1. Los Angeles Dodgers: With the kind of noise the Astros’ offense has been making, most people have Houston as the number one team in baseball. The Dodgers, however, have been just as good if not better. They have the best pitching staff in baseball (in my opinion) highlighted by Clayton Kershaw and Alex Wood, two way-too-early NL Cy Young candidates, and a bullpen with possibly the best reliever in the game in Kenley Jansen. They also have one of the most potent offenses in baseball, led by breakout rookie Cody Bellinger who has been so good that he’s seemed to be an upgrade over supposed Hall-of-Famer Adrian Gonzalez. Averaging 5.17 runs per game and having a team ERA of 3.18 (ranked 1st in the MLB) makes this Dodgers team no. 1 on my power rankings list.
Deadline Moves: There’s not much this Dodgers team can improve on; they already hold the best record in baseball. If I had to pick a spot at which they could use help, I’d go with their young outfield.
2. Houston Astros: It seems as if everytime someone in the world sneezes the Astros are putting up another run on the board. That offensive star studded trio of Altuve, Springer, Correa could be a staple of the major leagues for decades to come. But what makes the Astros lineup better than any other team in the majors is their depth. They are hitting .289 as a team while averaging a staggering 5.92 runs per game.
Deadline Moves: Pitching, Pitching, Pitching. They have a solid one-two starter combination in Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers Jr. But if they could add another reliable rotation piece and perhaps a decent long reliever, that could make all the difference come playoff time.
3. Washington Nationals: The Nats could be one of the most dangerous teams in the playoffs with a starting rotation of Scherzer, Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez. They also have one of the most potent offenses in the MLB, powered by guys like Harper Zimmerman and Daniel Murphy. Look for this team to make a deep playoff run this year.
Deadline Moves: They’ve already somewhat addressed their major issue (the bullpen) by adding Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson on Sunday, but they could definitely upgrade other pieces in their bullpen. Adding Zach Britton could be a huge difference-maker down the stretch. Losing Adam Eaton for the season hurts as well, but other than adding bullpen pieces and maybe picking up some extra depth to replenish their injury-riddled outfield, all the Nats can do is hope to get healthy.
4. Arizona Diamondbacks: The D-Backs started off the season as one of the hottest teams in baseball but have run into a fair amount of injuries as the season has progressed. But with the rotation they possess in Godley, Walker, Ra y and Greinke,this team has all the potential in the world. Oh, and they have a guy named Paul Goldschmidt who can ruin a pitcher’s night with a few swings of his bat in any given game.
Deadline Moves: They could definitely use a closer, or at least a late-inning reliever if they decide to roll the dice and hope that Fernando Rodney goes on one of his seemingly random unhittable tears. Another piece they desperately need is a catcher; Chris Hermann and Jeff Mathis just aren’t cutting it. Someone like Alex Avila, who has shown the ability to get on base and hit the long ball this year, would be the perfect fit for them.
5. Boston Red Sox: A healthy rotation of Chris Sale, David Price and reigning AL Cy Young winner 1Rick Porcello is probably the best rotation in the AL. They also possess a lineup that can go off on any given night, averaging an above-average 4.8 runs per game. If Rick Porcello can turn his season around and pitch like he did last year, with Craig Kimbrel at the back end of that bullpen, this Red Sox pitching staff can stifle even the most explosive of offenses.
Deadline Moves: Boston’s Achilles heel – or bloody sock, so to speak – is their third base position, which has been a revolving door this season. Adding a guy like Todd Frazier could do wonders if he can provide flashbacks of his 2015-16 campaigns.
6. Chicago Cubs: I might have them too high for most people’s likings as they are not even in the playoff picture as of right now. But after winning three straight games coming out of the break, and given the loads of talent this team possesses, there’s no way they don’t catch the starting pitcher-less Brewers, right?
Deadline Moves: They already added a much-needed piece in Jose Quintana. If he can help right the ship and the rest of the Cubs’ starting rotation can pitch a fraction of how well they pitched last year, this could be a dangerous pitching squad. That said, adding a big bat like J.D. Martinez could be big for their quest to bolster their lackluster outfield.
7. Cleveland Indians: This team on paper actually looks better than the pennant-winning team of last season. If not for injuries, this team would probably have a record similar to that of the Astros. They have two aces in Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco, plus two shut-the-door bullpen guys in Andrew Miller and Cody Allen to go along with a very dangerous hitting lineup.
Deadline Moves: They really could use another good starting pitcher; Mike Clevinger has been decent but Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin have been absolutely abysmal this year. Adding a proven starter like a Justin Verlander could really help this team out down the road.
8. Colorado Rockies: The Rockies boast one of the most high-powered offenses out there and play in the most hitter-friendly park in the MLB. This allows for them to have the ability to outscore their opponents in a shootout on any given night. However, their pitching is .25 ERA points above the league average, which could really hurt them if they make the playoffs and have to face an ace every night.
Deadline Moves: Pretty obvious here: They need pitching. The back end of their bullpen is actually quite good; Jake McGee is having a stellar year and Greg Holland is turning back the clock to his Royals days, but as I said, their starters are atrocious. Adding a guy like Sonny Gray or Justin Verlander as starters whose names have been tossed around in trade rumors could go a long way for this team.
9. Tampa Bay Rays: This team on paper does not look like a top-10 team at all. But they have gotten it done this year with a pretty simple game plan consisting of good pitching and hitting the long ball. They might strike out a ton and hit at a below- average level, but this team’s pitching staff consistently holds teams to three runs or under while hitting just the one or two home runs they need to win games.
Deadline Moves: They could use some help with their bats for sure. Again, a guy like J.D. Martinez would fit in perfectly with the Rays (he could really fit in anywhere). I would also like to see them add some starter depth or a guy who can be big in long-relief situations.
10. New York Yankees: Aaron Judge. What else needs to be said? This Paul Bunyan-esque man has carried this Yankees team to five games over the .500 mark. They have a very dangerous hitting lineup with Gardner-Judge-Sanchez in the middle but lack really good starting pitching.
Deadline Moves: The Yankees could really use some starting pitching. Masahiro Tanaka has been subpar this year and now with Michael Pineda presumably out for the season the only above average starter they have is Severino who has had a breakout year. Again a guy like Sonny Gray and Verlander would be good fits.
11. Milwaukee Brewers: Honestly, I’m not too sure how the Brewers have done so well this season, but they just keep on winning. Guys like Travis Shaw, Domingo Santana and Eric Thames have been great, but I’m not sure the team can keep it up with the lack of pitching they possess. If their lineup just keeps outscoring opposing teams, though, who knows? I just don’t see them sticking around for the long haul and I do see the Cubs catching them. They could still compete for a wild card spot with the current team slated to take that spot – the Rockies – stumbling a bit lately.
Deadline Moves: They really only have one good starting pitcher right now in Jimmy Nelson, and I’m not convinced he’s a no. 1. If they bolster their starting rotation, maybe they can sneak into the playoffs.
12. Texas Rangers: While they can’t be considered outstanding in any specific area, they are pretty decent all around. Their bats can be dangerous at times with guys like Nomar Mazara, Adrián Beltré and Rougned Odor. They also have some pretty good starting pitching in Yu Darvish and Cole Hamels.
Deadline Moves: They could bolster their starting rotation and their bullpen; both could use some work. Adding another big bat could do wonders for their run production as well, see J.D. Martinez once again.
13. Seattle Mariners: I like the talent that this team possesses across the board; James Paxton, Ariel Miranda and King Felix form a decent trio of starters, and if they can get Drew Smyly and Hisashi Iwakuma back from injury they could be real contenders for an AL wild card spot. They have an above average hitting lineup with guys like Cruz, Cano and Segura that could really do some damage in the second half if they can stay healthy.
Deadline Moves: They could definitely use another powerful bat in their lineup, but their biggest need is bolstering that starting lineup which right now only contains a few average guys. Sonny Gray, Justin Verlander or even Ervin Santana could help this team make a playoff push.
14. Los Angeles Angels: This team doesn’t look particularly strong anywhere on paper, and that showed throughout the first half of the season, but the fact that they were able to keep their record around .500 despite Mike Trout missing a significant amount of time gives me hope for this Angels team. Again, this team doesn’t jump out at any position but does everything pretty well. Having nearly all of their starting pitchers go down with injury doesn’t help, but if they can get some of them back and healthy, don’t count out a team with Mike Trout on it.
Deadline Moves: They could honestly upgrade pretty much everywhere in their hitting lineup, but what needs real work is their starting rotation. If they want to contend (which I think they still can) then adding some solid starting pitching would go a long way.
15. Minnesota Twins: They have a pretty decent offense, led by Miguel Sano’s stellar breakout year, as well as two above-average pitchers in Berrios and Santana. But I just don’t see them going anywhere; they have some talent but not enough, in my opinion, to make a deep playoff run or contend with the Indians for the AL Central.
Deadline Moves: They could be suitors for pitching pieces, but I think it would be best for them to sell and build around their young pieces for the future. A guy like Santana could probably bring in some pretty good prospects as a lot of teams are in the market looking for another starter to add to their rotation.
16. St. Louis Cardinals: They have a pretty decent team all around, with an average starting rotation and an average hitting lineup. They just don’t really have enough talent across the board to be a really good team. They have a few young guys in Tommy Pham and Stephen Piscotty who could be incredibly good in the future, and they still have Matt Carpenter. So they have some good players, just not great ones.
Deadline Moves: Personally, I think they should sell guys like Mike Leake and Dexter Fowler in an attempt to build for the future even more, but adding an above-average player or two could give them the jolt they need to make a playoff push.
17. Kansas City Royals: The Royals are a good team. Not a great team, not a horrible team, just a good team. They have a pretty solid offensive core that could be good for years to come, but they just don’t have the pitching that used to haunt other teams. Their bullpen has been subpar and they have had only one good starting pitcher this year in Jason Vargas.
Deadline Moves: Deal Jason Vargas and get the most you can out of him – get prospects. The Royals have good young talent, and adding more could make for a very dangerous team in coming years.
18. Atlanta Braves: The Braves’ offense has actually been quite good this year despite the long period of time Freddie Freeman missed with injury. The Braves just haven’t had good pitching at all, posting a team 4.65 ERA. I’m not sure they have what it takes to make a big enough push to get their hands on a wild card spot, with the way they can put up runs, who knows?
Deadline Moves: Any and all types of pitching. From top to bottom, their pitching rotation and their bullpen can improve. Would not be surprised to see them sell guys like Kemp and Markakis in an attempt to build for their future even more. But most likely, they’ll make minimal to no moves.
19. Toronto Blue Jays: Now we’re getting into the stretch of teams that have been extremely disappointing given preseason expectations. Estrada has been unable to replicate his stellar 2016 campaign and the bullpen has been average at best. Donaldson has been hurt for the majority of the season and Jose Bautista just has not looked good. Coming in as a team that looked pretty dangerous and could compete for a wild card spot or better, this team has been a pretty big letdown.
Deadline Moves: Supposedly, teams are interested in J.A. Happ but are unwilling to trade him because he is under contract for a few more years and they think they can compete next year. I’d say sell a few veteran pieces; maybe sell high on a guy like Justin Smoak, who’s in the midst of the best year of his career, and try to build for next year while not breaking up the team’s core (Stroman, Happ, Donaldson).
20. New York Mets: They came in as one of the favorites in the NL but injuries and below average performances out of guys they thought they could get more out of have really brought this team down. Harvey, Syndergaard, Matz, Cespedes, Neil Walker, Familia, Lagares. The list just goes on and on, for the injury bug has hit the Mets hard this year. Not much you can do when you are plagued with that many crucial injuries.
Deadline Moves: Don’t. Wait it out. They have a strong core, and if they can stay healthy, they can compete next year.
21. Miami Marlins: They’ve had bright spots this year, and their hitting has been pretty stellar throughout with Ozuna, Bour, Stanton and Yelich having nice years. But it’s obvious this team is not going anywhere with the pitching they currently have.
Deadline Moves: My advice would be to sell while their players’ stocks are high and try to rebuild for the distant future with as many talented prospects as can be, Cubs/Astros style.
22. Detroit Tigers: Aside from Michael Fulmer and Justin Wilson, this team’s pitching has just been atrocious all season long with a team ERA of 4.84. Their hitters have all the talent in the world but they just haven’t seemed to click and put it all together at the same time at any point in this season despite hot stretches from guys like Justin Upton and J.D. Martinez.
Deadline Moves: They are the center of a lot of trade rumors, as they have some coveted pieces on their roster. It seems as if the core of Verlander/Miggy’s heydays are behind them, and it could be time for a fire sale and complete rebuild in Detroit.
23. Baltimore Orioles: Coming into this season, everyone thought that this was going to be one of the more feared hitting lineups in baseball and that even without great pitching, the Orioles had enough to be a potentially lethal team. Opinions have changed drastically as the Orioles have not only had the worst team ERA in the majors, but also below average production from their hitters.
Deadline Moves: Sell older veteran guys. Apparently, Britton is on the market, which should pull in a pretty good haul of prospects. Building for the future around Manny Machado would be the best bet for the Orioles now.
24. Cincinnati Reds: This team possesses a pretty potent offense consisting of guys like Schebler, Cozart, Votto and Duvall, and have shown the ability to sometimes outscore teams, but their pitching has just been too bad to overcome as they hold the second-worst team ERA in the majors (5.11). Hopefully, their young pitchers, who have mostly been beaten up this season, can use this as a learning curve and turn it around in the years to come.
Deadline Moves: Sell minimally. They have prospects that just haven’t panned out thus far, and they have a strong core. Make small moves if any.
25. Pittsburgh Pirates: With Andrew McCutchen not performing the way that he used to, and a lackluster starting rotation, this team doesn’t seem to be moving away from the lower-to-middle tier of the MLB anytime soon. They have some talent but not enough to fuel any big runs. I do like how they are giving a lot of young guys opportunities this year, though. Maybe those guys can build on that and the Pirates can move up in the MLB echelon.
Deadline Moves: Dealing McCutchen seems to be a decent idea, but the fact that he hasn’t performed well this season lessens his stock considerably; selling low on players is generally inadvisable. Gerrit Cole may be in the same boat as well. I expect minimal moves from the Pirates as they continue to groom their younger guys.
26. Oakland Athletics: This team actually has some pretty decent young talent that can be built around going forward. Ryon Healy and Sean Mannea are the pieces that really stick out to me as potential stars in the making. But they are still a long way from making any serious noise in the AL again.
Deadline Moves: They already dealt a few relievers to the Nats and got some prospects in return. Selling Khris Davis and Yonder Alonso would pull in a pretty big prospect haul, I would assume.
27. San Fransisco Giants: It is clearly not an even year. The Giants have been awful on both sides of the ball this year, with the only real bright spot being that Buster Posey is still Buster Posey. Both Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija are having incredibly disappointing 2017 campaigns and having Madison Bumgarner go on the DL for an extended period of time did not help much either.
Deadline Moves: Sell who they can and get back as many prospects as possible. Hunter Strickland has been tossed around as a bullpen guy a few teams have an interest in.
28. Chicago White Sox: After underperforming all season long, their lone bright spot has been the breakout performance of Avisail Garcia. The White Sox decided to sell their ace in Quintana and got a pretty dang good prospect haul from the other side of Chicago. With their team in shambles, it does not look like the White Sox are going to be competing anytime soon.
Deadline Moves: Already dealt Quintana, now they have to deal Todd Frazier, whom the Red Sox are reportedly really interested in. Just keep stocking up on prospects for the guys you have right now, Chicago.
29. San Diego Padres: This team is chalk full of young guys who no one really knows much about. They have the formula right; they have a ton of prospects, they just need some of those prospects to pan out. It’s been an obvious struggle for the Padres, as they have no real strong core and some pretty atrocious pitching as well.
Deadline Moves: I don’t expect much from them this deadline. They are the epitome of a team in the first step of a rebuild right now.
30. Philadelphia Phillies: This team has been the worst team in baseball for the past two years now and it doesn’t seem as if they are getting any better anytime soon. At least they are playing young guys and getting some good production out of a few of them like Aaron Nola and Aaron Altherr.
Deadline Moves: Again, a team in the rebuilding phase. Dealing Pat Neshek should probably get them some good player(s) back, as he is having one of the best years of his career and made an All-Star Team.