MLB Power Rankings for the First Quarter of the Season

Mike WesterkampContributor IMay 21, 2009

ANAHEIM, CA - MAY 6:  Roy Halladay #32 of the Toronto Blue Jays throws a pitch against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium May 6, 2009 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

1. Toronto Blue Jays- People are saying they will not last and they are a fluke. Some things about them might be flukish but you cannot ignore the things about them that are real.

First thing is the run differential, outscoring opponents 235-174, the third best defensive efficiency in the league, on of the best bullpens in the league, and the best pitcher in baseball.

Whats flukish might be the start of Adam Lind who has shown he can hit for average in the minors but has never shown the pop he has early on. Aaron Hill who has hit like Albert Pujols, minor leaguers Brian Tallet and Scott Richmond throwing quality innings early on and rookies Brett Cecil and Ricky Romero with 40 combined inning under two.

I don't think the Blue Jays can win the east but they will most likely finish over .500, which nobody thought they can do.

2. Los Angeles Dodgers- A team that will be without their best hitter for the next 50 games and a team with their best hitter off steroids (hopefully) the Dodgers, like the Blue Jays will most likely be coming down from the top of the rankings. I should note that Juan Pierre has been fantastic filling in for Manny in the first few days of the suspension.

3. Texas Rangers- The scary thing about the Rangers is that Josh Hamilton missed 17 games. They have posted a league average ERA at 4.54, but with their offense that's all they need to do. Ben Sheets has also been seen hanging around the Ballpark in Arlington.

Their defense has benefited big time from moving a fake Gold Glove award winner in Michael Young who got the award because voters knew his name, for future true Gold Glove winner Elvis Andrus. The next defensive move would be to move Josh Hamilton out of center field.

4. Boston Red Sox- The Red Sox haven't played well at all yet they have the third best record in the AL. Kevin Youkilis, Jason Bay and their outstanding bullpen are the only things going well for them. The starting pitching has been a disaster besides Tim Wakefield, David Ortiz might be done, and the injury bug has hit the SS position.

5. Milwaukee Brewers- No CC, no Sheets, no problem. The big problem will be replacing Rickie Weeks who was off to a phenomenal start. Weeks was finally enjoying a break out season with nine HRs (same as Fielder, one more than Braun) will be out for the rest of the season.

6. Detroit Tigers - Justin Verlander is finally throwing in the upper 90's again, Dontrelle Willis looks like he found his control after 1 hitting the Rangers, and Miguel Cabrera is turning into Albert Pujols.

That trade with the Marlins doesn't look too bad right now. If Willis can be a shell of what he once was, the AL Central is in big trouble. Also career .300 hitters Magglio Ordonez and Placido Polanco have yet to start hitting.

7. Philadelphia Phillies- 37 year old Raul Ibanez has been the best free agent signing all winter the first one-fourth of the season. I thought the signing would not be a good one, but with the way he has carried them thus far he might have already payed for itself.

This team will take off once Hamels, Blanton and Rollins get on track, but I think Jamie Moyer's days might finally be coming to an end.

8. Kansas City Royals - Lead by first quarter MVP Zach Greinke the Royals have been one of the surprise teams in the AL. Greinke has gone 7-1 with a unreal 0.60 ERA. The Royals need Gil Meche, Luke Hochevar and Kyle Davies to pitch better if the Royals want to contend.

9. St. Louis Cardinals - Dave Duncan continues to work miracles with Kyle Lohse and Joel Pineiro; they even seem to have a decent bullpen this season. They need Chris Carpenter to come back healthy to contend and maybe get someone else to hit besides Pujols.

10. Chicago Cubs - The Cubs have been bombarded with injuries in the first quarter of the season. Milton Bradley and Aramis Ramirez, who are regulars on the DL should not surprise anyone.

They have the most talent in the NL but they aren't the same team who won 97 games last season, but they did make very smart moves dealing Derosa and letting Kerry Wood go, to spite the outrage of the fan base.

11. New York Yankees- With the A-roid controversy, Teixeira's slow start and the Joba debate you'd think this team would be in last place the way the media has covered it. But the fact is the Yankees are 22-17 even though they've been outscored 214-219.

The Joba debate will end when he stops walking so many people and he can go deep into games, Teixeira has started to heat up and I'm sure A-rod is still on something or other. The Yankees will win, the only question is will it be enough to win the best division in baseball.

12. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim- The Angels have weathered the storm of their starting pitching being in shambles after Lacky and Santana being hurt and the untimely death of Nick Adenhart. Their bullpen isn't what it was and Vlad Guerrero is on the down-slide of his career. They'll need some help to compete with Texas.

13. Tampa Bay Rays- When you look at the years Longoria, Crawford, Barlett, Pena, Shields and Garza are having you'd think the Rays would be the best team in baseball.

Their great years have been balanced out by incredibly bad years from Navarro, Upton, Kazmir and Burrell. I think the Rays will eventually even out and move towards the top of the division.

14. New York Mets- The Mets have only 26 homers in their first 39 games, but they are hitting .289 as a team with a .370 on base percentage. Once some power comes they will take off. Their revamped bullpen has been great if anyone was wondering.

15. Cincinnati Reds- Their hitting has been downright awful besides Joey Votto. Their starting pitching has been rock solid though. I think the Reds are what they are though. A team that can pitch with anyone but will continue to struggle in the runs department. They'll need to make a move if they want to contend.

16. Atlanta Braves- Their outfield struggles have carried over from last year even with the addition of Garrett Anderson. All three starters have an OPS under .667 and that .667 OPS belongs to rookie Jordan Schaffer. Braves could easily win their division with merely average outfield production.

They have a solid pitching staff, solid bullpen and a solid infield, I think its time to pull the plug on Jeff Francoeur and make a move.

17. San Francisco Giants-  Their offense is downright offensive, no pun intended. Their two best hitters are catchers, Sandoval and Molina, which explains their team .680 OPS. They are averaging 3.9 runs a game and that's a lucky 3.9. Until they put a real offense on the field they aren't a contender.

18. Seattle Mariners- Another team with an OPS under .700. Russell Branyan is enjoying a career year and Ichiro is being Ichiro but everyone else has been awful. They also need to decide what to do with Brandon Morrow, because after having a great season in '08 and showing tons of potential, he looks like he's never pitched a game before.

19. Minnesota Twins- The Twins started the season without their best player and as expected they struggled without him. Even with him back they've struggled, even though he has hit like Ted Williams.

The Twins were a mediocre team last season in the AL, but enjoyed a 14-4 record vs the weaker NL. They are a bad team on the road as well. They'll need to play better on the road and beat up on the weaker league again if they want to contend. They might be in for a rude awaking when they play outside next season.

20. Baltimore Orioles- The Orioles are No. 20 by default. They have two really good, really young outfielders in Markakis and Adam Jones that they can build around. They also have one of the best catching prospects ever in Matt Wieters.

Once their young pitching comes around, they could actually contend in a year or two.

21. Houston Astros- After a brutal start the Astros have started to string some wins together with the resurgence of Pudge and Tejada. Lance Berkman did not hit at all in April and has finally started to.

The Astros can't contend with Mike Hampton and Russ Ortiz in their pitching rotation though. With a brutal farm system, the Astros might want to sell high on Pudge and Tejada.

22. Pittsburgh Pirates- The Pirates have actually outscored their opponents 182-170 this season but their record is under .500 at 18-21. Zach Duke and Paul Malholm have been outstanding this season. The Pirates are improved but still far away from contending.

23. Chicago White Sox- Kenny Williams' goal was to get younger in the offseason but the younger guys he plugged in absolutely suck. The goal for the White Sox season is to get young guys that can actually play by trading their aging veterans.

24. Florida Marlins- The Marlins started off the season 11-1 and where picked to be this year's Rays. Since then they've been 7-20. Dan Uggla and Ricky Nolasco have been huge disappointments after helping lead their great start. Both of them and others will need to improve if they want to get this thing back on track.

25. Arizona Diamondbacks- A.J. Hinch has caught a lot of flack from people in his first seven games, but I don't think a manager is this team's problem. Losing Brandon Webb was the worst thing to happen to them, not to mention the season long slumps of Jackson, Young, and Tracy.

They're still young and talented, but they'll have to make some tough decisions at the deadline.

26. San Diego Padres- The Padres shocked everyone to start the season by starting out...mediocre. If they deal Peavy or Gonzalez at the deadline they could have an August and September where they win 5-10 games total.

27. Colorado Rockies- The Rockies began tearing down their NL pennant winning team when they dealt Matt Holiday this offseason. Look for more names from that team to be dealt in July. Although Dexter Fowler looks like a future superstar and a guy you build a team around.

28. Oakland Athletics- Billy Beane, one of the smartest men in the game made a really stupid move this off-season dealing for a guy who made a career out of Coors field in Matt Holiday.

Is Matt Holiday this bad? No. But Matt Holiday isn't an MVP candidate anywhere besides that park. They still have the best farm system in the league and they will probably be adding to it in July.

29. Cleveland Indians- I had them picked to win the division until I saw Carl Pavano was their 3rd starter, instantly moving them from first to third. The Indians aren't this bad because their best player has yet to start hitting in Grady Sizemore. Victor Martinez looks like he has returned to form and Cliff Lee is proving he was not a fluke.

They'll make their run but their terrible start will come back to bite them. They've always played well in the second half and they would have two more playoff appearances if they didn't tank in the first half, Eric Wedge should have been fired a long time ago.

30. Washington Nationals- The Nationals aren't in a bad position, they have their franchise Ryan Zimmerman locked up and enjoying a breakout season, they have Elijah Dukes, troubled but talented playing well, and they have the luxury of drafting top prospect Steven Strasburg.

With Jim Bowden out of office, the Nats could compete in the next two years.


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