Can anyone catch the Yankees? Second-half preview, rankings, playoff odds for all 30 teams

Coming out of the All-Star break, a few teams have all but secured a trip to October, others are in the thick of the playoff hunt and some already have their eyes set on next season.

Will the Yankees reach 116 wins this season? Can the Braves keep building on their momentum to take control of the NL East away from the Mets? Will the Nationals suffer their worst season in franchise history and also lose their star player?

Who will dominate in the homestretch? And what does your team have to play for?

We’ve broken down all 30 squads into six separate tiers based on playoff potential and asked ESPN MLB experts Bradford Doolittle, Alden Gonzalez, Jeff Passan and David Schoenfield to provide a rundown of what the rest of the season looks like for each team. We’ve also included Doolittle’s final win-loss projections and playoff odds for all 30 teams.

Rest of season projections are based on 10,000 Monte Carlo-style simulations of the remaining schedule using Doolittle’s power ratings for each team as the basis for the simulated outcomes. The power ratings are determined by season-to-date results and forecast-based estimates of roster strength.

Note: Division title, playoff and championship odds were calculated for every team. If a team doesn’t have division title or championship odds listed, their odds were 0%.

First-half grades for all 30 teams »

TIER 1: THE YANKEES … THAT’S IT

New York Yankees

Record: 64-28 | Projected Final Record: 109-53

Division title odds: 100% | Playoff odds: 100% | Championship odds: 30%

Will they win 116-plus games?

Passan: To win at least 116 games, the Yankees would need to go 52-18 the rest of the season. The Yankees’ best 70-game stretch thus far this season has been 53-17, and as dominant as they’ve been, nearly everything has broken right — from pitching health to hitting prowess. The Yankees are great. If they win 109 games as projected, they’ll be historically great, with the seventh-most regular-season wins ever. (And that very well could be an undersell.) But 116? Nah.

Doolittle: No, partly because there is some roster-wide regression that seems likely, but also because it’s not really the ultimate goal for a franchise trying to relieve the pressure building during a 13-year title drought. The Yankees are great and might get stronger at the deadline, but there is no reason to push their pitching staff to the extent it would take to get to 116 wins. There is no reason to push some of their oft-injured hitters too hard, though the load management question might get interesting if Aaron Judge is making a run at 60 homers. The one reason why the Yankees might need to keep their foot on the gas is if they place a premium on the No. 1 seed, and the Astros keep hanging with them. But I don’t see 116 happening.

Speaking of Judge, will he hit 60 home runs?

Doolittle: I’ll go with a soft no on this because it’s just so hard to do, but I could definitely see it happening. He’s just barely off pace to do it at the moment — his HR/PA percentage is at a career high, even ahead of what he put up during his 52-homer season. With numbers like this, you expect regression, but Judge is going about things a little differently, which could ward off statistical forces. He’s pulling the ball more than ever and hitting more fly balls — changes that have come without any sort of impact on his strikeout and walk rates. If we were talking about his chances at a batting title, this would be a different conversation, but everything in Judge’s toolkit right now is about maxing out on home runs.

Passan: Yes. Even though the numbers say he probably won’t, even though the fear of regression is tangible and reasonable, even though the prospect of injury remains, even though the Yankees let him rest in September, Judge is at the peak of his powers. With the weather muggy and the ball flying and the prospect of joining Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle and Babe Ruth at that special number, Judge will take his big-game aptitude to historic places. This is more an attempt to speak something into existence than what’s likely, though a little optimism now and again doesn’t hurt anyone.

Whose success is crucial for New York in the postseason? Clay Holmes. Piecing together 27 outs during the postseason is a manager’s greatest challenge. That puzzle is a lot simpler for Aaron Boone if he can continue to pencil in Holmes at the back end, because Aroldis Chapman just has not been the same dominant pitcher we’ve gotten used to.

The Yankees will surely add to their bullpen and Holmes has been far from a one-man show down there. Also, New York will have the luxury of shifting a really good starting pitcher from its deep rotation to a relief role for October. Holmes is the lens that puts this whole picture in focus, but as good as he’s been, this is a guy who entered this season with zero career saves. — Doolittle

TIER 2: FIVE BIGGEST THREATS TO THE YANKEES

Houston Astros

Record: 59-32 | Projected Final Record: 102-60

Division title odds: 98% | Playoff odds: 100% | Championship odds: 14%

Why they could take down the Yankees: Because they can pitch with them. And hit with them. And field with them. And they did it in 2019. And they did it in 2017*. And they’re the only team that has played New York at least five times this season and emerged with a winning record. And they’ve got Justin Verlander to face Gerrit Cole, Yordan Alvarez to match Judge. And when you’re considering the possibility of beating a team that has genuine 116-win aspirations, having a lot in common — well, that’s a pretty good sign. — Passan

Why they might not: Because, at least for the first 90 games of the season, the Yankees are simply better than the Astros in the above categories. Because, when it comes to tactical management, Aaron Boone has a better track record than Dusty Baker. Because for the six positions the Astros have on lock — second, short, third, left, right, DH — the other three have been too iffy for comfort. Because chances are, if they play the Yankees, it will be in the ALCS, where New York would have home-field advantage — and as good as Houston is on the road, the Yankees have been playing an absurd .755 ball at home. — Passan

Who is crucial to their championship aspirations? Say whatever you will about the degradation of the starting pitcher, but Verlander remains an integral part of whatever postseason success the Astros intend to have. Getting him there is the only potential hiccup. Verlander, remember, is coming off Tommy John surgery. He had thrown six innings the last two years. This season, he’s on pace for more than 200. The Mariners winning 14 consecutive games heading into the All-Star break threatens to dash the Astros’ plans for a smooth ride into the playoffs, but they’re headed there — and they need a healthy-and-hearty Verlander if they want to win another ring. — Passan

Los Angeles Dodgers

Record: 60-30 | Projected Final Record: 107-55

Division title odds: 99% | Playoff odds: 100% | Championship odds: 30%

Why they could take down the Yankees: So, uh, not sure if you noticed, boss people who made these categories, but the Dodgers’ championship odds are the exact same as the Yankees’ and the projection calls for Los Angeles’ second-half record to best New York’s. All of which is to say: Maybe two teams actually belong in the first tier?

Regardless, the answer to this is not just what’s there now but what’s coming: Relatively soon, the Dodgers — the 60-30 Dodgers, remember — are expected to get back Walker Buehler, Dustin May, Blake Treinen, Andrew Heaney, Danny Duffy and Tommy Kahnle from the injured list. And their offense? Despite 40 fewer home runs, their wOBA and wRC+ are almost identical to New York’s. The Dodgers can mash and manufacture. — Passan

Why they might not: The idea that six injured pitchers are going to return and all remain healthy is folly, and even if they do, the Dodgers’ bullpen is trainwreckian enough to potentially waylay them before they even get to meet the Yankees. And remember: The opportunity to do so depends on the Dodgers reaching the World Series, and to do that, they’ll need to get through the three remaining teams in this tier. — Passan

Who’s the Dodgers’ most important player? The Dodgers boast a collection of great players, so this is like picking out of a hat, which is exactly what we did here. Write the names of Freddie Freeman, Mookie Betts, Trea Turner, Will Smith, Buehler, Clayton Kershaw, Julio Urias and Tony Gonsolin’s names on pieces of paper, crumple ’em, toss ’em about, close your eyes, pick one and get … Freeman, which was probably the right answer anyway, with him starting to win back Dodgers teammates and absolutely crushing baseballs of late. But, really, there’s an argument for any of the eight, and that’s why the Dodgers don’t necessarily belong down here. — Passan

New York Mets

Record: 58-35 | Projected Final Record: 98-64

Division title odds: 67% | Playoff odds: 99% | Championship odds: 8%

Why they could take down the Yankees: If Jacob deGrom returns healthy and joins a playoff rotation that includes Max Scherzer, Taijuan Walker and Chris Bassit, the Mets don’t just go starter-for-starter with the teams above them. They may actually have the advantage in a series. On top of that, they’re loaded with the sorts of players who work the count, take great at-bats and don’t strike out at exorbitant rates: Mark Canha, Jeff McNeil, Brandon Nimmo, Starling Marte, Francisco Lindor, Luis Guillorme — even slugger Pete Alonso. The Mets have a little playoff secret-sauce action cooking. — Passan

Why they might not: They’re the Mets. — Passan

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Which player can make-or-break New York’s title chances? DeGrom is, when healthy, the best pitcher in the world, and it’s not particularly close. Only he hasn’t been healthy in more than a year, and as he’s primed to return soon, there is trepidation in every rehabilitation start — every off-day bullpen, everything he does with baseball in hand. Because the fact is that the Mets with deGrom are a team that is genuinely among the favorites to win their first World Series in 36 years. And the Mets without deGrom are good … but championship good? They may not even be better than the next team on the list. — Passan

Atlanta Braves

Record: 56-38 | Projected Final Record: 94-68

Division title odds: 30% | Playoff odds: 95% | Championship odds: 6%

Why they could take down the Yankees: They’re the defending World Series champions, and they’re better than they were last year. They’ve got Ronald Acuna Jr. back. Dansby Swanson is playing MVP-caliber baseball. Austin Riley has taken The Leap. Matt Olson isn’t Freeman, but he’s a pretty darn good facsimile. Michael Harris II is a dude. William Contreras started the All-Star Game. Travis d’Arnaud made it. And this hasn’t even addressed Kyle Wright and Spencer Strider — the former of whom barely pitched in the last postseason and the latter of whom didn’t at all — capturing rotation spots and dominating. The Braves are really, really good. — Passan

Why they might not: They strike out a lot. Their 24.8% rate is the third-highest in baseball. They don’t walk much. Their 7.7% rate is among the game’s bottom 10. The Braves showed in the World Series last season that an offense as dependent on the home run as theirs is can succeed — especially when they prevent the homer as they did against Houston. But there’s only one team with more home runs than the Braves’ 147 — and it’s the Yankees, with 157. — Passan

Who can lead Atlanta to a repeat? Guy after guy in the Braves’ lineup can really play — and they should have Ozzie Albies back by September, too — but Acuna is the straw that stirs the drink, and he hasn’t even gotten going yet. Considering he has stolen 20 bases in 59 games, Acuna’s repaired ACL looks just fine. His power is still intermittent, which, considering all that’s around him, is fine. The Braves are good enough to repeat even if Acuna doesn’t get going, but if he does, look out. They beat the Dodgers last year without him, and they can do it again. — Passan

San Diego Padres

Record: 52-42 | Projected Final Record: 88-74

Playoff odds: 57% | Championship odds: 1%

Why they could take down the Yankees: The baseball gods believe that 53 championship-free seasons constitute enough suffering for one city and that San Diego deserves revenge for 1998. Oh, and because a Joe Musgrove-led pitching staff that goes a dozen arms deep and a lineup led by Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr. are capable of going on an October-long heater. — Passan

Why they might not: Their offense simply isn’t built to hang with the Yankees’ — and Dodgers’, as long as we’re talking NL West — wrecking crew. This calculus changes if GM A.J. Preller pulls off the A.J. Prellerest of A.J. Preller moves and lands Juan Soto, but right now, the Padres are a team with enough holes and deficiencies to make a first-round exit likelier than a World Series title. They’ve got close to as much elite talent as the rest of this tier, but enough are having middling or underwhelming seasons that their placement here speaks more to what they could be than what they are. — Passan

Who can help San Diego make it deep into October? The actual answer to this is a coin flip between Machado and Tatis, but let’s go with the latter because we know what the Padres are with the former. Machado is turning in an MVP-type season; adding another player who can ball at that level in Tatis could supercharge the Padres and turn them from a team that you’d love to face in the wild-card round into one you’d prefer to avoid at all costs. The Padres epitomize boom or bust. — Passan

TIER 3: OTHER PLAYOFF CONTENDERS

Milwaukee Brewers

Record: 50-43 | Projected Final Record: 87-75

Division title odds: 37% | Playoff odds: 57% | Championship odds: 1%

What they need to do to be a threat in October: If the Brewers get back to October, that means the pitching-and-defense design of their roster will have come together once again. But to finally get over the hump during the postseason, Milwaukee needs to add offense from outside of the organization. As constructed, the team’s margin for error against elite pitching is just too fine. — Doolittle

How important is Josh Hader to their playoff chances? Hader has gone from consistent to confounding in a heartbeat, and if he doesn’t get it going, the Brewers are in trouble. The one thing that sets the Brewers apart in a playoff setting is the luxury of lining up Devin Williams and Hader at the end of games to close out a narrow contest. Hader all of a sudden can’t stay out of the middle of the plate, and over two recent outings, he gave up more homers and runs than he did all of last season. It better be a blip. — Doolittle

Boston Red Sox

Record: 48-45 | Projected Final Record: 83-79

Playoff odds: 32% | Championship odds: 1%

What they need to do to be a threat in October: It starts with simply stopping the slide. The Red Sox hit the break as cold as any club in the American League (except for the Angels) and finished the half with their two worst losses of the season. To pour some salt on that wound, both of those routs took place at Yankee Stadium. Boston starts the break with a 10-game stand at Fenway Park, and they need to build momentum quickly with the Aug. 2 trade deadline looming. — Doolittle

Which bat needs to improve? Boston desperately needs consistent production from its outfield — and the avatar for the offensive shortfall in that area is Alex Verdugo. He hasn’t hit for power, and he hasn’t hit at Fenway. In a lineup that has been half potent/half sinkhole, Verdugo is the leading candidate to join the good group. — Doolittle

Toronto Blue Jays

Record: 50-43 | Projected Final Record: 86-76

Playoff odds: 67% | Championship odds: 2%

What they need to do to be a threat in October: The only team to have underachieved relative to their preseason projections more than Toronto is the White Sox. So either that initial expectation was wildly inaccurate, or the Blue Jays are ripe for a whole lot of positive regression. When the Toronto front office made the fairly shocking call to fire now former manager Charlie Montoyo, it was a vote for preseason expectation. In other words, the Jays need to become what we thought they were. — Doolittle

How can they better their starting rotation? Jose Berrios has been shockingly bad during the first half of the season. Alek Manoah and Kevin Gausman have been one of the game’s best 1-2 rotation punches and Toronto has also gotten good work from Ross Stripling. The Blue Jays’ rotation falls off drastically after that, and it’s imperative that Berrios revert from problem to solution, especially since he’s in the first season of a seven-year, $131 million extension. — Doolittle

Minnesota Twins

Record: 50-44 | Projected Final Record: 85-77

Division title odds: 47% | Playoff odds: 59% | Championship odds: 1%

What they need to do to be a threat in October: The Twins’ offense has been solid and has the potential to be even better than that during the second half. The defense has also been very good. So it all comes down to the Twins getting the most of their middle-of-the-road pitching staff and perhaps adding to the staff before the trade deadline. It almost doesn’t matter in terms of roles: Minnesota just needs a couple of high-level arms to get over the top and become a threat once the postseason arrives. — Doolittle

Which player most needs to step up in the second half? Carlos Correa has been good during his first season with the Twins, but Minnesota needs him to be the best player on the roster, or at least the co-best player alongside the dynamic Byron Buxton. That was why he was signed. Alas, Correa has generally been a better first-half player than second-half (at least before the playoffs, when he’s been great). That’s been true in four of his six full seasons — ignoring the weird 2020 season, which didn’t really have halves. — Doolittle

St. Louis Cardinals

Record: 50-44 | Projected Final Record: 89-73

Division title odds: 63% | Playoff odds: 76% | Championship odds: 2%

What they need to do to be a threat in October: Given the lack of quality in the NL Central and the historical context of Yadier Molina and Albert Pujols’ final seasons, there is no excuse for this year’s Redbirds to do anything but go all-in at the deadline. Seems kind of obvious, but that’s not the way the overly-insular Cardinals tend to operate. Time to flip that narrative. — Doolittle

Who can fix the backend of the rotation? Steven Matz was slotted to come off the IL and start the Cardinals’ last game before the break. Unfortunately, the game was rained out, and he will now have to wait to make his first appearance since May 22. The Cardinals need Matz to prop up the backend of a rotation that has been top heavy, because while they could certainly use a top-level starter, their trade strategies probably need to be pointed at upgrading the bullpen. — Doolittle

Tampa Bay Rays

Record: 51-41 | Projected Final Record: 87-75

Playoff odds: 67% | Championship odds: 1%

What they need to do to be a threat in October: Roughly a third of the Rays’ 25 most productive players this season were on the IL as the All-Star break began. For Tampa Bay to present its usual October puzzle for opponents, it needs the likes of Wander Franco, Manny Margot and Shane Baz to get healthy. The Rays have been steering around injuries all season and can dream of a fully-stocked bullpen for the playoffs. Before that happens, they need enough healthy bodies to get there. — Doolittle

Who can be a catalyst for the Rays? Let’s think of the excellent Rays teams as a kind of hive — lots of bees filling their role according to plan. And every hive needs a queen bee — the one that makes everything come together. The player with the talent to become that for Tampa Bay is Franco, who hasn’t busted out yet as the MVP-type producer he’s almost certainly going to be. The second half would be an ideal time for that to happen. — Doolittle

TIER 4: YOU MIGHT SEE THEM IN OCTOBER

San Francisco Giants

Record: 48-43 | Projected Final Record: 86-76

Playoff odds: 45% | Championship odds: 1%

Why are they in this position: Logan Webb and Carlos Rodon have been a dynamic 1-2 duo, going a combined 17-8, 2.75 and allowing just 12 home runs in 222 innings. Those two have carried a pitching staff that has otherwise fallen short of last year’s magic. — Schoenfield

Which position player’s health is key? Brandon Crawford has been beat up much of the season and just landed on the IL for the second time with right knee discomfort. He was fourth in the MVP voting last year but is scuffing with a 78 OPS+ this year. Without a true backup shortstop on the roster, the Giants kind of ran Crawford into the ground. Getting him back and productive for the stretch is paramount. — Schoenfield

Cleveland Guardians

Record: 46-44 | Projected Final Record: 83-39

Division title odds: 24% | Playoff odds: 37%

Why are they in this position: Jose Ramirez, take a bow. Despite a little power slump heading into the All-Star break (he missed a couple games in late June with a bruised thumb), Ramirez is once again a solid MVP candidate, ranking second in the majors with 75 RBIs. They’ve also received some perhaps unexpected boosts from second baseman Andres Gimenez, who ended up starting the All-Star Game after hitting .296/.357/.478, and outfielder Steven Kwan, who is hitting .279 with a .361 OBP (albeit without much power). When the Guardians get the lead, they then turn the ball over to Emmanuel Clase, who has a case as the best closer in the game. — Schoenfield

What’s Cleveland’s biggest need? It needs to find a No. 5 starter, but let’s go with Franmil Reyes. After slugging 30 home runs with a 128 OPS+ in 2021, the big designated hitter has struggled in 2022, hitting .216 with a 76 OPS+ and just eight home runs in 60 games. A DH with a .259 OBP in the middle of your lineup is killing your run production. The Guardians are 13th in the AL in home runs, so they need Reyes’ power bat. — Schoenfield

Philadelphia Phillies

Record: 49-43 | Projected Final Record: 88-74

Division title odds: 4% | Playoff odds: 69% | Championship odds: 1%

Why are they in this position: The stars have produced. Bryce Harper was having a monster offensive showing until he got injured. Kyle Schwarber has been on a home run rampage the past month or so and leads the NL with 29. Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola have been outstanding, although both somehow didn’t make the All-Star team. The Phillies are now contenders, going 27-14 since the beginning of June after the slow start got Joe Girardi fired. — Schoenfield

Whose spark is missing on offense? Nick Castellanos was a $100 million free agent signing but ended the first half with just eight home runs and a .297 OBP. His 90 OPS+ is well below his high-water marks of 137 in 2021 and 153 in 2019. Without Harper, they need his offense. — Schoenfield

Seattle Mariners

Record: 51-42 | Projected Final Record: 89-73

Division title odds: 2% | Playoff odds: 83% | Championship odds: 2%

Why are they in this position: The Mariners exit the All-Star break riding a 14-game winning streak, one short of tying the franchise record. They’re also 22-3 in the past 25 games with a plus-55 run differential, tied with the Dodgers for best in baseball since June 21. Two big keys: Julio Rodriguez has 22 RBIs in that stretch (tied for fourth in the majors) and the Mariners have won six straight games with Robbie Ray starting (he has a 1.60 ERA in those six starts). — Schoenfield

Who’s most important to get back from the IL? Overall, the offense is still just 11th in the AL in runs scored, so getting Mitch Haniger back is huge. He hit 39 home runs last season but has played just nine games after going down with a high ankle sprain/bone bruise. Without him, Mariners right fielders have hit just .219 with nine home runs. — Schoenfield

Chicago White Sox

Record: 46-46 | Projected Final Record: 84-78

Division title odds: 28% | Playoff odds: 41%

Why are they in this position: Arguably the biggest disappointment of the first half, the White Sox can certainly point to injuries: Eloy Jimenez has played 19 games, Yasmani Grandal has missed time, Yoan Moncada has played 48 games and Lance Lynn has made just seven starts. But none of those guys have played well when they have played, and some of the healthy guys have underperformed (and Dallas Keuchel was a disaster before getting released). Dylan Cease (9-4, 2.15, 150 K’s) has been an ace, though, and they’ve cleaned up against the Tigers — 7-3, plus-39 run differential, minus-53 against everyone else. — Schoenfield

Which pitchers are crucial to their success? We have to go with two: Lynn and Lucas Giolito are a combined 7-8 with a 5.50 after combining for a 3.14 ERA last season. Those two are certainly capable of getting a roll and lifting the Tigers to a division crown, especially since they have one of the softest remaining schedules in the majors. — Schoenfield

TIER 5: SO YOU’RE SAYING THERE’S A CHANCE

Baltimore Orioles

Record: 46-46 | Projected Final Record: 79-83

Playoff odds: 9%

What has to go right for them to contend: Ryan Mountcastle needs to stay hot, Trey Mancini needs to stay put, Jorge Lopez needs to keep shutting the door and the rotation trio of Spenser Watkins, Tyler Wells and Dean Kremer — with a 2.46 ERA in a combined 20 starts since the beginning of June — needs to keep dominating. Mostly, though, the Orioles just need to keep the good vibes going. They won 16 of 23 games heading into the All-Star break, including 10 in a row at one point, and amazingly find themselves at .500 while on the periphery of the AL wild-card race. — Gonzalez

Which player can most help Baltimore’s playoff chances? There’s no question here — it’s Adley Rutschman, the former No. 1 overall pick who graduated to become the Orioles’ everyday catcher near the end of May. The ability is clearly there, but Rutschman — slashing .222/.302/.420 through his first 182 plate appearances — hasn’t fully clicked offensively just yet. If he does, this could get really interesting. He’s the one person who can help the Orioles overcome more talented teams in Seattle, Toronto and Boston. — Gonzalez

Texas Rangers

Record: 41-49 | Projected Final Record: 76-86

Playoff odds: 3%

What has to go right for them to contend: Their starters need to consistently pitch deeper into games — Rangers relievers have thrown the eighth-most innings in the majors this season — and they need to play up to their competition as a whole. The Rangers were swept in a four-game series against the red-hot Mariners heading into the All-Star break and are now 2-8 against their AL West rivals this season. They’re also 3-8 against the Astros, another important divisional counterpart. Perhaps that’s a sign that this team is simply not ready to contend yet, despite the offseason splurge on Corey Seager and Marcus Semien. — Gonzalez

Which prospects are vital to Texas’ future success? The Rangers were the talk of the draft after taking Kumar Rocker — the star collegiate arm who famously did not sign with the Mets last summer — with the No. 3 overall pick. He joins Jack Leiter, his former Vanderbilt teammate and fellow Golden Spikes Award finalist. But Leiter has a 6.30 ERA and has walked 30 batters through his first 50 innings in Double-A, and Rocker has compiled only a handful of innings in independent ball coming off a minor shoulder procedure last September. Both are 22, brimming with star potential. The Rangers need these two to develop quickly so they can contend while their new stars remain in their prime. — Gonzalez

Los Angeles Angels

Record: 39-53 | Projected Final Record: 72-90

Playoff odds: 1%

What has to go right for them to contend: Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani need to play MVP-quality baseball, Jared Walsh needs to get back to being a legitimate middle-of-the-order threat, Jo Adell needs to tap into his star potential and David Fletcher needs to get healthy and become a catalyst at the top of the lineup. Also, Michael Lorenzen needs to get back on track, Jose Suarez needs to improve and Aaron Loup and Ryan Tepera — guaranteed a combined $31 million this offseason — need to consistently get outs again. So, a whole lot. And that’s only internally. They need a lot of teams ahead of them to fade, too. — Gonzalez

Who do the Angels need to see improvement from? Five years ago, the Angels took a chance on an 18-year-old Adell with the 10th overall pick. He was exceedingly raw but bursting with star potential — and that still stands. Adell, now 23, is capable of hitting majestic home runs and has flashed upper-level speed and arm strength at times. But he has struggled mightily defensively, has made a handful of head-scratching baserunning mistakes and has not found much offensive consistency in the major leagues — striking out 123 times and drawing only 18 walks in 102 major league games. The Angels need to see real strides from him. — Gonzalez

Miami Marlins

Record: 43-48 | Projected Final Record: 77-85

Playoff odds: 2%

What has to go right for them to contend: Simply put — they need to hit. Sandy Alcantara is the Cy Young favorite, Pablo Lopez has been fantastic and the pitching staff as a whole has certainly done enough to keep the Marlins in contention. But they need more offense. The Marlins enter the second half with the fourth-lowest OPS and the fifth-lowest weighted on-base average in the major leagues. Jorge Soler and Avisail Garcia were brought in over the offseason to add more punch to their lineup, but they have combined for only a .218/.280/.360 slash line. — Gonzalez

Who can be a difference-maker on this Marlins team? Jazz Chisholm Jr. played well enough to be voted in as a starter for the NL All-Star team, hitting 14 home runs, stealing 12 bases and notching an .860 OPS through the first 60 games of his age-24 season. But then he suffered a back strain that sent him to the injured list in late June, an ailment Chisholm is still rehabbing. Getting him back healthy and on track is crucial to the Marlins, now and into the future. Chisholm has star potential, and he was just starting to tap into it. — Gonzalez

TIER 6: ALREADY PLAYING FOR NEXT YEAR

Arizona Diamondbacks

Record: 40-52 | Projected Final Record: 69-93

Playoff odds: 0%

Biggest thing left to do in 2022: Get Corbin Carroll to the big leagues and watch him and Alek Thomas cook while Druw Jones debuts in short-season ball to give the Diamondbacks a glimpse at what the core of their future looks like. Carroll might be the best prospect in the minor leagues, a spark plug outfielder with top speed and power that belies his size. As long as he doesn’t spend more than 60 days in the big leagues, the Diamondbacks are eligible for the prospect promotion incentive, which could net them draft picks for elite performance by Carroll. As a rookie, Thomas is already playing at a four-win pace. And Jones, the No. 2 pick in the draft, has the highest ceiling of the bunch — and maybe of anyone in the minor leagues. — Passan

Which player should Arizona look to build around? Here is the list of hitters with a higher weighted on-base average than Ketel Marte since his unsightly April: Paul Goldschmidt, Rafael Devers, Alejandro Kirk, Alvarez and Judge. That’s it. Marte has been better than Soto, Freeman, Betts, Trout and Ramirez. He is that guy, the sort of player around which the Diamondbacks are building. And they are far enough along in their rebuild that if some of their high-minor pitching hits, they could get better in a hurry, with Marte at the forefront. — Passan

Colorado Rockies

Record: 43-50 | Projected Final Record: 72-90

Playoff odds: 0%

Biggest thing left to do in 2022: Get their homegrown, long-term-signed starting pitching right. The Rockies have committed $155 million to Kyle Freeland, Antonio Senzatela and German Marquez, and this season, they have thrown 265 1/3 innings of 5.17 ERA baseball. As difficult as it is to pitch at Coors Field, part of the reason Colorado locked up the trio was because they hoped they would excel there — and their ERA in home games is 5.57. The Rockies have an excellent group of prospects a year or two away from the big leagues. A rotation there to support them is a must. — Passan

Has Kris Bryant lived up to his contract? So much of what the Rockies do is seen through the lens of the contracts they hand out, because far too many have been disasters. It’s too early to suggest Bryant’s seven-year, $182 million deal this winter qualifies, even if plenty in the industry called it as much before the ink on his signature dried. The 30-year-old Bryant missing 44 games with a back injury — during which the Rockies went 14-30 — didn’t help matters. His production while healthy has been good (.302/.366/.460), but $25 million-plus-a-year good? He’s got some work to do. — Passan

Pittsburgh Pirates

Record: 39-54 | Projected Final Record: 66-96

Playoff odds: 0%

Biggest thing left to do in 2022: Figure out whether they’re close enough to contention to hold on to center fielder Bryan Reynolds and build around him and the uber talented left side of the infield, Ke’Bryan Hayes and Oneil Cruz. The answer should be yes, seeing as Reynolds has 3 1/2 years of club control remaining and is locked up at an extremely reasonable $6.75 million next season with two arbitration years after that. Considering how little money the Pirates have committed and their on-the-come-up farm system, dealing Reynolds would register as the latest blow for demoralized fans, who, at this point, deserve at least a modicum of peace. — Passan

Which player could help Pittsburgh turn things around? The exit velocity, arm strength and height (all 99th percentile attributes) make Cruz one of the best in baseball — the guy who, if he puts it all together, if tools turn to repeatable skills, will be a perennial MVP candidate. He also could be a whiffy mess who doesn’t walk and gets pretzel-twisted by pitchers who find exploits in his swing. Cruz turns 24 in early October. Even if everything doesn’t click this year, his ceiling alone makes him the sort of player who could catalyze a long-awaited renaissance in Pittsburgh. — Passan

Chicago Cubs

Record: 35-57 | Projected Final Record: 66-96

Playoff odds: 0%

Biggest thing left to do in 2022: The trade deadline is big for the Cubs as they have one of the biggest targets for immediate impact in catcher Willson Contreras. It’s not just because Contreras is good, which he is, but because so many contenders could make perhaps their biggest upgrade at the catching position — so demand should be high. The Cubs could be active in the trade market overall and leveraging that opportunity over the next couple of weeks is what will define this season for the organization. — Doolittle

Who do the Cubs want to get back on the field? Nick Madrigal was injured when the Cubs acquired him last season from the crosstown White Sox, so he didn’t debut for the Northsiders until this April. So far, they’ve gotten a .222 average, one stolen base, three extra-base hits and more injuries. Getting Madrigal back on the field offering reminders for why he was the fourth player picked in the 2018 draft would be an encouraging storyline for the Cubs’ second half. — Doolittle

Washington Nationals

Record: 31-63 | Projected Final Record: 56-106

Playoff odds: 0%

Biggest thing left to do in 2022: The revelation that the Nationals are now open to offers for Juan Soto turned his fate into one of baseball’s biggest storylines for the rest of this season and for the next couple of years to come. Obviously that is certainly the case for the Nationals who, on the field, have a chance to challenge the franchise record for most losses on the season. They have to get this right. — Doolittle

Which prospect does Washington need to see more from? Soto aside, the Nationals just need to start seeing some glimmers of hope from their in-house development. So let’s slot top pitching prospect Cade Cavalli here, whether or not he is promoted to make his big league debut before the end of the campaign. Cavalli has been up and down and, as of late, has battled some arm trouble. Washington needs him to create some forward momentum heading into the offseason. — Doolittle

Detroit Tigers

Record: 37-55 | Projected Final Record: 65-97

Playoff odds: 0%

Biggest thing left to do in 2022: The Tigers are full of question marks right now. Did they whiff on the Javier Baez signing? Why couldn’t Spencer Torkelson find his footing at the plate? Can Tarik Skubal right the ship after his strong start was followed by a steep drop-off? What is going on with Eduardo Rodriguez? The list is long. The Tigers need to answer as many of these riddles as they can in order to formulate some kind of plan for 2023. — Doolittle

Which big-time player needs to turn things around? The obvious answer here is Baez, who is halfway through the first season of the six-year, $140 million deal he signed with Detroit over the winter. Things have not gone well. Baez is hitting .213, middling power and leading the team in errors and outs on the basepaths. If Baez doesn’t turn things back in the right direction over the second half, it’ll make for a depressing winter in Detroit. — Doolittle

Kansas City Royals

Record: 36-56 | Projected Final Record: 65-97

Playoff odds: 0%

Biggest thing left to do in 2022: The Royals have had a ragged season but have at least seen their top four hitting prospect debut in the big league — and all of them have broken into the homer column. The Royals need to look hard at their pitching development processes, but before then, they will likely be one of the more active subtractors around the deadline, which could help boost the pitching outlook if they target the right hurlers. — Doolittle

Which player has been a bright spot this season? Bobby Witt Jr. has done nothing to dampen the enthusiasm that accompanied his ascension to the majors. At the same time, he hasn’t enjoyed quite the same type of splash that fellow rookie Rodriguez has made for Seattle. A big second half for Witt would be the best news the Royals could get as they play out another transition campaign. — Doolittle

Cincinnati Reds

Record: 34-57 | Projected Final Record: 65-97

Playoff odds: 0%

Biggest thing left to do in 2022: Decide what they’re going to do with Luis Castillo. He has another year of team control, but with little else in the way of starting pitchers available at the trade deadline, the Reds should be able to get a nice return for the All-Star. Castillo has a 2.77 ERA and has been great in his last four starts, allowing just three runs over 27 innings. — Schoenfield

Which player needs to return to 2021 form? Jonathan India was the 2021 Rookie of the Year, but the sophomore jinx is apparently alive and well. He did miss time with a hamstring strain, but the worrisome thing is his plate discipline has gone backwards: His walk rate has declined from 11.3% to 3.6%, and his strikeout rate has gone up slightly, from 22.4% to 24.9%. (His chase rate, not surprisingly, has gone way up as well.) His exit velocities have also dropped. He needs to get back on track in the final two-plus months. — Schoenfield

Oakland Athletics

Record: 32-61 | Projected Final Record: 58-104

Playoff odds: 0%

Biggest thing left to do in 2022: Decide whether they want to trade Frankie Montas and maybe even Paul Blackburn. Montas left his start on July 3 after one inning with shoulder inflammation, but he’s starting on Thursday. If he shows he’s healthy, he joins Castillo as the best pitchers who might be traded (and like Castillo, has another year of team control). Blackburn actually still has three more years of control through 2025, so there’s no rush to trade him, but maybe the A’s will look to cash in on his All-Star first half. — Schoenfield

Who’s the most important trade candidate? Probably Montas. If he’s not healthy, they won’t be able to trade him and given the trade of Matt Chapman, Matt Olson and Sean Manaea back in spring training, it will be fair to second guess the decision to hang on to Montas at that time. — Schoenfield

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