Welcome to my weekly power rankings-style column series, which I call “Chain of Command”. The top teams in the AL and NL are obvious. From there, it’s one gargantuan mass of mediocrity that is not easily ranked, followed by the bottom-feeders. Let’s get to it…
1.) Philadelphia Phillies–The Phillies head into the All-Star Break with several key injuries and a red-hot Atlanta team breathing down their necks.
2.) Boston Red Sox–The Red Sox rotation more closely resembles an ICU than a pitching staff at the moment, but they somehow manage to keep winning with an elite lineup.
3.) Atlanta Braves–Dan Uggla has finally started hitting (four homers in his last six games), and as long as their pitching staff keeps doing what they’ve done all year, this team is a legit World Series contender.
4.) New York Yankees–Who would have thought that the Yankees’ rotation would be more stable (and by a wide margin) at the All-Star Break than Boston’s?
5.) Texas Rangers–I have no idea how this team has managed to outscore their opponents by 51 runs when they’re in the bottom half of baseball in runs allowed and dead last in total defense.
6.) Tampa Bay Rays–James Shields is a serious Cy Young candidate, but he needs to show he can keep up his ridiculous pace.
7.) San Francisco Giants–Hmm, brilliant pitching and absolutely no offense to speak of. Where have I seen this before, I wonder?
8.) Arizona Diamondbacks–Is the rest of the NL finally figuring out Josh Collmenter? He’s given up 19 runs in his last 22+ innings pitched.
9.) Los Angeles Angels–If this team could get any hitting at all, they would run away with the AL West because the Rangers have too many holes in their pitching staff for my liking.
10.) Cleveland Indians–They obviously couldn’t keep up their insane pace of the first two months, but they haven’t sunk, either. They should remain a factor in the division all season.
11.) Milwaukee Brewers–If they don’t get some more innings from their starters, they won’t be going to the postseason. Their bullpen is suspect at best.
12.) St. Louis Cardinals–For better or worse, the St. Louis bullpen might be the X-factor that ultimately decides the NL Central.
13.) Detroit Tigers–This team would become the Florida Marlins of the AL if anything ever happened to Justin Verlander (a la Josh Johnson).
14.) Pittsburgh Pirates–Talk about the feel-good story of the season so far. Imagine how awesome it would be if this team managed to make the postseason? It’s certainly possible in the weak NL Central.
15.) Washington Nationals–Though they won’t make the postseason this year (or likely next year, either), they are showing that they will be a force in the not-too-distant future.
16.) New York Mets–The Jose Reyes injury will ultimately be what turns this team into a seller by the trading deadline.
17.) Toronto Blue Jays–At least this team still has Jose Bautista putting people in the seats of the Rogers Centre.
18.) Cincinnati Reds–It’s an all-too-familiar problem holding the Reds down–mediocre-to-dreadful starting pitching.
19.) Seattle Mariners–Seattle pitchers have given up less runs than all but two other teams in baseball, and yet they are three games under .500. That would be because they have scored fewer runs than anyone.
20.) Colorado Rockies–Easily one of the biggest disappointments of 2011. Even their status as a second-half bulldozer may not be able to save them, due to numerous injuries and underachieving players all over the roster.
21.) Chicago White Sox–Adam Dunn is having one of the most nightmarishly awful seasons I have ever seen.
22.) Minnesota Twins–This team was doomed from the start of the season due to injuries and atrocious pitching.
23.) Florida Marlins–June doomed this team. But hey, Hanley Ramirez has finally started hitting…in the fourth month of the season.
24.) San Diego Padres–The Heath Bell trade countdown has begun.
25.) Los Angeles Dodgers–The Dodgers have gone from one of baseball’s greatest franchises to a laughingstock thanks to Frank McCourt and Co.
26.) Kansas City Royals–If this team could get any pitching, they’d be in contention because of the overall mediocrity of the AL Central.
27.) Oakland Athletics–This team, like Baltimore, desperately needs a new identity. They have some decent young pitchers but they can’t hit or field to save their lives.
28.) Baltimore Orioles–So much for the Showalter magic from late 2010. They can’t pitch, they can’t hit, and they can’t field. I guess other than that, everything’s great.
29.) Chicago Cubs–I honestly cannot figure out how this team has actually won more games than another Major League team. Oh, wait, I know; because I haven’t gotten to the…
30.) Houston Astros–At a whopping 30 games under .500, this season cannot end soon enough for Houston fans. Oddly enough, they are already saying the same thing about the 2012 season.