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Power Rankings

   by Al McMordie - 07/06/2015

We're approaching the All-Star Break, and the top six teams for the 2nd straight week consist of the Cards, Dodgers and Pirates in the National League, and the Blue Jays, Astros and Royals in the American League. Our biggest upward mover this week is the Los Angeles Angels, up five spots from 17 to 12, while our biggest downward mover was Tampa Bay, which now sits at 16.

(Money Line Power Ranking in Parentheses)

1. St. Louis Cardinals (-132) - It may be wishful thinking to have OF Holliday back before the All-Star break, but even if it's a week or two after, that's still plenty soon. This is a team that definitely can take its time right now. They took a small step backwards last week, but still have a comfortable division lead. (Last week: 1)

2. Los Angeles Dodgers (-120) - Should the Dodgers be worried about their pitching? Perhaps. They went from a 2.63 relief ERA in May (3rd best in the NL) to 3.96 in June (14th). Shopping for a top-tier reliever at the deadline is often harder than a decent starter, but the Dodgers may be doing that right about now. (Last week: 3)

3. Pittsburgh Pirates (-119) - No team in the league would be helped more by a strong #4 starter than the Pirates, who have the biggest drop after their top three of any club. They've been making due with Jeff Locke and Charlie Morton, so wouldn't a Dan Haren or Kyle Lohse move make a lot of sense? (Last week: 5)

4. Toronto Blue Jays (-118) - Jays somehow lost three of four to Boston at home and now have a tough stretch of 16 out of their next 19 on the road, including visits to KC and Oakland. All of a sudden this looks like a team that needs to reset, so the All-Star break can't come soon enough it seems. (Last week: 2)

5. Houston Astros (-116) - For the first time in a long time, the Astros could see some post-season awards in addition to post-season games. 2B Jose Altuve is putting up MVP numbers, SS Carlos Correia is an early favorite for ROY, and RHP Dallas Keuchel looks like a strong Cy Young contender. (Last week: 6)

6. Kansas City Royals (-116) - Even after some of the All-Star voting was adjusted, KC still ended up with four Royals as starters on the AL squad. That's not a bad thing either as there isn't a smarter group at the plate these days than this lineup, and that's what you need to win the classic. (Last week: 4)

7. Baltimore Orioles (-114) - Call it the Curse of the Garden Gnome. The O's gave away 20,000 of the Buck Showalter statuettes last Sunday in the second half of the twin-bill against Cleveland and since then things have gotten ugly, with the Birds losing three of four to the Rangers and two of three to the lowly White Sox. (Last week: 7)

8. Washington Nationals (-112) - The Nats were coming off their best week of the season and going up against a Braves team that they've dominated, yet they managed to win just one of three games in Atlanta. The break comes at a good time for them as Zimmerman, Rendon, and Werth could all be back later this month. (Last week: 8)

9. New York Yankees (-106) - After Tampa Bay and Baltimore took their spots at the top of the AL East, it's now the Yankees' turn. New York sported the best team ERA in its division last week at 2.67 with its starters leading the way at 2.54. The Yankees have to go into Boston to face the red-hot Red Sox right before the break. (Last week: 9)

10. Oakland Athletics (-105) - In the category of "unusual ailment/injury," A's ace Sonny Gray was forced to miss two starts with Salmonella poisoning. A serious illness, it caused Gray to remain in the hospital for several days. On the plus side, the A's did well in his absence, going 4-3 last week. (Last week: 12)

11. Chicago Cubs (-105) - If the Cubs are going to take advantage of their opportunities, now is the time. They come into the week having won five of the last six against the Mets and Marlins, and now get the Division-leading Cards at home for four games. The next four days will help them decide what to do at the trade deadline. (Last week: 13)

12. Los Angeles Angels (-105) - Mention managers that seem untouchable, and Scioscia's name will be right up at the top. So much so that it was the GM, Jerry Dipoto, who resigned over their latest rift and Scioscia remained. Maybe this management turmoil has lit a fire under the players as L.A. had a very good week. (Last week: 17)

13. San Francisco Giants (-104) - San Fran had two starters return from long DL stints last week, and while Jake Peavy pitched pretty well in a losing effort, Matt Cain did not. Giants had a disastrous east coast road trip, and this upcoming week brings a very favorable home schedule with games against the Mets and Phillies. (Last week: 10)

14. Minnesota Twins (-101) - 3B Miguel Sano got the call up from the Minors. Although the super-prospect hasn't played above AA, he was mashing down on the farm. Now does this mean the Twins will go shopping for a starter at the deadline? Sano alone won't be enough to make up the difference with the Royals. (Last week: 14)

15. Arizona Diamondbacks (-101) - The biggest news of the week in Arizona was the return of SP Patrick Corbin, who had a decent outing and a win on Saturday. Other than that, this is about the most average team there is. A record right around .500 both at home and on the road and a +1 run differential equals mediocrity. (Last week: 18)

16. Tampa Bay Rays (+101) - Will last week be looked back on as the week where it all fell apart for the Rays? From throwing the ball over the catcher's head during an intentional walk, to being swept by the Indians, the last seven days have not been kind to this club, which is hoping to stay relevant in the toughest division in MLB. (Last week: 11)

17. Texas Rangers (+102) - Rangers suddenly have an embarrassment of riches on offense with the returns of Beltre, Hamilton, and DeShields (and with Odor and Moreland surging lately). They don't have much in the way of pitching, but then again you could say the same thing about the Jays. (Last week: 15)

18. Detroit Tigers (+102) - In a battle of Wild Card contenders, the Tigers proved no match for the Pirates, getting embarrassed at home in three straight games by a combined 22-11. Then they lost their best player, Miguel Cabrera for up to six weeks with a calf strain while Verlander got rocked again. A very bad week. (Last week: 16)

19. Cleveland Indians (+106) - Cleveland got the week off to a great start with a sweep of the Rays. The pitching has really come on in the last seven days as Carlos Carrasco came one strike away from a no-hitter, Corey Kluber had 14 strikeouts, and Cody Anderson came out of nowhere to emerge as a top rookie righthander. (Last week: 22)

20. New York Mets (+106) - The Mets are a lot like Tampa over in the AL. Great pitching took them as far as it could, as the offense has sputtered. Now the pitching is beginning to fall off and could start fading fast. Their .193 team batting average over the last week spells serious trouble as does the long list of injuries. (Last week: 20)

21. Atlanta Braves (+107) No Craig Kimbrel, no problem. The Braves' relief pitching has been stellar recently with new closer Jason Grilli leading the way with 22 saves. The Braves' offense got it going in June with a .272 team batting average (2nd in NL), but since they lost Freddie Freeman the hitting has gone into hibernation. (Last week: 21)

22. Cincinnati Reds (+109) - Billy Hamilton is running towards the record books, trying to become the first player with 80 steals in a season since 1988. So he will give fans something to root for in the second half after the Reds have traded away Johnny Cueto and possibly a few other players as well. (Last week: 19)

23. Miami Marlins (+112) - With Stanton out for a while, the Marlins will become sellers at the trade deadline. Two veteran RHPs who could help a contender are Mat Latos and Dan Haren. Look for Miami to start shopping them. Jose Fernandez had a solid outing in his return. With the right moves, this team could be set for 2016. (Last week: 24)

24. Boston Red Sox (+113) - Some good news for the Sox. Buchholz is pitching like an ace again, the MRI on Hanley Ramirez's hand was negative, and the Sox are winning games, beating up on the Rays in Tampa and Jays in Toronto before taking two of three from the Astros at home. All-in-all, one of the best weeks of any team. (Last week: 26)

25. San Diego Padres (+114) - The starting pitching contingent of Shields, Ross and Cashner simply has to do better if this team is going to compete. Even in the friendly confines of Petco, the staff still has a 4.01 ERA (4.14 on the road). New Manager Pat Murphy isn't having any more success (7-10) than his predecessor. (Last week: 23)

26. Seattle Mariners (+114) - In April, if we said that an M's pitcher was going to have back-to-back complete game shutouts in June, you would have said King Felix, right? Or maybe Taijuan Walker? Welcome to the Bigs, Mike Montgomery, the latest gem from the pitching vault in Seattle. And Iwakuma is back on Monday. (Last week: 27)

27. Milwaukee Brewers (+115) - Winning the battle of NL cellar-dwellers -- even a four-game sweep -- along with five dollars will get you a Starbucks coffee. But at least we now know that the Crew deserves to be higher in the rankings than the Phils. Surprisingly, the Brewers also have the best record in baseball over the past 10 games (9-1). (Last week: 28)

28. Colorado Rockies (+118) - 3B Nolan Arrenado is the latest hitting star to develop out of the Rockies system, leading the league in RBI. How much of it is due to Coors Field remains to be seen, but he gives fans something exciting to watch in the second half at least. And he'll be around for a while. (Last week: 25)

29. Chicago White Sox (+129) - The well-traveled Jeff Samardzija is pitching very well so he might want to call his real-estate agent again. With his improved performance also comes increased interest in him from contending teams, including the Yankees and Cubs. Get ready to relocate yet again, Mr. Samardzija. (Last week: 29)

30. Philadelphia Phillies (+160) - For once, we're going to reference something positive in this space, and his name is Maikel Franco. The 3B is looking like a legitimate contender for NL ROY. Welcome to the big show. Sorry to have to tell you, however, that you're going to be a Phillie for quite some time. (Last week: 30)

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