1. Tampa Bay Rays (1) (37-20)- The Rays starting rotation came back to earth, as expected, but the team as a whole continues to plug along. No matter what the issue has been this season they have battled through it. John Jaso hitting leadoff? No problem. Carlos Pena hitting well below .200? No problem. Ben Zobrist has come on strong and has his average over .300 with some decent power after going homer-less for the first month of the season. As long as this young staff can keep going deep into games, the Rays have a playoff spot waiting for them.
2. New York Yankees (2) (35-22)- How good is Robbie Cano? .363 batting average along with 45 RBI’s and 41 runs scored and a 1.013 OPS. That is absolutely incredible. The struggles for Mark Teixeira have continued, though. That has to be concerning as it is starting to get too late in the season to use the excuse that “it’s early yet”. Make no mistake about it, if the Yankees want to win, Tex has to hit.
3. Minnesota Twins (3) (33-24)- Justin Morneau continues to absolutely carry this offense and leads the Twins in just about every category. He has a .370 average, 13 homeruns, 40 RBI’s, a .483 OBP, 71 hits, and 43 walks, all best on the team. The other part of this two-headed monster, Joe Mauer, has been in a bit of a slump, seeing his average drop to a human .313. Even with the injuries the Twins have dealt with, they still hold a comfortable 3.5 game lead in the division and look like they could improve.
4. Atlanta Braves (13) (33-24)- Wow, what a roll this team is currently on. Finally this offense has come around and what a difference it has made. Suddenly Troy Glaus is a middle of the order threat and Martin Prado has continued to rake. Chipper Jones was starting to come around before yet another nagging hand injury and Eric Hinske has taken advantage of his increase in at-bats. The Braves currently hold a two game lead in the NL East. How great of a story would it be to see Bobby Cox go out a winner? This team has the talent to make that happen.
5. Boston Red Sox (8) (33-25)- Where are all those people who said “this isn’t the Red Sox year”, “the Red Sox just aren’t good this year”, “you are biased because you are on the East Coast”. Let’s break this down simply. When you build a team with strong pitching (check), phenomenal defense (check), a phenomenal bullpen (check), and a very solid lineup (check), that team is probably going to win its fair share of games. I realize everybody hates the Red Sox but why don’t we all get a clue and sit back and learn something about the game of baseball. Like I said in week one and every week thereafter, pitching wins and this team has one of the best pitching staffs in the majors.
6. Los Angeles Dodgers (9) (33-24)- Let’s try to wrap our minds around how dominant Jonathon Broxton has been this season. In 26 innings, Broxton has 40 strikeouts and a 1.03 ERA, 3 walks, and has allowed no homeruns. His stuff is so impressive, he could keep those numbers around that mark for the season. The Dodgers currently sit a half game back of the Padres and in my mind, it is not a question of if they will catch them. It’s a matter of when.
7. St. Louis Cardinals (6) (33-24)- I am glad I jumped on this Colby Rasmus bandwagon at the beginning of the season because this kid is very impressive. Hopefully for the Cardinals and my fantasy team the calf injury he sustained on Sunday night is not serious. Pujols, Holliday, and Freese are all hitting over .300 with some pop right now and Garcia, Carpenter, and Wainwright all have ERA’s under 3. This is a scary squad to face in a short series.
8. Philadelphia Phillies (4) (30-25)- Boy has it gotten ugly in Philadelphia. The offense has absolutely gone to sleep on this team and it has shown its effects in the standings. At one point earlier in the year, it appeared that the Phils could put it in cruise control and run away with this division, but that couldn’t be any less true. Through this offensive struggle, the averages on this team have plummeted. Chase Utley is now hitting .265, Jayson Werth has dropped to .284, and Rauuuuul Ibanez has fallen to a very sad .229. Ibanez is also tied for 134th in slugging and will make 12.6 million next season. Congrats to Jamie Moyer on a complete game victory on Saturday for his 264th in his career.
9. San Diego Padres (5) (33-23)- I watched this team over the weekend for the first time this season and I came away impressed with the overall style of play. The Padres do all the little things right. They move runners, get their bunts down, and pitch effectively. Of course, that is absolutely critical when you have very little power besides Adrian Gonzalez in your lineup. Their bullpen is nothing short of phenomenal with a plethora of hard-throwers and strikeout specialists in the back end. If their pitching can continue, they will be in the mix all year but it will be very tough to hold off the Dodgers in that division.
10. Cincinnati Reds (17) (33-24)- How much more can this madness continue? Scott Rolen with 14 homeruns in the beginning of June? Jonny Gomes hitting .304? Mike Leake with a 2.22 ERA after never throwing a pitch in the minor leagues? I just don’t see how this continues. I know I have been saying this week after week but it just doesn’t seem realistic. At least the Reds are now outscoring their opponents on the season, though. Oh yeah, Arthur Rhodes has an ERA of 0.38 through 24 innings.
11. Toronto Blue Jays (12) (33-25)- This is another team that boggles the mind. Your AL Homerun leader on June 7th is….. Jose Bautista? You have got to be kidding me. Vernon Wells has 15 homeruns and Alex Gonzalez has 12. Meanwhile, Adam Lind is hitting .210 and Aaron Hill is hitting .186. Brandon Morrow is coming off of a very impressive outing and if he can continue to pitch well in addition to Shaun Marcum and Ricky Romero, this is a team that could really cause some problems.
12. Texas Rangers (7) (30-26)- It is great to see Josh Hamilton bouncing back and producing once again. The feel good story of 2008 had a very rough 2009 as he struggled with various injuries. Vlad is still crushing the ball and is now hitting .335 with 12 homeruns and 47 RBI’s. The Rich Harden experiment is not going according to plan in Texas, though and the Rangers are having some pitching issues. Scott Feldman was a flash in the pan last year and the league is now absolutely killing C.J. Wilson. They need to figure out some solutions for this rotation and Tommy Hunter, who threw a complete game in his debut this season could be one of them.
13. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (18) (31-28)- Jered Weaver and Ervin Santana have been very impressive this year as the top two in this Angels rotation. With the freak injury to Kendry Morales, the Halos will need plenty of pitching to get things done now. Abreu, Matsui, Kendrick, and Aybar are all hitting in the mid .260’s but they will all have to step up in the absence of Morales. Mike Scioscia has also backed Brian Fuentes as his closer, which seems like a questionable decision at best.
14. San Francisco Giants (15) (30-25)- Congratulations to the Giants for picking up old Philadelphia hero, Pat Burrell. In his first start of the year in the outfield, Pat the bat went 1 for 4 with a double and he could provide some pop for an offense that has struggled mightily in recent weeks. Bruce Bochy is making some strange calls with this lineup, though. On Saturday he had Pablo Sandoval, the Giants best hitter, in the 8th spot and Bengie Molina in the clean up spot. Molina’s average has been in an absolute free-fall recently (just as I told you it would be), and he clogs the bases like no one else. The Giants took the first step by calling Buster Posey up to the big leagues but now they have to make the right decision and let him take over for Molina instead of playing first base.
15. Colorado Rockies (11) (29-27)- Here’s your weekly Ubaldo Jimenez update. 11-1 with a 0.93 ERA 0.93 WHIP and 78 strikeouts through 12 starts. Simply amazing. The rest of the good news for this team is on the offensive side. Troy Tulowitzki hit his 8th homerun of the year on Sunday to go along with his .304 average. Carlos Gonzalez is hitting leadoff with a .308 average and Miguel Olivo continues to defy the odds by hitting over .300 to this point with 17 walks. Olivo has never been much of a contact hitter and he has never walked much, so this start to the season has been very surprising.
16. New York Mets (20) (30-27)- The Mets offense has improved since our last rankings here at talksportsphilly but several issues still remain. My first issue, how the hell does Rod Barajas have 4 walks with 160+ at bats? My second issue is Jason Bay’s severe power outage. Could it all be Citi Field’s dimensions? It seems unlikely. With Pelfrey and Johan anchoring this staff the way they are, I suppose this team could continue to stay in the Wild Card race but I wouldn’t bank on that happening. Still too many holes on this team.
17. Detroit Tigers (10) (29-27)- This could be the season Miguel Cabrera puts it all together. Right now he is putting on an absolute hitting clinic. Miggy is hitting .351 with 17 homeruns and 52 RBI’s which has him on pace for the best year of his already impressive career. The Tigers managed to shed the dead weight that is Dontrelle Willis in exchange for the dead weight that is Billy Buckner. The positive for the Tigers is that Buckner is dead weight in the minors, not dead weight taking up valuable space on their 25 man roster.
18. Oakland Athletics (14) (30-28)- The A’s have been actually outscored on the season by 14 runs and still maintain a winning record. It is getting pretty late in the season for these kind of run differentials to be holding up but when you have good pitching, it is possible. Brett Anderson re-injured his throwing elbow in his latest start and that is very troubling. Anderson is an ace in the making and they want to protect him at all costs. Dallas Braden has been far from perfect since his perfect game and Gio Gonzalez is pitching very well.
19.Florida Marlins (16) (28-30)- Now that the Hanley Ramirez situation has calmed down, this team can get back to playing baseball. That is a good thing for everyone involved, including the Marlins’ 12 fans. Josh Johnson has a 2.10 ERA along with Anibal Sanchez, who has a 3.18 ERA. Mike Stanton was called up from AA on Sunday after absolutely tearing up the minor leagues. His presence in the lineup should help the Marlins tremendously going forward.
20. Washington Nationals (19) (27-31)- It was a good run for Matt Capps and the Nationals. As unlikely as it was to continue, I just wanted to believe it could happen. Capps’ ERA is now pushing 4.00 and the Nats have fallen 4 games under .500 after his latest blown save on Sunday. Who really cares though? Stephen Strasburg makes his big league debut on Tuesday against the Pittsburgh Pirates. How can you script it any better? Who knows what Strasburg will do against that lineup. No-hitter, perfect game? As long as Jim Joyce isn’t umpiring that day, anything is possible.
21.Chicago Cubs (23) (25-31)- Carlos Silva has a 3.12 ERA and Marlon Byrd is hitting .312. Why would anybody want to go play in the American League when you can dominate like these two mediocre talents. Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez still haven’t starting hitting and coincidentally the Cubs still haven’t started winning. At least one of those two are going to have to heat up if this team wants to go anywhere. The pitching has held its own so far and Carlos Marmol has been un hittable. Can sweet Lou pull any strings to get this squad to the playoffs? I doubt it. He hasn’t pulled a string since he arrived in Chicago.
22. Chicago White Sox (22) (24-32)- Ozzie Guillen is at it again and he told his club that if they did not start to improve, there will be changes made. It seems like Ozzie makes this threat on a regular basis but it has not seemed to have much of an effect this year. Even with the resurgence of Alex Rios, to the tune of .318, 12 homeruns and 17 steals, this squad has been dreadful. Andruw Jones update: He’s now hitting .216.
23. Kansas City Royals (27) (24-34)- Billy Butler has really turned into one hell of a hitter to this point in his career and has been one of the few bright spots from the farm in Kansas City. Alex Gordon, the once prized prospect in the KC system has been sent to the minors yet again and is being converted to an outfield spot. They should probably just convert Alex Gordon to another sport, maybe checkers. The pitching staff has been so bad, even Zack Greinke has been mediocre. The Royals brass has also stated Mike Moustakas will not be making his MLB debut this season. Translation: this season is over.
24. Milwaukee Brewers (25) (23-34)- This team has some serious power. Ryan Braun has 8 homeruns, Casey Mcgehee has 9, Prince Fielder has 9, Corey Hart has 14, and Rickie Weeks has 10. So why is this team so awful? Simple. They have one starter with an ERA below 4.66. Trevor Hoffman still has an ERA over 11.00 and Jeff Suppan is still on this roster. It looks like the Brew Crew has to trade Prince and get a boatload of prospects in return because whatever this plan was is not working.
25. Arizona Diamondbacks (21) (22-35)- Don’t worry folks, Dontrelle Willis is on the next flight out to Arizona. The D-backs addressed their major and I mean major pitching issues by acquiring the D-train from Detroit this week in exchange for Billy Buckner. This is actually a solid move, if they just let Dontrelle hit. When you let him take the mound is where this move gets hairy. Mark Reynolds is only hitting .215 and Justin Upton is also having a disappointing season. Expectations were high for the young Diamondbacks but this season has been putrid to this point.
26. Pittsburgh Pirates (26) (25-33)- I bet the Pirates ownership is absolutely giddy that Stephen Strasburg will be making his MLB debut on the road in their ballpark. Because the Pirates might actually beat him? Not quite. They are giddy because they might be able to sell a couple of tickets to see this sad excuse for a baseball team. Every time I look at this roster I wonder how they managed to win 22 games to this point. Rinse and repeat every week I have done these rankings. The level of talent on this roster aside from Andrew McCutchen is simply depressing. Example? Lastings Milledge has 175 at-bats and 0 homeruns. That brings up so many questions I don’t have time to address them all.
27. Houston Astros (29) (22-35)- It didn’t seem like this team would ever get out of the 30th spot in these rankings after the first few weeks of the season. Turns out they aren’t THAT bad, they are just one of the bunch down here in the low 20’s that don’t have enough offense or pitching to compete everyday in the MLB. Lance Berkman’s return to the lineup has been a big key to their return to semi-respectability (is that a word?). Carlos Lee is finally picking up the pace as well and if he can keep it up, maybe this team won’t finish in last place in their division.
28. Seattle Mariners (28) (22-34)- I would like to spend another week bashing this team to pieces but instead, for once I will take high road. I’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate Ken Griffey Jr. on a tremendous career and his overall impact on the game of baseball. Griffey is believed by many to be the only clean slugger of this generation among the Mcgwire’s and Sosa’s, and for that I salute him. His gradual decline to what we saw in the last few weeks in Seattle is perfectly normal and is further proof that he was just a naturally gifted human being using his talents to the best of his abilities without any illegal assistance. No matter what I say about the kid though, the Mariners stink.
29. Cleveland Indians (24) (21-34)- Grady Sizemore is done for the year in Cleveland and the prognosis is not very good. Micro fracture surgery has cut many of careers short way before their time. This team is 24th in batting average, 28th in homeruns, 25th in RBI’s, and 26th in hits. Oh, and their pitching isn’t much better. How do you think this squad is doing this year? Hint: Not very well. To top things off, the prized prospect the Tribe got in return for CC Sabathia, Matt Laporta, is only hitting .218.
30. Baltimore Orioles (30) (16-41)- God Bless, Juan Samuel. I wouldn’t wish this job on my worst enemy. This team is 21 games out of the division race and the calendar just turned to June. What a relief it must be for Dave Trembley to wake up every morning and know that he doesn’t have to go to work with this sorry bunch of scrubs. The O’s can’t score, they can’t pitch, and they can’t play defense. Not much else to say here.
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