The All-Star break represents Major League Baseball’s transition into its second half, although the majority of teams are more than a dozen games past the true midway point of 81 games. Nevertheless, it’s been quite the entertaining “first half”, with a number of players posting remarkable stat lines and history-making headlines.
With this idea in mind, this week’s edition of MLB Power Rankings at The Wife Hates Sports celebrates the most valuable players of baseball’s first half, featuring one offensive player and pitcher for each of the thirty teams.
Meanwhile, heading into the All-Star break, it was the Cleveland Indians that made the most noise, posting the biggest gain in the rankings. The Tampa Bay Rays remained on a torrid pace, having another solid week, and cracking the top five. St. Louis had the third biggest week and holds onto the top spot in the poll. Here are the five teams with the biggest ratings gain over the last week:
Cleveland Indians: +20 points
Tampa Bay Rays: +16 points
St. Louis Cardinals: +12 points
Los Angeles Dodgers: +11 points
San Francisco Giants: +11 points
Elsewhere, the Kansas City Royals posted the worst week, dropping 32 ratings points, and overall, here are the five teams that saw the biggest decline:
Kansas City Royals: -32 points
Los Angeles Angels: -24 points
Texas Rangers: -13 points
Toronto Blue Jays: -12 points
Houston Astros: -11 points
The entire list of Power Rankings are as follows, featuring the first half MVP’s, while highlighting the clubs that had positive or negative jumps in the latest poll:
KP’s MLB Power Rankings: July 16, 2013 – All-Star Break
Note: Statistics and point totals as of Tuesday morning (7/16/13)
1. St. Louis Cardinals (180 points) – Last Week: #1 (+12)
The Arm: The entire rotation has been solid, but Adam Wainwright (12-5, 2.45 ERA) has been Cy Young worthy; The Bat: One could argue for any of four players, but Yadier Molina (.341 avg, 7 HR, 49 RBI) has emerged as arguably the best offensive catcher in baseball
2. Boston Red Sox (133 points) – Last Week: #2 (+6)
The Arm: John Lackey would be a close second, but Koji Uehara (2-0, 1.70 ERA, 13 holds, 8 saves, 60 K’s in 42 1/3 IP) has solidified the back end of the bullpen; The Bat: The ageless David Ortiz leads the team in average (.317), HR (19), RBI (65) and OBP (.402).
3. Detroit Tigers (120 points) – Last Week: #3 (-5)
The Bat: It’s the easiest pick to make… Miguel Cabrera (.365/.458/.674, 30 HR, 95 RBI), who is threatening to earn back-to-back Triple Crown awards; The Arm: Another fairly easy selection… the All-Star starter for the AL, Max Scherzer (13-1, 3.19 ERA, 0.98 WHIP).
4. Oakland Athletics (109 points) – Last Week: #5 (-3)
The Bat: Josh Donaldson (.310, 16 HR, 61 RBI) was a major All-Star snub, but he’s definitely the team’s offensive MVP; The Arm: Flip a coin between Grant Balfour and Bartolo Colon, but I like the closer Balfour, who is 25-for-25 in save opportunities, with a 1.63 ERA and 1.03 WHIP.
5. Tampa Bay Rays (109 points) – Last Week: #8 (+16)
The Arm: Matt Moore (13-3, 3.44 ERA) had a two-week stretch where he struggled, but otherwise he’s been lights out most of the way; The Bat: James Loney has been a nice surprise, but Evan Longoria (.278, 18 HR, 52 RBI) has been fairly healthy and is the team’s offensive MVP at this stage.
6. Atlanta Braves (107 points) – Last Week: #4 (-6)
The Bat: Freddie Freeman (.308/.386/.468) has been the team’s most consistent bat; The Arm: Mike Minor (9-4, 3.02 ERA, 1.08 WHIP) has been an under the radar, yet stellar for most of the year.
7. Pittsburgh Pirates (95 points) – Last Week: #7 (-2)
The Arm: With injuries to Wandy Rodriguez and A.J. Burnett, Jeff Locke (8-2, 2.15 ERA) hasn’t just been a surprise, but a steady presence in the rotation; The Bat: McCutchen remains steady at the plate, but the breakout performance of Pedro Alvarez (24 HR, 62 RBI) has been key for the offense
8. Cincinnati Reds (87 points) – Last Week: #9 (0)
The Arm: The entire rotation has been solid, but the darkhorse selection here is Tony Cingrani (3.23 ERA, 77 K’s in 64 IP), who stepped up to replace Johnny Cueto, who has hit the DL on three different occasions; The Bat: Tough call, but I like Brandon Phillips and his team-leading 74 RBI.
9. Texas Rangers (86 points) – Last Week: #6 (-13)
The Arm: Yu Darvish (3.02 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 157 K’s), while on the DL now, has been stellar for most of the season; The Bat: Adrian Beltre (.316, 21 HR, 55 RBI) has been the steadiest on a team that is chock full of potent bats.
10. Arizona Diamondbacks (60 points) – Last Week: #10 (-2)
Patrick Corbin (The Arm: 11-1, 2.35 ERA, 1.00 WHIP) has by far been the most consistent arm and Paul Goldschmidt (The Bat: .313/.395/.557, 21 HR, 77 RBI) has easily been the most consistent bat.
11. Baltimore Orioles (59 points) – Last Week: #11 (+4)
The Bat: Manny Machado would crack the list of most teams, but it is Chris Davis (.315/.392/.717, Major League-leading 37 home runs) that gets the nod here; The Arm: Most would consider SP Chris Tillman (11 wins), but Darren O’Day (5-0, 2.16 ERA) has been the steadiest arm in the ‘pen.
12. Cleveland Indians (46 points) – Last Week: #16 (+20)
The Arm: Justin Masterson leads the team in wins (10), eligible ERA (3.72) and strikeouts (137); The Bat: 2B Jason Kipnis (.301, 13 HR, 57 RBI) is emerging as an elite offensive talent at a weak position.
13. New York Yankees (41 points) – Last Week: #13 (+1)
The Arm: Hiroki Kuroda has been solid, but this award has to go to Mariano Rivera (1.83 ERA, 30 saves), who continues to amaze in his swan song season; The Bat: Robinson Cano leads the team in almost all major categories, including average (.302), HR (21) and RBI (65).
14. Los Angeles Dodgers (40 points) – Last Week: #15 (+11)
The Arm: Clayton Kershaw (8-6, 1.98 ERA, 139 K’s) continues to be in the thick of the Cy Young race; The Bat: Adrian Gonzalez has been steady, Yasiel Puig has stolen the show, but it’s Hanley Ramirez (.386/.444/.693, 8 HR, 25 RBI in 127 AB’s) that has put up the best numbers.
15. Washington Nationals (15 points) – Last Week: #17 (-11)
The Arm: Jordan Zimmermann (12-4, 2.58 ERA, 0.97 WHIP) has been the steadiest in a rotation of big-time talents; The Bat: Harper has been hurt, while LaRoche and Zimmerman have struggled at times. Ian Desmond (.281, 15 HR, 49 RBI) is the most deserving.
16. Colorado Rockies (14 points) – Last Week: #18 (+3)
The Arm: A few of the rotation arms have been great at times, but Rex Brothers (0.91 ERA in 43 games) has been stellar out of the ‘pen; The Bat: An argument could be made for a number of bats, but I love what Michael Cuddyer (.330, 16 HR, 55 RBI) has added to the lineup this season.
17. Los Angeles Angels (14 points) – Last Week: #14 (-24)
The Arm: The rotation has been a disappointment, with C.J. Wilson (9-6, 3.37 ERA) being the most consistent throughout the season; The Bat: Mike Trout (.322/.399/.565, 15 HR, 59 RBI) has shown no signs of slowing down this season.
18. Kansas City Royals (10 points) – Last Week: #12 (-32)
The Bat: Take your pick with this underachieving offense. I’ll give the slightest edge to Billy Butler (over Alex Gordon and Eric Hosmer); The Arm: James Shields (4-6, 3.21 ERA, 116 K’s) is getting zero run support, but still is having another great season
19. Philadelphia Phillies (8 points) – Last Week: #21 (+10)
The Bat: Domonic Brown’s breakout season (23 HR, 67 RBI) has been the highlight of the offense so far; The Arm: Often mentioned as a trade target, yet unlikely to be dealt, Cliff Lee (10-3, 2.86 ERA, 1.00 WHIP) is the obvious choice here.
20. New York Mets (-2 points) – Last Week: #22 (+9)
The Arm: Exploding onto the scene and starting the All-Star game, Matt Harvey (7-2, 2.35 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 147 K’s) is the easy choice for MVP; The Bat: With his steady veteran presence, David Wright (.304, 13 HR, 44 RBI) has been the most consistent contributor to the offense.
21. Chicago Cubs (-2 points) – Last Week: #20 (-8)
The Bat: A number of players have had their ups and downs, but in the end, Alfonso Soriano (16 HR, 49 RBI and 10 SB) has had the most impact; The Arm: Jeff Samardzija has had flashier, more dominant stuff, but Travis Wood (6-6, 2.79 ERA, 17 QS) has posted the best numbers this season.
22. Toronto Blue Jays (-3 points) – Last Week: #19 (-12)
The Arm: The rotation has disappointed, while the bullpen has been rock solid. Therefore, it’s the ‘pen that deserves the nod, and the award should go to Steve Delabar (1.71 ERA, 55 K’s in 46 1/3 IP); The Bat: Edwin Encarnacion (25 HR, 72 RBI) has proven that last year’s numbers were no fluke.
23. San Francisco Giants (-16 points) – Last Week: #23 (+11)
The Arm: Madison Bumgarner (10-5, 3.02 ERA) has been the steadiest arm in the rotation; The Bat: Buster Posey (.325/.395/.536) is right there with Yadier Molina as the strongest offensive presences at the catcher position this season.
24. Seattle Mariners (-32 points) – Last Week: #24 (+3)
The Bat: With 24 home runs in 73 games, Raul Ibanez has resurrected his career at age 41; The Arm: Hisashi Iwakuma has pitched well, but Felix Hernandez (10-4, 2.53 ERA and 140 K’s is more deserving of the midyear MVP award.
25. Milwaukee Brewers (-52 points) – Last Week: #25 (-5)
The Bat: SS Jean Segura (.325 average, 11 HR, 36 RBI and 27 SB) has been one of the biggest surprises of the season; The Arm: Francisco Rodriguez (1.19 ERA, 9 saves) has resurrected his career, and could get the struggling Brewers some trade pieces at the deadline.
26. Minnesota Twins (-53 points) – Last Week: #26 (-1)
The Bat: Joe Mauer has been healthy, which is one key, and the other are his numbers: .320 average, 30 doubles and .402 OBP; The Arm: The rotation has struggled, but Glen Perkins (1-0, 1.82 ERA and 21 saves) has dominated in the bullpen.
27. Chicago White Sox (-58 points) – Last Week: #28 (+9)
The Bat: Tough call here, but the pick should be Alex Rios (.270, 11 HR and 19 SB), who has been solid, and could potentially bring prospects in a deadline deal; The Arm: Chris Sale (6-8, 2.85 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 131 K’s) is once again the most dominant pitcher on the staff
28. San Diego Padres (-64 points) – Last Week: #27 (-6)
The Bat: Everth Cabrera leads the team in average (.291), OBP (.373), hits (91) and steals (34); The Arm: Eric Stults (8-7, 3.40 ERA) has been the most consistent arm in the rotation.
29. Miami Marlins (-86 points) – Last Week: #29 (+2)
The Bat: Miami’s offense has really struggled, and even though he’s played in limited time, Giancarlo Stanton (10 HR, 27 RBI in 192 AB’s) appears to be the current MVP; The Arm: Jose Fernandez (5-5, 2.75 ERA and 103 K’s) is a sign of things to come for the youthful Marlins.
30. Houston Astros (-133 points) – Last Week: #30 (-11)
The Bat: One could argue for Castro or Carter, but I’m taking Jose Altuve (.280 average, 21 steals), who recently signed a contract extension with the Astros; The Arm: The pitching staff has struggled, with Bud Norris (6-8, 3.63 ERA) being the most consistent arm, and rumored trade bait at the deadline.
* All stats per MLB.com
Note: RED = Falling 3+ spots from last week, GREEN = Rising 3+ spots from last week
The Wife Hates Sports’ MLB Power Rankings system has a method to its madness, attempting to be different and not just rank by popularity and record. It mixes a secret formula of six completely different categories, meshed into a points system. The categories don’t just include team results regarding record, but how each team has performed recently, as well as incorporating some statistics on both a team’s offense and pitching staff, too.