Baseball is back.
The few off days felt like an eternity, although it was pure heaven for THE WIFE.
The Twin Cities hosted a successful All-Star Game, headlined by Derek Jeter’s farewell and a 5-3 victory for the American League. There were plenty of moments in this Midsummer Classic, and plenty more during a first half that took what could be a record number of twists and turns.
Good, bad and ugly turns.
Of course, considering that the majority of teams have played 90-plus games, calling this a first half would be like asking Chris Christie to cut a sandwich in half and split it with you.
But that’s neither here nor there.
Headlining “The Good List” is the state of California, mostly due to the play of the Oakland Athletics, Los Angeles Angels and Los Angeles Dodgers. These three franchises land in the top three spots of KP’s MLB Power Rankings at the All-Star Break.
But every team had good, bad and ugly moments – some more than others.
To celebrate the arrival of the “second half”, here’s a rehash of the “first half”, attempting to highlight the best of the good, the worst of the bad and the ugliest of the ugly:
KP’s MLB Power Rankings: All-Star Break
Note: Statistics and point totals as of Friday July 18, 2014 and do not include tonight’s games
1. Oakland Athletics (177 points) –Previously: #1 (+12)
GOOD: Scott Kazmir leads the team in wins (11) and strikeouts (108), while anchoring one of the best pitching staffs in baseball – and a group that got deeper after adding Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel
BAD: Not much is bad on this team, but Yoenis Cespedes could work on improving his .299 OBP.
UGLY: Acquired from Baltimore during the offseason, pricey closer Jim Johnson faltered, posting a 6.18 ERA and 1.96 WHIP in 36 games.
2. Los Angeles Angels (138 points) –Previously: #6 (+39)
GOOD: Mike Trout’s MVP-worthy numbers – he leads the team in batting average (.310), HR (22), RBI (73), OBP (.400) and hits (107)
BAD: The bullpen, which has struggled, and could use reinforcements
UGLY: The Raul Ibanez experiment – he posted a .157 average in 57 games and has since moved on to K.C.
3. Los Angeles Dodgers (117 points) –Previously: #3 (+5)
GOOD: Clayton Kershaw’s 41-inning scoreless streak, along with his 11-2 record and 1.78 ERA.
BAD: First place in the NL West, but just 25-24 at home
UGLY: Kemp, Crawford and Ethier are an expensive trio of outfielders, especially considering that no one in the trio is batting above .270
4. Detroit Tigers (114 points) –Previously: #5 (+15)
GOOD: Martinez, Cabrera and Kinsler have been a solid trio on offense, while Scherzer, Porcello and Sanchez have been equally as potent in the rotation
BAD: Justin Verlander (8-8, 4.88 ERA) is catching a lot of heat, to the point that even Kate Upton is being blamed for his struggles
UGLY: Joe Nathan (5.61 ERA) and the bullpen have really struggled
5. Baltimore Orioles (96 points) –Previously: #11 (+33)
GOOD: Nelson Cruz (.287/.353/.570, 28 HR, 74 RBI) is a legitimate MVP candidate and arguably the biggest bargain of the offseason.
BAD: Chris Davis (.199 average, 106 K’s) is a far cry from his 53 HR, 2013 campaign
UGLY: With 60 walks, three wins and a 4.52 ERA, Ubaldo Jimenez is currently not living up to that four-year, $50 million contract.
6. Washington Nationals (93 points) –Previously: #8 (+9)
GOOD: The pitching staff had the best ERA (3.08) at the break
BAD: Not one player on offense has a batting average over .300
UGLY: Bryce Harper has played in just 34 games, and is batting .244 with just 2 HR
7. Seattle Mariners (87 points) –Previously: #4 (-22)
GOOD: Opponents batting average at the break was .226, the best mark in baseball
BAD: Despite the pitcher’s park and strong rotation, Seattle is just 24-26 at home
UGLY: Justin Smoak (.202/.274/.350) has yet to develop into a premier power hitting 1B
8. Milwaukee Brewers (76 points) –Previously: #2 (-37)
GOOD: Jonathan Lucroy (.315/.385/.494, 9 HR, 44 RBI) has emerged as the most consistent hitting catcher in Major League Baseball
BAD: The Brewers are just 2-10 in July, the worst mark in the National League
UGLY: Jean Segura (.232/.266/.315) has faltered following last year’s breakout season
9. San Francisco Giants (68 points) –Previously: #7 (-16)
GOOD: Tim Hudson (7-6, 2.87 ERA, 1.10 WHIP) has been a great free agent addition
BAD: Sergio Romo (5 blown saves, 4.86 ERA) was bounced from the closer role
UGLY: Matt Cain (2-7, 4.18 ERA) has allowed 13 homers this season
10. Atlanta Braves (66 points) –Previously: #10 (-4)
GOOD: The rotation has 65 quality starts, three more than any other team in baseball
BAD: Gavin Floyd’s fractured elbow was unfortunate, especially after his solid start
UGLY: B.J. Upton (.215/.277/.341) continues to be a high-priced bust
11. Cincinnati Reds (66 points) –Previously: #13 (+13)
GOOD: Cincinnati’s 41 errors are the fewest in baseball at the break
BAD: The injury to Brandon Phillips leaves a large hole in the lineup and at second base
UGLY: Joey Votto has battled through injuries and is currently 55 points below his career batting average
12. St. Louis Cardinals (63 points) –Previously: #14 (+16)
GOOD: Adam Wainwright (12-4, 16 quality starts, 1.83 ERA, 0.91 WHIP) continues to be one of the most dominant starters in baseball
BAD: Michael Wacha’s shoulder injury has delivered a major hit to the pitching staff
UGLY: The offense’s 60 HR are the fewest in the National League
13. Kansas City Royals (54 points) –Previously: #12 (-2)
GOOD: Yordano Ventura (3.22 ERA) and Danny Duffy (2.76 ERA) adding significant depth to a rotation that already featured James Shields, Jeremy Guthrie and Jason Vargas
BAD: Mike Moustakas (.192/.257/.371) continues to underachieve; Might be time for a change in scenery
UGLY: The team’s power outage: 55 HR, the fewest in all of Major League Baseball
14. Pittsburgh Pirates (36 points) –Previously: #15 (-7)
GOOD: Andrew McCutchen is once again putting up MVP numbers, and currently leads the team in batting average (.324), HR (17), RBI (61), OBP (.420) and hits (115).
BAD: Pedro Alvarez is well off his 36 HR – 100 RBI pace from last season
UGLY: Francisco Liriano (1-7, 4.72 ERA) is nowhere near where he was last year
15. Toronto Blue Jays (31 points) –Previously: #9 (-39)
GOOD: Toronto’s 116 HR leads the Major Leagues
BAD: Rotation depth is a question mark outside of Buehrle and Dickey, though rookie Marcus Stroman has shown some positive signs in recent weeks.
UGLY: Brett Lawrie (.244/.299/.419) and Colby Rasmus (.212/.266/.453) have struggled during a hefty portion of the first half.
16. New York Mets (28 points) –Previously: #18 (+32)
GOOD: The future isn’t just with Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler; Look at Jacob deGrom, with 8 quality starts and near a K an inning.
BAD: Travis d’Arnaud (.217/.292/.354) over the course of the season has been bad, but there have been improvements since his most recent call-up
UGLY: Bartolo Colon at the plate. Google it. Nevermind, Here’s a video…
17. Cleveland Indians (17 points) –Previously: #19 (+22)
GOOD: Lonnie Chisenhall (.328/.392/.515) and Michael Brantley (.322/.382/.519) have been huge.
BAD: Justin Masterson (5.51 ERA in 19 starts) and Danny Salazar (5.53 ERA in 8 starts) have both been major disappointments
UGLY: Cleveland’s 76 errors are more than any other team in baseball
18. New York Yankees (15 points) –Previously: #17 (+11)
GOOD: Dellin Betances (1.46 ERA, 0.70 WHIP and 84 K’s in 55 1/3 innings) has been one of the most dominant relievers in baseball, and deserves to be the team’s future closer.
BAD: The rotation injuries (Sabathia, Tanaka and Pineda) have killed the team’s pitching depth
UGLY: The offense…since when have we seen zero regulars batting over .300 in the Bronx?
19. Tampa Bay Rays (1 point) –Previously: #21 (+9)
GOOD: It’s David Price (9-7, 3.23 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 164 K’s), although fans are not too happy to be seeing his name popping up in so many trade rumors
BAD: Of the offensive regulars, no one is batting above .275
UGLY: The injuries (Matt Moore, Wil Myers, etc.) have really decimated this team’s chances
20. Minnesota Twins (-4 points) –Previously: #24 (+18)
GOOD: His average isn’t off the charts, but Brian Dozier (18 HR, 16 SB) has added a spark to the offense
BAD: The off-time for Kendrys Morales (.229/.254/.328, 1 HR) has put a damper on his usually potent bat
UGLY: After signing a four-year deal with the Twins, Ricky Nolasco has struggled out of the gate, with a 5.90 ERA, 1.62 WHIP and just six quality starts (in 18 tries)
21. Miami Marlins (-12 points) –Previously: #16 (-20)
GOOD: Giancarlo Stanton (.295/.395/.538, 21 HR, 63 RBI) has finally been healthy all season, and he’s mashing the ball, too.
BAD: Ace Jose Fernandez, who like many others, required Tommy John surgery
UGLY: Mike Dunn, a reliever, leads the team in wins, with seven
22. Chicago White Sox (-13 points) –Previously: #23 (+8)
GOOD: Rookie Jose Abreu, who leads the Major Leagues, with 29 home runs
BAD: The luck for Jose Quintana – 15 quality starts and only five wins
UGLY: The closer role… injuries, inconsistency and inefficiency, all included
23. Boston Red Sox (-14 points) –Previously: #22 (+6)
GOOD: Brock Holt (.327/.371/.463), who provided a spark to an offense that desperately needed one
BAD: The offensive production (or lack thereof) from the team’s talented young players, mainly Xander Bogaerts (.235/.311/.348) and Jackie Bradley Jr. (.227/.305/.311)
UGLY: Jake Peavy (4.59 ERA) and Clay Buchholz (5.42 ERA) have combined to go 5-13 in 33 starts
24. Philadelphia Phillies (-26 points) –Previously: #27 (+2)
GOOD: Marlon Byrd (18 HR, 54 RBI) could bring back a decent return at the trade deadline
BAD: The fact that GM Ruben Amaro should’ve started trading away veterans last year, but didn’t.
UGLY: Jonathan Papelbon’s bloated contract, because it will likely limit the number of trade partners, even with his dynamite 2014 numbers (1.21 ERA, 22 saves)
25. San Diego Padres (-38 points) –Previously: #26 (-12)
GOOD: Ian Kennedy (7-9, 3.47 ERA, 1.19 WHIP), if made available on the trade market, could bring back some decent prospects from a contender
BAD: After signing a lucrative contract extension, Jedd Gyorko (.162/.213/.270) floundered offensively, then later was sidelined with an injury
UGLY: The offense, with its horrific .214 batting average, is by far the worst in baseball
26. Colorado Rockies (-38 points) –Previously: #25 (-14)
GOOD: Troy Tulowitzki is healthy, and mashing the ball. The offense, with its 112 HR and MLB-best .281 batting average, is mashing, too.
BAD: The rotation, which was 27-39, with a 5.33 ERA and 1.49 WHIP during the first half.
UGLY: The pitching staff, which has an ugly, MLB-worst 5.07 ERA
27. Arizona Diamondbacks (-39 points) –Previously: #29 (-3)
GOOD: Paul Goldschmidt is once again putting up big numbers, and currently leads the team in batting average (.308), HR (16), RBI (61), OBP (.400) and hits (110).
BAD: The “Tommy John Plague”, which keeps biting the D’Backs (Hernandez, Arroyo and Corbin fell victim this season, and Daniel Hudson last year)
UGLY: Arizona’s 71 errors are more than any other National League team
28. Chicago Cubs (-45 points) –Previously: #20 (-37)
GOOD: Acquired from Baltimore last season, Jake Arrieta (5-1, 1.95 ERA, 1.01 WHIP) is emerging as the new team ace, following the departure of Jeff Samardzija
BAD: Nate Schierholtz (.204/.250/.314) just hasn’t had the same impact this season
UGLY: Edwin Jackson (5-10, 5.64 ERA) and his four-year, $52 million contract continue to be a bust
29. Houston Astros (-75 points) –Previously: #30 (-14)
GOOD: Rookie George Springer, who leads the team in HR (19) and RBI (50)
BAD: Five players with 70+ games played are betting below .240
UGLY: The bullpen has a 5.05 ERA and 1.47 WHIP through 93 games
30. Texas Rangers (-76 points) –Previously: #28 (-41)
GOOD: Not much, but Adrian Beltre (.337/.383/.534, 13 HR, 51 RBI) comes to mind
BAD: The pitching staff, with an MLB-low 31 quality starts and AL-worst 4.93 ERA
UGLY: Significant injuries have killed this team, and here are a few names: Prince Fielder, Matt Harrison, Derek Holland, Jurickson Profar, Alexi Ogando and Mitch Moreland
* All stats per MLB.com and ESPN.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.