- Chicago Cubs (43-18) (Previous Week – 1)
Yet again, the Cubs sit atop our rankings, and it should not come as a surprise. Even after losing stud sophomore Kyle Schwarber to injury the club continues to dominate the league. They hold a nine-game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals, and are on pace to set the regular season wins record owned by The Kid’s 2001 Mariners. The Cubs were also on hand this weekend to scout the Yankees’ Big Three in the bullpen. We’d pretty much hand them the World Series if they were to acquire one of those arms without giving up a player on their big league roster.
- San Francisco Giants (38-26) (3)
The Giants now hold a five-game lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers despite a week in which they went 3-3. Santiago Casilla has struggled lately in save opportunities, so look for the Giants to add a major piece (perhaps Andrew Miller) to the back end of their bullpen as the trade talks heat up in the coming weeks.
- Boston Red Sox (36-26) (2)
The Sox continue to play excellent baseball, but cannot distance themselves from the Baltimore Orioles in the AL East. The teams remain tied atop the division heading into this week. Betts, Boegarts, Bradley Jr., Pedroia, and Ortiz lead the offense charge each game, but the starting pitching will have to be more consistent for Boston to separate from the pack.
- Washington Nationals (39-24) (4)
The squad from D.C. is the clear favorite to win the NL East. Anthony Rendon has returned to form, Daniel Murphy is unconscious at the plate, and Stephen Strasburg is definitely earning his new contract. The Nats are now four-and-a-half games up on the Mets.
- Baltimore Orioles (36-26) (5)
The O’s are doing all they can to keep pace with the Red Sox. Manny Machado’s play in 2016 places him as a top three player in all of MLB. Kevin Gausman needs to step-up to boost the Orioles’ rotation. Adam Jones is struggling mightily, but his two-home run game Sunday is encouraging.
- Texas Rangers (39-24) (7)
The Rangers are dominating the AL West despite minimal production from the injured Shin-Soo Choo, and faltering Prince Fielder. The return of Yu Darvish, and steady production up the middle will continue to keep the Rangers as contenders.
- New York Mets (34-28) (5)
Injuries to Neil Walker, Lucas Duda, and David Wright led to the reacquisition of veteran INF Kelly Johnson to temporarily plug the gaping holes in the infield. Once again, the Mets will need to rely on their young starting pitching and Yoenis Cespedes if they expect to represent the NL in the World Series for the second year in a row.
- Cleveland Indians (35-27) (8)
Terry Francona has the Tribe playing great baseball in the weak AL Central. Kluber seems to be hit-or-miss despite his incredible stuff, but Jason Kipnis, Francisco Lindor, and Mike Napoli are keeping the team atop the division.
- St. Louis Cardinals (35-28) (12)
After a week in which they went 5-1, the Cards moved up three spots in our rankings. Matt Adams, Brandon Moss, and Matt Holliday are getting hot, and that’s bad news for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Stephen Piscotty leads the league with a .509 batting with runners in scoring position, and Matt Adams is second at a clip of .439.
- Toronto Blue Jays (35-30) (10)
The Jays sit just two-and-a-half games back of the Red Sox and Orioles after winning four of seven games this week. Marco Estrada and Aaron Sanchez continue to throw well, but an innings limit may force Sanchez to the bullpen as the season goes on.
- Seattle Mariners (34-29) (13)
Robinson Cano looks like an early AL MVP candidate. The star second baseman has crushed 8 of his 18 home runs at Safeco in 2016, after hitting 11 of 21 home runs at Safeco in all of 2015. The Mariners are 15-18 at home this season, despite outscoring their opponents in those outings. The Mariners will need to weather the storm a bit longer as King Felix will remain shelved through early July.
- Pittsburgh Pirates (32-31) (11)
The next month may crush the Pirates’ postseason aspirations. After being swept at home by the Cardinals, the Bucs will have to turn it around overnight as their schedule through mid-July is chaos: Mets, Cubs, Giants, Dodgers, Mariners, A’s, Cardinals, Cubs, Nationals. ESPN Senior Writer David Schoenfield notes if this stretch proves to be that difficult, Pittsburgh may become sellers at the deadline.
- Detroit Tigers (32-30) (17)
The Tigers made the biggest jump in our rankings this week after posting a 4-2 record. Michael Fulmer – part of the Yoenis Cespedes trade with the Mets – is paying huge dividends as the young righty is now 7-1 with a 2.52 ERA.
- Kansas City Royals (32-30) (9)
Where there is give, there must be some take. Opposite of their division rival Detroit Tigers, the Royals can tout the greatest drop in our rankings this week. Though they’ve won two straight, the Royals are 2-8 over their last 10. Kendrys Morales is not duplicating his outstanding – and surprising – 2015 campaign. Manager Ned Yost and the front office need to find a solution for their incendiary young pitcher Yordano Ventura. He continues to incite violence, and nobody in the league – even some of his teammates – is on his side.
- Houston Astros (30-35) (15)
Though the Astros are 10 games back of the Rangers, there is still plenty of hope in Houston. The club has tremendous young talent – arguably the most in the majors. But, bullpen issues (though Will Harris has been great) and inconsistent hitting continue to prevent Houston from gaining much ground on the Rangers and Mariners.
- Los Angeles Dodgers (33-31) (14)
The Dodgers dropped two out of three to the division rival Giants in San Francisco, and went 2-4 this week overall. Kershaw has posted typically excellent Kershaw regular season numbers, but the bullpen has not been up to par this year. Justin Turner’s struggles seem very odd for a guy that crushed the ball last season. Corey Seager is becoming the offensive mainstay that many experts predicted, but Joc Pederson is struggling to remain a consistent power threat.
- Miami Marlins (32-31) (19)
Who would have thought the Marlins would be above .500 with Giancarlo Stanton striking out so much, and Dee Gordon suspended for PEDs? Short answer: not me. Jose Fernandez and Marcell Ozuna continue to impress. Unfortunately his innings limit and pitch count may prevent fans from witnessing his dominance once the Marlins fall out of playoff contention… and they will.
- New York Yankees (31-32) (18)
Despite a 5-2 record this week, the Yankees remain five-and-a-half games back of the O’s and BoSox in the AL East. Tex and A-Rod have not come close to their expected production, and it’s clear the city is looking forward to the end of their contracts. Sabathia has really turned it around after a rocky start and now boasts a sub-3.00 ERA. The Yankees may receive a boost in July if they’re able to acquire big league talent for Chapman, Betances, or Miller.
- Chicago White Sox (31-32) (16)
The White Sox continue their epic free fall down our rankings after going 2-4 this week. The club finally designated Jimmy Rollins for assignment, and promoted top prospect Tim Anderson to take his place at shortstop. The Sox were on fire to start this season, so maybe there’s still some hope they can catch fire again.
- Colorado Rockies (30-33) (22)
The Rockies moved up two spots this week after posting a 5-2 record. Jon Gray and Tyler Chatwood are starting to pitch consistently well each start, and Nolan Arenado looks like the early favorite to win the NL MVP. Colorado is still behind in the division, so they’ll need to keep this pace for quite some team to catch the Dodgers and Giants
- Tampa Bay Rays (29-32) (21)
Evan Longoria is the offensive leader this team needs, but not the only hitter that they’ll need for a playoff run. Steve Pearce has been a nice surprise, but the team regularly rolls out lineups with guys barely hitting above the Mendoza line. We’d like to see Chris Archer continue to improve each start too.
- Philadelphia Phillies (29-34) (20)
The Phillies went 1-5 this week and now sit 10 games back of the Nationals atop the NL East. It was cute while it lasted, but the Phillies’ 2016 magic is over. However, each game is incredibly important from a developmental standpoint for their bevy of young talented players. Tommy Joseph, Jeremy Hellickson, Aaron Nola, Maikel Franco, Tyler Goeddel, Odubel Herrera, Vince Velasquez, and J.P. Crawford (who we can’t wait to see!) are the future of the Phillies in 2017 and beyond. Look for teams to make offers for closer Jeanmar Gomez in July. When will the Phils finally dump Ryan Howard?
- Arizona Diamondback (28-37) (23)
Man, not having A.J. Pollock really killed the Diamondbacks season from the start. Greinke has thrown exceptionally well after a handful of disastrous starts early on. While the D’backs look to be out of contention, we hope they decide to stay put at the deadline in hopes of a better season in 2017.
- Milwaukee Brewers (30-33) (26)
Believe it or not, the Brewers are only four-and-a-half games back of the second Wild Card spot in the National League. If the team continues to play well, it will be interesting to see if they’ll be buyers at the trade deadline. Matt Garza will make his 2016 debut on Tuesday, and that could provide the Milwaukee rotation with the boost it needs.
- Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (27-36) (24)
The Angels went 1-6 this week. Watching this team feels like watching someone trying to crawl out of quicksand. They still have the best player in the league in Mike Trout, but nobody else. No, really. Mike Trout may be too good to trade, as the Angels – the team with the worst farm system in baseball – would demand a king’s ransom for Trout, as they should. One trade scenario from the Yankees I’ve read so far includes Andrew Miller, Jacoby Ellsbury or Brett Gardner, Luis Severino, and Aaron Judge or Jorge Mateo. If I was the Yankees’ GM – and boy, I wish I was – I’d make that trade for Mike Trout. It’s time for the Angels to pull the trigger and truly rebuild from the ground up.
- Oakland Athletics (26-36) (25)
It’s almost time for the A’s to start their annual fire sale. Not much else to see here, folks.
- Cincinnati Reds (24-39) (27)
Their bullpen is still woeful. Eugenio Suarez and Zack Cozart have provided some surprising pop this season. Jay Bruce continues to increase his trade value with good power numbers. Look for Brandon Phillips to also come up in trade conversation, though he reportedly wants to negotiate a longer contract with any possible trade suitors.
- San Diego Padres (26-38) (28)
Much like the A’s, the Padres are only mentionable because they do have some pieces that contenders will be interested in. Rumors have it the Padres are done waiting for Andrew Cashner to develop, and Tyson Ross will likely be on the move. The team should have traded Ross last season when his value was through the roof, but the asking price was too high. High-priced players like Matt Kemp may be untradeable, but many said that about James Shields too and look what happened.
- Minnesota Twins (19-43) (29)
- Atlanta Braves (19-43) (30)
Dumpster fire. But, Mallex Smith is third in the league with a .438 average with runners in scoring position.
Stats courtesy of ESPN