Most teams are in the ballpark of 81 games, so we can call this the halfway point of the season. We can do this because we want to. It's easy. Watch.
It's the halfway point of the season.
Off we go with some fictional team-level "awards" for the first half of the season.
The NL Pleasant Surprise Award - Atlanta Braves
The Brewers and Phillies also got consideration here, but the Braves have the best record in the NL and most of us expected the Brewers to hang around in contention while the Phillies were my "NL Sneaky Sleeper" heading into the season.
You just can't say enough about how well the first half has gone for the Braves, and it's not like they haven't faced any injury adversity, either. They are fit to contend all season.
The AL Pleasant Surprise Award - Seattle Mariners
Easily the top pick in all of baseball. The Mariners lost Robinson Cano to injury and that turned into an 80-game PED suspension early in the season, but then they went crazy and are still on pace to top 100 wins. Not even the most optimistic Mariners fan in the world could have foreseen this.
The NL Disappointment Award - Washington Nationals
The Nationals, though, have already banked two losing months (11-16 in April, 9-16 in June). They've had injuries, sure, but everyone does. Under-performance has been an issue, too.
The AL Disappointment Award - Minnesota Twins
The Twinkies won 85 games last season and brought a young-and-exciting nucleus into 2018. They were playing in the same division as the Indians, sure, but also three rebuilding teams that figured to be bad. They are, but so are the Twins, who are on pace to go 71-91.
The NL Don't Sleep on Me Award - San Francisco Giants
In the words of the immortal Biff Tannen: "Well lookie what we have here!"
The Giants have won 10 of 12 and are only 2 1/2 games out in the NL West. They've only gotten five starts from Madison Bumgarner, five from Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija was terrible when rushed back from injury. Bumgarner is back now with the other two nearing returns.
The AL Don't Sleep on Me Award - Oakland Athletics
The Bay Area rocks. My AL Sneaky Sleeper has won 13 of 16. If the Mariners do hit a skid -- which, even though I'm taking them seriously, we all know it's possible -- the A's are the best pick to take that last playoff spot.
Best Division - AL West
Two teams on a 100-win pace, four teams with winning records and the last-place team isn't brutal. While I glanced around, this wasn't a particularly tough choice.
Worst Division - AL Central
The team in second place is 10 games under .500 through 80 games. Laughable.
Biggest Juggernaut - Yankees
There are three teams who merited consideration here, but the Astros win pace has fallen all the way to "only" 104 wins. For shame. This one came down to who won the rubber game of this past weekend's series. The Yankees are now on pace for 108 wins with the Red Sox on a 107-win pace. All three of these teams are scary good and I've never had such a clear-cut top three for such a prolonged period in doing the Official Power Rankings.
Biggest Joke - Mets
Since their 11-1 start, the Mets have played at a 162-game pace of 52 wins. They are only one game ahead of the Marlins, who aren't even trying to stay out of last place this season. The organization is a mess, top to bottom, in the biggest market in the country. It is unacceptable and the Wilpon family should be ashamed. The biggest problem is they aren't, so long as they keep making money. Mets fans deserve better than this nonsense.
On that lovely note, let's rank 'em.
|They have now played exactly 81 games and the following players are on pace to hit at least 20 home runs: Gary Sanchez, Gleyber Torres, Didi Gregorius, Miguel Andujar, Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. That would tie the record for the most players one on team with at least 20.||2||10-5|
|The destruction of the non-Chris Sale pitchers by the Yankees doesn't bode well, but whatever. Small samples and all that. Red Sox are 4-5 against the Yankees this year, not 1-8.||--||5-9|
|Since their 12-game winning streak, they've gone 6-6 against the Rays, Royals and Blue Jays. I'm not hating, I'm just pointing out the No. 3 ranking for such a stellar team.||2||6-8|
|Even if the Mariners play one game worse than .500 the rest of the season, they'll go 92-70. They must be taken seriously.||3||5-10|
|Jason Heyward is good. Javier Baez is playing like a star. Kyle Schwarber is on pace to top 30 homers with a good OBP. Albert Almora is in contention for a batting title. Imagine what this offense could be if Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Willson Contreras hit like they can in the second half.||3||10-3|
|Ronald Acuna is back. Woo hoo!||5||9-6|
|They aren't even on pace to win 90 games and they're going to get bored.||3||9-7|
|Robby Ray is back! Yay! It appears Shelby Miller is still broken. Boo!||3||5-9|
|They've now won five of their last six series, with the lone series loss coming to the Yankees.||1||4-4|
|Since the start of June, the Brewers are 12-14. Are they stagnating?||4||5-7|
|Is there a more unlikely top three in WAR by team than the Dodgers' being Ross Stripling, Chris Taylor and Max Muncy? What a weird year.||2||10-4|
|Jed Lowrie could make his first All-Star team at age 34. That would be fun.||3||11-4|
|Bumgarner's last two outings: 15 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 4 BB, 16 K. I see you.||3||6-9|
|On May 11, the Cardinals were eight games over .500 and in first place. Since then, they've gone 20-26. Only the Marlins, Pirates and Mets have been worse in the NL since then. Something just seems broken.||1||2-3|
|This offense desperately needs the best versions of Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy.||3||4-7|
|The Rays have won seven of eight against the Yankees, Nationals and Astros. What in the world ...||2||7-8|
|They had losing streaks of three, four and six in June. It's just not going to cut it.||3||5-10|
|Uh oh, is Adam Ottavino broken now?||1||10-3|
|They're going to end up in last place, aren't they? This isn't a knock on the Pirates, really. They are coming off a 4-2 week. Just saying, that team behind them ...||1||3-12|
|After winning seven in a row, the Reds took a series from the Braves and split with the Brewers. This is no pushover. Not anymore.||2||7-8|
|How a calf injury ended the career of a superstar, the Josh Donaldson Story?||--||5-7|
|Shin-Soo Choo's excellent season is going to help the Rangers off-load him this July.||1||5-8|
|Well that was a rough trip to Chicago. They went 1-5, were outscored 50-32 and the only win was by one run in 13 innings over a team on pace to lose 105 games.||4||10-5|
|Nineteen-year-old Fernando Tatis Jr. is now on fire in Double-A. We'll likely get a look at him in a few weeks at the Futures Game. Get excited, Padres fans.||1||8-6|
|The Tigers are who we thought they were. They are who we thought they were.||1||7-5|
|The Marlins are only on pace to win 65 games, but they are nine games away from getting the top draft pick right now. Yikes.||--||7-2|
|Since returning from the DL, Avisail Garcia is 14 for 42 (.333) with two doubles, two triples and three homers.||1||8-7|
|I said all I needed to say in the intro.||1||6-9|
|The Royals are on pace to go 49-113. Add the 1935 Braves to the list I have with the Orioles below and that's every team who has ever lost more than 113.||1||6-10|
|The Orioles are now on pace to lose 115 games. Only the 1962 Mets (120), 2003 Tigers (119) and 1916 A's (117) have ever lost more.||1||7-7|