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Major League Baseball Power Rankings, July 3rd, 2016

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

1 – Chicago Cubs (51-30) SD Score +3.26; Record this week (3-4), Ranking Last Week – 1

Opponents – at Reds (3-0), at Mets (0-4)

While the Cubs got back on track against the Reds, they were lousy against the Mets. They remain number one because they still have by far the highest SD score and still the best record. They could get dethroned in the next week or two, depending on how they play against Texas.

2 – Washington Nationals (50-33); SD Score +2.16; Record this week (6-1), Ranking Last Week – 5

Opponents – Mets (3-0), Reds (3-1)

The Nationals were able to sweep the Mets with offense in game 1, pitching in Game 2, and a little of both in Game 3. Against the Reds, the offense was on point and the Nationals’ SD score has improved again. All 5 of the top 5 teams had a weak opponent in there this week. The Nationals played better than all of them and are catching up to the Cubs.

3 – Texas Rangers (52-31); SD Score +1.01; Record this week (3-4), Ranking Last Week – 2

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

Had Texas been better this week, they could have taken the top spot. Instead they fall a bit. Losing 2 out of 3 (with a blowout!) to Minnesota is inexcusable.

4 – Cleveland Indians (49-32); SD Score +1.65; Record this week (5-2), Ranking Last Week – 4

Opponents – at Braves (3-0), at Bluejays (2-2)

The Indians were up to a 14 game winning streak, but then fell hard in two straight games to the Bluejays, which also hurt their SD score. That said, Cleveland has been a house of fire and with a favorable schedule continuing, they should keep it up.

5 – San Francisco Giants (52-32); SD Score +1.36; Record this week (3-4), Ranking Last Week – 3

Opponents – at A’s (1-3), Diamondbacks (2-1)

Shockingly, the A’s won the first 3 games as the Giants’ pitching got roughed up as they gave up 28 runs in those games. Joe Panik won’t be back until after the break since being hit in the head by a ball almost 2 weeks ago. He was scratched Tuesday as the symptoms returned. Gregor Blanco is out as well.

6 – Los Angeles Dodgers (47-37) SD Score +1.10; Record this week (6-1) Ranking Last Week – 8

Opponents – at Pirates (1-0), at Brewers (2-1), Rockies (3-0)

The Dodgers avoided a sweep at Pittsburgh and largely took care of business at Milwaukee. Rookie Corey Seager is a major candidate for NL Rookie of the Year and an All Star Game debut. He’s leading the team in nearly every meaningful offensive category. Getting a sweep over the Rockies was big for their numbers.

7 – Baltimore Orioles (47-34); SD Score +0.95; Record this week (2-4), Ranking Last Week – 6

Opponents – at Padres (2-0), at Mariners (0-4)

The Orioles had a 7 game winning streak snapped by the Mariners on Thursday. The bleeding continued as they got swept. They can prove that they belong with strong outings against the Dodgers this week.

8 – Toronto Bluejays (45-39); SD Score +1.22; Record this week (4-3), Ranking Last Week – 10

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

Toronto was able to get a lot of offense against the Rockies, scoring 24 runs in 3 games. Monday’s loss fell on the shoulders of relievers Drew Storen, who had a blown save, and Jesse Chavez who gave up 6 runs in their lone defeat to the Rockies. Against Cleveland, getting a split was big, and they did a lot for their SD score by scoring 26 runs in their last 2 games against the Indians.

9 – Boston Red Sox (44-37); SD Score +1.30; Record this week (3-3), Ranking Last Week – 7

Opponents – at Rays (1-2), Angels (2-1)

Boston’s season seems to be resting on their bats remaining hotter than anyone else’s and their pitchers just not getting shelled. If pitching becomes a major strength for the Sox, they will be very dangerous in the postseason. That said, their SD score is lowering each week and losing 21-2 was not good.

10 – St. Louis Cardinals (43-38); SD Score +1.87; Record this week (4-3), Ranking Last Week – 9

Opponents – at Royals (1-1), Royals (0-2), Brewers (3-0)

The Cardinals are similar to the Red Sox in that their hitting has been very good, but their pitching very inconsistent. Against the Royals, in their 3 losses, the offense was cold, scoring 2 runs in each game they lost. As usual, they beat up on Milwaukee and held on Game 3 for the sweep. Solid week.

11 – Seattle Mariners (43-39); SD Score +1.26; Record this week (5-1), Ranking Last Week – 14

Opponents – Pirates (1-1), Orioles (4-0)

The Mariners were able to get back on track big-time with a sweep against the AL East leading Orioles. Their next three series’ (at Houston, at Royals, and hosting Houston) will tell us how good they are.

12 – New York Mets (44-37); SD Score +0.35; Record this week (4-3), Ranking Last Week – 12

Opponents – at Nationals (0-3), Cubs (4-0)

The Mets got shelled against the Nationals as they got swept, further showing the defending NL Champs have been very inconsistent during the month of June. Their July got off to a great start with a sweep of the Cubs.

13 – Detroit Tigers (44-38); SD Score +0.37; Record this week (6-0), Ranking Last Week – 16

Opponents – Marlins (2-0), at Rays (4-0)

Miguel Cabrera has been the highlight of the Tigers’ offense and getting all victories this week, vaulted Detroit up near the top 10.

14 – Houston Astros (43-39); SD Score +0.55; Record this week (4-2), Ranking Last Week – 13

Opponents – at Angels (3-0), White Sox (1-2)

Another week, another sweep of the Angels. They struggled with the Whitesox, but the Astros are looking better than they had been. The Seattle series this week will be a good one.

15 – Miami Marlins (43-39); SD Score -0.20; Record this week (2-4), Ranking Last Week – 11

Opponents – at Tigers (0-2), at Braves (2-2)

Miami had been red hot, but their pitching fell apart against the Tigers early and often as they gave up 17 runs in just 2 games. They also gave up 24 runs against the Braves, which put their SD score in the negative and lowered them in the rankings.

16 – Kansas City Royals (43-38); SD Score -0.41; Record this week (4-3), Ranking Last Week – 15

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

The Royals got a lot out of their pitching against the Cardinals. Lorenzo Cain is out until mid July with a hamstring strain. Kendrys Morales has been on fire, as he’s now posted multiple hits in seven of his last eight games to raise his slash line to .264/.328/.465.

Losing 2 out of 3 against the Phillies prevented them from making a jump this week.

17 – Pittsburgh Pirates (41-41); SD Score -0.07; Record this week (4-2), Ranking Last Week – 17

Opponents – Dodgers (0-1), at Mariners (1-1), at A’s (3-0)

Unfortunately the Pirates could not get a sweep over the Dodgers and they split with the Mariners, leaving them under .500. More inconsistency. They did play well against the A’s, which prevented them from losing ground. They need to play well this week.

18 – Chicago White Sox (42-40); SD Score -0.29; Record this week (4-2), Ranking Last Week – 18

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

The White Sox have been hot and cold, but their big guns have been Todd Frazier, Starting Pitcher Chris Sale and closer David Robertson. Getting two out of three against the Astros helped them get above .500. They have a good opportunity to move up with this week’s schedule and also because of Pittsburgh’s schedule.

19 – New York Yankees (40-41); SD Score -0.72; Record this week (3-2), Ranking Last Week – 20

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

Splitting with the Rangers was major, but then losing 2 one-score games against the Padres didn’t help them break into the next level of teams. They have a tough week on the road at the White Sox and Indians.

20 – Colorado Rockies (37-44); SD Score -0.21; Record this week (1-5), Ranking Last Week – 19

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

The Rockies had a rough week and are continuing to struggle to get to .500. A series in SF won’t help things. Nolan Arenado (22 HR, 66 RBI, .569 SLG) has been a nice bright spot, however.

21 – Arizona Diamondbacks (37-47); SD Score -0.69; Record this week (1-5), Ranking Last Week – 21

Opponents – Phillies (0-3), Giants (1-2)

Arizona has been falling further as of late and they have two difficult series’ coming up against the Giants and Dodgers.

22 – Milwaukee Brewers (35-46); SD Score -1.52; Record this week (1-5), Ranking Last Week – 22

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

Dodgers series – positives – Jonathan Villar has been stellar as a leadoff man – .814 OPS in 280 At Bats. Ryan Braun has a 10-game hitting streak and has 5 multi-hit games out of his last 7 going into Friday. Junior Guerra (5-1) was dominant in 7-0 win over Dodgers on Wednesday. Has 5 quality starts in his last 6 outings.

Had they been able to pull off a win or 2 against the Cardinals, they might have moved up.

23 – San Diego Padres (35-47); SD Score -1.22; Record this week (2-3), Ranking Last Week – 23

Opponents – Orioles (0-2), Yankees (2-1)

The Padres have an SD score of a team that should be a bit better than they are, but they have difficulty stringing victories together.

24 – Oakland A’s (35-47); SD Score -1.35; Record this week (3-4), Ranking Last Week – 25

Opponents – Giants (3-1), Pirates (0-3)

The A’s offense just shelled the Giants pitching and defense. They also could have moved up higher with a better series against the Pirates.

25 – Los Angeles Angels (33-49); SD Score -0.77; Record this week (1-5), Ranking Last Week – 24

Opponents – Astros (0-3), at Red Sox (1-2)

See San Diego.

26 – Philadelphia Phillies (37-46); SD Score -2.16; Record this week (5-1), Ranking Last Week – 27

Opponents – at Diamondbacks (3-0), Royals (2-1)

While their SD score is among the worst in the Majors, they did have a good week against teams better than them.

27 – Tampa Bay Rays (33-48); SD Score -1.19; Record this week (2-5), Ranking Last Week – 26

Opponents – Red Sox (2-1), Tigers (0-4)

Tampa took apart the Red Sox’s bullpen and ended their losing streak. But then came the Tigers series.

28 – Cincinnati Reds (30-53); SD Score -3.09; Record this week (1-6), Ranking Last Week – 28

Opponents – Cubs (0-3), at Nationals (1-3)

Any positive from last week has been forgotten as the Cubs brutalized the Reds in a series sweep. They didn’t fare much better against Washington. Their SD score is at the bottom and a case can be made that they are the worst team in baseball.

29 – Minnesota Twins (27-54); SD Score -2.16; Record this week (3-3), Ranking Last Week – 30

Opponents – at White Sox (1-2), Rangers (2-1)

The Twins went 3-3 for the 2nd week in a row and they won their series against the Rangers.

30 – Atlanta Braves (28-54); SD Score -2.36; Record this week (2-5), Ranking Last Week – 29

Opponents – Indians (0-3), Marlins (2-2)

Bad timing to play the red-hot Indians, but they did ok against the struggling Marlins.

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)