I never in a million years thought that I would ever utter these words. I feel bad for the New York Yankees.
In last week's MLB Power Rankings, I had the Yankees ranked second and they did nothing this week to fall from grace. In fact, they swept Oakland and took three of four from Seattle. With the rough week Boston had after holding down first place last week, the Yankees should be primed to take over at the top.
The Chicago White Sox are just playing magnificent baseball right now, and they didn't lose at all last week, sweeping both the Angels and the Royals. The White Sox have won nine of their last 10 games and 25 of their last 30. There isn't a team on the planet hotter than the South Side Sox, and they leapfrogged the Yankees to take the top spot.
Colorado and Tampa Bay made huge jumps this week; the Rays swept the Red Sox and won six of seven, and the Rockies swept St. Louis and have won eight of their last 10 games. But the Atlanta Braves remain the class of the National League.
- 1. White Sox | Record: 49-38 | Previous Week: 3
On June 8, the White Sox were 24-33 and in third place in the AL Central, trailing the Twins by 9 1/2 games. Since then, they've gone 25-5, with one winning streak of 11 games and an ongoing streak of eight wins in a row. Now, shockingly, they enter the All Star break with a 1/2-game lead over the Detroit Tigers in the division. It's crazy what you can do in five weeks. - Tom Fornelli
- 2. Yankees | Record: 56-32 | Previous Week: 2
The Yankees seem to be doing just fine without Cliff Lee. They won six of seven on their last West Coast swing of the season and take their break with the best record in baseball. Lee would have been gilding the lily, something the Yankees are fond of doing, and it's probably better for baseball that he wound up in Texas instead of the Bronx. If nothing else, it sets up a helluva playoff series come October. - Josh Alper
- 3. Braves | Record: 52-36 | Previous Week: 4
The Braves were rewarded for a great first half by having six players named as All-Stars -- though only four will play since Billy Wagner declined an invite and Jason Heyward doesn't want to risk an injury to his thumb. Their 52 wins in the first half are tops in the National League and they get to play eight more games at home -- where they have a .750 winning percentage -- than on the road in the second half.
- 4. Rockies | Record: 49-39 | Previous Week: 11
Things are going good for the Rockies lately. Ubaldo Jimenez is the NL's All-Star starter, Miguel Olivo has been a force with his bat and Carlos Gonzalez has been a beast of a hitter since last year's All-Star break, going 164-for-519 (.316) with 29 home runs, 84 RBI and 23 stolen bases. The Rockies may be sitting tied for second place in the division, but there aren't too many teams hotter than them right now.
- 5. Rays | Record: 54-34 | Previous Week: 14
A strong week for the Rays ended with a worry as Jeff Niemann left after just five innings on Sunday with a back issue. That's a shame because it was a seven-game stretch that saw the Rays reestablish their claim to contender status after a longish period of scuffling that dropped them to third place. Carl Crawford's been sizzling since July started and is the first player since Eric Davis in 1987 with at least 50 RBI and 30 steals at the All-Star break. - Josh Alper
- 6. Tigers | Record: 48-38 | Previous Week: 13
Miguel Cabrera hits the break with the Triple Crown within his grasp, but you have to wonder how the Tigers feel about him participating in the Home Run Derby -- also known as the Competition Where Strong Second Halves Go To Die. It'll be interesting to see if Miggy can keep up the pace through the rest of the summer. - Tom Fornelli
- 7. Red Sox | Record: 51-37 | Previous Week: 1
What better way to finish a first half fit for an HMO than with an injury? Adrian Beltre pulled up while running out a grounder, leaving his All-Star Game status in question and leaving the Red Sox with another reason to curse the baseball gods. That they've hung as close as they have with so many injury problems is impressive, and if they can pull it off for the whole season it will be remarkable. - Josh Alper
- 8. Padres | Record: 51-37 | Previous Week: 7
You win a free trip to the World Series if you predicted the Padres would lead their division entering the All-Star break. Sunday's comeback win over the Rockies, which felt like three victories in one, kept San Diego alone atop the West and with the NL's second-best record. Spoilsports complain that the Padres now must hold onto Adrian Gonzalez and Heath Bell, rather than trade them this month for a bundle of young talent. Tell that to Padres fans (all 17 of them) who are enjoying the ride. Besides, with a .350 batting average and 12 home runs away from Petco Park, Gonzalez isn't losing much trade value for the offseason ahead. -- Tom Krasovic
- 9. Phillies | Record: 47-40 | Previous Week: 19
Has a team doctor ever asked for a raise during the season or complained of overuse himself? The Phillies have been decimated by injuries of late, but will get some much-needed good news shortly after the All-Star break. Chad Durbin will be back from his hamstring injury, and with Brad Lidge and J.C. Romero healthy, it will be the first time all season that their full bullpen has pitched at the same time.
- 10. Mets | Record: 48-40 | Previous Week: 6
The Mets won 48 games in the first half and sit just four behind the first-place Braves. With the injury woes that hit New York, this is an amazin' feat. When second-half play begins Thursday the Mets will get a jolt to their lineup as Carlos Beltran returns after missing the season to date with a knee injury. Originally Angel Pagan was thought to be a fill-in, but he's staying put because he's been hitting well. Who'll be the odd man out in the outfield?
- 11. Rangers | Record: 50-38 | Previous Week: 8
The Rangers just pulled off one of the biggest deals of the year, getting Cliff Lee from the Mariners for Justin Smoak. The biggest winner in the whole deal may be Chris Davis, who made his first start at first base since he was sent to Triple-A Oklahoma City. While in the minors, Davis his .354 with 10 home runs and 56 RBI.
- 12. Reds | Record: 49-41 | Previous Week: 9
First place, leading the National League in runs scored and a run differential that matches their 49-41 record. That's a pretty good first half for a team that was considered to be a darkhorse contender at best in the National League Central in 2010. The big second-half question: can the pitching staff find balance between the old guys (Harang, Arroyo) and the young guys (Leake, Wood, Cueto), and keep all of them in the pennant race? - Pat Lackey
- 13. Cardinals | Record: 47-41 | Previous Week: 12
It's worth noting that the Cardinals haven't actually played that poorly this year. Their run differential gives them a Pythagorean record of 51-37, which would have them two games up on the Reds instead of a game back. Their pitching has been excellent this year, and the offense seems due to give them some more runs as they're sixth in on-base percentage and slugging percentage, but only 10th in runs scored. Second place at the break isn't where they want to be, but this is no time for panic in St. Louis. - Pat Lackey
- 14. Dodgers | Record: 49-39 | Previous Week: 10
This week, Dodgers rookie pitcher John Ely attempted to rebound from the shortest start in his career. He failed miserably, not making it out of the third inning and setting a new low for the shortest start of his career. Ely will not be pulled from the rotation, but the All-Star break will seem like an eternity to a young man who is trying to right the ship.
- 15. Brewers | Record: 40-49 | Previous Week: 16
The Brew Crew finally found the cure that assists most of the league -- a three-game set with the Pirates. That sweep has them coming into the All-Star break at 40-49 and 8 1/2 games behind the Reds. That's still a huge deficit to make up in the second half, especially if Yovani Gallardo misses any significant time with his oblique injury. - Pat Lackey
- 16. Angels | Record: 47-44 | Previous Week: 5
For the first time since 2006, the Scioscias find themselves out of first place at the All-Star break. Torii Hunter, their center fielder and clubhouse spokesman, says Angels players are "coasting." As in not playing hard enough. The Brandon Wood experiment at third base has yielded a .171 batting average. Even if the Rangers wilt later this summer, the Angels will need to play better than they have of late to win a fourth consecutive West title. They've lost three consecutive series for the first time since 2007. - Tom Krasovic
- 17. Giants | Record: 47-41 | Previous Week: 24
General Manager Brian Sabean called the first-half performance from the San Francisco pitching staff, "a disappointment". He went on to say they pitched into too many deep counts, which equated to too many long innings, which further led to the defense being stranded on the field for too long. Those are harsh words for a staff that ranked third in the first half with a 3.50 team ERA.
- 18. Twins | Record: 46-42 | Previous Week: 17
Maybe the Twins should move back indoors, because it appears they're wilting in the summer heat of Minnesota. Since June 1 the Twins are 15-22 and have fallen back to third place. They can only hope Justin Morneau's concussion doesn't keep him out of the lineup any longer because removing the biggest bat you have isn't generally the best way to get things turned around. - Tom Fornelli
- 19. Blue Jays | Record: 44-45 | Previous Week: 18
Fingers in Ontario are crossed for a second-half breakout for Aaron Hill and Adam Lind. Expected to be the engines for the Jays' offense this season, Hill and Lind haven't hit much at all. It's a moot point now, but one has to wonder whether the Jays might be in the thick of the AL East race if they had produced. Now it is about staying at .500, and Hill and Lind will need to help make that happen. - Josh Alper
- 20. Royals | Record: 39-49 | Previous Week: 20
As if things weren't going bad enough for the Royals this season, Zack Greinke had to be scratched from his start against the White Sox on Sunday afternoon. The team is calling it precautionary, but shoulder discomfort is never a good thing for a pitcher. It often leads to bigger problems -- just ask Chicago's Jake Peavy. - Tom Fornelli
- 21. Marlins | Record: 42-46 | Previous Week: 21
When reflecting on his first-half performance, Hanley Ramirez said that he's played like -- well, I'm not going to go there, but the expletive is found on the ground in stables all over the country, and it stinks. His manager Edwin Rodriguez called Ramirez out, saying the team needed more offense from him. The second half could be a reemergence for the shortstop, or a downward spiral if Ramirez takes offense to his new boss' comments.
- 22. Nationals | Record: 39-50 | Previous Week: 28
The Nationals don't stand much of a chance to climb out of the NL East cellar or compete for the wild card. However, they still will only be reluctant sellers at the trade deadline when it comes to first baseman Adam Dunn and outfielder Josh Willingham. General Manager Mike Rizzo said that he would rather extend both players and that it would take "an extraordinary deal to trade him [Dunn]."
- 23. Orioles | Record: 29-59 | Previous Week: 29
Juan Samuel might not be managing the Orioles when they play their next game, so it was nice to see the team send him out on a high note. The O's swept a four-game set from the Rangers in Texas, smacking around Cliff Lee in the process and lifting Samuel's winning percentage above .400 as the interim skipper. Small legacy, to be sure, but still better than Sam Perlozzo's. - Josh Alper
- 24. Astros | Record: 36-53 | Previous Week: 25
Since June 1, the Astros are 19-19. So will they still go forward with their plan to jettison Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman in a full-on rebuild, or will they keep the duo and make a full-out run for third place? The 'Stros system certainly could use an infusion of young talent, but GM Ed Wade has been slow to push the rebuild button in the past. - Pat Lackey
- 25. A's | Record: 43-46 | Previous Week: 15
Manager Bob Geren has a question mark at the end of his rotation after the All-Star Break. Gio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill, Vin Mazzaro, Ben Sheets will go in order and then a decision will have to be made. Dallas Braden will likely be the fifth starter, but Brett Anderson could take Braden's spot if he's healthy.
- 26. Cubs | Record: 39-50 | Previous Week: 27
If the Cubs could only flip their record against the Pirates around this year, they'd be right in the thick of the division. Somehow, the Cubs have managed to go 3-9 against the bottom-dwelling Buccos, who are just 8-22 against the rest of the division. If they were 9-3, they'd be 45-44, right behind the Cardinals and 3 1/2 games behind the Reds. Instead, they're buried behind the Brewers, 9 1/2 games out and needing a miracle to get back into contention. - Pat Lackey
- 27. Indians | Record: 34-54 | Previous Week: 23
We may only be at the so-called "halfway point" of the season, but it's already pretty clear that the Indians have no interest in finishing out the schedule. They stumbled into the break losing seven of nine, and are currently on pace to finish the season 62-100. - Tom Fornelli
- 28. Mariners | Record: 35-53 | Previous Week: 22
King Felix threw 126 pitches on Saturday night and won't be added to the American League All-Star team as a reserve. He will, however, be looking to add some hardware to his shelf in the second half. He only has seven wins, but his ERA of 2.88 is strong. Any pitcher with 131 strikeouts and 42 walks has some chance with Cy Young voters.
- 29. Diamondbacks | Record: 34-55 | Previous Week: 26
Are you a glass half-empty or half-full kind of baseball fan? Arizona sits in the basement of the division, 17 1/2 games out of first place. It couldn't get any worse -- or could it? Manager Kirk Gibson wants more consistency in the second half, which makes me wonder what he's been watching all year. This team has been consistently bad from day one.
- 30. Pirates | Record: 30-58 | Previous Week: 30
The Pirates are 0-6 against the Astros, 11-38 on the road, and 9-27 since June began. On the bright side, Lastings Milledge has a .900-plus OPS since June 1, and, after hitting just one home run all season, hit two against the Brewers this past weekend. Young slugger Pedro Alvarez is starting to come around, too. And hey, the second half can't be much worse than their 30-58 record at the break. Right? - Pat Lackey