Coming out of the All-Star break, this week's MLB power rankings encompass just one weekend's worth of games, so don't expect to see any dramatic shuffling.
However, every game is important this time of year for teams on the fringe.
The Oakland Athletics and Washington Nationals continue to play their way into legitimate contention, while teams in already precarious positions like the Milwaukee Brewers and Philadelphia Phillies lost ground.
It's telling that the top six teams in our rankings remaining unchanged. Who will be the next club to join that upper echelon?
It's important to remember these rankings are a fluid process. Teams will rise and fall based on where they were ranked the previous week. If a team keeps winning, it will keep climbing—it's as simple as that.
Here are the rankings:
Teams That Impressed
The Oakland Athletics (3-0) picked up right where they left off to end the first half with a three-game sweep of the Chicago White Sox.
They are now 7-2 in July, and they've been rolling since the middle of May with a 34-16 record and a plus-92 run differential in their last 50 games.
Veteran starter Homer Bailey was acquired from the Kansas City Royals over the weekend in an effort to bolster the starting rotation. The 33-year-old is enjoying a nice resurgence this year after flaming out in Cincinnati, posting a 4.80 ERA with a 4.47 FIP in 90 innings over 18 starts.
The St. Louis Cardinals (2-1) and Colorado Rockies (2-1) picked up important series wins, and both teams face an interesting decision on whether to buy at the trade deadline with clear areas of need and a record hovering around .500. They currently sit one game and 1.5 games back in the wild-card standings, respectively.
On the AL side, the Los Angeles Angels (3-0) climbed back above .500 with a sweep of the Seattle Mariners. However, they face a more imposing uphill battle in the wild-card standings than their NL counterparts at five games back, with three teams to hurdle for the second wild-card spot.
Further down the rankings, the San Francisco Giants (2-1) deserve some props for a nice road series win over the Milwaukee Brewers. They've quietly gone 9-3 in their last 12 games to pull within 4.5 games of a wild-card spot, though that comes with the caveat of having to leapfrog seven teams to pull into the No. 2 slot.
The teams in the Nos. 12 to No. 22 range of these rankings will be the ones with a big decision to make in the coming weeks on how to approach the rest of the season.
Teams That Disappointed
In an abridged week, things largely played out as expected in terms of who won.
The Cleveland Indians (1-2) and Boston Red Sox (1-2) were the only teams ranked inside the top 12 that didn't win their series, and both fell to teams ranked ahead of them.
As far as true disappointments, the Milwaukee Brewers (1-2) dropping two of three to the San Francisco Giants ranks as the biggest upset of the week, though it also continues a recent trend for the Brew Crew. They are now 3-7 in July and 9-16 with a minus-35 run differential in their last 25 games, and they've slipped to just two games above .500.
The San Diego Padres (0-3) and Pittsburgh Pirates (0-3) are both hanging on the fringe of wild-card contention, so a sweep is all the more detrimental. Granted, they were both swept by teams ranked inside the top 10, but that doesn't make it sting any less.
The Chicago White Sox (0-3) and Seattle Mariners (0-3) were the only other teams to be swept in their weekend series.
Players of the Week
AL Hitter: Nate Lowe, Tampa Bay Rays
Stats: 8-for-17, 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 6 R
Slugger Nate Lowe has nothing left to prove in Triple-A.
The 24-year-old hit .330/.416/.568 with 32 doubles and 27 home runs over three minor league levels last season, and he has a .938 OPS with 19 doubles and 12 home runs in 68 games at Triple-A Durham so far this year.
With the Tampa Bay Rays in the thick of the AL playoff race, he's capable of providing a major boost offensively, and he showed that with a big four-game series against the Baltimore Orioles.
Lowe has no clear path to everyday playing time at the moment, but he'll continue to force his way into the lineup if he keeps hitting.
AL Pitcher: Taylor Cole/Felix Pena, Los Angeles Angels
Stats: 1 GS, W, 9.0 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 8 K
On an emotional night when the Los Angeles Angels honored fallen teammate Tyler Skaggs in their first home game since his death, opener Taylor Cole and reliever Felix Pena combined to no-hit the Seattle Mariners.
"That was one of the most special moments I have been a part of on a Major League field, 25 years," manager Brad Ausmus told reporters. "Just the way the game went, and culminating with a no-hitter. You feel like it's partly Skaggy's no-hitter."
Cole threw the first two innings of the game, striking out two and walking none. Pena closed things out with seven innings of zeroes, with the only blemish coming on a four-pitch walk to Omar Narvaez in the fifth inning.
"It's just stuff you can't make up," teammate Mike Trout told reporters. "Tonight was in honor of him, and he was definitely looking over us tonight. He's probably up there saying we're nasty and just what an unbelievable game to be a part of. I'm speechless. This is the best way possible to honor him. It was pretty crazy."
It goes down as the 11th no-hitter in franchise history and the first since Jered Weaver on May 2, 2012.
NL Hitter: Daniel Murphy, Colorado Rockies
Stats: 8-for-12, 3 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 5 R
Given his return to health and move to Coors Field, big things were expected from Daniel Murphy after he signed a two-year, $24 million deal with the Colorado Rockies during the offseason.
Instead, he was hitting a rather pedestrian .274/.328/.447 with seven home runs and 44 RBI in 242 plate appearances heading into the All-Star break.
Over the course of one three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds to kick off the second half, he raised his OPS from .775 to .844, slugging three doubles and two home runs in 13 plate appearances.
The 34-year-old also finally hit his first home run of the season at home on Friday.
"It was a big swing," Rockies manager Bud Black told reporters. "I still think that Murph is going to be big for us here in the second half. He had some good swings today, as well. He used the whole field. He’s very capable of doing what he did in the eighth."
A big second half could indeed be forthcoming from one of the best pure hitters in baseball.
NL Pitcher: Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals
Stats: 1 GS, W, 7.0 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K
When the St. Louis Cardinals re-signed veteran Adam Wainwright to a one-year, $2 million deal during the offseason, there were questions about whether he would even have a spot in the rotation.
The 37-year-old is no longer the frontline starter he was in his prime, but he's been a solid member of the starting staff, posting a 3.99 ERA with 89 strikeouts in 94.2 innings over 17 starts.
In his eighth quality start of the season, he blanked the Arizona Diamondbacks for seven innings on Sunday, allowing just four hits and one walk.
"I want to really push it this second half," Wainwright told reporters at the start of the second half. "Have a little return to form and be great. I have been really close to doing a lot of the things like I want to do them."
He was originally scheduled to start the first game coming out of the All-Star break on Friday, but he was a late scratch due to back spasms. Even if this is his last hurrah, the Cardinals will need to find the right balance between turning him loose and keeping him healthy as they push for a playoff spot.
Must-See Upcoming Matchup
Washington Nationals vs. Atlanta Braves (Thursday-Sunday)
The Nationals were 10 games under .500 and 10 games back in the NL East standings on May 25.
An 18-8 June and a 7-2 start to July has vaulted them right back into the postseason picture, but they've had a tough time making up any ground on the first-place Braves, who still have a seven-game lead. This four-game series will be the perfect chance for either the Nationals to trim the deficit or the Braves to flex their muscles as the team to beat in the NL East.
The two squads met just five times during the first half, with the Nationals holding a narrow 3-2 advantage and a plus-seven run differential.
That means they have 14 more head-to-head matchups before the season is over.
Both teams are also in need of pitching at the trade deadline, and if either turns in a commanding performance, it could be some added incentive for the other to swing a deal and improve its roster.
It's still only July, but a lot rides on this four-game series for both teams.