Major League Baseball
MLB Power Rankings: Cubs catapult from sellers to buyers?
Major League Baseball

MLB Power Rankings: Cubs catapult from sellers to buyers?

Updated Jul. 31, 2023 7:26 p.m. ET

No team has been better on the baseball field over the past week than … the Chicago Cubs? Even with their Sunday defeat, they're firmly in the playoff mix and purportedly planning to hold onto their biggest trade assets ahead of Tuesday's deadline. They might even be buying. It's a fascinating turnaround that warrants monitoring closely over the next two days. 

Here's my latest top 10, with a few interesting factoids about each club.

1. Atlanta Braves (67-36; last week 1)

How good were the Braves prior to the All-Star break? Well, they're 6-8 in the second half of the season yet remain five up in the loss column on the next-best team. Atlanta is the only team to not reach the 40-loss plateau, and by a comfortable margin. Even scarier, the Braves have the 24th-toughest schedule for the rest of the season. Oh, and they just swept a division leader in the Brewers. 


2. Baltimore Orioles (64-41; LW 2)

The Orioles' sprint up the rankings appears to have stalled just short of the top spot, for now. But they're still hot. In fact, only the Boston Red Sox at 15-7 have had a better July than the O's (16-9). And most of their damage continues to come on the road, where they've posted a 9-5 mark in July, continuing a trend that has them sitting with the second-best road record in the majors at 32-20.

3. Los Angeles Dodgers (59-45; LW 3)

After a red-hot start to July, the Dodgers have hit a little bit of a speed bump. They've lost five of seven and their pitching is still a major issue. In those seven games, the pitching staff has allowed six or more runs six times. One notable positive: Los Angeles continues to come up with clutch hits. Over the past two months, only the Mets (121) have scored more two-out runs than the Dodgers (114).

4. Houston Astros (59-47; LW 5)

Here come the Astros, who sit just one game back of the Rangers. Sunday's loss to the Rays aside, Houston is getting healthier and appearing to round into form. Yordan Álvarez and José Altuve are back after lengthy stays on the injured list. They join a lineup that was already scoring the fifth-most runs per game since June (5.2). One cause for concern is the club's performance in one-run games. The Astros are only 14-13 this year. They were 28-16 last year.

MLB Power Rankings: Braves stay on top with Dodgers just behind

5. Texas Rangers (60-46 LW 4)

The Rangers are still hitting, but not winning nearly as much as they were. They're only 25-26 since the beginning of June. A lingering issue is their performance in one-run games. Texas is 7-14 in such contests, which is 27th in the majors. Perhaps that will change with the additions of pitchers Max Scherzer and Jordan Montgomery.

6. Cincinnati Reds (58-49; LW 8)

After their scorching-hot June, the Reds are 8-8 since the All-Star break and averaging just 3.8 runs per game. But they just took two of three against the Dodgers and are still tied for the NL Central lead with the Brewers. They also have 19 games remaining against the American League, where they have gone 17-10 thus far. 

7. Toronto Blue Jays  (59-47; LW 7)

Since the start of June, the Blue Jays are one of only four teams to post a winning percentage of .600 or higher, and they're the lone AL team to win at that clip. Their variance is pretty wide over these next two months. They're only five games out of the AL East race and still have 19 games left against the Orioles, Rays and Red Sox. At the same time, Toronto is just 7-20 against division opponents.

8. Milwaukee Brewers (57-49; LW 6) 

After winning six of seven games coming out of the break, the Brewers have now gone 3-6 in their last nine games, turning the NL Central race into a very fun one to follow with the Reds and red-hot Cubs applying pressure. We'll see if acquiring veteran Carlos Santana helps Milwaukee's struggling offense. Since the break, the Brewers have scored just 3.8 runs per game, tied for 25th in the majors, and an MLB-worst 3.17 runs at home. 

Will the Reds be more aggressive than the Brewers at the trade deadline?

9. Tampa Bay Rays (64-44; LW 9)

By taking two of three from the Astros, the rays have snapped a three-series losing streak. Their offense is still a concern, however. Sunday marked only the second time in 14 games that they scored five or more runs. By comparison, it's a mark that they reached in eight of their first nine games of the season.

10. Chicago Cubs (53-52; LW unranked)

The Cubs' eight-game win streak is over, but it was so long and impactful that they've apparently gone from sure-fire sellers to cautious buyers as the trade deadline approaches. Chicago sits just four games out of the division lead and 3.5 out of the wild card. Since the break, the Cubs lead all of baseball with 6.5 runs per game and 41 runs scored with two outs. 

Out: Minnesota Twins (10)

Ben Verlander is an MLB Analyst for FOX Sports and the host of the "Flippin' Bats" podcast. Born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, Verlander was an All-American at Old Dominion University before he joined his brother, Justin, in Detroit as a 14th-round pick of the Tigers in 2013. He spent five years in the Tigers organization. Follow him on Twitter @BenVerlander.


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