Well, we’ve made it to July, which means we’re more or less halfway through the MLB season.
By now, things are finally starting to settle in, at least for the most part. The teams that are playoff contenders know that they’re playoff contenders while the teams that aren’t have started to figure out that they’ll have to wait until next season. That being said, things are still a little crowded at the top with everything still up for grabs.
Frankly, it was a little difficult deciding how to rank the teams in this month’s power rankings. After plenty of thought and consideration, here is our ranking of the top-10 teams in baseball on the first of July.
10. New York Mets
To be honest, there was a little bit of a dropoff between Nos. 9 and 10, and a few teams that got consideration for the final spot. In the end, we gave the nod to the Mets, who have ascended to first place in the NL East despite not being fully healthy.
Obviously, they’ve benefited from playing in such an aggressively mediocre division. But the Mets have scored the fewest runs in baseball and are still in first place. That’s how good their pitching has been this year, and as their lineup starts to get healthy, things could pick up for the Mets in July.
9. Tampa Bay Rays
June was a tough month for the Rays, who have lost their hold on the AL East and almost look like a shadow of the team they were earlier in the season. To be fair, finishing the month 4-10 could just mean that the Rays have had a couple of bad weeks and can turn things around. But it could also be a sign that Tampa just isn’t as good as last year.
The Rays don’t have topflight starters like Blake Snell and Charlie Morton to help them through a difficult stretch. To make things worse, Josh Flemming is on the IL and Tyler Glasnow may or may not be back this season. Tampa’s pitching is hurting and the Rays don’t have enough hitting to make up for it, so this team is in a little bit of trouble.
8. Oakland Athletics
The A’s are an interesting team because they aren’t among the league leaders in any statistical category. They are average or slightly above average across the board, so they also don’t have any obvious weaknesses. That means that they can beat bad teams and win close games. But they’ve been mostly a .500 team outside of that 13-game winning streak in April. That will be enough to put them in the playoff race, although the team we’re seeing right now is just a tick above average.
7. Milwaukee Brewers
The Brew Crew has seized control of the NL Central — just like we predicted — winning eight straight games to close out June, finishing the month 19-8.
In theory, it will be tough to keep up that kind of pace during the second half of the season. But with Christian Yelich finally healthy and the guys around him picking it up, Milwaukee’s lineup is finally producing. The Brewers have gotten excellent pitching all season, so if they can just be average offensively, they could be among the best teams in the National League.
6. Houston Astros
We were so close to putting the Astros in the top spot of our power rankings, but then they got swept by the Orioles. In fact, Houston lost five of six games to the Tigers and Orioles to end the month of June. It could just be a bad week, but losing to those teams is inexcusable for a team with Houston’s talent.
Granted, this team can mash and is going to score a lot of runs, even with Alex Bregman currently on the IL. However, the Astros are still relying on a lot of young pitchers in their rotation. Plus, the Houston bullpen might be a bigger issue than we thought, so we’ll have to hold out on anointing them the team to beat in the American League.
5. San Diego Padres
It’s tough to elevate the Padres ahead of their NL West rivals because they’ve been so hot and cold lately. At their best, San Diego can be as good as any team in baseball. But they’re too good to lose seven of eight games, which happened in the middle of the month, including a three-game sweep at the hands of the Rockies.
Of course, they also won 11 of 12 to close out the month of June. But which version of the Padres are we going to see when the chips are down in September and October? And with Blake Snell and Dinelson Lamet on the IL, that puts even more pressure on a lineup that is rocking.
4. San Francisco Giants
We keep waiting for the Giants to start fading away, but they keep winning and staying at the top of the NL West.
Alas, the Giants still have a few problems that are worth monitoring. For starters, they’re relying on a lot of veterans, most of whom have overperformed to this point and some of whom have been injury-prone this season. Also, San Francisco is just 3-6 against the Dodgers this season.
Overall, the Giants still don’t have as much talent as the Dodgers, which is why they sit behind Los Angeles in our power rankings, although San Francisco’s consistency is enough to put them ahead of San Diego.
3. Los Angeles Dodgers
This still isn’t the team that we thought we’d see have a serious chance to repeat as World Series champs. But going 17-9 in June is a good sign for Los Angeles.
Outside of Corey Seager, the Dodgers are more or less healthy right now, so this is a team that should be starting to hit its stride heading into the All-Star break. If we get to a point where both Cody Bellinger and Mookie Betts heat up at the same time, the Dodgers will start to look like an elite team, although we aren’t there just yet.
2. Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox have shown a lot by falling out of first place but then getting back on top of the AL East. Of course, they owe some of that to Tampa’s struggles. But with six straight wins to close out the month of June, the Red Sox are once again moving in the right direction and looking like a team with legitimate championship hopes.
We know that the trio of J.D.Martinez, Rafael Devers, and Xander Bogaerts is among the best in baseball. But Boston’s pitching is holding up well, too, especially in the bullpen, which is why we rank them higher than all but one team in the big leagues right now.
1. Chicago White Sox
They may not have the most wins in baseball, but from top to bottom, this is the best team in the big leagues right now.
The White Sox have persevered through a ton of injuries this year, most notably in their outfield, although don’t forget about the season-ending injury to second baseman Nick Madrigal. Amid the injuries, Chicago’s lineup is average at best, but the White Sox have enough players who are putting together solid seasons that they are far from inept. Thus far, it’s been more than enough for a rotation in which all five starters have an ERA under 4.00.
The Chicago bullpen has also been solid, doing a nice job of not wasting all of those quality starts from the rotation. In short, the White Sox are above-average, if not elite, in every category, making them the best overall team in baseball right now.
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