1. Tampa Bay Rays (1) (40-23)- The Rays almost get bounced from the top spot in this week’s rankings, but ultimately their consistency gives them the benefit of the doubt. After taking two of three from the Blue Jays, the Rays dropped two of three from their in-state rivals, the Marlins. The starting pitching has shown some signs of weakness but Carlos Pena is really starting to heat up. Pena homered in six consecutive games at one point and BJ Upton’s average has been on the rise, as well. The Rays are finally dealing with a little bit of adversity. Let’s see how they deal with it before removing them from the top spot.
2. New York Yankees (2) (40-23)- I wish I could list the Yankees right next to the Rays this week, but that is not an option. The Yankees have dealt with their fair share of injuries to this point and continue to win games at a consistent pace. That is a testament to Joe Girardi and the job Brian Cashman has done to give this organization some depth in the minor leagues. It seems like every week I say the same thing but Robinson Cano is really coming into his own. We are looking at a perennial MVP candidate, perennial batting title contender, and a tremendous defensive second basemen. With Chase Utley slumping, Cano is the best second basemen in the game.
3. Atlanta Braves (4) (37-27)- The Braves end week 11 fresh off a series win over the Twins and continue to lead the pack in the NL East. Martin Prado leads the league in hits with 90 and Troy Glaus has his average up to .290 with 13 long-balls after hitting under .200 in April. Tim Hudson and Tommy Hanson have been a tremendous duo atop the rotation and Billy Wagner has been lights out in the back end of the bullpen.
4. Boston Red Sox (5) (37-28)- Here we are, more than 60 games into the season, and we have three teams in the AL East in the top four spots in these power rankings. Looking back at my pre-season rankings, I was pretty close, with all three of these squads in the top five. Adrian Beltre’s season has flown under the radar for some reason. Beltre is hitting .335 with 9 homeruns and 44 RBI’s. Jon Lester and Clay Bucholz continue to lock down this Red Sox rotation as John Lackey and the rest of the bunch search for some consistency. If the back end of this rotation does find their stuff, the sky is the limit for the Bosox.
5. Los Angeles Dodgers (6) (36-27)- The Dodgers impressed me early in the week with a sweep of the Cardinals and then severely disappointed me by getting swept by the Angels. Clayton Kershaw is starting to go deeper in the games along with Chad Billingsley. That is the recipe for success for this Dodgers team. The offense is doing more than enough to keep the wins coming but there has to be some concern for Manny Ramirez. He only has five homeruns so far but he is getting on base at a very good clip. Same old same old for Jonathan Broxton in the ninth inning. He has a 0.95 ERA with 42 strikeouts and only 3 walks. Amazing.
6. Minnesota Twins (3) (36-27)- The Twins have gotten very inconsistent over the last several weeks, with some dominant outings from their starting rotation and less than stellar performances. Joe Mauer has not hit for much power after signing his mega-contract this off-season and Justin Morneau has carried this offense during that time. The Twins are fine but it would be nice to see Mauer show some signs that the power stroke is still there. They have a 2.5 game lead in the division and Detroit will begin to fade sooner or later.
7. San Diego Padres (9) (37-26)- This team is 23rd in batting average, 25th in homeruns, 24th in RBI’s, and 21st in hits, so how are they in first place? Pitching. Pitching. Pitching. They are first in ERA, 2nd in strikeouts, and 1st in WHIP. Their pitching has been unbelievable and as their offense picks up a bit, which it has to realistically, they could distance themselves from the pack a bit. I still don’t think this team has enough to hold off the Dodgers, though.
8. Cincinnati Reds (10) (36-28)- Did anybody see this coming from Scott Rolen? Rolen is now 35 years old and is putting up one of the best seasons of his career. He is hitting .313 with 14 homeruns and 45 RBI’s after hitting 11 homeruns all of last year. Rookie Mike Leake has been nothing short of spectacular after spending 0 days in the minor leagues out of the draft. The Reds lead the league in batting average and 3rd in homeruns but their pitching has not really delivered their end of the bargain. The Reds have only outscored opponents by 27 runs and I still say this team is not as good as their record says. Cardinals still take this division.
9. St. Louis Cardinals (7) (34-29)- It must be really difficult to have three starting pitchers of the caliber that the Cardinals have and still be looking up at the Reds in the division. Jaime Garcia has an ERA of 1.49, Wainwright is at 2.30, and Carpenter sits at 2.54 after his performance on Sunday. Colby Rasmus continues to blossom right in front of our eyes as he hits along side Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday. Rookie David Freese still leads this team with a .305 average and in my opinion, it is only a matter of time before the Cards catch the Reds.
10. Texas Rangers (12) (35-28)- Josh Hamilton is on absolute fire and suddenly Vlad Guerrero doesn’t have to carry this offense anymore. Hamilton is on a 9 game hitting streak with 5 homeruns during that stretch. Colby Lewis threw a tremendous game on Saturday, striking out 10 in a victory. Rich Harden still does not appear to be getting his act together, though. That is a major concern for this team because Scott Feldman has not been able to repeat his performance from last year. I have liked this team from the beginning of the season and I believe they can hang onto this division.
11. San Francisco Giants (14) (35-27)- Welcome to San Francisco, Pat Burrell. Pat the Bat is hitting .375 as a Giant with a homerun and 4 RBI’s through 9 games. Since Burrell’s arrival how have the G-men done you ask? 6-3 for a solid winning percentage of .667. Matt Cain has also done his share, as he has absolutely dominated in his last 5 starts. Entering his start on Sunday, Cain had an ERA of 0.26 in his previous 4 trips to the mound. With Burrell in the lineup with Posey, Huff, and Uribe, suddenly the Giants have a legitimate offensive attack. Who knew that all the bat needed was a return to the National League?
12. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (13) (36-30)- After an impressive clean sweep of the in-state rival Dodgers, the Angels now sit in a virtual tie with the Texas Rangers for first place in the division. Even after the devastating and season-ending injury to Kendry Morales, this team has continued to work through their injuries. Mike Napoli has done enough with the bat to stay at first base for the time being but Tony Reagins will probably need to go get a bat to help this squad for the stretch run.
13. New York Mets (16) (35-28)- The Mets took the first series of the week over the Padres and then enjoyed beating up on the Orioles like the rest of the league has. One week after complaining about Rod Barajas’ refusal to take a walk, he is still sitting on just 4 free passes on the season. This lineup doesn’t have a .300 hitter and Jason Bay’s power has been non-existent but their pitching has been surprisingly effective recently. Hisanori Takahashi has done well since he as put into the rotation and Johan Santana has his ERA under 3.00, once again. I am still skeptical that all of this can continue but you cannot argue with the results.
14. Colorado Rockies (15) (33-30)- Ubaldo Jimenez had one of his worst starts of the season and his ERA goes UP to 1.16. He now has 12 wins and 1 loss on the year. Several years ago, it looked like Manny Corpas was going to be one of the top young closers for years to come but he struggled for whatever reason. It is good to see him succeeding in that role once again. His stuff is phenomenal. How good are Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez? These guys are two of my favorite young players in baseball right now and are both a pure treat to watch. This team can put it all together at anytime. They’re like a sleeping giant that has yet to wake up. Wait till they do.
15. Toronto Blue Jays (11) (34-30)- I don’t want to say I told you so again but look at these batting averages drop. Fred Lewis is now hitting .281, Vernon Wells is down to a human .292, and Jose Bautista is now hitting .232. Meanwhile, the struggles with Adam Lind and Aaron Hill that everyone said would not continue, have done just that. Those guys are still hitting .186 and .210, respectively. I do like this front four in the rotation for this team, though. Brandon Morrow is really starting to show signs that he has mastered his phenomenal stuff and when added to the mix of Romero, Cecil, and Marcum this team could be good for a long time. The offensive attack just isn’t there yet.
16. Philadelphia Phillies (8) (32-29)- The slide continues for the Phillies as they were dominated as badly in the first two games of the series against the Red Sox as you will see. The Phils have now dropped to third place behind the Mets and Braves. The once feared offensive attack is now 20th in batting average, 15th in homeruns, 22nd in hits, and 19th in RBI’s. The back end of the rotation is also struggling again, so if the Phillies want to have any chance to take this division, a move needs to be made. It is sad that a team of this caliber would have to depend on a signing of Pedro Martinez or anyone of that nature. General Manager’s responsibilities are to provide depth for your club in case of injuries or struggles. Ruben Amaro has not done that.
17. Detroit Tigers (17) (33-29)- I almost moved the Tigers up just because they traded Dontrelle Willis. Turns out I have to base these rankings on something atleast somewhat legitimate so I kept them at 17. They did sweep the Pirates late in the week but that is the equivalent of beating an invalid in a boxing match. That doesn’t really show me much. Miguel Cabrera is an absolute stud. I don’t know how many more times I can say it but he is really impressive. If he can boost that batting average a little bit, we could be looking at a triple crown candidate.
18. Florida Marlins (19) (31-32)- Any time you can take a series on the road from a team of the Rays caliber, it is very impressive. The Marlins seem to have all the pieces in play to make a run, especially with the recent call-up of the enormous Mike Stanton. Dan Uggla has 14 homeruns, Ronny Paulino is hitting .300, Jorge Cantu has 45 RBI’s, and Hanley Ramirez has not even gotten hot yet. With the way Josh Johnson is pitching, this team could come from behind and cause the Braves some problems in the East.
19. Washington Nationals (20) (31-33)- Wow. That is all you can say about Stephen Strasburg. His electrifying fastball that pushes triple digits is breath-taking. His 90 mph change-up is dazzling and his knee-bending curveball is simply unbelievable. I said this after his first start, but this kid might be the best pitcher in baseball right now. I’m not saying he will be the best pitcher in a year, two years, or whatever. I’m saying Stephen Strasburg is the best pitcher in the game. A little much? I don’t care.
20. Chicago White Sox (22) (28-34)- The White Sox had their four game winning streak halted by Ted Lilly and the Cubs. The Sox were almost no-hit, if not for a single in the ninth by pinch-hitter, Juan Pierre. Alex Rios is hitting well and Paul Konerko has 46 RBI’s but Gordon Beckham and Andruw Jones continue to struggle. Jones was in the leadoff spot on Sunday and attempted to bunt for what could have been the first time in his career. That is a hint when it might be the end for a guy like Andruw Jones. When you find yourself hitting leadoff because the manager wants to get you out of your month long slump, and you are running out of the box trying to bunt. I hope no other teams get scammed into thinking this guy has something left in the tank next season. Andruw Jones is finished.
21. Oakland Athletics (18) (32-33)- I’ve had enough of this team. I really have. I don’t understand the entire organizational philosophy on totally ignoring offense while constantly trading major talent for prospects in continuous process that never really seems to have an end in sight. When does this team take their shot at winning? When do they hold on to some pieces in order to make a push for the playoffs? When does Billy Beane become a buyer at the deadline for a bat to help this anemic offense? These are all questions I have no answers to. Until a bat (s) are added to this team, they are just a tease.
22. Chicago Cubs (21) (28-35)- Ted Lilly took a no-hitter into the ninth on Sunday, before Juan Pierre lined the 1-0 pitch up the middle for a clean single. What is with all these marginal pitching talents throwing no-hitters, perfect games, and shutouts? This really is this year of the pitcher when you have guys like Dallas Braden, Ted Lilly, and Armando Galarraga tossing gems like this. It looks like Sweet Lou is finally going to give more playing time to the youngster, Tyler Colvin. The lineup can only benefit from that move and Lou is only a month late making this decision.
23. Kansas City Royals (23) (27-37)- It’s good to see Zack Greinke getting back to his dominant ways. Greinke had a complete game victory on Sunday as he struck out 12. The offense has been a pleasant surprise for this organization as Billy Butler is hitting .335, David Dejesus is hitting .314, and the vast majority of the rest of their lineup is hitting well over .260. The main issue the majority of this rotation has an ERA over 5.00. Time to bring up the kids, Dayton. Let Gordon, Moustakas, and Ka’aihue play in the big leagues.
24. Milwaukee Brewers (24) (26-37)- This team may have the worst pitching staff in the majors. That is saying a lot with teams like Pittsburgh and Baltimore in the league but the Brewers take bad pitching to a whole different level. They did take one step in the right direction by cutting ties with the ridiculous contract of Jeff Suppan this week but he was only in a middle-relief role by the time he was released. After a quick run through the pitching numbers on this team, you get sick to your stomach. Trevor Hoffman’s ERA is still over 9.00 and he may become the new owner of the worst season for a relief pitcher in the history of the game. Breathe a sigh of relief, Mr. Lidge.
25. Arizona Diamondbacks (25) (26-38)- The D-backs have hit their fair share of homeruns this year but the overall average has left much to be desired. They treaded water this week by playing at a .500 clip but there really has been nothing to get excited about all year in Arizona. Chris Young hit a walk-off homerun on Sunday to beat the Cardinals but the Diamondbacks still sit 11.5 games back in a crowded division race.
26. Houston Astros (27) (25-39)- I know I bashed the Astros pretty badly in the first several weeks of the season. Can you really blame me? It was horrendous. This team is really starting to grown on me now, though. After Lance Berkman returned to the lineup and Carlos Lee has gotten back to hitting like he has done for over a decade, this team looks like a competitive baseball team. What in god’s name happened to Wandy Rodriguez? After a tremendous season last year, he is now 3-9 with a 5.60 ERA.
27. Cleveland Indians (29) (25-37)- Top prospect Carlos Santana was called up to the big leagues this week and manager Manny Acta has decided to throw him right into the fire. Santana was batting third in his big league debut and is hitting .286 through his first couple games. Adam Dunn gave him his own welcome to the league party by clobbering Santana at the plate in a collision. Besides the young prospects, though, there is not much to look forward to in Cleveland this season. Fausto Carmona did throw a complete game gem on Saturday and he is starting to look more like the 19-game winner of 2007.
28. Seattle Mariners (28) (24-39)- The Mariners just continue to lose games anyway they can. Even when they had a lead on Friday night, David Aardsma hands the game to the light-hitting Padres. Ian Snell is horrendous, Ryan Rowland-Smith is awful, and the team cannot hit at all. Ichiro is the only man in this lineup you would think twice about pitching to. There is not one other player on this roster that strikes one ounce of fear into an opposing pitcher. And please, stop running Ian Snell out to the mound every 5 days. It’s really getting embarrassing.
29. Pittsburgh Pirates (26) (23-40)- I give the Orioles a lot more grief than these loveable Pirates, but the fact of the matter is the Pirates are just as bad as the Orioles. The Pirates have just been a lot luckier. The Bucs have been outscored by 146 runs and rank 29th in ERA, and 30th in hits. Lastings Milledge hits third in this lineup on occasion and still doesn’t have a homerun as of June 13th. The lone bright spot on this squad right now is Andrew McCutchen, and boy is he a bright spot. He is a spectacular player. Without him on this roster, the 15 fans that show up every night to see this team play probably wouldn’t be there.
30. Baltimore Orioles (30) (17-46)- Boy, is this getting ugly or what? The Orioles are quickly becoming the Detroit Lions of baseball. 17 wins in mid-June? That is beyond awful and it is embarrassing to the organization as a whole. The O’s are 30th in RBI’s and 27th in ERA. How can you get any worse than that? This team has been outscored by 126 runs already through 63 games. Even the young arms that everyone was excited to see have struggled. It seems as if the Orioles reach new low every week and it is my job to find words to describe it. I have to be honest, its getting pretty difficult.
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