1. Tampa Bay Rays (1) (32-12)- The Rays continue to cruise and as they stretch their lead in the AL East, they are beginning to approach some modern day records. This is the 4th best start in American league history and they have outscored their opponents by over 100 runs through only 44 games. Ben Zobrist is now hitting over .300 with his first two homeruns of the season this week. This squad is going to get very scary to play against if you can add Ben Zobrist to the mix playing like he did in 2009.
2. New York Yankees (2) (26-18)- The Yankees are really struggling with some injuries right now but they better be careful. After being swept in a mini two game set by the Rays, they now sit six games back of the division. Jorge Posada is on the DL, along with Curtis Granderson and Nick Johnson. Whenever a team of the Yankees caliber drops a series to a team like the Mets, there is always room for concern.
3.Philadelphia Phillies (3) (26-17)- The Phillies start inter-league play off with some less than stellar play, as they do every year. Jimmy Rollins and Brad Lidge are both back on the DL and Rollins absence in the lineup is really starting to show at this point. Carlos Ruiz’ hot start is a distant memory, as his plate approach and pitch selection has reverted back to the old Carlos Ruiz. Roy Halladay was roughed up by the Red Sox on Sunday, which will bring all of the questions out of the wood work about whether or not Manuel has overworked Doc. Everybody Relax. He will be fine.
4. Minnesota Twins (4) (26-18)- It is absolutely insane the numbers Justin Morneau is throwing up right now. .383 batting average with 11 homeruns 24 RBI’s and 35 walks. His OBP is .497 and his OPS is a ridiculous 1.199. Joe Mauer is still plugging along with a .343 average and the rest of the offense has continued to produce. All the starter’s ERAs have come back down to earth but this is an overall solid team throughout.
5. San Diego Padres (5) (26-18)- The fairytale continues for the San Diego Padres. In a recent Sports Illustrated Heath Bell was questioned about the possibility of a fire sale, where he and Adrian Gonzalez would be traded. He said both he and Adrian discussed it during Spring Training and came to the following conclusion. “Lets just win so much that they can’t break this team up.” It really looks like the rest of this crew has taken the same attitude, because if they continue to play like this, the Padres roster might be making additions come the trade deadline.
6. St. Louis Cardinals (6) (26-19)- The Red Birds take back first place in the division after giving the Reds a couple days atop the standings. Rookie Third baseman David Freese continues to hit along with Colby Rasmus and the starting pitching on this club has been nothing short of stellar. Jaime Garcia still holds an ERA of 1.28 and is opening a lot of eyes around the league. Kyle Lohse is the only pitcher in the starting rotation with an ERA over 3.23 but Brad Penny had to leave his last start due to injury. That is something to keep your eye on.
7. Texas Rangers (7) (25-20)- Very good week for the Rangers but they faltered slightly later in the week. C.J. Wilson is falling back to earth, and quickly. He has been ineffective in his last two starts and his ERA has jumped two full runs. Vladimir Guerrero continues to rake along with Josh Hamilton after he was moved to the fifth spot in the order. Young Elvis Andrus continues to plays stellar defense and he is getting on base at a phenomenal pace.
8. Boston Red Sox (8) (24-21)- Crazy how quick everyone wrote off the Red Sox and here they are 3 games above .500 and making their move. David Ortiz is putting all worries to rest and is absolutely scalding hot, raising his batting average to the .250 range. Kevin Youkilis is hitting the ball very well right now and Dustin Pedroia is beginning to heat up as the rotation comes around. Daisuke Matsuzaka took a no-hitter into the 8th inning on Saturday against the Phillies and Tim Wakefield threw 7 innings of no run ball on Sunday. Watch out for the Bosox.
9. Los Angeles Dodgers (14) (25-19)- This team is on absolute fire. After disappointing and playing disgraceful baseball for the first month or so, the Dodgers have been winning in bunches. This team currently sits one game behind the Padres for first place in the division. Even with Andre Ethier on the DL, the offense continues to plug along with James Loney, Manny Ramirez, and Matt Kemp. Clayton Kershaw continues to pitch well along with Hiroki Kuroda and Chad Billingsley. This team is really coming together.
10. Detroit Tigers (10) (25-19)- Austin Jackson, Miguel Cabrera, and Magglio Ordonez continue to carry the Tigers as they are all hitting well above .300 right now with plus power. Justin Verlander is anchoring the staff right now but after him the rotation has been a train wreck. I really don’t know how they continue to win at this rate with such a poor staff but you can’t argue with the end results.
11. Colorado Rockies (9) (22-22)- Troy Tulowitzki and Ubaldo Jimenez are just carrying this team as far as they can right now. In previous weeks I was mentioning the likes of Carlos Gonzalez, Ian Stewart, and Todd Helton but they have all gone ice cold. Rockies fans have no reason to panic though, this team has outscored opponents by 20+ runs, which is a significant improvement over many teams with a better record. There are better days ahead in Colorado.
12. Toronto Blue Jays (11) (26-20)- It has to be tough being 6 games over .500 at this point in the season and you are still lurking around in 3rd place in your division. That’s exactly what the Blue Jays and their fans are dealing with though. The surprising power surge also continues for the Blue Jays as Jose Bautista now has 14 homeruns. Aaron Hill’s slump has to be getting very concerning for anyone involved as his average has fallen to an anemic .161. If Hill and Lind can both heat up and hit to their capabilities this team just might make this wild card race interesting.
13. Atlanta Braves (17) (23-21)- Don’t look now but the Braves are in second place and are quickly picking up games on the first place Phillies. After having offensive issues all season, the Braves offense has finally began to carry its weight. They have done so well recently, that they are now 6th in the NL in runs scored overall coupled with their 3.97 team ERA. Tommy Hanson left his last start due to being light-headed, which is always a bit scary when talking about a young pitcher. Hopefully he is fine and he can anchor the staff along with Tim Hudson.
14. Oakland Athletics (19) (23-22)- The A’s have been outscored by 12 runs, yet still maintain a winning record. Seem a little fishy to you? Sure does to me. I realize this is a team based on pitching but enough is enough. It is extremely rare for a team to go an entire season while being outscored overall while maintaining a winning record. This team needs bats and needs them fast. Eric Chavez went on the DL this week and it appears his career may be over. Chavez had a tremendous career with multiple gold gloves despite his fluky and extremely unlucky injury history. If this is it for Chavez, congratulations on a tremendous career.
15.San Francisco Giants (12) (22-21)- Cooler heads prevail once again (me), as the Giants are now absolutely struggling to score runs and are sitting very close to .500. Why people continue to put so much emphasis on 20 or 30 games when you have a player’s entire 10 year career sitting there to analyze is beyond me. Once again, this is a team full of slow, aging veterans, that do not take a walk. Is that a recipe for a good offensive team? Absolutely not. Even with the tremendous pitching staff this team can’t get it done.
16. Florida Marlins (15) (23-22)- What a mess the whole Hanley Ramirez situation was and what a relief it is for all five of the Marlins fans that it appears to be over with. Dan Uggla continues to rake and I really don’t know how he continues to hit at such a high average but the Marlins brass has to be absolutely thrilled. Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco, Nate Robertson, and Anibal Sanchez are all doing enough to keep this team competitive. I just don’ think they have enough for a playoff berth.
17. Cincinnati Reds (18) (25-19)- Well, that stay atop the standings was short lived, huh? Even when this team wins, they don’t win by much and that is a major issue when trying to predict future outcomes. The Reds had a solid week but didn’t win a game by more than 3 runs. Close games are not going to break your way the entire year and when Dusty Baker is your manager, they might break in your opponents favor all year. This is a similar situation to when the Nats when into the all-star break with the division lead several years ago. They were dominating in one run games and after the break it all fell apart. There is no way to keep this thing going like they are.
18. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (16) (21-25)- When will this team start to put it together? As each week passes I start to lose hope that they will. Joe Saunders is pitching well again but he really doesn’t miss enough bats to be a top of the rotation guy, Joel Pineiro is struggling, as many do, with his change over to the AL, and Ervin Santana has been very inconsistent. Weaver has been the only mainstay in this rotation and it is taking its toll on the bullpen. Kendry Morales continues to hit well along with Torii Hunter but how about Brandon Wood. Do you want to see some awful numbers? Wood has a .156 batting average with 36 strikeouts and 2 walks. TWO WALKS. That is an 18 to 1 strikeout to walk ratio. Absolutely horrendous.
19. Washington Nationals (13) (23-22)- I think my love affair has run dry with those pesky Nats. Tyler Clippard gave up several runs this week, Matt Capps finally blew a save, Scott Olsen is injured, and Stephen Strasburg is in the minors. That is just about the perfect storm to lose my support. One person who will never lose my support is Ryan Zimmerman. He is hitting .308 with 8 homeruns while playing phenomenal defense over at the hot corner. Pudge just went on the DL with a back strain and suddenly the future is looking much more bleak for the boys out of Washington.
20. New York Mets (20) (22-23)- How could one organization be so dysfunctional so consistently? It really is mind boggling. John Maine was pulled from a start this week after throwing just 5 pitches. Jerry Manuel said he was injured, John Maine said he was fine even though his fastball was topping out at 80 mph. Several days later, the Mets put Maine on the DL and he admitted that he is indeed injured. Nice work John Maine. The Mets did impressively take two of three from the cross-town Yankees but the outlook going forward is so ominous for this team with RA Dickey now in the rotation that it just can’t end well. They have two legitimate healthy starting pitchers right now and you can’t win baseball games consistently like that.
21.Arizona Diamondbacks (25) (20-25)– Kelly Johnson? Where have you gone? Another victim of a tremendous start to the season that has hit rock bottom. The power surge has run dry and his average is now down into the .250s. The Diamondbacks did have a very good week even with Dan Haren’s ERA still hovering in the mid 4’s. Ian Kennedy has been quite a surprise this year so far and currently has a 3.24 ERA with plenty of strikeouts to match. If he can continue to pitch well, Dan Haren will come around and the D-backs won’t be entirely dependant on waiting for Brandon Webb to return.
22. Chicago White Sox (24) (18-25)- That Andruw Jones experiment was fun, wasn’t it? Seems like every year he latches on with a new team on an incentive laden contract and absolutely mashes for three weeks and then completely falls off a cliff. After the hot start, Jones is now hitting .239 and is struggling very badly. Gordon Beckham is still in a horrendous slump with an average well below .200. One has to wonder if Kenny Williams and Ozzie Guillen will send him down to the minors to get himself straightened out. It looks as if Williams is very close to pulling the plug on this season anyway, as many teams have shown interest in relievers Bobby Jenks and JJ Putz.
23. Chicago Cubs (22) (18-25)- It is surprising to see a team with 4 out of 5 starters with an ERA below 4.00 sitting 7 games under .500, but the Cubs will find a way to do just about anything. What this really shows is that this team will not win unless Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez produce. Lee is hitting .218 and Ramirez is hitting a horrendous .160 despite his walk-off homerun this week. Marlon Byrd and Alfonso Soriano cannot carry this team by themselves and if this team does not start to win soon, changes are going to have to be made.
24. Cleveland Indians (21)(16-26)- Horrendous week for the Indians as they go 1-6 overall. Shin-Shoo Choo has been the only hitter in this lineup all year and it is really starting to wear him down. Asdrubal Cabrera had a nasty freak injury, when he collided with his second basemen, breaking his forearm. Cabrera was a key piece to an already struggling lineup. Grady Sizemore is still hovering around .200 and the pitching has not fared much better.
25. Milwaukee Brewers (23) (17-27)- Nice move by Ken Macha to finally move Trevor Hoffman out of the closer’s role before he completely blew the entire season, if he didn’t already. Another awful week though for the Brewers against marginal competition and this team is really looking bad. Randy Wolf is not even close to the same guy he was last year, adding another blemish to the Brewers free agent history. Dave Bush has an ERA in the high 5’s and Trevor Hoffman still has an ERA over 12.00. With pitching this bad, it doesn’t matter how good your offense is.
26. Pittsburgh Pirates (27) (19-25)- It looks as if the Pirates have mastered the art of losing big and winning small, which has really messed up their run differential for the season. The Bucs have been outscored by their opponents 258-149 and still only sit six games below .500. That is an absolute miracle, especially considering their entire pitching staff is absolute trash. This team is tied for dead last in almost every offensive and pitching category known to man. They do have a nice ballpark though. If you get the chance to take a trip down to Pittsburgh, I would highly recommend it. You sure as hell won’t have a problem getting tickets.
27. Kansas City Royals (28) (18-27)- 160 at bats and 4 walks for Yuniesky Betancourt? I guess that wouldn’t be too awful if he was just batting 9th for you and playing good defense. Only problem is the entire Royals lineup doesn’t walk and Betancourt is awful defensively. Jose Guillen has had one heck of a bounce back year so far and has positioned himself in a good spot for a Comeback Player of the Year Award. Unfortunately, that’s about the only thing to look forward to if you are on the Royals.
28. Seattle Mariners (26) (16-28)- This team is really bad. I’m really not sure what else to say about them because the roster is so bland and underwhelming. What makes it worse was that this team was the “sexy” pick to win a division or wild card. Even Cliff Lee and Felix are not pitching lights out right now and when you throw in Casey Kotchman, Chone Figgins, Jose Lopez, Ken Griffey, and the rest of the light hitting bums it is really embarrassing. Can they pick up a big bat and improve their chances? Sure but they will probably need 4-5 big bats to make any impact on this god awful lineup.
29. Houston Astros (30) (15-29)- Nice work by the Astros to get themselves out of the final spot in the rankings this week. They put up an impressive fight over the weekend with the first ranked Rays but still dropped the series. Brett Myers is pitching surprisingly well, Lance Berkman is showing signs of life, and Carlos Lee has finally gotten his average over .200. Now for the bad news. Roy Oswalt requested a trade this week and one of the cornerstones of the franchise for the past several years may be on the move.
30. Baltimore Orioles (29) (14-31)- It is truly a combination of the Orioles ineptitude and the Rays dominance that any team could sit 18.5 games back on May 23rd. That is absolutely incredible. Awful, horrendous, embarrassing – those are the only words to describe the Orioles play to this point. Kevin Millwood has yet to win a game, Brian Matusz is now getting pummeled, and once again I will say it; their best pitcher is still in the minor leagues. When does Dave Trembley get the ax?
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