Thursday, June 30, 2016

MLB Power Ranking: End of June 2016

In the first Power Rankings of the season back at the end of April, a surprising Philadelphia Phillies ball club was sitting in the #9 position. 
The club would continue to perform well over the next couple of weeks, leading to speculation that perhaps this would be a miracle season.
That miracle has disappeared, and the Fightin’ Phils are nowhere to be found as the team plummets towards the bottom of the MLB standings for a second consecutive season.
How long will it be until we are discussing the Phillies again as a legitimate contender, which is what you would have to consider every single team that you will find in the current TBOH Power Rankings of the Top 10 teams in Major League Baseball?
As of this ranking, we are almost exactly at the halfway point of the 2016 regular season. Three months are in the books, and the ‘Dog Days of Summer’ are now upon us. It will all lead up to a dramatic final month of September, and the Divisional and Wildcard playoff races.
Another highlight is change. Half the teams from my Memorial Day Top 10 have dropped off the list, though most are still close and were considered. 
The five new teams will have to fight to remain on the list, because any slippage and someone will be driving into their spot by the next time we check back in two weeks.
If your favorite ball club did not make this current TBOH Power Ranking, well, they may yet have a chance. 
But they had best get going, because the clubs who are on here have found a way to play and win consistently enough for a long enough stretch of the season to demonstrate that they are for real.
On the morning of June 30th, there are six teams within three games in the AL Wildcard race, and four teams within four games in the NL Wildcard race. 
All of those clubs have to believe they at least have a fighting chance at the postseason if they can make the right moves and/or get hot.
The 10-6 spots are presented in a countdown capsule format
just below. Click through the slideshow using the links at the bottom of each entry to view the teams coming at the 5th through the top spots.
One final note before we begin the countdown. Voting ends today for the starters in the MLB All-Star Game, so stop by and vote before 11:59pm on Thursday night, June 30th.

Here are the teams in my 10-6 slots at the end of June 2016:


10. MIAMI MARLINS: the 41-37 Fish have rolled into 2nd place in the NL East, 5.5 back of the division lead but in charge of the 2nd NL Wildcard berth. They are also becoming more consistent winners, having gone 9-6 since the last time they were just a game over .500 more than two weeks ago. However, they were knocked down a peg by the Detroit Tigers, who swept them in a two game Interleague series just concluded. I still put the Marlins on the list, and not the Tigers. We’ll see if that was a mistake as we move forward. The outfield trio of Giancarlo StantonMarcell Ozuna, and Christian Yelich, all 26 and under, is one of the most exciting young groups in the game today. 1st baseman Justin Bour and 2nd baseman Derek Dietrich are proving they are for real as well. Jose Fernandez is back firing bullets as one of the best starting pitchers in the game, and closer A.J. Ramos has been lights-out.
9. TORONTO BLUE JAYS: the Jays were 9th on the Memorial Day TBOH Power Ranking, and remain in that spot. At 43-37 they are in 2nd place in the AL East, tied with the Boston Red Sox, but I still love their offensive attack more than that of their division rivals to the east, though the injury to Jose Bautista hurts, both literally and figuratively. Edwin EncarnacionJosh Donaldson, and Michael Saunders are still a daunting trio. If Troy Tulowitzki can get himself untracked, and they find another starting pitcher, they may take off up this list over the summer.
8. HOUSTON ASTROS: the ‘Stros, who won the AL Wildcard Game a year ago and then pushed the defending world champions to the limit in last year’s ALDS have not put together the type of season that many envisioned for this young up-n-comer. They sit a full nine games out in the AL West race as of this morning. However, Houston has gotten its collective act together, pulling within a half-game of a Wildcard berth, and thus makes the TBOH list for the first time this season. Just over a month ago, on Monday, May 23rd, the Astros had an off-day, and boy did they ever need it. The club was 17-28, and their season appeared to be over before it even began. Since then, Houston has rattled off an impressive 25 wins over their last 34 games, and now holds a 42-37 mark.
7. KANSAS CITY ROYALS: the Royals are the defending World Series champions, the two-time defending American League Pennant winners, and are that team who came back to bump off Houston in last year’s ALDS. They also face the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park in a weekend series beginning on Friday night. For nearly a month, from April 16th through May 10th, the champs struggled mightily. After starting the season a hot 8-2, they lost 15 of their next 22 games. However, the Royals straightened their crowns and have won 11 of 17 to move within a half-game of an AL Wildcard berth. They had lost All-Star outfielder Alex Gordon for a lengthy absence due to injury, and now just as he returns, they just lost All-Star outfielderLorenzo Cain to another injury.
6. SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS: the Giants were in the #5 spot on the Memorial Day ranking, and they continue to lead the NL West by a half-dozen games with a 49-31 record. However, they have stumbled to lose three straight and four of their last five, with the only victory in that stretch as that walkoff win over the Phillies last Sunday. The Phils, one of baseball’s worst teams for a month at that point, very nearly went into the Bay area and swept the hosts. Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cuetoremain one of the best 1-2 starting pitching punches in the game, and Buster Poseyand Brandon Belt lead a veteran lineup. This should just be a temporary stumble, barring any major injuries.
READ ORIGINAL article at That Ball's Outta Here for full story.

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