The MLB season is beginning to heat up. With the trade deadline fast approaching, teams will gain a better understanding of their identity.
Teams teetering on the edge of buying or selling will treat these games leading up to the All-Star break with much importance. A winning stretch could change an average team’s fortunes come the deadline, but a losing stretch could give a high-ranking team a harsh dose of reality.
The New York Yankees, the winningest team in baseball, just keep rolling. The Atlanta Braves now sit 3.5 games behind the New York Mets in the NL Central coming off a scintillating June. And the Boston Red Sox are relevant.
Let’s take a look at the state of the league’s top 10 teams in these MLB postseason power rankings.
New York Yankees (58-22) Past Week: 4-2
Everyone needs to get out of the Yankees’ way. The Bronx has not burned like this in a while. Although sweeping the lowly Oakland Athletics was like stealing candy from a baby, New York struggled against the Houston Astros, dropping three of five against the American League West leaders last week. But the Yankees are still without a shadow of a doubt the best team in baseball – they are resilient and display a no-quit attitude.
Deadline moves: Get contact hitting, part with Joey Gallo/Aaron Hicks, move a valuable prospect to position World Series run.
Houston Astros (52-27) Past Week: 7-0
Here come the Astros. Houston took it to the Yankees, no-hitting the league’s best offense in the Bronx. They are sending a message to the rest of the AL MLB postseason contenders: You do not want to see us come October. Yordan Alvarez is having a monstrous year, Jose Altuve is still a pest at the plate, and oh, Justin Verlander is having a comeback season for the ages.
Team MVP: Yordan Alvarez. Forget the moon shots and outstanding batting average. Alvarez stands above all in hard hit percentage, xwOBA, xSLG, and walk percentage.
Los Angeles Dodgers (50-29) Past Week: (5-2)
Mookie Betts is back from a fractured rib, Tony Gonsolin has the lowest ERA (1.54) in the league, and Trea Turner just keeps on hitting the baseball.
The Dodgers did not play that well in June, going 14-12, but they are as formidable as any team in the game. With the shakiness of Craig Kimbrel, the loss of Daniel Hudson for the season, and the absence of Blake Treinen, Los Angeles might need some bullpen help at the deadline.
Deadline move: Reliable bullpen arms
New York Mets (50-30) Past Week: 3-3
Yes Mets’ fans, your team has gotten to 50 wins before the All-Star break. Do baseball fans know you’ve gotten through most of the season without Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer? Yes, I think we do.
The Braves are breathing down New York’s back. The returns of two generational arms cannot come soon enough for a Mets offense that had a -15 run differential in June.
Deadline move: Big-time power bats
Read more about the Yankees.
Atlanta Braves (47-34) Past Week: (5-2)
The Braves beat up on bad teams in June, but let’s not forget, they are the defending World Series champion, and their championship pedigree is beginning to show.
Dansby Swanson is having a career year, Spencer Strider has been a revelation, and Ronald Acuna has provided an energetic boost since his return from a torn ACL.
A critical series with the Mets before the All-Star break looms in the distance.
Boston Red Sox (47-35) Past Week (2-5)
The Red Sox had two bad losses to the Chicago Cubs over the weekend, but where this team is now compared to where it was in May, Boston has turned its season around.
The offensive core of Rafael Devers, J.D. Martinez, and Xander Bogaerts remains in-tact and healthy. This team needs to make a big-time pitching move at the deadline if it wants to be relevant in late-October.
Deadline move: Big-time pitching, outfield depth.
San Diego Padres (47-35) Past Week: (2-5)
The Padres are good, but they are not great. You need to win games in your division, and San Diego did not do that in the MLB postseason. They lost three of four against the Dodgers and went 2-5 against the Colorado Rockies.
Fernando Tatis Jr. could come back at the end of July, but if the Padres want to be treated as a serious World Series contender, they need to beat bad teams, handedly.
Team MVP: Joe Musgrove. The Padre rotation is not that reliable outside of Musgrove, who has a 2.25 ERA.
Toronto Blue Jays (44-37) Past Week: (3-5)
I do not know what this Blue Jays team is. They have see-sawed through this season, but their offensive threats in the MLB postseason are too undeniable to be treated lightly.
Kevin Gausman and Alex Manoah have been great, and they are lucky to have them.
Deadline move: Bullpen help
Milwaukee Brewers (47-35) Past Week: (5-2)
The Brewers have 12 of their last 17 games and welcomed the return of Brandon Woodruff and Aaron Ashby from injuries. Although they dropped 19 runs on the Pirates over the weekend, their offense has struggled as of late.
Deadline move: Contact hitting
Tampa Bay Rays (43-37) Past Week (3-5)
The Rays are one of the worst defensive teams in baseball, and they will need to clean up their clumsiness in the summer months. Wander Franco is back after a month’s absence, as he is sorely needed.
Tampa will always be a tough out in the MLB postseason, but they have to get there first.
Team MVP: Shane McClanahan. He is the clear-cut AL Cy Young winner.