The first MLB Power Rankings of the second half set the stage for an exciting lead up to the trade deadline.

The first week back from the All-Star break is always an interesting one around Major League Baseball. The time off helps most teams rest and gear up for the second half, while providing an extra opportunity to get focused on the rest of the season. There are always a few teams every season that jump out of the gates in the second half on a long winning streak, and this year has been no different.

Already, the Chicago Cubs, Pittsburgh Pirates, Los Angeles Dodgers and Seattle Mariners have opened up with hot starts. On the flip side, coming out of the break and dropping a few games puts extra pressure on a team and can cause them to press on the mound, at the plate and in the field. Looking at you, Texas Rangers and Milwaukee Brewers.

More than anything, the two weeks right after the break heading into the trade deadline set in motion a flurry of activity, forcing teams on the bubble to decide how they will approach the final two months of the season. Without further ado, let’s dive into the first MLB Power Rankings of the second half of the 2017 season.


Philadelphia Phillies


Last week: 3-3
Last rank: 30

Aaron Nola appears to be turning a corner for the Phillies, which is some much-needed good news for a team that has taken a major step back in its rebuild. In five starts since June 22, Nola is 3-1 with a 1.78 ERA and 41 strikeouts in 35.1 innings. He has gone more than seven innings four times and has not allowed more than two earned runs in a start. Unfortunately, the Phillies are still left wondering whether or not they can count on Jerad Eickhoff, Vince Velasquez and J.P. Crawford to help form their next great core.


San Francisco Giants


Last week: 3-4
Last rank: 29

Madison Bumgarner is back after injuring himself riding a dirt bike, and he is the latest victim of MLB’s juiced baseball. Mad Bum has only allowed 10 hits in 13.1 innings, but four of them have left the yard.

Speaking of things going poorly for the Giants, Johnny Cueto is on the disabled list with blisters on his pitching hand. That should rule him out from being moved to a contender for prospects heading into his opt-out this winter. Missing out on the chance to deal Cueto for prospects is bad, but the possibility of him not exercising his ability to go back on the open market might be even worse for the Giants. At least a few teams are sniffing around Jeff Samardzija, his $90-million contract and 4.86 ERA.

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