Power Rankings: Which of AL's three superteams is No. 1?

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Where the Power Rankings are concerned, we reached the All-Star break with some clarity. The dividing line between the Astros and the Red Sox for who's No. 1 has narrowed to a sliver, with three votes going to the Astros and two to the Red Sox. The Yankees are one short step behind them, having grabbed and then lost the top slot earlier this season. The Cubs are the class of the National League, parked at No. 4. That's MLB's elite, favoring an American League that could give us their three clubs in the top four as 100-win teams -- one of which will have to settle for a wild-card play-in game.

It's from there that the real fighting over pecking order begins. Multiple teams have gotten to No. 5 for a week but lost that perch as quickly as they claimed it, with the Nationals, Indians, Brewers and Mariners all taking turns the previous five weeks. That may finally have changed this week, as the Dodgers have climbed back atop the National League West while moving into the fifth rung in the rankings. Are they ready to do what those other clubs could not, and hang with baseball's best quartet?

The Dodgers' three-spot climb up to No. 5 wasn't the single biggest move in the rankings before the break. The Rockies are making their own comeback bid, moving up four slots as they kept themselves in the NL wild-card picture. The Phillies returned to the top 10, displacing the Braves here as well as in the NL East standings.

Not everybody can improve, though. The Cardinals didn't just fire manager Mike Matheny over the weekend, they also declined five spots in the voting. And both the Braves and Mariners lost three places, in the Mariners' case bringing them within reach of an A's team that has climbed up to No. 11. And with as many as 10 NL teams in the playoff chase, there's sure to be some reshuffling in the second half.

This week, our panel of voters is composed of David Schoenfield, Eric Karabell, Tim Kurkjian, Bradford Doolittle and Sarah Langs.

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1. Houston Astros

Record: 64-35
Week 14 ranking: 1

The Astros are about where we expected them to be entering the break -- well above .500 for the second straight year and apparently headed for a second straight division title. They haven't finished first in their division in consecutive seasons since winning it three straight years from 1997-99 -- which was the only time in franchise history they've won consecutive division titles. They have far and away the best run differential in the majors. -- Sarah Langs, ESPN Stats & Information

2. Boston Red Sox

Record: 68-30
Week 14 ranking: 2

The Red Sox have been homer-happy with the bases loaded this year. Last season, Boston was the only team in baseball without at least one grand slam, failing to homer in 156 plate appearances with the bases loaded. After adding two more over the past week, Boston is tied with Cincinnati for league lead with nine grand slams. The only season Boston has with more grand slams was 2005, when it hit 11. -- Dan McCarthy, ESPN Stats & Information

3. New York Yankees

Record: 62-33
Week 14 ranking: 3

Luis Severino has blossomed into one of MLB's premier starters. He already has won as many games as he had all of last season in 11 fewer starts (14). Only 12 Yankees starters have finished a season with an ERA under 2.30 since earned runs became an official stat in the AL in 1913 (minimum 25 starts). Severino (2.31) could join that group with a strong finish to his season. -- McCarthy

4. Chicago Cubs

Record: 55-38
Week 14 ranking: 4

After a tumultuous first half in which more seemingly went wrong than went right, the Cubs own the NL's best record at the All-Star break. Chicago got Kris Bryant back on Wednesday, putting the team at the healthiest it has been since early in the season. The biggest question facing the Cubs in the second half: What will Yu Darvish bring? He made just eight first-half starts and posted a 4.95 ERA. -- Kenneth Woolums, ESPN Stats & Information

5. Los Angeles Dodgers

Record: 53-43
Week 14 ranking: 8

While the Dodgers can thank the unexpected performances of Max Muncy, Ross Stripling, Enrique Hernandez and Matt Kemp for much of their climb back to first place, they also can take heart from Kenley Jansen's rebound. The closer notched his 27th save to tie for the NL lead on Sunday, and since April he has posted an ERA (1.47) and WHIP (0.76) that looks like his previous three dominant seasons (1.81 and 0.73). And though his strikeout rate has dropped, he's allowing next to no power, just four extra-base hits since April. -- Christina Kahrl, ESPN.com

6. Cleveland Indians

Record: 52-43
Week 14 ranking: 6

Despite the ugliness of the Indians' first-half bullpen performance, the Tribe reached the break on all the right notes over the weekend: Jose Ramirez tied for the MLB lead in home runs with 29, Trevor Bauer delivered another gem on the mound and closer Cody Allen sewed up Sunday's win with his 20th save. The Indians still need to see Andrew Miller come back healthy and perhaps swing a deal to make sure their relief woes don't haunt their bid to return to the World Series, but with an easy division win in sight, they can keep their eyes on October. -- Kahrl

7. Milwaukee Brewers

Record: 55-43
Week 14 ranking: 5

The All-Star break comes at just the right time for the Brewers. After spending 75 days in first place over the course of the first half of the season, they've now lost a season-high six consecutive games entering the break, including suffering a rare five-game sweep at the hands of the Pirates. Given the circumstances, it's hard not to think back to last season, when Milwaukee spent 69 days atop the NL Central, only to watch the Cubs win the division a second straight season. -- Paul Casella, ESPN Stats & Information

8. Arizona Diamondbacks

Record: 53-44
Week 14 ranking: 10

Even as Zack Greinke sees his fastball velocity drift below 90 mph, he's showing it may not matter while delivering another excellent season for the Snakes. He has the third-lowest walk rate in the NL, he's still striking out more than a batter per inning, and his 11 quality starts lead the team. With Patrick Corbin cooling off and Robbie Ray not yet back to last year's standard, Greinke has been the rotation anchor he was signed to be. -- Kahrl

9. Philadelphia Phillies

Record: 53-42
Week 14 ranking: 11

The bullpen still has question marks, but there's no doubt it has been a successful first half for the Phillies. They're in first place at the break for the first time since 2011, which was also the year of their most recent postseason appearance. Aaron Nola has entered into the conversation of elite NL pitchers, with a 2.30 ERA and 0.98 WHIP. On Saturday, he notched his 500th career strikeout in just 480 innings pitched, the fewest innings to 500 career K's for any Phillies pitcher and the fewest innings to 500 K's with the Phillies for any pitcher, according to Elias Sports Bureau research. -- Langs

10. Seattle Mariners

Record: 58-39
Week 14 ranking: 7

Many spent much of the first half waiting for the Mariners to come back to earth. Instead, they head into the All-Star break on pace to win more than 95 games and, more importantly, in line to snap the longest active postseason drought in the majors. The Athletics have started to make things interesting, but Seattle remains in the driver's seat for the final AL wild-card spot. Seattle and Oakland meet 10 times in the second half, including a three-game set to kick off the final week of the season. -- Casella

11. Oakland Athletics

Record: 55-42
Week 14 ranking: 13

Coming into the break just three games behind the Mariners in the chase for the second AL wild card, the A's are definitely channeling their 2012 surprise season when they arrived as contenders sooner than expected. Winning has a way of changing the conversation, as head honcho Billy Beane is talking about being a buyer at the deadline -- their rotation could use the help -- and trying to keep second baseman Jed Lowrie (a free agent this winter) and DH Khris Davis (who reaches free agency after 2019). -- Kahrl

12. Atlanta Braves

Record: 52-42
Week 14 ranking: 9

The Braves may have stumbled into the break, but the Phillies aren't exactly pulling away. Since July 3, Atlanta is 3-8, but they're still only a half-game behind in the division. Atlanta's offense has struggled lately, scoring just 3.4 runs per game in their past 11. The potential burnout of Ozzie Albies is something to watch in the second half. He's just 21 years old, but no NL player has more plate appearances so far this season. -- Woolums

13. Colorado Rockies

Record: 51-45
Week 14 ranking: 17

The Rockies certainly kept fans -- and opponents -- guessing in an up-and-down first half of the season. They spent 13 days in first place in the NL West, but they also dropped as far as eight games back. They're between those two extremes heading into the break, but they'll be tested as soon as they return to action. Colorado will play 25 of its first 28 games of the second half against teams with winning records, starting with a three-game series against the Diamondbacks. -- Casella

14. Washington Nationals

Record: 48-48
Week 14 ranking: 14

The first half did not go as the Nationals planned. After being a popular pick to reach the World Series and pretty much a consensus pick to win their division, they find themselves in third place. It's the latest they've been in third since 2013, a year in which they ultimately finished 86-76 and missed the playoffs. The team has made the playoffs in consecutive years entering 2018 for the first time in franchise history. Can they pick up the pace in the second half to make it three straight? -- Langs

15. Los Angeles Angels

Record: 49-48
Week 14 ranking: 15

The Angels will be an interesting team to watch over the next few weeks, though that interest will primarily be in what's happening off the field. Despite leading the AL West as recently as May 14, the Angels have faded from the postseason picture over the past two months. That could lead to the Angels becoming sellers ahead of the trade deadline -- and notch another lost season with Mike Trout on the roster. -- Casella

16. Tampa Bay Rays

Record: 49-47
Week 14 ranking: 16

Blake Snell earned his All-Star status with an exceptional start to the season, posting a 2.27 ERA through 20 starts. His 12 wins have already eclipsed his career mark entering the year (11). His fastball has shown an increase in velocity and deceptiveness, as he has induced a miss on 22 percent of swings this season (up from 17 percent in his first two years). Snell has yet to throw over 130 innings in a season, so all eyes will be on the young starter to see how he holds up in the latter half of the year. -- McCarthy

17. St. Louis Cardinals

Record: 48-46
Week 14 ranking: 12

The Cardinals capped their first half a day early by firing manager Mike Matheny late on Saturday night. The Cardinals were above .500 in every full season under Matheny, and made the postseason in each of his first four seasons as manager (2012-15), but haven't been there since and were just a game above .500 when they fired Matheny. The last over-.500 team to fire a manager in-season was the 2008 Brewers; Ned Yost was fired in the middle of a late-season slump, but the Brewers were 83-67 at the time and reached the playoffs under Dale Sveum. -- Langs

18. San Francisco Giants

Record: 50-48
Week 14 ranking: 18

The Giants went two years without posting a winning record in a month before going 18-10 in June this year. Now, they're above .500 at the break for the first time since 2016, when they made the playoffs as a wild card. And ace Madison Bumgarner seems to be hitting his stride. He has now made eight starts and has a 2.90 ERA. He has given up three or fewer runs in all but two of those starts, and has gone more than five innings in each and more than six innings in all but two. -- Langs

19. Pittsburgh Pirates

Record: 48-49
Week 14 ranking: 21

The Pirates have done a good job practicing for their role as spoiler. Since July 8, they have won eight of nine games against the Phillies, Nationals and Brewers. In the seven of the wins, their opponent failed to score more than three runs. A point of interest for Pirates fans in the second half: Josh Bell's power, because a 1.4 home run percentage at first base won't cut it long term. -- Woolums

20. Minnesota Twins

Record: 44-50
Week 14 ranking: 22

The Twins won eight out of nine games in a stretch against the Orioles, Royals and Rays, helping to inch closer to .500. Then, Saturday afternoon, the Rays dropped 19 runs on them, including 15 in the final three innings in a 19-6 rout at Target Field. With the Twins obviously out of it, Minnesota's biggest second-half questions surround where Brian Dozier ends up and whether the team can get the careers of Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton back on track. -- Woolums

21. Cincinnati Reds

Record: 43-53
Week 14 ranking: 20

The Reds present perhaps the most interesting case of any team going into the trade deadline. Scooter Gennett and Eugenio Suarez are both having career years, both are in the midst of their primes and come with multiple years of team control (Suarez is signed through 2024). If the Reds decide to extend Gennett, they have a core of Gennett, Suarez and Joey Votto to build around. But they also could decide to deal either or both Gennett and Suarez for a significant haul at the deadline. -- Woolums

22. Toronto Blue Jays

Record: 43-52
Week 14 ranking: 19

The Blue Jays have not won a series outright since a three-game sweep of the Nationals from June 15-17 and have since slipped below the Rays to fourth in the AL East. While the rest of the season does not hold much promise for Toronto, it will likely get a look at top prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. at some point in the second half. He was hitting .407 with 11 home runs and 55 RBIs in Double-A before a knee injury delayed his rapid ascent through the system. -- McCarthy

23. Texas Rangers

Record: 41-56
Week 14 ranking: 23

The Rangers went on an impressive run at the end of June, but they've started July looking a lot like the team we saw for the first two and a half months of the season. The one thing that has remained consistent: Shin-Soo Choo keeps getting on base. He enters the All-Star break having reached base safely in 51 consecutive games. It's not only the longest streak in more than a decade, but it's a longer streak that any active player has had at any point in their careers. Albert Pujols and Joey Votto are next on that list, having both rattled off 48-game streaks. -- Casella

24. San Diego Padres

Record: 40-59
Week 14 ranking: 25

With the Padres mired in a 6-21 swoon going into the break, the focus now is on whether it's imperative for them to reinforce one of baseball's best farm systems by dealing any of their affordable veteran relievers -- closer Brad Hand (signed cheaply through 2020 with a club option for 2021) or setup men Craig Stammen (signed for 2019) or Kirby Yates (arbitration-eligible in 2019 and 2020) -- or starter Tyson Ross. As a free agent this winter with a checkered health history, Ross could end up the only one on the move. -- Kahrl

25. Detroit Tigers

Record: 41-57
Week 14 ranking: 24

While the Tigers mull what they have that contenders might want to trade for, they're scrambling to scare up some runs. Outside of Nicholas Castellanos, the lineup is struggling badly, averaging under 3.5 runs per game since the end of May. Entertaining offers for Castellanos might only make a dire situation worse. If you're looking for good news, getting CF Leonys Martin back from the DL after the break could definitely help MLB's most fly ball-oriented pitching staff. -- Kahrl

26. New York Mets

Record: 39-55
Week 14 ranking: 26

It was a disappointing first half for the Mets after their 11-1 start. They've dealt with injuries to Noah Syndergaard and Yoenis Cespedes, among others. Michael Conforto returned earlier than anticipated from injury, but hasn't shown the same results as last year, when he was the Mets' All-Star. Ace Jacob deGrom has the best ERA in baseball and would likely start the All-Star Game if it weren't in Max Scherzer's home ballpark. But even with deGrom's success, the question for the second half is whether trading the ace at the height of his value is their best choice. -- Langs

27. Miami Marlins

Record: 41-57
Week 14 ranking: 27

Picked as pushovers during the preseason, the Marlins are proving to be anything but of late, managing a 21-21 record in June and July. During that stretch they've been in MLB's middle class in runs scored (4.4, just under MLB average) and wOBA (an exactly average .321), while the bullpen has posted a 3.71 ERA, just outside the top 10. If last winter's trades bought them the financial freedom to keep assets like J.T. Realmuto and Starlin Castro, they might be an effective spoiler in the tight NL East race after the break. -- Kahrl

28. Chicago White Sox

Record: 33-62
Week 14 ranking: 28

The White Sox went 2-0 in March, but it has been downhill from there. They should be fielding a few calls over the next couple of weeks from teams interested in their few potential trade chips -- chiefly All-Star first baseman Jose Abreu and closer Joakim Soria. GM Rick Hahn has never shied away from wheeling and dealing, but beyond getting a good package for Abreu, he doesn't have as much to work with this time around. -- Casella

29. Kansas City Royals

Record: 27-68
Week 14 ranking: 29

Among the four Royals starters who currently qualify for the ERA title, Danny Duffy holds the lowest ERA of the group (4.59). They are the only team in baseball without a qualified starter below a 4.50 ERA. The second half of the season may see K.C. deal away some of its few remaining links to its World Series runs from just a few years ago, but the farm system could use the boost; the Royals entered the year with Keith Law's 27th-ranked system and no top-100 prospects. -- McCarthy

30. Baltimore Orioles

Record: 28-69
Week 14 ranking: 30

The Orioles have the most losses at the break, and unfortunately their schedule does not get any lighter. Thanks to playing in the same division as the Yankees and Red Sox, Baltimore has the hardest remaining schedule in baseball. With 18 combined games remaining against Boston and New York and a looming trade of Manny Machado, things will likely get worse before they get better for the Birds. -- McCarthy