Fatigue is a reality in sports. Physical fatigue is why it’s reasonable to rest players, whether we’re talking about a full game or just a few innings. It can matter in a single game, too, especially if we’re talking about a starting pitcher heading toward the late innings — if that’s even allowed anymore outside of the great Sandy Alcantara.
The adjacent world of sports discussion also has fatigue, but it’s mental. We get tired of talking about the same thing. It’s why it is traditionally harder to win the second MVP in a row than the first one and even more difficult to pull of a three-peat. We have human voters, after all, and sometimes our minds will lead us any which way but back to the same player.
The same can be true of teams, especially in subjective polls like these power rankings. It’s easy to leave the Yankees just sitting there at the top without much thought. It’s also incredibly boring. Yes, I absolutely agree it’s boring, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Still, the past several weeks, I’ve noticed an uptick of fans pushing back against the Yankees at the top. Someone even tried to explain to me what “power rankings are supposed to be,” which was hilarious. I would ask a hypothetical like “would you walk into someone else’s house and tell them where everything is supposed to be,” but I know all too well a good number people would certainly have the audacity to do that.
Keeping in mind these are subjective power rankings, that they are mine and that they are the only Official Power Rankings on the internet, I’ll humor the thought the Yankees shouldn’t be number one anymore. I’ll go in open-minded. Let’s take a quick, surface-level look at the three elite teams. (Sorry, Mets.)
They are 56-29 and the last remaining NL team with fewer than 30 losses. They are on pace to win 107 games, which seems like it should be the best record in baseball. Their +151 run differential is more than double anyone else in the NL. In terms of the “hot” factor, they’ve now won 11 of their last 12 games. They are also 18-13 against teams .500 or better.
The Astros are also 56-29, which means they, too, are on pace to win 107 games. The +102 run differential is the second-best in the AL and third in the majors. They had a rough patch back in April, but since June 13 have gone 19-5, which is the best record in baseball in that time. (The Yankees are 18-8 while the Dodgers are 19-6.) They recently won 13 of 15 with the only two losses being those late-inning Yankees comebacks in the Bronx. Houston is 19-14 against teams .500 or better.
The Yankees are 61-25, which means they’re still on a pace for 115 wins. The +177 run differential is the best in baseball by a decent margin and that suggests the record isn’t fluky. They are 23-14 against teams .500 or better and play in easily the best division in baseball.
The only issue here is on the “hot” factor. The Yankees have lost four of seven and are “only” 5-4 in July. If we tried to find an exact spot a bit further back, we could go to the day before the Astros beat them twice in a row. Since June 23, the Yankees are 9-7.
Is that really what we’re pinning everything on, though? A 9-7 record in baseball isn’t bad at all. The Yankees are still 4 1/2 games better than the two other juggernaut teams, have a much better run differential and play better against tough competition.
Even if it’s close, the Yankees still have the top resume. If you want to say moving forward that the Dodgers and/or Astros will be better, that’s a whole different argument.
|I will say this, though: I don’t think it’ll be too long before there’s a new number one. It’s headed in that direction. It’s just not there yet.||—||61-25|
|Man, this is a quiet seven-game winning streak, isn’t it?||1||56-29|
|As far as the Astros winning three of five from the Yankees, that’s great. They did. They also totally dominated that four-game series in the Bronx, but not being able to put them away twice mattered. Should I really put that much weight on the 3-2 head-to-head record when the Astros are 1-2 against the Marlins, 2-4 against the Blue Jays and 6-6 against the Mariners? I’m not gonna cherry-pick.||1||56-29|
|Young William Contreras is going to start the All-Star Game at DH for the NL, due to Bryce Harper’s injury. This means the Contreras’ are the first set of brothers to start together in the All-Star Game since the Alomars did so in 1992. That’s all kinds of fun. I do have a question: Will the Braves be in first place when it happens?||1||52-35|
|Well, the lead is down to 1 1/2 games. I guess the good news is they get to play the Braves themselves to start this week?||1||53-33|
|They had lost eight of their last 11 before the two comeback wins over the Yankees Saturday and Sunday. Given how bad so many teams competing for the six spot have been in the last several weeks, those two wins were enough.||4||47-39|
|They just lost series to both the Cubs and the Pirates in the same week but still increased their lead in the division.||—||48-39|
|Byron Buxton is finally an All-Star. That’s great news for all of us. I guarantee he does something cool in the game.||5||48-40|
|I buried them after Bryce Harper’s injury, but the pitching and Kyle Schwarber have really picked them up. Schwarber is all the way up to 28 homers, which is a pace to hit 53 this season. Only one Phillies player has ever gone for at least 50 (Ryan Howard hit 58 in 2006).||5||46-40|
|They swept the Diamondbacks on three games June 20-22. Since then, the Padres haven’t won a series and have gone 5-11 with a negative-33 run differential overall.||4||49-38|
|They’d won five of six heading to Cincinnati to face the lowly Reds … and got swept. Baseball!||3||45-40|
|They’ve now won 16 of their last 19 games. They are for real again. How long will it last this time? I’m holding out hope it sticks.||5||45-42|
|The Jays have lost nine of their last 10 and this includes losing two of three in Oakland. The A’s were 8-28 at home before that series.||4||45-42|
|It seems to be flying under the radar, nationally — plenty of people in St. Louis have noticed — but the Cardinals are in a total tailspin right now. They’ve lost eight of their last 11 and have gone 9-15 since building a 2 1/2-game lead in the NL Central on June 14.||3||46-42|
|Look, there will always be disagreements and mileage will vary, but Carlos Rodón got absolutely jobbed in not being named an All-Star. Maybe, hopefully, he’ll be added before next weekend.||1||43-41|
|The last time the Orioles had a winning streak this long, Sammy Sosa was in the lineup. For real, though, what a run. It’s been fun to watch the home crowds in Camden get to show genuine excitement again.||5||43-44|
|Lackluster 3-4 homestand, but they have another opportunity this week, playing four games each against the Guardians and Twins. They are road games, but the White Sox have been better there (22-18) than at home (19-25).||2||41-43|
|Since they grabbed first place, they’ve gone 5-14. This past week, they went 1-6 against the Tigers and Royals.||6||41-42|
|They’ve won eight of 11 and a wild-card spot is within reach. It’s a big week, then, before the All-Star break. They have four against the Pirates at home before getting a crack at the current third NL wild card, Phillies.||—||41-43|
|Martin Perez signed with the Rangers out of Venezuela in 2007. He’s logged service time in 11 different MLB seasons. And now, for the first time, he’s an All-Star.||2||39-44|
|Kris Bryant had a “just in case you have forgotten just who the heck I am” week. From July 2-9, he went 11 for 28 (.393) with three doubles, four homers, six RBI and eight runs.||1||38-48|
|You get 25 Snyder Power bucks if you can name the Diamondbacks’ All-Star without looking.||1||38-48|
|They keep cementing their status as an exciting but bad team. The latest was their four-homer effort on Sunday (and did you see Oneil Cruz’s shot? His raw power is incredible).||1||36-50|
|They are now 14-36 over their last 50 games and that’s the single worst 50-game stretch for the Angels this millennium. Pathetic.||4||38-49|
|After a 6-2 week, I found myself looking at the standings to see if I could squint my way to thinking the Tigers are a contender. That might be the sign of too many playoff teams.||2||36-49|
|They had won four straight series, three of them over contending teams (Cardinals, Red Sox and Brewers), but then went to L.A. and were swept in four games by the Dodgers.||1||34-52|
|What a fun week. Within the span of seven days, the Reds won in walk-off fashion four times and all four came against teams with winning records.||1||32-54|
|He’s only hitting .239 with a .287 on-base percentage, but Bobby Witt, Jr. has shown plenty of upside in his rookie year. He’s one of just 13 players in double digits in home runs and stolen bases. He also leads the majors with five triples and has 17 doubles.||2||32-52|
|After winning just five games in June (against 21 losses), the A’s have already won four games in July.||1||29-58|
|They’ve lost nine of their last 10, have tied the A’s in losses and have the worst run differential in baseball by 13.||1||30-58|