MLB Power Rankings: Young Teams That Will Continue to Win After All-Star Break

Tim Keeney@@t_keenContributor IJuly 10, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 08: Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals hits against the Colorado Rockies at Nationals Park on July 8, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

While the All-Star break will give the old geezers in the league a chance to rest their muscles, the young guns are ready to go. 

The MLB, more than the past few years, has been littered with top young talent this season. Just look to the Midsummer Classic for proof. 

Nineteen-year-old Bryce Harper. Twenty-year-old Mike Trout. Twenty-three-year-old Stephen Strasburg. Yu Darvish, David Price, Mark Trumbo, Buster Posey, Aroldis Chapman, Jose Altuve, Starlin Castro.

The future is now in Major League Baseball. 

That is also evident in the number of young teams that looked primed to make a run at the World Series. 

In my newest MLB power rankings, I'll take a closer look at the young teams that should continue their winning ways in the second half of the season.

Note: These teams are in italics.

1. New York Yankees (52-33)

The Yanks aren't perfect, as some of the hitting is sometimes inconsistent and the starting pitching looks like it could fall apart at any second. But that hasn't stopped them from securing the best record in the major leagues.

The normally crowded AL East looks like New York's to lose right now. 

2. Texas Rangers (52-34)

The Rangers may be a half-game behind the Yankees for the best record, but they certainly don't lack in talent. 

Texas is first in the majors in runs per game and 10th in team ERA. That's the type of balance that could get them to the World Series for the third straight year. 

3. Washington Nationals (49-34)

What the Nationals have done in the past few years is truly amazing. A couple of years ago, they were bottom dwellers; now, all of a sudden, they own the National League's best record.

A large part of the turnaround has been the youth, and that's also a reason why you should expect the winning to continue.

Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg, All-Stars at 19 and 23, respectively, lead the way, but other youngsters have chipped in, too.

Twenty-six-year-old Ian Desmond is smashing the ball, and the pitching staff is easily the best young core in the league. Twenty-six-year-olds Jordan Zimmerman, Gio Gonzalez and Ross Detwiler join Strasburg to form a dominant rotation.

Overall, the average age of Washington's batters is 27.3 and the average age of its pitchers is 27.0. Those numbers are third and first lowest in the majors, respectively. 

4. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (48-38)

The Angels got off to a rough start to the season, but Mike Trout has led the huge turnaround.

The Halos still might have trouble catching the Rangers, but a wild-card spot is almost guaranteed at this point, meaning the AL Playoffs are going to be loaded. 

5. Pittsburgh Pirates (48-37)

If you don't have a favorite team and you're looking for one to root for, you should probably make it the Pirates, who haven't made the playoffs since 1992. 

Not only do they make for the best story in the league, the Pirates are young and fun to watch, too. 

Led by 25-year-old Andrew McCutchen, the Bucs have gotten solid contributions from other young guns, such as Pedro Alvarez, Neil Walker, Alex Presley and others.

The Pirates do have a veteran pitching staff, which will help them continue their success, but their 27.8 average batter's age is tied for fifth lowest in the majors. 

6. Chicago White Sox (47-38)

Kevin Youkilis has injected some power into a lineup that wasn't really lacking it in the first place. Nonetheless, Youk at third base has made the White Sox a dangerous offensive team.

They've jumped out to a three-game lead in the central and don't appear to be looking back. 

7. Los Angeles Dodgers (47-40)

Even with a mediocre offense, the Dodgers find themselves in first place in the NL West.

Of course, that speaks to how well their pitching staff has fared, plus they should get Matt Kemp back soon, who will help. 

8. Cincinnati Reds (47-38)

The Reds trail the Pirates by just one game in the daunting NL Central, but they certainly have the tools to win the division. 

Cincy has impressive power throughout the lineup, led by Joey Votto, Todd Frazier and Jay Bruce, but it also has the pitching to back it up. Johnny Cueto has been terrific as the ace of a very solid rotation. 

Don't expect the Reds to go away anytime soon. 

9. San Francisco Giants (46-40)

The Giants sort of stumbled into the All-Star break (3-7 in their last 10), but that doesn't mean they can't make some noise in the NL West, where they trail the Dodgers by 0.5 games. 

If San Francisco is going to make a run at the division, it will continue to have to get production from its young studs, such as Buster Posey, Brandon Belt, Pablo Sandoval and Melky Cabrera, who is surprisingly still just 27. 

Throw in Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner at the top of the rotation, and this team is set for the future. 

Of course, most importantly, the Giants need Tim Lincecum, who has been absolutely terrible this year, to turn things around. 

10. New York Mets (46-40)

The Mets sit in third in the NL East, but as long as David Wright continues to tear the cover off the ball and R.A. Dickey continues to baffle hitters, they will be around until the very end of the season.

11. Baltimore Orioles (45-40)

The Orioles' chances of catching the Yankees in the East are thin, but they could still make a solid run at a wild-card spot, especially if they decided to become buyers at the trade deadline. 

Watch out for this squad, especially if it gets some starting pitching. 

12. Atlanta Braves (46-39)

The Braves have won four in a row, but they suffered a blow when 22-year-old Andrelton Simmons suffered a hand injury. 

Nonetheless, the hitting for Atlanta still looks solid. If they can acquire a starting pitcher at the deadline, the Braves should continue to make noise in the NL. 

13. St. Louis Cardinals (46-40)

The Cardinals have one of the biggest run-differentials in the major leagues, but that has only translated to six wins over .500.

Nonetheless, this is a team with a ton of talent, and it should seriously challenge both Cincinnati and Pittsburgh in the NL Central. 

14. Tampa Bay Rays (45-41)

The Rays will need to do a lot of work to fight off Baltimore and catch New York, but they will contend for a wild-card spot, nonetheless. 

They will especially contend if they can start hitting for average. As a team, Tampa Bay ranks 12th in the AL in batting average and 11th in on-base percentage. 

15. Cleveland Indians (44-41)

The Indians are in a tough spot, as they trail Chicago by just three games and they have Detroit breathing down their necks.

They will soon have to decide if they want to add a power bat or starting pitcher, or simply become sellers once again. 

16. Detroit Tigers (44-42)

The Tigers have won five in a row and things may start to be clicking for the team that looked like a World Series candidate on paper before the season started. 

If Detroit can get some consistency behind Justin Verlander, don't be surprised if it comes back to take the AL Central. 

17. Boston Red Sox (43-43)

Not only have the Red Sox dropped to No. 17, but their arrow is pointing down, as they have now lost seven of their last 10 and are tied with the Blue Jays for last in the East. 

The Sox aren't void of talent, they just haven't been able to catch the breaks and put it all together. The playoffs look like a bit of a long shot at this point. 

18. Toronto Blue Jays (43-43)

The Blue Jays are quietly sticking around, and considering they have a tandem of Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, who have combined for 50 home runs already, they will always be able to keep up with opponents. 

But is the pitching staff, which has been fairly atrocious this season, good enough? Probably not. 

19. Oakland Athletics (43-43)

Props once again to Billy Beane, who has turned about two 100-dollar bills and a bag of Doritos into a .500 ballclub. 

The A's still need a bunch of help on offense, but they have churned out arguably the best pitching staff in the American League. Even though the playoffs aren't likely, that's impressive. 

20. Arizona Diamondbacks (42-43)

The Diamondbacks have proven they can hit, but inconsistency from the pitching staff has them four games out in NL West. 

Of course, in a division like the NL West, that is more like 0.5 games, so don't go count out Arizona, a team likely to make a move during the deadline. 

21. Miami Marlins (41-44)

It sure hasn't been a fun season for the Marlins, who made a ton of noise during the offseason. 

Unfortunately for Miami, things are getting even worse, as Giancarlo Stanton will miss quite a bit of time due to surgery on his left knee. 

22. Milwaukee Brewers (40-45)

The Brewers sit eight games out of first place in the Central, so don't be surprised if they are sellers at the deadline, especially with someone like Zach Greinke, who could command a lot in return.

If they suddenly get hot, however, Milwaukee is still in a position to buy. 

23. Philadelphia Phillies (37-50)

This has been a bit of a throwaway year for the Phillies, who are without Ryan Howard and have gotten next to nothing from their supposed dominant pitching staff. 

When Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay both have ERAs near 4.00, that's when you know things are going bad. 

24. Kansas City Royals (37-47)

The young talent is there for the Royals; it just hasn't completely gelled like Washington's young talent. Yet. 

As soon as Kansas City gets some solid starting pitching, it will be begin to climb the ranks in the AL. For now, it has 9.5 games to make up in the AL Central. 

25. Minnesota Twins (36-49)

The Twins have a few solid pieces in place, but when you have a team ERA of 4.86, it's going to be hard to secure a whole lot of wins. 

For what it's worth, Francisco Liriano has turned things around a little bit, but besides him and Scott Diamond, there's not a whole lot of talent in that rotation. 

26. Seattle Mariners (36-51)

The Mariners have made strides toward improving the offense, but the results just still aren't there. They have some talented young players (Dustin Ackley, Kyle Seager), but something just isn't working. 

Luckily for Seattle, its pitching is set up to be successful for a long time. 

27. San Diego Padres (34-53)

The Padres have been making some solid strides the past few weeks, but they still sit in a tie with Colorado in the cellar of the NL West. 

Nonetheless, six wins in their last 10 is an encouraging sign for the Padres. 

28. Houston Astros (33-53)

Houston's last year in the NL isn't going so hot, as it already sits 15.5 games out of first place. 

The Astros have a lot of work to do as they prepare for a move to the AL West. 

29. Chicago Cubs (33-52)

The Cubs also have the arrow pointing upward, as they have won seven of their last 10. Another couple of weeks like that, and they will certainly move up the rankings. 

Unfortunately, that might be hard, as Chicago ranks 15th in the NL in OBP and 14th in ERA. 

30. Colorado Rockies (33-52)

The outlook is bleak for the Rockies, but having Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez to build around certainly helps things. 

The pitching in Colorado, however, has been, well, awful. 


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