By: Chris Larson
It's good to be back in the saddle and doing these reports once again. Sorry about the hiatus as it has almost been a month since the last one, but with the All-Star Break, the Trade Deadline, and life, things just got in the way and time escaped. However, it's time to get rolling again and begin to shift our attention to the final third of the season as well as prepare for the Waiver Trade Deadline at the end of the month and September rookie call-ups starting in about eighteen days.
Week In Review
Top 15 Power Rankings
1. Boston Red Sox (85-35) [Run Differential: +213]
2. New York Yankees (74-43) [Run Differential: +140]
3. Oakland Athletics (70-48) [Run Differential: +65]
4. Chicago Cubs (68-49) [Run Differential: +93]
5. Cleveland Indians (66-51) [Run Differential: +116]
6. Houston Astros (73-46) [Run Differential: +195]
7. Atlanta Braves (64-51) [Run Differential: +77]
8. Philadelphia Phillies (65-52) [Run Differential: +29]
9. Arizona Diamondbacks (65-54) [Run Differential: +72]
10. Milwaukee Brewers (67-54) [Run Differential: +26]
11. Los Angeles Dodgers (64-55) [Run Differential: +96]
12. St. Louis Cardinals (63-55) [Run Differential: +45]
13. Seattle Mariners (69-50) [Run Differential: -22]
14. Pittsburgh Pirates (61-58) [Run Differential: +6]
15. Colorado Rockies (63-55) [Run Differential: -17]
Summary of Thoughts
There is no denying the fact that the Boston Red Sox have the best team in all of baseball at the moment. After all, they have the best record in the league and a lineup full of complete mashers. Don't overlook the fact that the Red Sox have the second best pitching staff ERA in all of baseball either (3.50 ERA over 1,086.1 IP) and if Chris Sale can't replicate his performance from yesterday afternoon, watch out. Boston will likely want to be careful with Sale over the next three weeks, but every time he takes the mound, you can pretty much expect a dominant performance from him. Rounding out the Top 3 are the New York Yankees followed by the Oakland Athletics. The Yankees are really a no brainer as they have occupied a spot in the Top 3 all season and it should be no surprise that they rank just behind their AL East counterpart who occupies the first spot. As far as the A's being in the third spot, it really came down to recent performance and the way the team has seemed to cruise the past couple of weeks. Oakland has really gone out there every game and given it their all which is tremendous and should only continue to benefit them moving forward.
Looking at the remaining Top 10 now, the Cubs, Indians, and Astros currently rank just below those three teams. The Cubs have been playing on and off all season long, but currently possess first place and have a 6-4 record over their last 10 games meaning they certainly are not going to just lay over and give up the rest of the way. Like we saw last season, the Cubs are starting to separate themselves from the Milwaukee Brewers even though Milwaukee is only three games back of first place. Beyond Chicago, the Indians come in 5th simply because of their record and the amount of talent that they possess. Cleveland has a dominating starting rotation and their bullpen has come leaps and bounds compared to where it was earlier this season. This week, the Astros fall out of the Top 5 just because of the recent inconsistencies of the team, which is no fault of their own. Houston has a couple of key impact players currently on the DL which has hindered their play, but are also coming off a four-game sweep by the Seattle Mariners. Don't overlook the fact that both the Oakland A's and Seattle Mariners are sneaking closer to the Astros for first place in the AL West also - Oakland is currently 2 and 1/2 games out of first, while Seattle is 4.
As for the teams outside of the Top 10, it's pretty easy to justify why they are ranked the way they are. The Dodgers fall outside of the Top 10 because they don't seem to be nearly at the level of the other teams within the Top 10, while the Cardinals and Mariners have shown as of late how powerful they can be when they are on. However, both teams have been inconsistent at various points throughout this season and it is difficult to get a true read on how both will fare moving forward hence the cautious ranking of both teams. Still, with that being said, both the Cardinals and Mariners can be very dangerous teams if given the opportunity as mentioned before by how close the Mariners are to first place in the AL West and as illustrated by the Cardinals current 5-game win streak. You sort of have to like the Mariners a bit better on paper because they have that veteran presence in the clubhouse, but don't discount the impact that young talent can have on a team which can be found in St. Louis.
MVPs of the Week
1. J.D. Martinez (Boston Red Sox): 13-for-28 with 5 doubles, 4 home runs, 11 RBI, 4 walks, a .464 batting average, and a .531 on-base percentage
2. Giancarlo Stanton (New York Yankees): 8-for-27 with 5 home runs, 9 RBI, 6 walks, a .296 batting average, and a .424 on-base percentage
3. Trevor Bauer (Cleveland Indians): 0.73 ERA over 12.1 IP with a .119 Opponent Batting Average Against and 19 Strikeouts
4. Marcus Stroman (Toronto Blue Jays): 0.75 ERA over 12.0 IP with a .171 Opponent Batting Average Against and a 0.92 WHIP
1. David Peralta (Arizona Diamondbacks): 12-for-27 with 1 double, 1 triple, 4 home runs, 6 RBI, 2 walks, a .444 batting average, and a .483 on-base percentage
2. Ryan Zimmerman (Washington Nationals): 10-for-21 with 3 doubles, 3 home runs, 12 RBI, 4 walks, a .476 batting average, and a .538 on-base percentage
3. Kyle Freeland (Colorado Rockies): 1.29 ERA over 14.0 IP with a 0.93 WHIP and 15 Strikeouts
4. Dereck Rodriguez (San Francisco Giants): 0.64 ERA over 14.0 IP with a .109 Opponent Batting Average Against and a 0.43 WHIP