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Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw delivers a pitch

For an explanation of how the SD Score is calculated, see below.

1 – Los Angeles Dodgers (61-29) SD Score +3.91, Ranking Last Week – 2

Opponents – vs Diamondbacks (3-0), vs Royals (3-0)

The Dodgers have won 17 of their last 20 games and 25 of their last 30. Their hitting has been great and the pitching duo of Clayton Kershaw and Alex Wood are a combined 23-2. If they stay healthy, they have a great chance to win their first championship since 1988.

2 – Houston Astros (60-29); SD Score +3.71, Ranking Last Week – 1

Opponents – at Braves (2-0), at Blue Jays (2-2)

Though the Dodgers took over the top spot, the Astros are still the best in the AL. When they win, they often win big, as shown this week with their margin of victory of 57-11.

3 – Arizona Diamondbacks (53-36); SD Score +2.44, Ranking Last Week – 3

Opponents – at Dodgers (0-3), vs Reds (1-2)

Though the Diamondbacks missed a chance to close the gap with the Dodgers, they are still a playoff team headed into the second half of the season.

4 – Washington Nationals (52-36); SD Score +2.03, Ranking Last Week – 4

Opponents – vs Mets (2-0), vs Braves (2-2)

Despite losing several players to injury, the big guns have kept the offense going, while the pitching rotation is still among the best in the league.

5 – Boston Red Sox (50-39); SD Score +1.56, Ranking Last Week – 5

Opponents – at Rangers (2-1), at Rays (1-3)

The Red Sox have taken full control of the East by winning 18 of their last 30 games and going 7-1 overall in extra innings for the year. While the offense hasn’t been the same as last year, the lineup is still getting it done, averaging 4.9 runs per game.

6 – Milwaukee Brewers (50-41); SD Score +1.01, Ranking Last Week – 9

Opponents – vs Orioles (3-0), at Cubs (1-0), at Yankees (2-1)

The Brewers have finally taken advantage of the rest of the Central’s inability to win consistently and have a nice cushion going into the break. They have gotten good hitting and good pitching from what everyone thought was an inferior roster and when Chase Anderson returns, they will have a real chance at the division title.

 

7 – Colorado Rockies (52-39); SD Score +0.91, Ranking Last Week – 7

Opponents – vs Reds (2-2), vs White Sox (2-1)

Colorado hasn’t been winning as often as they were, but if they can keep the score close and give Greg Holland a chance to win the game for them, they’ll be successful. They’re still one of the top four teams in the NL when it comes to victories.

8 – Cleveland Indians (47-40); SD Score +1.81, Ranking Last Week – 6

Opponents – vs Padres (1-2), vs Tigers (2-1)

The Indians haven’t been quite as dominant as last year, but they still lead the Central and will have a tough fight the rest of the way against the Twins and Royals. They could really use an improved Danny Salazar when he returns at the end of the month.

9 – New York Yankees (45-41); SD Score +2.26, Ranking Last Week – 8

Opponents – vs Blue Jays (1-2), vs Brewers (1-2)

The Yankees are struggling to keep pace in the AL East and a problem for them has been their poor record in one-run games of 9-17.

10 – Tampa Bay Rays (47-43); SD Score +0.35, Ranking Last Week – 10

Opponents – at Cubs (1-1), vs Red Sox (3-1)

The Rays have won 17 of their last 30 games and are in the driver’s seat for a Wild Card berth. Let’s see how they do after the break.

11 – Kansas City Royals (44-43); SD Score -0.48, Ranking Last Week – 14

Opponents – at Mariners (3-0), at Dodgers (0-3)

Kansas City has really turned things around and have won 20 of their last 30 games behind the pitching of Jason Vargas. Don’t count them out to win the Central outright.

12 – Minnesota Twins (45-43); SD Score -1.46, Ranking Last Week – 15

Opponents – vs Angels (2-1), vs Orioles (2-2)

Much like the Royals, the Twins have what it takes to find a way to win the division and if they can continue to build on their impressive 25-15 road record, that will go a long way.

13 – Texas Rangers (43-45) SD Score +0.63, Ranking Last Week – 13

Opponents – vs Red Sox (1-2), vs Angels (2-1)

Unlike last year, when the Rangers set a Major League record for one-run victories, they’re 6-14 this year and it could be the difference between making or missing the playoffs.

14 – St. Louis Cardinals (43-45) SD Score +0.35, Ranking Last Week – 19

Opponents – vs Marlins (2-2), vs Mets (2-1)

St. Louis has begun playing better but are still likely out of the Wild Card race, pending a major run. They still have a chance at the division title, but they have to improve on their 15-21 record against the Central teams.

 

15 – Chicago Cubs (43-45) SD Score +0.04, Ranking Last Week – 12

Opponents – vs Rays (1-1), vs Brewers (0-1), vs Pirates (1-2)

Right now, the Cubs have a problem when they face teams over .500 (13-21) and the pitching has been struggling. Maybe they can put it all together in the second half of the season.

16 – Los Angeles Angels (45-47); SD Score -0.45, Ranking Last Week – 11

Opponents – at Twins (1-2), at Rangers (1-2)

The Angels are still going to have a chance at the playoffs but losing Mike Trout until the end of July will sting.

 

 

17 – Seattle Mariners (43-47); SD Score -0.15, Ranking Last Week – 16

Opponents – vs Royals (0-3), vs A’s (2-2)

The Mariners have played poorly as of late, but they too have a real chance at the postseason if they can get it together during the second half.

18 – Atlanta Braves (42-45); SD Score -1.07, Ranking Last Week – 17

Opponents – vs Astros (0-2), at Nationals (2-2)

The Braves are losing some ground, but there’s still a lot of time.

19 – Pittsburgh Pirates (42-47); SD Score -0.53, Ranking Last Week – 21

Opponents – at Phillies (3-1), at Cubs (2-1)

Pittsburgh is playing better as of late and need to carry that momentum into the second half.

20 – Baltimore Orioles (42-46); SD Score -1.88, Ranking Last Week – 18

Opponents – at Brewers (0-3), at Twins (2-2)

The Orioles are starting to drop out of the postseason race, but like several other teams, they will have to take advantage of a long second half of the season.

21 – Miami Marlins (41-46); SD Score -0.46, Ranking Last Week – 23

Opponents – at Cardinals (2-2), at Giants (3-0)

The Marlins are facing a difficult uphill battle, but if they can play the way they did this week and get some help, they have a chance.

 

 

 

22 – Toronto Blue Jays (41-47); SD Score -1.46, Ranking Last Week – 22

Opponents – at Yankees (2-1), vs Astros (2-2)

The Blue Jays have a lot of work to do and unfortunately for them, they may be too far behind.

23– New York Mets (39-47); SD Score -1.20, Ranking Last Week – 20

Opponents – at Nationals (0-2), at Cardinals (1-2)

The Mets are in a real tough spot. They are way behind in the division and Wild Card race and have to overcome injuries. Not a good combo.

 

24 – Detroit Tigers (39-48); SD Score -0.76, Ranking Last Week – 24

Opponents – vs Giants (2-1), at Indians (1-2)

The Tigers need to all of a sudden become a great team and go 2-1 in every series for the rest of the year.

 

25 – Oakland A’s (39-50); SD Score -2.10, Ranking Last Week – 26

Opponents – vs White Sox (2-1), at Mariners (2-2)

The A’s might have to resort to playing the role of the spoiler the rest of the way.

26 – Chicago White Sox (38-49); SD Score -0.75, Ranking Last Week – 25

Opponents – at A’s (1-2), at Rockies (1-2)

See Detroit.

27 – Cincinnati Reds (39-49); SD Score -1.00, Ranking Last Week – 27          

Opponents – at Rockies (2-2), at Diamondbacks (2-1)

The Reds are like the Pirates. They have a chance because they’re in the NL Central.

28 – San Diego Padres (38-50); SD Score -2.90, Ranking Last Week – 28

Opponents –at Indians (2-1), at Phillies (2-1)

It’s over, but maybe they’ll make it interesting.

29 – San Francisco Giants (34-56); SD Score -2.30, Ranking Last Week – 29

Opponents – at Tigers (1-2), vs Marlins (0-3)

It’s just not the Giants’ year and this is the first odd year in a long time they have been bad.

30 – Philadelphia Phillies (29-58); SD Score -2.06, Ranking Last Week – 30

Opponents –vs Pirates (1-3), vs Padres (1-2)

Another week in the books and the Phillies remain the worst team in baseball. I don’t see this changing anytime soon.

SD Score explanation:

Run production is one of the best measures of how a team is performing and how dominant or bad they are.

The formula takes each team’s runs scored and runs allowed totals and how many standard deviations from the league average they are.

Example: 1927 Yankees

The 27 Yankees score 975 runs (1927 AL average was 762 and SD of team runs for the AL was about 115). Take the difference from the league average (975-762=213) and divide by the SD (115), the 1927 Yankees were 1.85 SD above the league average in runs scored.

They allowed 599 runs (the SD in runs allowed for the 1927 AL was about 88.5), which was 163 runs less than the league average. 163/88.5 gives us a 1.84 SD above the league average in runs allowed.

Add 1.85 and 1.84 to get a final SD Score of +3.69 for the 1927 Yankees, which is amazing.

(SD ranking explanation found in “Baseball Dynasties: The Greatest Teams of All Time” by Rob Neyer and Eddie Epstein)