Starting Nine (All-Star Break)

We have finally reached the All-Star Break and as Major League Baseball gets set for the festivities in Seattle, let’s take a look at the best nine teams in baseball at the break.

Starting Nine (All-Star Break)

#9. Miami 53-39 (+1500/+3500) - Miami struggled with the Braves last weekend but proved its mettle by taking two of three from the high-flying Phillies this weekend. Miami should look for some bullpen help at the trade deadline to bolster its playoff chances. Last Week’s Rank: 6th

#8. Cincinnati Reds 50-41 (+2200/+5000) - The Reds’ offense has carried them through a number of injuries to the team’s starting staff. It would seem unlikely that the Reds’ young players can keep this up throughout the second half but no one would have predicted them to be in first place at the all-star break either. Last Week’s Rank: 9th

#7. Arizona Diamondbacks 52-39 (+1300/+2800) - The Dodgers finally caught the D-Backs at the break. Arizona has the offense but the pitching staff could hold them back. Last Week’s Rank: 5th

#6. Houston Astros 50-41 (+390/+800) - The defending champs are now just two games back of Texas in the AL West. The Astros have always been bold in making a major move at the deadline. Last Week’s Rank: Unranked

#5. Texas Rangers 50-34 (+600/+1300) - The Rangers lost two of three to the lowly Nationals and have now gone 3-7 in their last ten. The Rangers will need to add more pitching at the trade deadline if they want to be a player in this year’s playoffs. Last Week’s Rank: 4th

#4. Los Angeles Dodgers 51-38 (+275/+550) - The Dodgers got back to the top of the NL West on Sunday with their 4th-straight win. They have the money and depth to pick up what they need at the deadline to make a title run. Last Week’s Rank: Unranked

#3. Tampa Bay Rays 58-35 (+270/+600) - The Rays were able to salvage a game over the Braves on Sunday, ending their six-game losing streak. Ace Shane McClanahan’s back woes could decide their fate. If he breaks down again, the Rays could fall back to the pack of a very competitive AL East. Last Week’s Rank: 2nd

#2. Baltimore Orioles 54-35 (+950/+2200) - The Orioles closed the first half with a flourish, sweeping the Twins in Minnesota. They continue to defy the odds without a star-studded team. They are now tied in the loss column with the struggling Rays entering the break. Last Week’s Rank: 3rd

#1. Atlanta Braves 60-29 (+160/+330) - Atlanta has certainly separated from the pack with the league’s best offense, a solid bullpen, and depth aplenty in the rotation. When Wright and Fried return, the Braves could cruise right into the playoffs. Last Week’s Rank: 1st

AL/NL MVP Candidates:

Let’s look at the favorites to win the major awards in MLB at the halfway point of the season.

Top-five AL MVP Candidates

#1. Shohei Ohtani (-800) - Ohtani’s odds rose slightly this week after his first real slump of the season. He’s still head and shoulders above the field and only a trade or an injury could hurt his candidacy. Last Week’s Rank: 1st

#2. Corey Seager (+1600) - Seager has reached base in 25 straight games and is the leader of baseball’s best offense. If anything should happen to Ohtani, he would instantly become the frontrunner in the AL. Last Week’s Rank: 2nd

#3. Wander Franco (+3000) - The Rays’ recent poor play is not doing Franco any favors. Still, the young SS is proving his worth as one of baseball’s best players. He leads the AL in WAR and stolen bases at the break. Last Week’s Rank: 3rd

#4. Bo Bichette (+4000) - The Blue Jays are back on the rise and so is Bichette. He is top five in batting average, total bases, and WAR at the break. Last Week’s Rank: Unranked

#5. Aaron Judge (+10,000) - I’m keeping Judge in my top five because his value to the Yankees remains unmatched by any other player to his team. If Judge can return healthy in the second half, he is the one player that could put up the kind of numbers to challenge Ohtani. Last Week’s Rank: 5th

Top-five NL MVP Candidates

#1. Ronald Acuna Jr. (-330) - Acuna is the star of baseball’s best team and is quietly putting up historic numbers. He has a chance to be baseball’s first-ever 40/60 player with 21 home runs and 41 steals at the break. He leads all of baseball in WAR as well. Last Week’s Rank: 1st

#2. Mookie Betts (+650) - Betts’ odds dropped dramatically this week as he added to his resume with his 10th leadoff home run before the all-star break this week, an MLB record. He is second in WAR and top-five in home runs while also moving all over the field for the now first-place Dodgers. Last Week’s Rank: Unranked

#3. Corbin Carroll (+3000) - The sure-fire NL Rookie of the Year, Carroll’s MVP odds rose up this week after he injured his shoulder. The injury doesn’t appear to be serious and Carroll remains the most important player for the first-place D-Backs. Last Week’s Rank: 2nd

#4. Freddie Freeman (+1100) - Freeman is likely the victim of his own consistency. His numbers are excellent but also right on par with his usual career numbers. He would likely have to go on a tear to get back in the NL MVP picture. Last Week’s Rank: 3rd

#5. Fernando Tatis Jr. (+7000) - Tatis will keep this spot in my rankings for at least one more week. The Padres are one of baseball’s biggest underachieving teams thus far but Tatis could reap the benefits of a strong Padres’ second half. He is the closest thing to the likes of Betts and Acuna in terms of overall skills. Last Week’s Rank: 5th

Top-three AL Cy Young Candidates

#1. Gerrit Cole (+400) - Cole moves back to the top of the AL Cy Young standings as he anchors the banged-up Yankees’ staff. He is in the top five in WAR, innings, ERA, and strikeouts. And playing in New York City certainly isn’t hurting his candidacy. Last Week’s Rank: Unranked

#2. Framber Valdez (+200) - Valdez is attempting to become the second straight Astros pitcher to win the Cy Young Award. Like Cole, he is top five in several categories including quality starts, innings, WAR, strikeouts, and WHIP. Last Week’s Rank: 3rd

#3. Nathan Eovaldi (+900) - Eovaldi has emerged as the ace of the Rangers staff. He had a rough start in Boston this week but has been an anchor for the Rangers this season after the loss of Jacob deGrom for the season. Last Week’s Rank: 2nd

Top-three NL Cy Young Candidates

#1. Clayton Kershaw (+350) - Kershaw remains in the top five in several key categories in the National League including wins and WAR. If it is close, Kershaw may steal the award in the end. Last Week’s Rank: 1st

#2. Logan Webb (+1500) - Webb checks a lot of the boxes at the all-star break. He is second in WAR, first in innings and quality starts, and in the top five in strikeouts. Last Week’s Rank: 2nd

#3. Spencer Strider (+350) - The 2nd-year starter has anchored a Braves staff without its top two pitchers this season. He is in the top five in wins, strikeouts, K/9, and WHIP. Last Week’s Rank: 3rd

*All odds courtesy of

By Mark Ruelle

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Mark Ruelle

Mark has been a sports fanatic since childhood. He is also an avid follower of sports analytics and has used it in his own betting analysis for over two decades. Now we have Mark on our team here at Stat Salt. He holds degrees in marketing, broadcasting, and English and uses this vast array of assets to dissect and analyze game matchups. Mark will provide you with a wide variety of statistics to consider and a strong opinion in each matchup that he covers. Please follow him daily for an up-to-the-minute analysis of all the important games.