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MLB Power Rankings: Week 14

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Welcome to the Rotoworld MLB Power Rankings, a weekly feature that will run every Tuesday through the end of the 2019 regular season. These rankings are not fantasy-driven in any way, though I will include nuggets of more abstract fantasy advice here and there inside the individual team write-ups. Who’s hot, who’s not — that sort of thing. Send any and all complaints to me on Twitter: @drewsilv. Please believe me when I tell you that I do not hate your team.

1. Los Angeles Dodgers
Record: 57-29
Last Week: 1
The Dodgers dropped two of three to the Diamondbacks last week before splitting a four-game weekend series at Colorado’s Coors Field. But a six-game winning streak preceded that uneven stretch, and Los Angeles currently boasts the best winning percentage (.663) and run differential (+128) of all 30 major league teams. Three different Dodgers starting pitchers were named to the National League All-Star team: Hyun-Jin Ryu, Clayton Kershaw, and Walker Buehler. Cody Bellinger and his MLB-best 194 OPS+ somehow landed on the NL All-Star roster too.

2. New York Yankees 
Record:
 54-28
Last Week: 2
The Yankees stormed into London over the weekend and swept a two-game series against the rival Red Sox while scoring a total of 29 runs. They also gave up 21 runs during that two-game set and are basically middle-of-the-pack among all MLB teams in terms of combined pitching staff ERA, but that is something that can be addressed ahead of the July 31 trade deadline. The lineup needs no upgrading: New York ranks near the top in just about every offensive category and is at the very top in runs scored. It doesn’t seem to matter that Giancarlo Stanton has appeared in only nine games.

3. Minnesota Twins 
Record: 53-30
Last Week: 3
The Twins dropped two of three to the White Sox over the weekend, but this club is eight games up on first place in the American League Central and they’re also the only team in that division with a positive run differential. Eddie Rosario landed on the injured list Friday with a sprained left ankle, but he should be fully healthy for the start of the second half. The 27-year-old outfielder is sitting on a personal-best .841 OPS (120 OPS+) with 20 home runs and 60 RBI through 75 games this season. As long as the ankle injury doesn’t linger, he should reach 30 home runs for the first time in his career.

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4. Houston Astros
Record: 53-32
Last Week: 4
The Astros were just 12-12 in June before sweeping a three-game weekend series against the Mariners to finish the month 15-12. But they’ve gotten healthier in recent weeks with Jose Altuve (hamstring, knee) and George Springer (hamstring) back in the fold, and they should easily run away with the AL West in the second half. Houston led all major league clubs with six total All-Star selections: Springer, Alex Bregman, and Michael Brantley were voted in as starters by the fans, and Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, and Ryan Pressly were named to the American League pitching staff on Sunday.

5. Atlanta Braves
Record:
 50-35
Last Week: 5
Atlanta went 20-8 in June to open up a commanding lead over the Phillies and Nationals for first place in the NL East. Freddie Freeman racked up 33 RBI during that stretch, the most by a Braves player in any calendar month since the club moved to Atlanta in 1966. Freeman will start at first base for the National League in next week’s 2019 All-Star Game at Progressive Field in Cleveland. He’ll be joined in the NL lineup by 21-year-old outfielder Ronald Acuna, and 21-year-old starting pitcher Mike Soroka will also be there. This is the first time any team has sent two under-22 players to a Midsummer Classic.

6. Tampa Bay Rays
Record: 49-36
Last Week: 6
The Rays struggled to a 13-16 record in June and are currently 6 1/2 games back of the powerful Yankees for first place in the American League East, but they have won three straight as of Tuesday afternoon and six of their next 10 games are against the lowly Orioles. Conversely, the Rays also have eight scheduled games with the Yankees between now and July 18. Tampa Bay needs better results from Blake Snell, who has posted a disappointing 4.87 ERA through 85 innings (17 starts) this season after winning the American League Cy Young Award in 2018 with an ERA of 1.89.

7. Milwaukee Brewers
Record: 46-39
Last Week: 9 
Christian Yelich slugged his 30th home run of the season on Monday night against the Reds, helping the Brewers to their third straight victory. Yelich also drew a walk in the game and drove in a run on a bases-loaded single, finishing with three RBI. He leads all qualified major league hitters in OPS with a mark of 1.139, and he’s the first player in Brewers history to reach the 30-homer mark before the All-Star break. Prince Fielder had 29 homers at the break in 2007. Yelich, the reigning National League MVP, will be a starter at next week’s 2019 MLB All-Star Game in Cleveland.

8. Cleveland Indians 
Record: 45-38
Last Week: 10 
The Indians finished the month of June with a 17-9 record, despite dropping two of three to the Orioles over the weekend, and have somewhat closed the gap on the Twins for first place in the American League Central while emerging as strong contenders for one of the two American League Wild Card spots. Corey Kluber (arm fracture) and Carlos Carrasco (blood condition) have both resumed throwing, which helps fuel the optimism. Jose Ramirez has quietly registered an .858 OPS over his last 61 plate appearances, so maybe there is something positive brewing there as well.

9. Chicago Cubs
Record: 45-40
Last Week: 7 
The Cubs went 14-15 in the month of June and got embarrassed in an 18-5 blowout loss to the Pirates on Monday night in Pittsburgh as young starter Adbert Alzolay was lit up for seven runs over just 2 2/3 innings of work. Kyle Hendricks (shoulder) is set to return to the rotation on Tuesday, and that should help matters, but Cole Hamels was placed on the injured list this past Saturday with a strained left oblique and could miss several weeks. Hamels, 35, had registered an impressive 2.98 ERA through 17 starts this season. Chicago probably needs to add a starter from the trade market.

10. Texas Rangers
Record: 46-38
Last Week: 11 
Shelby Miller proved to be a failed experiment for Texas — he was designated for assignment on Monday after posting an 8.59 ERA across eight starts and 11 relief appearances. But the Rangers have gotten amazing returns lately from Lance Lynn — he is 8-2 with a 3.14 ERA and 94/18 K/BB ratio over his last 12 starts dating back to April 28 — and Mike Minor remains one of the most productive pitchers in all of baseball. With a better-than-decent shot at claiming one of the two American League Wild Card spots, this club might actually be in buying mode leading up to the July 31 trade deadline. 

11. Oakland Athletics
Record: 46-39
Last Week: 14 
The Athletics won three straight games against the Angels this past weekend in Anaheim and are 14-6 over their last 20 games dating back to June 9. They’ll probably have a tough time trying to catch the Astros for the American League West division crown, but the A’s are only a half-game back of the second American League Wild Card as of Tuesday afternoon. Can they keep this run going without young starter Frankie Montas, who was suspended 80 games for PED use on June 21? Montas had gone 9-2 with a 2.70 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, and 97/21 K/BB ratio through 90 innings (15 starts) this season.

12. Boston Red Sox
Record: 44-40
Last Week: 8 
Boston got out-slugged by the Yankees over the weekend in London, dropping both halves of that unique two-game series, and will enter play Tuesday facing an 11-game deficit on first place in the American League East standings. If the defending World Series champions are going to make it back to the postseason this year, they’ll probably have to do it as a Wild Card. Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi should be better in the second half, but the Red Sox may have to look to the trade market for pitching help. Their combined team ERA of 4.53 ERA ranks 15th among all 30 major league clubs.

13. Colorado Rockies
Record: 44-40
Last Week: 13
The Rockies took two of three from the Giants last week before splitting a four-game weekend series against the National League West-leading Dodgers. The division might already be out of grasp — Los Angeles is currently 12 games up on the Rockies — but Colorado is near the top of the National League Wild Card standings and Trevor Story is expected to return from the injured list on Tuesday night after missing the last couple of weeks with a right thumb sprain. Story had delivered a .904 OPS with 17 home runs, 48 RBI, 12 stolen bases, and 65 runs scored through 72 games this season.

14. Washington Nationals 
Record: 42-41
Last Week: 16 
The Nationals have won five of their last six games and 18 of their last 26 dating back to the first day of June. It will be difficult to chase down the Braves at the top of the National League East, but Washington is just a game-and-a-half back of the second National League Wild Card with a head full of steam. Anthony Rendon has slashed .311/.398/.630 with 19 home runs, 58 RBI, and 63 runs scored through 69 games this season, and he earned the first All-Star nod of his career on Sunday. The 29-year-old third baseman is finally getting his due, and he stands to make big-time bucks in free agency this winter.

15. Philadelphia Phillies
Record: 44-40
Last Week: 15
Philadelphia swept a four-game series against the Mets last week before dropping two of three to the last-place Marlins over the weekend. After going 33-24 between March, April, and May, the Phillies stumbled to an 11-16 record in June and currently sit 5 1/2 games back of the Braves for first place in the National League East. Bryce Harper has hit the ball with more authority as of late and he is currently on pace for a career-high 114 RBI, but the Phillies probably expected far better than an .839 OPS (117 OPS+) when they signed the 26-year-old outfielder to a 13-year, $330 million deal this winter.

16. Arizona Diamondbacks
Record: 43-43
Last Week: 17 
The Diamondbacks will have to fight hard to stay at .500 leading into the All-Star break, as their final five games of the first half are against the Dodgers and Rockies. If they don’t look like a contending team come mid-to-late July, the trade winds will begin swirling around veteran ace Zack Greinke, who has registered a 2.90 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, and 99/15 K/BB ratio through 115 innings (18 starts) this season. The 35-year-old right-hander is still owed about $87 million on a contract that runs through 2021, but if the D-backs are willing to eat some cash, they could get a decent haul of young talent in return.

17. San Diego Padres
Record: 42-42
Last Week: 20 
The Padres won four straight games last week against the Orioles and Cardinals, but they fell 5-3 in Sunday’s series finale versus St. Louis and then dropped Monday night’s series opener against the Giants by a score of 13-2 to fall back to the .500 mark. The future is tremendously bright for San Diego — Fernando Tatis Jr. is batting .337/.407/.620 with 11 home runs and 13 stolen bases through his first 49 major league games while playing dazzling defense at the shortstop position — but the rotation might be too young and inexperienced to guide this club to a postseason berth in 2019.

18. St. Louis Cardinals
Record:
 41-41
Last Week: 12 
The Cardinals snapped a five-game losing streak on Sunday afternoon in San Diego as backup catcher Matt Wieters blasted a go-ahead two-run homer in the top of the 11th inning, leading to a 5-3 victory. The offense has fallen into disarray for St. Louis, and Marcell Ozuna going down Friday with multiple fractures in his right hand will obviously make matters worse. On the pitching side, it was announced last week that young flamethrowing closer Jordan Hicks needs Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery. The Cards should probably be sellers at this year’s trade deadline, but who are they going to sell?

19. Pittsburgh Pirates
Record: 40-43
Last Week: 22 
The Pirates bullied the Cubs in an 18-5 blowout victory on Monday night and have now won 10 of their last 15 games. As it stands here on Tuesday afternoon, they are just five games back of first place in the messy National League Central standings and 3 1/2 games back of the second National League Wild Card spot. Josh Bell continued his assault on opposing pitchers in that win over Chicago on Monday, belting his 23rd, 24th, and 25th home runs of the season. He tallied just 12 home runs and 62 RBI over 148 games in 2018. The first-time All-Star currently leads all MLB hitters in RBI with 77.

20. Los Angeles Angels
Record: 42-43
Last Week: 19 
Tragically, the lead headline around the Angels right now is the sudden death of starting pitcher Tyler Skaggs, who was found unresponsive in a hotel room outside of Arlington, Texas on Monday afternoon. Skaggs was only 27 years old. Monday night’s scheduled game between the Angels and Rangers was canceled, and the entire baseball world continues to mourn this awful news. It was just over a decade ago that Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart died in a car crash, hours after throwing six scoreless innings against the Athletics. Skaggs had just made a start against the A’s on Saturday.

21. Chicago White Sox
Record: 39-42
Last Week: 23 
Wednesday will bring the arrival of top pitching prospect Dylan Cease, who is set to make his major league debut in a matinee game against the Tigers at Guaranteed Rate Field. Cease has posted somewhat underwhelming numbers this season at Triple-A Charlotte, but the young right-hander came into the year as a consensus top-40 prospect and he boasts a 3.02 ERA with 450 strikeouts in 354 1/3 career minor league frames. Lucas Giolito has emerged in 2019 as the present and future ace on the South Side of Chicago, and the White Sox are hoping that Cease can turn into a great No. 2.

22. Cincinnati Reds
Record: 38-44
Last Week: 18 
The Reds won six straight games against the Rangers, Astros, and Brewers — all contending teams — around the second-to-last week of June and also took two of three from the Cubs this past weekend, but there have been a number of losing streaks mixed in with those winning streaks and they’ll be under .500 at the All-Star break no matter what goes down in their final five games of the first half. The good news is that Yasiel Puig has turned it on offensively, giving a much-needed boost to his trade value. The impending free agent outfielder is slashing .349/.414/.730 over his last 70 plate appearances.

23. New York Mets
Record: 38-47
Last Week: 21 
The Mets finally snapped their season-worst seven-game losing streak with a 5-3 victory over the Braves on Sunday night at Citi Field. Jeff McNeil and Pete Alonso provided the big hits for New York in that one, hours after they were both named to the National League All-Star team. Alonso boasts a .999 OPS with 28 home runs and 64 RBI through his first 84 major league games, and he is the first Mets rookie position player to make an All-Star squad. McNeil leads all qualified hitters in batting average with a mark of .348, and he has also delivered an excellent .922 OPS in 296 plate appearances.

24. San Francisco Giants
Record: 37-47
Last Week: 25 
The Giants earned a lopsided 13-2 win over the Padres on Monday night in San Diego and have gone 15-13 since the beginning of June, but there’s no hope of postseason baseball this year in San Francisco and first-year team president Farhan Zaidi figures to begin selling parts within the next few weeks. Madison Bumgarner has already been tied to the Yankees and Twins, among others, and closer Will Smith is probably going to draw interest from just about every contending team. Smith is 21-for-21 in save opportunities this season with a 2.16 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, and 51/8 K/BB ratio in 33 1/3 innings.

25. Seattle Mariners
Record: 37-51
Last Week: 24 
The Mariners got swept by the Astros over the weekend and are now 24-49 since April 11, when they held the best record in baseball at 13-2. They will send one representative to next week’s 2019 MLB All-Star Game: slugger Daniel Vogelbach. Entering the 2019 campaign, Vogelbach was a career .197/.301/.315 hitter in parts of three MLB seasons, but the 26-year-old has exploded to the tune of an .898 OPS with 20 home runs over 79 games. He is under control through 2024 and won’t become eligible for salary arbitration until 2022, so trigger-happy GM Jerry Dipoto will probably keep him around … at least for a little while.

26. Miami Marlins
Record: 32-50
Last Week: 26
Caleb Smith has been on the injured list since June 7 with inflammation in his left hip, so the Marlins’ lone representative at next week’s 2019 MLB All-Star Game in Cleveland will be 23-year-old starting pitcher Sandy Alcantara. It’s an odd choice given Alcantara’s unsightly 65/43 K/BB ratio in 95 2/3 innings, but he does have a decent 3.86 ERA. The young right-hander was acquired from the Cardinals in the Marcell Ozuna trade along with Zac Gallen, who was called up from Triple-A New Orleans on June 20 and has delivered a 3.60 ERA with 14 strikeouts through his first 10 major league frames.

27. Toronto Blue Jays
Record: 32-53
Last Week: 27
Cavan Biggio slugged his first career grand slam in the Blue Jays’ 7-5 victory over the Royals on Saturday and then went 3-for-5 with four more RBI as Toronto topped Kansas City by a score of 11-4 in Monday afternoon’s Canada Day game at Rogers Centre. Biggo doesn’t have quite the clout of fellow top prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr., but he has produced a better OPS so far — .837 to Vladito’s .751 — and he also boasts a higher HR/AB ratio. Guerrero has been a letdown in fantasy and real life, but he is only 20 years old — Biggio is 24 — and there is hope for an explosion in the second half. 

28. Kansas City Royals 
Record: 29-56
Last Week: 28
The Royals just lost three of four to the Blue Jays, after dropping two of three to the Indians in the series prior. This is shaping up as another 100-loss season in Kansas City, and the roster could get worse and worse as the July 31 trade deadline approaches. Adalberto Mondesi isn’t going anywhere and the Royals probably won’t part with Hunter Dozier amid his age-27 breakout, but they’re going to be fielding a ton of calls about Whit Merrifield and he could be dealt if an offer comes along to their liking. Merrifield signed a four-year extension in January, but the Royals need to be thinking about the long-term picture.

29. Detroit Tigers 
Record: 27-52
Last Week: 29
The Tigers went 5-20 in June, after going 9-18 in May, and the situation in Detroit figures to get worse as this season rolls along and general manager Al Avila begins flipping established players for prospects. Matthew Boyd is probably the team’s best trade chip as a cost-controlled 28-year-old left-handed starter, though he hasn’t earned a win since May 28 and he owns a 5.90 ERA over his last five outings. Nicholas Castellanos is an impending free agent and is almost certain to be dealt away, but he has managed just eight home runs and 27 RBI through 77 games this season.

30. Baltimore Orioles 
Record: 24-60
Last Week: 30
Another baseball oddity for you: Baltimore beat the Indians by a score of 13-0 on both Friday and Saturday, becoming the first team in the history of Major League Baseball to win consecutive games in shutout fashion while scoring 13 or more runs. The Orioles then lost 2-0 to Cleveland on Sunday and 6-3 to the Rays on Monday, moving back to 36 games under .500. They have the worst winning percentage (.286) and the worst run differential (-170) of all 30 major league teams. It’s looking increasingly likely that the O’s will draft No. 1 overall again in 2020. Bravo?



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