Where does your favorite MLB team stand at the quarter-poll mark? With the season one-fourth of the way over I name my top hitter and pitcher for each team along with my updated rankings.
1: Los Angeles Dodgers (28-13, Previous: 2)
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 as 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 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.
2: Baltimore Orioles (27-15, Previous: 3)
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.
3: Texas Rangers (26-16, Previous: 1)
Top Hitter: Josh Hamilton (.389/.442/.785, 18 HR, 47 RBI, 33 R)
Simply put, no one has been better this season than Hamilton, and his nine-home run, 18-RBI week 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.
4: Atlanta Braves (26-16, Previous: 4)
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, and he has come a long way from his days of being little more than a pinch-runner (he is currently hitting over .300).
Top Pitcher: Brandon Beachy (8 GS, 5-1, 1.33 ERA, 39 Ks, 54 IP)
A shutout his last time out has given Beachy the best ERA in baseball, and with several other Braves starters' struggles he couldn't have picked a better time to break out.
5: Tampa Bay Rays (25-17, Previous: 5)
Top Hitter: Matt Joyce (.291/.392/.559, 8 HR, 23 RBI)
Joyce has stepped up big with Evan Longoria on the disabled list, compiling 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.
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.
7: Toronto Blue Jays (23-19, Previous: 9)
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 and 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 he has already thrown a pair of shutouts this season.
8: Cleveland Indians (23-18, Previous: 12)
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 more-or-less gave Lowe away, as they are paying $10 million of his $15 million salary this season. Originally acquired by the Indians as an innings eater, the veteran has emerged as the ace of the staff.
9: St. Louis Cardinals (22-19, Previous: 7)
Top Hitter: Carlos Beltran (.291/.399/.619, 13 HR, 33 RBI)
Beltran was signed to replace some of Albert Pujols' production and he has done just, carrying 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 and at just 25 years old his future looks awfully bright.
10: Miami Marlins (22-19, Previous: 11)
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.
11: New York Yankees (21-20, Previous: 8)
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 they have in the rotation.
12: Cincinnati Reds (21-19, Previous: 13)
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 the bonafide ace of the staff this season and filled the void many expected Mat Latos to step into. Aroldis Chapman (0.00 ERA, 39 Ks, 22.1 IP) deserves mention as well.
13: New York Mets (22-19, Previous: 10)
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.
14: Boston Red Sox (20-21, Previous: 17)
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 and 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; 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 strike-an-inning so far, so he gets the nod.
15: Chicago White Sox (21-21, Previous: 18)
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.
16: Philadelphia Phillies (21-21, Previous: 21)
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 Matt Cain, Hamels is playing for his next contract and will be a free agent at season's end. He'll get a bundle when he signs, and pitching the way he is right now will only help his case in negotiations.
17: San Francisco Giants (21-20, Previous: 15)
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 and in light of Tim Lincecum's struggles, the extension seems more and more like a wise move by the Giants.
18: Detroit Tigers (20-21, Previous: 14)
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 and the Tigers staff looks to be coming around as they could be big movers here in the next couple weeks.
19: Oakland Athletics (21-21, Previous: 16)
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.
20: Arizona Diamondbacks (19-23, Previous: 23)
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.
Top Pitcher: Wade Miley (9 G, 6 GS, 5-1, 2.14 ERA, 30 Ks, 46.1 IP)
Miley entered the season largely overshadowed by some big names atop the prospect list, but he has been terrific since joining the rotation in place of the injured Daniel Hudson.
21: Pittsburgh Pirates (19-22, Previous: 20)
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 Bucs continue struggling 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 staff ace the Pirates have sorely been lacking.
22: Seattle Mariners (19-24, Previous: 24)
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 although his 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. Jason Vargas (5-3, 3.34 ERA) has also been better than expected.
23: Los Angeles Angels (18-24, Previous: 19)
Top Hitter: Mike Trout (.355/.420/.605, 4 HR, 11 RBI, 15 R)
Despite playing in just 20 games this season, Trout takes the honors 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)
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.
24: Houston Astros (18-23, Previous: 25)
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 say 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.
25: Milwaukee Brewers (17-24, Previous: 22)
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 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 someone else.
26: Kansas City Royals (16-24, Previous: 26)
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 every five days. Danny Duffy was off to a nice start, but will miss the rest of the year with Tommy John surgery.
27: San Diego Padres (16-26, Previous: 29)
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 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.
28: Minnesota Twins (14-27, Previous: 30)
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 the team continues to search for five passable arms.
29: Colorado Rockies (15-25, Previous: 28)
Top Hitter: Carlos Gonzalez (.294/.369/.517, 7 HR, 30 RBI)
Gonzalez has been the team's only regular with an average over .270 on the season, and he has solid numbers 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 Rockies' best pitcher so far says less about him as it does the current state of the Rockies' pitching staff.
30: Chicago Cubs (15-26, Previous: 27)
Top Hitter: Bryan LaHair (.315/.415/.629, 10 HR, 21 RBI)
After hitting .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.
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