This is the time of year when contenders start to pull away from the pretenders. The trade deadline is TOMORROW, and there should be a lot of frantic activity in the next 24 hours that will change the standings. In turn, our rankings will look completely different in a week.
That being said, teams like the New York Mets are falling fast after the All-Star Break, while their polar opposites rise to the Wild Card lead in Oakland. Speaking of the A’s, they are one of our “Stock Up” teams. Look for the up or down arrow next to six teams – teams you should buy into and take seriously versus three teams you need to start worrying about.
You know what they say – better late than never. So here is the official Three Up, Three Down MLB Power Rankings:
30. Houston Astros (35-68, 1-9 in last 10)
Astros’ GM Jeff Lunhow’s wish list: Trade Carlos Lee. Check! Trade J.A. Happ. Check! Trade Brandon Lyon. Check! Brett Myers, Wandy Rodriguez, and Chris Johnson. Check! Check! And Check! You get the point. This is why the Astros can’t have nice things.
29. Colorado Rockies (37-63, 2-8)
The Rockies are good for one insane, late-season run every year. Unfortunately for 2012, they could win out and still miss the Wild Card by double digits. How long will Michael Cuddyer be wearing purple and black?
K.C. played me like a fool this winter – I refused to take heed in an inexperienced, well below average rotation and fell in love with the big bats in the lineup. “No Jeremy,” they said. “We won’t take the second A.L. Wild Card. You idiot.”
27. Chicago Cubs (42-58, 5-5)
Raise your hand if you are surprised! Even the most loyal Cub fan knew this would be a long season. They seem headed in the right direction, it will just take a few years. As if 104 of them isn’t enough.
26. Milwaukee Brewers (45-56, 1-9)
Proof positive that Prince Fielder would be, will be and IS missed in Milwaukee. With a paper-thin bullpen and nobody not named Braun that scares an opposing pitcher, the Brew Crew are bad and getting worse.
25. Minnesota Twins (43-58, 5-5)
I think the front office of the Twins is still laughing at 29 other GMs for missing out on Josh Willingham. That being said, this club is a lot of pitching away from returning to the top of their division.
24. San Diego Padres (43-60, 5-5)
Huston Street locked up for two years. Carlos Quentin extended for three. Tons of young, talented players under team control. Johnny Cueto turning things around. Well done, Padres. Well done. Just not enough. Not yet, at least.
23. Philadelphia Phillies (45-57, 4-6)
Injuries aside, how does a club with the best rotation in baseball fall from grace so quickly? Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay have not been themselves this year, but I have to admit it’s nice seeing a different name atop this division for once.
I have one piece of advice for Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik: DON’T TRADE KING FELIX. I know his stock is high and the M’s could use some more offense. But relying on three top prospects to hold down the future rotation? Not smart.
21. Miami Marlins (47-54, 3-7)
Established closer: $27 million. Left-handed starter: $56 million. New shortstop: $106 million. Idiot manager leading an exceptionally talented team into the abyss? Priceless. Wait…it doesn’t work that way. Fire sale time again in Miami!
20. New York Mets (49-53, 2-8)
The Metropolitans just can’t win post -All-Star Break. This is the curse that has plagued them since 2010. Add another quality arm, re-work the bullpen and get one more good bat. That’s all. Okay, that’s a lot. But something must change.
19. Boston Red Sox (51-51, 4-6)
The Sox are still hanging around somehow, despite any semblance of a starting rotation and a very slow start from Adrian Gonzalez. With Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury back in the fold, they have a chance to make a late run.
18. Toronto Blue Jays (51-50, 6-4)
Toronto, a.k.a. TommyJohn-to, is where starting pitchers’ arms go to die. It seems like the entire rotation has hit the shelf this year, leaving Edwin Encarnacion and Joey Bats to shoulder the load. They are headed in the right direction; just need to stay healthy.
The Tribe had such a promising start to the season (again), but much like the Mets, just crashed and burned around the All-Star Break. They aren’t completely out of it, but with Ubaldo Jimenez and Derek Lowe as two of your star pitchers…well…
Shhh…don’t tell anyone. But the D’Backs are only 4.5 games back in the West. That is absolutely terrifying, knowing the defending division champs are lurking that close and they haven’t even hit full stride yet. Can L.A. and S.F. fend them off?
15. Baltimore Orioles (53-49, 5-5)
Oh, the O’s. The little engine that could, still can, and just might make the playoffs. Buck Showalter has done an incredible job getting the most out of this lineup, which really doesn’t have any stars besides Adam Jones.
14. Tampa Bay Rays (53-49, 6-4)
The original little engine is the Rays, who are at it again. They aren’t holding down a playoff spot right now, but aren’t far out. And they are still in the market for a bat to help that offense. I, for one, have learned to never count them out.
13. St. Louis Cardinals (54-48, 7-3)
I thought I’d never feel bad for the defending champs after all the glory last October. But no matter how well they play, the Reds and Pirates just…won’t…lose. Like the Rays though, this team is too good to quit on.
12. Detroit Tigers (54-48, 6-4)
Wait, did you see that flash of light? It was the Tigers finally holding first place! And just like that, the White Sox pulled the rug right out from under them. Still, Detroit is a stronger team than last year and should make the playoffs.
11. Chicago White Sox (55-46, 5-5)
Speak of the devil – the Sox have really performed well under first-year manager Robin Ventura (isn’t it nice that we don’t have to associate White Sox post games with Ozzie anymore?). I picked them to finish last in the Central back in March. OOPS.
10. Los Angeles Angels (55-47, 5-5)
Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson came in to solidify a slowly declining team with huge off-season contracts. They have performed well, but Mark Trumbo and Rookie of the Year/MVP double threat Mike Trout have stolen the show.
9. San Francisco Giants (55-46, 4-6)
I’ll try to remain impartial here. The Giants continue to get ridiculous production from Melky Cabrera and Buster Posey and good starting pitching from guys not named Tim. But with Sandoval injured and Pagan struggling, they need to add another bat because…
8. Los Angeles Dodgers (56-47, 7-3)
…the rival Dodgers just came into town and did WORK in three games. A road sweep to move back into a virtual first-place division tie capped off a 7-3 road trip. And yes…Hanley Ramirez is good. And yes, the trade was smart. Don’t let anyone make you think otherwise.
Raise your hand if you thought the A’s would be leading the Wild Card on July 30th of the 2012 season! DON’T LIE AND PUT YOUR HAND DOWN RIGHT NOW. Billy Beane’s team has become the best story in baseball, and show no signs of slowing down.
6. Pittsburgh Pirates (58-43, 7-3)
If the season ended right now, Andrew McCutchen is likely your National League MVP. The guy has been playing out of his mind in Pittsburgh (and everywhere else for that matter) and with 23 more wins, the Bucs will finally reach a .500 season!
5. Atlanta Braves (57-44, 7-3)
The Atlanta scouting department and front office look like absolute geniuses after signing Ben Sheets mid-season. He’s been much better than the other mid-season pick up (Roy Oswalt) and might be just what they needed to solidify the rotation.
When Pitchers Injure Everything. How to Trade for Any Player Anywhere. Where Lightning Strikes Thrice. Just some titles I’m brainstorming to describe the recent woes of the Rangers. When Ham-ilton Goes Bad. Okay, that one sucked. Sorry.
3. New York Yankees (60-41, 3-7)
The Yankees have absolutely nothing to worry about in the AL East. The division is won. But with A-Rod injured, C.C. Sabathia struggling and being swept in a four-game set by the mighty A’s? The Bronx should be a little worried in October.
2. Washington Nationals (61-40, 8-2)
I picked them to win the division, and they are coming through for me right now. This team is way too much fun to watch – from Bryce Harper and other young sluggers on offense, to Stephen Strasburg and the electric pitching staff. Can’t…help…rooting…for…the Nats!
1. Cincinnati Reds (61-40, 10-0)
Remember how the Cardinals couldn’t catch up in the Central? That’s because the Reds said, “No Votto? No problem!” over the past couple weeks. They have literally been unbeatable. They are a scary, scary postseason team.
*Records current as play began on Monday, July 30th, 2012*
Do you agree with the rankings? Disagree? Want to punch us in the balls? Comment below to let us know how you really feel! And while you’re at it, follow us on Twitter @3u3d and LIKE Three Up, Three Down on Facebook.
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)