MLB Power Rankings (July 6): White Sox Jump 14 Spots
It's already a couple days before the All-Star break, or essentially the halfway point to the 2012 season. There still may be a couple pretenders, but most of the contenders have already made a name for themselves so far in the 2012 MLB season. Here are my power rankings, which are based on schedule, division, past performance, and predicted future performance.
1. Texas Rangers (50-33, +/- 0)
Despite Josh Hamilton's struggles in the month of June, the Rangers still manage to have baseball's best record. According to Buster Olney, Roy Oswalt has also struggled, allowing 14 extra-base hits in 17.1 innings pitched as a Ranger.
2. New York Yankees (49-32, +/- 0)
With CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte both on the D.L., the Yankees' depth at starting pitching has vanished. The Yankee offense is the big reason why they're in first place in the AL East, led by Robinson Cano who has at least one RBI in eight straight games.
3. Washington Nationals (48-32, +1)
4. Los Angeles Angels (46-37, -1)
Mike Trout for MVP? According to Stats LLC, Mike Trout is the first player in MLB history with 10 home runs and 20 steals at the All-Star break, despite having zero of each in April. He would also be the first Rookie of the Year and MVP since another player from the AL West took the league by storm, Ichiro in 2001.
5. Chicago White Sox (45-37, +14)
While Adam Dunn has had a great comeback year and deserves to make the AL All-Star team, I think Alex Rios' comeback season has been equally impressive. He's hitting over 100 batting average points better than Dunn (as well as 90 points better than last season), and is one of nine players to have at least 10 home runs and 10 steals so far this season.
6. San Francisco Giants (45-38, +1)
The Giants have caught up with the Dodgers atop the NL West, and their recent three-game sweep of the Dodgers showed how dominant their pitching is (and how anemic the Dodgers' offense is). Funny part is, the Dodgers couldn't score a single run in the entire series despite the fact that none of the games were started by Matt Cain or Madison Bumgarner, the Giants' two best pitchers.
7. Pittsburgh Pirates (46-36, +3)
If the Pirates can beat out the Reds in the division, should Andrew McCutchen be the NL MVP? I think so, even though he has gotten a lot more help from the rest of the lineup recently, especially Pedro Alvarez.
8. Tampa Bay Rays (43-40, +/- 0)
The Rays continue to stay alive and thrive in the AL postseason hunt despite an array of injuries and disappointing seasons. One of those players, Desmond Jennings, may have snapped out of his funk after enjoying a two-home run game against Justin Verlander.
9. Cincinnati Reds (44-38, +2)
While Aroldis Chapman has been scuffling of late, the Reds have to be thrilled with the recent performance by their huge offseason acquisition, Mat Latos. He won the NL Player of the Week by tossing two complete games along with a fine 20 strikeouts in those 18 innings pitched.
10. Los Angeles Dodgers (47-37, -5)
As you can tell by the Dodgers' recent performance, they really miss Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier. They also just lost speedster Dee Gordon for six weeks because of a UCL tear in his thumb. Maybe Carlos Lee didn't want to come to Los Angeles because of the injury bug biting the entire team.
11. Baltimore Orioles (44-38, -5)
When's the last time that the Orioles have been buyers at the trade deadline? They've already made a splash by landing Jim Thome, who can be an effective DH this year. They need to acquire another starting pitcher if they want to stay afloat in the second half.
12. St. Louis Cardinals (44-39, +5)
After hearing how he shouldn't have been named to the NL All-Star team over numerous other starting pitchers, Lance Lynn promptly threw six innings of shutout ball in his last start before the All-Star game. With Chris Carpenter officially out for the season, Lynn will need to rekindle his April magic if the Cardinals want any chance of October magic of their own.
13. Boston Red Sox (42-40, -4)
Call it luck, call it karma. Will Middlebrooks simply has not been the same ever since Kevin Youkilis was traded to the White Sox. Even though it looks like Middlebrooks may avoid the D.L. (bad hamstring), teammate Dustin Pedroia could not because of his thumb.
14. New York Mets (45-38, -2)
R.A. Dickey has looked rather human in two of his past three starts. However, the Mets have continued to surprise this season, thanks to a very scrappy offense and help from all of their starting pitchers.
15. Atlanta Braves (43-39, +/-0)
Last year's most unhitable reliever, Jonny Venters, has been put on the D.L. with elbow impingement (is he the next Tommy John victim?) after his miserable start to the season. The Braves' offense has come through as of late, led by the breakout campaign of Jason Heyward.
16. Toronto Blue Jays (42-41, +2)
Despite having possibly the second-worst starting pitching staff in baseball (ahead of the Rockies) thanks to a plethora of injuries, the Blue Jays' 2-3-4 hitters have kept the team above .500 in the tough AL East. All of them were castoffs from other organizations, but boy are Colby Rasmus, Jose Bautista, and Edwin Encarnacion making the Blue Jays' front office look really smart.
17. Cleveland Indians (43-39, -1)
Robinson Cano has overshadowed every second baseman this season, but the Indians' Jason Kipnis is rising up the ranks of elite second basemen. One year after shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera's breakout year, Kipnis is on pace for a 20-homer, 40-steal season. Lonnie Chisenhall will have a lot of pressure next season to continue the trend of young Indians infielders having monster breakout seasons.
18. Detroit Tigers (41-42, -5)
Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder are superstars. Austin Jackson has turned into a great leadoff hitter. But the Tigers' fourth-best hitter this season has been Quintin Berry, a 27-year-old rookie. The Tigers need more of their bats to come alive (especially Alex Avila and Brennan Boesch), or at least expect them to trade for a productive one soon.
19. Oakland Athletics (41-42, -5)
The Athletics' offense sprung to life in June and began July by sweeping the Red Sox. However, they still have no chance of finishing higher than where they are now (in third place) because of how talented the Rangers and Angels are at the top of the AL West.
20. Arizona Diamondbacks (39-43, +/-0)
It's recently been a time of hellos and goodbyes for the Diamondbacks. Super prospect Trevor Bauer has made his first two starts (hasn't been very effective yet) and shortstop Stephen Drew has finally played for the first time all season. However, they lost ace Daniel Hudson for the year and suspended their television broadcaster Daron Sutton. Add in the fact that Aaron Hill broke a record by hitting for the cycle twice in 11 days, only adding to the up-and-down season the Diamondbacks have experienced.
21. Miami Marlins (40-42, +2)
The most exciting thing during the All-Star weekend will be watching Giancarlo Stanton in the Home Run Derby. I wouldn't be surprised if he hits one at least 550 feet. It's just too bad there hasn't been a promotion to allow Stanton to have extended batting practice before every Marlins' home game to help fill up a very empty new stadium.
The Brewers potentially hold one of the biggest chips at the trade deadline in Zack Greinke. While they are still deciding whether or not to be sellers this season, it was a travesty that Greinke was not an All-Star this season.
23. Philadelphia Phillies (37-47, +1)
Ryan Howard will most likely be activated from the D.L. and in the Phillies' lineup Friday night. Roy Halladay should be back a couple days after the All-Star break. Despite getting their stars back, are the Phillies too far behind to make one final playoff push with this roster?
24. Kansas City Royals (37-44, -2)
With Eric Hosmer enduring a brutal sophomore slump, it's been Mike Moustakas who has been having the breakout campaign out of the Royals' young hitters. They still need a lot more help, especially with starting pitching. So once again, as Royals' fans have heard too many times, they have to wait until at least next year to become a viable threat in the AL Central.
25. Minnesota Twins (35-47, +/-0)
Has there been a more shocking season than Trevor Plouffe's? He was a former fringe prospect in the Twins' system, and now he is tied for 12th in baseball with 19 home runs.
26. Seattle Mariners (35-49, +1)
The bullpen duo of Charlie Furbush and Tom Wilhemson has quietly been the best of its kind this season. How good have they been? Over the past 30 days, they have combined for 29.1 innings, allowed one run, and struck out 40 batters. If they were playing for the Yankees, they'd probably both be on the All-Star team.
27. San Diego Padres (34-50, +2)
Yasmani Grandal has started off his MLB career with a bang, by hitting four home runs in his first six professional games. According to ESPN Stats & Info, Grandal is the fourth player since 1900 to accomplish the feat. The bad news is, none of the other three players (Luis Medina, Sam Horn, and Mike Jacobs) exactly turned out to be stars.
28. Chicago Cubs (31-51, +/-0)
Finally, Cubs fans have something to be excited about following the promotion of super-prospect Anthony Rizzo. Not only has Rizzo performed extremely well, the Cubs are 7-3 since his arrival. Watch out NL Central!
29. Houston Astros (32-51, -3)
While the Astros are having a terrible year, they have to be excited about their two middle infielders, All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve and former Red Sox top prospect, shortstop Jed Lowrie. I wonder why the Astros took a shortstop with the first pick in the MLB draft when Lowrie is one of the top young shortstops in the game.
30. Colorado Rockies (31-51, +/-0)
A four-man rotation and no Troy Tulowitzki until at least August. And now they are tied for the worst record in baseball. 2012 is clearly not the Rockies' year.