Taking advantage of the All-Star break, Tiebreaker.com presents our National League power rankings for the first half of the 2019 season.
1). Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers are well on their way to a seventh-straight divisional title and, perhaps, a third straight NL pennant. They have a nice combination of power hitting and great pitching. The Dodgers are 60-32 and 13 ½ games ahead of second-place Arizona in the West. It’s the best record in MLB. All-Star Game starter Hyun-Jin Ryu has a 1.73 ERA, the sixth-lowest before the break in 20 seasons. Cody Bellinger is an MVP candidate with 30 homers, followed by Max Muncy (22) and Joc Pederson (20).
2). Atlanta Braves
The Braves finished the first half with five players with at least 15 homers and would have had six if Ozzie Albies could have slammed one more. Six would have been an MLB record. The Braves hit a record 143 homers before the break with Josh Donaldson smacking 11 since June 11. But as it relates to their chances to win another East division, it seemed appropriate that Dallas Keuchel was on the mound when the first half ended on Sunday, allowing just two runs in seven innings.
3). Milwaukee Brewers
The Brewers did not end the first half very well, losing 15 of their final 23 games. But in the very compact Central division, they likely will be the favorites to win because they have the NL’s best player, defending MVP Christian Yelich (31 homers, 67 RBIs, .329), Yasmani Grandal (19-48) and Mike Moustakas (25-53) to back him up. And is there a better closer than Josh Hader, who has struck out 16.5 hitters per nine innings?
4). Chicago Cubs
The Cubs (47-43) were 22-28 in their last 50 games and most of the trouble can be attributed to their sloppiness in the field and on the bases. Not only that, their offense, always the bright spot on this team, is currently 13th in the NL. The will have every opportunity to win the division since 45 of their last 72 games are against Central foes. But unless Craig Kimbrel is Mariano Rivera, not even Javier Baez’s bat (22-69-.289) might be enough to carry them.
5). Washington Nationals
The Nats are the hottest team in the NL, winners of 10 of their last 12 games. Consider where they were on May 23 (19-31) before they rolled off 28 wins in their final 39 games in the first half. They have also lost just one of their last 13 series. In the last seven games, Washington’s starters have an ERA of 1.35 with 65 strikeouts, which is the best sign of all. Oh, one more thing: They better sign Anthony Rendon (20-61) before the year is over.
6). Philadelphia Phillies
Looking at all of the talent on their roster coming into the season, who would have thought the Phillies would have only one All-Star – J.T. Realmuto. That other guy, Bryce Harper, the one who signed a 13-year, $330 million deal before the season, has 16 homers and 62 RBIs but has struck out 105 times. Already without outfielders Andrew McCutchen (knee) and Odubel Herrera (suspension), they might have to face the second half without Jake Arrieta (bone spurs), as well.
7). St. Louis Cardinals
When the Cardinals traded for Paul Goldschmidt most observers felt he’d be the guy to push the team over the top in the Central. But it has not worked out that way so far. Goldy has 16 homers, but just 37 RBIs and a .254 average with 97 strikeouts and did not make the All-Star team. That $163.8 million payroll is not looking to good right now, is it?
8). Cincinnati Reds
No team shuffled its deck as much as the Reds did in the offseason by making that big deal with the Dodgers. And it has paid off, at least in terms of the way Yasiel Puig (20 homers) has hit as an everyday outfielder. The Reds have also gotten a lot of power from Eugenio Suarez and Derek Dietrich. They also have some nice young starters now, led by Luis Castillo (8-3, 2.29).
9). Pittsburgh Pirates
The Bucs ended the first half of the season with a pair of series wins against the Cubs. That delivered the desired message. Now all they need to do is make sure Josh Bell (27-48-.302) keep slugging away. He hit the most homeruns by a switch-hitter in the NL at the All-Star break since Lance Berkman had 29 in 2002. Bell also leads MLB with 84 RBIs, which is already three more than Gregory Polanco had to lead the team in 2018.
10). Arizona Diamondbacks
When Arizona traded Goldschmidt to the Cardinals, they could only hope the players they received in return could help them in 2019. And so far, catcher Carson Kelly (10 homers) has done pretty well behind the plate. But the reason the Snakes are 46-45 has more to do with the production of Ketel Marte (20 homers, .311) and Eduardo Escobar (18-67). And Zack Grienke is pitching like an ace again (2.73 ERA).
11). Colorado Rockies
How many times in the history of this franchise has starting pitching been blamed for their problems? That’s certainly the case this season. German Marquez (4.45), Jon Gray (3.92), Antonio Senzatela (5.32) and Kyle Freeland (7.13) have struggled for consistency, which has dragged the team down. You sure can’t put the blame on Charlie Blackmon (20 homers, .330), Nolan Arenado (20-67) or Trevor Story (19-50).
12). San Diego Padres
Rookie Fernando Tatis, Jr., has been one of the great revelations in MLB this season. The Padres are 28-23 when he plays an entire game and this stat is important because he missed 34 games with a hamstring injury. Tatis is hitting .327 with 14 homers and 13 steals and he ended the first half with two dingers against the Dodgers. Hunter Renfroe (27 homers), Franmill Reyes (25 homers) and Manny Machado (20-58) are also off to great starts.
13). San Francisco Giants
Most of the talk this season has concerned when the Giants will trade Madison Bumgarner and to whom, which seems somewhat unfair because the team hasn’t played that poorly of late. They are 20 -15 in their last 35 games with a plus-18 run differential. The problem is they also suffered through a seven-game losing streak during which they were outscored 63-19 – the worst slide in their 111-year history.
14). New York Mets
Where would the Mets be without rookie of the year candidate – and Home Run Derby champion – Pete Alonso? Likely last in the power ratings. Alonso already has 30 homers and 68 RBI, an NL rookie record prior to the All-Star break. He also leads the Mets in extra base hits, total bases and slugging percentage. If it wasn’t for Jeff McNeil (.349, 101 hits) there would be no other reason to watch them.
15). Miami Marlins
Last in the NL and last in MLB attendance. There definitely is a connection. The Marlins stink, which is exactly what everyone expected from them. They are 33-55 and would be a lot worse off if not for their starters, who have combined for a 3.92 ERA. The staff is led by Sandy Alcantara and Caleb Smith. Hopefully, Derek Jeter won’t trade them. But you never know.