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MLB Power Rankings

   by Al McMordie - 07/20/2015

After the first weekend following the All-Star game, we find the same six teams occupying the upper 20% of our rankings, though in a different order. The Buccos are the biggest losers, as they fell three spots to #5 on the heels of a 3-game sweep by Milwaukee. And creeping up in our rankings are the Oakland A's, up two spots to #7. Oakland is certainly an anomaly. The A's are eight games under .500, and also eight games removed from a Playoff spot, yet tied for 6th in all of baseball with a +53 run differential.

(Money Line Power Ranking in Parentheses)

1. St. Louis Cardinals (-131) - After a tough stretch of games to end the first half, the baseball Gods are smiling on the Cards for the next three weeks it seems. First, OF Holliday comes back and second, the Cards get one of the most advantageous series of games featuring 18 of the next 19 against teams with losing records (only a single make-up game vs. KC breaks up a cupcake schedule). (Last week: 1)

2. Toronto Blue Jays (-118) - Despite being 4 1/2 games back, the Jays are still just about everyone's favorite to win the AL East. OF Bautista was an All-Star for the 6th straight year, but the slugger opted to sit out so he could rest his ailing shoulder. Likely a good decision that will pay off in the second half. (Last week: 3)

3. Kansas City Royals (-117) - With OF Alex Gordon's serious groin injury possibly keeping him out for two more months, this team is faced with the dilemma of possibly having to acquire some hitting and defense even if it decides to stand pat with pitching. Justin Upton would no doubt welcome a trade to the Heartland. (Last week: 4)

4. Los Angeles Dodgers (-117) - Dodger pitching took center stage in the All-Star Game, but not in a good way. Greinke gave up a HR to the first batter of the game (MVP Trout) and Kershaw threw a clunker of a relief inning, taking the loss. But they both made up for it this weekend with dominating performances vs. the Nats. (Last week: 5)

5. Pittsburgh Pirates (-116) - With two dramatic walk-off victories over the Cards to close out the first half, Manager Clint Hurdle has this team believing it can win its first pennant since '92. But the second half has started out rough for the Bucs, who were swept by the Brewers and now LHP Francisco Liriano is ailing. (Last week: 2)

6. Houston Astros (-113) - After limping into the break having lost six straight games (and eight of their last nine), add the Astros to the growing list of suitors for Cincy's RH ace Johnny Cueto. They definitely could use the pitching help and the 'Stros have plenty of prospects to get the Reds' attention. (Last week: 6)

7. Oakland A's (-111) - The A's are nine games under .500 and 10 games out at the break despite having a run differential of +53. Current closer Tyler Clippard is a free agent next season and the normally stingy A's probably won't want to pay him so look for him to be on the move before the July 31 deadline. (Last week: 9)

8. Los Angeles Angels (-111) - What are the chances that the Angels stand pat at the trade deadline now that they've caught and passed the Astros? Roughly zero. But after the tumultuous first half that included the high-profile exits of Josh Hamilton and GM DiPoto, it's hard to predict where they go exactly. (Last week: 10)

9. Baltimore Orioles (-110) - Wei-Yin Chen is the unlikely ace of the O's heading into the second half, with Ubaldo Jimenez the clear #2. That's not how the Birds drew it up in Spring Training. But they will get a huge start (finally) from Chris Tillman on Friday. Post-break finds Baltimore on a tough nine-game road trip that could be a turning point. (Last week: 7)

10. Washington Nationals (-110) - Don't think for a moment that if the Nats pull away to win the NL East easily in the second half -- with neither Wild Card team coming from their division -- that this is necessarily a good scenario for this team. A tough pennant race might be just what the Nats need to go further than previous years. (Last week: 8)

11. San Francisco Giants (-107) - SF came into the season with a rotation consisting of LH Bumgarner and a ton of question marks and that's pretty much what we have now. Sure, they now know they have a young ace in Chris Heston, but other than that, the uncertainty surrounding Cain, Hudson, Vogelsong and Peavy remains. (Last week: 11)

12. New York Yankees (-106) - Partially because they're the Yankees and partially because they're in the thick of the wildest pennant race in baseball, trade rumors are swirling around this club as usual. Everyone from Johnny Cueto to Ben Zobrist to Hisashi Iwakuma is being mentioned as a potential target. (Last week: 12)

13. Minnesota Twins (-106) - The AL's version of the Pirates continues to defy the odds, posting a record that's eight games over .500. But what will happen to the Twins' chances after the trade deadline if the Royals, Tigers, Astros, Angels, Yankees, and Blue Jays all improve themselves and the Twins stand pat? (Last week: 13)

14. Chicago Cubs (-105) - Super-prospect C Kyle Schwarber shined in the All-Star Futures Game, but the 22-year-old only DH'd when the Cubs brought him up for inter-league games earlier in the season as his work behind the plate wasn't ready yet. They've brought him back for another shot and he just might stick this time. (Last week: 14)

15. Arizona Diamondbacks (+101) - The D-Backs are in desperate need of another power bat, a fact that's been driven home in their latest funk. Arizona has lost six straight, being swept by the Mets and Giants, and aren't likely to make many - if any - moves at the deadline. SP Chase Anderson is now on the DL (triceps). (Last week: 16)

16. Detroit Tigers (+102) - With the scenario that they might not win the AL Central for the first time since 2010 staring them in the face, the Tigers began a seven-game home-stand that should help clarify what they do next. Dombrowski and Co. could decide to become sellers which would change the landscape dramatically. (Last week: 19)

17. Tampa Bay Rays (+102) - With some of the teams around them focusing on big-name offensive trade targets like Jay Bruce and Justin Upton, expect the fiscally tight Rays to pick up the scraps. Tampa has always been good at doing more with less, and there will be plenty of overlooked players for this team to zero in on. (Last week: 17)

18. New York Mets (+103) - Jacob deGrom showed why in the All-Star Game that he -- and not Matt Harvey or Lucas Duda -- is the Crown Jewel of this franchise. All deGrom did was go out in his second year and throw one of the most dominant innings in All-Star history, striking out the side (Vogt, Kipnis, and Iglesias). (Last week: 15)

19. Cleveland Indians (+104) - If the Royals don't want to get into a bidding war for Justin Upton or Ben Zobrist to replace Alex Gordon, then someone like Cleveland's David Murphy or Ryan Raburn makes a lot of sense. Neither of those players figures to be in the Tribe's long-term plans, so why not see what they can get now? (Last week: 18)

20. Texas Rangers (+106) - The Rangers are looking for a righthanded OF bat and they have an expendable commodity in the form of RHP Yovani Gallardo. Cleveland is making Ryan Raburn available and that type of trade just might work for both clubs. Gallardo is in the final year of an affordable contract. (Last week: 20)

21. Miami Marlins (+109) - With the Marlins not going anywhere after September, look for them to take as much time as needed to get Dee Gordon over his dislocated thumb. Gordon is the second-most important member of the offense after Giancarlo Stanton (also on the DL), and his defense has been outstanding too. (Last week: 23)

22. Atlanta Braves (+112) - The season-ending injury to Jason Grilli isn't so much bad news as far as the post-season is concerned (the Braves weren't going to win with him, regardless), but rather means he is untradable, with little value going forward. The Braves have lost seven of their last eight going into the week. (Last week: 21)

23. Milwaukee Brewers (+112) - The Brewers will make sure the phone lines are open and the fax machines have plenty of paper, as the offers for everyone from Francisco Rodriguez to Carlos Gomez to Adam Lind are about to start coming. Nobody would be surprised if the Brewers led all teams in trade activity. (Last week: 26)

24. San Diego Padres (+113) - OF Matt Kemp needs to figure out how to get back to being an above average player, never mind being the superstar he was just a few years ago. The only thing Kemp has done well is show up, as he's played in every game for the Pads, with a .291 OBP and .674 OPS to show for it. (Last week: 27)

25. Boston Red Sox (+113) - The blow to ace Clay Buchholz notwithstanding, the Sox have a lot to look forward to in the second half. It's a chance for young players like Xander Bogaerts and Brock Holt to shine while the front office decides the best way to re-tool for 2016 and beyond. CL Koji Uekara is expendable. (Last week: 22)

26. Cincinnati Reds (+114) - Hometown hero and Reds 3B Todd Frazier won the All-Star home run derby in dramatic style. Slugging OF Jay Bruce is available on the trade market despite being signed through 2016 with a $1M buyout in 2017. Plenty of teams could use Bruce's power from the left side of the plate. (Last week: 24)

27. Colorado Rockies (+114) - If you had a futures bet on DJ LeMahieu being the starting second baseman for the NL All-Star Team last Tuesday, then congratulations because you can buy a new house now. LeMahieu is one of very few bright spots for this team in the first half and probably the second half as well. (Last week: 28)

28. Seattle Mariners (+115) - Much like San Diego and one of its prize offensive stars (see Padres write-up above), the M's need to find a way to wake up the slumbering bat of Robinson Cano, who is having his worst year since coming into the Majors. His .290 OBP and .660 OPS are way below his norms. (Last week: 25)

29. Chicago White Sox (+126) - The AL squad didn't even need the services of the White Sox's best player, SP Chris Sale in the All-Star game and still won 6-3. Look for the southpaw ace to make a big push in the second half for the A.L. Cy Young, which is likely to be the only thing this "team" wins this year. (Last week: 29)

30. Philadelphia Phillies (+160) - Almost all of the trade rumors are around SP Hamels and CL Papelbon, but OF Ben Revere might be a more interesting target for a lot of clubs. Revere is having one of his best seasons ever, so far, and will command a cheaper price than either of those other Philly pitchers. (Last week: 30)

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