The end of June brings us a new team in the top spot. Which teams will make a playoff push in July?
We don’t even want to talk about the debacle that has been checking pitchers for goop/glop/sticky stuff.
Fans and media should be focused on the good in the game: Wander Franco’s debut, Fernando Tatis, Jr. and Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. playing at an MVP level and some exciting pennant races starting to shape up already in June.
With that, let’s jump into this week’s power rankings. As always, let us know what we got right, where were were wrong and which team you think is going to surge in the coming week.
1. Houston Astros
The Astros were the first team in the league with a run differential of over 100 (the Giants have joined them). They’re +135 entering Thursday’s games and are two games out of the top record in baseball after winning 10 straight. Their sweep of the White Sox last weekend was dominant.
2. San Francisco Giants
We keep waiting for the Giants to wake up and the Dodgers and Padres to catch them but San Francisco keeps rolling. They have won eight of their last ten and have the second-best run differential in baseball. It’s been an impressive season in the Bay thus far.
3. San Diego Padres
A seven-game win streak pushes the Padres into the top three this week. After a rough patch they’re now a half-game behind the Dodgers and look ready to make a strong push. Now if only the Giants would slow down…
4. Los Angeles Dodgers
They’re in front of the Padres in the standings but injuries have kept them from putting a consistent lineup on the field. Max Muncy is leading NL first basemen in All-Star voting and Cody Bellinger is back (for now). This division is going to be wild down the stretch.
5. Chicago White Sox
Last week’s No. 1 team slides this week but not too far. Injuries have been killing the Sox in the outfield but their pitching has been terrific. They could get Eloy Jimenez back by the end of July/beginning of August which would be a huge bat added to the lineup without making a trade.
6. Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox are still in first in the AL East but they’re only 5-5 in their last 10. Alex Cora has done a really nice job in returning from his suspension and Boston should have a few guys heading to Denver for the All-Star Game.
7. Tampa Bay Rays
The addition of Wander Franco to the lineup is a scary proposition for the rest of the division — he might be the best bat in their lineup as a 20-year-old with two games of major league experience under his belt.
8. Oakland A’s
The A’s are now in second place in the AL West thanks to the Astros’ hot streak. There’s still a lot to like about the A’s this season but they might become buyers (renters?) at the deadline to make a big push for a longer postseason run.
9. Chicago Cubs
The Cubs are a half-game behind the Brewers in the Central but their run differential is 25 runs better than Milwaukee’s entering Thursday’s action. Kris Bryant is back to his MVP form and Javier Baez should probably join him in Denver. Craig Kimbrel has been as dominant as ever.
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Still in first place in the NL East in spite of all their injuries, the Mets just need a few arms to stay available for a month. Tylor Megill had a nice big league debut. Francisco Lindor woke up, Jeff McNeil and Michael Conforto are back and Pete Alonso will try to defend his Home Run Derby crown in Denver.
11. Milwaukee Brewers
They’re in first place in the NL Central but one had to wonder how long they can rely on pitching to keep them in games. The Brewers have a negative run differential and have won only four of their last ten entering Thursday.
12. Cleveland Indians
They’re putting some pressure on the White Sox in the AL Central but the loss of Aaron Civale for 4-5 weeks is a big blow to their rotation; he’s been terrific this season. Jose Ramirez might be the best player nobody is talking about this season.
13. Toronto Blue Jays
Yes, we’re putting the Jays ahead of the Yankees this week. Their run differential is 46 runs better than the Yankees and they have won four straight entering Thursday. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. might be the AL MVP right now but he won’t take part in the Home Run Derby.
The pinstripes have more issues than Sports Illustrated and need to do something to shake up their lineup soon. The lack of left-handed bats is a big problem and their rotation could use some help. How long until Brian Cashman makes a move (or two)?
15. Washington Nationals
Winners of nine of their last ten, the Nats appear to be finding a groove. That might keep Max Scherzer in Washington through the end of the final season of his contract. Kyle Schwarber has been crushing the ball lately to lead the offense.
16. Seattle Mariners
Winners of eight of their last ten, the Mariners are quietly playing pretty good baseball right now. Their youth is coming but the loss of Evan White, one of the better defensive first basemen in the game, has been significant. We’ll see if they deal some of their surplus before the deadline to make room for the kids.
17. Cincinnati Reds
We sound like a broken record, but if they can get Luis Castillo on track with their offense the Reds could make noise in the NL Central. Both Jesse Winker and Nick Castellanos should be in Denver for the All-Star Game.
18. Detroit Tigers
Holy cow the Tigers in the top 20? Hell yeah! Even with an ugly run differential Detroit has won three in a row and six of their last ten. The young pitching is going to be really good in Detroit; they just need the bats to come along.
19. St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals have invested too much money in Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado to let this season slip away, but it’s been a brutal season in St. Louis. Their pitching has struggled and the offense is far too inconsistent. Look for them to be active in the trade market in July.
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20. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Shohei Ohtani is worth the price of admission. The rest of the roster has been underwhelming. They miss Mike Trout (we all do) but Anthony Rendon has been a disappointment this season.
21. Atlanta Braves
They simply cannot keep their pitchers healthy. The loss of Marcel Ozuna has hurt the offense as well. We figured the Braves would be in the mix to win the National League but thus far they haven’t looked like a playoff team, much less a championship contender.
22. Philadelphia Phillies
Well, Joe Girardi has sufficiently pissed off everyone in Washington. But he hasn’t found a way to get his team to play consistent baseball at all this season. Bryce Harper’s health has hurt but this is a flawed roster that hasn’t put it together.
23. Miami Marlins
Miami has the best run differential of any team in the bottom half of our rankings and they might get Sixto Sanchez back soon. They’re building for the future and have shown flashes of exciting potential.
24. Minnesota Twins
The Twins are over .500 in their last ten (finally) but are still struggling to climb back into contention in the AL Central. The fact that Byron Buxton can’t stay healthy has been an annual issue in Minnesota, which sucks because he’s so incredibly talented and plays like an MVP when he can actually be on the field.
25. Kansas City Royals
The Royals are ahead of the Twins in the division but they’re playing about as well as we expected. Salvador Perez will probably start the All-Star Game (he should) but KC might not have another representative in Denver in July.
26. Colorado Rockies
The Rockies have been over .500 in their last ten but the for sale sign is going to be up soon. Trevor Story will be the biggest name on the market at the deadline and could bring back a serious ransom whenever the Rockies decide it’s time.
27. Texas Rangers
Joey Gallo should be on the trade block, but will the Rangers move him? This has been a lost season for Texas but they’re targeting a big offseason to spend a lot of money to jump back into the playoff mix soon.
28. Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pirates are a bad, flawed team that makes so many terrible mental mistakes it’s a wonder how they aren’t in dead last in our power rankings… until you consider what’s going on in Baltimore and Arizona.
29. Baltimore Orioles
Cedric Mullins and John Means should both be at the All-Star Game despite the Orioles being awful. Their road losing streak would make headlines if the Diamondbacks hadn’t already broken the record this season. At least the Orioles can look to the future and smile; they have some good young pieces coming.
30. Arizona Diamondbacks
It’s painfully clear that the Dbacks have quit on the 2021 season. The effort isn’t there even though they have some good veteran players on the roster. When they sell, the league will be calling often to get the price on players like Ketel Marte, Madison Bumgarner and Eduardo Escobar.
31. Rob Manfred
This entire PR mess around pitchers getting checked falls completely on the desk of the commissioner.