Every Tuesday, I'll offer up my National League power rankings and picks for MVP and Cy Young. This week, the top four teams remains the same, as do the award winners, but there's plenty of change in the middle of the pack.
On the Rise: Milwaukee Brewers
One of the most impressive things about the Brewers right now is how much better their lineup could be.
Ryan Braun is off to a good start, but has been out the past few games with back pain. He has had two MRIs, both have come back negative, so he's officially day-to-day. Prince Fielder and J.J. Hardy are both off to slow starts, with the big fella hitting just .247 and Hardy hitting a dismal .160.
The reason why Milwaukee jumped up from 11th to seventh is because they're 10-2 in their last 12 games, Yovani Gallardo is pitching like an ace, and Trevor Hoffman has looked good.
Gallardo is 3-1 with a 3.02 ERA, a 0.96 WHIP, and is hitting .267 with a pair of home runs. If he keeps this up, Gallardo will be on my list of NL MVP candidates soon. Hoffman has four saves and hasn't given up a run or a walk in five innings pitched.
On the Decline: San Diego Padres
It already looks like the Padres' best baseball may already be behind them.
After getting off to a 9-3 start, San Diego has gone 2-12 and have lost their last six. Their bullpen has given up 33 runs over its last 34-and-two-thirds innings and they have the second-worst batting average in the NL (.239).
Adrian Gonzalez is doing his best to carry the team (.302, 9 HR, 20 RBI) and Heath Bell has made a successful transition to the closer role (8 saves, 0.00 ERA), but nothing else has gone right for the Padres.
1. Los Angeles Dodgers (19-8, 1st LW)
They're 11-0 at home, 18-6 against their division, and they've won five straight. Manny Ramirez and Andre Ethier are two of the NL's best hitters, Chad Billingsley leads the NL with five wins, and Jonathan Broxton has been a shut-down closer. They look like the most complete team in baseball.
2. St. Louis Cardinals (17-9, 2nd LW)
Rick Ankiel had a scary crash into the wall yesterday, but he has passed all the early neurological tests and has feeling in his hands, arms, and legs. Click here to view the collision. He is currently listed as day-to-day, but the Cardinals have plenty of outfield depth if he misses an extended period of time.
3. Philadelphia Phillies (13-10, 3rd LW)
Their starting pitching has been ugly and they have the worst team ERA in the NL at 5.64. Despite their awful pitching, they're 7-3 in their last 10 and just a half game behind Florida in the NL East. They've actually been better on the road (7-2) than at home (6-8) and have lots of room for improvement.
4. Chicago Cubs (14-11, 4th LW)
The bad news: Ace Carlos Zambrano strained a hamstring legging out a bunt single and was placed on the DL. The good news: The lineup is finally in tact after the return of Milton Bradley, Aramis Ramirez, and Derek Lee. Also, the Cubbies have won four straight.
5. Florida Marlins (15-11, 6th LW)
I'm still not sold on them as a long-term contender, but there's no doubting the Marlins have been a top team in the NL to this point. Jorge Cantu has been a monster at the plate, hitting .317 with 7 homers and 25 RBI. Josh Johnson and Chris Volstad have combined to go 4-0 with a 2.63 ERA, but Ricky Nolasco and Anibal Sanchez are 2-6 with a 6.30 ERA.
Click here for the rest of the NL Power Rankings.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!