Well, it’s that time of year again. The MLB trade deadline has and always will play a huge factor in who goes a long way in October. Think about last year when Toronto got David Price and Troy Tulowitski and the Mets almost got Carlos Gomez but then got Yoenis Cespesdes. The 2016 deadline already appears to be wild, with the Yankees and Cubs getting things started with a five- player deal involving Aroldis Chapman and one of the top minor league prospects, infielder Gleyber Torres. As they say, trades in July pay off in October. With less than 65 games remaining, find out if your team rose or fell in this week’s rankings.
30. Atlanta Braves (33-66)
Previous Ranking: 29
Julio Teheran is one of the lone bright spots on a team who has had very little to smile about in 2016. The Braves’ ace has a 2.71 ERA and a WHIP of 0.96 to go along with a 3-8 record. It would be nice to see Teheran get an opportunity to pitch in a pennant race but it appears the Braves see him as one of the center pieces of their rebuilding campaign.
29. Cincinnati Reds (38-60)
Previous Ranking: 28
There is not much to be proud of this year in Cincinnati. The Reds have the worst run differential in baseball at -144 and have been on the wrong end of many lopsided scores. At least they had the opportunity to watch ‘The Kid” from 2000-2008. How cool was that Hall of Fame speech?
28. Minnesota Twins (37-61)
Previous Ranking: 30
After months of futility, things finally may be coming together in Minnesota. The last place Twins won their final three series of the first half, including taking three out of four in Texas from the first place Rangers and this week took four of seven from the Tigers and Red Sox on the road. It isn’t much, but for a team who has been awful all year, finally playing some good baseball has to be a good feeling.
27. Tampa Bay Rays (38-60)
Previous Ranking: 24
The Tampa Bay Rays are in the midst of quite possibly their worst stretch in franchise history, and for a team like Tampa, that is saying something. It is amazing that the Rays were 31-29 at one point before losing 31 of their last 38 games. Yes, they have lost 31 of their past 38 games. It’s time for Tampa to sell some of their pitching talent to bulk up their anemic offense.
26. Arizona Diamondbacks (41-57)
Previous Ranking: 21
So, yes it appears that the D-Backs have made the decision to shop right-hander Shelby Miller, finally. The deal to acquire him in the first place was probably one of the worst deals I have ever seen in major league baseball. Unfortunately for Arizona, whatever they will get back for Miller, if they are able to deal him, will be nowhere close to the haul they gave up to acquire him initially.
25. Milwaukee Brewers (41-55)
Previous Ranking: 22
The Brewers would be smart to hold out for a big incentive for star catcher Jonathan Lucroy. Considering how weak the catcher position currently is offensively, Lucroy’s .301 average will make many teams in the MLB salivate. The Brew crew also recently dealt Aaron Hill to the Red Sox for RHP Aaron Wilkerson and 2B Wendel Rijo.
24. Oakland Athletics (45-54)
Previous Ranking: 27
Slugger Khris Davis and shortstop Marcus Semien have been quite the dynamic duo. They have combined for 43 homers and 111 RBIs thus far in 2016. The two were only able to combine for 42 homers and 111 RBIs all of last year. Progress.
23. San Diego Padres (43-56)
Previous Ranking: 23
As expected, the Padres are going forth as sellers at the August 1st trade deadline. Outfielder Melvin Upton Jr., who is having a career year in 2016, could be on the move first. Reports indicate that the Orioles may be the front-runners to sign the Padres’ starting left fielder.
22. Anaheim Angels (43-55)
Previous Ranking: 26
After winning 10 out of 12, the Angels were swept three games in Houston by the surging Astros. The Angels do have assets like Huston Street and Matt Shoemaker that could garner interest amongst contending teams, however, it remains to be seen if the Halos will be active come August 1st.
21. Philadelphia Phillies (45-55)
Previous Rankings: 25
The Phillies aren’t good but they are not nearly as bad as many people thought they were going to be. Their rebuild is certainly ahead of schedule. They would be smart to trade Jeremy Hellickson to a contender in need of a 4th or 5th starter. Despite his success thus far in 2016, his stock will simply never be higher.
20. Colorado Rockies (47-51)
Previous Ranking: 20
Trevor Story, what a story (sorry that was too good not to pass up.) The rookie has been off the charts this year and currently leads the NL in homers at 27 and is fifth in RBIs at 69, to go along with his .275 average. Carlos Gonzalez, Nolan Arenado, and Story form a trio that has eaten up almost every pitcher they’ve faced in 2016.
19. Chicago White Sox (48-50)
Previous Ranking: 18
Chris Sale must really hate throwback jerseys. The temper tantrum of Chicago’s ace was probably the story of the weekend in the MLB and resulted in a five game suspension for Sale. It is pretty obvious Sale wants out of Chicago. Will he get his wish?
18. Kansas City Royals (48-49)
Previous Ranking: 13
The Royals are living proof why you can never take championships for granted. The magic of 2014 and 2015 has all but vanished from this current Royals squad. They have lost five of their last seven and currently sit eight games behind Cleveland for the AL Central lead. Could the defending World Series champs become sellers?
17. New York Yankees (50-48)
Previous Ranking: 17
Brian Cashman deserves huge credit for his handling of Aroldis Chapman. Not only did he get the Cubs top prospect, Gleyber Torres, who projects to be a future All-Star and the Cubs’ fifth ranked prospect Billy McKinney, he also got back reliever Adam Warren who he dealt to Chicago for Starlin Castro. In essence, the Yankees got two top prospects and Castro for next to nothing. Bravo.
16. Detroit Tigers (51-48)
Previous Ranking: 15
Detroit was walked off on back-to-back days this weekend which turned into a brutal weekend for the Tigers in Chicago. The Tigers currently sit four games behind the Blue Jays for the second wild card spot and six behind the division-leading Indians who they have not beaten in what seems like forever. They need to start playing much better baseball.
15. Pittsburgh Pirates (51-47)
Previous Ranking: 19
Despite all the adversity, manager Clint Hurdle and the Pirates are once again making a playoff push. With the trade deadline being so pivotal for every team currently in the NL wild card race, it is paramount that the Bucs acquire another starting pitcher. Rich Hill anyone?
14. Seattle Mariners (50-48)
Previous Ranking: 16
The Mariners are not a bad team, they are just another team that may get lost in the AL Wild Card shuffle. Nelson Cruz had a huge performance Saturday in Toronto with two homers and seven RBIs en route to a 14-5 win over the Blue Jays. Unfortunately for Cruz, he does not have a single homer or RBI in none of his last 10 games.
13. Miami Marlins (53-45)
Previous Ranking: 12
I guess Don Mattingly isn’t that bad of a manager after all? There is no question the second place Marlins are for real and a legit contender for an NL Wild card spot. Jose Fernandez is molding into one of the best pitchers in baseball and has had hitters searching for answers the entire year. Oh and Giancarlo Stanton can hit the ball really, really far.
12. New York Mets (52-45)
Previous Ranking: 11
Right now there are simply more questions than answers. Noah Syndergaard’s arm fatigue and Yoenis Cespesdes’ knee injury are major concerns for the Mets as they push for a playoff spot. They also still have not figured out how to get former Mets’ hero Daniel Murphy out. Taking two of three from the second place Marlins was certainly a step forward for the Mets this weekend. Their upcoming series against the Cardinals is as important as a July series gets.
11. St. Louis Cardinals (52-46)
Previous Ranking: 10
It was inevitable that the second place Cardinals, with the third best run differential in baseball at +95, would eventually get hot. Winners of five out of seven, the Cardinals are right in the thick of things in the crowded NL wild card picture. I would be surprised if the Cardinals missed out on October baseball.
10. Houston Astros (54-44)
Previous Ranking: 14
Don’t look now, but the Astros are 10 games over .500 and only sit two games back on the loss-side in the AL West. Jose Altuve continues to build on what is already a career year. The Houston second baseman hit two homers Sunday and went 3-5 to raise his average to .360. Altuve should be the MVP of the American League.
9. Los Angeles Dodgers (56-44)
Previous Ranking: 8
It’s almost hard to pay attention to whether the Dodgers win or not because of the dark cloud currently hanging over them with the rest of Clayton Kershaw’s season in jeopardy. If he is able to comeback healthy, then the Dodgers are easily a playoff team. If he is unable to comeback, that is very sad for the sport of baseball.
8. Boston Red Sox (55-41)
Previous Ranking: 7
Welcome to Fenway Park, Drew Pomeranz. The recently acquired left-hander was rudely welcomed by the Giants in his first start as he was tagged for five earned runs in just three innings of work. I’m sure the realization that it is extremely difficult to pitch in the bam box that is Fenway Park has already set in for the former Padre.
7. Toronto Blue Jays (55-44)
Previous Ranking: 9
Time to give DH Edwin Encarnacion his due. The All-Star has 27 homers and 87 (yes 87) RBIs in late July. Their 3rd baseman isn’t too bad either. Josh Donaldson is hitting .302 with 24 homers and 70 RBIs. Something keeps telling me the Blue Jays are going to find a way to win the AL East.
6. Cleveland Indians (56-41)
Previous Ranking: 4
The Indians have certainly come back down to earth after their scorching hot stretch in early July. However, they still have a comfortable lead in the AL Central and are in good position to make a deadline acquisition. Carlos Beltran anyone?
5. Baltimore Orioles (57-40)
Previous Ranking: 5
After losing four in a row to the 4th place Yankees and the last place Rays, Baltimore bounced back nicely with a three-game sweep of the first place Indians this weekend. The O’s have been carried by their lethal offense all year long. Navigating the powerful Orioles lineup is like trying to climb a mountain blindfolded.
4. Texas Rangers (57-42)
Previous Ranking: 2
The Rangers are 4-10 in their last 14 games and their once insurmountable lead in the AL West is all but gone. There still is the possibility that Texas acquires a starter at the deadline but one has to wonder if it will be enough to hold off the surging Astros.
3. San Francisco Giants (58-40)
Previous Ranking: 3
It appears that Brandon Crawford forgot that he was one of the best defensive shortstops in the league over the All-Star break. The former Gold Glove winner committed three throwing errors in an embarrassing defensive performance Friday night against the Yankees. As a whole, the Giants have now lost six out of seven to start the second half and their lead in the NL West is down to three.
2. Washington Nationals (58-41)
Previous Ranking: 4
After the events of the past 24 hours, the stars may be aligned for the Nationals to trade for a big-time reliever. Not only did the Cubs, the clear favorites to win the National League, trade for flame thrower Aroldis Chapman but also the Nationals current closer Jonathan Papelbon gave up four runs in the ninth during a 10-6 loss Sunday against San Diego. Could Chapman’s former teammate Andrew Miller be on his way to Washington?
1. Chicago Cubs (59-38)
Previous Ranking: 1
For the first time in recent memory, the Cubs are the clear-cut favorites to win the World Series. They are as close to an MLB super team as it gets. Excellent starting rotation, powerful lineup with no easy outs, excellent bullpen now highlighted by one of the top three closers in the game, in Chapman. Theo Epstein has done it again. The Cubbies are ready to win.