Woah, We’re Half Way There
The All-Star break is always an interesting time. Some teams are struggling and happy to get that breather and refocus like the Yankees, A’s and Braves. Then you have those teams that were red hot and making a run that want to just keep everything moving along such as the Dodgers, Astros, Mariners and Reds. Whichever side of the fence you are on as a fan, All-Star week is one of the most enjoyable weeks of the season. However reality does loom as does the Trade Deadline. So let’s take a look at where everyone stands and who could be buyers and who will be sellers later this month.
- San Francisco Giants (57-32) —
The Giants are going to be absolutely fascinating to watch around the deadline. Do they really go for it or do they see what they can do with what they have? Trading for another bat I think would be the best route to take since they already have a seemingly rock solid rotation. Will they be able to hold off the Dodgers and Padres in the second half? Buckle up for what’s going to be an entertaining division race.
- Los Angeles Dodgers (56-35) +6
I have some concerns about the Dodgers but none of them will really come up until October. For now though, life is good in LA. Mookie Betts seems to be getting going finally and the rest of the offense can explode in the blink of an eye. Add in Corey Seager who we will hopefully see back and we could see the first repeat champions since the 98-00 Yankees.
- Boston Red Sox (55-36) +1
The Red Sox limped into the All-Star break losing their final two series to the Angels and Phillies. I really think Boston is a starter or two away from being clearly the team to beat in the American League. They could already have one of those starters in house in Chris Sale. Grabbing a Kyle Gibson could have this team winning a championship in the fall.
- Houston Astros (55-36) -2
The Astros are absolutely dominant for the first 6 or 7 innings of a game. Once the bullpen takes over, things get shaky. They lead the AL West but not comfortably with Oakland right on their heels and the Mariners sneaking into the rearview mirror. I don’t see either beating out Houston for the division. The bullpen does need addressed if they want to be battling for the World Series in October.
- Chicago White Sox (54-35) +4
The White Sox are still in a tough spot. They just can’t seem to get healthy. They do lack any real threat though in the division. Cleveland has fallen apart. Detroit is still a couple of years from contending. Minnesota completely flopped. And Kansas City doesn’t seem to want to commit to a rebuild. The best news is that reinforcements are coming. When healthy, I think the White Sox are top to bottom the best team in the American League.
- San Diego Padres (53-40) -1
Consistency is the biggest argument against the Padres being ranked higher. They haven’t won a series yet this month and in the NL West you can’t go through many slumps like this. It is likely they will be playing in the Wild Card game. If they get through that, this rotation makes them a big problem for other teams in the playoffs.
- Tampa Bay Rays (53-37) -4
A six game win streak right before the All-Star break snapped the defending American League champions out of their rut. For whatever reason the Rays just work. A small payroll has not slowed them down really at all. They are missing that big presence in the lineup that they could grab at the deadline. Nelson Cruz in Tampa Bay would help that lineup a ton.
- Milwaukee Brewers (53-39) -2
Imagine giving this year’s Brewers pitching staff the Brewers offense from a few years ago. They would be the most dominant team in baseball. Now though they are still a little bit below the real elite teams. Cincinnati is putting pressure on the Brew Crew which will help this team not drop into cruise control. A .220 team batting average is not going to cut it.
- Oakland A’s (52-40) -1
The A’s need Matt Chapman to start playing like Matt Chapman. His power and defense is completely game altering and a component that Oakland just doesn’t have right now. Matt Olson has stepped up but teams could pitch around him if need be. A Mark Canha return will definitely help, but this also feels like a team that will go as far as their pitching can carry them.
- New York Mets (47-40) —
First things first. What an absolute show put on by Pete Alonso in the Home Run Derby. Maybe that can light a spark under the rest of this offense. Injuries have not made things easy. Guys are in and out of the lineup and rotation. The fact that they sit atop the NL East is a promising sign. They need their big money man Francisco Lindor to wake up in the second half.
- Seattle Mariners (48-43) +3
The Mariners lost a series for the first time since June 11th-13th. They also had some tough opponents during that time including Tampa Bay, Toronto and Chicago. With the arrival of Cal Raleigh and the return of Jarred Kelenic, the future is now in Seattle. Add in the possible return of Kyle Lewis and this team might just have enough to sneak into a Wild Card spot.
- Cincinnati Reds (48-42) +4
The Reds are the hottest team in baseball. Well they were going into the break at least. They are 9-2 in July and are right on Milwaukee’s heels. Now we’ve seen this team start off hot before going ice cold so I’m a little hesitant to bump them up too far. The schedule isn’t very friendly to close out July.
- Buffalo Blue Jays (45-42) -2
Congratulations to Vladimir Guerrero Jr. on winning the All-Star Game MVP. He is also right in the mix for American League MVP. For him to win that award, the Blue Jays need to make the playoffs. The offense is more than good enough but the pitching has held this team back. The best news is that the Jays may get to head back up north sooner than later.
- New York Yankees (46-43) +1
The Yankees were able to win a couple big series in Seattle and Houston leading up to the break. The bad news is eight of their next ten games are against Boston. They are 0-6 against their rivals this season. If they can’t win half of those games against Boston, they should be sellers at the deadline.
- Los Angeles Angels (45-44) +5
The Angels won three straight series over the Yankees, Orioles and Red Sox before losing two of three in Seattle to head into the break. That’s a really good stretch for a team still missing the best player on the planet. They get another crack at the Mariners coming out of the break before going to Oakland. Shohei Ohtani is my MVP right now and if everyone can keep doing what they are doing when Mike Trout comes back, this is not a team to sleep on.
- Philadelphia Phillies (44-44) +3
The Phillies have turned it around and are playing some good baseball. To make the playoffs, they are going to have to win the division. They just won’t go away much like Atlanta. I trust the Phillies more in the second half to potentially make a run and win a still wide open division.
- Cleveland Indians (45-42) -4
Somehow Cleveland still isn’t out of the playoff picture yet. If they don’t get healthy that won’t be the case for very long. The rotation is completely destroyed and the offense hasn’t shown the ability to carry this team. The worst team on their schedule for the rest of the month is St. Louis who nobody should feel comfortable playing. I don’t think this team will get into the playoffs.
- St. Louis Cardinals (44-46) +5
Any other year I wouldn’t be counting out the Cardinals. But the Wild Card teams are going to come from the NL West and it’s going to take an incredible second half to catch Milwaukee in the division. This team is built to contend for a few years with this current team minus Yadier Molina. It looks like it will take more than a season to get there.
- Chicago Cubs (44-46) -7
And the fire sale has begun. The Cubs shipped Joc Pederson to Atlanta and that’s just the first domino to fall. These guys broke the long curse and should be celebrated by Chicago fans. But the core of that team will not be playing in Wrigley come August.
- Atlanta Braves (44-45) -2
Ronald Acuna Jr. missing the rest of this season is just horrible news not only for Atlanta, but for the game of baseball as a whole. One of the brightest stars in the game and the heart of this squad. We will see what Joc Pederson can do, but I am leaning towards this being a year where Atlanta is watching the playoffs from home.
- Washington Nationals (42-47) -4
The Nats did a great job closing out June on a fantastic run. Then they absolutely flopped to start July and are back near the bottom of the NL East. Nobody is really taking charge in the division so you can’t really count this team out. However they have three teams ahead of them that are going to make things difficult. Kyle Scwharber has been fun to watch, but this team is running out of time fast.
- Miami Marlins (39-50) —
If you gave any other team this starting rotation, they would likely be in the top half of these rankings. The offense is a clear weakness and continues to spoil what this great, young rotation is doing. The Marlins definitely have a solid foundation built for the future. But as we have seen with this team in the past, that doesn’t always mean anything.
- Detroit Tigers (40-51) -2
I thought the Tigers would be lucky to win 60 games this season. Now, I think they could pull off 70. Like the Marlins, this team has a very young and solid future rotation. No playoff contender wants to face this team down the stretch. It’s just sad that Miguel Cabrera won’t get to be a part of the future.
- Colorado Rockies (40-51) +4
Colorado was playing some pretty good baseball heading into the break where they hosted the All-Star festivities. They are going to finish 4th in the division without a doubt however. The biggest question for the Rockies is how much will they sell and what will they get in return for Trevor Story.
- Minnesota Twins (39-50) -1
No team has been more disappointing in 2021 than the Minnesota Twins. Many saw this team contending for the AL pennant and instead they will be big time sellers in the next couple of weeks. This is an interesting time for Minnesota as they were really going for it. Now they seem to be staring a rebuild right in the face.
- Texas Rangers (35-55) +1
Speaking of rebuilds, the Texas Rangers are about to really get into just that. Kyle Gibson could win a Cy Young, but he will be doing that in another uniform. I wouldn’t trade Joey Gallo unless the price is right. Rangers fans need something to look forward to for the next few years.
- Kansas City Royals (36-53) -2
Salvador Perez put on an absolute show during the Home Run Derby that most people missed due to the performance Pete Alonso had put on. Now to the Royals. The good times have been good. The bad times have been absolutely terrible. They are another team that needs to commit to a rebuild which could mean selling everyone including Whit Merrifield
- Pittsburgh Pirates (34-56) -2
The Pirates had two starters in the All-Star game in Adam Frazier and Bryan Reynolds. As a fan of a team that feels like they have been rebuilding for 20 years, it’s nice to have a few great players to watch during those tough times. I do think they need some help in the pitching department this offseason.
- Baltimore Orioles (28-61) —
I was pulling for Trey Mancini in the Home Run Derby and it was so cool to see him out there and make the finals. Cedric Mullins also continues to draw attention. Aside from John Means, the pitching is a train wreck. The division is stacked with talent right now so now is the time for Baltimore to start building up their farm system.
- Arizona Diamondbacks (26-66) —
Honestly, there is no team in a worse position than Arizona. They don’t have much to sell that will net them a whole lot in the return. This could turn out to be a major and very long rebuild. There is good news though. The Arizona Diamondbacks are on the clock.
Matthew graduated in 2019 from Washington State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication with a specialization in Media and Journalism Production. He currently is a broadcaster and writer at Eli Sports Network. Baseball and football are his specialties but Matt covers anything he can. Follow him on Twitter @matt_king19