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MLB's All-Star break is now behind us and we're gearing up for trade deadline season before the dog days of summer get us closer to the postseason. For me, it never gets old. This is the most fun time of the year for the regular season with teams jockeying to remain in the playoff hunt before deciding if they are buyers or sellers. It looks like a sellers' market right now, with so many teams at least on the periphery of contention. 

We're also getting a better idea of how good our preseason predictions were. My World Series matchup in the spring was Phillies vs. Orioles and I'm feeling pretty good about that one, though I am strongly concerned that Mike Elias won't do enough to address his problematic pitching staff this deadline. 

A lot of things can change, of course. Looking back at last year's deadline, did you know the Marlins had the second-best record in the NL? The Reds were in first place and so were their fellow Ohioans, the Guardians. The Rays had the best AL record. Eleven teams had a better record than the Phillies. 

On the other hand, a lot can stay the same. The top four teams on the NL side remained in playoff position come October. Though there were changes in seeding, the top five AL teams all ended up making the postseason. The only teams that came from the outside during the second half were the Twins, Brewers and Phillies and none were too far back at the break. 

Who might be the teams who make a run this time around? Here are three. 

Astros

It might seem obvious, but that doesn't mean I'm wrong. The Astros started 12-24 but have climbed all the way back to 50-46. They are only one game back of a Mariners team with an atrocious offense. The Astros need pitching amid all their injuries and could use an upgrade at first base, but they are fully in win-now mode and I expect some big swings in the next two weeks. They are good enough to win the division without those swings, too. 

Padres

They are only a game out of a playoff spot and have battled lots of injuries in the first half to major contributors, such as Fernando Tatis Jr. and Xander Bogaerts. Manny Machado was compromised to start the season, too. They'll need to find a way to address the thin rotation, but you know A.J. Preller won't be quiet. I'll take the Padres over the Mets, Cardinals and Diamondbacks

Rangers

I'm not sure they have last year's magic, but the Rangers closed the first half by winning seven of nine. They have the temperament to continue righting the proverbial ship and they'll continue to get healthier in the rotation while the offense looks to hit more like 2023 instead of most of 2024. The pieces are here. 

Biggest Movers
5 Mets
5 Giants
Rk
Teams
 
Chg
Rcrd
1 Phillies The Phillies are on pace to win just about 105 games (it's 104.625). The franchise record is 102, which was set in 2011. They've only gotten to 100 wins three times. -- 62-36
2 Guardians The Guardians finished the first half losing four of five and 11 of 18. 1 59-38
3 Yankees Did they get right in that Orioles series? Hard to tell, especially with them blowing that chance at a sweep on Sunday. These Yankees need to prove they aren't the 2023 squad on repeat. This might feel too high, but all the top teams were losing except the Phillies. Hell, even the Phillies lost a series to the A's. It was a weird week. 4 59-41
4 Orioles That comeback in the ninth on Sunday bought them some grace, but the Orioles still sputtered into the break, losing five of six. Getting swept at home by this Cubs team is bad. 2 60-38
5 Dodgers The following Dodgers starting pitchers are injured: Tyler Glasnow, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Dustin May, Tony Gonsolin and, yes, Shohei Ohtani. That's quite a collection of damaged goods. 1 58-41
6 Braves There are pitching questions that need to be answered, but the Braves currently rank 10th in the NL in runs scored and 13th in on-base percentage. That just isn't gonna cut it. -- 54-43
7 Brewers The Brewers, like several other teams up here, needed the break badly, having lost seven of 10. 2 56-42
8 Twins Rough series loss in San Francisco, but things continue to look pretty good for a Twins run in the second half. -- 54-43
9 Red Sox David Hamilton has 23 steals while Jarren Duran has 22. The last time the Red Sox had two players top 30 steals in a season? 1910! Harry Hooper and Tris Speaker. -- 53-44
10 Astros The Astros open the second half with a three-game series in Seattle. It sure feels like they'll leave in first place or at least tied for first. -- 52-46
11 Mets OK, so have we finally gotten enough of Pete Alonso in the Home Run Derby? Anyway, the Mets have been far too good since early June to keep dreaming about them being sellers. 5 50-47
12 Royals How cool was the end of the Home Run Derby? I wish Bobby Witt Jr's last shot cleared the wall to tie things up, of course, but it was fun having it come so close. 1 54-45
13 Mariners Only three teams have scored fewer runs than the Mariners. Only one team has allowed fewer runs. The pitchers gotta be perfect! 1 52-48
14 Diamondbacks The defending NL champs have won 10 of their last 15. Injured pitchers Jordan Montgomery, Eduardo Rodriguez and Merrill Kelly have started throwing bullpen sessions. Corbin Carroll showed signs of life last weekend. This is all interesting. 1 51-48
15 Cardinals The only NL team that has scored fewer runs than the Cardinals is the hapless Marlins. And yet, the Cardinals sit right here. 3 51-47
16 Padres I won't be surprised if the Padres miss the playoffs. I won't be surprised if the Padres win the World Series. They get so hot and then just completely fall apart. It's gotta be exhausting for their fans. 3 51-50
17 Rangers I mentioned earlier that the pitching should get better as the season goes and they get healthier, but I also feel like a lot of the offense hinges on if/when Evan Carter can return and if he can play to his potential. 1 46-52
18 Rays The Rays closed the first half strong, winning series over the Yankees and Guardians in the last week. 1 49-49
19 Pirates Kudos to Major League Baseball for doing everything it could to spotlight Paul Skenes at the All-Star Game. People love to talk about how MLB doesn't know how to market its players, but this is a good example of doing it right. As for the ranking: I wanted to put the Pirates higher, but there was really nowhere else to go. They are playing good ball right now. 1 50-48
20 Tigers The Tigers closed the first half winning eight of 10 and walking off the Dodgers twice. Quite a run. It can't change any plans to sell off any veterans they can, however, because they are still seven games back of a playoff berth with a bunch of teams to leap over. 2 49-50
21 Reds A 5-2 week with two series wins to close the first half has the Reds within three games of a playoff spot. 2 47-52
22 Giants Keep in mind that Alex Cobb and Robbie Ray are both on rehab assignments and we know what Blake Snell is capable of doing. It's possible the Giants enter September with a stellar rotation. 5 47-52
23 Cubs The Cubs hadn't won three games in a row since April, but then they somehow swept the Orioles in Baltimore and ran their winning streak to five. Baseball! 1 47-53
24 Blue Jays Vladimir Guerrero Jr. started slow, yes, but he's hit .320 with a .515 slugging percentage in his last 61 games. 1 44-54
25 Nationals Jesse Winker's WAR in 2022: -0.2. His WAR last season: -0.7. So far this year: 2.1. He has resurrected his career and he's the type of cheap rental on the trade market that can some up with some big plate appearances in October. Remember, this guy hit .305/.394/.556 in 2021. 4 46-53
26 Angels Give the Angels credit for closing the first half hot, winning three straight over a first-place team. 1 41-57
27 Athletics The A's scored 19 runs in one game and 18 runs in another this month. How about that! 1 39-61
28 Rockies Brenton Doyle has 20 stolen bases. Since 2008, only one Rockies player -- Charlie Blackmon in 2015 -- has topped 30 stolen bases. -- 36-63
29 Marlins Jazz Chisholm Jr. enters his final few weeks as a Marlins player before he's traded. Can he play back to 2022 form with a change of scenery? -- 34-64
30 White Sox The White Sox are on pace to lose 117 games. Since 1900, only five teams in history have ever lost at least 115 and the modern-day record is 120 (the 1962 Mets). We're witnessing historic futility. -- 27-73