There are many ups and downs and tears of both triumph and despair over the course of a six-month-long, 162-game season. That is why all the experts are quick to advise that the Major League Baseball season is a marathon and not a sprint. Similar logic is behind the stat-head principle that all things statistical, including simple wins and losses, have a remarkable way of averaging out over a full season.
To take it one cliché further, this is all a way of saying: By season's end, the cream will rise to the top and the lesser teams will fall off and settle into their natural order. That's what makes it really interesting and fun to look back during the season, and especially after the season, to see how close or off the mark the experts were in their preseason predictions of the order and magnitude of finish in all of the division races. The disparities are sometimes quite startling.
In our last Major League Baseball power rankings, at the end of May, the top five teams were 1) Philadelphia, 2) Cleveland (which, incidentally, no one projected to be leading its division after two months, let alone as one of the top teams in all of baseball early on), 3) St. Louis, 4) New York Yankees and 5) Florida Marlins. The bottom five teams in the previous rankings were, in order, were San Diego, Kansas City, Chicago Cubs, Houston and, surprisingly, Minnesota.
To show you how much things can change over a relatively short period of time, in our midseason power rankings, which follow, Philadelphia retains the No. 1 position. The Boston Red Sox, San Francisco Giants and Atlanta Braves have moved into the top five, however. Going the other way, Florida, which was No. 5 on our list a little over 30 days ago, has fallen on the way to 27th in the new rankings, a drop of 22 positions. The new bottom feeders are Minnesota, Florida, the Royals, the Cubs and Houston.
In other major movement, the Pittsburgh Pirates ascended in the poll from 23rd to 16th , and the upstart Washington Nationals moved up nine sports, from 28 to 19.
Here is the complete list:
Power Rankings As Of July 1
(Previous ranking in parentheses)
- 1. (1) Philadelphia Phillies - Maybe best starting rotation all-time.
- 2. (4) New York Yankees - Highest payroll still paying off.
- 3. (6) Boston Red Sox - Worst 2011 season start notwithstanding.
- 4. (9) San Francisco Giants - Inexplicably finds ways to win.
- 5. (7) Atlanta Braves - MLB's best in one-run games.
- 6. (10) Tampa Bay Rays - Better away than at home.
- 7. (11) Milwaukee Brewers - Tied at top - NL Central.
- 8. (14) Detroit Tigers - Verlander/Scherzer:19 wins combined.
- 9. (8) Arizona Diamondbacks - Extra base hits a plenty.
- 10. (3) St. Louis Cardinals - Hanging tough despite injury epidemic.
- 11. (2) Cleveland Indians - Winning without a southpaw starter.
- 12. (12) Texas Rangers - Too many HRs given up.
- 13. (13) Cincinnati Reds - Better in division than out.
- 14. (15) Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim - Majors' best in interleague games.
- 15. (20) New York Mets - Shortstop Reyes NL's Batting leader.
- 16. (23) Pittsburgh Pirates - 35-0 when leading after 8.
- 17. (16) Toronto Blue Jays - Advantage Jays under the lights.
- 18. (19) Colorado Rockies - 50/50 performance in about everything.
- 19. (28) Washington Nationals - Starters going deep in games.
- 20. (17) Seattle Mariners - M's thankful for strong pitching.
- 21. (24) Chicago White Sox - Manager Guillen on borrowed time.
- 22. (26) San Diego Padres - Interleague wins have boosted Padres.
- 23. (21) Baltimore Orioles - Anywhere but the AL East.
- 24. (18) Oakland Athletics - Good pitching, not much else.
- 25. (22) Los Angeles Dodgers - Bankruptcy issues strangling struggling Dodgers.
- 26. (30) Minnesota Twins - Slowly working their way back.
- 27. (5) Florida Marlins - Wins have disappeared for fish.
- 28. (27) Kansas City Royals - Starting pitching missing in action.
- 29. (28) Chicago Cubs - Lovable Cubbies are still laughable.
- 30. (29) Houston Astros - Worse at home than away.