The Cardinals remain No. 1 in the Power Rankings this week, but the Dodgers have moved up to second on the strength of dominant pitching by aces Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke.
With the major league season having resumed after reaching its unofficial midway point for the All-Star break last Sunday, many teams are hoping for a reset. In that spirit—and because the Cardinals and Phillies show no signs of surrendering their grip on the first and last spots, respectively—SI's Power Rankings are also taking a slightly different approach as the second half begins, shining a spotlight on the teams that check in at No. 2 and No. 29. For the seventh straight week, St. Louis is on top and Philadelphia owns the basement, but there is movement elsewhere throughout. As long as those teams hang on to their current places, we'll highlight other teams in the rankings.
We’re No. 1: We’re No. 2: Dodgers
Los Angeles took two of three from the first-place Nationals, while the Pirates (who were swept by the Brewers in Milwaukee) and the Royals (who won three of four at the White Sox) played the last-place teams in their divisions, allowing the Dodgers to move up two spots despite having gone just 2–1 since ranking fourth last week. L.A.'s only loss over the weekend came in a game that was suspended due to a power outage at Nationals Park on Friday night and concluded Saturday with Pedro Baez giving up the tie-breaking runs in the eighth.
After that, Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke utterly dominated the Nationals in the final two games of the series, each throwing eight scoreless innings. In doing so, Greinke extended his scoreless streak to 43 2/3 innings, the longest since former Dodgers ace Orel Hershiser’s record-setting streak of 59 in 1988, when the team won its last World Series title. Los Angeles has now gone 14–7 since last losing two games in a row on July 22 and 23, though its NL West lead was actually trimmed to 3 1/2 games by virtue of the Giants' weekend sweep of the Diamondbacks.
Cellar Dweller: No. 29: Rockies
The Rockies have been the Phils' next-door neighbors at the bottom of the rankings for three straight weeks now, despite having entered the break fresh off a four-game home sweep of the Braves. The first few days of the second half have seen Colorado resume its losing ways, as the Rockies dropped two games to the Padres and endured the first rainout in San Diego in nine years. Don't let that brief winning streak fool you: Colorado is awful. Since starting 10–7, the Rockies have gone 29–44, a .397 winning percentage that makes them one of only two teams—the Phillies, at .338, are the other, of course—to play sub-.400 ball since April 24.
Biggest Riser: Padres
As bad as the Rockies are, going 2–0 against them was enough for the Padres to leapfrog three other teams: the Braves, who dropped two of three to the Cubs and were outscored 8–1 in their two losses; the White Sox, who lost three of four to the Royals; and the Marlins, who became just the second team this season to get swept by the Phillies, joining the Diamondbacks (who suffered that indignity in mid May). San Diego has now won four in a row, two on each side of the All-Star Break, but it still trails by seven games in the NL Wild Card race and by 9 1/2 in the NL West.
Biggest Faller: Rays
The Rays dropped three spots after losing two of three to the Blue Jays in Toronto over the weekend, allowing the Jays to tie them for third place in the AL East with matching 47–47 records. Interestingly, the three teams that passed them in our rankings all have losing records. Oakland and Cleveland both took two of three over the weekend, against the Twins and Reds, respectively, suggesting that their second-half performances will be more in line with their third-order winning percentages (.578 and .550, respectively) than with their lousy first-halves (41–50 for the A's, 42–46 for the Indians). The Tigers, meanwhile, dropped two of three to the Orioles to slip a game under .500, though third-order record again suggests that Detroit has played better this season (.509 percentage by that metric) than its overall record (45–46 entering play on Monday) would indicate.
Tampa Bay has a .492 third-order winning percentage, but it has been headed south since the start of summer. The Rays are just 7–17 since June 21 due in large part to an anemic offense that has scored only 3.04 runs per game over those 24 games.