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  • The Yankees and Red Sox remain the top two teams in our Power Rankings, but the Mariners continue their unlikely surge into baseball's elite.
By Emma Baccellieri
July 02, 2018

OK, so it's hard to take the Yankees and Red Sox out of the top two spots of our Power Rankings, but we promise plenty of movement otherwise! Let's get into it.

TIER SIX: CELLAR DWELLERS

30. Baltimore Orioles (24–59) Chris Davis hit two home runs this week, bringing his June total up to... three, which made for his most dinger-heavy month of the year so far. As it happens, Davis is still the worst hitter in baseball. (OPS+ watch: 38. Yeesh.)  

29. Kansas City Royals (25–58) The Royals have been striking out less than any team in baseball. (19.8% of plate appearances.) Unfortunately, they’ve also been scoring less than any team in baseball. (3.5 runs per game.)

28. Chicago White Sox (29–54) A small note from the Dept. of Useless Trivia: Joakim Soria, who notched his 216th career save last weekend, is one of just five active relievers with 200 saves or more. That total would almost certainly be a touch higher if he weren’t on such a hapless team, but that might change soon—he’s having his best season in several years, and so he’s a perfect candidate to be dealt somewhere else at the deadline.

27. Miami Marlins (34–51) J.T. Realmuto’s slugging percentage is up nearly 100 points over his previous career high. He’s been the best hitting catcher in baseball—.309/.366/.542—and it’s not particularly close. Which means that he’ll almost certainly be traded in the next few weeks.

26. New York Mets (33–48) This about sums it up. 

TIER FIVE: COULD BE WORSE, I GUESS...

25. Detroit Tigers (37–48) Two weeks ago, Detroit was just one game under .500. A lot has changed in two weeks—namely, an 11-game losing streak.

24. San Diego Padres (37–48) For all the Padres’ shortcomings, their relief corps has been among the strongest in the National League, with a 3.49 ERA (fourth-lowest) and 3.34 FIP (lowest). And the credit deserves to be spread around: Brad Hand, Craig Stammen, Kirby Yates and Adam Cimber have all had strong performances here. Of course, that just makes this bullpen perfect for dismantling and selling for parts at the trade deadline.

23. Cincinnati Reds (36–48) Since being traded to the Reds, Matt Harvey has been… well, certainly not his old self, but far closer to it than he’s been in a long time. He’s doubled his strikeout-to-walk ratio (down to the decimal point, from 1.43 to 2.86) while he’s cut his ERA almost in half (from 7.00 to 3.86.) On Sunday, he had perhaps his best game yet since the trade, holding the Brewers scoreless and working into the sixth inning while striking out six. The title of “Cincinnati’s best starter” may not be that illustrious, but watch out, Tyler Mahle.   

22. Minnesota Twins (35–45) The Twins have lost eight of their last ten, but there’s a silver lining: They’ve called up Willians Astudillo. Dubbed “the weirdest player in the minors” by FanGraphs, he’s about as extreme a contact hitter as you’ll see nowadays. Across 658 Double-A and Triple-A plate appearances in the last three seasons, he had just 25 strikeouts, 15 home runs and 14 walks. Astudillo may be allergic to the three true outcomes, but he’s found decent success at the plate—hitting .311/.341/.517 in Triple-A—and, oh yeah, he also pulled off this sweet no-look pickoff back in spring training.

21. Texas Rangers (38–47) The Rangers have enjoyed a recent hot stretch, winning 11 of their last 14. That’s been bolstered in large part by Shin-Soo Choo, who was one of the American League’s best hitters in June (.347/.466/.621) and is carrying his highest OPS+ (132) since 2013. Despite two top-15 MVP finishes in his prime, Choo has never before been an All-Star—but given the current state of the Rangers, he’s a pretty safe bet to finally make it as their representative this year.

TIER FOUR: MEH

20. Toronto Blue Jays (39–44) Aaron Sanchez’s 2018 is shaping up to be almost as disappointing as his injury-ridden 2017, but this year’s key letdown has been his performance rather than his health. Or, at least, that was the case until last week, when the pitcher landed on the disabled list with a finger contusion. Though the team initially hoped that he might miss just one start with the injury, they announced this weekend that he has yet to begin throwing and will not rejoin the team as soon as initially expected. Not great—which works as a descriptor for most things about the current state of this rotation outside of J.A. Happ.

19. Pittsburgh Pirates (39–43) When the Pirates lost to the Mets last Tuesday, they fell further below .500 (five games) and further back in the NL Central (9.5 games) than they had at any point this season. They’ve since bounced back just a little, but considering their schedule leading up to the All-Star break—they face the Dodgers, Phillies, Nationals and Brewers—they might slip right back down.

18. Colorado Rockies (41–43) Nolan Arenado has hit eight home runs in his last 13 games—or, in other words, just as many as the San Diego Padres have hit in that time. But that individual power surge hasn’t corresponded with anything above middling-ish play at the team level, and so the gap between the fourth-place Rockies and third-place Giants has only grown.

17. Tampa Bay Rays (42–41) There’s a rookie to know here—maybe not to make a point of remembering, but at least to know—in Jake Bauers. The Rays called up the first baseman to make his debut on June 7, and he became the team’s biggest offensive contributor for the month, posting an .876 OPS. He’s not the only reason that Tampa’s gone 14–8 since calling him up, but he’s sure helped.

16. St. Louis Cardinals (42–40) Matt Carpenter’s been turning things around this season—read SI’s Michael Beller on his resurgence here—and June offered some pretty compelling evidence, with a .313/.404/.636 line for the month. That just didn’t carry over to his teammates, who collectively hit .239/.303/.401 for their worst month of the season so far at the plate.

TIER THREE: A-OK

15. San Francisco Giants (44–40) The Giants have won 10 of their last 12, including a sweep of the division-leading Diamondbacks. They’ve never been as many games above .500 as they are right now. Their pitching staff had a 2.70 ERA in June, better than that of any other team in the National League. And all that still hasn’t been enough to officially pull them out of third place—though they’re now just a hair’s breadth behind the Dodgers.

14. Los Angeles Angels (43–42) The Angels have had a rough time lately, slipping down into fourth place after losing seven of their last nine. Even Mike Trout has faltered, though faltering for a superhuman phenom such as him means being perfectly adequate. (He’s posted a .731 OPS in the past two weeks, compared to his season mark of 1.089.)

13. Oakland Athletics (46–39) The Angels’ struggles have aligned perfectly with the Athletics’ recent success. Last week, Oakland took six in a row to build their longest win streak of the season and take over third place in the division for the first time since April. And they did all that without Matt Chapman, who’s expected to be activated from the disabled list this week after being sidelined with a hand contusion. While they clearly haven’t been hurting in his absence, his outstanding defense at third and 121 OPS+ will definitely be welcomed back.  

12. Philadelphia Phillies (45–37) The Phillies have been hovering a few games back of first place for weeks now, but they have a chance to make a serious run leading into the All-Star break. It would be hard to ask for a better schedule than their upcoming slate of games against the Orioles, Mets, Marlins and Pirates.

11. Cleveland Indians (45–37) Cleveland’s 15–3 Sunday win over Oakland was their highest scoring game of the season. More impressive than that, though, was the fact that they hit 11 doubles to do it. That isn’t quite a franchise record (12, from 1996) or a major-league one (13, from the 1931 St. Louis Cardinals), but, hey, a team’s got to grab the fun facts where they can when they’re the worst among baseball’s division leaders.  

TIER TWO: THE NEXT BEST THING

10. Washington Nationals (42–40) The Nationals’ situation is looking increasingly bleak. They’ve lost seven of their last nine, and they haven’t been in first place for almost three weeks now. Bryce Harper’s recent misery has no end in sight, after he hit .188/.333/.341 last month, and the pitching staff has been struggling significantly. Their June performance was one of baseball’s weakest, with a 4.74 ERA and 4.88 FIP, and that’s with Max Scherzer currently posting his best season ever.

9. Los Angeles Dodgers (44–39) The Dodgers still have yet to occupy first place for so much as a day, but they’re getting closer. After spending almost all of May in fourth place, they spent most of June in second. That climb is due in large part to the fact that they had the best offense in baseball last month, with an .824 OPS and 55 home runs. (No other team had more than 44.) Behind that power is one of this season’s biggest surprises—Max Muncy, who’s apparently evolved into some sort of slugging demigod, with his 17 home runs and 177 OPS+.

8. Arizona Diamondbacks (47–36) Rejoice, Arizona fans, for the return of A.J. Pollock is likely near. The outfielder began a Triple-A rehab assignment last weekend, his first game action since he was sidelined with a fractured thumb six weeks ago, and so far, it’s looking good. On Saturday, he went 3-for-3 with a home run, double, walk and stolen base. The Diamondbacks need every advantage they can get in this close division race, and the return of Pollack—who was carrying a 148 OPS+ before his injury, along with his stellar centerfield defense—should be a good thing for them indeed.

7. Milwaukee Brewers (48–35) If Jesus Aguilar broke out in 2017, he’s been shattering everything in his immediate vicinity in 2018. In June, Aguilar hit .313/.352/.747—making him the National League’s best hitter of the month after Max Muncy. And if that’s not a weird baseball sentence, nothing is.

6. Atlanta Braves (48–34) The Braves grabbed their biggest division lead yet last week, when they briefly extended their hold on first place to three-and-a-half games. They managed to keep their lead at three by completing a sweep of St. Louis on Sunday with yet another strong outing from Mike Foltynewicz, who remains among the National League’s best with a 2.02 ERA (192 ERA+) and 10.82 K/9.

TIER ONE: CREAM OF THE CROP

5. Chicago Cubs (47–35) The Cubs have the highest run differential in the National League. According to FanGraphs’ BaseRuns, which looks at a team’s underlying numbers to see how many games they “should” have won, they’ve underperformed more than any team in the league; their winning percentage should be clear over .600, instead of hovering around .570. But it isn’t, and so the Cubs have only held first place outright for one day since April.

4. Seattle Mariners (54–31) You can try to figure out how Seattle is pulling this off, with three more wins by one run in the last week to bring their overall record in one-run games to 26–11. Or you can just sit back, relax, and enjoy this unusual ride.

3. Houston Astros (55–31) Of all the teams that Houston has faced in multiple series this year, they have a losing record against exactly one. And it’s… the Rays, who were responsible for snapping the Astros’ 12-game winning streak a few weeks ago and went on to take three of four from them last weekend. Meanwhile, Houston’s lead over Seattle has shrunk from four games a week ago to just half a game now.

2. Boston Red Sox (56–29) The Yankees and Red Sox are, as ever, separated by just the slimmest of margins here. For now, New York sits just ahead, and not just because they won two of three games in last weekend’s series. (Though that certainly helps.) The Red Sox have a 109 OPS+ to the Yankees’ 112 right now, and a 122 ERA+ to the Yankees’ 126. Fresh off handing David Price his worst loss in years, New York will take our top spot for the time being—but that can change at a moment’s notice.

1. New York Yankees (54–27) It’s easy to anoint Aaron Hicks as the hero of last weekend’s series against Boston, because hitting three home runs in one game will do that. But don’t discount Luis Severino, whose two-hit gem was just one more in what’s become a long line of impressive performances for him. With a 1.98 ERA and 2.25 FIP, he’s making a serious case for himself as the best pitcher in the American League right now.

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