Thursday, July 25, 2024

MLB Power Rankings: Yankees giving fans 2022 déjà vu with recent slide, Rangers try to claw back to contention

MLB Power Rankings: Yankees giving fans 2022 déjà vu with recent slide, Rangers try to claw back to contention

How far should the Yankees fall after having lost 15 of their last 20 games?

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Are the Yankees making us watch a rerun? Don’t get me wrong. I love a good rerun if it’s a good show. I’d watch the hell out of Breaking Bad reruns. In sports, though, it’s usually less fun. Ask Yankees fans about this one that they just saw in 2022. 

Remember that Yankees team? They started off 7-6 and then went absolutely nuts. By the middle of June, there were stories about their historic pace. Could they win 114 like the 1998 squad? Through June 29, those Yankees were 56-20, a 162-game pace of 119 wins. At nearly the halfway point of the season, they were on pace to set the single-season win record. At exactly the halfway point, they had 58 wins, putting them on pace to tie the 2001 Mariners. They headed to the All-Star break 64-28. 

The 2022 Yankees would only go 35-35 in the second half. They were uninspiring in the playoffs. Sure, they advanced past the 92-win Guardians in five games in the ALDS, but then they were manhandled and swept by the Astros in the ALCS. It was a whimper from a team that was one of the best ever through just about the halfway point of the season. 

The 2024 Yankees were the best team in baseball through the middle of June. They won 49 of their first 70 games, a 162-game pace of 113 wins. They won their 50th game with only 22 losses. They did most of this without 2023 Cy Young winner Gerrit Cole. There were good signs early in the season that the lineup would be much deeper, notably with the additions of Juan Soto and Alex Verdugo, but also thanks to what looked like a breakout season from Anthony Volpe

Since June 14, though, the Yankees have gone 5-15 and Yankees fans everywhere are going, “we’ve seen this one before, haven’t we?” Hell, maybe it’s not a rerun, because they look much worse than simply a .500-after-the-break team. 

Maybe there’s hope to avoid a similar fate to 2022. Volpe is still plenty young and could get hot again. Giancarlo Stanton was having a very nice season before injury, so once he comes back, that’ll help. Verdugo should be better. Gleyber Torres needs to be better. Maybe Ben Rice is legit. All of these things could help, but in this bad stretch there’s been far too much of “Aaron Judge and Juan Soto can only do so much.” 

The rotation, too, could easily become dominant. We’ve seen great stretches before from the likes of Carlos Rodón, Marcus Stroman and Nestor Cortes while we’re fully aware of what Cole can do. 

The way things look right now, though, they certainly have reasons for pessimism, especially since they just saw a historically great start fall apart two seasons ago. 

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Phillies

Bad timing for the Phillies to get the Braves in Atlanta with both Bryce Harper and Kyle Schwarber on the injured list. Taking one of the three games is probably, actually, a plus. The Braves needed a sweep to trim the deficit to six games. Instead, it’s eight. Anyway, both players will be back soon and I’m not inclined to bump the Phillies under such circumstances. 58-32
2

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Orioles

They won two series and were 4-2 on a trip out west, which is a great success. I just have to ask: What in the utter hell was that crap on Saturday night? How does a great team get down 17-1 to a terrible team? Baseball! 1 57-33
3

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Guardians

I loved seeing David Fry make the All-Star team. He’s been so valuable to them. A utility man who is also a catcher? How cool is that? 1 56-32
4

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Dodgers

Did you notice Shohei Ohtani has 20 stolen bases? He’s got a shot at 40-40! 55-36
5

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Brewers

The Brewers had never had a player win the batting title before Christian Yelich arrived. He won it in 2018 and 2019. He’s currently leading the NL in average in 2024, too. 1 53-38
6

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Braves

Chris Sale has a chance to join Max Scherzer, Roy Halladay, Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens and Vida Blue and as pitchers to start for both leagues in the All-Star Game. 1 49-39
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Yankees

I wasn’t sure where to rank the Yankees, given their excellent overall record juxtaposed with how atrocious they’ve been in the last 20 games — until I realized I had the Twins just below them. I absolutely cannot put the Yankees below the Twins, considering how the games between the two teams went. 2 55-37
8

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Twins

José Miranda was hitting .297 through July 3. He’s now hitting .331 after going 12 for 13 the rest of the week. 51-39
9

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Red Sox

Kenley Jansen is now fifth all-time in saves with 438. He’s one behind Craig Kimbrel. Lee Smith is third with 478, so it’s reasonable to think Jansen (and Kimbrel) can leap over Smith and trail only Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman. How impressive is this? Talk amongst yourselves. 3 49-40
10

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Astros

Many of us kept saying through May that the Astros would be in first place by the All-Star break. Here we go. It’s a two-game deficit with one week to go. The moment of truth! 1 46-44
11

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Royals

Bobby Witt Jr. is hitting .324 right now. The Royals haven’t had a .320+ hitter since 2002 (Mike Sweeney, .340). Of the 15 times a player has done so in franchise history, five were George Brett. 2 49-43
12

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Cardinals

Willson Contreras returned from a broken arm this past week. In his six games since said return, he’s 8 for 25 with two doubles, three home runs and eight RBI. 2 47-42
13

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Padres

It’s been a long journey to All-Star Game starter for Jurickson Profar. Well-deserved selection and good for him. 3 49-45
14

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Mariners

Victor Robles’ homer on Sunday was his first since Sept. 27, 2022. He’s actually swung the bat well in his limited time with the Mariners since coming over from the Nats. 1 49-43
15

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Diamondbacks

I know All-Star snubs aren’t the biggest deal in the world and maybe he’ll get to go anyway, but it really feels like Christian Walker needed to get the nod. 2 45-45
16

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Mets

Pete Alonso in the Home Run Derby makes a ton of sense and all that, but at this point I’d rather see Mark Vientos. 1 44-45
17

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Giants

Heliot Ramos wasn’t even in the majors until May 8. Now with 12 homers and 41 RBI in 54 games, he’s an All-Star. 2 44-47
18

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Rangers

We know they have potential. Sweeping the Rays might just be the beginning of the turn around. 5 42-48
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Rays

The series win over the Royals seemed like it could be huge in the wild-card race, but then the Rays were stomped in Texas. They are back below .500 and continue to lack the consistency needed to keep up in contention. 3 44-46
20

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Pirates

The Pirates are very interesting. For example, on Sunday I wrote that I want Paul Skenes to start the All-Star Game and I want Oneil Cruz in the Home Run Derby. That’s a fun team, even if not necessarily a good one. 2 43-47
21

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Nationals

I mentioned last week that the Nats had a chance with their upcoming schedule to prove they belonged in contention. So far they went 2-2 against the Mets and 1-2 against the Cardinals. I wouldn’t call that a statement. 1 42-48
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Tigers

Talented rookie Colt Keith might be finding his way. He’s had several huge games in the last month (including two four-hit games) and is currently 9 for 21 with a triple and three homers during a five-game hitting streak. 4 42-48
23

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Reds

The Reds can look so good at times. They swept the Yankees this past week. Earlier this season they swept the Dodgers and took two of three from the Phillies. But then they’ll turn around and get swept by the Tigers at home. It’s maddening enough for me. I’m guessing it’s torture for the Reds fan base. 2 42-48
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Cubs

Justin Steele has a 1.67 ERA in his last eight starts and just finished the first complete game of his career. On the year, he’s pitched to a 2.95 ERA in 13 starts. He’s 1-3. This is a good illustration of how much the rotation has had to try and carry the team all season. 42-49
25

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Blue Jays

The Jays won two of three in Seattle and that’s a good series, but they are still only ahead of three awful teams in the AL and sit 8.5 games out of a playoff spot. The situation is dire. 3 41-49
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Athletics

The A’s will get hot every once in a while. In April, they won five of six. In late April/early May, they went on a stretch where they won eight of nine. Right now, they’ve won four of six. 2 34-58
27

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Angels

Through 2021, Tyler Anderson had a 4.62 career ERA and was headed to his age-32 season. He’s now a two-time All-Star. 2 37-52
28

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Rockies

The Rockies currently have no player on pace to hit 30 homers. They haven’t had a 30-homer player since 2019. 1 32-58
29

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Marlins

The Marlins somehow had a winning record in May (14-13). Otherwise, they are 18-45. 2 32-58
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White Sox

The Sox have gone 5-5 in their last 10 games, which is a *great* stretch of baseball for them. 26-66

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