MLB Next: B/R’s Top 100 Prospect Rankings at the Three-Quarter Mark

The MLB non-waiver trade deadline has come and gone, and the MiLB season is rapidly winding down, so it seems like the perfect time to update the top 100 prospects list.

When we last updated these rankings, on June 23, it was more about slotting in the latest wave of June draft picks than a full-scale reshuffling of the list.

This time around, there was plenty of movement from top to bottom for a fresh take on the prospect landscape.

Let's dive right into our updated list:

  Top 100 Prospects  
1 img 2B Yoan Moncada (1)
2 img SS Amed Rosario (3)
3 img RF Eloy Jimenez (4)
4 img SS Gleyber Torres (2)
5 img 3B Rafael Devers (6)
6 img OF Ronald Acuna img(33)
7 img 3B Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (8)
8 img CF Victor Robles (5)
9 img 2B/SS Brendan Rodgers (7)
10 img RHP Michael Kopech (13)
11 img OF Kyle Tucker (14)
12 img RHP Walker Buehler img(27)
13 img 3B Nick Senzel (11)
14 img RHP Brent Honeywell (20)
15 img RHP Alex Reyes (9)
16 img RHP Hunter Greene (10)
17 img CF Lewis Brinson (12)
18 img C Francisco Mejia (30)
19 imgRHP Mitch Keller (16)
20 img 2B Ozzie Albies (17)
21 img RHP Triston McKenzie (19)
22 img OF Clint Frazier (25)
23 img LHP Kolby Allard (21)
24 img SS Willy Adames (22)
25 img CF Mickey Moniak (18)
26 img 1B/LHP Brendan McKay (26)
27 img OF Luis Robert (36)
28 img LHP MacKenzie Gore (28)
29 img OF Blake Rutherford (29)
30 img SS Bo Bichette img(57)
31 img OF Alex Verdugo img(55)
32 img RHP Mike Soroka (31)
33 img RHP Cal Quantrill
img(56)
34 img RHP Forrest Whitley img(80)
35 imgCF Austin Meadows (34)
36 img C Carson Kelly (37)
37 img RHP Dylan Cease (38)
38 img CF Leody Taveras (39)
39 img SS Nick Gordon (43)
40 img OF Juan Soto (46)
41 img RHP Franklin Perez (47)
42 img 1B Dominic Smith (44)
43 img SS/CF Royce Lewis
(41)
44 img 2B/SS Franklin Barreto (45)
45 img LHP Jay Groome img(35)
46 img RHP Chance Adams (58)
47 img RHP Kyle Wright (50)
48 img OF Jesus Sanchez img(70)
49 img RHP Sixto Sanchez img(72)
50 img SS Carter Kieboom img(67)
51 img OF Kyle Lewis (61)
52 img LHP A.J. Puk (62)
53 img OF Anthony Alford img(42)
54 img RHP Anderson Espinoza img(23)
55 img 1B Pavin Smith (52)
56 img RHP Jack Flaherty img(75)
57 img SS Kevin Maitan (49)
58 img RHP Erick Fedde (69)
59 img SS Fernando Tatis Jr. img(NR)
60 img RHP Shane Baz (68)
61 img RHP Ian Anderson img(77)
62 img 3B Ryan McMahon img(89)
63 img RHP Yadier Alvarez img(51)
64 img RHP Reynaldo Lopez img(91)
65 img 2B/SS Luis Urias img(48)
66 img IF Christian Arroyo (59)
67 img RHP Lucas Giolito
(66)
68 img OF Adam Haseley (73)
69 img LHP Stephen Gonsalves (71)
70 img RHP Alec Hansen img(86)
71 img 2B Scott Kingery img(NR)
72 img RHP J.B. Bukauskas (78)
73 img RHP Riley Pint img(54)
74 img OF Derek Fisher (82)
75 img 2B Willie Calhoun (84)
76 img C Chance Sisco (85)
77 img OF Estevan Florial img(NR)
78 img RHP Fernando Romero (74)
79 img OF Corey Ray img(53)
80 img LHP Adrian Morejon img(NR)
81 img 1B/OF Jake Bauers (81)
82 img OF Taylor Trammell (94)
83 img RHP Matt Manning img(NR)
84 img 1B Rhys Hoskins (98)
85 img LHP Justus Sheffield (83)
86 img OF Austin Hays img(NR)
87 img SS J.P. Crawford img(64)
88 img RHP Tyler Mahle (92)
89 img 3B Miguel Andujar img(NR)
90 img 2B/OF Keston Hiura (95)
91 img OF Austin Beck img(65)
92 img RHP Jose De Leon img(60)
93 img OF Tyler O'Neill (96)
94 img RHP Luis Ortiz (97)
95 img LHP Luiz Gohara img(NR)
96 img 3B Michael Chavis (99)
97 img OF Yusniel Diaz img(NR)
98 img RHP Michel Baez img(NR)
99 img IF Isan Diaz (93)
100 img LHP Braxton Garrett (100)

Graduated since previous update: 15. Francis Martes, HOU, 24. Ian Happ, CHC, 32. Bradley Zimmer, CLE, 40. Luke Weaver, STL, 79. Sean Newcomb, LAA, 87. Jacob Faria, TB, 88. Josh Hader, MIL, 90. Raimel Tapia, COL

       

Stock Rising

6. OF Ronald Acuna, Atlanta Braves

Ronald Acuna is the youngest prospect in the Triple-A International League, but that hasn't stopped him from hitting .338/.403/.619 with 11 doubles, eight home runs and 21 RBI in 34 games since being promoted.

All told, he's hitting .320/.374/.539 with 28 doubles, 20 home runs, 70 RBI and 37 stolen bases over three minor league levels this season. He won't celebrate his 20th birthday until December.

It's been a meteoric rise for a prospect who had just 40 games above rookie ball under his belt when the season began.

With Yoan Moncada, Amed Rosario and Rafael Devers all likely to exhaust their rookie eligibility before the season is over, Acuna will be squarely in the conversation for the title of baseball's No. 1 prospect heading into next year.

         

34. RHP Forrest Whitley, Houston Astros

With a projectable 6'7" frame and a mid-90s fastball, it's not hard to see what the Houston Astros liked about Forrest Whitley when they took him with the No. 17 pick in the 2016 draft.

The 19-year-old was aggressively assigned to Single-A to begin his first full pro season, and he's responded better than anyone could have hoped, going 5-4 with a 2.80 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 128 strikeouts in 83.2 innings.

That performance included a midseason promotion to High-A and a recent bump up to Double-A, where he struck out 11 over six scoreless innings in his debut on Thursday.

"I had a very relaxed mentality throughout the whole game," Whitley told Gerard Gilberto of MiLB.com. "I felt like I didn't really have my best stuff, but I was making pitches when I needed to make pitches, hitting the right spots and I got away with a couple mistakes. So things just kind of went my way tonight."

A modest assessment, to say the least, from a teenager on the fast track.

           

59. SS Fernando Tatis Jr., San Diego Padres

Chicago White Sox general manager Rick Hahn has done a tremendous job building up the farm system since the club committed to rebuilding.

However, the decision to trade Fernando Tatis Jr. to the San Diego Padres last season in exchange for an aging James Shields is one that could haunt him for a long time.

Tatis, who won't turn 19 until January, has spent the entire season with Single-A Fort Wayne, with whom he's been one of the most productive hitters in the Midwest League.

He ranks among the league leaders in OPS (.900, eighth), hits (118, fourth), home runs (21, first), RBI (67, second), runs scored (75, fourth), walks (70, first) and total bases (220, second).

With a rocket arm and good instincts, he should be able to stick at shortstop, though it looks like he could play at third base too if he were to shift over.

       

77. OF Estevan Florial, New York Yankees

Estevan Florial might be the biggest breakout prospect of 2017.

The Haiti native opened the season as the No. 14 prospect in the New York Yankees system with Baseball America, but he's far exceeded expectations to emerge as one of the game's most exciting teenage prospects.

The 19-year-old only cost the Yankees a $200,000 bonus as part of the 2015 international crop after some birth-certificate controversy took a significant bite out of his earning power.

He's hitting .298/.374/.476 with 40 extra-base hits and 22 stolen bases while splitting the year between Single-A and High-A in his full-season debut. He has the arm to play right field and the range to stick in center, so defense should be a chip in his favor as well.

       

86. OF Austin Hays, Baltimore Orioles

The Baltimore Orioles opened the 2016 draft by selecting Cody Sedlock (6.05 ERA in High-A) in the first round and Matthias Dietz (4.71 ERA in Single-A) in the second—and they are both off to inauspicious starts to their pro careers.

Luckily, it appears they hit big on third-round pick Austin Hays.

A standout at Jacksonville University who came with obvious questions about how he'd fare against higher-level competition, Hays hit .336 with a .900 OPS in 153 plate appearances at the Low-A level after signing last year.

He's backed that up with a .331/.365/.607 line that includes 28 doubles, 29 home runs and 85 RBI between High-A and Double-A, catapulting himself into the top-prospect conversation in the process.

        

Stock Falling

NR. C Jorge Alfaro, Philadephia Phillies (Previous: 63)

Jorge Alfaro looked poised to seize the starting catching job for the rebuilding Philadelphia Phillies this season after posting a .783 OPS with 21 doubles, 15 home runs and 67 RBI while throwing out 44 percent of base stealers for Double-A Reading.

But he scuffled to a .241/.291/.358 line with a 113-to-16 strikeout-to-walk ratio in Triple-A, and he's been steadily sliding down our rankings as a result.

On a positive note, the 24-year-old has gone 6-for-16 with a home run since being called up to the majors. He also still has intriguing raw power and a cannon for an arm. 

        

NR. RHP David Paulino, Houston Astros (Previous: 76)

There's plenty to like about a 6'7" pitcher with power stuff and a strong minor league track record.

However, in the case of David Paulino, his stock has fallen considerably this season after he was slapped with an 80-game suspension for a positive PED test.

The 23-year-old didn't show particularly well over six starts at the MLB level prior to that suspension, either, posting a 6.52 ERA and 1.48 WHIP. That's enough for him to fall out of the top 100, at least for the time being.

          

79. OF Corey Ray, Milwaukee Brewers

It doesn't look like the No. 5 overall pick in the 2016 draft is going to move as quickly as some people thought.

Corey Ray was one of the top bats in his class after a standout junior season at Louisville, but he's hit a pedestrian .241/.312/.373 with 195 strikeouts in 157 games as a pro.

He suffered a torn meniscus during instructional league last season, and his recovery resulted in a late start to the 2017 season. With a full offseason of rest and a normal spring of preparation, perhaps he'll come back strong next season and reclaim his top-prospect status.

         

54. RHP Anderson Espinoza, San Diego Padres

Anderson Espinoza hit the disabled list with forearm tightness in April, and that led to Tommy John surgery in late July before he threw a pitch in 2017.

The good news is the 19-year-old was so far ahead of the developmental curve prior to the injury that a lost season doesn't derail his development like it might for an older prospect.

Espinoza has 111.2 innings at the Single-A level under his belt, and he won't turn 20 until March.

That doesn't stop him from sliding down the rankings, though.

         

45. LHP Jay Groome, Boston Red Sox

Jay Groome is still the top pitching prospect in the Boston Red Sox system and has the potential to be "the best pitcher signed and developed by the Red Sox since Roger Clemens," as MLB.com put it.

However, the jump to full-season ball has not gone smoothly.

A brutal July saw him post a 6.75 ERA and 1.60 WHIP while allowing 21 hits, 11 walks and 15 earned runs in 20 innings of work.

He's looked much better since the calendar turned to August, but his up-and-down performance this year is enough for other pitching prospects who are further along in their respective developments to pass him by in these rankings.

        

5 To Watch

RHP Jon Duplantier, Arizona Diamondbacks

Despite the sketchy track record of pitchers out of Rice University and a shoulder injury that cost him his sophomore season, Jon Duplantier was still taken in the third round of the 2016 draft.

That's already looking like one of that year's biggest steals.

After pitching just one inning in his pro debut, the 23-year-old has gone 10-3 with a 1.47 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 130 strikeouts in 116 innings this season between Single-A and High-A.

Other teams have taken notice too, as Duplantier was generating interest leading up to the trade deadline, per David Laurila of FanGraphs. If the D-backs are smart, he won't be changing teams anytime soon. 

        

RHP Corbin Burnes, Milwaukee Brewers

An impressive junior season at St. Mary's gave Corbin Burnes as much helium as any college pitcher in the 2016 draft class, and the Milwaukee Brewers scooped him up with their fourth-round selection.

After a strong showing in his pro debut, he appears to be on the fast track.

The 22-year-old dominated High-A hitters to the tune of a 1.05 ERA and 0.88 WHIP over 10 starts to open the 2017 season, and he hasn't missed a beat since making the midseason jump to Double-A.

A polished four-pitch mix and durable 6'3", 205-pound frame give him the look of a future big league starter, even if he doesn't have overpowering stuff.

          

1B Ronald Guzman, Texas Rangers

Mike Napoli's impending free agency could open up a spot in the Texas Rangers lineup for Ronald Guzman next season.

While he might never be more than a 20-25 homer guy in the majors, he should be able to make up for that with his advanced approach and plus-hit tool.

The 22-year-old is batting .316/.384/.469 with 21 doubles and 12 home runs for Triple-A Round Rock this season, and his strikeout rate (15.8 percent) and walk rate (8.8 percent) both demonstrate hitter who's ready for the next level.

Young players with a first-base-only profile are often overlooked when it comes to top-prospect lists, but Guzman is worthy of attention.

        

LHP Tanner Scott, Baltimore Orioles

MLB.com described Tanner Scott perfectly: "Scott's elite fastball gives him closer potential, as he'll routinely hit 100 mph (or higher) while sitting comfortably at 95-99. Beyond that, however, Scott remains very raw."

The good: He's pitched to a 1.83 ERA with 74 strikeouts in 59 innings of work for Double-A Bowie this season.

The bad: Command remains a significant issue, as he's pitching around 6.1 BB/9, leaving him with a 1.27 WHIP despite a sterling .174 opponents' batting average.

The 23-year-old posted an 8.0 BB/9 rate last season, so his command is moving in the right direction. Another step forward there and a bit more consistency from his slider, and he could be the game's next elite southpaw reliever.

        

SS Garrett Hampson, Colorado Rockies

Garrett Hampson has quietly raked since going in the third round of the 2016 draft.

The 22-year-old sports a .318/.378/.450 line with 39 extra-base hits for High-A Lancaster and ranks among the California League leaders in OPS (.828, ninth), runs scored (100, first), total bases (215, third) and stolen bases (46, second).

He's split his time between second base and shortstop this season, and his long-term future might be at the keystone, with Trevor Story and fellow prospect Brendan Rodgers also in the mix at shortstop going forward.

Regardless of where he lines up defensively, he has the offensive tools to make an impact once he arrives in Colorado.

           

All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs and accurate through Thursday's games.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

MLB Power Rankings: Where All 30 Teams Stand at the Quarter Pole

It was more of the same from the Los Angeles Dodgers as they continued their residence at the No. 1 spot in our weekly power rankings, but for the first time in weeks, we have a new No. 2 team.

The Houston Astros have gone 5-12 in their last 17 games, and the wide gap they opened alongside the Dodgers as the league's top teams closed in the process.

Meanwhile, there are also two newcomers to the top 10 as the St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Angels have been on a roll of late. 

For now, remember these rankings are fluid and that teams rise and fall based on where they were ranked the previous week. If a team keeps winning, it will keep climbing—it's as simple as that.

Here's an updated look at where all 30 teams stand:

  Updated Rankings  
1 img Dodgers (83-34) img
2 img Nationals (70-46) img1
3 img Astros (72-45) img1
4 img Red Sox (67-50) img
5 img Indians (63-52) img2
6 img D-backs (65-52) img
7 img Cardinals (61-57) img9
8 img Rockies (65-52) img3
9 img Angels (61-58) img6
10 img Cubs (61-55) img1
11 img Yankees (61-55) img3
12 img Twins (59-57) img9
13 img Brewers (61-59) img3
14 img Royals (59-58) img3
15 img Orioles (58-60) img2
16 img Mariners (59-60) img4
17 img Rays (59-60) img4
18 img Blue Jays (56-61) img1
19 img Pirates (58-60) img2
20 img Rangers (56-60) img
21 img Marlins (56-60) img3
22 img Mets (53-62) img4
23 img Athletics (52-66) img1
24 img Braves (52-63) img2
25 img Tigers (53-64) img2
26 img Reds (49-69) img2
27 img Padres (51-66) img2
28 img Giants (47-72) img1
29 img White Sox (45-70) img1
30 img Phillies (43-72) img1

        

Biggest Risers

St. Louis Cardinals (Up 9 Spots)

Just 10 days ago, the St. Louis Cardinals were 4.5 games behind the first-place Chicago Cubs and tied for third in the NL Central standings.

One stellar eight-game winning streak later and things look a bit different.

After sweeping a four-game series from the Kansas City Royals and taking two of three from the Atlanta Braves last week, the Cardinals are now just one game back with momentum on their side.

The bullpen has really rounded into form of late thanks in part to the return of left-hander Zach Duke and continued dominance from Trevor Rosenthal in the closer's role.

The starting rotation has been a strength all season and continues to pitch well, while the offense remains a revolving door of unexpected contributors currently being led by unheralded prospect Paul DeJong.

Los Angeles Dodgers slugger Cody Bellinger figures to run away with NL Rookie of the Year honors, but DeJong has quietly posted a .904 OPS with 16 doubles, 18 home runs and 42 RBI in 261 plate appearances and could see his fair share of second-place votes.

His production out of the No. 3 spot in the lineup has given the team a huge shot in the arm and really sparked the offense as a whole.

Of course, the real MVP last week was the rally cat.

          

Minnesota Twins (Up 9 Spots)

A 1-6 stretch of games leading up to the July 31 trade deadline convinced the Minnesota Twins to sell off All-Star closer Brandon Kintzler and recently acquired starter Jaime Garcia.

Now a 9-4 start to August has them looking like contenders once again.

A four-game sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers and a weekend series win against the Detroit Tigers leaves them 4.5 games behind the Cleveland Indians in the AL Central and just a half-game out for the No. 2 wild-card spot.

The offense has produced an .800 OPS and is averaging 5.7 runs per game in August, led by Eddie Rosario (1.143 OPS, 5 HR, 12 RBI) and Brian Dozier (1.111 OPS, 6 HR, 13 RBI).

That's helped offset a shaky starting rotation that remains the team's biggest question mark in their push to land a playoff berth. The young duo of Jose Berrios and Adalberto Mejia, in particular, has struggled.

With that in mind, this current hot streak might not be sustainable, but it's still enough to send them shooting up the rankings for the time being.

The upcoming week won't be an easy one as they welcome the Indians and Arizona Diamondbacks to Target Field.

      

Los Angeles Angels (Up 6 Spots)

Could we finally see Mike Trout playing in October again this year?

The Los Angeles Angels are riding a six-game winning streak and have gone 12-4 in their last 16 games to climb into the second AL wild-card spot.

A healthy Tyler Skaggs has given the rotation a boost and surprise rookie standout Parker Bridwell (11 GS, 7-1, 2.88 ERA, 1.17 WHIP) has been huge in helping solidify a banged up starting staff.

The return of Cam Bedrosian has also provided an in-house replacement for struggling closer Bud Norris.

Meanwhile, Trout has been raking this month (1.270 OPS, 4 HR, 10 RBI) and he's finally getting some help from the rest of the lineup.

The Angels are averaging 5.3 runs per game and hitting .264 with a .751 OPS in 13 August games.

They'll head east this coming week to take on the Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles as they look to keep things rolling.

       

Biggest Fallers

Seattle Mariners (Down 4 Spots)

The Seattle Mariners were two games over .500 and just 1.5 games back in the AL wild-card standings on Aug. 1.

While they're still just two games back, they're trending in the wrong direction at 5-7 with a minus-15 run differential in their last 12 games.

And now they'll be without ace James Paxton for the foreseeable future after he was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a pectoral strain.

"Obviously it's disheartening news, no doubt," manager Scott Servais told reporters. "It's been a crazy season, really it has been, with all of the injuries. To put ourselves in the position we are now, a lot of it has to do with James Paxton. He's been really, really good, but we've got to find a way to keep it rolling here."

With Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma and Drew Smyly already on the DL, that Mariners are left with a rotation of Yovani Gallardo, Erasmo Ramirez, Ariel Miranda, Marco Gonzales and a yet-to-be determined fifth starter for Tuesday's game.

Not exactly a juggernaut of a rotation.

A pair of AL East foes in the Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays await this coming week.

        

Tampa Bay Rays (Down 4 Spots)

The Tampa Bay Rays began the month of August by taking three of four from the Houston Astros and pulling within a half-game of the No. 2 AL wild-card spot.

Since then, they've gone 2-7 with a minus-18 run differential, scoring just 11 runs on offense during that nine-game span.

"What a putrid performance by the Rays," wrote Martin Fennelly of the Tampa Bay Times. "They departed the 2-7 Homestand of Shame for Toronto on Sunday night. They had their offense in a carry-on container, it being less than 3.4 fluid ounces."

With no regular hitting over .300 or sporting an OPS over .800 in the month of August, the lineup continues to undermine one of the better starting rotations in the American League.

Can they right the ship and climb back into the AL wild-card hunt before it's too late?

         

MVPs of the Week

AL MVP: Chris Sale, Boston Red Sox

Stats: 2 GS, W, ND, 15.0 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 25 K

AL Cy Young front-runner Chris Sale turned in two more terrific starts last week for the Red Sox as he continues to be nothing short of dominant in his first season in Boston.

The left-hander added 25 more strikeouts to his MLB-leading total of 241 and he's on pace to become the first AL pitcher to eclipse the 300-strikeout mark since fellow Red Sox standout Pedro Martinez did it in 1999.

After allowing four hits and one run with 12 strikeouts in seven innings against the rival Yankees in a no-decision on Sunday, Sale now sports a 1.18 ERA over 76.1 career innings against the archrivals.

If he continues to dominate down the stretch, the conversation might shift from Cy Young to a potential AL MVP run before too long. 

"As dominant as he's been, with the exception of an outing or two, we're talking about a difference-maker in the standings, in the feel of the team," manager John Farrell told Scott Lauber of ESPN.com. "What he means to our team, yeah, he should be in that conversation."

       

NL MVP: Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins

Stats: 9-for-27, 1 2B, 6 HR, 11 RBI, 8 R

You can't help but feel bad for opposing pitchers when Giancarlo Stanton is locked in at the plate.

The 27-year-old has gone deep four games in a row and nine times this month, and his opposite-field shot on Sunday was his 42nd of the season, tying Gary Sheffield for the single-season franchise record.

"I really enjoyed watching him play as a kid," Stanton told reporters. "Definitely good company to be in. It's not something I'll fully appreciate until the year is over, but it's a cool thing to have under my belt, and I've got time to get more."

Sunday's long ball was also No. 250 of his career, tying Frank Robinson (27 years, 278 days) as the 10th-youngest player to reach that milestone, per Elias Sports Bureau (via ESPN).

With 46 games left on the schedule, Stanton is on pace for 59 homers.

         

Stats of the Week

Let's dive into some of the better nuggets from around the league.

We'll start with a surprising note following the conclusion of last night's Red Sox vs. Yankees series.

Andrew Benintendi has been largely overshadowed by Aaron Judge this season, but he entered the year as the AL Rookie of the Year front-runner for a reason.

The 23-year-old is hitting .279/.360/.446 with 16 home runs, 66 RBI and 14 stolen bases. With Judge struggling mightily in the second half, the gap for top AL rookie honors is closing quickly.

Speaking of young stars, Trout turned 26 on Monday and celebrated with his 1,000th career hit. He's just the fourth player in MLB history to tally 1,000 hits, 500 runs and 500 walks prior to their age-26 season, joining a trio of all-time greats in Mel Ott, Jimmie Foxx and Mickey Mantle.

Not to be outdone, Bryce Harper also hit his 150th career homer on Monday. He's the 14th player to reach that total before his 25th birthday, joining Albert Pujols and Giancarlo Stanton as the only active players to accomplish that feat.

And we'll finish up with our obligatory weekly nod to how ridiculously good the Dodgers are this season.

That's a 134-year history, folks.

        

Must-See Upcoming Matchup

New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox (Friday-Sunday)

Who's ready for Round 2?

After an exciting three-game series in the Bronx culminated with an extra-inning victory by the Red Sox on Sunday night, these two rivals will take things to Fenway Park for another three-game set this weekend.

The Red Sox lead has now swelled to 5.5 games in the AL East standings, but the Yankees still lead the season series 7-5.

It will be Drew Pomeranz, Chris Sale and Doug Fister taking the ball for Boston and the Yankees countering with Jordan Montgomery on Friday and Sonny Gray on Sunday.

Saturday's starter has yet to be determined. Luis Cessa will take the ball on Monday in place of the injured Masahiro Tanaka, and if he pitches well, that would be his spot in the rotation.

At any rate, it should be another exciting weekend of baseball.

There was a playoff-type atmosphere at Yankee Stadium on Sunday night, and it's clear there's been new life breathed into this rivalry here in 2017.

               

All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted and accurate through Sunday.

Looking for someone to yell at about where your favorite team was slotted in the latest rankings? I'll meet you in the comments section.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Chicago Cubs: Pennant Race Roster Moves the Team Should Consider

The passing of the non-waiver trade deadline doesn't mean a contender like the Chicago Cubs is finished tweaking the active roster for the stretch run.

Whether it's an August waiver trade to add one final outside piece or a September call-up to provide some in-house help, there's plenty of work left to be done.

With our focus turned to those two potential areas for roster movement, let's take a closer look at what the Cubs might do the rest of the way.

          

Potential August Waiver-Trade Targets

Nothing derails a late-season push toward the postseason like a shaky bullpen, and calling the Cubs relief corps "shaky" this month doesn't quite do it justice.

In eight August games, the pen has posted a 5.25 ERA and 1.42 WHIP with two losses and two blown saves over 24 innings of work.

That makes further bullpen reinforcements an obvious August target, and Drew Storen of the Cincinnati Reds should be the team's No. 1 priority.

The 29-year-old has pitched to a 3.33 ERA, 1.24 WHIP and 8.0 K/9 over 48 appearances after joining the rebuilding Reds on a one-year, $3 million deal in the offseason.

He's not the same power pitcher he was a few years back when he saved 29 games and tallied 11.0 K/9 as the Washington Nationals closer, but he's learned to be effective with lesser stuff.

His fastball velocity sat at 94.7 mph as recently as 2015, but that's down to 91.2 mph this season, and he's become more reliant on his sinker and slider as a result.

While that's meant fewer strikeouts, his groundball rate has climbed to an impressive 51.9 percent this season—a trend that would play well in front of the Cubs' talented infield defense.

Here's a quick look at some other relievers who could be available this month, courtesy of a list of waiver-trade candidates compiled by Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors.

 Player Stats  '18 Contract
imgMatt Belisle 46 G, 4.43 ERA  FA
imgSantiago Casilla 45 G, 4.07 ERA $6M
imgTyler Clippard 49 G, 4.43 ERA FA
imgJim Johnson 47 G, 3.94 ERA $5M
imgBud Norris 47 G, 4.09 ERA FA
imgYusmeiro Petit 39 G, 2.51 ERA FA
imgBrad Ziegler 37 G, 5.91 ERA $9M

Keep an eye on Matt Belisle among that group.

Since struggling to an 8.66 ERA over the season's first two months, he's been lights out with a 1.67 ERA and 1.04 WHIP in 25 appearances. In fact, he hasn't allowed an earned run since June 24 and recently took over closer duties in Minnesota.

The 37-year-old would be a cheap addition as well with what's left of a $2.05 million salary, and his impending free agency should make the Twins amenable to a deal.

Beyond bolstering the bullpen, the only other potential need would be more starting pitching depth.

While Mike Montgomery has pitched well when called upon as a starter this year, ideally he'd be available out of the bullpen the rest of the way.

With that in mind, adding a capable spot starter could make sense.

San Diego Padres teammates Jhoulys Chacin (23 GS, 11-8, 4.15 ERA) and Clayton Richard (23 GS, 5-12, 5.17 ERA) are two low-cost targets worth considering.

Both players signed one-year, $1.75 million deals in the offseason and both have contributed in a long relief capacity in past seasons, so they wouldn't be out of place waiting in the wings in the bullpen.

Marco Estrada comes at a steeper price with the remainder of a $14.5 million salary, but he's looked terrific of late with a 2.84 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in his last three starts, and he's done his usual stellar work inducing soft contact (20.5 percent, 21st in MLB).

His price tag probably makes him more of a reactionary target than a potential preventative addition. In other words, a trade for Estrada would likely only happen as a result of a starter going down with a significant injury.

The rest of the starting pitching market is fairly weak and recalling Eddie Butler from Triple-A looks like a better option than going after guys like Derek Holland and Ricky Nolasco.

So look for the Cubs to target bullpen help and potential rotation depth if they pull the trigger on an August trade. But what about potential in-house help?

          

Potential September Call-Ups

There will be some obvious promotions when rosters expand in September.

Catcher Victor Caratini will return to give the team a third backstop and outfielder Mark Zagunis—who has an .867 OPS with 21 doubles and 13 home runs in Triple-Awill likely be back as well after getting a seven-game cup of coffee earlier this year.

Meanwhile, starter Eddie Butler and relievers Justin GrimmJack Leathersich, Rob Zastryzny, Felix Pena, Pierce Johnson and Seth Frankoff have all seen time in the majors this year and are on the 40-man roster, so they figure to be in the mix for some mop-up innings at the very least.

Outfielder John Andreoli could also get a look as a pinch-runner, despite not being on the 40-man roster, as he's swiped 220 bases in his minor league career. The 27-year-old has also posted a solid .789 OPS with 38 extra-base hits in his third go-round with Triple-A Iowa, though the outfield logjam won't afford him many opportunities.

No one from that group really stands out as a potential X-factor, though.

If there's one player suiting up down on the farm who could make a true impact down the stretch, it might be right-hander Dillon Maples.

I wrote about the intriguing right-hander earlier this week:

"The Cubs signed Dillon Maples to a $2.5 million bonus as a 14th-round pick in 2011—still the largest bonus ever given to a player selected after the third round.

"Control problems and some minor arm issues kept him from advancing beyond the High-A level in his first five pro seasons, but he's taken off this year and could be a legitimate X-factor down the stretch.

"Still just 25, he's posted a 2.57 ERA and .198 opponents' batting average with 91 strikeouts in 56 innings while reaching Triple-A. He's still walking batters at a 4.8 BB/9 clip, but his stuff is electric with a fastball that touches triple digits, a wipeout slider and a nasty power curve."

Manager Joe Maddon leaned hard on rookie Carl Edwards Jr. down the stretch last season with Hector Rondon nursing an injury and the rest of the relief corps struggling to bridge the gap to Aroldis Chapman.

If Maples earns a promotion and dominates big league hitters as an unknown commodity, he could carve out a similarly important role in this year's pen.

There's little doubt the Cubs are the most talented team in the NL Central if they play up to their potential, and they don't necessarily need to add anything to the current roster to walk away with another division title.

However, that doesn't mean some outside help wouldn't be welcomed with open arms, whether it's in the form of another trade addition or a minor league promotion, so keep an eye on the transaction wire in the weeks to come.

            

All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference, FanGraphs and Brooks Baseball, unless otherwise noted.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Why Wait? 1 Top Prospect Each MLB Team Must Call Up Now

With the non-waiver trade deadline passed and August waiver trade activity always unpredictable, the next surefire MLB shake-up will come when rosters expand in September.

That's when we'll get a chance to see some of the game's top prospects make their big league debuts, whether it's a contender looking for a spark or a rebuilding team assessing their in-house talent while looking ahead to next year.

But why wait until September to promote a guy who's ready now?

The obvious answer is that teams don't want to start a player's service time clock any sooner than they need to, especially in the case of those aforementioned rebuilding teams.

However, we've decided to throw caution to the wind and highlight one prospect that each MLB team should promote immediately.

      

To be eligible for inclusion, a player must not have passed rookie-eligibility limits (130 AB, 50 IP, 45 days on roster).

Begin Slideshow

MLB Power Rankings: Where All 30 Teams Stand 1 Week Post-Trade Deadline

The Los Angeles Dodgers kept rolling, the Boston Red Sox flexed their muscles and the Baltimore Orioles made a strong opening argument that buying at the deadline rather than selling was the right decision in the first week of action following the MLB non-waiver trade deadline.

With under two months remaining in the regular season, there are still 19 teams within six games of a playoff spot, which should make for an exciting stretch run.

For now, just remember these rankings are fluid and that teams rise and fall based on where they were ranked the previous week. If a team keeps winning, it will keep climbing—it's as simple as that.

Here's an updated look at where all 30 teams stand:

  Updated Rankings  
1 img Dodgers (79-32) img
2 img Astros (71-40) img
3 img Nationals (65-44) img
4 img Red Sox (63-49) img6
5 img Rockies (64-48) img2
6 img D-backs (63-48) img2
7 img Indians (59-50) img3
8 img Yankees (59-51) img2
9 img Cubs (58-52) img4
10 img Brewers (59-54) img2
11 img Royals (57-53) img2
12 img Mariners (57-56) img1
13 img Rays (58-55) img2
14 img Orioles (55-56) img3
15 img Angels (55-57) img1
16 img Cardinals (55-56) img2
17 img Pirates (54-57) img2
18 img Marlins (52-57) img
19 img Blue Jays (52-59) img
20 img Rangers (53-58) img
21 img Twins (53-56) img
22 img Braves (51-59) img
23 img Tigers (51-59) img1
24 img Athletics (50-62) img2
25 img Padres (49-61) img2
26 img Mets (49-60) img1
27 img Giants (44-69) img1
28 img Reds (45-66) img1
29 img Phillies (40-69) img2
30 img White Sox (41-68) img

        

Biggest Risers

Boston Red Sox (Up 6 Spots)

A tidy 6-0 week that included a pair of walk-off victories has the Red Sox's arrow pointing straight up, and they're now three games ahead of the rival New York Yankees in the AL East standings.

Eduardo Nunez (42 PA, .400 BA, 1.229 OPS, 8 XBH) has been arguably the best trade pickup of the year, and top prospect Rafael Devers (49 PA, .349 BA, 1.033 OPS, 5 XBH) has made the transition to the big leagues look easy.

Dustin Pedroia's eventual return could complicate things a bit, as Nunez is playing second base, but manager John Farrell intends to keep both hot bats in the lineup.

"I think that's where [Nunez's] versatility really starts to come into play," Farrell told reporters. "And I certainly wouldn't rule out [Pedroia] DH'ing just to manage his overall volume and workload. The days off are one thing. But I think him in the DH slot, which I think he's only had one game at that position this year, that's also a possibility."

It's a good problem to have—and one the team will welcome with open arms.

Meanwhile, Chris Sale struggled through his worst start of the season on Tuesday, as he gave up eight hits and seven earned runs in five innings. The team still managed to walk away with a victory, though, in a 12-10 slugfest with the Cleveland Indians.

The Tampa Bay Rays and Yankees await as the Red Sox will look to keep their perfect August intact.

          

Baltimore Orioles (Up 3 Spots)

The Orioles are 7-2 in their past nine games, and the decision not to sell at the non-waiver trade deadline is starting to look more and more like the right one.

A sweep of the Kansas City Royals and a four-game split with the Detroit Tigers still leaves the O's one game under .500, but that's good enough to sit just 2.5 games back in the wild-card standings with three teams to pass in order to take over the No. 2 spot.

Jeremy Hellickson (1 GS, 7.0 IP, 5 H, 0 ER) and Tim Beckham (14-for-24, 3 2B, 3 HR, 6 RBI) have both made terrific first impressions since being acquired at the deadline, and those pickups addressed two glaring areas of need.

Second baseman Jonathan Schoop has continued with his breakout performance as well, leading the AL with 28 RBI since the All-Star break while hitting .333/.379/.624 and slugging seven home runs in the process.

It all boils down to whether they have enough starting pitching to keep things rolling.

Ubaldo Jimenez (5 GS, 1-3, 5.20 ERA), Wade Miley (5 GS, 1-2, 7.36 ERA) and Chris Tillman (4 GS, 0-2, 8.66 ERA) have all been hit hard in the second half.

They'll kick off a 10-game road trip at the Los Angeles Angels Monday as they look to improve on a 20-33 record away from Camden Yards.

       

Biggest Fallers

Chicago Cubs (Down 4 Spots)

In their defense, the Chicago Cubs had a tough schedule this past week, as they welcomed two of the best teams in the National League, the Arizona Diamondbacks and Washington Nationals, to Wrigley Field.

Still, losing both series was enough to drop them four spots after they climbed to No. 5 in the most recent standings.

That said, the Cubs still hold a half-game lead over the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central, and their schedule looks awfully favorable over the next few weeks.

While they do take on the D-backs again in Arizona this coming weekend, the rest of their August slate includes the San Francisco Giants, Cincinnati Reds (twice), Toronto Blue Jays, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates and Atlanta Braves—all teams that are under .500 and more or less out of contention.

That should give them the perfect opportunity to prove that last week was simply a minor misstep and to get things trending back in the right direction.

        

Cleveland Indians (Down 3 Spots)

The Indians dropped a two-game set to the Red Sox and split a four-game series with the Yankees last week, which was enough to drop them three spots, as the Colorado Rockies, Diamondbacks and Red Sox all leapfrogged them.

However, there's little doubt they're still the team to beat in the AL Central.

The Kansas City Royals failed to seize a golden opportunity, as they struggled through a 2-5 week of their own, leaving the Indians with a 2.5-game lead in the division entering play on Monday.

Second baseman Jason Kipnis finally returned to action on Sunday, going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in his first game since July 8, when he suffered a strained right hamstring. It's been a trying season for the two-time All-Star, but he could provide a huge boost to the team if he starts swinging it well down the stretch.

With the Rockies, Rays and a makeup game against the Red Sox on the upcoming slate, the Tribe will have a chance to show they belong back inside the top five in these rankings.

         

MVPs of the Week

AL MVP: Corey Kluber, Cleveland Indians

Stats: W, 9.0 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 11 K

If the season ended today, the Chris Sale vs. Corey Kluber debate for AL Cy Young honors would be a good one.

  • Sale: 22 GS, 13-4, 2.70 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 216 K, 153.1 IP
  • Kluber: 18 GS, 9-3, 2.77 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 172 K, 123.2 IP

It's still advantage Sale, but it's closer than the casual observer might think, and Kluber is trending in the right direction.

The 31-year-old tossed a three-hit complete game and struck out 11 against the Yankees on Thursday. It was his third complete game of the season and the 11th time he's tallied double-digit strikeouts.

He also became just the fourth pitcher in MLB history to record at least eight strikeouts in 12 consecutive starts, joining Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and Nolan Ryan in that club.

"All three are guys I grew up watching and idolizing," Kluber told reporters. "To be mentioned with them is definitely an honor, and it's cool."

His next start will come on Tuesday against the Colorado Rockies.

       

NL MVP: Willson Contreras, Chicago Cubs

Stats: 10-for-22, 1 2B, 5 HR, 13 RBI, 6 R

It was quite a week for Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras.

"I've been locked in throughout my career in the minor leagues, but not at this level," Contreras recently told reporters. "Just simplifying things, doing simple things. I think that's the key."

To say he's "locked in" doesn't quite do it justice.

The 25-year-old is hitting .346/.414/.782 since the All-Star break. He's also tied for the MLB lead with 10 home runs, and his 29 RBI are tops in the majors. He's put the Cubs offense on his back over the past few weeks.

Simply put, he's become the most important player on a roster that's overflowing with terrific young talent.

         

Stats of the Week

Let's dive into some of the better nuggets from around the league.

We'll start with Mike Trout, who followed Tim Salmon's lead to become one of the only two players in Los Angeles Angels history with six consecutive seasons of 20 or more home runs.

Trout still has a ways to go to chase him down for the franchise record, as Salmon hit 299 homers over the course of his 14-year career and Trout is sitting on 190.

Speaking of home runs, the Houston Astros lead the majors this year with 182 long balls, and that's not the only category where they reside in the No. 1 spot.

Their offense is also tops in team batting average (.291), on-base (.351), slugging (.502), OPS (.857), hits (1,133), doubles (248), RBI (626), runs scored (656) and they've struck out less (752) than any other team to boot.

With four more homers last week, Cody Bellinger became just the second rookie in Dodgers franchise history to top 30, joining Mike Piazza (35), who won NL Rookie of the Year honors in 1993.

And many of those homers have come in the clutch.

Cubs catcher Contreras is keeping pace with one of the best hitters in recent memory after his big week.

And finally, what would our stats section be without its weekly nod to just how ridiculously good the Dodgers have been lately.

There's still a lot of baseball to be played, but it's World Series title or bust for this Dodgers squad.

        

Must-See Upcoming Matchup

Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees (Friday-Sunday)

The 2009 season was the last time the Red Sox and Yankees both reached the postseason.

Now that rivalry is back in full swing, as Boston enters the week three games up in the AL East and New York has a 2.5-game cushion atop the wild-card standings.

The Yankees have a 6-3 lead in the season series, with the teams scheduled to meet up 10 more times the rest of the way—three of which will be this coming weekend at Yankee Stadium.

Lefties Jaime Garcia and Eduardo Rodriguez go head-to-head in Game 1. The best matchup of the series comes in Game 2, when Luis Severino and Drew Pomeranz take the ball. The finale will be a matchup of veterans, as CC Sabathia squares off against Doug Fister.

Yankees fans will get their first look at Red Sox rookie Devers in this one, a player they figure to see plenty of in the years to come.

Nothing builds momentum for that final push like a big series victory over your archrival, so this matchup carries a bit more weight than your average three-game series in August.

               

All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted and accurate through Sunday.

Looking for someone to yell at about where your favorite team was slotted in the latest rankings? I'll meet you in the comments section.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Legit or Nah? ‘Contender or Pretender’ for MLB Playoff Race with 2 Months Left

The MLB postseason picture is coming into focus with two months to go in the regular season and the non-waiver trade deadline now passed.

Nine teams stand as clear-cut contenders with very real hopes of reaching the playoffs.

On the opposite end, there are 12 teams that can safely be lumped into the column of "non-contender."

The focus here is on those other nine teams that reside on the fringe of contention.

Are they legit contenders or nah?

Begin Slideshow

Legit or Nah? ‘Contender or Pretender’ for MLB Playoff Race with 2 Months Left

The MLB postseason picture is coming into focus with two months to go in the regular season and the non-waiver trade deadline now passed.

Nine teams stand as clear-cut contenders with very real hopes of reaching the playoffs.

On the opposite end, there are 12 teams that can safely be lumped into the column of "non-contender."

The focus here is on those other nine teams that reside on the fringe of contention.

Are they legit contenders or nah?

Begin Slideshow

MLB Power Rankings: How All 30 Teams Rank Post-2017 Trade Deadline

Another busy MLB trade season is now in the rearview, as Monday's deadline represented the end of the non-waiver trade period.

That doesn't mean there won't still be a few impact moves made over the next month on the waiver wire, but we should now have a good idea of what teams are going to look like for the stretch run.

Starting pitching was once again the most valuable trade commodity, with Yu Darvish and Sonny Gray joining the previously dealt Jose Quintana in blockbuster deals. 

As usual, bullpen additions were also made across the MLB landscape, while the J.D. Martinez trade earlier this month stood up as the biggest move to acquire a bat.

Following the flurry of trade activity, on-field performance won't be the only factor in determining whether teams climbed or fell in this week's rankings.

Going forward, remember these rankings are fluid and that teams rise and fall based on where they were ranked the previous week. If a team keeps winning, it will keep climbing—it's as simple as that.

With that in mind, here's a look at where all 30 teams stand:

  Updated Rankings  
1 img Dodgers (74-31) img
2 img Astros (68-36) img
3 img Nationals (62-41) img
4 img Indians (57-46) img2
5 img Cubs (56-48) img3
6 img Yankees (56-47) img3
7 img Rockies (60-46) img3
8 img D-backs (60-45) img1
9 img Royals (55-48) img3
10 img Red Sox (57-49) img5
11 img Rays (54-52) img1
12 img Brewers (55-52) img1
13 img Mariners (53-53) img5
14 img Cardinals (52-53) img6
15 img Pirates (51-54) img2
16 img Angels (51-55) img1
17 img Orioles (50-54) img2
18 img Marlins (49-54) img7
19 img Blue Jays (49-56) img7
20 img Rangers (50-54) img6
21 img Twins (50-53) img6
22 img Braves (48-55) img6
23 img Padres (47-58) img
24 img Tigers (47-56) img3
25 img Mets (48-55) img3
26 img Athletics (46-59) img2
27 img Phillies (38-64) img1
28 img Giants (40-66) img1
29 img Reds (42-63) img2
30 img White Sox (40-62) img

     

Deadline Recap

Already the No. 1 team in our rankings for several weeks running, the Los Angeles Dodgers further cemented their standing as the team to beat by acquiring starter Yu Darvish and lefty relievers Tony Watson and Tony Cingrani on deadline day.

Darvish gives the staff a front-line replacement for the injured Clayton Kershaw during the stretch run, and that duo will form an imposing one-two punch in October.

Meanwhile, after struggling to a 4.65 ERA over his first 29 appearances, Watson has posted a 1.72 ERA with six holds in his last 18 games. An All-Star in 2014, he should be a valuable complement to Pedro Baez in the setup role.

Cingrani is more of a wild card, but with plus stuff and team control through the 2019 season, he's an intriguing addition.

The other blockbuster move on deadline day was the New York Yankees addition of Sonny Gray, which—along with a 5-1 showing last weekwas enough to vault them into the No. 6 spot in the rankings.

With Masahiro Tanaka pitching better of late (more on that in a bit), the Yankees have a potentially formidable pairing atop the rotation.

Shipping out prospects James Kaprielian, Jorge Mateo and Dustin Fowler was a steep price for the Yankees to pay, but losing those guys doesn't alter the club's long-term outlook, and having Gray through the 2019 season is a major boon to its long-term outlook.

The Chicago Cubs already made their big move when they acquired Jose Quintana from the Chicago White Sox earlier this month, and they put the finishing touches on the roster by acquiring Justin Wilson and Alex Avila from the Detroit Tigers.

Wilson gives them a shutdown lefty reliever with control through next season, while the veteran Avila will help lighten the load of Willson Contreras down the stretch. Picking up those two was enough to gain them a few extra spots as well, along with their series wins over the White Sox and Brewers last week.

The rest of the deals on Monday were smaller in scale and didn't have much of a bearing on the rankings, though they could still prove significant.

A number of other contenders added to their relief corps as Addison Reed (BOS), Brandon Kintzler (WAS), Jeremy Jeffress (MIL), Francisco Liriano (HOU), Joe Smith (CLE) and Joaquin Benoit (PIT) were all on the move.

The Orioles added infielder Tim Beckham, who could serve as an immediate and future replacement for veteran J.J. Hardy, while the Diamondbacks picked up utility infielder Adam Rosales to help ease the loss of Chris Owings to a fractured finger.

That was the gist of another exciting MLB trade deadline: The Dodgers added to what's already been a juggernaut, the Yankees made it clear they're trying to win now without mortgaging the future, and the Cubs were able to lend credence to the idea that their best baseball may still be in front of them.

         

MVPs of the Week

AL MVP: Masahiro Tanaka, New York Yankees

Stats: 1 GS, W, 8.0 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 14 K

If the Yankees are going be legitimate contenders, they're going to need Tanaka pitching like a front-line starter. It's as simple as that.

And he did just that on Friday with a 14-strikeout performance against the Tampa Bay Rays.

"Yeah, it was [no-hit stuff]," Rays manager Kevin Cash told reporters. "Generally you tie no-hit stuff into a lot of power. But he does it a different way. But you could tell early on from the swings that guys were taking that he had really, really good, late deceptive stuff."

Since struggling to a 6.34 ERA over his first 14 starts, Tanaka has picked it up of late with a 3.06 ERA, 0.91 WHIP and a .214 opponents' batting average in his last seven starts.

       

NL MVP: Manuel Margot, San Diego Padres

Stats: 14-for-28, 2 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 6 R

Manuel Margot might not make a run at Cody Bellinger for NL Rookie of the Year honors, but he's quietly enjoying a solid debut season for the rebuilding San Diego Padres.

The 22-year-old is hitting .357 with a .958 OPS since the All-Star break with an impressive eight multihit games.

That's been enough to raise his season triple-slash line to .281/.321/.431 with 23 extra-base hits and 11 stolen bases as one of the clear bright spots on a club that's focused on the future.

Margot is the ninth-youngest player to suit up in the majors this year, and he may just be scratching the surface of his two-way potential as a Gold Glove defender and impact table-setter atop the lineup.

         

Stats of the Week

Let's dive into some of the better nuggets from around the league.

We'll start with Adrian Beltre, who further padded what's already an impressive Hall of Fame resume when he joined the 3,000-hit club over the weekend.

How much further will the 38-year-old climb up the all-time list? With a .307 average and .917 OPS on the year, he appears to have plenty left in the tank.

Meanwhile, Kyle Farmer picked up his first career hit in dramatic fashion as he delivered a two-run, pinch-hit, walk-off double in his MLB debut on Sunday.

That was win No. 74 for the Dodgers, putting them in exclusive company.

They're no doubt hoping things end up more like the World Series-winning '98 Yankees than the '01 Mariners, who were ousted in the ALCS.

Chris Sale and Max Scherzer continue to strike out hitters at an impressive clip.

The only pitcher in Red Sox history with more punchouts before Aug. 1 than the 211 Sale has piled up so far this season was Roger Clemens with 232 in 1988, per Elias. Clemens finished that season with 291 total.

As for Scherzer, his nine strikeouts on Thursday gave him his sixth consecutive 200-strikeout season, the longest active streak.

Pedro Martinez holds the single-season strikeout record for the Expos/Nationals organization with 305 in 1997. Scherzer will need 105 more the rest of the way to surpass that mark.

Finally, here are a couple of interesting tidbits that stemmed from Andrew McCutchen's three-homer game against the Padres.

Hunter Renfroe might have something to say about that in the near future.

       

Must-See Upcoming Matchup

Washington Nationals vs. Chicago Cubs (Friday-Sunday)

Expect the Los Angeles Dodgers to be tuning in closely to this series.

All due respect to the Diamondbacks, Rockies and Brewers who are all still angling for a postseason push of their own, but right now it looks like the Nationals and Cubs stand as the biggest roadblocks in the Dodgers' pursuit of an NL pennant.

The Cubs bolstered their pitching staff for the present and future by trading for Jose Quintana and Justin Wilson, and they also added veteran backstop Alex Avila to keep from running Willson Contreras ragged over the final two months.

As for the Nationals, they addressed a shaky bullpen situation well before the deadline arrived when they acquired Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson from the Oakland Athletics on July 16. They then added All-Star Brandon Kintzler to the mix on Monday. The eventual return of Trea Turner will also provide a significant late spark.

The two teams split a four-game series at Wrigley Field in late June, but unlike that matchup, the Nationals won't have Stephen Strasburg or Max Scherzer throwing this time around.

With the Cubs looking for some separation in the NL Central standings and the Nationals looking to prove they belong right alongside the Dodgers in the conversation for NL supremacy, this series should provide a postseason atmosphere in early August.

               

All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted and accurate through Sunday. Deadline trade information gathered via MLBTradeRumors.com.

Looking for someone to yell at about where your favorite team was slotted in the latest rankings? I'll meet you in the comments section.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Final Fact or Fiction on All of MLB’s Hottest Pre-Deadline Buzz, Rumors

Who's ready for some MLB blockbusters?

One major chip fell on the starting pitching market when Jose Quintana was dealt to the Chicago Cubs earlier in July, but plenty of intriguing arms are still readily available, including aces Sonny Gray (OAK), Justin Verlander (DET) and Yu Darvish (TEX) as well as second-tier arms like Dan Straily (MIA), Lance Lynn (STL) and Ervin Santana (MIN).

Meanwhile, teams searching for bullpen help are eyeballing the likes of Zach Britton (BAL), Brad Hand (SD), Justin Wilson (DET), A.J. Ramos (MIA), Addison Reed (NYM), Brandon Kintzler (MIN), Tony Watson (PIT) and Jerry Blevins (NYM).

The market for bats is considerably thinner, especially with J.D. Martinez, Todd Frazier and Eduardo Nunez already joining new teams. Still, guys like Yonder Alonso (OAK), Zack Cozart (CIN), Jay Bruce (NYM), Jed Lowrie (OAK) and Jonathan Lucroy (TEX) can make a difference for a contender.

With the non-waiver trade deadline set to arrive Monday, let's take one final run through the market's hottest rumors and play some fact or fiction.

Begin Slideshow

Caught Napping: MLB Contenders Who Must Pull the Trigger on Impact Trade ASAP

With less than a week to go until the non-waiver MLB trade deadline, the rumor mill is in full swing as contenders look to put the finishing touches on their rosters and sellers look to bolster their farm systems.

We've already seen a number of potential impact players on the move this month.

The Cubs added Jose Quintana, the Yankees picked up Todd Frazier, David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle, the Royals acquired Trevor Cahill, Brandon Maurer and Ryan Buchter, the Twins traded for Jaime Garcia and the Brewers filled out their bullpen with Anthony Swarzak.

But what about the contenders who have remained quiet to this point?

Ahead is a look at five potentially playoff-bound teams who should pull the trigger on an impact trade immediately and a look at who they might acquire.

Begin Slideshow

MLB Midseason Position Power Rankings: B/R’s Top 100 Players

Over the past month, we've taken a position-by-position run through the league with our midseason positional power rankings.

Now it's time for an all-encompassing look at the league's 100 best players.

Simply put, this is meant to be a look at the best of the best in 2017. Previous track record and future expectations were a non-factor; only this season's production was taken into account.

With that in mind, let's dive into our midseason rankings.

  Top 100 Players  
1 img Jose Altuve 2B/1
2 img Aaron Judge OF/1
3 img Bryce Harper OF/2
4 img Max Scherzer SP/1
5 img Clayton Kershaw SP/2
6 img Chris Sale SP/3
7 img Nolan Arenado 3B/1
8 img Anthony Rendon 3B/2
9 img Carlos Correa SS/1
10 img Mookie Betts OF/3
11 img Paul Goldschmidt 1B/1
12 img Joey Votto 1B/2
13 img George Springer OF/4
14 img Corey Kluber SP/4
15 imgMike Trout OF/5
16 img Justin Turner 3B/3
17 img Charlie Blackmon OF/6
18 img Alex Wood SP/5
19 img Jose Ramirez 3B/4
20 img Corey Seager SS/2
21 img Zack Greinke SP/6
22 img Zack Cozart SS/3
23 img Marcus Stroman SP/7
24 img Marcell Ozuna OF/7
25 img Daniel Murphy 2B/2
26 img Gio Gonzalez SP/8
27 img Kris Bryant 3B/5
28 img Buster Posey C/1
29 img Freddie Freeman 1B/3
30 img Dallas Keuchel SP/9
31 img Cody Bellinger 1B/4
32 img Giancarlo Stanton OF/8
33 img Michael Conforto OF/9
34 img Robbie Ray SP/10
35 img Andrelton Simmons SS/4
36 img Jason Vargas SP/11
37 img Justin Smoak 1B/5
38 img Justin Upton OF/10
39 img Kenley Jansen RP/1
40 img Craig Kimbrel RP/2
41 img Luis Severino SP/12
42 img Andrew Miller RP/3
43 img Ryan Zimmerman 1B/6
44 img Jacob deGrom SP/13
45 img Stephen Strasburg SP/14
46 img Travis Shaw 3B/6
47 img Tommy Pham OF/11
48 img Jake Lamb 3B/7
49 img Chris Taylor OF/12
50 img Felipe Rivero RP/4
51 img Ervin Santana SP/15
52 img Ender Inciarte OF/13
53 img Jonathan Schoop 2B/3
54 img Yu Darvish SP/16
55 img Michael Fulmer SP/17
56 img Carlos Martinez SP/18
57 img Greg Holland RP/5
58 img Logan Morrison 1B/7
59 img Anthony Rizzo 1B/8
60 img Marwin Gonzalez UT/1
61 img Jedd Gyorko 3B/8
62 img Steven Souza OF/14
63 img Willson Contreras C/2
64 img Jimmy Nelson SP/19
65 img Miguel Sano 3B/9
66 img Aaron Hicks OF/15
67 img James Paxton SP/20
68 img J.T. Realmuto C/3
69 img Corey Dickerson DH/1
70 img Avisail Garcia OF/16
71 img Archie Bradley RP/6
72 img Chase Anderson SP/21
73 img Didi Gregorius SS/5
74 img Carlos Carrasco SP/22
75 img Andrew McCutchen OF/17
76 img Dustin Pedroia 2B/4
77 img Francisco Lindor SS/6
78 img Domingo Santana OF/18
79 img Kyle Freeland SP/23
80 img Roberto Osuna RP/7
81 img Nelson Cruz DH/2
82 img David Peralta OF/19
83 img Justin Bour 1B/9
84 img J.D. Martinez OF/20
85 img Yonder Alonso 1B/10
86 img Robinson Cano 2B/5
87 img Raisel Iglesias RP/8
88 img Wade Davis RP/9
89 img Yasmani Grandal C/4
90 img Eric Hosmer 1B/11
91 img Ivan Nova SP/24
92 img Salvador Perez C/5
93 img Josh Harrison 2B/6
94 img Lance McCullers SP/25
95 img Corey Knebel RP/10
96 img Mike Moustakas 3B/10
97 img Jackie Bradley Jr. OF/21
98 img Scooter Gennett 2B/7
99 img Alex Avila C/6
100 img Whit Merrifield 2B/8


                

The Young Guns

There were 16 players under the age of 25 who earned a spot in our rankings, including reigning Rookie of the Year winners Corey Seager (23) and Michael Fulmer (24), 2015 NL MVP Bryce Harper (24) and 2016 AL MVP runner-up Mookie Betts (24).

The youngest of that group is current NL Rookie of the Year front-runner Cody Bellinger, who turned 22 on July 13, just days after he became the youngest position player to make the All-Star Game in Los Angeles Dodgers history.

Roberto Osuna and Carlos Correa are also 22 years old, and both players are already in their third MLB season after debuting at 20.

Seager and Bellinger are joined by Correa and Lance McCullers of the Houston Astros and Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez of the Cleveland Indians as the only teammates under 25 to make the cut.

While Aaron Judge isn't part of this "young guns" group after turning 25 in April, he is one of just three rookies to earn a spot, joining Bellinger and Colorado Rockies left-hander Kyle Freeland.

Third baseman Miguel Sano (24), outfielders Michael Conforto (24) and Domingo Santana (24), starter Luis Severino (23) and reliever Archie Bradley (24) round out the under-25 group. 

Meanwhile, with stars such as Mike TroutKris Bryant and Carlos Martinez joining Judge in the 25-year-old bracketon top of all the other young talent mentioned aboveit's safe to say the game is in good hands.

      

Aging Like a Fine Wine

The elder statesmen are not quite as well-represented.

Just 12 players over 31 earned a spot, which further shines a light on the risks that come with spending big money on free agents and the importance of developing in-house talent.

Seattle Mariners slugger Nelson Cruz is the oldest player on our list and one of just two primary designated hitters to earn a spot. He's still going strong at 37 years old with an .863 OPS and 20 home runs to go along with an AL-leading 75 RBI.

Ervin Santana edged out Jason Vargas by 52 days for the title of oldest pitcher as both veteran hurlers turned 34 before the season started. While they've both regressed of late, their early work is still enough to warrant recognition.

As if Harper's looming free agency wasn't reason enough to say the Washington Nationals need to seize the opportunity in front of them, Max Scherzer (32), Ryan Zimmerman (32) and Daniel Murphy (32) aren't getting any younger.

Indians relief ace Andrew Miller (32) has helped lead the current bullpen revolution, while the Dodgers weren't afraid to give Justin Turner (32) a four-year, $64 million deal in the offseason—a signing that's looked like a clear win thus far.

Robinson Cano (34), Joey Votto (33), Zack Greinke (33) and Dustin Pedroia (33) have long been among the game's elite, and they're showing no signs of slowing down.

      

Who Saw Them Coming?

Forget the long-established star players; let's turn our attention to the guys no one expected to be anywhere near a top-100 players list when the season began.

Yonder Alonso and Justin Smoak went from afterthoughts at first base to earning spots on the AL All-Star roster, while Justin Bour has learned how to hit left-handed pitching and turned in a huge season as a result.

The Milwaukee Brewers are contenders thanks in large part Santana's contributions in the middle of the lineup, Jimmy Nelson and Chase Anderson in the rotation and Corey Knebel at the back of the bullpen.

Former Big Apple top prospects Conforto and Severino are finally living up to expectations after both players spent time in the minors last season. Bradley was also one of the game's top prospects not all that long ago, and he's found a home in the bullpen after struggling as a starter.

Speaking of minors, that's where Chris Taylor and Tommy Pham began the year for their respective teams before emerging as key contributors.

Further proof that the bargain bin is always worth perusing, Alex Avila ($2 million) and Logan Morrison ($2.5 million) are making good on cheap free-agent deals, while Scooter Gennett has been the waiver claim of the year.

Jonathan Schoop is an emerging offensive star, Avisail Garcia is finally realizing his potential, Felipe Rivero has made Pirates fans quickly forget about Mark Melancon, and Marwin Gonzalez is baseball's most dangerous Swiss army knife.

The most surprising name on this list: Whit Merrifield in the No. 100 spot.

The 28-year-old hit a respectable .283/.323/.392 in a utility role as a rookie last season, but little was expected of him going forward.

Instead, he's seized the everyday second base job and hit .291/.334/.491 with 22 doubles and 11 home runs on his way to a 3.1 WAR in 82 games.

      

Where Did They Go?

The goal of this list and the positional lists that came before it was to look at the 2017 season in a bubble.

With that in mind, a number of superstar-caliber players were excluded.

Third basemen Manny Machado and Josh Donaldson would have had a strong case for spots inside the top 10 on preseason lists, while Tigers superstar Miguel Cabrera is dealing with some nagging injuries and suffering through a down year.

Jonathan Lucroy is likely costing himself a good deal of free-agent money with a down season of his own, and the same can be said for Cubs starter Jake Arrieta.

What looked like a deep second base group has instead been thin as Ian KinslerBrian DozierJason KipnisBen ZobristJonathan Villar and Rougned Odor have all fallen flat.

Budding stars Starling MarteKyle Seager and Christian Yelich have failed to build on strong 2016 campaigns, while the big money spent on Yoenis Cespedes and Dexter Fowler in free agency looks like a mistake.

Shifting to the mound, injuries have robbed time from Noah Syndergaard and Madison Bumgarner, and the same goes for elite closers Aroldis ChapmanZach Britton and Jeurys Familia.

In fact, the list of presumptive top-tier starting pitchers who have fallen short of expectations is a long one.

Kyle HendricksDavid PriceAaron Sanchez and Felix Hernandez have all missed time to injury, while others such as Jon LesterJohnny CuetoJustin Verlander and Masahiro Tanaka simply haven't performed up to their potential.

The biggest flop of all might be Melancon, who landed a four-year, $62 million deal in the offseason only to convert 73.3 percent of his save chances for San Francisco with a 4.35 ERA. He's not entirely to blame for what's been baseball's most disappointing team, though.

              

Best Offseason Addition (Hitter): 46. 3B Travis Shaw, Milwaukee Brewers

If only the Boston Red Sox had a quality third baseman with a middle-of-the-order bat, solid glove and several years of team control remaining.

Someone like Travis Shaw, for example.

The Red Sox sent Shaw and a pair of prospects to the Brewers during the offseason in exchange for setup man Tyler Thornburg—who underwent thoracic outlet surgery before he could make his Boston debut.

Shaw posted a .726 OPS with 16 home runs and 71 RBI in his first extended action at the MLB level last season, but he's become a force this year with a .943 OPS that includes 24 doubles, 23 home runs and 73 RBI en route to a 3.5 WAR.

In his absence, the Red Sox have gotten a dismal .589 OPS from the hot corner.

A year from now, prospect Rafael Devers might be a budding star and Thornburg might finally be contributing out of the bullpen. If that's the case, all may be forgotten.

Until then, trading Shaw looks like a major misstep for the Red Sox and a huge boon to the rebuilding Brewers.

             

Best Offseason Addition (Pitcher): 6. SP Chris Sale, Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox might have swung and missed on the Shaw trade, but they knocked it out of the park with their winter meetings blockbuster to acquire Chris Sale from the Chicago White Sox.

He came at a steep price as Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech headlined a package of four prospects that went to Chicago in the deal, but where would the Red Sox be without Sale this season?

Price is still searching for consistency after missing time early, Rick Porcello has looked nothing like the guy who took home 2016 AL Cy Young honors and Eduardo Rodriguez has only made 12 starts while dealing with his own injury issues.

That's made Sale's dominance all the more important.

The 28-year-old leads the AL in wins (12), ERA (2.48), FIP (1.96), WHIP (0.89), strikeouts (200), strikeouts per nine innings (12.7) and innings pitched (141.1).

And with two years and $26 million left on his contract, Sale will be the gift that keeps on giving.

      

Best Upcoming Free Agent (Hitter): 22. SS Zack Cozart, Cincinnati Reds

J.D. Martinez, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Jonathan Lucroy, Carlos Santana, Lorenzo Cain and Jay Bruce are among the top position players who will reach free agency this coming offseason and Justin Upton will join that group if he exercises his opt-out clause.

However, it's Cincinnati Reds shortstop Zack Cozart who claims the top spot in our rankings among upcoming free agents.

The 31-year-old has long been one of the league's better defensive shortstops and this season is no different as he's tallied 4 DRS and a 7.6 UZR/150.

It's his offensive game that has reached new heights.

A .246/.289/.385 career hitter entering the year, Cozart is batting .318/.404/.570 with 20 doubles, 12 home runs and 39 RBI.

He might not land a mega-deal on the open market, but he's all but guaranteed himself a multi-year pact and a decent raise over the $5.325 million he's making this season.

      

Best Upcoming Free Agent (Pitcher): 36. SP Jason Vargas, Kansas City Royals

Yu Darvish will likely sign for north of $100 million this winter and others like Jake Arrieta, Lance Lynn, Alex Cobb and Michael Pineda appear to be well-positioned for lucrative, multi-year deals as well. Relievers Greg Holland and Wade Davis will also be hot commodities on the open market.

It soft-tossing Jason Vargas who ranked highest among upcoming free agent pitchers, though.

With an average fastball velocity of 86.9 mph that's backed by a changeup/curveball/sinker mix, the 34-year-old has gone 12-4 with a 3.08 ERA, 1.24 WHIP and 84 strikeouts in 114 innings.

Vargas made just 12 total appearances the past two seasons while recovering from Tommy John surgery and he's in the final year of a four-year, $32 million deal.

He might have to settle for a one-year deal given his age and recent injury history, but a raise over the $8 million he'll earn this season could be in order after Bartolo Colon landed a one-year, $12.5 million deal last winter.

      

Teams Who Got Shutout

The Philadelphia Phillies and San Diego Padres were the only teams without a representative in our midseason top 100.

Reliever Pat Neshek was the Phillies lone All-Star representative and their best candidate for inclusion here as well. The 36-year-old has posted a 1.12 ERA, 0.82 WHIP and 10.0 K/9 with 10 holds in 43 games and figures to join a contender before the trade deadline passes.

Outfielder Aaron Altherr (.288 BA, .898 OPS, 20 2B, 14 HR, 44 RBI) and starter Aaron Nola (15 GS, 7-6, 3.38 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 97 K, 93.1 IP) also made our preliminary list.

It was a similar story for the Padres, whose only All-Star and best candidate for this list was lefty reliever Brad Hand and he too could be on the move before the deadline. He's pitched to a 2.12 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 11.6 K/9 in 46 games and comes with team control through the 2019 season.

First baseman Wil Myers (.250 BA, .804 OPS, 17 2B, 20 HR, 47 RBI) was the only other player to receive initial consideration from San Diego.

      

Baseball's Most Stacked Team: Los Angeles Dodgers

With a 69-31 record and an 11.5-game lead in baseball's best division, it should come as no surprise that the Dodgers led all teams with eight representatives on the top 100 list.

Starting pitchers Clayton Kershaw (5) and Alex Wood (18) and closer Kenley Jansen (39) were joined by catcher Yasmani Grandal (89), first baseman Cody Bellinger (31), shortstop Corey Seager (20), third baseman Justin Turner (16) and second baseman/outfielder Chris Taylor (49).

The Nationals had all seven of their representatives ranked inside the top 50—including three of the top 10 with Bryce Harper (3), Max Scherzer (4) and Anthony Rendon (8)—and the Arizona Diamondbacks had seven players find their way onto the list as well.

The American League side of things was also fairly predictable, as the first-place Astros led the way with six players. That was followed by the Red Sox and something of a surprise in the Royals—who had five each.

Team success and individual performance are obviously two different things, but having a bevy of players on this list doesn't hurt a team's chances of playing in October.

 

Notes

  • Players born in the United States (68), Dominican Republic (10), Venezuela (9), Netherlands (4), Cuba (3), Canada (2), Puerto Rico (2), Japan (1) and Mexico (1) appeared on the list.
  • There are 34 former first-round picks, including four No. 1 overall picks—Justin Upton (2005), Stephen Strasburg (2009), Bryce Harper (2010) and Carlos Correa (2012).
  • Conversely, seven players were drafted after the 10th round—Robbie Ray (12th), Daniel Murphy (13th), Scooter Gennett (16th), Tommy Pham (16th), J.D. Martinez (20th), Logan Morrison (22nd) and Justin Bour (25th).
  • Of the 100 players, 36 never appeared on a Baseball America preseason top 100 prospect list—including Jose Altuve (1), Paul Goldschmidt (11), Corey Kluber (14), Justin Turner (16), Charlie Blackmon (17), Alex Wood (18), Jose Ramirez (19) and Daniel Murphy (25) among players ranked inside the top 25.
  • With the trade deadline looming, it's worth noting that 39 of the players have been involved in a trade at some point in their career. That number is eclipsed by the 53 players who are still playing for the team that originally signed or drafted them.

 

All standard stats and WAR totals courtesy of Baseball Reference, while advanced stats come via FanGraphs. Stats are accurate through Monday's games.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

MLB Power Rankings: Where All 30 Teams Stand 1 Week from Trade Deadline

The MLB trade deadline is right around the corner, and with a bevy of teams still lurking on the fringe of contention, the upcoming week will go a long way in determining whether a number of clubs are buyers or sellers.

At the conclusion of play on Sunday, no fewer than 20 teams were within five games of a playoff spot and the AL East, AL Central and NL Central division titles are still very much up for grabs.

Meanwhile, the three runaway division leaders—the Los Angeles Dodgers, Houston Astros and Washington Nationals—could all be gearing up to make a splashy deal in an effort to solidify their standing as World Series contenders.

For now, just remember these rankings are fluid, and teams will rise and fall based on where they were ranked the previous week. If a team keeps winning, it will keep climbing—it's as simple as that.

With that in mind, here's a look at where all 30 teams stand:

  Updated Rankings  
1 img Dodgers (68-31) img
2 img Astros (65-33) img
3 img Nationals (59-38) img
4 img Rockies (58-42) img3
5 img Red Sox (55-45) img
6 img Indians (51-45) img2
7 img D-backs (56-42) img3
8 img Cubs (51-46) img4
9 img Yankees (51-46) img2
10 img Rays (51-48) img4
11 img Brewers (53-48) img7
12 img Royals (50-47) img3
13 img Pirates (49-50) img3
14 img Rangers (48-50) img5
15 img Twins (49-48) img1
16 img Braves (47-50) img3
17 img Angels (49-51) img2
18 img Mariners (49-51) img1
19 img Orioles (47-51) img6
20 img Cardinals (47-51) img2
21 img Tigers (45-52) img1
22 img Mets (45-51) img2
23 img Padres (43-55) img3
24 img Athletics (44-54) img3
25 img Marlins (44-52) img1
26 img Blue Jays (44-54) img3
27 img Reds (41-57) img
28 img Phillies (34-62) img2
29 img Giants (38-62) img
30 img White Sox (38-57) img2

     

Biggest Risers

Baltimore Orioles (Up 6 Spots)

The Baltimore Orioles were in a full-blown free fall down the rankings with a 3-10 stretch of games heading into last week, but they righted the ship with a four-game sweep of the Texas Rangers.

It sounds like that might be enough for the team to bypass the idea of selling at the deadline.

"Whatever we do (at the deadline) we are going to try to help the club, I still like a lot of our core players. I don't believe all this stuff that says we have half the club on the market. Because we have a lot of baseball left to be played," general manager Dan Duquette told Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com.

Maybe that's just posturing on his part, but for clubs lining up to make a run at acquiring relief ace Zach Britton, that's not what you want to hear.

As it stands, the O's are seven games back in the AL East and 3.5 back with six teams to pass in the wild-card standings.

One of the biggest issues this year has been winning away from Camden Yards, as they've gone 17-30 on the road, compared to 29-21 at home.

With a road trip to take on the Tampa Bay Rays and Rangers awaiting this coming week, it's looking an awful lot like make-or-break time.

           

Chicago Cubs (Up 4 Spots)

The Chicago Cubs are an MLB-best 8-1 with a plus-23 run differential since the All-Star break after sweeping the Atlanta Braves and then taking two of three from the rival St. Louis Cardinals last week.

Willson Contreras delivered the big blow on Sunday night and he's been the team's hottest hitter since the break, batting .324 with three doubles, four home runs and 11 RBI while taking over as the team's cleanup hitter.

Manager Joe Maddon took notice while talking with reporters following Sunday's win

"He's just playing his butt off, literally, right now. Everything he's doing is pretty darn good. He plays with enthusiasm, also. You gotta feel that in the stands.

There's some times he might get over-enthusiastic. I prefer toning people down as opposed to pumping them up all the time. He's doing everything. He's hitting fourth, he's catching, he's handling a really good pitching staff, he's throwing people out, he's blocking the ball really well and he's hitting homers, so God bless him."

The addition of Jose Quintana has provided an obvious spark and he was terrific once again in his Wrigley Field debut. With Kyle Hendricks set to make his first start since June 4 on Monday, things are finally looking up for a starting rotation that had been the team's biggest weakness for much of the year.

The Crosstown Classic with the Chicago White Sox awaits this week as the Cubs look to seize control of the NL Central race.

       

Biggest Fallers

Milwaukee Brewers (Down 7 Spots)

While the Cubs have gone 8-1 since the break, the Milwaukee Brewers are heading in the opposite direction at 3-6 in the second half and 1-6 in their last seven games.

That's pulled the two teams into a virtual tie atop the NL Central standings and leaves the Brewers with some tough decisions to make ahead of the trade deadline.

By all accounts, this was supposed to be a rebuilding season for the Brew Crew and they've worked hard in recent years to build up one of the deeper farm systems in the majors.

Do they mortgage some of that young talent to make an ahead-of-schedule push for the postseason, or do they ride it out with the group of guys they have to continue focusing on the future?

The team has been linked to Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler (per Buster Olney of ESPN), Marlins closer A.J. Ramos (per Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports), Phillies reliever Pat Neshek (per Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports) and Braves starter Jaime Garcia (per Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com) in recent days and several other starting pitching options previously.

Whether they decide to pull the trigger on a big move could hinge on how the team performs this coming week and it's not an easy road ahead as they'll take on the Nationals and Cubs.

        

Texas Rangers (Down 5 Spots)

To their credit, the Rangers managed to bounce back nicely from a four-game sweep at the hands of the Orioles to do some sweeping of their own over the weekend against the Rays.

However, with a 48-50 record and the deadline fast approaching, a losing week does little to provide any clarity for how the club should approach the rapidly unfolding trade market.

The AL West race is essentially over as the Houston Astros hold a 17-game lead and are showing no signs of slowing down.

That leaves as a cluttered wild-card race as the Rangers' only hope for reaching the postseason, and while they currently sit just 2.5 games back, that comes with the caveat of having to pass five teams just to pull into the No. 2 spot.

It's a tough pill to swallow after entering the season with legitimate World Series aspirations, but it looks like the team's best course of action would be to flip Yu Darvish for a big prospect haul and start looking ahead to next season.

Whether GM Jon Daniels agrees remains to be seen.

      

Tampa Bay Rays (Down 4 Spots)

Speaking of the Rays, they reached new heights last week when they pulled into the No. 6 spot in these rankings, but the climb stops there after they were swept over the weekend.

"The Rays were swept by the Rangers at Tropicana Field, right out of any momentum they had from a successful western trip — three blown leads in as many days, three crushing losses," wrote Martin Fennelly of the Tampa Bay Times. "Suddenly, the losing streak is four. Suddenly, it feels like the edge of a cliff."

A tad melodramatic? Maybe, but that's late July baseball for a team on the fringe of contention, as one bad week can mean the difference between buying and selling.

More times than not, the Rays more or less stand pat regardless of their standing on July 31. That's life as a small-market team reliant on homegrown talent and bargain-bin additions to do a lot of the heavy lifting.

This year could be the exception, though.

"While still operating under the proviso of being "responsible," they seem willing to take on some salary and part with some good — though not their elite — prospects and maybe a player off the current roster," Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times wrote while listing an "impact reliever and maybe a bat" as the likely targets.

A pair of division foes in the Orioles and Yankees await this coming week as they mull things over.

        

MVPs of the Week

AL MVP: 2B Jonathan Schoop, Baltimore Orioles

Stats: 13-for-30, 2 2B, 3 HR, 16 RBI, 8 R

Jonathan Schoop was the lone All-Star representative for the Orioles this season after a breakout first half and he's kept things rolling post-break.

The 25-year-old showed good pop last season when he slugged 38 doubles and 25 home runs, but he hit just .267/.298/.454 in the process.

That's improved to an impressive .307/.353/.552 so far this year and he's already tallied 21 home runs and 70 RBI thanks to another terrific performance last week.

Doug DeCinces holds the franchise record for home runs by a second baseman with 28 during the 1978 season, so Schoop should have no trouble surpassing that total before season's end.

       

NL MVP: 3B Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies

Stats: 11-for-24, 1 2B, 4 HR, 13 RBI, 9 R

Nolan Arenado enjoyed perhaps his best single-game performance in what has already been an impressive career last week.

In this his fifth MLB season, Arenado recorded his first five-hit game and his first three-homer game in one fell swoop against the San Diego Padres on Monday.

The 26-year-old plated 13 runs total in helping the Colorado Rockies to a 5-1 week, extending his MLB-leading RBI total to 86 in the process as he looks to pace the NL in that category for a third consecutive season.

At some point this guy has to start getting the attention he deserves on a national level, right?

        

Stats of the Week

Let's dive into some of the better nuggets from around the league.

We'll start with the Los Angeles Dodgers, who broke a record previously held by the 1906 Chicago Cubs—a team that recorded the best winning percentage (.763) in baseball history.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have the Pittsburgh Pirates, who swept the Milwaukee Brewers last week with four straight comeback victories.

Per Elias, they're just the third team in MLB history to have a four-game sweep against a first-place divisional opponent (or league opponent before 1969), with all four games being comeback wins, joining the 1924 Pirates and 2006 Astros.

Meanwhile, the season of home runs continued, as Aaron Judge and Bryce Harper both "broke" Statcast with tape-measure shots.

Kyle Melnick of MLB.com provided an example for the Harper blast.

MLB.com used the word "clobbers" to describe what Harper did to this baseball.

While Judge's shot is probably the closest a ball has come to being hit out of Safeco Field.

Judge's teammate Brett Gardner might not reach quite the same distance when he goes over the fence, but the Yankees are 14-0 this year in games where he's homered and with No. 17 on Sunday, he has also tied his career-high.

A few more quick tidbits from around the Twitterverse:

Probably safe to assume Bob Feller was the previous record-holder.

Nothing like a Tom "Flash" Gordon mention to kick-start your Monday.

And finally, was I the only one surprised to learn that Jose Altuve has never had a hitting streak of more than 15 games?

He's gone 34-for-68 (.500) during that streak, raising his batting average from .327 to .358 in the process. Going back a bit further, he has a hit in 28 of his last 30 games with a .438/.496/.678 line in 137 plate appearances during that span.

I'll say it: Aaron Judge is a beast, but Jose Altuve deserves AL MVP if the season ended today.

      

Must-See Upcoming Matchup

Sonny Gray vs. Minnesota Twins (Sunday)

Expect a small army of scouts to make the trip to the Bay Area on Sunday for what could very well be Sonny Gray's final start in an Oakland Athletics uniform.

That is, if he hasn't already been traded by then.

Gray is no stranger to hearing his name pop up in trade talks, but there appears to be some real momentum toward a deal getting done. In fact, Buster Olney of ESPN listed him among a group of players "whose trades are considered imminent by baseball officials" in an article on July 17.

The 27-year-old saw his stock plummet last season in a trying year that was beset by injuries and he followed that up by getting a late start to the 2017 campaign.

However, he's back healthy now and has been rolling of late, going 4-1 with a 1.62 ERA, 0.75 WHIP and a .155 opponents' batting average in his last five starts.

With team control through the 2019 season, he won't come cheap, but he could be the missing piece for a team like the Astros.

This would also be the next scheduled start for Bartolo Colon, provided he doesn't decide to hang it up following Monday's outing against the Los Angeles Dodgers, so that's worth the price of admission in itself.

              

All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted and accurate through Sunday.

Looking for someone to yell at about where your favorite team was slotted in the latest rankings? I'll meet you in the comments section.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

MLB Power Rankings: Where All 30 Teams Stand 1 Week from Trade Deadline

The MLB trade deadline is right around the corner, and with a bevy of teams still lurking on the fringe of contention, the upcoming week will go a long way in determining whether a number of clubs are buyers or sellers.

At the conclusion of play on Sunday, no fewer than 20 teams were within five games of a playoff spot and the AL East, AL Central and NL Central division titles are still very much up for grabs.

Meanwhile, the three runaway division leaders—the Los Angeles Dodgers, Houston Astros and Washington Nationals—could all be gearing up to make a splashy deal in an effort to solidify their standing as World Series contenders.

For now, just remember these rankings are fluid, and teams will rise and fall based on where they were ranked the previous week. If a team keeps winning, it will keep climbing—it's as simple as that.

With that in mind, here's a look at where all 30 teams stand:

  Updated Rankings  
1 img Dodgers (68-31) img
2 img Astros (65-33) img
3 img Nationals (59-38) img
4 img Rockies (58-42) img3
5 img Red Sox (55-45) img
6 img Indians (51-45) img2
7 img D-backs (56-42) img3
8 img Cubs (51-46) img4
9 img Yankees (51-46) img2
10 img Rays (51-48) img4
11 img Brewers (53-48) img7
12 img Royals (50-47) img3
13 img Pirates (49-50) img3
14 img Rangers (48-50) img5
15 img Twins (49-48) img1
16 img Braves (47-50) img3
17 img Angels (49-51) img2
18 img Mariners (49-51) img1
19 img Orioles (47-51) img6
20 img Cardinals (47-51) img2
21 img Tigers (45-52) img1
22 img Mets (45-51) img2
23 img Padres (43-55) img3
24 img Athletics (44-54) img3
25 img Marlins (44-52) img1
26 img Blue Jays (44-54) img3
27 img Reds (41-57) img
28 img Phillies (34-62) img2
29 img Giants (38-62) img
30 img White Sox (38-57) img2

     

Biggest Risers

Baltimore Orioles (Up 6 Spots)

The Baltimore Orioles were in a full-blown free fall down the rankings with a 3-10 stretch of games heading into last week, but they righted the ship with a four-game sweep of the Texas Rangers.

It sounds like that might be enough for the team to bypass the idea of selling at the deadline.

"Whatever we do (at the deadline) we are going to try to help the club, I still like a lot of our core players. I don't believe all this stuff that says we have half the club on the market. Because we have a lot of baseball left to be played," general manager Dan Duquette told Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com.

Maybe that's just posturing on his part, but for clubs lining up to make a run at acquiring relief ace Zach Britton, that's not what you want to hear.

As it stands, the O's are seven games back in the AL East and 3.5 back with six teams to pass in the wild-card standings.

One of the biggest issues this year has been winning away from Camden Yards, as they've gone 17-30 on the road, compared to 29-21 at home.

With a road trip to take on the Tampa Bay Rays and Rangers awaiting this coming week, it's looking an awful lot like make-or-break time.

           

Chicago Cubs (Up 4 Spots)

The Chicago Cubs are an MLB-best 8-1 with a plus-23 run differential since the All-Star break after sweeping the Atlanta Braves and then taking two of three from the rival St. Louis Cardinals last week.

Willson Contreras delivered the big blow on Sunday night and he's been the team's hottest hitter since the break, batting .324 with three doubles, four home runs and 11 RBI while taking over as the team's cleanup hitter.

Manager Joe Maddon took notice while talking with reporters following Sunday's win

"He's just playing his butt off, literally, right now. Everything he's doing is pretty darn good. He plays with enthusiasm, also. You gotta feel that in the stands.

There's some times he might get over-enthusiastic. I prefer toning people down as opposed to pumping them up all the time. He's doing everything. He's hitting fourth, he's catching, he's handling a really good pitching staff, he's throwing people out, he's blocking the ball really well and he's hitting homers, so God bless him."

The addition of Jose Quintana has provided an obvious spark and he was terrific once again in his Wrigley Field debut. With Kyle Hendricks set to make his first start since June 4 on Monday, things are finally looking up for a starting rotation that had been the team's biggest weakness for much of the year.

The Crosstown Classic with the Chicago White Sox awaits this week as the Cubs look to seize control of the NL Central race.

       

Biggest Fallers

Milwaukee Brewers (Down 7 Spots)

While the Cubs have gone 8-1 since the break, the Milwaukee Brewers are heading in the opposite direction at 3-6 in the second half and 1-6 in their last seven games.

That's pulled the two teams into a virtual tie atop the NL Central standings and leaves the Brewers with some tough decisions to make ahead of the trade deadline.

By all accounts, this was supposed to be a rebuilding season for the Brew Crew and they've worked hard in recent years to build up one of the deeper farm systems in the majors.

Do they mortgage some of that young talent to make an ahead-of-schedule push for the postseason, or do they ride it out with the group of guys they have to continue focusing on the future?

The team has been linked to Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler (per Buster Olney of ESPN), Marlins closer A.J. Ramos (per Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports), Phillies reliever Pat Neshek (per Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports) and Braves starter Jaime Garcia (per Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com) in recent days and several other starting pitching options previously.

Whether they decide to pull the trigger on a big move could hinge on how the team performs this coming week and it's not an easy road ahead as they'll take on the Nationals and Cubs.

        

Texas Rangers (Down 5 Spots)

To their credit, the Rangers managed to bounce back nicely from a four-game sweep at the hands of the Orioles to do some sweeping of their own over the weekend against the Rays.

However, with a 48-50 record and the deadline fast approaching, a losing week does little to provide any clarity for how the club should approach the rapidly unfolding trade market.

The AL West race is essentially over as the Houston Astros hold a 17-game lead and are showing no signs of slowing down.

That leaves as a cluttered wild-card race as the Rangers' only hope for reaching the postseason, and while they currently sit just 2.5 games back, that comes with the caveat of having to pass five teams just to pull into the No. 2 spot.

It's a tough pill to swallow after entering the season with legitimate World Series aspirations, but it looks like the team's best course of action would be to flip Yu Darvish for a big prospect haul and start looking ahead to next season.

Whether GM Jon Daniels agrees remains to be seen.

      

Tampa Bay Rays (Down 4 Spots)

Speaking of the Rays, they reached new heights last week when they pulled into the No. 6 spot in these rankings, but the climb stops there after they were swept over the weekend.

"The Rays were swept by the Rangers at Tropicana Field, right out of any momentum they had from a successful western trip — three blown leads in as many days, three crushing losses," wrote Martin Fennelly of the Tampa Bay Times. "Suddenly, the losing streak is four. Suddenly, it feels like the edge of a cliff."

A tad melodramatic? Maybe, but that's late July baseball for a team on the fringe of contention, as one bad week can mean the difference between buying and selling.

More times than not, the Rays more or less stand pat regardless of their standing on July 31. That's life as a small-market team reliant on homegrown talent and bargain-bin additions to do a lot of the heavy lifting.

This year could be the exception, though.

"While still operating under the proviso of being "responsible," they seem willing to take on some salary and part with some good — though not their elite — prospects and maybe a player off the current roster," Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times wrote while listing an "impact reliever and maybe a bat" as the likely targets.

A pair of division foes in the Orioles and Yankees await this coming week as they mull things over.

        

MVPs of the Week

AL MVP: 2B Jonathan Schoop, Baltimore Orioles

Stats: 13-for-30, 2 2B, 3 HR, 16 RBI, 8 R

Jonathan Schoop was the lone All-Star representative for the Orioles this season after a breakout first half and he's kept things rolling post-break.

The 25-year-old showed good pop last season when he slugged 38 doubles and 25 home runs, but he hit just .267/.298/.454 in the process.

That's improved to an impressive .307/.353/.552 so far this year and he's already tallied 21 home runs and 70 RBI thanks to another terrific performance last week.

Doug DeCinces holds the franchise record for home runs by a second baseman with 28 during the 1978 season, so Schoop should have no trouble surpassing that total before season's end.

       

NL MVP: 3B Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies

Stats: 11-for-24, 1 2B, 4 HR, 13 RBI, 9 R

Nolan Arenado enjoyed perhaps his best single-game performance in what has already been an impressive career last week.

In this his fifth MLB season, Arenado recorded his first five-hit game and his first three-homer game in one fell swoop against the San Diego Padres on Monday.

The 26-year-old plated 13 runs total in helping the Colorado Rockies to a 5-1 week, extending his MLB-leading RBI total to 86 in the process as he looks to pace the NL in that category for a third consecutive season.

At some point this guy has to start getting the attention he deserves on a national level, right?

        

Stats of the Week

Let's dive into some of the better nuggets from around the league.

We'll start with the Los Angeles Dodgers, who broke a record previously held by the 1906 Chicago Cubs—a team that recorded the best winning percentage (.763) in baseball history.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have the Pittsburgh Pirates, who swept the Milwaukee Brewers last week with four straight comeback victories.

Per Elias, they're just the third team in MLB history to have a four-game sweep against a first-place divisional opponent (or league opponent before 1969), with all four games being comeback wins, joining the 1924 Pirates and 2006 Astros.

Meanwhile, the season of home runs continued, as Aaron Judge and Bryce Harper both "broke" Statcast with tape-measure shots.

Kyle Melnick of MLB.com provided an example for the Harper blast.

MLB.com used the word "clobbers" to describe what Harper did to this baseball.

While Judge's shot is probably the closest a ball has come to being hit out of Safeco Field.

Judge's teammate Brett Gardner might not reach quite the same distance when he goes over the fence, but the Yankees are 14-0 this year in games where he's homered and with No. 17 on Sunday, he has also tied his career-high.

A few more quick tidbits from around the Twitterverse:

Probably safe to assume Bob Feller was the previous record-holder.

Nothing like a Tom "Flash" Gordon mention to kick-start your Monday.

And finally, was I the only one surprised to learn that Jose Altuve has never had a hitting streak of more than 15 games?

He's gone 34-for-68 (.500) during that streak, raising his batting average from .327 to .358 in the process. Going back a bit further, he has a hit in 28 of his last 30 games with a .438/.496/.678 line in 137 plate appearances during that span.

I'll say it: Aaron Judge is a beast, but Jose Altuve deserves AL MVP if the season ended today.

      

Must-See Upcoming Matchup

Sonny Gray vs. Minnesota Twins (Sunday)

Expect a small army of scouts to make the trip to the Bay Area on Sunday for what could very well be Sonny Gray's final start in an Oakland Athletics uniform.

That is, if he hasn't already been traded by then.

Gray is no stranger to hearing his name pop up in trade talks, but there appears to be some real momentum toward a deal getting done. In fact, Buster Olney of ESPN listed him among a group of players "whose trades are considered imminent by baseball officials" in an article on July 17.

The 27-year-old saw his stock plummet last season in a trying year that was beset by injuries and he followed that up by getting a late start to the 2017 campaign.

However, he's back healthy now and has been rolling of late, going 4-1 with a 1.62 ERA, 0.75 WHIP and a .155 opponents' batting average in his last five starts.

With team control through the 2019 season, he won't come cheap, but he could be the missing piece for a team like the Astros.

This would also be the next scheduled start for Bartolo Colon, provided he doesn't decide to hang it up following Monday's outing against the Los Angeles Dodgers, so that's worth the price of admission in itself.

              

All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted and accurate through Sunday.

Looking for someone to yell at about where your favorite team was slotted in the latest rankings? I'll meet you in the comments section.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

MLB Midseason Position Power Rankings: B/R’s Top 30 Relief Pitchers

There's not a more fickle group in baseball than relief pitchers.

That's why the few truly reliable bullpen arms—guys like Kenley Jansen, Craig Kimbrel and Andrew Miller—have come at such a steep price on the free-agent and trade markets in recent years.

It should come as no surprise then that this updated version of the league's top 30 relievers looks considerably different from the preseason version, which can be found here.

In order to trim the field of candidates, simple requirements of at least 30 innings pitched and an ERA below 4.00 were put in place to be eligible for inclusion.

For inquiring minds, that meant no Aroldis Chapman (23.2 IP) and Zach Britton (15.0 IP).

From there, the goal was simply to identify the 30 best relief pitchers for the 2017 season alone.  

Is someone like Dellin Betances a better bet to produce going forward than Brandon Kintzler?  

Probably, but that's not what this is about—it's about ranking players based solely on their performance so far this year.  

             

Previous top 30 series entries: Catchers, First Basemen, Second Basemen, Shortstops, Third Basemen, Outfielders, Starting Pitchers

Begin Slideshow

MLB Midseason Position Power Rankings: B/R’s Top 30 Starting Pitchers

It's been an interesting year for starting pitching.

While guys like Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer, Chris Sale and Corey Kluber remain the gold standard, there have been a number of out-of-nowhere performances as well.

Jason Vargas and Ervin Santana have found the fountain of youth, Alex Wood and Luis Severino went from relievers a year ago to studs, and the unheralded duo of Jimmy Nelson and Chase Anderson have helped make the Milwaukee Brewers a contender.

All of that has left this updated version of the league's top 30 starting pitchers looking considerably different from our preseason version, which can be found here.

The goal here was to identify the 30 best starting pitchers for the 2017 season alone.

Is someone like Madison Bumgarner a better bet to produce going forward than Zack Godley?

Probably, but that's not what this is about—it's about ranking players based solely on their performance so far this year.

             

Previous top 30 series entries: Catchers, First Basemen, Second Basemen, Shortstops, Third Basemen, Outfielders

Begin Slideshow

MLB Power Rankings: Where All 30 Teams Stand 2 Weeks from Trade Deadline

The MLB All-Star break has come and gone, and already we've seen a pair of significant trades made since the start of the second half.

The Chicago Cubs swung a deal with the Chicago White Sox for left-hander Jose Quintana, while the Washington Nationals picked up veteran relievers Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson from the Oakland Athletics.

That's likely just the tip of the iceberg in what figures to be another busy trade season leading up to the July 31 non-waiver deadline.

With so many teams around the .500 mark and that extra wild-card spot up for grabs, it will be a seller's market.

As for our weekly rankings, everyone is still chasing the Los Angeles Dodgers, as they've won nine in a row and gone a ridiculous 29-4 overall in their last 33 games.

Remember, these rankings are fluid, and teams rise and fall based on where they were ranked the previous week. If a team keeps winning, it will keep climbing—it's as simple as that.

With that in mind, here's a look at where all 30 teams stand:

  Updated Rankings  
1 img Dodgers (64-29) img
2 img Astros (62-30) img
3 img Nationals (55-36) img1
4 img Brewers (52-42) img1
5 img Red Sox (52-41) img
6 img Rays (49-44) img2
7 img Rockies (53-41) img
8 img Indians (47-43) img2
9 img Rangers (45-46) img3
10 img D-backs (53-39) img1
11 img Yankees (47-43) img2
12 img Cubs (46-45) img5
13 img Braves (45-45) img2
14 img Twins (46-45) img4
15 img Royals (45-45) img4
16 img Pirates (44-48) img
17 img Mariners (46-47) img2
18 img Cardinals (44-47) img4
19 img Angels (46-49) img1
20 img Padres (40-51) img
21 img Athletics (42-50) img5
22 img Tigers (41-49) img3
23 img Blue Jays (42-49) img2
24 img Mets (41-48) img4
25 img Orioles (42-49) img3
26 img Marlins (41-49) img3
27 img Reds (39-52) img3
28 img White Sox (38-52) img1
29 img Giants (35-58) img
30 img Phillies (30-60) img

     

Biggest Risers

Chicago Cubs (Up 5 Spots)

With one eye on the present and another on the near future, the Cubs landed the controllable arm they've been searching for when they shipped a package of four prospects—headlined by Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease—to the crosstown White Sox for Jose Quintana.

The 28-year-old immediately helps a starting rotation that has been plagued by inconsistency this season, while also possessing a team-friendly deal that will pay him roughly $30 million through the 2020 season.

Quintana has had an up-and-down year after a terrific 2016 season, but he was at his best in his Cubs debut Sunday, allowing three hits over seven scoreless innings while striking out a season-high 12 batters.

That helped lead the Cubs to a sweep of the Baltimore Orioles as they started the second half on a much-needed high note.

How much more the Cubs decide to do between now and the trade deadline remains to be seen, as the front office could instead bank on in-house improvements to play a significant role.

"We need to play well coming out of the gates here, and we'll assess what we're trying to do in large part based on how we play and where we are in the standings, and how realistic we think a World Series run is this year," team president Theo Epstein told reporters. "Everything is still on the table for this year."

Getting Kyle Hendricks back healthy should also provide a significant boost. He'll make another rehab start Monday and could be ready to return this coming weekend if all goes well.

           

Oakland Athletics (Up 5 Spots)

The Athletics could slide toward the bottom of the rankings in the weeks to come. After trading relievers Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson to the Nationals over the weekend, vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane told reporters the A's are committed to rebuilding.

That could mean pulling the trigger on trading ace Sonny Gray if the right offer comes along.

Breakout slugger Yonder Alonso is set to hit free agency at season's end, while veterans Jed Lowrie and Santiago Casilla could also be of interest to a contender, so those three figure to see their names pop up on the trade block as well.

A series sweep of the Cleveland Indians coming out of the All-Star break is enough for Oakland to climb five spots in this week's rankings.

As the veteran talent on the roster gets whittled away and more prospects get the call in the weeks to come, they could wind up trending in the opposite direction.

The franchise finally seems to have a long-term plan, though.

       

Biggest Fallers

Minnesota Twins (Down 4 Spots)

The Minnesota Twins are now 7-11 in their last 18 games after dropping a series to the Houston Astros over the weekend.

Luck appears to be catching up to them, as they sport a minus-65 run differential that is by far the worst of any team with a winning record.

How they play over the next week or so will likely determine how they proceed at the trade deadline.

While buying in any significant capacity is unlikely, they could opt to sell if things don't improve.

Starter Ervin Santana and closer Brandon Kintzler—who both made the trip to Miami for the All-Star Game—would generate plenty of interest if made available.

For now, the Twins sit just 1.5 games back in the AL Central and in the AL wild-card race, so standing pat or making a few small-scale additions might be the most likely outcome.

The New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers await this coming week.

        

Kansas City Royals (Down 4 Spots)

The Kansas City Royals rattled off an impressive 18-6 stretch of games before getting swept by the Dodgers to close out the first half.

That losing streak extended to five games before they finally won Sunday to avoid being swept by the Texas Rangers, but it appears the wind has been taken out of their sails.

That being said, a .500 record is good enough to leave them two games back in the AL Central and AL wild-card standings. They likely won't be the aggressive sellers many expected them to become when they got off to a slow start.

Regardless, this franchise is headed for a transition period with All-Stars Mike Moustakas and Jason Vargas as well as lineup staples Eric Hosmer and Lorenzo Cain all headed for free agency.

In the long run, they might have been better off playing poorly this year and flipping those guys to add some much-needed prospect talent to one of the thinnest farm systems in the league.

They owe it to the fanbase to make one last push with this current core if they're within striking distance, though.

      

St. Louis Cardinals (Down 4 Spots)

The Cubs landed Jose Quintana and the Milwaukee Brewers are kicking the tires on a potential pitching addition, so the St. Louis Cardinals might have their work cut out to keep pace in the NL Central.

After dropping two of three to the Pittsburgh Pirates last week, they're now 6.5 games behind the Brewers and 7.5 games back in the wild-card standings.

Kolten Wong and Kevin Siegrist both returned from the disabled list to kick off the second half, and lefty reliever Zach Duke—who underwent Tommy John surgery last October—is close to returning as well.

Whether those in-house additions are enough to provide a spark remains to be seen, but it's unlikely the team will do anything drastic at the trade deadline.

A big weekend series with the rival Cubs at Wrigley Field this coming week will give them an opportunity to build momentum. However, it could also prove to be another nail in the coffin of what has been a disappointing season thus far.

        

MVPs of the Week

AL MVP: David Price, BOS

Stats: 1 GS, W, 8.0 IP, 7 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 K

The recently concluded four-game series between the Boston Red Sox and Yankees featured plenty of impressive individual pitching performances, including terrific outings from both Chris Sale (ND, 7.2 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 13 K) and CC Sabathia (W, 6.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER).

However, it was David Price who turned in the shiniest gem Sunday night.

With eight scoreless innings in the series finale, Price has now gone 3-1 with a 1.91 ERA and 1.06 WHIP while rattling off five straight quality starts.

Manager John Farrell had nothing but good things to say following another strong outing:

"It starts with David Price. That was just a great game from him. He was outstanding—powerful from start to finish, a lot of strikes, very good command. It was impressive to see how he maintained his stuff throughout. Fastball to both sides of the plate. I thought he had a really good cutter. On a night when we needed a bounce-back win, it was a big performance by David."

If Price and Sale can continue to pitch like the co-aces everyone expected, the Red Sox could really make some noise in the second half.

       

NL MVP: Anthony Rendon, WAS

Stats: 7-for-11, 1 2B, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 4 R

Fresh off an All-Star Game snub, Anthony Rendon came out swinging to start the second half.

Nolan Arenado, Jake Lamb and Justin Turner got the nod as third basemen on the NL side, and it's tough to dispute their respective candidacies.

However, Rendon was hitting .304/.407/.552 with 16 home runs and 54 RBI at the break, so it's hard to argue he didn't belong in the Midsummer Classic.

At any rate, those numbers got a little better thanks to a huge three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds as he helped lead the Nationals to a sweep.

        

Stats of the Week

Let's dive into some of the better nuggets from around the league.

We'll start with Cleveland Indians outfielder Abraham Almonte, who hit a home run that brought about some controversy Sunday:

No doubt a well-struck ball, but did it really go as far as Statcast says?

For what it's worth, ESPN's Home Run Tracker pegged it at 467 feet. Still the longest of the week, but not quite the record-setter we've been led to believe. I'll let you decide who to believe.

Even though it was an abridged week, Los Angeles Dodgers rookie Cody Bellinger found time to etch his name in the record books once again.

He's the first Dodgers rookie ever to hit for the cycle, the first Dodgers player of any kind to do it since Orlando Hudson in 2009 and the first rookie league-wide to do it since Brandon Barnes (HOU) in 2013.

A quick note on Jose Quintana's sparkling debut with the Cubs:

Being mentioned in the same sentence as "Randy Johnson" and "strikeouts" is rarely a bad thing.

Jackie Bradley Jr. made one of the best catches of the season Sunday night when he robbed Aaron Judge of a home run.

That led to this statistical leaderboard you don't see very often:

While it was Bradley who stole the highlight reel Sunday, his teammate Mookie Betts currently leads all of baseball in DRS (23) and UZR/150 (28.2) in another brilliant defensive season.

The Yankees-Red Sox rivalry appears to be alive and well once again, and that's always good for the sport as a whole.

      

Must-See Upcoming Matchup

Jameson Taillon vs. Jimmy Nelson (Thursday)

It's a relatively slow week for head-to-head matchups between contenders, so we're going to go outside the box a bit this week with our "must-see matchup" to shine some light on two terrific young pitchers.

For the Pirates, Jameson Taillon has been an inspirational story as he was diagnosed with testicular cancer during spring training but was back on a big league mound just six weeks after undergoing surgery.

His return has been more than a feel-good story, though.

After a strong rookie season, the 25-year-old has been the Pirates' best starter since returning, going 5-3 with a 3.06 ERA and 64 strikeouts in 67.2 innings.

Opposing him for the Brewers will be right-hander Jimmy Nelson.

Nelson led the NL in losses (16), walks (86) and hit batters (17) last season, and he wasn't guaranteed a spot in the Milwaukee rotation heading into spring training.

However, he's been the ace of a surprisingly strong Brewers staff and is having perhaps the most under-the-radar breakout season of anyone in baseball.

The 28-year-old is 8-4 with a 3.27 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 127 strikeouts in 115.2 innings of work.

Aside from a sharp upturn in his strikeout rate (7.0 to 9.9 K/9), he's also trimmed his walks considerably (4.3 to 2.3 BB/9), which has helped to fuel his breakthrough performance.

Neither pitcher is a household name, and they don't get a ton of attention on the national stage, but it's a matchup worth tuning in for if you want to see two pitchers on the rise.

         

All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted and accurate through Sunday.

Looking for someone to yell at about where your favorite team was slotted in the latest rankings? I'll meet you in the comments section.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

MLB Midseason Position Power Rankings: B/R’s Top 30 Outfielders

The MLB landscape is overflowing with young, superstar-caliber talent, and nowhere is that more evident than in the outfield.

Mike Trout, Bryce Harper and Mookie Betts were the gold standard heading into the season, and they've since been joined by a breakout star in George Springer as well as rookie phenoms Aaron Judge and Cody Bellinger.

So how will they all stack up in our midseason update of the top 30 outfielders?

A few things to consider before we get started:

  • League averages: For the sake of reference, the league-average triple-slash line is .256/.327/.424 for a left fielder, .264/.332/.434 for a center fielder and .265/.342/.458 for a right fielder.
  • Eligibility: To be considered for inclusion, a player must have played at least 51 percent of his innings in the outfield this season.
  • Preseason rank: Included is a look at where each player stood in our preseason rankings, which were broken down into corner outfielders and center fielders. This time around, we're lumping all the outfielders together.

The goal was to identify the 30 best outfielders for the 2017 season alone.

Is someone like Lorenzo Cain a better bet to produce going forward than Tommy Pham?

Probably, but that's not what this is about—it's about ranking players based on their performance so far this year.

      

Previous top 30 series entries: Catchers, First Basemen, Second Basemen, Shortstops, Third Basemen

Begin Slideshow

MLB Midseason Position Power Rankings: B/R’s Top 30 Outfielders

The MLB landscape is overflowing with young, superstar-caliber talent, and nowhere is that more evident than in the outfield.

Mike Trout, Bryce Harper and Mookie Betts were the gold standard heading into the season, and they've since been joined by a breakout star in George Springer as well as rookie phenoms Aaron Judge and Cody Bellinger.

So how will they all stack up in our midseason update of the top 30 outfielders?

A few things to consider before we get started:

  • League averages: For the sake of reference, the league-average triple-slash line is .256/.327/.424 for a left fielder, .264/.332/.434 for a center fielder and .265/.342/.458 for a right fielder.
  • Eligibility: To be considered for inclusion, a player must have played at least 51 percent of his innings in the outfield this season.
  • Preseason rank: Included is a look at where each player stood in our preseason rankings, which were broken down into corner outfielders and center fielders. This time around, we're lumping all the outfielders together.

The goal was to identify the 30 best outfielders for the 2017 season alone.

Is someone like Lorenzo Cain a better bet to produce going forward than Tommy Pham?

Probably, but that's not what this is about—it's about ranking players based on their performance so far this year.

      

Previous top 30 series entries: Catchers, First Basemen, Second Basemen, Shortstops, Third Basemen

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MLB Power Rankings: Where All 30 Teams Stand at the All-Star Break

The All-Star break has arrived as we've reached the unofficial midway point of the 2017 MLB season.

It's been an exciting three-plus months of baseball so far, and with so many middle-of-the-pack teams, it's shaping up to be an eventful trade deadline on July 31 once again as teams scramble for the two available wild-card spots.

The Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros wrapped up the first half as the clear front-runners in their respective leagues, but there's still a lot of baseball to be played and plenty of clubs within striking distance.

As always, these rankings are fluid, and teams will rise and fall based on where they were ranked the previous week. If a team keeps winning, it will keep climbing—it's as simple as that.

With that in mind, here's a look at where all 30 teams stand:

  Updated Rankings  
1 img Dodgers (61-29) img
2 img Astros (60-29) img
3 img Brewers (50-41) img5
4 img Nationals (52-36) img3
5 img Red Sox (50-39) img1
6 img Indians (47-40) img1
7 img Rockies (52-39) img1
8 img Rays (47-43) img2
9 img D-backs (53-36) img6
10 img Twins (45-43) img1
11 img Royals (44-43) img2
12 img Rangers (43-45) img2
13 img Yankees (45-41) img1
14 img Cardinals (43-45) img5
15 img Braves (42-45) img
16 img Pirates (42-47) img5
17 img Cubs (43-45) img4
18 img Angels (45-47) img2
19 img Mariners (43-47) img2
20 img Padres (38-50) img3
21 img Blue Jays (41-47) img1
22 img Orioles (42-46) img4
23 img Marlins (41-46) img2
24 img Reds (39-49) img2
25 img Tigers (39-48) img3
26 img Athletics (39-50) img3
27 img White Sox (38-49) img3
28 img Mets (39-47) img8
29 img Giants (34-56) img2
30 img Phillies (29-58) img

     

Biggest Risers Since Opening Day

In honor of the All-Star break, we're going to do things a bit differently this week, highlighting the biggest risers and fallers of the season overall based on Opening Day ranking as opposed to simply looking at the past week.

       

Milwaukee Brewers (Up 22 Spots)

After a 73-89 finish a year ago and with the youth movement set to kick into high gear, the Milwaukee Brewers began the season in the No. 25 spot in the rankings.

Instead, they enter the All-Star break with a 5.5-game lead in the NL Central and riding a 9-2 hot streak.

Chase Anderson (6-2, 2.89 ERA) and Jimmy Nelson (8-4, 3.30 ERA) lead a starting rotation of relative unknowns that ranks seventh in the majors with a 4.07 starters' ERA. Meanwhile, Corey Knebel (14/18 SV, 1.70 ERA, 15.9 K/9) has seized the closer's role and earned the team's lone spot on the NL All-Star roster for his efforts.

Offensively, the team is averaging 4.95 runs per game behind the unheralded trio of Travis Shaw (.938 OPS, 19 HR), Eric Thames (.936 OPS, 23 HR) and Domingo Santana (.881 OPS, 15 HR), while shortstop Orlando Arcia has also taken a significant step forward after a disappointing debut.

The Brewers won't completely change course as they continue to look to the future, but their strong start has shifted the short-term strategy.

According to Jon Morosi of MLB Network, the Brewers are "prepared to buy" at the trade deadline and are targeting starting pitching.

           

Minnesota Twins (Up 17 Spots)

The Minnesota Twins surprised more than a few people when they went 49-40 during the first half of the 2015 season en route to an 83-79 record and legit contention into the final month.

After a 103-loss campaign last year, they've again exceeded expectations by hanging around in an AL Central that most expected the Cleveland Indians to already be running away with at this point.

However, there are plenty of red flags looking ahead to the second half.

First is a minus-60 run differential, by far the worst of any team with a winning record and a fair gauge that they've played above their heads to this point.

The starting rotation is also a concern—despite the resurgence of Ervin Santana and emergence of Jose Berrios—as the staff ranks 26th in the majors with a 4.95 ERA and just 33 quality starts in 88 games.

The bullpen isn't exactly lights-out either with a 4.83 ERA, and while the offense has been good, it's not a carry the team for long stretches level of good.

Give them credit for masterfully walking a tightrope to remain in contention to this point, but it's hard to envision the Twins having the legs to make a serious run at a postseason spot.

      

Tampa Bay Rays (Up 14 Spots)

The Tampa Bay Rays were the one team that looked like it might fall by the wayside in an otherwise stacked AL East battle, After all, that's exactly what happened last season when four teams in the division had a winning record and the Rays went 68-94.

Instead, they enter the break four games over .500 and just 3.5 games behind the Boston Red Sox in the standings.

The starting rotation has once again been a strength with a 4.05 ERA that ranks sixth in the majors and Chris Archer (7-5, 3.95 ERA, 147 K) has turned in the bounce-back season the team desperately needed from its ace.

Meanwhile, the offense has gotten huge contributions from the likes of Logan Morrison (.931 OPS, 24 HR), Corey Dickerson (.312 BA, .903 OPS, 17 HR) and even 2008 No. 1 overall pick Tim Beckham (.760 OPS, 11 HR).

With Alex Cobb starting to hit his stride and rookie Jacob Faria providing some unexpected production, the Rays have the starting pitching to hang around in the AL wild-card race. 

Other Positive Differentials: Diamondbacks (+11), Padres (+10), Rockies (+10), Royals (+9), Braves (+8), Reds (+5), Angels (+3), Astros (+3), Dodgers (+3), Nationals (+2), White Sox (+1)

       

Biggest Fallers Since Opening Day

San Francisco Giants (Down 21 Spots)

The term "dumpster fire" might not have originated with the San Francisco Giants, but they've staked an awfully strong claim to it so far this season.

The starting rotation sports a 22-43 record with a 4.95 ERA and has been a mess without Madison Bumgarner, while the bullpen is a disaster once again as high-priced addition Mark Melancon has been a dud and the offense is averaging a pitiful 3.9 runs per game.

It's genuinely difficult to find something positive to talk about with this team, outside of another strong season from catcher Buster Posey.

At 22 games under .500 and 27 games back in the standings, this ship is going down quick and it's time to jettison everything that isn't nailed down. According to Jon Morosi of MLB.com, only Posey, Bumgarner and shortstop Brandon Crawford will be off-limits in trade talks.

        

New York Mets (Down 17 Spots)

Few teams have rested on their laurels the way the New York Mets did this offseason.

Yoenis Cespedes, Jerry Blevins and Fernando Salas were all re-signed, and Neil Walker returned after accepting his qualifying offer.

But the team's biggest outside addition?

Right-hander Adam Wilk entered the season with a 6.49 ERA in 26.1 big league innings and made one start before being designated for assignment and scooped up by the Twins in May.

There was logic to the idea that a team mired by injuries a year ago could improve simply with better health across the board, but it is flawed logic at best and now looks like little more than wishful thinking.

The team has already used 11 different starting pitchers and 24 different pitchers in total, and while the offense has been solid led by a resurgent Michael Conforto, it hasn't been able to shoulder the load.

At eight games under .500 and 12 back in the NL East standings, they've all but sealed their fate as deadline sellers.

     

Chicago Cubs (Down 16 Spots)

"Everything is going to be fine. This team is way too talented not to turn things around."

That was a completely reasonable argument when the Chicago Cubs went 13-11 in April, and it was still a reasonable argument following a 12-16 month of May and into June as the team showed flashes of getting hot, only to hit the skids once again.

At some point, though, it becomes less of a legitimate argument and more of a fading mantra for only the most faithful among the team's fanbase.

The defending champs enter the All-Star break two games under .500 and with a dead-even run differential that feels like an all-too-perfect embodiment of the mediocrity they've shown.

Barring catastrophic injury, it's hard to see how things go any worse for this team in the second half.

Then again, maybe that's just a case of me clinging to my mantra.

"Everything is going to be fine. This team is way too talented not to turn things around."

Other Negative Differentials: Blue Jays (-14), Tigers (-11), Mariners (-9), Orioles (-6), Phillies (-6), Cardinals (-5), Marlins (-5), Indians (-4), Red Sox (-2), Pirates (-1)

        

First-Half Award Winners

AL MVP: Aaron Judge, New York Yankees

Stats: .329/.448/.691, 99 H, 46 XBH (30 HR), 66 RBI, 75 R, 6 SB

Mookie Betts is a strong MVP candidate once again, Jose Ramirez is having a terrific season for the Indians, and teammates Jose Altuve and George Springer are worthy of mention as well for the first-place Astros.

This is a pretty easy decision at this point, though.

Judge has been perhaps the biggest story of the season's first half and he enters the break leading the majors in OPS (1.139) and home runs (30).

His 16.7 percent walk rate is going a long way toward offsetting a 29.8 percent strikeout rate—which is still way down from the unsightly 44.2 percent mark he posted in his first taste of the majors last year.

There's always the question of how the league will adjust to a rookie, but right now, Judge is a no-brainer for AL MVP honors.

       

NL MVP: Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks

Stats: .312/.428/.577, 99 H, 42 XBH (20 HR), 67 RBI, 73 R, 13 SB

This was by far the toughest decision of the four major awards.

A strong case can be made for Charlie Blackmon, Justin Turner, Joey Votto and a trio of Nationals players in Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy and Anthony Rendon.

The question becomes who is most important to his team's success.

Blackmon shares the offensive spotlight with Nolan Arenado and really it's improved pitching that has been the story for the Rockies. Turner has missed time while the Dodgers haven't missed a beat. Votto plays for a team that's 10 games below .500, and there's no clear-cut "most valuable" among those Nats players.

So the answer here becomes Diamondbacks slugger Paul Goldschmidt, who has twice finished second in MVP balloting.

Few players have a more complete game with his mix of average, power, speed and defensive ability, and it's hard to see the Diamondbacks going anywhere close to 53-36 in the first half without him.

     

AL Cy Young: Chris Sale, Boston Red Sox

Stats: 11-4, 2.75 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 22 BB, 178 K, 127.2 IP, .200 BAA

Tip of the cap to Jason Vargas, Ervin Santana and Corey Kluber.

This is an easy one, though.

The Red Sox paid a steep price to acquire Chris Sale from the White Sox during the offseason and he's backed it up with a brilliant first half.

He leads the majors in strikeouts (178) and he's tallied double-digit punchouts in 12 of his 18 starts. He also leads the AL in WHIP (0.90), opponents' batting average (.200) and quality starts (15).

With Rick Porcello regressing significantly from his Cy Young form and David Price still searching for consistency post-injury, Sale has been as important to his team's success as anyone this season.

      

NL Cy Young: Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals

Stats: 10-5, 2.10 ERA, 0.78 WHIP, 27 BB, 173 K, 128.1 IP, .163 BAA

Let's forget the other numbers for a second and focus on the 0.78 WHIP and .163 opponents' batting average that Max Scherzer has posted this season.

If the season ended today, that 0.78 WHIP would be good for the third-best single-season mark in MLB history and the .163 average would, in fact, stand at the lowest the game has ever seen.

We're talking historically dominant numbers here, folks.

Rookie of the Year: (AL): Aaron Judge, NYY; (NL): Cody Bellinger, LAD

Comeback Player of the Year: (AL): Jason Vargas, KC; (NL): Ryan Zimmerman, WAS

Reliever of the Year: (AL): Craig Kimbrel, BOS; (NL): Kenley Jansen, LAD

Manager of the Year: (AL): A.J. Hinch, HOU; (NL): Torey Lovullo, ARI

        

Stats of the Week

Let's dive into some of the better nuggets from around the league.

Judge has become a weekly staple in this section and he made more history last week with his 30th home run of the season.

That surpassed the previous single-season Yankees rookie record, set by Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio in 1936. Next up, the leaguewide rookie record, which is held by Mark McGwire, who hit 49 in 1987.

Sticking with the rookie theme, Bellinger will be the youngest position player to suit up in an All-Star Game in the storied history of the Los Angeles Dodgers at 21 years and 363 days.

The previous record there was set by Corey Seager last season.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have 43-year-old Ichiro Suzuki, who added to his impressive resume with another impressive accomplishment on Thursday night.

That single gave him 3,054 hits for his career, surpassing Rod Carew for the most ever by a foreign-born player:

  • Ichiro Suzuki (Japan): 3,054
  • Rod Carew (Panama): 3,053
  • Rafael Palmeiro (Cuba): 3,020
  • Roberto Clemente (Puerto Rico): 3,000
  • Adrian Beltre (Dominican Republic): 2,978

Sale enters the All-Star break as the MLB leader in strikeouts with 178.

That's just the third time a Red Sox pitcher has paced his league in punchouts at midseason (Roger Clemens in 1988 and 1991) and also the most strikeouts at the break since Curt Schilling in 2002 (186).

Kind of hard to believe that Pedro Martinez was never tops in strikeouts during his time in Boston, but playing at the same time as Schilling and Randy Johnson will do that.

That's all for me. Enjoy the All-Star break, everyone!

         

All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted and accurate through Sunday.

Looking for someone to yell at about where your favorite team was slotted in the latest rankings? I'll meet you in the comments section.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

MLB Midseason Position Power Rankings: B/R’s Top 30 Second Basemen

Once a weak spot around the league, second base has quickly become one of the deepest positions in the majors with a good mix of established stars and young players on the rise.

There's legitimate superstar talent in guys like Robinson Cano, Jose Altuve and Dustin Pedroia, an emerging star in Jonathan Schoop and even a few out-of-nowhere veterans exceeding expectations like Scooter Gennett and Eric Sogard.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Ahead we've set out to rank the top 30 second basemen here at the midway point of the 2017 season.

A few things to consider before we get started:

  • League averages: For the sake of reference, the league average triple-slash line for a first baseman this season is .268/.331/.421.
  • Eligibility: To be considered for inclusion, a player must have played at least 51 percent of his games at the first base position this season.
  • Preseason rank: Included is a look at where each player stood in our preseason rankings, which can be found here.

The other important thing to note is that the goal here was to identify the 30 best second basemen for the 2017 season and the 2017 season alone.

Is someone like Jason Kipnis a better bet to produce going forward than Scooter Gennett?

Probably, but that's not what this is about—it's about ranking players based on their performance so far this season.

      

Previous top 30 series entries: Catchers, First Basemen

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