The word parity gets thrown around far too often in sports, but it truly does apply to the 2014 MLB season.
Entering play Monday, there were the six first-place teams and 17 teams within 10 games of them. Given the extra wild-card spot in the playoffs now, it will be difficult to separate some of the buyers and sellers when the trade deadline rolls around.
With that in mind, here is a look at the updated power rankings with the All-Star Game right around the corner.
|1||Oakland Athletics||Welcome to the best team in baseball, All-Star Jeff Samardzija|
|2||Los Angeles Angels||Some home-cooking (and games with the lowly Astros) paying dividends|
|3||Milwaukee Brewers||Ryan Braun should give the lineup a boost|
|4||Los Angeles Dodgers||Superstars everywhere and will be in heated division race all year|
|5||Seattle Mariners||The loaded top of the AL West is just unfair for King Felix and company|
|6||Atlanta Braves||The streaky Braves are securely in the top 10 for now|
|7||Detroit Tigers||In first place with a middling Verlander, good luck when he gets back on track again|
|8||San Francisco Giants||Could we get a Bay Area World Series?|
|9||Washington Nationals||Red-hot Nats on the way up|
|10||Baltimore Orioles||This could be their year to take the division with Yankees and Red Sox struggling|
|11||Toronto Blue Jays||Ditto from the Orioles|
|12||St. Louis Cardinals||Is there really any doubt they will find a way to be there at the end?|
|13||Kansas City Royals||Lurking in the shadows of Detroit|
|14||Cincinnati Reds||An injured Joey Votto could spell trouble for Cincinnati|
|15||Pittsburgh Pirates||Pirates quietly playing excellent baseball|
|16||New York Yankees||Sabathia could be done, but the weak division means the Yankees aren't yet|
|17||Cleveland Indians||With Manziel and the possible return of LeBron, will the city of Cleveland even remember it has a baseball team?|
|18||Tampa Bay Rays||Slowly climbing the standings...too little, too late?|
|19||Chicago White Sox||Doesn't really feel like they have a run in them this year|
|20||Minnesota Twins||Twins struggling to avoid the bottom of these rankings|
|21||Miami Marlins||Could realistically finish the season around or above .500|
|22||Boston Red Sox||Safe to say Boston won't be winning a World Series trophy this year|
|23||San Diego Padres||Just kind of playing out the string for the rest of this season|
|24||New York Mets||If only the Mets had Matt Harvey|
|25||Texas Rangers||This is not the way the season was supposed to go in Texas|
|26||Philadelphia Phillies||Nosedive continues|
|27||Arizona Diamondbacks||At least they have Paul Goldschmidt|
|28||Chicago Cubs||A few years from now, the Cubs will be much higher on these type of lists|
|29||Colorado Rockies||Seems like ages ago that the Rockies were battling the Red Sox in the World Series|
|30||Houston Astros||The constant rebuild continues|
Rankings are personal opinion
No. 28 Chicago Cubs
Look at this as something of a therapy session, Cubs fans (and honestly, don’t all Cubs fans need some type of therapy?).
Trading Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel was the final nail in the coffin to the 2014 season, but the future is about as bright as it comes in the majors. Starlin Castro is heading to the All-Star Game, and Anthony Rizzo is one of the candidates in the final fan vote, and they represent just two of the building blocks in the organization.
Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus pointed out just how many prospects are waiting in the wings after the acquisition of Addison Russell from the Oakland Athletics:
Hammel was never supposed to be anything more than a one-year rental, and Chicago got the most it possibly could out of him. Samardzija is certainly a bit more painful because he realistically could have been a building block, but the prospects weren’t going to peak at the same time as the 29-year-old hurler.
With Russell, Castro, Rizzo, Javier Baez, Kris Bryant and Jorge Soler, among others, the Cubs won’t be this low for long in these power rankings. Now all they have to do is find some young pitching.
No. 16 New York Yankees
The New York Yankees stand out on this list simply because they aren’t supposed to be in the bottom half.
After all, it’s the Yankees.
They are looking up at the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays in a unusually weak American League East and still have a chance to make a postseason push, but they rank in the bottom half of the majors in runs, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.
The pitching, outside of Masahiro Tanaka, has been just as mediocre, if not worse. Now it looks as if C.C. Sabathia is out for the year as well, as manager Joe Girardi said, via Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News: “I’m sure surgery is possible. They’ve got to talk about it and determine what’s next.”
New York is just mired in mediocrity, and it doesn’t look like things will improve much as the year continues.
This season is and was all about Derek Jeter’s farewell tour, but it just doesn’t feel right that he may not make the playoffs in his final season.
No. 1 Oakland Athletics
The Oakland Athletics are going to be more than well represented at the All-Star Game.
They have seven All-Stars if you want to get technical about it. Samardzija was elected to the National League team as a Cub, so we are going to count him here. Josh Donaldson, Yoenis Cespedes, Derek Norris, Brandon Moss, Scott Kazmir and Sean Doolittle round out the rest of the list.
The A’s were arguably the best team in the majors before acquiring two pitchers with sub-3.00 ERAs. Now they are even better.
How will Oakland's season end?
Oakland’s rotation will include Samardzija, Hammel, Kazmir and Sonny Gray, which is simply unfair. It will be incredibly difficult for anyone to top that in a playoff series, where pitching is so important.
The thought here is that the Detroit Tigers may represent the biggest challenge in the American League going forward, but that is only if Justin Verlander returns to his typical incredible form.
Oakland is second in the majors in ERA, and the no-name lineup leads the league in runs and is third in the Moneyball favorite on-base percentage.
There is simply more talent in this club than any other in the league.
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