AL Power Rankings: New York Yankees' Skid Sends Them Sliding
Each week I'll offer up my American League power rankings and picks for MVP and Cy Young. Zack Greinke is still the obvious choice for Cy Young this week, pitching his Royals into the second spot, and the Angels are looking poised for a big run.
On the Decline: New York Yankees
Last week, I held out hope the Yankees would soon play up to their expectations, but things continue to look ugly.
Their pitching staff has a 5.86 ERA, Mark Teixeira continues to struggle and it's starting to look like Joe Girardi is on the hot seat. Getting Alex Rodriguez back will be a boost, and the recent suspension of Manny Ramirez may take some heat off the admitted steroid user.
The entire American League looks like it's going to be tight this season, and I expect the Yankees to be in the Wild Card hunt all year, but they have not looked good to this point.
On the Rise: Los Angeles Angels
The Angels have successfully weathered the storm to this point.
Despite dealing with a slew of key injuries and a shocking tragedy, the Angels are 12-14 and are 2 1/2 games out of first place. They've won six of their last nine games, and expect a trio of stars to return later this month.
John Lackey and Ervin Santana are on rehab assignments in Triple-A and Vladimir Guerrero has been cleared to start hitting off a tee. If those three can get back to 100 percent, expect the Angels to continue to move up the rankings, and the AL West standings.
Other teams on the rise are the Kansas City Royals, Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays.
1. Boston Red Sox (17-11, 1st LW)
David Ortiz is still slumping, but Kevin Youkilis and Jason Bay are two of the top MVP candidates right now. Since they have to most pitching depth of any team in baseball, I don't expect the Bo Sox to fall far from the top spot all season.
2. Kansas City Royals (17-11, 6th LW)
Everyone knows about Zack Greinke at this point, but there are two other young pitchers the Royals have that are having impressive seasons. Brian Bannister has been a great addition to the rotation and they still have Luke Hochevar in Triple-A. Bannister is 2-0 with a 1.96 ERA in three starts with the Royals and Hochevar is 5-0 with a 1.13 ERA in Omaha.
3. Toronto Blue Jays (20-10, 4th LW)
I can't pretend this team isn't the best in the AL for much longer. I keep expecting their offense to slow down, but they've averaged 7.8 runs in six games this month. They lead the league in batting average by 10 points, runs by 22 and rank fifth in the AL with a 4.27 ERA. Since Cito Gaston took over last year, Toronto is 71-47 (.602).
4. Texas Rangers (15-12, 9th LW)
The Rangers are the hottest team in the AL, winning five straight. Frank Francisco has made a smooth transition to the closer role, as he leads the AL with nine saves and hasn't given up an earned run in 27 1/3 innings dating back to last season.
5. Tampa Bay Rays (13-16, 10th LW)
Though I still worry about their bullpen, the Rays' offense is starting to look extremely dynamic. Carlos Pena is slugging, Evan Longoria is driving in runs and Carl Crawford is running again. What's especially encouraging is Tampa is 7-4 against the Red Sox and Yankees so far.
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