Updated MLB Power Rankings: Where Do Things Stand at the Quarter-Pole Mark?

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistMay 21, 2012

Updated MLB Power Rankings: Where Do Things Stand at the Quarter-Pole Mark?

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    The 2012 MLB season is roughly a quarter of the way over, and while there have been a handful of teams that have established themselves as elite at this point, the middle of the pack is made up of nearly half of the MLB.

    It has been a season of parity thus far, as 11 teams enter play on Monday in the 19- to 21-win range, and several divisions show the top and bottom teams separated by just a handful of games.

    In lieu of a team outlook this week, I have named my top hitter and pitcher for each team at the quarter-pole mark of the season.

    Here is a look at this week's MLB power rankings. Check back here each Monday morning for an updated look at where your favorite team stands.

     

    *Note: Rosters taken from MLBDepthCharts.com

30. Chicago Cubs (15-26, Previous: 27)

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    Current Lineup 

    RF David DeJesus
    CF Tony Campana
    SS Starlin Castro
    1B Bryan LaHair
    LF Alfonso Soriano
    3B Ian Stewart
    2B Darwin Barney
    C Koyie Hill
    Pitcher

     

    Current Rotation

    SP Ryan Dempster
    SP Matt Garza
    SP Jeff Samardzija
    SP Paul Maholm
    SP Travis Wood
    CL Rafael Dolis

     

    Last Week's Record: 1-6 

     

    Quarter-Pole Awards

    Top Hitter: Bryan LaHair (.315/.415/.629, 10 HR, 21 RBI)

    After boasting a line of .331 BA, 38 HR, 109 RBI at Triple-A last season, LaHair has been fantastic in his first taste of regular big-league action. That said, a move to the outfield or another team could be on the way, as top first base prospect Anthony Rizzo is knocking on the door.

    Top Pitcher: Jeff Samardzija (8 GS, 4-2, 3.00 ERA, 53 Ks, 51 IP)

    Starters Matt Garza and Ryan Dempster both have lower ERAs, but Samardzija has been a revelation in his first chance as an unquestioned member of the rotation. At over a strikeout an inning, he has shown flashes of dominance and has rewarded the new regime for their faith in him.

29. Colorado Rockies (15-25, Previous: 28)

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    Current Lineup

    2B Marco Scutaro
    3B Jonathan Herrera
    LF Carlos Gonzalez
    SS Troy Tulowitzki
    1B Todd Helton
    RF Michael Cuddyer
    C Ramon Hernandez
    CF Dexter Fowler
    Pitcher

     

    Current Rotation 

    SP Jeremy Guthrie
    SP Jamie Moyer
    SP Juan Nicasio
    SP Alex White
    SP Christian Friedrich
    CL Rafael Betancourt

     

    Last Week's Record: 2-5

     

    Quarter-Pole Awards

    Top Hitter: Carlos Gonzalez (.294/.369/.517, 7 HR, 30 RBI)

    Gonzalez has been the team's only consistent hitter this season and is the only regular starter with an average over .270 on the season. His numbers are rock-solid across the board.

    Top Pitcher: Jamie Moyer (8 GS, 2-3, 4.20 ERA, 29 Ks, 45 IP)

    The fact that the 49-year-old Moyer is the team's best pitcher so far says as much about how impressive a player Moyer is as it does about the current state of Colorado's pitching staff.

28. Minnesota Twins (14-27, Previous: 30)

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    Current Lineup

    CF Denard Span
    SS Brian Dozier
    C Joe Mauer
    LF Josh Willingham
    1B Justin Morneau
    DH Ryan Doumit
    RF Trevor Plouffe 
    2B Alexi Casilla
    3B Jamey Carroll

     

    Current Rotation

    SP Carl Pavano
    SP Jason Marquis
    SP Scott Diamond
    SP P.J. Walters
    SP TBD
    CL Matt Capps

     

    Last Week's Record: 4-3

     

    Quarter-Pole Awards

    Top Hitter: Josh Willingham (.292/.410/.592, 8 HR, 25 RBI) 

    Signed in the offseason to replace Michael Cuddyer, Willingham has thrived in his first season in Minnesota and anchored the middle of the lineup.

    Top Pitcher: Scott Diamond (3 GS, 3-0, 1.40 ERA, 13 Ks, 19.1 IP)

    He's made just three starts so far this season, but he has been without question the best pitcher on the staff over that span. The rotation may be the worst in baseball, and former ace Francisco Liriano was recently moved to the bullpen. 

27. San Diego Padres (16-26, Previous: 29)

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    Current Lineup

    RF Will Venable
    CF Cameron Maybin
    3B Chase Headley
    1B Yonder Alonso
    LF Jesus Guzman
    C Nick Hundley
    SS Everth Cabrera
    2B Alexi Amarista
    Pitcher

     

    Current Rotation

    SP Edinson Volquez
    SP Jeff Suppan
    SP Clayton Richard
    SP Anthony Bass
    SP Eric Stults
    CL Dale Thayer

     

    Last Week's Record: 4-3

     

    Quarter-Pole Awards

    Top Hitter: Yonder Alonso (.293/.371/.414, 1 HR, 13 RBI)

    Despite having just one home run so far, Alonso has been the Padres' most consistent hitter this year and he has tallied a team-high 14 doubles from the cleanup spot.

    Top Pitcher: Anthony Bass (10 G, 8 GS, 2-4, 2.89 ERA, 51 Ks, 53 IP)

    After posting a 1.68 ERA over 48.1 innings as a rookie last season, Bass has been the team's most consistent performer so far this season, pitcher or otherwise.

26. Kansas City Royals (16-24, Previous: 26)

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    Current Lineup

    CF Jarrod Dyson
    1B Eric Hosmer
    DH Billy Butler
    LF Alex Gordon
    RF Jeff Francoeur
    3B Mike Moustakas
    SS Alcides Escobar
    2B Chris Getz
    C Humberto Quintero 

     

    Current Rotation

    SP Bruce Chen
    SP Luke Hochevar
    SP Felipe Paulino 
    SP Luis Mendoza
    SP Nathan Adcock
    CL Jonathan Broxton

     

    Last Week's Record: 3-4

     

    Quarter-Pole Awards

    Top Hitter: Billy Butler (.297/.357/.523, 8 HR, 31 RBI)

    The Royals' young offense has been largely disappointing, but Butler is off to a terrific start and is on pace to post the best power numbers of his career.

    Top Pitcher: Bruce Chen (9 GS, 3-4, 4.17 ERA, 38 Ks, 54 IP)

    His numbers aren't great, but Chen continues to be the Royals' only reliable starter. Danny Duffy was off to a nice start, but will miss the rest of the year with Tommy John surgery.

25. Milwaukee Brewers (17-24, Previous: 22)

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    Current Lineup

    RF Corey Hart
    CF Nyjer Morgan
    LF Ryan Braun
    3B Aramis Ramirez
    C Jonathan Lucroy
    2B Rickie Weeks
    1B Travis Ishikawa
    SS Cesar Izturis
    Pitcher

     

    Current Rotation

    SP Yovani Gallardo
    SP Zack Greinke
    SP Randy Wolf
    SP Shaun Marcum
    SP Marco Estrada
    CL John Axford

     

    Last Week's Record: 2-5

     

    Quarter-Pole Awards

    Top Hitter: Ryan Braun (.331/.402/.635, 11 HR, 28 RBI)

    It is hard to imagine where the Brewers would be right now if Braun had in fact had to serve a 50-game suspension. Catcher Jonathan Lucroy (.342 BA, 4 HR, 27 RBI) also deserves a mention, as he's having a breakout year.

    Top Pitcher: Zack Greinke (9 GS, 5-1, 59 Ks, 56.2 IP)

    Pitching for his next contract, Greinke has avoided the slow start that plagued him last season and ranks among the top pitchers in the NL. Expect a big payday this winter, from the Brewers or otherwise.

24. Houston Astros (18-23, Previous: 25)

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    Current Lineup

    CF Jordan Schafer
    2B Jose Altuve
    SS Jed Lowrie
    1B Carlos Lee
    RF Brian Bogusevic
    LF J.D. Martinez
    3B Chris Johnson
    C Jason Castro
    Pitcher 

     

    Current Rotation

    SP Wandy Rodriguez
    SP Lucas Harrell
    SP Bud Norris
    SP J.A. Happ
    SP Jordan Lyles
    CL Brett Myers

     

    Last Week's Record: 3-4

     

    Quarter-Pole Awards

    Top Hitter: Jose Altuve (.318/.369/.448, 2 HR, 13 RBI, 23 R)

    Altuve has been terrific as a table-setter atop what has been a surprisingly adequate Astros lineup. He's easy to root for at 5'5", and has the minor-league track record to support that he could keep it up.

    Top Pitcher: Wandy Rodriguez (9 GS, 3-4, 2.24 ERA, 40 Ks, 60.1 IP)

    Third in the NL in innings pitched, Rodriguez has been a horse atop a young Astros rotation. His good start has only increased his trade value, and the chances of him ending the year in Houston seem slim.

23. Los Angeles Angels (18-24, Previous: 19)

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    Current Lineup

    LF Mike Trout
    3B Alberto Callaspo
    1B Albert Pujols
    DH Kendrys Morales
    RF Mark Trumbo
    2B Howie Kendrick
    SS Erick Aybar
    C Bobby Wilson
    CF Peter Bourjos 

     

    Current Rotation

    SP Jered Weaver
    SP Dan Haren
    SP Ervin Santana
    SP C.J. Wilson
    SP Jerome Williams
    CL Scott Downs

     

    Last Week's Record: 3-4

     

    Quarter-Pole Awards

    Top Hitter: Mike Trout (.355/.420/.605, 4 HR, 11 RBI, 15 R)

    Despite playing in just 20 games this season, Trout takes the honor for an underperforming Angels team. He has been a catalyst atop the lineup and should be a fixture in the outfield for the next decade.

    Top Pitcher: Jered Weaver (9 GS, 6-1, 2.80 ERA, 53 Ks, 61 IP)

    With the exception of recent game against the Texas Rangers where he got shelled, Weaver is once again off to a terrific start after finishing second in AL Cy Young voting last season. In fact, the entire Angels rotation is rounding into form. If only the offense could do the same.

22. Seattle Mariners (19-24, Previous: 24)

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    Current Lineup

    2B Dustin Ackley
    CF Michael Saunders
    RF Ichiro Suzuki
    C Jesus Montero
    3B Kyle Seager
    1B Justin Smoak
    LF Mike Carp
    DH Alex Liddi
    SS Brendan Ryan

     

    Current Rotation

    SP Felix Hernandez
    SP Jason Vargas
    SP Hector Noesi
    SP Blake Beavan
    SP Kevin Millwood
    CL Brandon League

     

    Last Week's Record: 3-4

     

    Quarter-Pole Awards

    Top Hitter: Kyle Seager (.286/.308/.486, 5 HR, 26 RBI)

    Seager leads an abysmal Mariners lineup in batting average and RBI, and he gets the nod here even though five walks in 120 at-bats leaves his OBP just over .300.

    Top Pitcher: Felix Hernandez (9 GS, 3-3, 3.02 ERA, 61 Ks, 62.2 IP)

    Hernandez continues to rank among the best arms in the game, as he remains a bright spot for the team. Jason Vargas (5-3, 3.34 ERA) has also been better than expected.

21. Pittsburgh Pirates (19-22, Previous: 20)

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    Current Lineup

    RF Jose Tabata
    2B Neil Walker
    CF Andrew McCutchen
    3B Pedro Alvarez
    1B Garrett Jones
    LF Nate McLouth
    SS Clint Barmes
    C Rod Barajas
    Pitcher

     

    Current Rotation

    SP Erik Bedard
    SP James McDonald
    SP A.J. Burnett
    SP Charlie Morton
    SP Kevin Correia
    CL Joel Hanrahan

     

    Last Week's Record: 3-4

     

    Quarter-Pole Awards

    Top Hitter: Andrew McCutchen (.336/.395/.550, 7 HR, 20 RBI, 24 R)

    McCutchen has been head and shoulders above his teammates so far, as Neil Walker holds the second-best batting average on the team at .261, and the team continues to really struggle to score runs.

    Top Pitcher: James McDonald (8 GS, 3-2, 2.68 ERA, 50 Ks, 50.1 IP)

    McDonald has shown flashes of having front-line stuff in the past, and so far this season he has pitched like the ace the Pirates have been sorely lacking.

20. Arizona Diamondbacks (19-23, Previous: 23)

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    Current Lineup

    SS Willie Bloomquist
    2B Aaron Hill
    RF Justin Upton
    C Miguel Montero 
    CF Chris Young
    LF Jason Kubel
    1B Paul Goldschmidt
    3B Ryan Roberts
    Pitcher

     

    Current Rotation

    SP Ian Kennedy
    SP Trevor Cahill
    SP Joe Saunders
    SP Wade Miley
    SP Patrick Corbin
    CL J.J. Putz

     

    Last Week's Record: 4-3

     

    Quarter-Pole Awards

    Top Hitter: Chris Young (.353/.431/.745, 5 HR, 15 RBI)

    Just recently back from injury, Young has played just 14 games this season, yet he still ranks fourth on the team in RBI and first in home runs, as he was off to a brilliant start when he went down.

    Top Pitcher: Wade Miley (9 G, 6 GS, 5-1, 2.14 ERA, 30 Ks, 46.1 IP)

    Miley entered the season as the team's No. 8-ranked prospect, largely overshadowed by some big names atop that prospect list. Nonetheless, he has been terrific since joining the rotation in place of the injured Daniel Hudson.

19. Oakland Athletics (21-21, Previous: 16)

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    Current Lineup

    2B Jemile Weeks
    SS Cliff Pennington 
    RF Josh Reddick
    LF Seth Smith
    DH Kila Ka'aihue
    3B Josh Donaldson
    1B Daric Barton
    C Kurt Suzuki
    CF Collin Cowgill

     

    Current Rotation

    SP Bartolo Colon
    SP Tom Milone
    SP Tyson Ross
    SP Jarrod Parker
    SP TBA
    CL Brian Fuentes

     

    Last Week's Record: 3-4

     

    Quarter-Pole Awards

    Top Hitter: Josh Reddick (.270/.326/.534, 11 HR, 24 RBI, 28 R)

    Acquired from the Red Sox in the Andrew Bailey deal, Reddick has exceeded expectations and quickly emerged as the team's only real power source with Yoenis Cespedes on the DL.

    Top Pitcher: Brandon McCarthy (9 GS, 3-3, 2.95 ERA, 40 Ks, 58 IP)

    McCarthy recently hit the DL with a shoulder strain, but he has been far and away the team's best pitcher so far this year, as his ERA is nearly a point lower than any other starter.

18. Detroit Tigers (20-21, Previous: 14)

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    Current Lineup

    CF Austin Jackson
    LF Andy Dirks
    3B Miguel Cabrera
    1B Prince Fielder
    DH Delmon Young
    C Alex Avila
    RF Brennan Boesch
    SS Jhonny Peralta
    2B Ryan Raburn

     

    Current Rotation

    SP Justin Verlander
    SP Drew Smyly
    SP Max Scherzer
    SP Rick Porcello
    SP Doug Fister
    CL Jose Valverde

     

    Last Week's Record: 3-4

     

    Quarter-Pole Awards

    Top Hitter: Austin Jackson (.331/.414/.544, 5 HR, 17 RBI, 29 R)

    While Miguel Cabrera (8 HR, 34 RBI) has once again been great, Jackson gets the nod. His strikeouts are down, his walks are up and he finally looks like a legitimate leadoff hitter.

    Top Pitcher: Justin Verlander (9 GS, 5-1, 2.14 ERA, 68 Ks, 67.1 IP)

    The reigning AL Cy Young and MVP award winner, Verlander is off to another fantastic start. The Tigers staff as a whole looks to be coming around, and the team could be big movers here over the next couple of weeks.

17. San Francisco Giants (21-20, Previous: 15)

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    Current Lineup 

    RF Gregor Blanco
    3B Joaquin Arias
    LF Melky Cabrera
    C Buster Posey
    CF Angel Pagan
    1B Brandon Belt
    2B Emmanuel Burriss
    SS Brandon Crawford
    Pitcher

     

    Current Rotation

    SP Tim Lincecum
    SP Madison Bumgarner
    SP Matt Cain
    SP Barry Zito
    SP Ryan Vogelsong
    CL Santiago Casilla

     

    Last Week's Record: 4-3

     

    Quarter-Pole Awards

    Top Hitter: Melky Cabrera (.353/.396/.497, 2 HR, 17 RBI, 24 R)

    Acquired from the Royals for Jonathan Sanchez in the offseason, Cabrera is hitting nearly 40 points higher than anyone else on the team and is tied for the lead in RBI despite spending most of the year hitting second.

    Top Pitcher: Matt Cain (8 GS, 3-2, 2.67 ERA, 54 Ks, 57.1 IP)

    Handed a five-year, $112.5 million extension this offseason, Cain has continued to pile up innings. In light of Tim Lincecum's struggles, the extension seems more and more like a wise move by the Giants.

16. Philadelphia Phillies (21-21, Previous: 21)

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    Current Lineup

    SS Jimmy Rollins
    LF Juan Pierre
    CF Shane Victorino
    RF Hunter Pence
    C Carlos Ruiz
    3B Placido Polanco
    1B John Mayberry Jr.
    2B Freddy Galvis
    Pitcher 

     

    Current Rotation

    SP Roy Halladay
    SP Cliff Lee
    SP Cole Hamels
    SP Joe Blanton
    SP Kyle Kendrick
    CL Jonathan Papelbon

     

    Last Week's Record: 5-2

     

    Quarter-Pole Awards

    Top Hitter: Carlos Ruiz (.355/.404/.595, 7 HR, 29 RBI)

    While the combination of injuries and age has left the Phillies lineup a shell of what it once was, Ruiz is in the midst of his best season at the age of 33 and is without a doubt the offensive MVP to this point.

    Top Pitcher: Cole Hamels (8 GS, 6-1, 2.48 ERA, 58 Ks, 54.1 IP)

    Unlike the aforementioned Matt Cain, Hamels is playing for his next contract and will be a free agent at season's end. He will get a bundle when he signs, and pitching the way he is right now will only help his case during negotiations.

15. Chicago White Sox (21-21, Previous: 18)

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    Current Lineup

    CF Alejandro De Aza
    2B Gordon Beckham
    DH Adam Dunn
    1B Paul Konerko
    C A.J. Pierzynski
    RF Alex Rios
    SS Alexei Ramirez
    LF Dayan Viciedo
    3B Brent Morel

     

    Current Rotation

    SP John Danks
    SP Jake Peavy
    SP Gavin Floyd
    SP Chris Sale
    SP Phil Humber
    CL Addison Reed

     

    Last Week's Record: 5-2

     

    Quarter-Pole Awards

    Top Hitter: Paul Konerko (.367/.453/.604, 8 HR, 23 RBI)

    Props to Adam Dunn (14 HR, 32 RBI) on a bounce-back season, but the choice here has to be Konerko, as he is well on his way to a third straight .300 BA, 30 HR, 100 RBI season.

    Top Pitcher: Jake Peavy (9 GS, 5-1, 2.39 ERA, 55 Ks, 64 IP)

    Peavy is finally looking like the Cy Young winner he was back in San Diego, and just in time for what could potentially be another big payday, as he is in his final guaranteed year.

14. Boston Red Sox (20-21, Previous: 17)

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    Current Lineup

    CF Ryan Sweeney
    2B Dustin Pedroia
    DH David Ortiz
    1B Adrian Gonzalez
    3B Will Middlebrooks
    C Jarrod Saltalamacchia
    RF Cody Ross
    LF Daniel Nava
    SS Mike Aviles

     

    Current Rotation

    SP Jon Lester
    SP Josh Beckett
    SP Clay Buchholz
    SP Felix Doubront
    SP Daniel Bard
    CL Alfredo Aceves

     

    Last Week's Record: 5-2

     

    Quarter-Pole Awards

    Top Hitter: David Ortiz (.335/.402/.606, 9 HR, 29 RBI)

    The Red Sox gave some thought to letting David Ortiz walk this offseason, but in the end they brought him back on a one-year, $14.58 million deal. So far, he has been more than worth the money.

    Top Pitcher: Felix Doubront (8 GS, 4-1, 4.09 ERA, 44 Ks, 44 IP)

    The Red Sox rotation has been rough so far this season, and no one has really pitched well enough to be worth mentioning. Doubront has held his own in his first season in the rotation and has tallied a strikeout an inning so far, so he gets the nod.

13. New York Mets (22-19, Previous: 10)

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    Current Lineup

    CF Andres Torres
    LF Kirk Nieuwenhuis
    3B David Wright
    RF Lucas Duda
    2B Daniel Murphy
    1B Ike Davis
    SS Ronny Cedeno
    C Mike Nickeas
    Pitcher

     

    Current Rotation

    SP Johan Santana
    SP R.A. Dickey
    SP Jon Niese
    SP Dillon Gee
    SP Jeremy Hefner
    CL Frank Francisco

     

    Last Week's Record: 3-4

     

    Quarter-Pole Awards

    Top Hitter: David Wright (.412/.513/.626, 4 HR, 24 RBI, 29 R)

    His power numbers have not seen the spike many expected with Citi Field moving its fences in, but Wright is having a phenomenal season so far nonetheless.

    Top Pitcher: Johan Santana (8 GS, 1-2, 2.89 ERA, 46 Ks, 43.2 IP)

    Santana has returned to ace form after missing all of last season, and while he has just one win, he has given the Mets a big boost with his front-line production.

12. Cincinnati Reds (21-19, Previous: 13)

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    Current Lineup

    SS Zack Cozart
    CF Drew Stubbs
    1B Joey Votto
    2B Brandon Phillips
    RF Jay Bruce
    LF Ryan Ludwick
    3B Todd Frazier
    C Ryan Hanigan
    Pitcher

     

    Current Rotation

    SP Johnny Cueto
    SP Mat Latos
    SP Bronson Arroyo
    SP Homer Bailey
    SP Mike Leake
    CL Aroldis Chapman

     

    Last Week's Record: 4-3

     

    Quarter-Pole Awards

    Top Hitter: Joey Votto (.301/.455/.581, 7 HR, 28 RBI)

    After a slow start, Votto is back on track and posting fantastic numbers once again. His .456 on-base percentage is third best in the NL and backed by a 38/34 BB/K ratio.

    Top Pitcher: Johnny Cueto (9 GS, 5-1, 1.97 ERA, 38 Ks, 59.1 IP)

    Cueto has emerged as bona fide staff ace this season and filled the void atop the Reds rotation many expected Mat Latos to step in to. Newly minted closer Aroldis Chapman (0.00 ERA, 39 Ks, 22.1 IP) deserves mention as well.

11. New York Yankees (21-20, Previous: 8)

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    Current Lineup

    SS Derek Jeter
    CF Curtis Granderson
    3B Alex Rodriguez
    2B Robinson Cano
    1B Mark Teixeira
    RF Nick Swisher
    LF Raul Ibanez
    DH Eric Chavez
    C Russell Martin

     

    Current Rotation

    SP CC Sabathia
    SP Hiroki Kuroda
    SP Phil Hughes
    SP Ivan Nova
    SP Andy Pettitte
    CL Rafael Soriano

     

    Last Week's Record: 2-5

     

    Quarter-Pole Awards

    Top Hitter: Derek Jeter (.347/.391/.488, 5 HR, 15 RBI, 24 R)

    At 38 years old, Jeter is off to one of the best starts of his career and is currently third in the American League in batting average.

    Top Pitcher: CC Sabathia (9 GS, 5-2, 3.78 ERA, 65 Ks, 64.1 IP)

    The Yankees' rotation has been one big question mark this season, and is part of the reason they keep falling out of the top 10 in these rankings. Sabathia is by no means having a career year, but he remains the only sure thing on New York's staff. 

10. Miami Marlins (22-19, Previous: 11)

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    Current Lineup

    SS Jose Reyes
    2B Omar Infante
    3B Hanley Ramirez
    1B Logan Morrison
    RF Giancarlo Stanton
    CF Bryan Petersen
    C John Buck
    LF Chris Coghlan
    Pitcher

     

    Current Rotation

    SP Josh Johnson
    SP Mark Buehrle
    SP Ricky Nolasco
    SP Carlos Zambrano
    SP Anibal Sanchez
    CL Heath Bell

     

    Last Week's Record: 4-3

     

    Quarter-Pole Awards

    Top Hitter: Omar Infante (.326/.357/.568, 6 HR, 20 RBI, 21 R)

    Infante has displayed unexpected power so far this season, as he carried the offense early on while others were struggling. His career highs of 16 HR and 55 RBI back in 2004 look to be in jeopardy.

    Top Pitcher: Anibal Sanchez (8 GS, 2-2, 2.32 ERA, 55 Ks, 54.1 IP)

    Really, take your pick between Sanchez and Carlos Zambrano (2-2, 1.96 ERA), who have both been terrific. I gave Sanchez the nod because of better peripherals, but both have exceeded expectations so far.

9. St. Louis Cardinals (22-19, Previous: 7)

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    Current Lineup

    SS Rafael Furcal
    2B Skip Schumaker
    LF Matt Holliday
    RF Carlos Beltran
    3B David Freese
    1B Matt Adams
    C Yadier Molina
    CF Shane Robinson
    Pitcher

     

    Current Rotation

    SP Kyle Lohse
    SP Jaime Garcia
    SP Adam Wainwright
    SP Lance Lynn
    SP Jake Westbrook
    CL Jason Motte

     

    Last Week's Record: 2-5

     

    Quarter-Pole Awards

    Top Hitter: Carlos Beltran (.291/.399/.619, 13 HR, 33 RBI)

    Beltran was signed to replace some of Albert Pujols' production and has done just, as he has carried an offense that's been saddled by numerous injuries. Rafael Furcal (.352 BA, 29 R) deserves a mention as well.

    Top Pitcher: Lance Lynn (8 GS, 6-1, 2.31 ERA, 49 Ks, 50.2 IP)

    Forced into a rotation spot this spring following Chris Carpenter's injury, Lynn has been one of the best starters in baseball. At just 25 years old, his future looks awfully bright.

8. Cleveland Indians (23-18, Previous: 12)

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    Current Lineup

    RF Shin-Soo Choo
    2B Jason Kipnis
    SS Asdrubal Cabrera
    DH Travis Hafner
    C Carlos Santana
    CF Michael Brantley
    LF Johnny Damon
    1B Casey Kotchman
    3B Jack Hannahan

     

    Current Rotation

    SP Justin Masterson
    SP Ubaldo Jimenez
    SP Derek Lowe
    SP Jeanmar Gomez
    SP Zach McAllister
    CL Chris Perez

     

    Last Week's Record: 5-2

     

    Quarter-Pole Awards

    Top Hitter: Asdrubal Cabrera (.309/.404/.504, 5 HR, 18 RBI, 22 R)

    After a breakout season last year, Cabrera has picked up right where he left off and continues to rank among the most productive middle infielders in the game. His double-play partner Jason Kipnis (6 HR, 24 RBI) has also been solid.

    Top Pitcher: Derek Lowe (9 GS, 6-2, 2.15 ERA, 15 Ks, 58.2 IP)

    The Braves basically gave Lowe away, as they are paying $10 million of his $15 million salary this season. While the Indians acquired him expecting to get a veteran innings-eater, he has emerged as the ace of the staff.

7. Toronto Blue Jays (23-19, Previous: 9)

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    Current Lineup

    2B Kelly Johnson
    SS Yunel Escobar
    RF Jose Bautista
    1B Edwin Encarnacion
    DH Eric Thames
    C J.P. Arencibia
    CF Colby Rasmus
    3B Yan Gomes
    LF Rajai Davis 

     

    Current Rotation

    SP Ricky Romero
    SP Brandon Morrow
    SP Henderson Alvarez
    SP Kyle Drabek
    SP Drew Hutchison
    CL Casey Janssen

     

    Last Week's Record: 4-3

     

    Quarter-Pole Awards

    Top Hitter: Edwin Encarnacion (.263/.328/.569, 13 HR, 34 RBI)

    In light of Jose Bautista (.217 BA) slumping, Encarnacion has been the team's top middle-of-the-order threat. While his batting average and OBP aren't great, it is hard to argue with his production to this point.

    Top Pitcher: Brandon Morrow (9 GS, 5-2, 2.63 ERA, 54 Ks, 61.2 IP)

    Morrow has shown flashes of brilliance in the past, but he looks to have finally taken that next step forward and has already thrown a pair of shutouts this season.

6. Washington Nationals (24-17, Previous: 6)

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    Current Lineup

    SS Ian Desmond
    LF Roger Bernadina
    3B Ryan Zimmerman
    1B Adam LaRoche
    RF Bryce Harper
    2B Danny Espinosa
    CF Rick Ankiel
    C Jesus Flores
    Pitcher

     

    Current Rotation

    SP Stephen Strasburg
    SP Gio Gonzalez
    SP Jordan Zimmermann
    SP Edwin Jackson
    SP Ross Detwiler
    CL Henry Rodriguez

     

    Last Week's Record: 3-4

     

    Quarter-Pole Awards

    Top Hitter: Adam LaRoche (.311/.409/.556, 7 HR, 31 RBI)

    After missing most of last season, LaRoche has come back strong and helped ease the loss of Michael Morse, who has spent the entire season on the DL to this point.

    Top Pitcher: Gio Gonzalez (8 GS, 5-1, 2.22 ERA, 60 Ks, 48.2 IP)

    The Nationals rotation has been fantastic, and both Gonzalez and Stephen Strasburg are among the best pitchers in all of baseball this season. I'll give the nod to the big offseason pickup and his NL-leading 11.1 K/9.

5. Tampa Bay Rays (25-17, Previous: 5)

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    Current Lineup

    RF Ben Zobrist
    CF B.J. Upton
    LF Matt Joyce
    1B Carlos Pena
    DH Luke Scott
    3B Sean Rodriguez
    2B Will Rhymes
    C Jose Molina
    SS Elliot Johnson

     

    Current Rotation

    SP James Shields
    SP David Price
    SP Jeremy Hellickson
    SP Matt Moore
    SP Alex Cobb
    CL Fernando Rodney

     

    Last Week's Record: 4-3

     

    Quarter-Pole Awards

    Top Hitter: Matt Joyce (.291/.392/.559, 8 HR, 23 RBI)

    Joyce has stepped up big with Evan Longoria on the disabled list, with 14 RBI in 18 games since Longoria went down.

    Top Pitcher: David Price (9 GS, 6-3, 2.88 ERA, 52 Ks, 59.1 IP)

    The Rays pitching staff has once again gotten them to where they are right now, and while James Shields may have gotten the Opening Day start, there is little doubt that Price is the staff ace right now.

4. Atlanta Braves (26-16, Previous: 4)

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    Current Lineup

    CF Michael Bourn
    LF Martin Prado
    1B Freddie Freeman
    2B Dan Uggla
    C Brian McCann
    3B Chipper Jones
    RF Jason Heyward
    SS Tyler Pastornicky
    Pitcher

     

    Current Rotation

    SP Tim Hudson
    SP Tommy Hanson
    SP Mike Minor
    SP Brandon Beachy
    SP Randall Delgado
    CL Craig Kimbrel

     

    Last Week's Record: 4-3

     

    Quarter-Pole Awards

    Top Hitter: Michael Bourn (.320/.376/.403, 1 HR, 11 RBI, 28 R, 13 SB)

    Bourn continues to rank among the game's premier leadoff hitters. He has come a long way since his days as a primary pinch-runner, and is now a true threat to bat over .300.

    Top Pitcher: Brandon Beachy (8 GS, 5-1, 1.33 ERA, 39 Ks, 54 IP)

    A shutout his last time out gave Beachy the best ERA in baseball, and with several other Braves starters struggling, he could not have picked a better time to break out.

3. Texas Rangers (26-16, Previous: 1)

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    Current Lineup

    2B Ian Kinsler
    SS Elvis Andrus
    LF Josh Hamilton
    3B Adrian Beltre
    DH Michael Young
    RF Nelson Cruz
    C Mike Napoli
    1B Mitch Moreland
    CF Craig Gentry 

     

    Current Rotation

    SP Colby Lewis
    SP Derek Holland
    SP Yu Darvish
    SP Matt Harrison
    SP Neftali Feliz
    CL Joe Nathan 

     

    Last Week's Record: 3-4

     

    Quarter-Pole Awards

    Top Hitter: Josh Hamilton (.389/.442/.785, 18 HR, 47 RBI, 33 R)

    Simply put, no one has been better this season than Hamilton. His nine HR and 18 RBI a couple weeks ago, which included a four-HR game, was nothing short of amazing.

    Top Pitcher: Yu Darvish (8 GS, 6-1, 2.60 ERA, 58 Ks, 52 IP)

    The Rangers shelled out over $100 million this offseason to sign Darvish, and he has been as good as advertised so far, taking the place of the departed C.J. Wilson and then some.

2. Baltimore Orioles (27-15, Previous: 3)

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    Current Lineup

    LF Xavier Avery
    SS J.J. Hardy
    RF Nick Markakis
    CF Adam Jones 
    C Matt Wieters
    3B Wilson Betemit
    DH Nick Johnson
    1B Chris Davis
    2B Robert Andino

     

    Current Rotation 

    SP Jake Arrieta
    SP Jason Hammel
    SP Brian Matusz
    SP Wei-Yin Chen
    SP Tommy Hunter
    CL Jim Johnson 

     

    Last Week's Record: 5-2

     

    Quarter-Pole Awards

    Top Hitter: Adam Jones (.308/.353/.610, 14 HR, 29 RBI, 32 R)

    Jones has put together a fantastic start to the season, and after improving his numbers in each of the past three seasons, it looks as though he may have finally taken that next step towards becoming a star.

    Top Pitcher: Jason Hammel (8 GS, 5-1, 3.12 ERA, 46 Ks, 49 IP)

    Acquired from the Rockies along with Matt Lindstrom for Jeremy Guthrie, Hammel has been a big part of the Orioles' surprise success. For the record, Lindstrom (1.29 ERA, 14 IP) has been terrific too, while Guthrie (5.55 ERA, on DL) has not.

1. Los Angeles Dodgers (28-13, Previous: 2)

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    Current Lineup

    SS Dee Gordon
    2B Elian Herrera
    LF Bobby Abreu
    RF Andre Ethier
    3B Adam Kennedy
    1B James Loney
    C A.J. Ellis
    CF Tony Gwynn Jr.
    Pitcher

     

    Current Rotation

    SP Clayton Kershaw
    SP Chad Billingsley
    SP Chris Capuano
    SP Aaron Harang
    SP Ted Lilly
    CL Kenley Jansen

     

    Last Week's Record: 5-2

     

    Quarter-Pole Awards

    Top Hitter: Matt Kemp (.359/.446/.726, 12 HR, 28 RBI, 29 R)

    He cooled down significantly after his torrid start before landing on the disabled list, but Kemp is still the clear choice here. He carried the Dodgers offense through the first month of the season when no one else outside of Andre Ethier was doing anything.

    Top Pitcher: Clayton Kershaw (9 GS, 4-1, 1.90 ERA, 51 Ks, 61.2 IP)

    Kershaw continues to dominate hitters and pile up the innings, and there is no doubt he is among the game's best. Ted Lilly (5-0, 1.79 ERA) certainly deserves mention as well.