MLB.com Columnist

Mike Bauman

Breaking down the best teams at the break

How the top clubs from first half have fared in second half since 2001

Breaking down the best teams at the break

What's next for a team that leaves the All-Star break with the best record in the league?

The San Francisco Giants (57-33) and the Texas Rangers (54-36) can be seen as the envy of the other 28 franchises. They are playing from ahead. They have leads that are far from overwhelming, but are significant. They have demonstrated their worth over more than 50 percent of the season.

But what does recent history tell us about what the rest of the season, not to mention the postseason, for the clubs that hold this lofty position in mid-July? In general, the Giants and the Rangers are virtual locks to qualify for the postseason. But their chances of winning the World Series are not quite on that level.

Best of the first half

Examining the 30 clubs that had the best records in both leagues at the break over the past 15 seasons, we find that there were only four that did not reach the postseason.

The 2011 Red Sox had an epic late-season collapse and faded to third in the American League East. The '07 Padres lost a one-game tiebreaker for the National League Wild Card berth to the red-hot Rockies at a time when there was only one Wild Card per league. The '03 Mariners, an aging club, slumped to third in the AL West. The '01 Cubs overachieved in the first half and faded to third in the NL Central.

On the other hand, seven of the clubs that led their league at the break reached the World Series. Four of them won. Those examples are recent enough in memory to offer encouragement -- the 2015 Royals, the '13 Red Sox, the '07 Red Sox and the '05 White Sox.

Three teams with the best record in their league at the All-Star break reached the World Series and lost; the 2013 Cardinals, the '06 Tigers and the '04 Cardinals.

The two teams with the best regular-season records in this young century did not grab the ultimate prize. The 2004 Cardinals, winners of 105 games, were swept in the World Series by the Red Sox, who were a force of nature after their history-making comeback against the Yankees in the AL Championship Series. The '01 Mariners, who won a record 116 games, were beaten by the Yankees in the ALCS.

Here is a rundown of the 30 clubs with the best records at the break and what happened next.

2015
AL
Royals
First half -- 52-34
Second half -- 43-33
Won AL Central. Won World Series.

NL
Cardinals
First half -- 56-33
Second half -- 44-29
Won NL Central. Lost Division Series.

2014
AL
Athletics
First half -- 59-36
Second half -- 29-38
Second place AL West. Lost Wild Card Game.

NL
Dodgers
First half -- 54-43
Second half -- 40-25
Won NL West. Lost Division Series.

2013
AL
Red Sox
First half -- 58-39
Second half -- 39-26
Won AL East. Won World Series.

NL
Cardinals
First half -- 57-36
Second half -- 40-29
Won NL Central. Lost World Series.

2012
AL
Yankees
First half -- 52-33
Second half -- 43-34
Won AL East. Lost Championship Series.

NL
Nationals
First half -- 49-34
Second half -- 49-30
Won NL East. Lost Division Series.

2011
AL
Red Sox
First half -- 55-35
Second half -- 35-37
Third place, AL East.

NL
Phillies
First half -- 57-34
Second half -- 45-26
Won NL East. Lost Division Series.

2010
AL
Yankees
First half -- 56-32
Second half -- 39-35
Second place, AL East. Wild Card. Lost Championship Series.

NL
Braves
First half -- 52-36
Second half -- 39-35
Second place, NL East. Wild Card. Lost Division Series.

2009
AL
Red Sox
First half -- 54-34
Second half -- 41-33
Second place, AL East. Wild Card. Lost Division Series.

NL
Dodgers
First half -- 56-32
Second half -- 39-35
Won NL West. Lost Championship Series.

2008
AL
Angels
First half -- 57-38
Second half -- 43-24
Won AL West. Lost Division Series.

NL
Cubs
First half -- 57-38
Second half -- 40-26
Won NL Central. Lost Division Series.

2007
AL
Red Sox
First half -- 53-34
Second half -- 43-32
Won AL East. Won World Series.

NL
Padres
First half -- 49-38
Second half -- 40-36
Third in NL West. Lost tiebreaker game for Wild Card.

2006
AL
Tigers
First half -- 59-29
Second half -- 36-38
Second in AL Central. Wild Card. Lost World Series.

NL
Mets
First half -- 53-36
Second half -- 44-29
Won NL East. Lost Championship Series.

2005
AL
White Sox
First half -- 57-29
Second half -- 42-34
Won AL Central. Won World Series.

NL
Cardinals
First half -- 56-32
Second half -- 44-30
Won NL Central. Lost Championship Series.

2004
AL
Yankees
First half -- 55-31
Second half -- 46-30
Won AL East. Lost Championship Series.

NL
Cardinals
First half -- 54-33
Second half -- 51-24
Won NL Central. Lost World Series.

2003
AL
Mariners
First half -- 58-35
Second half -- 35-34
Second in AL West.

NL
Braves
First half -- 61-32
Second half -- 40-29
Won NL East. Lost Division Series.

2002
AL
Yankees
First half -- 55-32
Second half -- 48-26
Won AL East. Lost Division Series.

NL
Braves
First half -- 56-32
Second half -- 45-27
Won NL East. Lost Division Series.

2001
AL
Mariners
First half -- 63-24
Second half -- 53-22
Won AL West. Lost Championship Series.

NL
Cubs
First half -- 51-35
Second half -- 37-39
Third in NL Central.

Overall, the prognosis for the Giants and Rangers reaching the postseason is very good. In October, they're on their own. But never take the San Francisco lightly in an even-numbered year.

Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.