The brutal summer heat is starting to subside, football is somehow back on TV, and the Dodgers are back on top of baseball. That’s how you know it’s a stretch. Each MLB team has played somewhere around 120 games, so there’s only a quarter of the season left, and it’s time to rank them again.
1. Los Angeles Dodgers (84-37)
Walker Buehler out for the season. Past editions of Clayton Kershaw, um, are back. The doctors nod gravely at Cody Bellinger’s bat, telling her sobbing wife that she might never swing the same again. And yet, the Dodgers are on track to win 113 games, which, if they succeed, would be the fourth-most wins in MLB history. More impressively, their plus-264 mileage differential allows them to keep up with the times. Pythagorean notation out of 0.725 – for comparison, the team is gaining 0.650 once or twice a decade. So just uh, another historically great season for Dave Roberts and his merry goers.
2. Houston Astros (78-45)
Many people born in the mid-1980s — that micro-generation that not so long ago drank vodka from plastic bottles and stuffed the MGMT line about fast life and death young — are now waking up experiencing the ravages of aging for the first time. (I’m speaking in general terms here; if anyone asks, I didn’t pull a muscle in my neck while yawning last weekend.)
So, we salute Justin Verlander who, despite being born in 1983 and having a borrowed ulnar ligament, is likely on his way to his third Cy Young award. Not only is his baseline as good as ever — a 15-3 record, 1.95 ERA, K/BB ratio of 5.52 — he also excels despite only knocking out 25 percent of his opponents, which is his highest. the lowest for the entire season since 2015. that’s on the back of a reduction in the home runs that have plagued him over the last two full seasons (12 of 143 innings this year, compared to an average of 32 of 218 innings a year in 2018-19). This is how you make a successful transition into middle age. Plus stretching and drinking plenty of water.
3. New York Mets (79-45)
On Sunday, the Mets gave 24-year-old right-hander Jose Butto his major league debut. He allowed three tries before he recorded a strikeout, but New York came back to equalize not once, but three times before ultimately taking the win. This is the Mets season in miniature – always able to climb out of the hole. Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom hurt? No problem. Did the Atlanta Braves snap a 14-game and 8-game winning streak to become the fourth-highest streak in all of MLB? Metz managed to drive them away just as you would drive a curious cat away from your dinner; they have been in first place every day but one this season and have had a lead of at least three games a month.
Mets looking… tenacious? Happy? Do you have above average vibes? Fortified against disaster by the immense financial power of their owner? Perhaps a little of everything.
4. Atlanta Braves (76-48)
The big news for Atlanta over the past month has been a double renewal for two young players: 10 years, $212 million for Austin Riley; eight years, $72 million plus two team options for Michael Harris II. Add to that the renewals of Matt Olson, Ozzy Albis and Ronald Acuna Jr. and you have more than half of your ideal starting lineup through 2026. And they did this without guaranteeing anyone an annual salary above $22 million, or risking a substantial payout for any player’s decline phase.
Albis and Acuña signed on for incredibly low salaries given their talent. Olson, Harris and Riley signed for decent money (although current MLB rules keep young players understated for so long that there’s a middle ground where a young player can sign an extension that secures the bag, so to speak, but still offers substantial savings for the team ). The question is what does the team do with these savings; The Braves, at least for now, are reinvesting in the MLB roster. And if you can develop talent like the Braves have over the past few years and are willing to work in the top 10, it really isn’t that hard to get into the playoffs most of the time.
5. New York Yankees (75-48)
Just five or six weeks ago, we were talking about the Yankees chasing records: Aaron Judge became the first non-steroid era player in 60+ years to hit 60 home runs in a season, the Yankees won 110 games or more. And, of course, it looks like the team is likely to forge a new historical trail. Playing 6-14 in August, the Yankees are close to becoming the first team in the wildcard era to make the playoffs despite going a full month (more than 20 games) of baseball below .300. . Going into the All-Star break, the Yankees were 64-28, close to the 11th-highest winning percentage of all time and just a hair’s breadth behind the 114-win Yankees in 1998. They’ve been 11–20 since then. almost the same winning percentage as in this year’s Washington Nationals. This is despite Judge going crazy after the break: .324/.473/.765 in 132 plate appearances.
Great teams have crashes — the 2017 Dodgers famously went 1-16 in a 104-win season to take them to Game 7 of the World Series — so this may not be the ultimate spin. And the good news for the Yankees is that it’s happening under very low pressure, with everyone keeping their cool about bad rebounds and losing streaks.
6. St. Louis Cardinals (70-51)
I thought about removing the Yankees from the top five entirely just for fun, but there really is a big difference in quality between them and the next group of teams on this list.
Of the second-tier contenders — teams that will compete for two Central Division titles and various wildcard spots — the Cardinals have by far the best record, best passing margin, and best results in a while. They have gone 16-3 since the deadline. The two starting pitchers that St. Louis picked up (Jordan Montgomery and Jose Quintana) are 4-0 combined with a 1.98 ERA and 33 strikeouts in seven starts. And the Brewers have suddenly gone in the other direction, 7-11 since the deadline, which leaves St. Louis with a five-game margin in both divisions and, if things go wrong, in an NL wildcard race. You Can knock out such an advantage in 40-plus games, but this does not happen often. The consensus among various playoff odds systems seems to agree that the Cardinals are safe: FanGraphs. baseball avenueand ESPN give St. Louis a 91 to 95 percent chance of making it to October.
7. Toronto Blue Jays (65-55)
Every Blue Jays forward who has played at least 100 games this year (11 in total) has a wRC+ of at least 92. There are six players in Toronto with a wRC+ of at least 119 in 390 games or more. In addition, the team has three starting players with ERAs below 3.00 in at least 16 starts, as well as Mitch White, who has performed well in three starts since practically making his way across the border from Los Angeles at the deadline. Wildcard contenders in both leagues are intriguing in their own way, but Toronto just doesn’t have many overt question marks. I expect this team to go into the postseason and create problems when they get there.
8. Philadelphia Phillies (67-55)
Last weekend, the Phillies lost three of four games at home to the Mets, who closed the book oddly early in their season streak with their biggest rival. (I use the term “biggest rival” on purpose, as the Phillies, Braves, Nuts, and Mets are engaged in a decades-long multilateral and deeply interdependent feud, whose factions rearrange themselves with little or no warning. It’s like Europe in 1800. But good riddance is the Fils are 5-14 against the Mets and 62-41 against everyone else this season, so I’m guessing the plan here is to play as a team with 97 wins, try to beat the Padres before no. 5 seeds and hope someone else knocks out the Mets in the Division Series.
This is an opportunity. The top three Phillies players (Zach Wheeler, Aaron Nola, Ranger Suarez) pair well with anyone. (Except, I think, the Mets.) And as well as they’ve played this summer, the Phillies just brought back Jean Segura after a two-month absence earlier this month, and Bryce Harper is set to return in the next two weeks.
9. Tampa Bay Rays (66-55)
In the Midseason Power Rankings, I joked about Harold Ramirez and Isaac Paredes ruining some team’s season while America broke the Baseball-Reference servers trying to figure out who the hell these guys are. Turns out Tampa Bay is producing guys at an astonishing rate; Jeffrey Springs, a hitherto unremarkable 29-year-old southpaw, put in a stellar out-of-rotation performance. “Starter” may be something of a relative term for the Rays, but since June 1, Springs has a 3.05 ERA in 11 starts, of which he’s pitched five-plus innings eight times. He is in the 97th percentile in the frequency of chasing an opponent. And he has a name that lends itself to fun nicknames like “Hot”, “Hope” and “Defeat Framber Valdez in ALCS Game 4”.
10. Seattle Mariners (66-56)
The last time the Seattle Mariners made the playoffs was September 3, 2001. It’s the longest drought in North America’s big four sports leagues – so long ago that America isn’t tired of Nickelback yet. Between Luis Castillo’s trade, Julio Rodriguez’s breakthrough, and a 14-game winning streak, it looks like Seattle will finally be back in the playoffs this year. Although after such a long wait, the Mariners and their fans would have settled for a playoff berth, even if it didn’t feel like a team of destiny.
11. San Diego Padres (68-56)
It is still a very good team that just traded for Juan Soto but now the main storylines are around the club how angry the rest of the team was at Fernando Tatis Jr. He was a ghost looming over the NL pennant race until he imposed a PED suspension on top of a careless off-field injury…