- St. Louis Cardinals (Last week #1)
The Cardinals will close out the first half of the season atop the power rankings with the major league’s best record at 56-33. After winning six in a row a few weeks ago the Cards have not played their best baseball of late, only going 5-9 since then. It seems the injury bug is finally catching up for the Cardinals, and they certainly will be buyers before or at the trade deadline. They dropped three of four in a crucial series with the Pirates over the weekend, and now the Pirates are just 2.5 games back of the Cardinals. St. Louis will look to use the All Star break as a time to rest and heal up before what should be an exciting second half of the season.
- Pittsburgh Pirates (#3)
Even though the Cardinals still remain No. 1 in the power rankings, the Pirates are right on their heels. Pittsburgh has won eight of its last nine ballgames and is now just 2.5 games behind St. Louis. It was only a few weeks ago when the Pirates were out of first place by eight games. After a slow start to the season Andrew McCutchen has picked it up towards the end of the first half and goes into the break hitting .295 with 12 homers and 56 RBIs. With another strong second half, ‘Cutch will certainly be a MVP candidate if the Pirates make the playoffs.
- Washington Nationals (#2)
While they are in first place in the NL East going into the break, you almost get the feeling that the Nats have underachieved this season. Washington has been ravaged by injuries to Jayson Werth, Anthony Rendon, Denard Span, Stephan Strasburg and Ryan Zimmermann, and yet here they are in first place. You could also make the case that while Jordan Zimmermann and Gio Gonzalez have pitched okay to date, they have not pitched up to their potential, and that makes the Nats one of the scariest teams going into the break. If the Nats can get all their injured players back healthy and if their pitchers can start pitching up to their potential, there is no telling how far this Washington team can go.
- Kansas City Royals (#4)
There is not much more you can say about the job the Royals have done in the first half. They are a team that just knows how to win. There is nothing flashy about them, they just show up, play and win. They have showed that last year’s playoff run was no fluke by getting out to a 52-34 start (the AL’s best) and opening up a 4.5 game lead on the Minnesota Twins in the AL Central. The AL Central is the Royals’ to lose at this point, and without some unforeseen collapse I don’t see them relinquishing first place to anyone.
- Los Angeles Dodgers (#6)
The Dodgers became the fourth team to 50 wins over the weekend with a win over the Milwaukee Brewers. LA goes into the break playing good ball as it has won five of its last seven games. The Dodgers will open up the second half with a 10-game road trip, including a big series with the Washington Nationals. Clayton Kershaw has been pitching to his form as of late, a good sign after that early season slump during which people were asking if Kershaw had lost it. He has answered those questions with a resounding no, as he leads the majors with a 160 strikeouts and has an ERA of 2.69. The Dodgers hold a 4.5-game lead on the Giants going into the break, but the Giants have not played their best ball yet and one would think they have a run in them. It should be an exciting finish in the NL West.
- New York Yankees (#7)
- Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (#8)
- Minnesota Twins (#14)
- Houston Astros (#5)
- Chicago Cubs (#9)
- New York Mets (#18)
- Tampa Bay Rays (#9)
- Baltimore Orioles (#10)
- Toronto Blue Jays (#11)
- San Francisco Giants (#12)
- Detroit Tigers (#15)
- Texas Rangers (#16)
- Arizona Diamondbacks (#19)
- Boston Red Sox (#22)
- Chicago White Sox (#25)
- Cleveland Indians (#17)
- Atlanta Braves (#20)
- Seattle Mariners (#24)
- Miami Marlins (#26)
- San Diego Padres (#21)
- Cincinnati Reds (#29)
- Milwaukee Brewers (#23)
- Oakland Athletics (#27)
- Colorado Rockies (#28)
- Philadelphia Phillies (#30)
Top Offensive Performer of the Week
Mike Trout, CF, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Last Week’s Stats – 11/23, .478, 5 HRs, 10 RBIs, 8 runs
The reigning AL MVP takes home this week’s top offensive performer. His performance of late has helped vault the Halos into first place in the AL West. Trout is having another MVP caliber season as he is hitting .312 with 26 HRs, 55 RBIs and 68 runs scored. He will start the All Star Game for the American League tonight.
Top Pitching Performer of the Week
Top Pitching Performer of the WeekChris Sale, LHP, Chicago White Sox
Last Week’s Stats – 16 innings, 16 strikeouts, 1 walk, 3 earned runs, 2-0, 1.69 ERA
Although he saw his historic streak of 10-plus strikeout games come to an end this past week, Chris Sale continued his dominance. Last Monday he shut down the league’s top offense in the Toronto Blue Jays, holding them to only two runs as he went the distance to pick up the victory for the Pale Hose. Then on Saturday afternoon he shut out the crosstown rival Cubs over seven innings and striking out 10. He has arguably been the most dominating and most electric pitcher in the game so far this year. He will be the White Sox lone representative at the All Star Game in Cincinnati.
Follow Bobby on Twitter @RENorell_III