The New York Yankees, unsurprisingly, have the best record in baseball at 56-32. But few could have predicted that the upstart San Diego Padres (51-37) would be just a game off the pace in the National League.
See how those teams and all the others stack up in this week’s edition of MLB Power Rankings.
The Yankees’ plans to trade for Cliff Lee fizzled on Friday, but since Javier Vazquez has pitched well of late, their rotation is just fine without him.
Jason Bartlett has failed to replicate his production from a breakout 2009 season, but the shortstop has still found ways to come up big for the Rays. Despite batting just .167 with the bases empty, Bartlett has posted a .356 average with runners in scoring position.
The Braves have won 52 games this season, but their starting pitchers have been credited with only 33 of them. That’s the largest such disparity of any team in baseball.
Daniel Nava hasn’t homered since debuting with a grand slam in his first career at-bat, but the rookie outfielder has continued to help the Red Sox overcome a bevy of injuries by hitting .328 with a .936 OPS against right-handed pitching.
Veteran reliever and first-time All-Star Arthur Rhodes has watched his ERA more than quintuple over his past six outings. Of course, thanks to the 40-year-old’s otherworldly performance over the first three months of the season, it’s still a terrific 1.54.
The good news is that Cliff Lee needed just 95 pitches to complete nine innings in his Rangers debut. The bad news is that he allowed six runs and three homers in the process, enabling the Orioles to collect their first road sweep of the season in Arlington.
Had Joey Votto not been snubbed by NL All-Star manager Charlie Manuel, the Rockies’ Carlos Gonzalez would have had an outstanding case to win the Final Vote. With 17 homers and 12 steals to go with his .314 average, the 24-year-old is emerging as a five-tool star.
David Wright appears to have figured things out after a down year in 2009. The third baseman enters the All-Star break in a dead heat with Votto for NL MVP honors, with 4.1 Wins Above Replacement to Votto’s 4.2.
The White Sox have reeled off a ridiculous 25 wins in their past 30 games, surging to the top of the AL Central standings. But before you get too excited, it’s worth noting that 15 of those contests were against the lowly Cubs, Pirates, Nationals, and Royals.
The Cardinals’ shortstop have combined to hit just .206 with a .601 OPS this season, the worst of any NL playoff contender. Acquiring someone like Toronto’s Alex Gonzalez – who leads all shortstops with 17 homers – might solve the problem.
Count Mat Latos among this year’s biggest All-Star snubs. The young righty is 10-4 with a 2.45 ERA, ranks second only to Josh Johnson with a 0.97 WHIP, and hasn’t allowed more than two runs in a start since June 4.
The Dodgers are currently atop the ultra-competitive NL West, but they may have trouble staying there for long. A league-high 58 of LA’s 74 remaining games will come against teams with a record of .500 or better.
If Brennan Boesch can somehow maintain his .342 average, .990 OPS, and 20-plus homer pace, he’ll be a shoo-in for AL Rookie of the Year honors. The problem is, he posted a .742 OPS over four seasons in the minors, offering little reason to believe that his first half is anything more than a highly impressive fluke.
Francisco Liriano has been one of the AL’s best starting pitchers this season – except against the Tigers, that is. Detroit has scored 13 runs off the hard-throwing southpaw over his past two starts against them, and chased him after just 1 2/3 innings of work on Friday.
The Phillies managed to scrape out a four-game sweep of the Reds, but each of the games was an arduous struggle. Their consecutive 1-0 victories on Saturday and Sunday were the first such accomplishment for the Phillies since 1913.
Andres Torres entered the month of July with three homers; nine games later, he has seven of them. The journeyman outfielder’s power surge has cemented him as one of the first half’s biggest surprises, and Torres now ranks second only to Matt Holliday among NL outfielders in Wins Above Replacement.
It might be a tough pill for GM Tony Reagins to swallow, but the Angels are going to have to find a way to supplant Scott Kazmir in their rotation. The 26-year-old lefty hasn’t looked right all season, and was torched for 13 runs by the unimpressive A’s lineup on Friday. Kazmir’s ERA has risen from 5.08 to 6.92 over the past month.
Ubaldo Jimenez may have a 15-1 record, but Josh Johnson now leads the league in both ERA and WHIP. Strangely, the Marlins are just 11-7 in his 18 starts, leaving Johnson with only nine wins to show for his stellar efforts.
The Blue Jays have put relievers Kevin Gregg, Jason Frasor and Scott Downs on the trade market. The 34-year-old Downs, in particular, figures to draw interest from other teams, because he is a southpaw who has had considerable success against both righty and lefty batters throughout his career.
Jack Cust has built a reputation as one of baseball’s “Three True Outcomes” (home run, walk, strikeout) hitters, but he hasn’t lived up to it so far this year. Cust had sent 58 of his 234 hits (25 percent) out of the park in 2008-2009, but has thus far done so with only four of his 40 knocks in 2010.
Stephen Strasburg – 3-2 with a 2.32 ERA and 61 strikeouts in 42 2/3 innings — has been at least as good as advertised, but the Nationals are just 4-3 in his seven starts.
The Brewers are the only team in baseball that has fared worse at home (20-26) than on the road (20-23).
Roy Oswalt may be in a race against the clock as he strives to become the winningest pitcher in Astros history before he is traded. Oswalt’s 143 career wins are just one shy of the mark set by Joe Niekro, and depending on how manager Brad Mills sets his rotation, he may have two chances to tie or break that mark in front of the home crowd at Minute Maid Park.
Among the teams that are poised to host a fire sale, the Cubs might be most inclined to ship off their veterans. Lefty Ted Lilly, first baseman Derrek Lee and outfielder Kosuke Fukudome are all likely to be wearing a different uniform come August.
Anthony Lerew must have been auditioning to pitch in the Home Run Derby, when he allowed back-to-back homers twice in the same inning of Sunday’s 15-5 loss to the White Sox.
There’s a reason 150-pitch outings are frowned upon today, and Edwin Jackson – who tossed that many in his no-hitter on June 25 – is experiencing it first hand. Jackson has allowed nine runs on 13 hits and seven walks in 10 innings since his no-no, showing obvious signs of fatigue.
The Orioles’ pitching staff has allowed more homers (101) than any other in the American League. Kevin Millwood (20) and Jeremy Guthrie (15) have accounted for more than a third of them.
With Shin-Soo Choo on the disabled list, Austin Kearns is the only Indians’ hitter who ranks among the league’s top 100 in OPS. Worse still, Kearns has logged just a .247 average with a .687 OPS since May 1.
The Lee trade indicates that the Mariners have waved the white flag on the 2010 season, and are back in rebuilding mode. Former GM Bill Bavasi was unable to bring the team back into contention, but by acquiring a blue chip hitting prospect in first baseman Justin Smoak, Jack Zduriencik has put Seattle on the right track.
The Pirates entered the break with the league’s longest active losing streak at six games. Fortunately, they’ll get to enjoy a 10-game homestand starting Friday, because Pittsburgh is a league-worst 11-38 on the road.