MLB Power Rankings Week 13

MLB Power Rankings Week 13 post thumbnail image

Most teams are officially at the halfway mark of the season. While some have all but secured a spot in October, others are fighting to stay in playoff contention.

Houston continues to close the gap between itself and the Yankees, with New York having lost three of its past six games, including one to the Astros. Meanwhile, the Dodgers took three of four against the division-rival Padres to further cushion their lead atop the NL West. Which team will come out on top of each league?

Our expert panel has combined to rank every team in baseball based on a combination of what we’ve seen so far and what we already knew going into the 162-game marathon that is a full baseball season. We also asked ESPN MLB experts David Schoenfield, Bradford Doolittle, Jesse Rogers and Alden Gonzalez to weigh in with an observation for all 30 teams.

Week 12 | Preseason rankings

Record: 59-23

Previous ranking: 1

Sure, we could say something positive about the best team in baseball, but let’s hate on the Yankees for a moment. Joey Gallo is hitting a robust .167. (The lowest qualified average during the expansion era: Chris Davis hit .168 in 2018.) He left the holiday weekend batting .149 with runners in scoring position and .032 in “late and close” situations.

So do the Yankees go after an outfielder at the trade deadline? They could play Giancarlo Stanton more in right field — where his metrics are below average, but not unplayable — and let Matt Carpenter assume more of the DH duties against righties if he stays hot. But you may end up exposing both players if you do that. Best bet: Yankees make a deal for outfield depth. — Schoenfield


Record: 53-28

Previous ranking: 2

The Astros are the hottest team in baseball. They have been winning at home and on the road with pitching and offense against fellow contenders and also-rans. After a lackluster start, Alex Bregman has caught fire. Yordan Alvarez continues to build an MVP case that matches Shohei Ohtani‘s on the West Coast and Aaron Judge‘s on the East Coast. Justin Verlander continues to pitch less like a returnee from Tommy John surgery and more like a 21st century version of “The Six Million Dollar Man.” And for Yankees fans looking ahead at securing the eventual top seed in the AL playoff bracket, here’s a sobering thought: The hard-charging Astros have the second-easiest remaining schedule, a slate that includes 43 home contests, tied for second-most in the league. — Doolittle


Record: 52-29

Previous ranking: 3

The Dodgers were dealt a major blow on Tuesday, when they learned Chris Taylor has a small fracture in his left foot that will keep him out for an extended period of time. The Dodgers continue to win at a high rate — they’ve won 12 of their past 16 games — but have several needs with the trade deadline approaching. The absences of Blake Treinen and Daniel Hudson has created a need in the back end of their bullpen. The prolonged absence of Walker Buehler will probably put them in play for a starting pitcher. And they might need some offense if some of their key hitters continue to struggle. They’re banged up, no doubt, but they’re still the Dodgers. — Gonzalez


Record: 51-31

Previous ranking: 4

Max Scherzer‘s return to the rotation was a huge success as he allowed just two hits over six scoreless innings with a season-high 11 strikeouts, throwing 79 pitches — although the Mets ended up losing 1-0 to the Reds. He also matched his season best with a 97.1-mph fastball. “But I didn’t reach back and really grunt,” he said. “Maybe the grunts will come here in a couple more weeks.”

Since Scherzer went down on May 18, the Mets rotation had posted a 4.92 ERA, 23rd in the majors. Also on the mend: Jacob deGrom, who faced six batters on Sunday in his first rehab start in a Single-A game, fanning five of them and hitting 100 mph. — Schoenfield


Record: 49-34

Previous ranking: 5

Dansby Swanson and Trea Turner are the two shortstop finalists in the All-Star balloting for the NL and it’s one of the best debates on the board as both have been outstanding. Entering Thursday, Swanson led Turner in Baseball-Reference WAR AND in FanGraphs WAR. Swanson rates the edge for 2022, although Turner obviously has the longer track record of playing at an All-Star level. Interesting that both are heading into free agency — making them two of the biggest names of the upcoming offseason. — Schoenfield


Record: 47-36

Previous ranking: 6

The Padres’ biggest concern might not be Fernando Tatis Jr.’s recovery or the overall state of their offense — it might simply be the Dodgers. If not for a ninth-inning comeback against an injured Craig Kimbrel on Sunday, the Padres would have been swept in a four-game series in Los Angeles. As it stands, they have lost five of seven to the Dodgers this season and 14 of their past 16 overall. The weekend series saw the Padres make an assortment of uncharacteristic mistakes in the field and on the bases. They generally have the look of a team that will remain in a division race all summer, but at some point the Padres are going to have to figure out how to get the best of the Dodgers. — Gonzalez


Record: 45-37

Previous ranking: 8

The Red Sox, winners of 10 of their past 16 games, are navigating a brutal stretch in their schedule, with 14 consecutive games against the division-rival Yankees, Rays and Blue Jays, including four upcoming home games against New York. It doesn’t get much easier after that, with 10 straight against the Guardians, Brewers and Astros, respectively. Luckily, though, Chris Sale and Nathan Eovaldi are working their way back to the rotation. That will undoubtedly serve as a major boost. Just as important, though, is for Trevor Story and J.D. Martinez to get going. The two have combined for a .714 OPS since the start of June. — Gonzalez


Record: 47-37

Previous ranking: 10

Milwaukee took a recent charge from the Cardinals then repelled them back to second place with authority. The Brewers can beat you on the mound — a 2-0 shutout of Pittsburgh on Sunday is proof of that — or they can batter you with home runs. They hit five in a 19-2 rout of the Pirates on Friday. Milwaukee ranks in the top 10 in pitching (ERA) and hitting (OPS), a recipe for the postseason. — Rogers


Record: 45-38

Previous ranking: 7

The Blue Jays just barely snapped a season-high-tying five-game losing streak, during which the Rays and the A’s outscored them by a combined 20 runs. But their catcher, Alejandro Kirk, continues to navigate through a breakthrough season that has him trending toward an All-Star Game start. Kirk has separated himself from every other American League catcher offensively, slashing .317/.404/.500 with more walks than strikeouts. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who has a .910 OPS since the start of June, is on track to join him in the starting lineup. — Gonzalez


Record: 44-40

Previous ranking: 9

St. Louis is going to have to dip back into the pitching market — it could use Reds starter Luis Castillo, for example — if it has any chance of catching Milwaukee. The Cardinals were awful on the mound, ranking in the bottom five in ERA this past week. Dakota Hudson and Matthew Liberatore both struggled in outings, though their bullpen kept them in some games. Last July, it was J.A. Happ and Jon Lester who came to the Cardinals. They may need a bigger fish or two this time around. — Rogers


Record: 47-38

Previous ranking: 13

After briefly falling out of first place, the Twins quickly regained the AL Central lead and built a buffer between them and both Cleveland and Chicago. They did so despite a spate of late-inning losses to the Guardians that underscored Minnesota’s need to add some high-leverage options at the deadline. Rookie Jhoan Duran has been dynamite as a late-inning option, and the Twins have gotten a lot of good work from Griffin Jax. Beyond that, it’s been a crapshoot for Rocco Baldelli every time he points at the bullpen. Few things are more perilous in the baseball transaction world than navigating the in-season reliever trade market, so the spotlight over the next month will be on the Twins’ front office. And that will be the case whether or not it moves to add from the outside. — Doolittle


Record: 45-37

Previous ranking: 11

With a breakout season that just keeps gathering momentum, dynamic lefty Shane McClanahan is in great position to earn the starting nod for the AL in the All-Star Game. McClanahan leads AL hurlers in WAR and ERA+, but he’s also a darling of old-school numbers as he’s in position to win the pre-All Star pitching Triple Crown (wins, ERA, strikeouts) even if that’s not actually a thing. As the Rays entered the halfway mark on Wednesday, McClanahan had racked up 133 strikeouts. Double that total as a projection and you have a new potential Rays’ franchise record. Tampa Bay’s current mark of 252 strikeouts in a season was set by Chris Archer in 2015. — Doolittle


Record: 43-39

Previous ranking: 14

Somebody tell Kyle Schwarber to keep his calendar permanently set to June. A year after hitting 16 home runs in June (in a ridiculous 18-game span), he followed it up by hitting .272/.385/.680 with 12 home runs and 27 RBIs this past June. That moved him into the NL lead in home runs. Despite his low batting average, he has to be in All-Star consideration as a reserve given the weak group of NL outfielders this season. — Schoenfield


Record: 41-39

Previous ranking: 12

The Giants are navigating a tough stretch, having lost 12 of their last 16 games to drop to just two games above .500 and 10 1/2 games out of first place. The Giants have scored more than three runs only six times in that stretch and their bullpen in particular has struggled. The worst part, however, is that most of this has come against the Reds, Tigers, White Sox and Diamondbacks — teams currently out of contention. — Gonzalez


Record: 40-40

Previous ranking: 15

The Guardians feature both the youngest group of hitters and the youngest pitching staff in the majors, according to Baseball Reference. That’s a lot of youth. For most of the season, that hasn’t been a problem, but Terry Francona is now tasked with trying to bolster the collective confidence of his green roster that is teetering on a free fall. Except, that is, when they play the Twins. On June 21, Cleveland began a stretch of 11 games in 10 days, including eight against first-place Minnesota, which it beat five times — all of them come-from-behind wins. Against their other three opponents, the Guardians have gone 1-9. Beating the team you’re chasing is a good thing, but you’ve got to beat some of the other teams, too. — Doolittle


Record: 41-42

Previous ranking: 20

After falling 10 games under .500 on June 19, the Mariners rebounded against the underbelly of their schedule, winning five series in a row against the A’s, Angels, Orioles, A’s again and a two-game sweep of the Padres. They’ve done it despite Ty France missing time with an injury and J.P. Crawford and Jesse Winker missing time due to their suspensions from the brawl. Taylor Trammell, who had been playing well, also went on the IL, forcing Scott Servais into even more of a hodgepodge lineup. Leading the way: A red-hot Robbie Ray (0.80 ERA over his past five starts) and a sizzling Julio Rodriguez (just named AL Player of the Week). — Schoenfield


Record: 39-41

Previous ranking: 17

The White Sox hope they received a desperately needed power injection to their lineup on Wednesday, as Eloy Jimenez was activated from the IL. He’s been out since April 23 and Chicago’s performance since then has been perplexing, to put it mildly. Perhaps the most confounding aspect of its season is the disparity between a terrible aggregate performance at home and a very good performance on the road. To illustrate this weird inversion, let’s convert the White Sox’s run differentials at home and away into Pythagorean win projections per 162 games. The road projection is a contention worthy: 92. The home projection? It’s top-of-the-draft bad: 55. No wonder there have been fire the manager chants erupting during recent White Sox home games. Maybe Jimenez can help right the ship. — Doolittle


Record: 39-41

Previous ranking: 18

The Marlins’ playoff odds are hovering just under 10%, so they will have to factor that in with how they play the trade deadline. But realistically: This team isn’t going anywhere unless the outfielders start producing. The Marlins outfielders rank near the bottom in the majors in OPS with Jesus Sanchez and Avisail Garcia both sporting on-base percentages below .270 and a horrendous combined strikeout-to-walk ratio. Prospect JJ Bleday, the fourth pick in 2019, is hitting .225/.364/.458 at Triple-A with 17 home runs. Worth a shot to bring him up? — Schoenfield


Record: 37-43

Previous ranking: 16

The Rangers were flirting with .500 but then lost four of their next five games to fall back even further in the AL wild-card race. They’ve been a little too reliant on the long ball and it’s not paying off for them at the moment. This past week, they hit 14 home runs — near the top of the majors over a seven-day span from June 28 to July 5 — but hit just .248. And the Rangers on-base percentage was just .303, ranking in the bottom 10 in the majors. Texas has been stuck in neutral for most of the season. — Rogers


Record: 38-45

Previous ranking: 19

One of the most embarrassing baserunning plays of the season took place in Houston on Sunday, when Taylor Ward slowly backpedaled to first base and thought Astros second baseman Jose Altuve was merely joking around while acting as if he was going to throw behind him. Ward, the Angels’ young right fielder, had no idea Astros catcher Martin Maldonado was sneaking up behind him, and his first-base coach seemingly didn’t warn him. He was tagged out. Two days later, a routine fly ball fell between Ward and Mike Trout in right-center field. The Angels have gone from a surging team to an utter mess. They’re 11-22 since the start of June and have struck out 67 times in five games this month. — Gonzalez


Record: 39-44

Previous ranking: 21

It doesn’t sound like much but Baltimore is only 6½ games out of a wild-card spot. Of course, half the league is ahead of them but the point is they are no longer a pushover. Manager Brandon Hyde has gotten the most out of a miniscule payroll while the team has done well picking up players from other teams, such as Jordan Lyles, who they signed this past offseason. After a rough start to his season, Lyles has gone deep into his past three outings, including a 6 1/3-inning, one-run performance against Minnesota over the weekend. — Rogers


Record: 37-45

Previous ranking: 22

The D-backs placed Zach Davies on the injured list with shoulder inflammation last week, a move that could have a notable impact on the impending starting pitching market. Davies, in all likelihood a free agent at season’s end, has a 3.94 ERA through his first 15 starts. He was considered the most likely arm to move on from Arizona, given the team’s hesitancy to part with Zac Gallen and the difficulty of offloading what remains of Madison Bumgarner‘s contract. — Gonzalez


Record: 35-47

Previous ranking: 23

Very little has gone well for the Rockies this year, but C.J. Cron, at least, has made a legitimate case to be their All-Star representative — despite playing first base in the National League, a field typically led by the likes of Paul Goldschmidt, Pete Alonso and Freddie Freeman. Through the first 81 games, Cron slashed .297/.347/.552 with 20 home runs, 65 RBIs and an adjusted OPS 36% above the league average. He has already homered three times this month. — Gonzalez


Record: 34-48

Previous ranking: 25

The Cubs were the only team in baseball to produce a .900-plus OPS last week, as they’ve started to find some offense during their transition year. Christopher Morel, Ian Happ, Patrick Wisdom and Willson Contreras ranked in the top 11 hitters last week. Morel is playing his way into rookie of the year conversations, as he was dropped to ninth in the batting order and promptly responded. He slashed .348/.464/.739 with two home runs and five walks in Chicago’s past seven games — earning him a promotion back to leadoff. — Rogers


Record: 33-48

Previous ranking: 24

Every time the Pirates are about to drop in the standings, they figure out a way to stay ahead of the Cubs and Reds for third place in the NL Central. They also continue to give younger players a chance with varying degrees of success. Oneil Cruz was a hot name last month but he’s cooled off, going 3-for-18 last week, but at least all three hits were of the extra base variety. Ke’Bryan Hayes also struggled, going 3-for-19. — Rogers


Record: 34-47

Previous ranking: 26

The Tigers have been playing better of late, but the overall picture of Detroit’s first half is still awfully bleak. One way to illustrate this in stark terms is to anoint someone from this roster as Detroit’s obligatory All-Star. It’s not an easy thing to do for a club where league average production makes you one of the team’s better players. The likely answer for most of the first half has been lefty starter Tarik Skubal and that probably remains the case, even though Skubal has gone ice cold, to the point where he might pitch himself out of the mix. Over his first 10 starts, Skubal went 4-2 with a 2.15 ERA. Since then, he’s gone 1-5 with a 7.80 ERA over six outings. Yikes. — Doolittle


Record: 30-50

Previous ranking: 28

Trade speculators have been trying to deal Whit Merrifield away from the Royals for years. This could be the season it finally happens, even though Merrifield is unfortunately suffering through a poor season of the sort that does no favors for his trade value. Still, Merrifield has a suite of complementary skills that any contender would relish — defensive versatility, bat-to-ball skills and acuity on the basepaths. If he were to start hitting, everyone — the Royals and potential trade partners alike — would benefit. It might be happening. Merrifield started July by going 8-for-19 with three extra-base hits, three steals, seven runs scored and four walks over five games. It’s exactly the kind of player Merrifield is when he’s right. — Doolittle


Record: 28-53

Previous ranking: 27

Tommy Pham has heated up just in time for trade season. Pham had an .843 OPS with two stolen bases last week. He and teammate Brandon Druryamong others — could have new addresses a month from now. The big question surrounds Castillo. He spun a stellar outing against the Braves on Sunday, giving up just one run on six hits and a walk over seven innings. There’s no shortage of teams that will be interested. Castillo is likely to go as the Reds continue their rebuilding. — Rogers


Record: 30-54

Previous ranking: 29

The Nationals extended the contracts of general manager Mike Rizzo and manager Dave Martinez through the 2023 season. Rizzo is in his 14th season, guiding the team from also-ran to contender to World Series champs and back to a struggling club, while Martinez is in his fifth season. Obviously, it looks like a long rebuilding process and there is no long-term security for the pair if the Lerner family continues to look into selling the team — at which point a new owner may want to hire his own GM and manager. — Schoenfield


Record: 28-56

Previous ranking: 30

Frankie Montas‘ 3-9 record doesn’t look impressive, but he still is projected as perhaps the best player available at the trade deadline as his peripheral numbers are all excellent (100 K’s in 96⅔ IP, .226 batting average allowed). He’s been durable the past two seasons, leading the AL in starts in 2021 and 2022 … well, until he left his start on Sunday with shoulder tightness. It raises the question of why the A’s didn’t trade him in spring training like they did with Matt Olson and Matt Chapman. Montas does have another year of team control, but if he doesn’t return healthy before the deadline, the A’s might not be able to move him until the offseason. — Schoenfield



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