The American League’s Midseason Power Rankings
Baseball just hit the midway point of the schedule, with the All-Star Game right around the corner and the trade deadline to follow shortly after. The halfway point of the season is a big checkpoint for a lot of teams. If you’re a true contender, it becomes clear. Following up our Memorial Day power rankings, we look at where things stand in the American League with half of the season remaining. These are our American League midseason power rankings.
15. Oakland A’s
It should come as no shock that the Oakland A’s are in last place in the American League power rankings. The good news for Billy Beane and company is that there are a few tradeable players — from starter Sonny Gray to second baseman Jed Lowrie and reliever Ryan Madson — on the roster who could bring back some solid prospects at the trade deadline. From there, the A’s will ride out the season and battle for one of the top picks in next June’s draft.
14. Chicago White Sox
The Chicago White Sox bought in on a full rebuild last offseason, dealing away their ace in left-hander Chris Sale. But it’s been a good first season of the rebuild, as the Sox will likely land a top-10 draft pick next season. They also have plenty of solid trade candidates to stockpile prospects at the trade deadline. Jose Quintana, Todd Frazier, David Robertson, and Derek Holland should all draw varying levels of interest. Add in the big breakout from outfielder Avisail Garcia and this has been an excellent year for Chicago.
13. Detroit Tigers
On the flip side, the Detroit Tigers are right about where the White Sox rank in the standings. But they haven’t committed to a losing season. There is still plenty of talent on the roster, so we won’t put it past the Tigers to still make a run at a playoff spot this season. This will require better performances from their star players and, in particular, their pitching. Only 24-year-old starter Michael Fulmer is having a solid season in the rotation, with Matt Boyd, Justin Verlander, and Jordan Zimmermann disappointing at midseason.
12. Toronto Blue Jays
The Toronto Blue Jays got off to an ugly start this season, thanks to some early slumps and a ton of injuries. And it has been an uphill battle ever since. Aaron Sanchez, the American League leader in ERA from 2016, has made just five starts this season. Left-hander Francisco Liriano has been awful with a 5.66 ERA while the normally reliable Marco Estrada has had a terrible June. But pitching isn’t even their biggest problem; the Blue Jays rank dead last in the American League in runs scored this season.
11. Texas Rangers
The good news for the Texas Rangers: Their offense has been solid this season, with eight players having hit 11 or more home runs and ranking fourth as a team in runs scored in the American League. The bad news? Cole Hamels missed a bunch of time to injury, and the rest of the pitching staff outside of Yu Darvish has been unreliable at best. The Rangers find themselves under .500 and way out of the AL West race, leaving them to ponder trading Darvish at the trade deadline.
10. Baltimore Orioles
The Baltimore Orioles got off to another outstanding start to the season, going 22-10 through the first 32 games. But poor pitching and a little regression to the mean has left them 18-32 since, now sitting 40-42. Injuries to first baseman Chris Davis and closer Zach Britton haven’t helped, and the starting rotation has been just awful. As a unit, Orioles starters have a 5.65 ERA so far this season. They’re still in the playoff chase, but they won’t play any postseason games if they can’t fix their pitching problems.
9. Seattle Mariners
The Seattle Mariners have gone 20-14 since their disappointing 21-29 start, which is positive progress. But the bad news for the M’s is that they’re still nowhere close to the Houston Astros, who have absolutely run away with the AL West. Seattle is battling with about seven other teams for one of the two American League wild-card spots. If their starting rotation can stay healthy in the second half — something they did not do in the first half –they’ll have as good a chance as anyone to grab one of those wild-card spots.
8. Los Angeles Angels
Thanks to a red-hot start to the year by superstar center fielder Mike Trout, the Los Angeles Angels surprised some people by sticking around .500. But on May 28, when the Angels were 26-27, Trout sustained a torn ligament in his thumb, which will keep him out until around the All-Star break. The biggest surprise? The Angels have gone 17-17 without their star, sticking right around the .500 mark and staying in the wild-card race in the American League. With Trout back soon, the Angels could be a big-time second-half darkhorse.
7. Kansas City Royals
Things looked bleak for the Kansas City Royals after a 10-20 start to the year, but a 32-20 stretch got them back over .500 and sitting pretty in the American League wild card — not to mention just 2.5-games behind the Cleveland Indians in the AL Central. Jason Vargas has been huge for the Royals all season with a 2.22 ERA. However, we can’t overlook starter Jason Hammel’s recent performance either. Hammel has a 3.48 ERA over his last five starts.
6. Minnesota Twins
Despite some ugly numbers from starters Kyle Gibson, Phil Hughes, and Hector Santiago, the excellent performances of Jose Berrios and Ervin Santana really helped lead the Minnesota Twins to playoff contention. That, along with Miguel Sano’s hot hitting, has the Twins over .500 at the midway point of the season. But it’s hard to determine whether it’s for real, as opponents have outscored Minnesota by 55 runs.
5. Tampa Bay Rays
The Tampa Bay Rays have performed well this season. They’re generally a very good team. Additionally, Tampa is still alive in both the wild card and the AL East division race. Their problem: the key injuries to so many players, including starting pitcher Matt Andriese, reliever Brad Boxberger, second baseman Brad Miller, and outfielders Colby Rasmus and Kevin Kiermaier. The good news? The Rays just got catcher Wilson Ramos back from the DL, and the newly acquired shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria is off to a hot start with the bat.
4. New York Yankees
Aaron Judge, the hulking outfielder for the New York Yankees, got started early and hasn’t quit yet. Judge has lit up the stat sheet, hitting .330/.449/.684 with a MLB-leading 27 home runs and 62 RBI. At this point, there’s no doubt which player leads the American League MVP race — not to mention the Rookie of the Year award. The Yankees are 44-37 and fighting for their lives in the AL East, and the majority of the credit goes to Judge.
3. Cleveland Indians
The Cleveland Indians have had a tough first half for a lot of reasons. But they get a little bit of the benefit of the doubt in the power rankings for being the reigning American League champs. Signed as free agent in the offseason, Edwin Encarnacion is hitting his stride after a tough start at the plate, while Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, and Mike Clevinger lead the way in the rotation. Andrew Miller has been as dominant as ever in the bullpen, posting a 1.49 ERA in 42 1/3 innings pitched.
2. Boston Red Sox
Expected by many to win the AL East, the Boston Red Sox started a mediocre 21-21 and watched as the New York Yankees took off in the division. Since then, Boston has overtaken New York in the standings with a 27-14 stretch. Mookie Betts is experiencing another fine season at the plate, while Chris Sale may have a major claim on the American League Cy Young award, which would be his first. The expectation here: The Red Sox will win the AL East.
1. Houston Astros
Could any other team have the No. 1 spot? The Houston Astros are on pace for 109 victories this season, which is as insane as it is telling of their performance. It would take a massive, unprecedented failure in the second half for the Astros to not win their division, which they lead by 14.5 games over the Los Angeles Angels. Missing the playoffs altogether? It’s almost impossible to fathom for the team that leads the AL in runs scored and ranks third in ERA. We look forward to what could be an epic ALCS between the Astros and Red Sox.
Statistics courtesy of ESPN and Baseball-Reference.