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Power Rankings: The best teams have first-half promises to keep

From ESPN - July 17, 2017

There was not too much movement in the rankings just a series into the second half of the season, but what we did see is significant. The Dodgers and Astros remain the two teams with a claim for No. 1, with the Dodgers again claiming a majority of first-place votes. Will they claim an even larger share of support? Well, consider this: Since Cody Bellinger 's debut on April 25, the Dodgers are 55-18, good for a .753 winning percentage. That is not luck, that's a heaping helping of dominance, with seemingly more to come on tap.

Which is not to say there are not other significant disagreements among the voters -- literally the only thing they could agree upon this week is that the Phillies are the worst team in baseball. Between the hapless Phils and our top tandem of teams, there's plenty of disagreement over which clubs are legit, and whose hopes are already fading. But with teams like the Brewers and Rays making gains within the top 10 while the Braves picked up another spot while returning to .500, some clubs are definitely on the move. And the decline of the Yankees and Rockies within the top 10 reflects a pair of contenders suddenly facing rotation questions that could set them up for even bigger declines.

The largest single jump up was by the Orioles (three rungs), while the Marlins owned the largest decline by dropping three spots.

This week's voters are Bradford Doolittle, Eric Karabell, Tim Kurkjian, David Schoenfield and Mark Simon.

Week 14 rankings | Week 13 | Week 12 | Week 11 | Week 10 | Week 9 | Week 8 | Week 7 | Week 6 | Week 5 | Week 4 | Week 3 | Week 2 | Week 1 | Preseason

1. Los Angeles Dodgers

Record: 64-29
Week 14 ranking: No. 1

Every week seems to bring a new ream of firsts for the Dodgers. With Saturday's victory, Alex Wood became the first Dodgers starter to win his first 10 decisions since Preacher Roe in 1951. After homering while hitting for his first cycle, Cody Bellinger (26) is now second only to Mike Piazza (35) for homers hit in a rookie season, with more than two months to go. -- Christina Kahrl, ESPN.com

2. Houston Astros

Record: 62-30
Week 14 ranking: No. 2

If you were worrying about the Astros' rotation woes, stop, even with the date of Dallas Keuchel's return still TBD. They have gone 7-2 in swingman Brad Peacock's starts, Charlie Morton whiffed 10 Twins in five innings on Friday and Mike Fiers another 11 Sunday and Collin McHugh made his last rehab start. You can also credit the lineup that generated 6.6 runs per game since June 1 (and a plus-77 run differential) after their rotation problems cropped up to make them less of an issue. -- Christina Kahrl, ESPN.com

3. Washington Nationals

Record: 55-36
Week 14 ranking: No. 3

Joe Ross' season-ending injury will test the Nationals' pitching depth The loss is a shame because after trouble early in the season, Ross seemed to have gotten straightened out, posting a 2.18 ERA in a three-start stretch against the Reds, Cubs and Mets. Washington has the luxury of a large division lead, but issues in the rotation could tax the bullpen, even after Sunday's trade with the A's. Getting Tanner Roark back on track (4.98 ERA) would help. -- Mark Simon, ESPN Stats & Information

4. Boston Red Sox

Record: 52-41
Week 14 ranking: No. 4

The Red Sox's lineup is deep, but it has been hard for them to find a third baseman. Boston designated Pablo Sandoval for assignment this week, and they have gotten next to nothing out anyone else at third. If they could find someone to man the hot corner at the deadline (Mike Moustakas? Jedd Gyorko? Nick Castellanos?), they will be sitting pretty come October. One thing is for sure, GM Dave Dombrowski will be active. -- Michael Bonzagni, ESPN Stats & Information

5. Arizona Diamondbacks

Record: 53-39
Week 14 ranking: No. 5

Sunday's clobbering lowered the Diamondbacks' record since A.J. Pollock's return from the DL to 1-8 while scoring just 2.5 runs per game. Given that their hitters are just 27th in OPS on the road, it's no surprise that six of those losses came on the road. It's also no surprise they are now rumored to be interested in adding a power bat for an outfield corner at the trade deadline. -- Christina Kahrl, ESPN.com

6. Cleveland Indians

Record: 47-43
Week 14 ranking: No. 6

So much for breaking away. After getting swept by the A's to start their second half, is any first-place team in a more uncertain position than the Indians? Jose Ramirez may have blossomed into a star, but Francisco Lindor is struggling to get on base, with just a .283 OBP since the end of April. Jason Kipnis is back on the shelf with a groin injury and had yet to get on track at the plate while Carlos Santana's home run rate has been cut in half from last season. -- Christina Kahrl, ESPN.com

7. Milwaukee Brewers

Record: 52-42
Week 14 ranking: No. 8

The Brewers are one of the hottest teams in baseball, winning 11 of their past 14 contests. But they will be tested in the next month or so -- 15 of their next 23 games are on the road, including trips to Washington and Minnesota, and their only home games are against the Cubs, Cardinals and Twins. They need Jimmy Nelson to keep throwing well -- he has a 2.59 ERA in 14 starts since the beginning of May. -- John Fisher, ESPN Stats & Information

8. New York Yankees

Record: 47-43
Week 14 ranking: No. 7

The Yankees were 38-23 after their win on June 12, the second-best record in the majors behind the Astros. Since then, they have gone 9-20. That .310 win percentage is baseball's worst in that span. Aaron Judge is walking a lot, but he's starting to see his batting average drop. He went 0-6 in the Yankees' extra-inning win at Fenway on Saturday, the worst oh-fer of his career. -- Sarah Langs, ESPN Stats & Information

9. Tampa Bay Rays

Record: 49-44
Week 14 ranking: No. 10

Who has been the MVP of this Rays season? That's not an easy question. The Rays have five players who have delivered 2-3 WAR, with Logan Morrison, Corey Dickerson, Stephen Souza and Evan Longoria basically having interchangeable value (Kevin Kiermaier is on the DL, and his 2.3 WAR is a testament to great defense). Their starting pitchers ca not match those WAR totals, but Alex Cobb has come around nicely and Chris Archer is capable of being an ace. The surprise MVP has been Jacob Faria, who has a 2.00 ERA in seven starts, in which the Rays are 6-1. -- Mark Simon, ESPN Stats & Information

10. Colorado Rockies

Record: 53-41
Week 14 ranking: No. 9

Even as the Rockies' 6-15 swoon breathes life into the wild-card hopes of the National League pack, they are facing a rotation crunch. They had planned to rest Kyle Freeland after he threw 126 pitches in his failed no-hit bid, but with Tyler Chatwood joining Chad Bettis and Tyler Anderson on the DL, they may need to press him as well as Antonio Senzatela back into action. Rookie starters pitched the Rockies into contention -- now they may have to keep them there. -- Christina Kahrl, ESPN.com

11. Chicago Cubs

Record: 46-45
Week 14 ranking: 11

Trading for Jose Quintana at the All-Star break to shore up their rotation should help turn around the champs, starting with his overpowering Cubs debut on Sunday. Though he was not having a banner year for the White Sox before the deal (4.49 ERA), Quintana is among the game's most effective innings eaters, was striking out a career-best 24.6 percent of opposing batters this season and he's under team control through 2020. -- Paul Hembekides, ESPN Stats & Information

12. Texas Rangers

Record: 45-46
Week 14 ranking: No. 13

With a career-best 11 homers already hit this season, Elvis Andrus has gotten in on The Year of the Home Run, but after three down seasons on defense, the formerly premium defender has also moved back into the black in defensive runs saved this season. Given that he's still just 28 years old, the Rangers may yet get reasonable value on that eight-year, $120 million deal they gave him in spring 2013. -- Christina Kahrl, ESPN.com

13. St. Louis Cardinals

Record: 44-47
Week 14 ranking: No. 15

The Cardinals will likely hold out to the very end to determine whether they are buyers or (more likely) sellers at the trade deadline. They continue along on this 10-game road trip against the Mets and Cubs, then head home for seven games with the Rockies and Diamondbacks. If they went 10-4 in that 14-game stretch, perhaps they take a run at the Brewers by making a move. Coincidentally, their first series after deadline day is against Milwaukee. -- Mark Simon, ESPN Stats & Information

14. Kansas City Royals

Record: 45-45
Week 14 ranking: No. 12

After a red-hot June, the Royals are hovering around .500 in July thanks in large part to their starting pitchers cooling off. The AL Central or a wild card are both very winnable, so adding some pieces at the deadline makes sense for a team that could get hot again. On the other hand, many of their key players are free agents after this season. How the next two weeks play out makes for a very interesting deadline in K.C. -- Michael Bonzagni, ESPN Stats & Information

15. Minnesota Twins

16. Seattle Mariners

17. Los Angeles Angels

18. Atlanta Braves

19. Pittsburgh Pirates

20. Toronto Blue Jays

21. Baltimore Orioles

22. Detroit Tigers

23. New York Mets

24. Miami Marlins

25. Chicago White Sox

26. Cincinnati Reds

27. Oakland Athletics

28. San Francisco Giants

29. San Diego Padres

30. Philadelphia Phillies

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