Yankees rise into the top spot

Updated: July 9, 2012, 11:53 AM ET
Week:

ESPN.com

The New York Yankees, winners of four of their past five games and 11 of their past 16, take over the No. 1 spot in our Week 15 MLB Power Rankings for the first time since the opening week of the season.

The Texas Rangers drop one spot to No. 2, while the Washington Nationals remain in the No. 3 position for the fourth week in a row.

The Los Angeles Angels stay in the No. 4 spot, while the Pittsburgh Pirates (No. 5) move into the top five for the first time this season.

This week's voters were Jim Bowden of ESPN Insider, Tim Kurkjian of ESPN The Magazine and Jayson Stark of ESPN.com. Many of the team comments come courtesy of the fan bloggers on the SweetSpot Blog Network. Meanwhile, you can rank the teams yourself.

Tell us what you think about the Power Rankings: Use the hashtag #ESPNMLBPOWER.

2012 Power Rankings: July 9
RANKTEAM / RECORD TRENDINGCOMMENTS
1
Yankees
52-33
1
Last Week: 2
They own the best record in the AL even though they're just fourth in the league in both runs scored and runs allowed. Robinson Cano had one homer through 27 games, but he's hit 19 in 58 games since. Derek Jeter was hitting .397 through 28 games but he's hit .264/.310/.318 since. -- David Schoenfield: SweetSpot
2
Rangers
52-34
1
Last Week: 1
The Rangers enter the break at 52-34. A year ago, they were 51-41 and up by one game but were in the midst of a 12-game winning streak. They pulled away from the Angels with a 19-6 September. What's in store this year? -- David Schoenfield: SweetSpot
3
--

Last Week: 3
In the past 60 games, Ian Desmond has hit 15 home runs. His 17 homers for the year are only two fewer than all other NL East shortstops combined. -- Harper Gordek: Nationals Baseball
4
Angels
48-38
--

Last Week: 4
The Angels went 4-3 last week to pick up some ground on the Rangers, but the Halos' rotation took a hit when Dan Haren announced that he'd been playing hurt all season and was placed on the disabled list. -- Hudson Belinsky: Halos Daily
5
Pirates
48-37
6
Last Week: 11
Team of destiny? The Pirates are in first place at the break for the first time since 1997 and they're 11 games over .500 for the first time since 1992. Since May 12, they're tied with the Yankees and Angels for the best record in the majors. -- David Schoenfield: SweetSpot
6
1
Last Week: 7
The White Sox are 30-17 since May 16, going from 4 1/2 games behind to three games up in the AL Central. As important as the return of Adam Dunn's power stroke has been, the overall play of Alex Rios (12 homers, 13 stolen bases, .874 OPS) may be the biggest reason for the Pale Hose's fortunes. -- Diane Firstman: Value Over Replacement Grit
7
Dodgers
47-40
3
Last Week: 10
Secret weapon: The Dodgers' offense ranks low in most offensive categories, but they are first in the NL in walks. -- Jon Weisman: Dodger Thoughts
8
Reds
47-38
2
Last Week: 6
Pitching (a streak of nine straight quality starts ended last week) and Joey Votto get most of the credit, but a tip of the cap goes to Zack Cozart. He's miscast as a leadoff hitter, but Cozart has played excellent defense and just broke the rookie shortstop record for most doubles (21) before the All-Star break. -- Chad Dotson: Redleg Nation
9
Giants
46-40
4
Last Week: 5
The Giants' normally stingy pitching staff did a pretty good impression of Colorado's pitching staff last week, allowing 13 home runs in a disastrous trip through Washington and Pittsburgh. The Giants head into the break with questions mainly about their bullpen and Tim Lincecum. They'll need improvement from both if they are to compete with an offense that has been just OK. -- Otis Anderson: Bay City Ball
10
Mets
46-40
1
Last Week: 9
After taking two of three from the Phillies, the Mets lost two of the three to the Cubs for the second straight series. Johan Santana continues to be inconsistent: In his past eight starts, he's allowed zero runs in four of them, but a combined 19 in the other four. -- David Schoenfield: SweetSpot
11
Orioles
45-40
1
Last Week: 12
Despite having the third-worst run differential (-36) and the fourth-worst playoff odds (11.8 percent) in the American League, rumors continue to swirl that the Orioles could be big buyers in the next month, with Milwaukee's Zack Greinke the oft-mentioned trade target. -- Nick Faleris: Camden Depot
12
Braves
46-39
2
Last Week: 14
The Braves head into the All-Star break on a hot streak, having swept the Phillies. However, they suffered a major blow when Andrelton Simmons broke the pinkie finger on his right hand Sunday, an injury that could keep him out 3-6 weeks. Ben Sheets likely will join the rotation shortly after the break, but the Braves still may look to trade for another starting pitcher. -- Franklin Rabon: Capitol Avenue Club
13
2
Last Week: 15
The good news: The Cardinals ended the first half with the largest run differential in the NL at +70 runs, second-best in the majors behind Texas. The bad news: They underperformed their "expected" record by five wins. -- David Schoenfield: SweetSpot
14
Rays
45-41
1
Last Week: 13
Sunday seemed like a microcosm of the first half. The Rays were unwatchable part of the time and exhilarating part of the time, and rarely anything in between. -- Mark Heilig: The Ray Area
15
Indians
44-41
3
Last Week: 18
All-Star Chris Perez blew just his second save of the year Sunday against Tampa Bay. It ended a streak of 24 consecutive saves for Perez, the second-longest streak by a closer in Indians history. The longest was 38 by Jose Mesa in 1995. The Indians are 25-3 when Vinnie Pestano and Chris Perez both appear in a game. -- Stephanie Liscio: It's Pronounced "Lajaway"
16
Tigers
44-42
3
Last Week: 19
The Tigers enter the break at 44-42, thanks to five straight wins to finish out the first half. An interesting reality: Last year's 95-win team was only 45-41 after 86 games, and look where they ended up. -- Josh Worn: Walkoff Woodward
17
Red Sox
43-43
9
Last Week: 8
The Red Sox just can't seem to catch a break -- when there's progress on one front, there's a step back on another. If the Sox want to make the playoffs, they need to stop trying to hold the line and start winning consistently. -- Evan Brunell: Fire Brand of the AL
18
1
Last Week: 17
Who would have thought that Aaron Laffey would be the rock of the Blue Jays' rotation at this point in the season? In his three starts so far, Laffey has posted a 2.50 ERA while opposing hitters are batting a paltry .224 against him. -- Callum Hughson: Mop-Up Duty
19
1
Last Week: 20
A sweep of the Red Sox and two extra-innings wins over the Mariners leave the A's at .500 going into the All-Star break. The offense still wound up below average in the first half, but a June surge (.751 OPS) left the team respectably below average rather than horrendously so. -- Jason Wojciechowski: Beaneball
20
4
Last Week: 16
The Diamondbacks recovered from a six-game losing streak by winning their last three games before the break against the Dodgers, pulling within four games of first place in the NL West. Still, they're only hovering around .500 with a down year from Justin Upton. Rumors have the talented right fielder on the trading block. -- Diane Firstman: Value Over Replacement Grit
21
Marlins
41-44
--

Last Week: 21
Giancarlo Stanton will miss approximately six weeks after undergoing surgery on his left knee. It'll be a huge temporary loss for the Marlins. -- Dave Gershman: Marlins Daily
22
Brewers
40-45
1
Last Week: 23
By all accounts, the Brewers' decision whether to sell will come down to the nine-game stretch after the break in which they face Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and St. Louis. The question, then, is what kind of stretch would persuade the team to buy (or at least not to sell)? It would take 7-2 to get to .500, but one could easily see 6-3 encouraging owner Mark Attanasio to go for it this season. -- Jack Moore: Disciples of Uecker
23
1
Last Week: 22
Shane Victorino got himself benched on Sunday, and career minor leaguer Jason Pridie stepped in and went 2-for-3 with a home run, a double, and three RBIs. Phillies fans are really excited by Pridie's performance, which should tell you everything you need to know about this season. -- Michael Baumann: Crashburn Alley
24
Royals
37-47
--

Last Week: 24
Another All-Star break, another big deficit for the Royals. Since 2003, when they were up seven games at the break, their deficits: 16, 27.5, 27.5, 15, 11.5, 11.5, 10.5, 10.5. This year: 9.5, after going 3-8 on their latest road trip. -- David Schoenfield: SweetSpot
25
Twins
36-49
2
Last Week: 27
Francisco Liriano has held opposing hitters to a .175 average since returning to the rotation after a bullpen demotion in May. In eight starts, he's registered a 2.74 ERA while allowing one home run. He'll be a very intriguing deadline commodity. -- Nick Nelson: Twins Daily
26
1
Last Week: 25
Another week of no offense. They hit .193 in six games and saw the Orioles' Wei-Yin Chen take a perfect game into the seventh and Chris Tillman take a one-hitter into the ninth. They capped the first half with a 2-1 loss to Oakland in 13 innings. Changes are likely in store. -- David Schoenfield: SweetSpot
27
Padres
34-53
3
Last Week: 30
Losing their last three games to the Reds dulls what had been a six-game winning streak for the Padres (their longest since April 2010). Third baseman Chase Headley, leading the team in homers (eight) and RBIs (42), may be on the trading block. -- Diane Firstman: Value Over Replacement Grit
28
Astros
33-53
2
Last Week: 26
The Astros go into the break having lost 10 of their past 11, and it doesn't look any prettier on the other side. They start the second half with 10 straight on the road (where they're 9-32) against the NL West (where they're 7-13) and don't have another off-day until Aug. 2. I'm not predicting any second-half magic this year. -- Austin Swafford: Austin's Astros 290 Blog
29
Cubs
33-52
--

Last Week: 29
Heading into Sunday, Cubs catchers had posted a .200/.252/.328 split line, ranking them just ahead of the Padres as the most offensively inept team at the catcher position in the NL. -- Joe Aiello: View from the Bleachers
30
Rockies
33-52
2
Last Week: 28
One of the few bright spots this season for the Rockies has been the recent performance of Jeff Francis. The veteran left-hander has led by example since the beginning of the 75-pitch count experiment and in his past five starts owns a 2.77 ERA. So, there's that ... -- Travis Lay: Blake Street Bulletin