Tag Archives: Washington Nationals

MLB 2019 Power Ranking – Labor Day

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The Philadelphia Phillies find themselves once again at 14th overall in the 2019 MLB Power Rankings as we push past the Labor Day weekend and move into the final month of September.

In this early September version of the Power Rankings, the Phillies remain right where they were on both August 1 and August 15 among all teams in Major League Baseball. They also remain as the 7th ranked team in the National League.

On August 1, the Phillies were the sixth-highest ranked team and were involved in a three-way tie for the two NL Wildcard spots. They slipped a notch by mid-August, to seventh in the NL, and the standings continue to reflect that slippage.

The club remains two games in back of the second National League Wildcard playoff berth. That is exactly where they stood on August 15, showing just how difficult it is to make up ground without going on an extended winning streak. The Phillies still have not won five games in a row all year long.

The Phillies are now in the midst of a September stretch that has them playing 18 of 23 games on the road. That will lead up to a season-ending series at Citizens Bank Park against the Miami Marlins, who have played the Phillies tough all year.

The Cubs are the team in the second Wildcard spot. That is where the attention of Phillies fans who are still holding out hope of a 2019 postseason berth now needs to focus. The Phillies trail Chicago by two games in the loss column as of this moment.

My own personal feelings never have anything to do with the MLB Power Rankings. Instead, the rank is all about actual team performance: results in the standings and statistical breakdowns.

I take what I have found to be key statistical categories and rank each of the 30 teams in Major League baseball on their ability to win ball games and perform on offense, the pitching mound, and in the field.

There is never any subjectivity or opinion involved. The MLB Power Rankings will again be updated here at my website on the 15th of September, with a final ranking to come at the end of the regular season using the following methodology.

RANKINGS METHODOLOGY

Introduced and then upgraded during the course of last season, my formula for compiling the rankings is always being researched to see if it can be improved upon.

That formula carried two categories over from the 2018 season: winning percentage and OPS against. However, as the current season has unfolded, some teams have improved dramatically while others have slipped.

So, for this month of September that “winning percentage” is being replaced. Instead, to get the ‘Win-Loss’ component, each team’s record over their most recent 30 games is being used.

The ‘Win-Loss’ component is simple, reflecting each team’s ability to actually win ball games. The second reflects a pitching staff’s ability to control the game and limit damage.

Also for the 2019 season, runs-per-game replaced last year’s “runs scored” in order to get the offensive component. This was an acknowledgement of the fact that teams play various numbers of games as of the time of each ranking. For example, it wouldn’t be fair to consider a club that had scored 100 runs over 50 games as effective as a club who scored 100 runs over just 45 games.

Earlier this summer, the defensive component was changed as well. The defensive metric beginning with the July 15 rankings was switched to “Defensive runs saved” as measured at Fangraphs, replacing the previous “fielding percentage” to gauge a team’s defensive effectiveness.

I then assign each of those four component category team rankings a 1-30 numerical value, and simply add those values up to determine an overall final ratings score. Where there were any ties, I broke those using each team’s current overall winning percentage since, in the end, winning is what it’s all about.

2019 SEPTEMBER 4 –  MLB RANKINGS

The Houston Astros, who were ranked first back on both June 15 and July 1, return to the top of the Power Rankings. The Los Angeles Dodgers, who were at the top in my last rankings back on August 15 and have been the National League’s top team all year, have slipped.

The Atlanta Braves are now the new top team in the National League. The Braves and Washington Nationals, who have moved into the overall top ten for the first time this season, are tied for baseball’s best record over the last 30 games.

In parentheses are each team’s total ranking points this period, as well as their place in the last Power Rankings back on August 15.

  1. Houston Astros (24 – 2)
  2. Oakland Athletics (25 – 4)
  3. Atlanta Braves (27 – 9)
  4. Los Angeles Dodgers (31 – 1)
  5. Minnesota Twins (31 – 3)
  6. Saint Louis Cardinals (32 – 12)
  7. Washington Nationals (33 – 13)
  8. Arizona Diamondbacks (35 – 8)
  9. New York Yankees (37 – 7)
  10. Cleveland Indians (38 – 5)
  11. Tampa Bay Rays (39 – 6)
  12. Chicago Cubs (40 – 10)
  13. Boston Red Sox (43 – 11)
  14. Philadelphia Phillies (53 – 14)
  15. New York Mets (65 – 19)
  16. San Diego Padres (65 – 18)
  17. Los Angeles Angels (68 – 15)
  18. Cincinnati Reds (71 – 17)
  19. Milwaukee Brewers (72 – 16)
  20. Texas Rangers (78 – 21)
  21. San Francisco Giants (79 – 20)
  22. Pittsburgh Pirates (83 – 28)
  23. Kansas City Royals (84 – 22)
  24. Colorado Rockies (88 – 23)
  25. Toronto Blue Jays (89 – 25)
  26. Miami Marlins (92 – 24)
  27. Chicago White Sox (93 – 26)
  28. Seattle Mariners (93 – 27)
  29. Baltimore Orioles (109 – 29)
  30. Detroit Tigers (112 – 30)

As 2019 countdown reaches eight, Phillies remain in postseason hunt

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Phillies need Bryce Harper to play like a superstar to reach playoffs

Our weekly countdown towards the end of the 2019 Major League Baseball regular season now reaches ‘8’ – just eight more weeks left for the Philadelphia Phillies as they attempt to return to the postseason for the first time in eight years.

The Phillies are coming off another disheartening weekend, one in which the club dropped two of three to the lowly Chicago White Sox, owners of the seventh-worst record in MLB even after winning the series.
Still, the Fightin’ Phils remain tied with the division-rival Washington Nationals for the second National League Wildcard playoff berth at the moment. Those two have just one more loss than the Saint Louis Cardinals, who currently control the top Wildcard spot. Two are available.
Three more teams are right behind the Phillies and Nationals, all in the race still. But the real threat may be coming from a team that was way back just a few weeks ago.
Another NL East rival, the New York Mets, have won 15 of their last 20 games to move within a game of the .500 mark and within three games in the Wildcard race. Having obtained Marcus Stroman at the MLB trade deadline, the Mets may have the best starting pitching among all the teams still in the hunt.
This current winning streak from New York makes them one of three teams from the division to get hot over a lengthy stretch. The Braves won 28 of 38 between June 1 and July 15 to take over the division lead. After a horrendous start, the Nats went 36-15 pver two full months from May 24 to July 24.
The Phillies are the only team to have no such streak this season. The club has won as many as four in a row on four different occasions, the last more than a month ago in late June. The saving grace for the Phillies is that they have largely avoided fully tanking. From May 30 to June 24, the club lost 16 of 22. Outside of that, they have just two streaks of as many as three losses in a row all season long.
Can the Phillies take their turn, and go on a true winning spurt? If so, they not only would likely open up some distance in the Wildcard race, but they would get back into the hunt for a division crown. Do they have another big losing downturn in them? If so, they drop out of things, much as what happened with the 2018 ball club. Or maybe they simply tread water all year long. That might be the outcome which causes more angina and hair loss among the fan base than any other.
The following are the division and Wildcard standings with this week’s schedules in parentheses:

NL EAST STANDINGS

  1. Atlanta Braves 66-47 (at MIN – 3, at MIA – 4)
  2. Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals 58-53 (Phillies: at ARZ – 3, at SF – 4)

NL WILDCARD STANDINGS

  1. Saint Lous Cardinals 58-52 (at LAD – 3, PIT – 3)
  2. Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals 58-53 (Nats: at SF – 3, at NYM – 3)
  3. Milwaukee Brewers 57-56 (at PIT – 3, TEX – 3)
  4. Arizona Diamondbacks and San Francisco Giants 56-56 (Dbacks: PHI – 3, at LAD – 3) / (SF: WAS – 3, PHI – 4)
  5. New York Mets 55-56 (MIA – 4, WAS – 3)

Streaking Nationals come to Citizens Bank Park on a roll

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Red-hot Juan Soto leads the streaking Nats into South Philly

The Philadelphia Phillies (47-43) and Washington Nationals (47-42) return to play following four days off for the 2019 MLB All-Star Game break with a Friday night contest at Citizens Bank Park.

These two NL East Division rivals currently control the two National League Wildcard playoff positions in the league standings. However, for nearly two months they have been travelling in opposite directions.
On May 29, the Phillies were 33-22 and held a 3.5 game lead over the Atlanta Braves in the NL East standings. That same day, the Nats were 24-32 and 9.5 games behind the Phillies.
But since May 24, Washington has forged a 28-11 mark. That is the best record in all of Major League Baseball since that date.
Meanwhile, the Phillies have slumped to a 14-21 record since their May 20 high-water at 11 games over the .500 mark. That is the same record in that time frame as the last place Miami Marlins have fashioned. Only the 13-22 record of the New York Mets over that period has been worse in the division.
All of that – the Phillies hot start, the Nationals recent hot stretch – is now in the rear view mirror. The ultimate story of the 2019 season for these two division rivals is going to be written over the next two and a half months. If the Phillies want to begin to turn their season back around, it has to begin this weekend.
For more than three weeks, the Phillies have faced nothing but NL East Division rivals on the schedule. The club has gone just 9-13 in those games. That stretch ends with this three-game weekend tilt with the Nationals.
The Phillies are going to come out of the stretch with a losing record. But winning this series would still mark a big step forward. It would also move them past the Nationals in the standings heading into a very tough four-game series to open next week with the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers.
Both teams have a middle-of-the-road offensive attack. The Nationals rank 14th in all of baseball with their average of 4.94 runs scored per game. The Phillies are right behind, their 4.91 runs per game ranking 15th among the 30 MLB ball clubs.
There is a big difference on the mound. Washington’s pitching staff ranks 5th in the National League with a .247 batting average against, and their .720 OPS against is 3rd in the league. Their pitchers collectively rank 4th in MLB in strikeouts.
The Phillies struggling staff is 14th in both AVG (.265) and OPS against (.799), and they have surrendered 153 home runs, far and away the highest total in the league and third-most in all of baseball. They are also just 22nd in strikeouts.
For the Phillies to actually win this series their pitching staff is going to have to begin stepping up. If the pitchers who are here and healthy right now cannot demonstrate improvement across the board, then the Nationals will keep up their winning ways and begin to pull away in the standings.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS

TOP LINEUP THREATS

Anthony Rendon: (29) 3B – .304/.386/.611 with 20 home runs, 44 extra-base hits, 62 RBIs, 65 runs
Trea Turner: (26) SS – .288/.343/.491 with 7 home runs, 26 extra-base hits, 21 RBIs, 36 runs, 17 steals (missed 39 games)
Victor Robles: (22) CF – .246/.320/443 with 13 home runs, 39 extra-base hits, 37 RBIs, 47 runs, 12 steals
Howie Kendrick: (35) UT – .327/.378/.563 with 12 home runs, 25 extra-base hits, 47 RBIs, 39 runs
Adam Eaton: (30) RF – .281/.368/.383 with 6 home runs, 18 extra-base hits, 21 RBIs, 50 runs
Kurt Suzuki (35)/Yan Gomes (31): catching tandem combined for 14 homers and 58 RBIs

SPOTLIGHT PLAYER

Juan Soto: The 20-year-old left fielder was the runner-up to Ronald Acuna Jr.for the 2018 NL Rookie of the Year Award. After a slow start to his sophomore campaign, Soto has caught fireand helped lead the Nationals charge back to contending status.
Since May 17 when he was hitting just .228, Soto has slashed .354/.452/.628 with nine home runs, 23 extra-base hits, 32 RBIs and 36 runs scored over 164 at-bats across 46 games.
The Nationals manager (see below) was quoted by MASN’s Byron Kerr as this series prepares to open:
I think his overall game has gotten better. Everybody talks about his hitting, but I think his outfield play has gotten better. His baserunning’s gotten better. In that aspect, he’s become that polished player. Still young, still learning. Works incredibly in all aspects of the game. But I think we still haven’t seen what he potentially can do as he gets older.

SCHEDULED STARTING PITCHERS

FRIDAY – Stephen Strasburg (30): 10-4, 3.64 ERA, 1.040 WHIP, 3.18 FIP, 92 hits over 116.1 IP across 18 starts with a 138/29 K:BB ratio. That Nationals come out of the break by throwing their three best starting pitchers against the Phillies. Strasburg has largely been dominating in what has been one of the big right-hander’s most complete seasons.
SATURDAY – Patrick Corbin (29): 7-5, 3.34 ERA, 1.112 WHIP, 3.34 FIP, 93 hits over 113.1 IP across 18 starts with a 129/33 K:BB ratio. Signed as a free agent this past off-season, Corbin has been everything the Nationals could have hoped. He provides the club a lone southpaw rotation presence, and a very good one.
SUNDAY – Anibal Sanchez (35): 5-6, 3.66 ERA, 1.327 WHIP, 4.53 FIP, 78 hits over 83.2 IP across 16 starts with a 75/33 K:BB ratio. This was supposed to be a turn for ace Max Scherzer. But ongoing back stiffness is causing the Nationals to skip him and go with 14-year veteran righty Sanchez. 

THE SKIPPER

54-year-old Dave Martinez had 16 years of playing experience in Major League Baseball with nine different organizations between 1986-2001. Four of those seasons from 1988-91 were with the Montreal Expos, the franchise from whom the Nationals are descended.
After retiring as an active player, Martinez became a spring training instructor for the Tampa Bay Rays, for whom he had played during the 1998-2000 seasons. In 2007, Martinez was hired as Joe Maddon‘s bench coach in Tampa, and was in that role as the club won their lone AL pennant and reached the 2008 World Series against the Phillies.
Martinez interviewed for a number of managerial positions over the next few years. When Maddon left following the 2014 campaign, Martinez was passed over for the Rays job and joined Maddon once again as the Chicago Cubs bench coach. In that role he helped the Cubs defeat the Nationals in a 2017 National League Division Series.
On October 30, 2017, Martinez was hired to take over as the Nationals manager. He has a contract running through next year, with a club option for the 2021 season. The Nationals overall record during his first year and a half at the helm is 129-122. His club finished 82-80 last year, good enough for second place in the NL East, but not good enough for a playoff spot.

SERIES WEATHER REPORT

Unless you are allergic to sunshine and warm temperatures, weather will play little role in this weekend series down in South Philadelphia. Each day is expected to include high temps right around 90 degrees, lows around 70 degrees, and very few clouds in the sky. A modest breeze each day should keep humidity levels at reasonable summertime levels.
The Nationals have won seven of the 11 meetings between the two division rivals. Bryce Harper has two home runs and eight RBIs in those first 11 games against his former ball club.

Originally published at Phillies Nation as “Phillies series opposition preview: Washington Nationals

As MLB All-Star break arrives, Braves in charge, Nats hot, Phils not in NL East race

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The Braves have taken charge of the NL East at the All-Star break

The Philadelphia Phillies (47-43) have arrived at the MLB All-Star break in third place in the National League East Division standings. They trail the Atlanta Braves by 6.5 games and are a half-game behind the Washington Nationals, but still control the second NL Wildcard playoff berth.

The Phillies captured a weekend series over the New York Mets at Citi Field by winning two of the three games, capped off by a rousing 8-3 victory in Sunday’s series finale. That followed on the heels of a series defeat after they dropped two of three to the first-place Atlanta Braves to open last week.
Now nearly three and a half months into the six-month long MLB regular season, the Phillies appear to be approaching a cross-roads. They led the division for all but seven days up until June 12, then were passed for second place by the Nats just this past week.
While the club has struggled to produce runs on a consistent basis over the traditional first-half of the season, their real problem has been on the mound. Phillies pitchers rank at or near the bottom of most important statistical categories. While the bullpen appears to finally be getting healthy, the starting rotation has become a complete mess.
The ability of general manager Matt Klentak to find a pair of more stable, veteran, productive starting pitchers prior to the trade deadline at the end of this month will likely prove pivotal to any hope of reaching the postseason.

If Klentak is unable to procure those new starters, even a bit of improvement from the offense is unlikely to keep them in contention through the dog days of August and the crucible of a September stretch run.

The 2019 MLB All-Star Game will take place at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio on Tuesday night. The lone Phillies representative will be J.T. Realmuto, who was selected as a back-up catcher for the National League.
As always, my NL East Beat report reveals how each of the Phillies divisional rivals fared over the course of the past week with a presentation of the standings, last week’s results, and the upcoming schedules for each club.

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST DIVISION STANDINGS

EAST DIVISION

    <th aria-label="Win-Loss %" class=" poptip hide_non_quals center" data-filter="1" data-name="Win-Loss %" data-stat="win_loss_perc" data-tip="Win-Loss Percentage
    W / (W + L)
    For players, leaders need one decision for every ten team games.
    For managers, minimum to qualify for leading is 320 games.” scope=”col” style=”background-color: #dadcde; border-color: rgb(116, 118, 120) rgb(170, 170, 170); border-image: initial; border-style: solid; border-width: 1px; float: none !important; margin: 0px; opacity: initial; padding: 0px 12.375px; text-align: center;”>W-L%

    <th aria-label="Games Back" class=" poptip sort_default_asc center" data-stat="games_back" data-tip="Games Back of Division/League Leader
    Computed as games over .500 of leader (W-L) minus games over .500 of team divided by two.
    Typically computed at the end of play for a particular day.
    Blank for 1st game of DH.” scope=”col” style=”background-color: #dadcde; border-color: rgb(116, 118, 120) rgb(116, 118, 120) rgb(116, 118, 120) rgb(170, 170, 170); border-image: initial; border-style: solid; border-width: 1px; float: none !important; margin: 0px; opacity: initial; padding: 0px 12.375px; text-align: center;”>GB

    East Division
    Team W L
    Atlanta Braves 54 37 .593
    Washington Nationals 47 42 .528 6.0
    Philadelphia Phillies 47 43 .522 6.5
    New York Mets 40 50 .444 13.5
    Miami Marlins 33 55 .375 19.5

    ATLANTA BRAVES (4 – 2)

    Summary: The first-place Braves continued to win series as the month of July opened, beating the Phillies and Marlins in two of three games each last week.
    While it was nothing special, it demonstrated exactly the kind of consistent, winning performance that the Phillies had been producing over the season’s first two months.
    Upcoming: Atlanta will head out on the road following the All-Star break, visiting San Diego and Milwaukee for three games each.
    Player of the First HalfMike Soroka, SP
    NL All-Star repsFreddie Freeman 1B, Ronald Acuna Jr.OF, Mike Soroka SP

    MIAMI MARLINS (1 – 5)

    Summary: For a second straight week, Don Mattingly‘s Fish dropped five of six games, this time to the division’s top two ball clubs. The Washington Nationals swept the Marlins in D.C. to open the week, and then the Braves won two of three in Atlanta over the weekend.
    After a stretch of strong play from mid-May through mid-June, the Marlins have begun to collapse. They are just 3-9 over their last dozen contests, and their overall .375 winning percentage is the worst in the entire National League. However, their 8-7 mark against the Phillies is proving to be a major factor in the division race.
    Upcoming: The Marlins will be at home coming out of the break, hosting the New York Mets for three games over the weekend. The San Diego Padres then come to South Florida to open next week.
    Player of the First HalfGarrett Cooper, OF/1B
    NL All-Star repsSandy Alcantara P

    NEW YORK METS (2 – 3)

    Summary: A losing week has dropped the Mets to 10 games below the .500 mark on the season, with the second-worst record in the NL behind only the Marlins.
    They began last week with a two-game split of a Subway Series match-up with the New York Yankees. Then the Phillies came to Citi Field and took two of three over this past weekend. The Mets are seven games behind the Phillies for the second NL Wildcard, but would have to climb over nine other teams to get there as well.
    Upcoming: New York will come out of the break and head out on the road to begin a nine-game trip that will start in Miami over the weekend. The road trip will then take them to Minnesota for two with the AL Central-leading Twins and out to San Francisco for three with the Giants.
    Player of the First HalfPete Alonso, 1B
    NL All-Star repsPete Alonso 1B, Jeff McNeil 3B/OF

    WASHINGTON NATIONALS (5 – 1)

    Summary: The Nationals are white-hot after appearing to be on the verge of getting buried just a month ago. Since May 23, when they were 19-31 and sitting in fourth place, 10 games behind the first-place Phillies, Washington has gone 28-11 to overtake the Phils in the standings.
    This past week, the Nationals stayed hot by sweeping the Marlins at home to open the week. Then they took two of three over the weekend from the visiting Kansas City Royals.
    Upcoming: The Nats also come out of the break and head out on the road. It all starts with a visit to Citizens Bank Park this coming weekend to take on the Phillies in a showdown for second place in the NL East. The trip doesn’t take them geographically very far at all. Next week they will drive to Baltimore for a pair with the Orioles at Camden Yards. Then it’s down south for a huge four-game set next weekend in Atlanta.
    Player of the First HalfAnthony Rendon, 3B
    NL All-Star repsAnthony Rendon 3B, Max Scherzer P

    MLB 2019 Power Rankings: Astros, Dodgers remain at the top of each league as July opens

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    Texas Rangers have been a surprise AL contender in 2019

    This is a Philadelphia Phillies site, and so the team’s place on my MLB Power Rankings always needs to be highlighted. When I debuted the 2019 rankings on June 1, there were fans upset that the first-place club was in the #15 slot.

    By the June 15 rankings, the Phillies had moved up a spot to #14, although by then the team had dropped to second place. Still, I heard complaints from fans who believed the club should be ranked higher.
    Maybe now they can admit that the rankings were on to something? The Phillies have now slipped to the #18 spot. They have the 12th-best record in MLB overall, and are buoyed by their defense, tied for 8th in the game. But their hitting attack has been mediocre (15th) and they are seriously weighted down by a pitching staff rated just 25th in baseball.
    Fans are allowed to be unrealistic about their team based on pure emotion. My own personal feelings have nothing to do with the MLB Power Rankings published here at Phillies Nation. Instead, it’s all about each team’s actual results and statistical performances.
    There is never any subjectivity on my part. I take key statistics and rank each of the 30 teams in Major League baseball on their ability to actually win ball games as well as their performance on offense, on the pitching mound, and in the field.
    The MLB Power Rankings will be updated here at Phillies Nation on the 1st and 15th of the month for the remainder of the regular season using the following methodology.

    RANKINGS METHODOLOGY

    Introduced and then upgraded during the course of last season, my formula for compiling the rankings received another tweak to begin this year. By the end of 2018, I was researching each of the 30 MLB teams current position in the four categories of winning percentageruns scoredpitching OPS, and fielding percentage.
    This year, runs-per-game has replaced that simple “runs scored” category in order to get the offensive component. I then assign each of those component category team rankings a 1-30 value and simply add those values up to determine an overall final ratings score. Where there was a tie, it is broken by win-loss percentage, then by runs-per-game, followed by pitching OPS.

    2019 JULY 1 –  MLB RANKINGS

    The Houston Astros repeat at the top of the Power Rankings. But the top four teams remain the same, just with a slight juggling of the order.
    The hot risers are the Washington Nationals, who have shot up 11 places since June 1. In the American League, the Texas Rangers are up again, this time from 11 to 8 after going from 16 to 11 in the June 15 rankings. And the Oakland A’s burst up from 12 to 5 this time around.
    On the down side, the Milwaukee Brewers have dropped from the top ten down to 16. Meanwhile, the San Diego Padres, who like the Phillies landed a huge off-season free agent in Manny Machado, have been struggling along in the lower half. The Friars are 20th for a second straight ranking.
    In parentheses are the team’s positions from the June 1 and June 15 rankings, shown in that order from left to right.
    1. Houston Astros (3-1)
    2. Los Angeles Dodgers (1-3)
    3. Minnesota Twins (2-2)
    4. Tampa Bay Rays (4-4)
    5. Oakland Athletics (8-12)
    6. Arizona Diamondbacks (9-5)
    7. Atlanta Braves (12-9)
    8. Texas Rangers (16-11)
    9. New York Yankees (5-8)
    10. Boston Red Sox (6-6)
    11. Chicago Cubs (10-13)
    12. Colorado Rockies (11-7)
    13. Washington Nationals (24-19)
    14. Saint Louis Cardinals (14-15)
    15. Cleveland Indians (18-18)
    16. Milwaukee Brewers (7-10)
    17. Cincinnati Reds (13-16)
    18. Philadelphia Phillies (15-14)
    19. Los Angeles Angels (19-17)
    20. San Diego Padres (17-20)
    21. Miami Marlins (23-26)
    22. Kansas City Royals (21-21)
    23. Pittsburgh Pirates (20-25)
    24. New York Mets (22-23)
    25. San Francisco Giants (29-27)
    26. Toronto Blue Jays (28-28)
    27. Seattle Mariners (26-22)
    28. Chicago White Sox (25-24)
    29. Detroit Tigers (27-29)
    30. Baltimore Orioles (30-30)

    SPOTLIGHT TEAM: TEXAS RANGERS

    Few people had the Texas Rangers as a serious contender entering the 2019 Major League Baseball season. But the Rangers have bashed the ball around the yard, ranking 5th in runs-per-game, and have also played solid defensively.
    Unfortunately for the Rangers they play in the same division, the American League West, as the top team in our rankings, the Houston Astros. As of today, the Rangers trail their Texas rivals by six games in the loss column. The Rangers are tied with the Cleveland Indians in the loss column in the race for the second AL Wildcard playoff berth.
    The big bats in the Texas attack have been a trio of hitters who have rotated the left field and designated hitter positions: Joey GalloShin-Soo Choo, and a rejuvenated Hunter Pence. Shortstop Elvis Andrus is also enjoying a strong first half. Both Gallo and Pence, who is currently on the IL, were selected for the AL squad in the 2019 All-Star Game.
    What has held Texas back is their pitching staff, which factored at just 23rd in the rankings category of OPS-against. One bright spot has been AlLAll-Star Mike Minor, a 31-year-old left-hander who could become a big trade chip should Texas fall out of the playoff race later this month.
    Credit first-year manager Chris Woodward for keeping the team believing in themselves. Now, does GM Jon Daniels believe enough to go out and try to bolster that rotation for a genuine playoff run? Or will the Rangers actually become sellers as that July 31 trade deadline approaches?
    (Previous spotlight teams: June 1 – Minnesota Twins , June 15 – Atlanta Braves)
    Originally published at Phillies Nation as “2019 MLB Power Rankings: July 1