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MLB Rankings at the All Star Break

   by Al McMordie - 07/13/2015

We head into the All-Star Break with very little change at the top. But, on the heels of two dramatic wins over the MLB-best Cardinals, the Pirates jump back into our #2 spot. Unfortunately for Pittsburgh, finishing #2 to St. Louis will force the Buccos to win a Wild Card game just to advance to the quarterfinal round. Our biggest mover this week is the Mets, up five spots to #15, while the Cubbies have fallen four spots to #14.

(Money Line Power Ranking in Parentheses)

1. St. Louis Cardinals (-129) - It's hard to imagine this team needing much, but look for the Cards to go shopping for a 1B before the deadline. They've been using primarily Mark Reynolds since the injury to Matt Adams and the results have not been good. Adam Lind, are you ready to join the best team in MLB? (Last week: 1)

2. Pittsburgh Pirates (-120) - The week started out badly for the Bucs with news that versatile IF (2014 All Star) Josh Harrison would be lost for up to six weeks with a torn thumb ligament. It didn't matter that much as the Pirates ended the week taking three of four at home from the Cardinals and closing the gap to 2 1/2 games. (Last week: 3)

3. Toronto Blue Jays (-118) - Josh Donaldson set a new record for All-Star votes, but he'd gladly trade that for an AL East Pennant and a deep run in the playoffs. It would be almost to the point of shocking if this team didn't acquire a major arm or two - likely a starter and reliever - by the deadline. (Last week: 4)

4. Kansas City Royals (-118) - Just when the Royals were looking like they could defend their AL Title came bad news in the form of a serious groin injury to All-Star OF Alex Gordon. Gordon is as valuable for his exceptional play in the field as he is for his bat. The depth of this team will be tested now. (Last week: 6)

5. Los Angeles Dodgers (-117) - When you look at All-Star Zack Greinke's numbers, it's not a misprint. With his eight shutout innings last week, Greinke now has an other-worldly 1.38 ERA in 18 starts. He also leads the league with a 6.1 hit rate. Bruce Bochy, I think we found your starter for Tuesday's game. (Last week: 2)

6. Houston Astros (-113) - These days, the tonic for a losing skid is a series against the Rays, but Houston lost three straight in Tampa this weekend and found itself in a virtual tie with the Angels heading into the break. The Stros aren't used to being in this position so the most important thing is to stay focused and not panic. (Last week: 5)

7. Baltimore Orioles (-111) - O's pitching is really starting to falter. Bud Norris was demoted to the bullpen, giving Gausman yet another chance, but he failed miserably and was sent back to the minors while Miguel Gonzalez struggled again as well. Are the O's suddenly buyers at the deadline? Seems like they should be. (Last week: 7)

8. Washington Nationals (-110) - Early last week, Span and Escobar went down with injuries again, joining Zimmerman, Werth, and Rendon to bring the total offensive regulars on the shelf to five. You can't win games with a lineup that's 60% depleted no matter how good your pitching is. The good news is everyone could be back soon. (Last week: 8)

9. Oakland Athletics (-107) - As soon as Sonny Gray made it back from his bout with food poisoning, the A's other ace, Scott Kazmir, had to leave his start with triceps tightness. Although the injury is deemed minor, Oakland will take no chances with Kazmir, who they most likely will be shopping in the coming weeks. (Last week: 12)

10. Los Angeles Angels (-107) - The Astros probably knew in their hearts that the Angels' slow start was too good to be true. Jerry Dipoto resigned and this team caught fire, going 8-2 in its last 10 games. Angels are second in the AL in hitting (.303 BA) and seventh in pitching (3.38) for the month of July. (Last week: 11)

11. San Francisco Giants (-106) - Perhaps no team needed an offensive player back from injury more than the Giants and OF Hunter Pence. Pence is one of the most consistent hitters in the league and one of the most intense as well. He returned on Tuesday and made an almost immediate impact for his team. (Last week: 13)

12. New York Yankees (-105) - To no one's surprise, A-Rod was snubbed for the All-Star game by the Players' vote despite posting what almost everyone would agree are All-Star numbers. Yankees were the only one of the top four AL East teams that has posted a winning record in their last 10 games (7-3). (Last week: 9)

13. Minnesota Twins (-104) - Twins refuse to go away in the AL Central and are playing some great ball, especially at home. Their starters are posting a 3.42 ERA so far in July and LHP Tommy Milone is one of the biggest surprises since rejoining the rotation in early June. Paul Molitor looking like a Manager of the Year candidate. (Last week: 15)

14. Chicago Cubs (-104) - The heartaches at Wrigley continue. The Cubs were one out away from taking a huge series from the Redbirds, when Jhonny Peralta hit a 2-run HR to win the game and allow the Cards to leave Chicago with a split. As if that wasn't enough, Jason Hammel injured his hamstring and had to leave the game early. (Last week: 10)

15. New York Mets (-101) - Jacob deGrom can add an All-Star plaque to keep his Rookie Of The Year award company now. There will be no sophomore slump for the second-year ace, whose future is about as bright as any pitcher in the game. On the flip side, the Mets lost promising young LHP Steven Matz for at least one month. (Last week: 20)

16. Arizona Diamondbacks (-100) - Being a .500 team with one legitimate superstar (Paul Goldschmidt) makes it hard to predict what the D-Backs will do at the trade deadline. Aaron Hill may garner some interest at a thin position (2B), but that's probably about it. The smart money says they sit tight. (Last week: 14)

17. Tampa Bay Rays (+102) - Perhaps the biggest surprise of the week was the Rays' three-game sweep over the Astros. Don't look for this team to turn around its season however. The Rays are still almost certainly an also-ran in the AL East. Tampa has a dreadful team ERA in July of 4.98 (12th in the AL). (Last week: 16)

18. Cleveland Indians (+102) - Jason Kipnis gets a well-deserved trip to the All-Star game as he is enjoying a career year and is clearly the best hitting 2B in the AL right now. He's already matched last season's HR total, and leads the league in doubles as well. Now if only Kipnis could teach his methods to the rest of his lineup. (Last week: 19)

19. Detroit Tigers (+102) - Another rough week for the Tigers in a season that's been full of them. Detroit starters are sporting the second-worst ERA in the American League so far in the month of July (6.24). The bullpen suffered an epic 9th-inning meltdown on Friday vs. the Twins, so Detroit acquired Neftali Feliz from Texas. (Last week: 17)

20. Texas Rangers (+106) - The break can't come soon enough for the Rangers who head into the All-Star week having won just one of their last eight games. Reliver Feliz is gone but Matt Harrison returned to pitch for the first time in more than a year. But the southpaw struggled and needs more work to shake off the rust. (Last week: 18)

21. Atlanta Braves (+108) - Think the Braves are sending flowers to the Padres Front Office? Atlanta's salary dumps of the Upton brothers and Craig Kimbrel netted them IF Jace Peterson, OF Cameron Maybin, and SP Mat Wisler (plus others we haven't seen yet). All three look like budding stars for Atlanta. Watch out in 2016. (Last week: 21)

22. Boston Red Sox (+109) - A rash of last-minute injuries that swept through the league like a plague didn't spare the Red Sox as their one and only ace, Clay Buchholz, is headed to the DL with a forearm muscle strain. It couldn't come at a worse time, as Buchholz had started pitching his team back into contention. (Last week: 24)

23. Miami Marlins (+109) - A little-known, second-year rookie 1B named Justin Bour is trying his hardest to fill the immense hole left by the injury to Giancarlo Stanton. Bour has emerged as the team's new main source of power, blasting 10 home runs in just 164 ABs. (Last week: 23)

24. Cincinnati Reds (+112) - Add Mike Leake's name to that of Johnny Cueto as a starter who the Reds are shopping at the deadline. Leake will garner interest as a solid mid-to-back end rotation filler at a reasonable cost for the remainder of the season. Look for a lot of new faces on the mound for the Reds in the second half. (Last week: 22)

25. Seattle Mariners (+113) - Iwakuma came back last week, but didn't pitch well at all in yet another setback for this club which had such high hopes just three months ago. But I wouldn't expect them to do much, if anything at the deadline. The person most likely to be leaving just might be manager Lloyd McLendon. (Last week: 26)

26. Milwaukee Brewers (+113) - Brewers got Khris Davis back after he missed more than a month with a torn meniscus. Davis should be a fixture in the Brewer outfield for some time, but this is a team which could look a lot different in the second half with everyone from Carlos Gomez to K-Rod being mentioned in trade talks. (Last week: 27)

27. San Diego Padres (+114) - Justin Upton's short time in San Diego may be coming to a close, as San Diego is apparently interested in moving the All-Star OF. Upton will be a free-agent next season, and there is little chance that the Pads will be able to sign him, so getting as much as they can now makes sense. (Last week: 25)

28. Colorado Rockies (+117) - Rockies keep falling in the rankings, and it could get a lot worse in the second half, especially if they can find the right deal for SS Tulowitzki who is on the trading block. Rockies pitching is also available, and these guys are known to pitch much better for contenders once they get out of Colorado. (Last week: 28)

29. Chicago White Sox (+126) - Sox pitching is coming alive. Chicago's team ERA of 2.24 in the month of July is the best in the A.L. Perhaps the most important result of that is the fact that pitchers like John Danks all of a sudden have some value on the trade market. (Last week: 29)

30. Philadelphia Phillies (+167) - The worst run differential in all of the Majors last season was the Texas Rangers at -136. We're a little more than halfway through the 2015 campaign, and the Phillies are sporting a -160 number. They could challenge the modern day record of -337 (2003 Tigers). (Last week: 30)

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