As the glow of the All-Star Game fades off into the rearview mirror, it’s time to buckle up for the second half. The week to come will be dominated by trade rumors and speculation ahead of the Aug. 2 deadline, and with each passing day the postseason race will continue to heat up. As we hone our focus, there will be a slight formatting tweak here at Power Rankings headquarters: Beginning with this week’s version, we will be before writing up blurbs on every club and instead dive a little deeper on a handful each iteration. (Don’t worry, we’ll keep a balanced rotation so that each team still gets some love.)
A two-week hiatus has us feeling plenty rested and ready for the second half. With that, let’s get going.
30th Washington Nationals (Last Week: 30)
29. Oakland A’s (LW: 29)
28. Cincinnati Reds (LW: 27)
the Reds may own the second-worst record in the National League, but they’ll be among the focal points of baseball over the next week given the team’s fairly obvious trade chips. Amid a market that’s not overflowing with viable options, Brandon Drury might be the most in-demand infielder. He’s seen time at all four infield spots and owns a career-best 130 wRC+ on the year across 352 plate appearances. Set to hit free agency this November, he’s almost certain to be dealt sometime soon. The same goes for All Star starter Luis Castillowho offers one more year of team control before becoming a free agent after the 2023 campaign.
How Tyler Mahle fits into the future plans is a bit more intriguing. The 27-year-old returned to the mound on Sunday for the first time since July 2 after a stint on the injured list with a strained pitching shoulder. He was mostly effective, allowing just two hits (both home runs) through six innings with five strikeouts and a fastball that touched 96 mph. Mahle’s slow start to the season (he had a 6.48 ERA through his first seven outings) and hurt shoulder made it difficult to evaluate his trade value, but if other teams are convinced he’s regained his usually strong form, he could be a significant addition for a playoff-bound team in need of another starting pitcher.
27. Detroit Tigers (LW: 24)
26. Kansas City Royals (LW: 28)
25. Chicago Cubs (LW: 26)
24. Pittsburgh Pirates (LW: 25)
23. Los Angeles Angels (LW: 21)
On Sunday, the incredible happened: the angels won, and Shhei Ohtani didn’t do much of anything. Los Angeles jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the top of the first inning against the Braves, with Ohtani getting out twice in both plate appearances that inning. So often, it seems that the reigning American League MVP puts together heroic performances that end in defeat (queuing up legions of “Tungsten Arm” O’Doyle tweets in the process). But Sunday’s 9–1 win over Atlanta was significant in that it was the first time since June 27 that the Angels won a game in which Ohtani didn’t pitch, snapping a 15-game losing streak in such contests.
That’s as damning a sentence as you’ll read about the state of the team’s roster. The Angels are a top-heavy organization whose two highest-paid players—Mike Trout other Anthony Rendon—are on the IL, the latter of which is out for the season. There simply aren’t nearly enough viable options for everyday at bats to field a competitive squad. As the deadline approaches, the odds of Los Angeles seriously considering parting ways with its two-way star seem remote. But so did the notion that a team with this much star power would find itself in such a hopeless position before the end of July, especially after its promising first month-and-a-half of the season.
22. Arizona Diamondbacks (LW: 23)
21. Colorado Rockies (LW: 22)
20. Texas Rangers (LW: 18)
19. Miami Marlins (LW: 16)
18. Chicago White Sox (LW: 20)
17. Baltimore Orioles (LW: 17)
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16. Boston Red Sox (LW: 11)
Where to begin with the state of the Red Sox? Things were already looking pretty bleak after a 3–10 finish to the first half. Then, 28-5 happened, and the trajectory of Boston’s season transitioned from “trending poorly” to “cosmically doomed.” Raimel Tapia’s inside-the-park grand slam on Friday was a generationally hilarious blooper, one that is sure to be one of the lasting images of the 2022 campaign.
So where do the Red Sox go from here? They’re only three games back of the final wild-card spot, but the deficiencies in Boston’s pitching staff appear to be too much to overcome, particularly after Chris Sale’s freak broken finger, which will keep him out indefinitely. Since the calendar flipped to July, the Red Sox have seen their playoff odds drop from 80.7% to 25.9%, per FanGraphs. That stunning turn of events might make them sellers in the coming days, which is an outcome few could have predicted a couple weeks ago.
15th Cleveland Guardians (LW: 19)
14. San Francisco Giants (LW: 14)
13. Philadelphia Phillies (LW: 9)
12. Seattle Mariners (LW: 12)
11. Tampa Bay Rays (LW: 13)
The battered and bruised Rays dropped two out of three against the lowly royals to begin the second half, but still retain a firm hold on the second wild-card spot. A string of injuries to key pieces left Tampa Bay in a state of disarray just before the break, but the team shrugged off its key absences by winning six of its last seven games to close out the first half. The hot streak came at a price, though, as the injury bug struck again with Harold Ramírez—who had been the team’s hottest hitter over the past month—suffering a broken right thumb.
Even in defeat, though, Sunday brought a silver lining, as Jeffrey Springs returned from the IL after not pitching since July 5. The lefthander gave up just one earned run in 4 1/3 innings on 78 pitches (though he did work around eight hit). The next nine games will be a critical stretch for the Rays, as they square off against three teams (the Orioles, Guardians other Blue Jays) firmly in the postseason mix.
10. Toronto Blue Jays (LW: 15)
9. St. Louis Cardinals (LW: 10)
8. Minnesota Twins (LW: 8)
7. Milwaukee Brewers (LW: 7)
6. San Diego Padres (LW: 6)
5. New York Mets (LW: 5)
4. Atlanta Braves (LW: 4)
3. Houston Astros (LW: 3)
2. Los Angeles Dodgers (LW: 2)
For the first time since abdicating the throne, this is the closest the dodgers have come to overtaking the Yanks for the top spot. Los Angeles has won 19 of its last 21 games, as seemingly all of the big guns in its lineup are in the groove. With a soft slate coming up this week against the Nationals other rockiesit seems a safe bet that the good times will continue to roll for the Dodgers.
Given how untouchable they look at the present, it’s a pretty scary proposition to imagine a world in which Juan Soto joins the fold. The very reason it feels unlikely that Soto will actually be traded—who could afford what is surely an exorbitant asking price?—is the very reason it seems inevitable that Soto will end up with the Dodgers. Los Angeles is one of a very, very short list of teams who actually have the prospect capital, aggressive mindset and deep pockets necessary to pull off a trade for Soto (and then expect to be able to sign the generational talent to a mega extension) .
Andrew Friedman and Co. have shown a penchant for bold deadline moves in the past (trades for Yu Darvish, Manny Machado, Max Scherzer and Trea Turner come to mind). A move for Soto this time around would surely take the cake, and if they’re able to pull it off, don’t expect to see any team listed ahead of the Dodgers in this space for quite a while.
1. New York Yankees (LW: 1)
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