Taking advantage of the All-Star break, Tiebreaker.com presents our American League power rankings for the first half of the 2019 season
1). New York Yankees
It’s amazing that the Yankees are playing as well as they have. The team has been ravaged by injuries – 21 players serving 24 separate shifts on the IL. Giancarlo Stanton has played in only nine games. But this is the deepest team in the game, one powerful enough to hit homeruns in an MLB-record 31 straight games. And imagine this: Utility man D.J. LeMahieu (.336) might be the AL’s MVP.
2). Minnesota Twins
Rookie manager Rocco Baldelli has done a tremendous job with this team. It’s offense has been off-the-charts spectacular, leading the Majors in batting average (.272), runs (509), slugging percentage and total bases. Like the Yankees, they hit a lot of homers and are on pace to slug more than 260. They already have 56 wins.
3). Houston Astros
The Astros might be the best team in the AL by the end of the season. Their talent is fearsome and relatively intact from two years ago when it was in the World Series. Losing starter Charlie Morton to Tampa hurt, but the pain fades every time Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander are on the mound. All-Star Alex Bregman leads the team with 23 homers and 56 RBIs. Michael Brantley is hitting .324.
4). Tampa Bay Rays
In the early portion of the season, it looked like the Rays would defy great odds by actually winning the AL East. They once held a 5 ½ game in the division. But hitters have begun to catch up with their pitching. Even reigning Cy Young winner Blake Snell has had his down moments. Who knows? Maybe in a few years they will be playing in Montreal.
5). Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox had a terrible start this season and everyone was naturally wondering if it had anything to do with being hung over from winning the World Series. But they won five of their last six before the break to get back in the AL East race. Right now, pitching is the problem. The Sox are 6-12 when Chris Sale starts and that’s just plain weird.
6). Texas Rangers
It’s impossible to talk about the Rangers without mentioning the remarkable Joey Gallo. Until this season, he might have been MLB’s greatest example of a three-result hitter (walk, strikeout or homerun). His batting average also sucked. But this season he’s hit 20 homers with 46 RBIs and he’s raised his average 70 points to .276. Now, if only they could get Rougned Odor (.193) out of his slump.
7). Oakland A’s
The A’s and Rays traditionally do more with a small payroll than anyone else in MLB. They have a knack for finding and developing talent. Oakland is 50-41 this season, has smacked 142 homers and is clearly in contention for a wildcard. By the way, why hasn’t Khris Davis been in the Home Run Derby? His 107 dingers since 2017 are the most in baseball.
8). Cleveland Indians
The Indians ended the first half of the season with five straight victories and that’s saying a lot for a team that has played without two of its key starters – Corey Kluber and Mike Clevinger – for most of the time. It’s been OK because guys like Shane Bieber (the All-Star Game’s MVP) have picked up the slack.
9). Los Angeles Angels
No matter what happens during the remainder of the season, the lasting memory of this campaign will be the premature death of starter Tyler Skaggs shortly before the All-Star break. The team will be doing a lot of soul-searching from here on. But the good thing is, they are led by the game’s best player, Mike Trout, who already has 28 homers, 67 RBIs and is hitting .301.
10). Chicago White Sox
The talk around the game is the White Sox are the up-and-coming team in MLB and their rebuilding phase is starting to pay off. They are still below .500 (42-44) and they failed to land Manny Machado in the offseason. But in Tim Anderson (.317), Yoan Moncada, Eloy Jimenez and Lucas Giolito, they now have a tremendous nucleus of young stars to line up next to Jose Abreu (21 homers, 66 RBIs).
11). Seattle Mariners
Things are not going very well for the Mariners. They have had to trade Jay Bruce and Edwin Encanarcion and then watch them excel with the Philadelphia Phillies and Yankees. Domingo Santana (20-63) has been their best player and Daniel Vogelbach has hit some moon shots. But their pitching sucks and all they can really do is wait for their highly regarded Minor League prospects to bloom.
12). Toronto Blue Jays
The best part of the season for the Blue Jays was Monday night’s Home Run Derby when their top young star, Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., put on a power show by clubbing a record 91 homers to finish second in the event. If not for Guerrero and Lourdes Gurriel (12 homers in his last 30 games), all people would pay attention to was their 34-57 record, their worst at the All-Star break since 1981.
13). Kansas City Royals
There’s really no reason to have any discussion about the Royals unless its about their All-Star, Whit Merrifield. The infielder leads the AL with 116 hits, which is second in MLB to Colorado’s Charlie Blackmon. Alex Gordon and Mike Moustakas used to make their fans happy, but now its Merrifield. But Jorge Soler (23-59) is quietly having an impactful season, too.
14). Detroit Tigers
Until the trading deadline comes and goes, conversations around the Tigers will center on which of their stars they will trade in order to continue to reboot. The candidates are headlined by Shane Greene (1.09 ERA, 22 saves), Matthew Boyd (3.87 ERA, 11.9 strikeouts per nine innings) and Nick Castellanos (25 hits in his last 67 at-bats).
15). Baltimore Orioles
The Orioles winning percentage is .303 (27-62) which means they’re the first team since the Phillies in 1941-42 to have such putrid starts in consecutive seasons. You’ll recall the Orioles lost 115 games last season. Their pitching staff is a home run machine, which must be demoralizing to their hitters. They have two good hitters, however – Renato Munez (20 homers) and Trey Mancini (17 homers, .291).