MLB Power Rankings: Is There a New No. 1 Team After Week 12?
What a week we've just witnessed in Major League Baseball!
Exactly a week ago, the New York Yankees stood atop the AL East, but that was before an increasingly formidable Red Sox team stormed into the Bronx and embarrassed them in front of their home fans. Home-field advantage had apparently gone missing in action.
A similar situation occurred in the NL Central, as previously division-leading St. Louis was swept by the hard-charging Milwaukee Brewers, who took control of the division lead over the weekend.
In the American League Central, Cleveland is locked in a steady nosedive, and while they are still tied for the division lead, it's difficult to envision them maintaining that position considering their recent run of poor form. They were utterly dominated in the Bronx over the weekend and still have one more game with the Yankees on Monday before heading to Detroit for a clash of the Central titans.
Out west, the Rangers lead their division, but have been unable to run away with what many perceive as a weak division due to the struggles of the Angels and Athletics. Surprising Seattle has chipped away at the Texas lead and only trail by 1.5 games as we near the midpoint of June.
As we begin what should be another thrilling week of MLB action, let's take a look at the overall Power Rankings as they stand at the dawning of Week 13.
30. Houston Astros: 24-42
The lowly Houston Astros have the worst record in all of baseball, the worst run differential and their pitching staff has allowed the most runs in the league. Who else could occupy this position?
They went 1-5 over the last week, are riding a four-game losing streak and are 3-8 in June. It's going to be a long summer in Houston.
29. Chicago Cubs: 25-39
Maybe there is something to that "Curse of the Billy Goat" after all.
Though their offense hasn't been great, several Cubs have hit enough for them to be better than a team with a .391 winning percentage.
The primary problem is their pitching staff, which currently ranks 30th in team ERA, 30th in quality starts and 30th in WHIP. That helps clarify things rather quickly.
Riding a three-game losing streak delivered by the arms of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt, the Cubs have been completely awful in June, winning only two of 11 games. Over the last week, they went 2-5 against Cincinnati and Philadelphia, barely staying above Houston in the race for baseball's worst record.
28. Oakland Atheltics: 28-39
Talk about falling from grace. A hot preseason pick of many, the A's, with their revamped bullpen and starting rotation of young studs, have failed spectacularly as of late.
After getting swept at home by the Yankees to close out May, the A's have never recovered, winning only one game in June and just once in their last 13 contests.
Towards the end of last week, they fired manager Bob Geren and replaced him with Bob Melvin, hoping he could quiet some of the internal unrest and right the ship. Good luck, Mr. Melvin.
To be fair, the pitching staff has been a bright spot, but the offense has been anemic, ranking near the bottom of every offensive category. The A's offense is the lowest scoring in the AL and has only outscored San Francisco and San Diego over the course of 2011. I can't say that we didn't see that glaring weakness in their squad, however.
27. San Diego Padres: 29-38
The San Diego Padres have a strong pitching staff and a stellar bullpen capable of protecting almost any lead passed on to them.
Unfortunately, with the lowest-scoring offense in the entire league, there are rarely leads to protect.
26. Minnesota Twins: 26-39
With their current hot streak, the Twins may soon move higher in these rankings. Over their last 10 games, the Twins are 8-2, and they are 9-3 overall in June.
However, they are still the worst team in the AL at 26-39, are nine games out of first and have the worst run differential in the junior circuit at minus-64.
Injuries have certainly played their part, as nearly everyone on the team has missed at least some time.
I still don't get why the Twins can't hit at home, though. If you saw the mammoth home runs that Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz hit in Target Field over the weekend, you know that balls can leave the yard. Maybe Justin Morneau should ask for some tips.
The Twins must figure out a way to win at home, where they are an awful 9-16 for the year.
25. Kansas City Royals: 29-37
Undoubtedly, Kansas City's near future looks very bright.
Unfortunately, the future hasn't arrived quite yet, and the upstart Royals have come back to Earth after their hot start.
They're only 5-7 in June, but there were signs of encouragement last week, as they went 4-3 against Toronto and the Angels.
KC boasts the fifth-highest scoring offense in the AL, but they rank 28th overall in team ERA, and their young pitching staff has not developed at the same rate as the the young hitters.
The infusion of young studs like Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas has breathed life into the franchise, but the payoff in victories has been slow coming.
Look out, though; this team could come together in a hurry.
24. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: 31-36
The Angels closed out their week by getting shut out by a pitcher with an ERA in excess of 17.
Sure, the Angels were shocked to find out that Kendry Morales would miss a second-consecutive year, but the team has enough talent to be far better than a 31-36 club.
Like Oakland, who trails them in the AL West, the Angels have a strong pitching staff, but a weak offense.
Currently, the Angels have the fourth-lowest scoring offense in the AL, and their record coincides with that perfectly.
Over the last week, the Angels are only 1-5, are 2-8 in their last 10 games and have lost four consecutive series.
As I began, they were just shut out by Vin Mazzarro, who came into the start with an ERA over 17!
23. Washington Nationals: 30-36
That's right, the Nationals' leading hitter, in terms of batting average, is hitting .236.
Another case of a team with a solid pitching staff and a terrible offense. Washington is 10th in all of baseball with a 3.59 team ERA, but is 25th overall in runs scored.
The young pitchers not named Strassburg seem to be developing according to plan, as Jordan Zimmerman and Drew Storen are having fantastic seasons.
Their young stud hitters, Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon, won't be in Washington for another year or two.
Unfortunately, their lone, legitimate star, Ryan Zimmerman, has been injured all year, and Jayson Werth has severely underwhelmed after signing a massive contract to come to D.C.
Currently in last place in the NL East at 30-36, the Nationals are 10 games off the division lead. However, they were 4-3 against the Giants and Padres last week and are 7-5 so far in June, so maybe things are looking up in the nation's capital.
22. Los Angeles Dodgers: 31-36
Maybe we'll cut them slack for the divorce mess. The toxic environment around Dodger Stadium at the moment cannot be a fun one to play in.
Currently, the Dodgers have Matt Kemp vying for the title of baseball's most exciting player. The dynamic five-tool stud is leading the club in every offensive category, literally. Unfortunately, there isn't a lot else to get excited about.
Over the last week, the Dodgers were 3-4 against the Phillies and Rockies. So far in June, they're 5-6 and barely above cellar-dwelling San Diego.
The debuts of prospects Jerry Sands and Dee Gordon have added some excitement, but Dodgers fans are craving wins in order to come back to the stadium in droves like they always have before.
21. Baltimore Orioles: 31-33
Following their own thrilling start, Baltimore is another upstart team that has crashed to earth.
With a crop of free-agent imports and talented young pitchers, the Orioles had many excited and proclaiming a new challenger in the AL East when they jumped out to a 6-1 start in the first week of the season.
Well, reality has now set in, and the Orioles are in a familiar last place spot in their division.
Still, things are looking up for Baltimore, as they are a competitive squad, no longer able to be walked on by their East brethren.
Recently, they've gone 6-4 in June and 4-2 over the last week.
It will be interesting to see how they hold up in upcoming interleague games against Washington, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, St. Louis and Atlanta.
If they are to perform well in that stretch, they're going to need Nick Markakis and Derek Lee to step up and resemble the players they have been in recent years.
20. Colorado Rockies: 31-34
Starting the week at 31-35, the Rockies have some ground to make up, as they trail the division-leading Giants by six games.
The good thing for Colorado is that they so often catch fire in the second half, so that six-game deficit is certainly not insurmountable.
They're only 6-6 in June, and riding a three-game losing streak which helped them go 4-4 over last week's games, so they'll need to pick it up soon to climb beyond the .500 mark if they're going to seriously challenge.
The Rockies will finish off their series with San Diego before welcoming Detroit to Denver. Following that three-game set, they'll travel to Yankee Stadium and then Cleveland, before playing a make-up game at Wrigley Field and then heading back home for series with the White Sox and Royals.
Though their interleague schedule is not easy, the time is now for the Rockies to make a charge.
19. Toronto Blue Jays: 32-34
June has been unkind to the Blue Jays.
At only 4-7 since the beginning of the month, and 2-5 over the last week, the rigors of playing in the AL East might finally be catching up to them.
As the fifth-highest scoring team in baseball, the Jose Bautista-led offense is providing plenty of support, but the pitching staff isn't quite deep enough to do daily battle with the loaded offenses that they face regularly.
The schedule doesn't get any easier any time soon, either. They'll play a three-game set at home against the Orioles, but then head on the road for their interleague schedule. Trips to Cincinnati, Atlanta and St. Louis will be challenging, and then they'll return home to Toronto to face Pittsburgh, then Philadelphia. Then they'll back out on the road to Cleveland and Boston. The next few weeks will likely determine how they should readjust their goals for the remaining half of the season.
18. Pittsburgh Pirates: 31-33
Finally, it seems to be an exciting time to be a Pirate fan.
Though they're still hovering slightly below .500, after two decades of losing, that's a significant accomplishment.
The offense still has a way to go, but with the pitching staff owning the eighth-best ERA in baseball, they are headed in the right direction.
With several promising arms still in the minors, and No. 1 draft pick Gerrit Cole recently drafted into the system, the next several years may prove to be promising in Pittsburgh.
June has seen them go 7-5 so far, and while they were only 3-3 last week, they own series wins over the Mets, Phillies and Diamondbacks over the last two weeks.
17. Florida Marlins: 32-32
At the beginning of June, the Marlins were eight games over .500 and nipping at the heels of the NL East-leading Phillies as one of baseball's great surprise teams.
Then June hit them hard, as they have gone 1-11 so far and have plummeted significantly. Last week, they went 1-6 against the Brewers, Braves and Diamondbacks, and have looked like a disaster.
With an injury to Josh Johnson, awful performances by Ricky Nolasco, Chris Volstad and Javier Vazquez, the Fish have had a difficult run.
With pitching woes, combined with the mysterious awful season that Hanley Ramirez has produced thus far, one can see why they're fallen so dramatically.
It doesn't get easier this week, as they have a series in Philadelphia, then another at their state-rival Tampa Bay Rays. They'll then return home to face the Angels and Mariners before heading back out on the road to Oakland and Texas.
16. Chicago White Sox: 33-35
The White Sox expected to be a powerhouse in the AL Central this year.
With a loaded pitching staff and a potent lineup full of sluggers, they were poised to make a serious run at the Central title.
However, the pitching hasn't lived up to the hype, with Edwin Jackson and John Danks not fulfilling their potential, and Alex Rios and Adam Dunn have been utter disasters, leaving two gaping holes in the offense. Also, surprise, surprise, Jake Peavy hasn't been healthy.
Chicago may be turning things around, though, as they are 7-4 in June so far and went 5-2 last week against the Mariners and A's.
With Dunn picking up slightly, and Phil Humber pitching like an ace, the White Sox might be ready to change their fortunes in the coming weeks. If they handle their interleague schedule well, they have a great opportunity to erase the four-game deficit in the division, especially with the Indians stumbling at the top.
They'll travel to Minnesota this week, then on to Arizona, before returning home to face the Cubs and Nationals. Following that homestand, they'll hit the road again to face the Rockies and then the Cubs again, this time in Wrigley.
15. New York Mets: 32-33
Sitting under .500 and eight games out of first, the Mets have everyone wondering when they'll become sellers and trade off several of the high-priced stars they possess. Teams across baseball have their eyes on Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, Francisco Rodriguez and even David Wright.
Then the Mets got hot and confused the matter. Do they have a shot? Are they only deluding themselves?
In June, they've gone 7-5 and went 4-2 last week against the Brewers and Pirates.
This week, they'll play a midweek series in Atlanta before welcoming the Angels to Citi Field over the weekend.
Next, the A's will visit Citi before the Mets hit the road to Texas and Detroit, then returning home to face the Yankees.
Over the next few weeks, we should know definitively whether the Mets still have a shot or are destined to sell off their high-value trade chips in hopes of returning stronger next year.
14. Cincinnati Reds: 34-33
As the second-highest scoring team in baseball, the Reds might expect to be better than one game over .500.
With a loaded offense, the Reds are doing what they did last year en route to a playoff appearance that they'd like to repeat again in 2011.
However, the pitching staff has had a few injuries combined with poor performances from a few starters that have limited their upward mobility in the standings.
During June, they've gone 7-5 and were 4-3 last week against the Cubs and Giants, so maybe they're ready to turn the corner and make a charge in the Central division.
Despite their unimpressive record so far, they're only 3.5 games out of first, so they have plenty of opportunity to return to the top of the division where many expected them to be.
They'll play a series with the Dodgers in Cinci this week before welcoming the Blue Jays and Yankees. Next, they'll hit the road to visit Baltimore and Tampa Bay before returning home to face the Indians.
13. Seattle Mariners: 34-32
I don't know how they're two games over .500 and just two games out of first in the AL West.
Of course, it's all pitching-based, as their staff has been tremendous all season. Though they can barely hit, as they are 27th in runs scored, dead last in batting average, as well as on-base percentage, the pitchers have been so good that they've been able to overcome those offensive inefficiencies.
They were one of the hottest teams in all of MLB during May, but have slowed somewhat in June. During this month, they've gone 6-7 and were only 3-4 against the Tigers and White Sox.
This week, they'll face the Angels at home before welcoming the Phillies to Safeco. After that, they'll head to Washington DC and Florida before returning home to face the Braves and Padres.
12. Tampa Bay Rays: 35-30
This was supposed to be the year that the Rays fell apart. After all, losing Carl Crawford, Rafael Soriano, Carlos Pena, Matt Garza, Jason Bartlett, Grant Balfour and others would do that to most teams. Somehow, Joe Maddon has figured out a way to keep them competitive and even formidable at times.
At only 6-6 in June, they've stagnated somewhat, but they still sit only 4.5 games out of first in third place in the AL East. That's not bad, considering how hot Boston has been.
Over last week, the Rays did their best to keep pace, going 5-1 against the Angels and Orioles.
They'll now welcome the Red Sox to Tropicana Field to attempt to slow the torrid pace of surging Boston.
Following that series, their interleague schedule will consist of a series at home with the Marlins, then they'll hit the road to Milwaukee and Houston before returning home to face Cincinnati and St. Louis.
11. Cleveland Indians: 34-29
On May 23, following a 3-2 victory over Boston, the Cleveland Indians owned a 30-15 record, good for best in the league at that time.
Unbeknownst to them, that would be their peak, and they've been plummeting since.
The Indians were firing on all cylinders, punching above their weight and reality finally caught up to them, as it so often does with early-season Cinderella stories.
Now, this isn't to say that they're done, since they're still tied for first place, but the signs don't look encouraging from here.
Since that peak on May 23, the Indians have gone 4-14, blowing their significant lead and falling back to the pack.
They are 1-9 in their last 10 games and are 1-5 over the last week.
Immediately upon departing the Bronx after the fourth game against the Yankees, the Tribe heads to Detroit for a faceoff with the team tied with them atop the Central.
Cleveland will then travel home for three game sets with Pittsburgh and Colorado before hitting the road for nine games against Arizona, San Francisco and Cincinnati, before returning home for another three with the Yankees.
Over the next few weeks, we will likely find out whether the Tribe has what it takes to challenge in the AL Central over the long term, or if their early success was merely an illusion.
10. Arizona Diamondbacks: 36-30
Sitting only one game behind the Giants in the NL West, the Diamondbacks might be poised to leap upward on this list in the near future.
They've stalled where they are recently, going 6-5 in June, and are only 3-3 over the last week against Pittsburgh and Florida.
Their next series, beginning tomorrow, is at home against the Giants, so they will have their fate in their own hands and will determine where they stand in these rankings.
Following that series, they will then face the White Sox, Royals, Tigers, Indians and A's, so they will get a feel for how they stack up against AL competition over the next few weeks. With the seventh-most runs scored in baseball so far, they have to like their chances from an offensive perspective.
9. Detroit Tigers: 35-30
While the Cleveland Indians were baseball's early success story, coming out of nowhere to dominate the AL Central over the first two months, the Detroit Tigers lingered around .500 until late May before making their move.
With a hot start to June, Detroit has vaulted itself into a tie atop the division by going 7-4 since the first of the month.
The Tigers are riding the strength of a top five AL offense to offset a mediocre pitching staff. After Justin Verlander, the rotation falls off quickly, although Max Scherzer leads the team in wins, and Rick Porcello has regained some of the form he misplaced last season.
As Cleveland continues its free fall, the division looks ripe for the picking, and in their current position, Detroit stands poised to assume control any day.
8. Texas Rangers: 36-31
Yeah, the AL West leading Rangers are behind a few second-place squads, and that may upset a few people, but Texas has not been up to their best yet in 2011.
The same culprit—constant injuries—has been the anchor keeping the Rangers from running away with the West.
With a balanced team, Texas should be far ahead of the weakened teams in their division, but health issues plus the excellent pitching of Seattle have combined to make the AL West a more competitive division than many would've expected.
Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz, the two most potent bats in the Texas lineup, have missed around 50 games between them with injury concerns. With those two back in the swing of things, and the weather heating up, balls should begin flying out of the Ballpark in Arlington on a regular basis.
If you saw the colossal home runs that the two of them hit in Minnesota, you know what they're capable of when healthy.
Texas is 7-5 in June so far, but only 2-5 over the last week; otherwise, they may be ranked higher. I would expect them to begin moving up this list as they heat up with the Arlington weather.
7. San Francisco Giants: 37-29
It does have to make you wonder how long a team can hold onto first place with a minus-three run differential.
With an 8-4 record in June, the Giants are making their style of baseball work for them.
Without a lot of offense, their stellar starting rotation isn't picking up many victories, with only 16 between Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez and Bumgarner. However, the offense is getting things done late, as the bullpen has picked up 16 wins of their own, with Brian Wilson tied for the team lead with five.
Veteran Ryan Vogelsong has been a surprise as maybe the Giants' best pitcher so far.
Over the last week, the Giants are 4-3, and 6-4 over their last 10 games.
They'll need to maintain that winning combination of stingy pitching and timely offense if they are to fend off the Diamondbacks, who sit only one game behind them in the NL West.
6. St. Louis Cardinals: 38-29
As cranky as as Tony LaRussa can be at times, you have to give the man credit. He kept faith in his ballclub after an uneven first few weeks, and they have played great since then. Plus, as the man said, "it's only April."
Okay, so maybe he was just stating the obvious, but he was correct.
If you told me before the season that Albert Pujols would get off to the worst start of his career, Matt Holliday would miss 20 or so games over the first two months, Chris Carpenter would pitch nothing like himself, Kyle Lohse would be their best pitcher and Lance Berkman would be St. Louis' best hitter, then I would've expected that the Cardinals would be struggling to reach the .500 mark.
However, Lohse is pitching like a Cy Young candidate, Berkman is having an MVP-like first half and the Cardinals are one of the premier offensive teams in baseball. Until recently, they had stood alone atop the NL Central, only being knocked from that perch by a red-hot Milwaukee team who swept the Cards over the weekend.
St. Louis has run into trouble recently, only posting a 5-6 record in June, and a 2-4 record in the last week, so their ranking here could slip if they stay on that path, but for now, they are just off their own divisional lead and sit just outside the top five teams in these power rankings.
5. Milwaukee Brewers: 38-28
Go ahead, yell at me. I know, Milwaukee is in first place now and are on fire, going 8-3 in June.
However, now that they head back on the road after sweeping the Cardinals in Milwaukee, I'm afraid their run of success may be short lived.
With a stellar 25-9 record at home, the Brewers own the best home record in baseball. However, at only 13-19 away from Miller Park, the Brewers have a little way to go before they're a truly elite team.
Prince Fielder is having an MVP season in his contract year, Ryan Braun is fantastic as always and the trio of Zack Greinke, Yovani Gallardo and Shawn Marcum gives Milwaukee a highly-talented front three that matches up well with almost anyone. Greinke is 6-1, though they have yet to see anywhere near his best after his spring injury.
One thing is for certain: The Brewers are one of the more fun teams to watch in baseball. If they can sustain this success and improve their fortunes on the road, they're well on their way to being a top three team in upcoming power rankings.
4. New York Yankees: 36-27
Sure, the Yankees have seemingly struggled for much of the year, but somehow, they keep winning ballgames.
With the age factor obviously an issue, and a starting rotation seemingly picked out of a hat, the Yankees seem perched upon the edge of disaster, a fate that could befall them any moment.
However, there is still a lot of veteran presence in that clubhouse that knows how to win, and the talent is there, regardless of the age. With Curtis Granderson having a career year, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano beginning to show more life, the offense remains a formidable force.
Though Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada have had their share of age-related struggles, and the entire bullpen is injured, these are the Yankees, and you know they'll find a way to keep themselves in the thick of the race.
After last weekend and a series victory over the always-tough Angels, the Yankees were flying high and found themselves atop the East. Returning home, they were roughed up in more ways than one by the Red Sox, who now stand 8-1 against them in 2011.
The Red Sox beating awoke something within the Yanks, and Cleveland was subsequently punished for it when they came to town.
New York is 6-4 in June, and only 3-3 over the last week, but have so far outscored Cleveland 24-8 in the three games and have one more to go today. They have the largest run differential in MLB at plus-75 and will look to build upon that in the last game against the Indians before Texas visits the Bronx.
3. Atlanta Braves: 38-28
The suddenly surging Atlanta Braves are making a serious run at the Phillies atop the NL East.
8-2 in June, and 6-0 over the last week, the Braves are riding the strength of their own pitching staff, which has thus far outperformed the big-name rotation in Philadelphia. Braves pitchers rank first in ERA, Quality Starts and WHIP, setting the tone for much of their success.
With Jair Jurrjens and Tommy Hanson leading the way, Atlanta is primed to fight it out with the Phillies over the course of the season. If they can get Jason Heyward healthy, and Dan Uggla producing like he is capable of, the offense should be able to help balance out the attack and reduce the pressure on the pitching staff.
2. Philadelphia Phillies: 40-26
Owners of the best record in baseball, the Philadelphia Phillies are doing what many expected of them.
After constructing what many consider one of the greatest starting rotations in history, fans thought they'd walk over everyone as an unstoppable force.
It hasn't been quite that easy; nothing in baseball ever is, but now that they're getting all their regular guys back in the lineup, the Phillies are beginning to more closely resemble fans' expectations.
Though the pitching has been stellar all year, the offense has lagged behind expectations, partly due to Chase Utley's injury as well as under-performance from a few established vets. It's possible they miss Jayson Werth's bat in the heart of the order, but he's not hitting in Washington, so maybe not.
In June so far, they're only 6-5, but have seemingly hit their stride recently.
They're 5-2 over the last week, steamrolling over the Dodgers and Cubs on the strength of their pitching. The vaunted big four of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels is a formidable obstacle for any team.
With that pitching staff, I'd expect them to remain in the top couple spots all season and will likely occupy the No.1 ranking several times throughout the year.
1. Boston Red Sox: 39-26
Sure, the Phillies technically hold a better record than the Red Sox by slim half-game margin.
However, the incredible surge that Boston is on, and the fact that they are balancing their winning at home, as well as on the road, earned them the edge in this ranking. Philly has been dominant at home, going 24-12, but is only 16-14 on the road, while Boston is 19-13 at home and 20-13 on the road.
Riding a nine-game winning streak, they are 9-1 in June. This week, they swept the Yankees in the Bronx, outscoring them 25-13 in a three-game set to take the lead in the East. Boston followed up that series by moving on to Toronto and demolishing them in a three-game sweep, outscoring the Blue Jays 35-6.
Adrian Gonzalez is turning out to be everything Sox fans had hoped for, and Carl Crawford has turned around his dismal start and is displaying all the reasons Theo Epstein felt compelled to give him a 7-year, $142 million contract in the offseason.
After struggling so mightily early in April, Boston is now the highest scoring team in baseball and shows no signs of slowing in the immediate future. Opposing pitching staffs should beware.
Quite a remarkable turnaround for a team that began the season by losing its first six contests and was floundering at 2-10 on April 15.