MLB Power Rankings: Teams That Ended the First Half in Disappointing Fashion
The unofficial halfway point of the 2012 MLB season is upon us, and like so many years' past, there are teams that would have liked to head into the All-Star break with more positive results than they actually did.
Of course, there were plenty of teams that head into the break on the up and up, or at least on par with their expectations. It's impossible for every team to get the results they desire, but that's what makes baseball so intriguing.
Here are the latest MLB power rankings, with teams in italics ending the first half of play on a low note.
1. New York Yankees (52-33)
The top spot is somewhat of a toss-up between the New York Yankees and the Texas Rangers, but the spot goes to the Bombers because of their seven-game lead on the second-place Baltimore Orioles.
Joe Girardi and company have the best record in baseball, a half-game ahead of Texas, and they still aren't hitting much with runners in scoring position.
They also haven't suffered much in his absence, but CC Sabathia will be back after the break to shoulder the starting pitching load once more.
2. Texas Rangers (52-34)
The Rangers are first in runs, batting average and on-base percentage, and second in slugging percentage. They went 5-5 in their last 10 games before the break, but still have a four-game lead over the Los Angeles Angels.
There aren't many holes in the lineup, and Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison and Colby Lewis have been good enough to win.
3. Washington Nationals (49-34)
After years of irrelevance, fans of the artist formerly known as the Montreal Expos have something to cheer about heading into the "Midsummer Classic."
Davey Johnson's guys have played to a four-game lead over the second-place Atlanta Braves and will be looking to increase that gap next week.
The only question is, what will become of Stephen Strasburg and his innings limit?
4. Los Angeles Angels (48-38)
Since starting the season to the tune of an 8-15 record, the Angels have made a furious charge on the Rangers thanks to a 40-23 record over their last 63 games.
Mike Trout has overtaken Bryce Harper as the most exciting young player in the league. There's also a 26-year-old named Mark Trumbo who leads the team in homers and RBI.
5. Pittsburgh Pirates (48-37)
How is this happening? The only answer is that the Pirates have finally put together a quality product to put on the field after two decades of futility.
Andrew McCutchen is the front-runner for NL MVP at the halfway point as the Buccos head into the break with a plus-32 run differential.
6. Chicago White Sox (47-38)
Kevin Youkilis was traded to the Chicago White Sox on June 24. Since June 25, Robin Ventura has seen his team win nine of 13 since Youk's arrival.
The Sox lead the AL Central by three games over the Cleveland Indians and boast a fat run differential of plus-63.
7. Cincinnati Reds (47-38)
The Reds recently relinquished their stranglehold on the NL Central to the surging Pirates. Touted as one of the best-hitting teams in the majors, they are 17th in runs scored and 20th in batting average.
Joey Votto and Jay Bruce are having stellar seasons, but the Reds need more out of the back end of their starting rotation. Mike Leake, Mat Latos and Homer Bailey all have an ERA of more than 4.00.
8. New York Mets (46-40)
Here is the first team on this list that put on a disappointing show heading into the halfway point.
Since winning the first three games of a four-game set against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Terry Collins and company alternated wins and losses for their last seven games of the first half.
Taking two of three from the Philadelphia Phillies is always a good thing, but Mets fans are hoping that their inability to bury their struggling rivals doesn't come back to bite them in September.
Losing four of six to the Chicago Cubs is nothing short of deplorable. The Mets lost the first two games of their first three-game series against the Cubs before pulling out of a tailspin in a 17-1 win.
The last series of the first half with Chicago was an absolute dud. The first game was a heartbreaking 8-7 loss. The Mets battled back from a 7-2 deficit, only to lose on a line-drive, 1-3 double play off the bat of Lucas Duda.
New York had the chance to go into the break 10 games over .500 by sweeping the Cubs, but was unable to do so and currently sits at 46-40.
9. St. Louis Cardinals (46-40)
The Cardinals have a lot of baseball left to try to win the NL Central, but making the playoffs as a wild-card team is going to be easier. St. Louis is currently tied with two other teams at a half-game back of the Reds and Atlanta Braves for the wild-card lead.
Jaime Garcia is closer to returning than he was a couple weeks ago, and Adam Wainwright has been lackadaisical to say the least. Once (if) those two return to prime form, the Cardinals will be able to move up.
10. Atlanta Braves (46-39)
The Braves are just 8-7 in their last 15 games, but find themselves a half-game ahead of the Mets in the NL East.
They also are currently tied with the Cincinnati Reds for the top wild-card spot.
11. Los Angeles Dodgers (47-40)
The Dodgers are in first place in the NL West—somehow.
Matt Kemp has been out, as has Andre Ethier. When those two are out of the lineup and James Loney only has 24 RBI, the Dodgers aren't going to play so well.
Fortunately, Clayton Kershaw and Chris Capuano have been brilliant out West to the tune of matching 2.91 ERAs.
12. San Francisco Giants (46-40)
The Giants are just a half-game out in the NL West race, but it's no thanks to their 2-7 finish to the first half of the regular season.
Things were looking bright for the Giants when they swept a three-game series from the Dodgers at the end of June in which they outscored their rival 13-0 throughout the set.
They were a season-high 11 games over after that drubbing and were 1.5 games ahead on July 2.
The team's main problem is that they don't hit, and you can't really blame them in that cavernous ballpark. Melky Cabrera leads the team with 44 RBI, and Buster Posey is the only guy on the team who has double-digit home runs.
Tim Lincecum has been absolutely brutal this season, sans a couple of starts. If not for Matt Cain, Ryan Vogelsong and Madison Bumgarner, this team might be looking at a .500 finish at best.
Fortunately for the Giants, that's not the case. Unfortunately, though, they could have put plenty of distance between themselves and the Dodgers before the break, but were unable to do so.
13. Tampa Bay Rays (45-41)
The Rays took two of three from the Yankees and split a four-game tilt with the Cleveland Indians to take a 45-41 record into the break.
Without Evan Longoria, who is out for the next month or so, the Rays need to tread water to have a reasonable shot at grabbing a wild-card spot.
14. Boston Red Sox (43-43)
The Red Sox are the biggest offender in terms of disappointment on this list.
At the beginning of the month, they were 42-37 and 6.5 games behind the Yankees for the division lead. Better yet, they were just a half-game out of the wild-card spot behind the Angels.
Unfortunately for Bobby Valentine and his job security, the Sox closed the first half in brutal fashion, losing six of seven to the Yankees and Oakland Athletics.
Of course, there will be more chances to catch their archrival in the second half, but most of those chances will come at Yankee Stadium.
These final seven games were Boston's most important stretch this season, and it couldn't get the job done. Nobody expected the Sox to sweep the Yankees and move into 3.5 games back, but a split would have been good for morale.
For the most part, the games against the Yankees weren't even close, which just adds insult to injury.
The Sox will make a run toward the end of the season because Jon Lester and Josh Beckett can't pitch like total garbage for the entire year, but for now, it's the hitting that is picking them up.
15. Baltimore Orioles (45-40)
Whatever Buck Showalter is saying to this group of extremely mediocre players to get them to play this way must be working.
After years of unsuccessful endeavors, the Orioles are finally keeping it interesting into the dog days of summer.
16. Detroit Tigers (44-42)
The Tigers head into the break on a five-game winning streak, with a 7-3 mark in their last 10 contests. The parity in the AL Central will help Justin Verlander and company make a run after the break, but for now, the Tigers are 3.5 back of the White Sox.
Other than Verlander, the pitching could use some help. Luckily for the Tigers, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder have 63 and 71 RBI, respectively.
17. Cleveland Indians (44-41)
The Indians have managed to stay afloat in spite of subpar hitting and pitching.
That doesn't mean things won't change, though. All they need is for Carlos Santana to return to form (who knows if that will happen?), Asdrubal Cabrera to continue hitting and Ubaldo Jimenez to pitch like he did in the first half of 2010.
Doesn't sound too hard, right?
18. Toronto Blue Jays (43-43)
The Blue Jays suffer from playing in the loaded AL East, but they've been able to hover around .500 all year.
You know what you're going to get out of Jose Bautista, but Edwin Encarnacion's 23 homers and 58 RBI have been a pleasant surprise.
In other news, Brandon Morrow is long-tossing.
19. Arizona Diamondbacks (42-43)
The Diamondbacks, like the Giants, had a huge opportunity to gain some ground in the NL West.
They did when they were able to sweep the Dodgers to head into the break, but three straight wins don't erase the memory of the six consecutive losses that came before.
Prior to their three-game sweep, the D'Backs were 2-8 in their last 10 games.
They've had a problem hitting late in games, as Chris Young, Ryan Roberts, Paul Goldschmidt, Miguel Montero, Aaron Hill and Gerardo Parra are all hitting under .250 in the seventh inning or later.
Wade Miley (3.04 ERA) has had a breakout year in the desert, but Ian Kennedy has come nowhere close to matching the totals he put up last season.
The key to this team's success lies in Justin Upton's ability to go on a second-half tear. After launching 31 bombs and driving in 88 runs last season, Upton has just seven dingers and 37 RBI through 79 games in 2012.
20. Oakland Athletics (43-43)
Oakland's ability to remain at the .500 mark is virtually inexplicable. Outside of Josh Reddick, this team cannot hit a lick.
The A's are 28th in runs, 30th in batting average, 27th in on-base percentage and 27th in slugging percentage. Don't expect them to hang around much longer.
21. Miami Marlins (41-44)
The Marlins have been one of the biggest disappointments of the entire season.
Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez aren't hitting like they should be. Giancarlo Stanton will be on the shelf for more than a few weeks, and Heath Bell has been a one-man arson squad in the bullpen so far.
22. Milwaukee Brewers (40-45)
Aramis Ramirez just keeps on chugging along year after year, despite the fact that everyone thinks he's going to flame out any minute.
Ryan Braun leads the team in average, home runs, RBI, runs, on-base percentage, hits and stolen bases. It's safe to say that the Brewers' chances at making a run hinge on Braun's ability to play at an otherworldly level.
23. Philadelphia Phillies (37-50)
The unexpected cellar-dwellers of the NL East, the Phillies find themselves in quite the predicament heading into the second half.
Chase Utley and Ryan Howard will be back to provide some reinforcements, but how much help will they be?
Nobody knows if Cole Hamels will be in a Phillies uniform in a month's time, either.
24. Kansas City Royals (37-47)
The Royals aren't good, but they're not playing terribly, either.
Wait a second, they're 2-8 in their last 10. So, yeah, they're not playing well.
25. Minnesota Twins (36-49)
The Twins' record should probably be a bit better seeing as how they score the 18th-most runs per game and have the 16th-highest batting average.
They've already used 11 different starting pitchers, only two of whom have an ERA under 4.00. If that turns around a bit, the Twins could finish with a not-so-embarrassing final record.
26. Seattle Mariners (36-51)
Other than Felix Hernandez, Kyle Seager is really the only thing that can make a Mariners fan smile.
Seager has swatted 10 homers and 52 RBI his first full season in the bigs, but Hernandez hasn't fared so well with his 6-5 record.
King Felix's 3.13 ERA should have him asking when his contract is up.
27. San Diego Padres (34-54)
The Padres are in the bottom 25 of most meaningful offensive categories.
Chase Headley leads the team with eight home runs, and his 42 RBI are by far the most on a team where nobody else has more than 27.
Time to pack it in early, Padres fans.
28. Chicago Cubs (33-52)
The Cubs made up some ground, winning nine of 13 to make it to the break less than 20 games under .500.
Recent call-up Anthony Rizzo has surely delighted Cubs fans with his four homers in 48 at-bats, and Starlin Castro continues to get better.
29. Colorado Rockies (33-52)
This has been one of the more frustrating seasons for the Rockies in recent memory. Thanks to Coors Field, they rank in the top six in average, runs, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.
That's not the frustrating part, though.
Only one starter, Drew Pomeranz—who has started just seven games—has an ERA below 5.00.
30. Houston Astros (33-53)
The Astros head into the break as the worst team in baseball and 15.5 back of the Pirates in the NL Central.
They don't hit and they don't pitch, with the exception of Wandy Rodriguez (sometimes).
Luckily, a move to the American League is imminent. Never mind—that's not lucky.
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