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MLB Power Rankings: Braves On The Warpath As The Second Half Looms

 Leif Skodnick  |    Jun 27th, 2023 3:06pm EDT

Ronald Acuña Jr. of the Atlanta Braves hugs Orlando Arcia after hitting a home run in the seventh inning during the game against the Minnesota Twins at Truist Park on June 26, 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Matthew Grimes Jr./Atlanta Braves/Getty Images)

By Conor Liguori
World Baseball Network

The Major League Baseball season is reaching its halfway point, and there are still many questions that need answers. 

When will Aaron Judge return for the New York Yankees? Will the San Diego Padres be able to turn things around in time to make a playoff push? Are the Cincinnati Reds contenders this year? 

These questions, and many more like them will be answered in the coming months as the rest of the season plays out. For now, teams can only be evaluated on their performance thus far. 

With the MLB All-Star break at T-Mobile Park in Seattle three weeks away, let’s take a look at how all 30 organizations rank. 

15. Toronto Blue Jays
2023 Record: 43-36

Toronto has had some pretty poor performances the last week or so, including a 5-4 loss to the Oakland Athletics on June 23, and an 11-0 loss against the Miami Marlins on June 19. However, the talent this offense possesses cannot be forgotten. Bo Bichette is once again leading the American League in hits with 106, and Matt Chapman is possibly having the best year of his career at the plate, hitting for both power and average. 

14. Milwaukee Brewers
2023 Record: 40-37

It’s easy to forget about the Brewers in an exciting NL Central division right now, but they are still a force to be reckoned with. Former Cy Young Award winner Corbin Burnes was outstanding in a 10-2 win on June 7 against the Baltimore Orioles, throwing eight shutout innings and striking out nine. How Milwaukee fares against their division rivals like the Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds will almost certainly determine their postseason position. 

13. San Francisco Giants
2023 Record: 44-34

The 2023 San Francisco Giants feel more like the 2021 team that won a shocking 107 games than the 2022 team that won 81. Similar to 2021, San Francisco is getting major contributions from unexpected players. Rookie catcher Patrick Bailey leads the Giants with a 141 OPS+, indicating he has been 41 percent better than the average MLB hitter, and closer Camilo Doval has 49 strikeouts in 35.2 innings this year. 

12. Minnesota Twins
2023 Record: 40-39

The Twins should consider themselves very lucky for two reasons. For one, the four other teams in their division have not been ultra competitive, helping them stay in first place for the majority of the year. Secondly, Byron Buxton is healthy and crushing homers left and right. Buxton hit two home runs in his first two at bats on June 22 against the Boston Red Sox, both traveling over 460 feet. 

11. Los Angeles Angels 
2023 Record: 42-37

Could this be the year Mike Trout finally makes it back to the postseason? The Angels will always be an intimidating lineup for opposing pitchers, but have had more than their fair share of injuries in the last few weeks. Third baseman Gio Urshela is expected to miss the rest of the season with a fractured pelvis, and Anthony Rendon is on the 10-Day IL with a bruise on his wrist. 

10. Miami Marlins
2023 Record: 45-34

The Marlins have made the postseason just three times since their inaugural season in 1993, winning the World Series in 1997 and 2003. It’s possible they make their fourth postseason appearance in 2023, and with the hottest hitter in baseball in their lineup in Luis Arraez. The second baseman has gone 5-for-5 three times in June, the first to do so in any calendar month since Tony Gwynn in 1984. 

9. Cincinnati Reds 
2023 Record: 41-37

The Reds have jumped from No. 22 in last editions’ rankings to No. 9 thanks to a historic 12-game winning streak, which was broken by the Atlanta Braves on June 24. Elly De La Cruz wasted no time making a good impression in the big leagues, hitting for the cycle in just his fifteenth career game. Veteran Joey Votto made a dramatic return from the IL, blasting three home runs in his first week back. 

8. New York Yankees 
2023 Record: 43-35

The good news for the Yankees is starting pitcher Carlos Rodon will be making his Yankee debut sometime in the foreseeable future. The bad news is the offense has been one of the worst in baseball, ranking 28th in team batting average (.228). Even worse news for Yankee fans, Aaron Judge told the media he has a torn ligament in his toe after it was originally announced as a sprain. 

7. Houston Astros
2023 Record: 42-36

The Astros are not having their typical dominant regular season, but they also never had to compete with an AL West team as tough as the 2023 Texas Rangers these last five years or so. Potential MVP Yordan Alvarez being sidelined on the IL does not help, and players like Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman might feel pressured to replace his statistics. Houston still owns one of the better pitching rotations in the MLB, and have shown they are confident in Framber Valdez and Cristian Javier to lead them down the stretch. 

6. Arizona Diamondbacks 
2023 Record: 47-32

The snakes are getting hot in the desert. The D-Backs are on pace for their first postseason appearance since they lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2017 NLDS.  They are led by outfielder Corbin Carroll, who has a chance to win Rookie of the Year and MVP in the National League. Arizona is 2.5 games ahead of the San Francisco Giants for first place in the NL West going into Mondays’ games. 

5. Los Angeles Dodgers 
2023 Record: 43-34

The Dodgers’ rotation is still missing Julio Urias and Dustin May, but longtime Dodger ace Clayton Kershaw and rookie Bobby Miller have stepped up in their absence. Kershaw threw seven scoreless innings on June 20 against the Los Angeles Angels, and Miller recorded back-to-back six inning outings of no run ball against the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies. As long as Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman are healthy, the Dodgers are championship contenders. 

4. Baltimore Orioles 
2023 Record: 47-29

The game might as well be over if the O’s have a lead going into the eighth inning. Set-up man Yennier Cano has a 0.95 ERA in 38 innings, and closer Felix Bautista has a 1.23 ERA in 36.2 innings. Not only have their stars Cedric Mullins and Adley Rutschman had good years at the plate, but mid-season pick up Aaron Hicks has hit four home runs in 21 games with Baltimore, and spring training invite Ryan O’Hearn has a .916 OPS in 34 games. 

3. Texas Rangers
2023 Record: 47-30

According to Baseball-Reference.Com, Robbie Grossman is the only player in the Texas Rangers’ starting lineup with an OPS+ below 100. Their prolific offense ranked first among all MLB teams in runs and hits before Sundays’ games thanks to outstanding years from their middle infielders Corey Seager and Marcus Semien, and potential AL Rookie of the Year third baseman Josh Jung. The Rangers’ rotation will have to step up due to the absence of Jacob deGrom for the rest of the year. 

2. Tampa Bay Rays 
2023 Record: 54-27

Tampa Bay proved they were one of the best teams in the MLB right away with their historic 13-game win streak to begin the year, and they have not taken their foot off the pedal. Randy Arozarena is having an All-Star caliber year at the plate and in the outfield, and starting pitcher Shane McClanahan has a 2.23 ERA in 93 innings this season. The Rays have the best record in the MLB, but splitting a series with the Oakland Athletics and losing two of three against San Diego has dropped them one spot. 

1. Atlanta Braves 
2023 Record: 50-27

The Atlanta Braves are the best team in the National League by a wide margin. Having Ronald Acuna, Matt Olson, Austin Riley, and Ozzie Albies in the lineup certainly helps, but so does Spencer Strider’s 136 strikeouts in 84.2 innings. It appears they will have an easier path to the NL East title than 2022, where they had to sweep the New York Mets in the final three games of the season to strip the division right from their hands. If Atlanta can avoid injuries to their stars in the rotation and lineup, the sky’s the limit. 

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Leif Skodnick