels (45-44, No. 18): The Angels nudged over .500 at the All-Star break, but there’s no exact timetable on the return of Mike Trout (strained right calf). One of these days, the Angels will get the hang of developing their own pitching. Until that day, you can have all the big-time bats in your lineup (see Trout, Shohei Ohtani, Anthony Rendon, Justin Upton, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton) and still finish way back.
17. Philadelphia Phillies (44-44, No. 21): The Phillies are just 3.5 games behind the Mets at the break, but unless president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has a magic button to push and get a bullpen, this team is doomed to disappoint its fans.
18. St. Louis Cardinals (44-46, No. 20): I have written about a few teams that have disappointed thus far in 2021, but I can’t imagine this was the season any of the Cards’ brain trust envisioned for their team when they pulled off that Nolan Arenado deal. Skipper Mike Shildt will be hard-pressed to keep his job after such an awful season.
19. Washington Nationals (42-47, No. 16): Kyle Schwarber is on the injured list with a badly strained hamstring. He got hurt on July 2. Since that date, the Nats are 2-8. In the 21 games prior to that, they went a red-hot 15-6. Did Schwarber have much to do with that hot-streak? Just a little bit. He hit .338, raising his season batting average up to .253. He also hit an astounding 16 homers and knocked in 27 runs during that stretch. Things don’t look too good baseball-wise in the nation’s capital.
20. Chicago Cubs (44-46, No. 17): When I wrote the power rankings after week 11, the Cubs had just gone 5-2 to get to a season-high 11 games over .500. I had them No. 10 in my rankings. Everyone, myself included, was extolling the virtues of skipper David Ross. In the four weeks since then, the Cubs have gone 6-19 and are now just 44-46. Looks like the club will look to deal players such as Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Javier Baez and maybe even closer Craig Kimbrel.
21. Atlanta Braves (44-45, No. 19): A sad-sack season just unwound totally with star outfielder Ronald Acuna’s season-ending knee injury (a torn ACL). Though John Schuerholz is vice chairman emeritus of the Braves, it’ll be the call of GM Alex Anthopoulos as to whether or not manager Brian Snitker will return. Anthopoulos inherited Snitker when he took over for John Coppolella and he may feel the need to flex his muscle a little bit.
22. Detroit Tigers (40-51, No. 22): There is no question A.J. Hinch was a great choice as manager by GM Al Avila, but can’t anyone locate better pitchers? On July 11, Tigers lost a 12-9, extra-inning affair to the Twins. In looking over the box score, here were the Tigers’ pitchers: Starter Wily Peralta (2.08 ERA and had just been brought up from the minors), Tyler Alexander (4.31), Daniel Norris (6.89), Joe Jimenez (8.27), closer Gregory Soto (3.00 and gave up the game-tying run in the bottom of the ninth), Buck Farmer (8.25) and Derek Holland (10.06). Just amazing that Hinch has the team at 40-51 with that kind of staff depth.
23. Minnesota Twins (39-50, No. 27): The Twins have played a bit better of late, going 13-11 during the past four weeks. The club has been beset with injuries throughout the season, but club’s decision to let Jake Odorizzi leave and replace him with two “cheaper” options in Matt Shoemaker and J.A. Happ was really exposed when Kenta Maeda got hurt early. Maeda is only now pitching like he was supposed to. Nobody likes Josh Donaldson more than me, but should it surprise anyone he has only been able to play in 68 games and is batting just .249?
24. Colorado Rockies (40-51, No. 23): The Rockies had to go 9-4 to get to their high-water mark of 40-51. There does not seem to be a clear direction, as they are beginning to resemble a team on a path to nowhere special. Manager Bud Black is still a special guy, but he’s unable to really move the needle on this lemon.
25. Miami Marlins (39-50, No. 26): What would a Marlins write-up be if it didn’t contain some good news and some bad news? Which do you want first? Well, skipper Don Mattingly has a supporter in GM Kim Ng, who made it official that Mattingly will be back for 2022. It sure looks like he’ll need an improved record in the first half of 2022 to gain a true two- or three-year extension. The bad news is that superstar pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez will undergo surgery to repair a small tear in his right shoulder capsule. It’s believed that he’ll be ready for spring training 2022, which is important to Mattingly’s future.
26. Texas Rangers (35-55, No. 25): eBay is full of Adolis Garcia rookie cards from 2018 and 2019 — only thing is he is wearing a St. Louis Cardinals jersey. Amazingly, he got all of 17 at-bats with the Cardinals. He had one double and zero homers. He has played in 80 games so far this year and has hit 22 long balls while knocking in 62 runs. He is the highlight of another down season in Arlington Texas. That and the fact fans are turning out to see games at the new Globe Life Field.
27. Kansas City Royals (36-53, No. 24): A couple years back, it looked like Orioles, Pirates, Tigers and Royals would be in lengthy rebuilds. This offseason, the Royals added Carlos Santana to play first base and brought back lefty Mike Minor as a free agent to stabilize their rotation. Then when they traded for Andrew Benintendi and got off to a 16-10 start, it looked as if the Royals might actually be a surprise entrant into contention in AL Central. Since those first 26 games, the Royals have gone an abysmal 20-43. But GM Dayton Moore has been down this road and has ownership’s full backing.
28. Pittsburgh Pirates (34-56, No. 28): Speaking of folks who know what they are doing, Pirates GM Ben Cherington made a somewhat surprising but smart move in making Louisville catcher Henry Davis as Pittsburgh’s No. 1 pick. He immediately becomes the face of the Pirates’ rebuild, much the way Adley Rutschman is the face of the Orioles’ rebuild.
29. Baltimore Orioles (28-61, No. 29): When the Orioles left the field after John Means’ no-hitter in Seattle May 5, they were 15-16 and coming off one of the greatest moments in recent franchise history. Since that game, the Orioles have had an abysmal season, winning just 13 more games against 45 losses for a total record of 28-61. I understand what GM Mike Elias is doing, but even when you aren’t trying to win with a big W, you can put out a pitching staff that allows the manager to have a few bullets in his gun. Brandon Hyde’s a big boy, but this has really been tough on him and tough on a fan base that is hurting.
30. Arizona Diamondbacks (26-66, No. 30): It’s been an awful season for the D-Backs on several levels. On June 11, GM Mike Hazen announced he was taking a leave of absence due to his wife’s battle with an aggressive form of brain cancer. The couple has four sons ages 14 and younger. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Hazen family.