And away we go with the unofficial 2nd half getting underway.
*Stats and records through 07/26/2014
#1 – OAKLAND ATHLETICS, 64-39 (Last Ranking – #1)
After coasting for a couple of weeks leading into the All-Star break, Oakland came out with guns a blazing (6-3 since the last ranking). They are still just dominant in the stats: tied for 1st in combined WAR, best record, biggest run differential, most run scored, second fewest runs allowed, 5th best team OPS, 3rd best team ERA. When you look at FIP and xFIP, they look like they’ve outpitched what would be expected, but that’s the only blemish on this resume.
#2 – LOS ANGELES ANGELS, 62-41 (Last Ranking – #2)
The Angles nearly held serve with the A’s (6-4) and still have the 2nd best record in the league, and are still tied for the best combined WAR. They are still primarily offense driven, but they posted a 3.06 ERA for these past 10 games. Oh, and while the A’s have all of those impressive stats, the Angels are still just two games back.
#3 – WASHINGTON NATIONALS, 56-45 (Last Ranking – #5)
I just like the Nats. The pitching has been so good this year. They did fall to 2nd in ERA despite lowering their team ERA from 3.10 to 3.08, but they also lead in FIP and are 2nd in xFIP, meaning this is 100% for real. They have also climbed to 3rd in combined WAR. I still have to believe Harper is going to click taking the O from middle of the pack to above average.
#4 – LOS ANGELES DODGERS, 58-47 (Last Ranking – #3)
The Dodgers were (5-4) since the last ranking, and everything I’ve said about them for weeks still holds. They have one of the most balanced teams, ranking well in both OPS (7th) and ERA (6th). Massive discontent with Dan Haren has been rampant since before the All-Star break, and now speculation is that they’re going after Jon Lester. If they land Lester, this team definitely jumps back to 3rd.
#5 – DETROIT TIGERS, 57-44 (Last Ranking – #4)
The Tigers really struggled since the last ranking, going 4-7 with a -9 run differential. It was very well supported, as they didn’t hit well (0.653) or pitch well (4.45 ERA). Yet, even with that, they still have the 3rd best record in baseball and the 5th best combined WAR. I don’t see how they can be moved down any further than this despite the negative momentum.
#6 – ATLANTA BRAVES, 56-48 (Last Ranking – #6)
The Braves went 0.500 (5-5) since the last ranking, but it again didn’t affect their ranking primarily because of what the teams around them did. Nobody really hit it out of the park. There were just teams a 6-4, 5-4, not enough to leap frog them. Their team ERA ranking fell to 5th, which is something I will keep an eye on moving forward.
#7 – BALTIMORE ORIOLES, 57-46 (Last Ranking – #8)
The O’s keep on keepin’ on despite the lack of statistical support. I’m not sure I really have much else to say…
#8 – MILWAUKEE BREWERS, 59-46 (Last Ranking – #10)
It seems that whenever I make a bold move taking a team up or down significantly, they stick it to me. The Brewers are a team that moved way down and then went 7-3 with a +23 run differential since the last ranking. Overall they have the 4th best record in the Majors and rebuilt a 3 game lead in the NL Central. I didn’t jump them that high because I still think there are flaws that will catch up to them, but they are back on the rise…
#9 – SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS, 57-47 (Last Ranking – Just Missed)
See the Brewers write up for my thoughts on the Giants. I like the Jake Peavy trade as well.
#10 – SEATTLE MARINERS, 54-50 (Last Ranking – #9)
The Mariners were terrible since the last ranking (3-7), but they still pitched well (2.42 ERA good for 2nd during the period), which catapulted them to the best ERA in the league (3.07) overall. It was a very difficult decision for this 10th spot, and the Mariners are holding on by a thread.
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS, 55-48 (Last Ranking – #7) – The Cards rotation has turned into a mess and the bullpen depth is looking very dicey as well. Oh, and they haven’t hit all season.
PITTSBURGH PIRATES, 54-49 (Last Ranking – Just Missed) – Despite having the 26th combined WAR, they keep winning more than they lose.
TORONTO BLUE JAYS, 55-50 (Last Ranking – Just Missed) – The Jays just won’t go away. They posted an 810 OPS in the last 10 games even without E5.
NEW YORK YANKEES, 54-49 (Last Ranking – Unranked) – The Yanks had a great period (7-3) and re-join the Just Missed list.
TAMPA BAY RAYS, 51-53 (Last Ranking – Unranked) – The Rays still have a losing record, but after going 8-0 this period and 20-5 in their last 25. They were supposed to be one of the best and they’re finally playing like it.