I've decided to start a series of weekly MLB power rankings. My rankings will, for the most part, be based on standings, and how the team has been playing lately. If a team has been over performing all year, hey, they're playing good baseball, and they're going to be high up in my rankings.
I will not be taking things like divisional factors into account very much, although they are very real, I don't think that's the purpose of power rankings. So we're now about a week into the second half, let's see where each team stands.
1. Los Angeles Dodgers (61-34)
The Dodgers have continued to play great baseball since the return of Manny, and continue to be the heavy favorite in the NL West. They're currently riding a five game winning streak, highlighted by Manny's go ahead, pinch hit, grand slam against the Cincinnati Reds last night.
2. New York Yankees (57-37)
After spending most of the season in second place, the Yanks finally overtook the Red Sox for sole possession of first place in the powerful AL East this week. Increased contributions as of late from players like Hideki Matsui, AJ Burnett, A-Rod, and Phil Hughes have played a big part in their recent surge.
3. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (55-38)
As much as it pains me to say this, the Angels are basically unbeatable right now. Yes, their last three wins have been against the lowly Royals, but they also completed a three game sweep against the Yankees just before the all-star break.
What's even more amazing, is that they're 9-1 since losing star outfielders Torii Hunter and Vladimir Guerrero to injuries.
4. Boston Red Sox (55-39)
They're having a bad week, but let's not forget that they're still the Red Sox. They are still an incredibly talented team, and you can never count them out.
Their recent acquisition of Adam Laroche from the Pirates, for virtually nothing, may help them out in the near future. They've lost their last five, but they're still only two games behind the Yanks.
5. Philadelphia Phillies (53-39)
The Phils recently had a nine game winning streak by the Chicago Cubs, but that streak has them now sitting six games up on the Braves and Marlins, and they are starting to establish themselves as the very heavy favorite in the NL East.
Having Raul Ibanez healthy again has been big for them, and if they're able to acquire Roy Halladay they can pretty much start thinking about the playoffs.
6. Tampa Bay Rays (52-44)
The Rays are going to have a really tough time passing both the Red Sox and the Yankees, but the wild card may still be a very realistic possibility for them. Word has it that they have entered the Halladay sweepstakes, and also have their eyes on the Indians' veteran catcher Victor Martinez.
Acquiring either of those two would be huge for them.
7. Colorado Rockies (52-43)
The surging Rockies have now passed the surprising Giants for the NL wild card lead, and their offense has been no little part of that. Brad Hawpe and Todd Helton have both been red hot, while Jason Marquis and Ubaldo Jimenez are both having great years to anchor their pitching staff.
8. St. Louis Cardinals (51-46)
The Cards' NL Central lead has diminished to one game, due to a sweep at the hands of the Astros, but I would still consider them the favorite in that division. It is also rumored the they have been talking to the A's about a possible trade sending Matt Holliday to St. Louis.
With Pujols and Holliday at the heart of their order, and Carpenter and Wainwright at the top of their rotation, I don't see how any team would be able to challenge them.
9. Texas Rangers (52-41)
Despite having mediocre pitching and a streaky offense, the Texas Rangers have been able to hang tough in the surprising AL West.
Their much improved defense has been huge, mostly due to rookie shortstop phenom Elvis Andrus. (Getting Michael Young to a position that doesn't require much range helped, too.)
Unfortunately, the Rangers don't have the budget to take on any salaries, which may prevent them from keeping up with the Angels.
10. Seattle Mariners (51-44)
The Mariners defense and pitching has continued to keep them in the AL West race, and they are seven games over .500 despite having a lackluster offense.
General manager Jack Zduriencik is going to have some tough decisions to make. But if they can have a good last week before the deadline, he may acquire a bat, which would give them a huge boost.
11. San Francisco Giants (51-44)
The San Francisco Giants are still very much in the NL wild card race, almost exclusively due to their pitching. Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain are both having Cy Young caliber years at the top of their rotation, and they have been able to win despite having almost no offense to speak of.
If they can acquire just one impact bat, watch out Rockies.
12. Chicago White Sox (50-45)
Don't be surprised to see the White Sox, who are now tied for first place in the AL Central, go on a surge, now that they have their star left fielder Carlos Quentin back from the DL.
Also very worth noting, Mark Buehrle pitched a perfect game today against the Rays, the 18th one pitched in history, and the first one by a White Sox pitcher since the 20's.
13. Chicago Cubs (48-45)
Don't look now, but the under performing Cubs are right back in the thick of things in the NL Central. Despite terrible first half performances by players like Alfonso Soriano and Milton Bradley, guys like Derrek Lee and Carlos Zambrano have kept them very much in contention. Look for them to have a good second half.
14. Detroit Tigers (49-44)
Great first half performances by Edwin Jackson and Justin Verlander are what got the Tigers to first place, but it's going to take some offense to keep them there.
Brandon Inge has picked up a lot of the offensive slack, but his knees are in bad shape and they are probably going to need to pick up a bat before the deadline if they want to take that division from the Sox.
15. Houston Astros (49-46)
The red hot Astros just finished off a three game sweep of the division leading St. Louis Cardinals, and now find themselves only one game back of the division lead. They are still very much in that race, but today's loss of Lance Berkman to the DL could hurt their chances a lot.
16. Atlanta Braves (49-47)
The Atlanta Braves are not out contention yet, but with the way the Phillies are playing it's going to take the acquisition of a big bat to keep them in the NL East race.
If their two young aces, Jair Jurrjens and Javier Vasquez, can pitch as well in the second half as they did in the first half, the Braves may at least have a shot at challenging the Giants and Rockies for the wild card.
17. Florida Marlins (49-47)
The Fish have just continued to hang tough this year, mainly propelled by the excellent season their star shortstop Hanley Ramirez is having. Due to the fact that they have two pitchers like Josh Johnson and Ricky Nolasco (who has been very unlucky this year), it's still tough to talk about wild card contenders without mentioning them.
18. Minnesota Twins (48-47)
The Twinkies are still right in the mix in the wide open AL Central, and have as good of a chance at taking that division as anyone. They have three of the top hitters in baseball on their team, but the key to them making a second half run is going to be pitching.
Acquiring a good bullpen arm or a solid starter could make a big difference for them.
19. Milwaukee Brewers (48-47)
The Brewers have a great offense, highlighted by sluggers Ryan Braun and home run derby champ Prince Fielder. But I just don't think they have the pitching to challenge the Cardinals. Going after someone like Jarrod Washburn or Erik Bedard, or both, might be a good idea.
20. Toronto Blue Jays (47-49)
The Jays are probably the best example of a team that would be a contender if they were in any other division. But unfortunately, they're in the AL East, the toughest division in baseball, and they will continue to be.
They've gotten a lot of good performances this year, from guys like Aaron Hill, Adam Lind, Marco Scutaro, and Roy Halladay, but they won't contend for anything this year and should be in full on sell mode.
21. Cincinnati Reds (44-50)
The loss of young outfielder Jay Bruce, possibly for the rest of the season, should get rid of any thoughts the Reds had of making the playoffs. They aren't quite there yet, in any aspect of the game, but they have the type of young talent that could help them make a splash in 2010.
22. Baltimore Orioles (41-53)
The Orioles are in a similar situation as the Blue Jays, as both teams are in a tough division, but both have a lot of good young talent.
The Blue Jays may not contend in that division for a bit longer, but with players like Matt Wieters, Adam Jones, Chris Tillman, and Brian Matusz in their organization, the Orioles should be a force within two years.
Their offense has been good this year, but they've had really bad pitching, and that's why they're 12 games under .500.
23. New York Mets (44-50)
The Mets aren't going to make the playoffs this season, but you really can't blame them. They've lost Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, JJ Putz, and Carlos Delgado all to serious injuries, and their one remaining star, David Wright, hasn't hit for any power.
When you're facing that kind of adversity, not even Johan Santana can keep you in contention.
24. Pittsburgh Pirates (42-52)
The Pirates already have appeared to pack it in for 2009, as they've already begun trading veteran talent for prospects. As of right now, they just don't really have any pitching or hitting, and when you don't have pitching or hitting, you aren't going to win very many games.
Look for them to be good in 2011 or so.
25. Arizona Diamondbacks (40-55)
Dan Haren and Justin Upton are having great years, but the loss of Brandon Webb and a lack of offensive production has done the Dbacks in.
Hopefully, for their sake, and for the sake of my fantasy team, Webb will come back strong and be ready to help them have a good 2010 season.
26. Oakland Athletics (40-53)
Almost nothing has panned out for the A's this year. The Matt Holliday trade was a bit of a bust, as he hasn't had the type of season the A's, or their fans were expecting. Meanwhile, their ace Justin Duchscherer has been on the DL all season.
They've continued to fall in the AL West standings and are now 15 games behind the Angels.
27. Cleveland Indians (38-58)
The Indians were the favorites to win their division at the beginning of this year, but terrible pitching has spoiled those hopes. Reigning Cy Young award winner Cliff Lee has pitched well, but he's received no run support.
As for the rest of their rotation—it's been really bad. Their offense has been okay, but it just hasn't been enough.
28. San Diego Padres (37-58)
The Padres are 2-8 in their last ten games, and continue to be a non factor in the NL West. Adrian Gonzalez accounts for almost all of their offense, but he can't do it alone. Their starting pitching has also been mediocre, as ace Jake Peavy has spent a lot of time on the DL.
29. Kansas City Royals (37-57)
The Royals have lost nine games in a row, and despite good starting pitching, have not been able to find ways to win games all year. Zack Greinke has been phenomenal, but playing on such a poor offensive team may seriously hamper his Cy Young chances, as I don't see him winning that many more games.
30. Washington Nationals (28-66)
The Nationals are horrible. They're a decent offensive team, but their starting pitching, bullpen, and defense are all terrible.
They're on pace to lose well over 100 games and finish with the worst record in baseball.
But look at the bright side, they're the heavy favorite to win the Bryce Harper sweepstakes!