The unexpected twists and turns of a Major League Baseball season are certainly upon us. Who could have predicted two weeks ago that the Texas Rangers would be the first team in baseball to reach 50 wins? Or that Jose Reyes would be wearing a Mets’ uniform again? The highlight of the last two weeks had to be Kris Bryant’s performance last Monday night in Cincinnati. The rising superstar belted three home runs – the last of which had yet to land – compiled 16 total bases, and went 5-for-5 in a victory over the Reds. With three months in the books, find out if your team rose or fell in this week’s rankings.
30. Minnesota Twins (25-51)
Previous Ranking: 29
The good news for the Twins is that six different players belted homers Sunday against the Yankees including back-to-back homers. The bad news is they have been outscored by 112 runs this season and are 27 games under .500.
29. Atlanta Braves (26-51)
Previous Ranking: 30
If only they could play the Mets every day right? Atlanta has won five out of their last seven against the Mets including a stunning three game sweep at Citi Field last weekend. Julio Teheran is quietly emerging as one of the best pitchers in baseball with a 2.46 ERA and an impressive .89 WHIP.
28. Cincinnati Reds (29-49)
Previous Ranking: 28
It’s hard to feel optimistic if you’re a Reds fan right now. First off, they’re 22 games back in the vaunted NL Central. And second, there appears to be no signs of life offensively. As of now, Cincinnati’s lone production has come off the back of Jay Bruce who is supplying a .277 average and a 1.7 WAR. Unfortunately, as a team the Reds are 26th in baseball in OPS (.697), 28th in batting average (.233) and 29th in OPS (.296).
Really, the lone bright spots for the youthful Reds is that 23-year old Brandon Finnegan has found his niche in the rotation, holding down a 3.83 ERA through 94 innings pitched.
27. Oakland Athletics (34-43)
Previous Ranking: 27
This past weekend, Oakland beat the Angels three out of four to climb out of last place. With Rich Hill still on the DL, who is their likely All-Star rep? There’s not really a good option. Maybe reliever Ryan Madson (2.32 ERA, 14 saves) finds his way onto the roster. Anyway, for a team that is lacking structure, the A’s best possible scenario is to become sellers at the trade deadline.
26. Anaheim Angels (32-46)
Despite their struggles, it is tough not to marvel at the accomplishments of star Mike Trout. Trout clubbed his 155th homer of his young career Sunday in a 7-6 win over the Athletics. Only nine players in MLB history have more home runs than Trout before their 25th birthday. Make sure you savor every moment of Trout, because he may very well be one of the best players of this generation.
25. Philadelphia Phillies (34-45)
Previous Ranking: 19
What the heck happened to the Phillies? After getting off to such a hot start, they now have a -105 run differential and are only five games better than the last place Braves. Their offense has been abominable for most of the season, as they rank second to last in runs scored with 257.
24. Tampa Bay Rays (32-44)
Previous Ranking: 21
Tampa Bay’s recent play has their fans wondering if the Rays will ever win again. They’re currently in the midst of an 11-game skid and have played themselves right out of contention in the AL East. Starting pitcher Drew Smyly has been a major disappointment thus far for Tampa and has seen his ERA balloon to 5.32.
23. San Diego Padres (33-45)
Previous Ranking: 26
Closer Fernando Rodney has been shooting his arrow quite a bit in 2016 and has been one of the bright spots for the lowly Padres. Rodney is 17/17 in save opportunities and has been one of the bigger surprises of the season thus far. It will be interesting to see if Rodney is still in San Diego after the trade deadline.
22. Milwaukee Brewers (34-42)
Previous Ranking: 23
Milwaukee was able to hold its own this weekend against one of the better teams in the National League, the Washington Nationals. The trio of Ryan Braun, Jonathan Lucroy and Jonathan Villar continues to impress in 2016, as they are all hitting over .290 and have crushed a combined 28 home runs and driven in 108 runs.
21. Arizona Diamondbacks (36-44)
Previous Rankings: 25
Someone must have reminded Zach Greinke recently that he had an ERA under 2.00 last year. Because Greinke has been dominant lately and is now 10-3 with a 3.61 ERA on the year. Offensively, Paul Goldschmidt, like Greinke, has turned it around after a slow start, and has gotten his average over .300.
20. Colorado Rockies (37-40)
Previous Ranking: 22
I heard someone say this week that Nolan Arrenado is the best player in baseball. While I would not go that far, his numbers certainly don’t lie. The Colorado slugger is currently hitting .296 with 21 homers and 63 RBIs, which is second in baseball only to Edwin Encarnacion. Despite Arrenado’s gaudy numbers, he is likely to finish second in third base All-star voting to Kris Bryant.
19. Pittsburgh Pirates (37-41)
Previous Ranking: 15
You just can’t predict baseball. After losing eight out of nine, the Pirates took 3/4 from the Dodgers including a victory Sunday night over the game’s best, Clayton Kershaw. In the crowded NL Central, Pittsburgh is slowly beginning to fall out of the race.
18. Chicago White Sox (38-39)
Previous Ranking: 18
The White Sox became the first team in MLB history to lose a game despite out-homering its opponent by six or more Saturday against Toronto. Although not much has gone right for Chicago recently, Chris Sale continues to impress. His victory Sunday over the Jays gave him his 13th win of 2016.
17. New York Yankees (37-39)
Previous Ranking: 16
The Yankees really are one of the most average teams I have ever seen. In an 11 game stretch against the Rockies and Twins, two sub .500 teams, the Bombers went a mediocre 6-5 and now sit 7.5 games behind the division-leading Orioles. Time to sell in the Bronx?
16. Seattle Mariners (39-38)
Previous Ranking: 11
The Mariners have lost 8 out of 10 and now sit 11 games behind the division leading Texas Rangers. With a +43 run differential, it is clear the Mariners are better than their record is. But as the saying goes, “You are what your record says you are”.
15. Detroit Tigers (39-38)
Previous Ranking: 14
The Tigers have been completely manhandled by the division leading Indians thus far in 2016. Detroit has lost their first nine meetings with Cleveland and was swept on their home diamond against the Tribe this past weekend. Detroit will need to perform much better against Cleveland in the second half if they want any chance at winning the AL Central.
14. Houston Astros (41-37)
Previous Ranking: 23
As LeBron James once said, “it’s about damn time”. The preseason AL favorites have finally hit their stride in 2016 and have won 9 of their last 11. Jose Altuve has been one of the best players in baseball all year and is hitting .347 with 13 homers and 44 RBIs to lead the Astros offensively.
13. Kansas City Royals (40-36)
Previous Ranking: 13
The peaks and valleys of the Royals continue. Last week, Kansas City endured a 1-4 stretch against the Mets and Astros, losing by a combined 14 runs. A rough patch like that has pushed them further behind in the AL Central where they currently sit six games back from the Cleveland Indians. An inconsistent rotation continues to be this team’s downfall as three starters contain an ERA over 5 – Chris Young, Yordano Ventura and Edinson Volquez. Lefty Danny Duffy proves to be exception as he’s flirting with a 3.24 and a 4.94 SO/W ratio.
12. Miami Marlins (41-36)
Previous Ranking: 17
The Miami Marlins are for real. No really, the Marlins are pretty darn good. Not only did they beat the Cubs three out of four this weekend, they also saw one of the best young pitchers in baseball, Jose Fernandez, dominant one of the best lineups in baseball. Fernandez fanned 13 Cubs hitters and allowed just four hits and one run over 7 innings to improve to 10-3 on the year.
11. New York Mets (40-36)
Previous Ranking: 9
Not much is going right for the Mets these days. In 18 consecutive innings against Atlanta this weekend, the Mets only scratched across three runs. Steven Matz and Noah Syndergaard both have experienced elbow tightness and have not been as sharp lately. Is recently signed Jose Reyes really the answer?
10. St. Louis Cardinals (40-36)
Previous Ranking: 8
Besides their three game sweep over the Cubs in Wrigley, the Cardinals have lost six of their last eight games. Former All-Star Trevor Rosenthal was demoted this weekend from the closer role after going 0-2 with two blown saves and a dreadful 14.14 ERA in June.
9. Toronto Blue Jays (42-37)
Previous Ranking: 10
Where art thou Marcus Stroman? The Blue Jays’ ace has been anything but impressive in 2016, with a 6-4 record and a 5.33 ERA. Despite the powerful lineup, Toronto will need better pitching to catch the Orioles in the AL East.
8. Los Angeles Dodgers (43-36)
Previous Ranking: 12
After a slow start, third baseman Justin Turner has been on a tear in the month of June. His home run Sunday night was his eighth of the month of June. Clayton Kershaw’s injured back has many Dodgers fans holding their breath.
7. Boston Red Sox (42-35)
Previous Ranking: 5
Boston has hit its first rough patch of the season and have now lost five out of seven. The Red Sox have struggled out of the gate in many of their recent games. After outscoring opponents 60-32 in the first inning in their previous 61 games, Boston has been outscored 22-0 in the first inning of their last 15.
6. Washington Nationals (46-32)
Previous Ranking: 2
The Nationals are another team who has cooled off recently. After taking two of three from the Cubs, they proceeded to lose seven out of nine including seven losses in a row. The Nationals still manage a four game lead over the Mets and have had their number thus far in 2016.
5. Baltimore Orioles (46-30)
Previous Ranking: 6
Offense wins games. The Orioles currently rank second in the AL in runs scored and have big time hitters up and down their lineup. The resurgence of Mark Trumbo has been nothing short of amazing. The powerful right hander has already hit 22 home runs this season after hitting 22 all of last year.
4. Cleveland Indians (46-30)
Previous Ranking: 7
The most confident team in baseball resides in Cleveland. Since the Cavaliers brought home Cleveland’s first title in 52 years, the Indians have not lost a game and now lead the AL Central by six games. Francisco Lindor has been as good as advertised this season and leads all Indian regulars with a .314 average.
3. San Francisco Giants (49-30)
Previous Ranking: 3
For the first time in a long time, someone other than the Cubs are contending for the most wins in the NL. The duo of Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto has been the best in baseball since May 1st. The two aces have ERA’s of 1.12 and 1.75 respectively since the end of April. The Giants look poised for another even year postseason run.
2. Texas Rangers (51-27)
Previous Ranking: 4
Texas came oh so close to surging past the Cubs for the top spot in the rankings, but will have to settle for second. The Rangers have the best record in baseball and have opened up a seemingly insurmountable lead in the AL West. And how about the renaissance of left-hander Cole Hamels? The veteran is quietly turning in one of his best season’s as a pro.
1. Chicago Cubs (50-26)
Previous Ranking: 1
Man, Kris Bryant is simply on another level. The third baseman has evolved from a utility man to one of baseball’s best players, and most of it falls on the shoulders of the magician himself, Joe Maddon. Bryant’s light tower power was certainly on display Monday night, when he belted three home runs, two of which went into the upper deck in left, to lead the Cubs to victory. Their struggles last week against the Cardinals and Marlins were simply a blip on the radar.