The first half of the Major League Baseball season is nearly in the books and teams will soon begin to gauge where they stand and what needs to be done going forward.
Each organization will be sending at least one representative to Queens for the 2013 MLB All-Star Game in the coming weeks, but right after that, it’s back to business.
Teams needing an additional second-half boost may look to talent in the minor leagues while others will rely on trades before the July 31 deadline. Other teams don’t need as much help, and if they can stay healthy, they should be considered locks to make the postseason this year.
Before business resumes in mid-July, let’s take a look at where every team is in comparison to the others in the league.
*Italicized teams represent those who have additional analysis on their first half of the regular season. They don’t have anything to do with their position in the rankings or their chance at making the postseason.
1. St. Louis Cardinals (48-29)
The Cardinals are by far the best team in baseball this year and it’s safe to say that they’ll be playing with a purpose later in the year. St. Louis has been firing on all cylinders throughout the first half of the season and it doesn’t appear that the Cards will be slowing down any time soon.
The NL Central leaders have gotten solid contributions from its starting rotation—mainly Adam Wainwright and rookie right-hander Shelby Miller. The bullpen hasn’t been as dominant has it’s been in year’s past, but the starters are making things relatively easy for it.
Yadier Molina has solidified himself as one of the top catchers and offensive stars in the game. For a guy who used to struggle at the plate, Molina is now a feared hitter in the middle of the Cardinals lineup. He, Matt Holliday, Carlos Beltran and Matt Carpenter have all been outstanding on offense for St. Louis in 2013.
2. Pittsburgh Pirates (47-30)
Pittsburgh has been playing very well this season, but we have seen similar play from the Pirates in the past. Pittsburgh looked to be in contention at the halfway point last year, but the Pirates were terrible in the second half and missed the playoffs. Pittsburgh needs to make sure that doesn’t happen again this year.
3. Boston Red Sox (46-33)
The Red Sox are certainly contenders, which wasn't obvious to many during the offseason. Clay Buchholz is one of the main reasons why Boston has been so successful, but he’s currently injured. If he’s out for an extended period of time, the Red Sox may be in trouble during the second half. That, or another starting pitcher will need to step up.
4. Cincinnati Reds (45-33)
The NL Central is going to be extremely tough to win with three great teams in the mix, but the Reds have just as good as a chance as any of the teams at the top. Cincinnati could use better contributions from its bullpen and left field, where Xavier Paul and Derrick Robinson have played.
5. Atlanta Braves (45-33)
The Braves looked like the team to beat through the first few weeks of the season, but have since slowed down a bit. While Atlanta is still leading the NL East, it needs to play well collectively in order to stay in that position. Justin Upton hasn’t gone cold as of late and his brother, B.J., is looking like a major bust.
6. Texas Rangers (44-33)
The Rangers have managed to be a playoff contender despite the offseason loss of Josh Hamilton. They’ve been able to do that because Adrian Beltre, Ian Kinsler and Leonys Martin, among others on offense, have been great. Yu Darvish and Derek Holland have been solid too. Some regulars in the lineup need to step it up, though.
7. Detroit Tigers (42-33)
It’s absolutely remarkable how good the Detroit starting rotation has been this season. While Rick Porcello has been a sight for sore eyes at times, the other four guys have been nearly unstoppable. Max Scherzer is the first-half Cy Young and no one is going to argue against that. The right-hander is perfect at 11-0 right now.
8. Oakland Athletics (45-34)
The Athletics will enter the break in a good position. Oakland should have another shot at upsetting the Rangers atop the AL West. You shouldn’t expect to see the magical A’s from last season, but Oakland has become a complete team that knows what it has to do in order to make the postseason.
9. New York Yankees (42-34)
While the Yankees have hung on to this point in the season, don’t be surprised if they start to dip as the season continues. They’re just too banged up in order to stay near the top of the AL East. Before, unsung heroes played well. But now, they’re hitting like many would’ve expected to.
New York basically has an All-Star team on the disabled list. Mark Teixeira might not play again this season and Kevin Youkilis won’t be back for quite some time. Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez probably won’t be in pinstripes for a while either. The current starting lineup is embarrassing to look at.
How can the Yankees continue to win games when the bottom half of the lineup features Lyle Overbay, Zoilo Almonte, Jayson Nix, David Adams and Chris Stewart? It can’t. The pitching staff would have to be perfect the rest of the year in order to make the playoffs and that doesn’t seem like it’ll be the case.
10. Baltimore Orioles (43-35)
Baltimore is a team that should very active at the trade deadline. The Orioles need to find a starting pitcher who’ll lead the team to the postseason. Baltimore should have a couple of representatives in the All-Star Game, but a starting pitcher won’t be one of them. Baltimore won’t make the playoffs without adding a star pitcher by July 31.
11. Arizona Diamondbacks (41-35)
The Diamondbacks have finally developed and are now one of the more dominant teams in the National League. Arizona has gotten great contributions for a pair of young players in particular: Paul Goldschmidt and Patrick Corbin. Both have emerged into All-Stars in the NL and have promising careers ahead of themselves.
Goldschmidt is hitting .311/.387/.572 with 19 home runs and 66 RBI through 75. He will surely be one of the first basemen on the roster for the NL at the All-Star Game. His teammate, Corbin, could be the guy who starts the game on the mound for the NL. He’s 9-0 through 15 starts with a 2.19 ERA across 102.2 innings of work.
The outfield could definitely use some work, though. After trading Upton over the winter, Arizona was still on good shape in terms of talent. But Cody Ross’ power has evaporated, A.J. Pollack has been decent and Jason Kubel hasn’t been sharp. The outfield is one area that could plague the Diamondbacks the rest of the season.
12. Cleveland Indians (39-37)
Cleveland’s pitching has been a disaster this season, but if it turns itself around then the Indians have a good chance at making the playoffs. Justin Masterson has looked good and so has Corey Kluber. The rest of the rotation hasn’t been sharp and the bullpen has struggled as well. The offense can’t do all of the work.
13. Tampa Bay Rays (41-37)
Tampa Bay is still in the mix among the other AL East teams, but the Rays are the team that might finish last in the division. If they can stay healthy, they'll have at least fourth place in the bag.. Toronto has been great lately, the Red Sox and Orioles look strong and the Yankees just need to get healthy. The pitching staff for Tampa Bay has been abysmal this year and that's a big reason why they aren't higher here.
14. Colorado Rockies (39-39)
If the Rockies can stay healthy, they could be most surprising team to be on playoff contention down the stretch. Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez have put the team on their backs and the pitching staff has done what it’s had to do in order to stay in the mix. Colorado is definitely a team to watch in the second half.
15. Washington Nationals (38-38)
Without Bryce Harper in the lineup, the Nationals have been very flat. Unless Harper comes back and tears opposing pitching in the second half, it appears unlikely that Washington will be returning to the postseason. Jordan Zimmerman can’t carry the rest of the starting rotation as well. Dan Haren has been a massive letdown.
16. San Diego Padres (39-39)
San Diego has managed to stay afloat throughout the first half the season and Everth Cabrera deserves a ton of credit for the way he’s played. Through 69 games, the shortstop is hitting .305/.382/418 with four steals, 24 RBI, 37 runs and 31 runs. If everyone on the Padres played like that, they’d be the best team in baseball.
17. Toronto Blue Jays (38-38)
The Blue Jays are slowly turning into the team people thought they would be over the offseason. Toronto has been on fire for the last two weeks and is now on the verge of rising above the .500-mark. Don’t be surprised if the Blue Jays are near the top of the AL East by the time the All-Star Break rolls around.
18. San Francisco Giants (38-39)
San Francisco hasn’t looked like the team that won the World Series last season. While Buster Posey has still played like an MVP, injuries have taken a toll on some of the other Giants stars. Angel Pagan will be out for a while and Pablo Sandoval has been hurt as well. A healthy Giants team could have a big second half.
19. Philadelphia Phillies (37-41)
One of the best things a baseball fan could’ve done through these first few months is watch how Domonic Brown has played. Brown went from a top prospect who didn’t look like he was going to pan out into a star. Brown already has more than 20 home runs and will surely be one of the Phillies’ All-Star Game representatives.
20. Kansas City Royals (35-39)
Pitching has been a major weakness for the Royals throughout the first half of the regular season. The trade that sent Wil Myers to the Rays hasn’t worked out yet. James Shields only has two wins and Wade Davis currently has four. Jeremy Guthrie is the only pitcher with more than five wins and he only has seven.
21. Los Angeles Dodgers (34-42)
Los Angeles will be one of the teams to watch in the second half of the season. The Dodgers should be as healthy as they’re going to be and everyone is going to be watching whether Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig can turn the team around. Puig has been phenomenal this season and could find himself in the MVP race.
22. Los Angeles Angels (34-43)
The Angels are a team of ifs. If Albert Pujols were hitting like he usually does, Los Angeles would be in good shape heading into the All-Star Break. If Josh Hamilton weren’t going through a major slump, the Angels would be better than nine games under .500. Nearly nothing has gone right for Los Angeles this season.
23. Minnesota Twins (34-39)
Aside from Joe Mauer, there hasn’t been much going the Twins’ way this year. While Minnesota is only five games under .500, they would need a major turn around in order to clinch a postseason berth. Kevin Correia is the only pitcher on the team with more than five wins and that’s a major problem for the Twins.
24. Seattle Mariners (34-44)
Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma have both been outstanding in 2013, but it hasn’t been enough to keep the Mariners in contention. Seattle has been calling up rookies in order to try to spark the offense, but it hasn’t really worked out yet. The outfield has really let the rest of the team down, as no one has been playing well.
25. Chicago White Sox (32-42)
The White Sox have been an absolute disaster this season, and no one really saw it coming. The offense has struggled. The pitching staff has struggled. Nearly every single player on the team has struggled. The only players who have been good this year are Alex Rios and Chris Sale. That’s about it.
The two biggest surprises have been the poor play of Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko, two of the team’s veteran leaders. Dunn has never been a consistent hitter, but the White Sox can’t continue to put him in the lineup if he’s going to hit .195. Konerko hasn’t been much better, hitting .253 on the year.
Jeff Keppinger and Dayan Viciedo are other regulars who have made the White Sox into cellar dwellers this year. Keppinger is hitting .232/.250/.263 with one home run in 58 games. Viciedo is hitting .231/.268/.369 with five homers. With four key players hitting that poorly, no wonder Chicago is 10 games under .500.
26. Milwaukee Brewers (32-43)
You have to applaud the efforts of Jean Segura and Carlos Gomez this season. While it won’t be nearly enough to push the Brewers toward a postseason berth, they’ve been playing out of their minds. Milwaukee nearly looked stupid for how poorly Segura played in 2012 and Gomez is quickly emerging into a topnotch outfielder.
27. Chicago Cubs (31-44)
The Cubs have made a couple of good decisions this season. For one, they made the right move in selecting Kris Bryant in the MLB draft. Second, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer finally stepped up and designated Carlos Marmol for assignment. He was a huge liability this season and getting rid of him was a late, but smart decision.
28. New York Mets (30-43)
The Mets need a lot of help in a lot of areas, but boy do they need to figure things out at first base. Ike Davis clearly wasn’t the answer and New York has no one ready to take his spot. At least Mets fans have David Wright and Matt Harvey to root for. Oh, and they must be excited to see all the best players at the All-Star Game.
29. Houston Astros (29-49)
Switching from the NL to the AL this season doesn’t seem to have done much for the Astros. Houston is still struggling to win games and that’s primarily due to the lack of talent on the big-league roster. There isn’t anyone in the organization who’s ready to come up to the majors and help Houston contend for around two years.
30. Miami Marlins (26-50)
The Marlins are once again the laughingstock of Major League Baseball. They’ve already hit the 50-loss mark and are well on their way to losing 100-plus games. Miami hasn’t lost more than 100 games since 1998 when they were still know as the Florida Marlins. That was also the year after they won the World Series.