Philadelphia Phillies

MLB Power Rankings: Who's the New No. 1 Team After Week 5?

Perry SchwartzCorrespondent IIIMay 3, 2011

MLB Power Rankings: Who's the New No. 1 Team After Week 5?

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    BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 23:  Derek Jeter #2 congratulates Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees after Rodriguez hit a grand slam home run against the Baltimore Orioles during the eighth inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on April 23, 2011 in Baltimo
    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    With just over four weeks of baseball in the books, we are beginning to get a sense of how the 2011 season will play out.

    But of course, 25-29 games is just a small fraction of the regular season (15.4 to 17.9 percent to be exact). A lot can change in the next five months. As recently as two years ago, the Los Angeles Angels had a record of just 9-13 on May 2nd, but went on to finish the regular season with a record of 97-65. That season also consisted of Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer earning MVP honors, despite missing the entire month of April.

    Similarly, as excited as I was to look at the newspaper this morning and see Matt Holiday’s batting average at .418, I know in the back of my mind that it is bound to slip under .400 sooner or later.

    Either way, last week was as important of a regular season week as any.

    The surprising Cleveland Indians continue to play well. They went 6-0 last week, extending their lead to 4.5 games in the A.L. Central. Meanwhile, the Detroit Tigers went 0-6 last week and suddenly find themselves four games under .500.

    The week was another small step in the countdown to 162. Here are the MLB Power Rankings after Week 5.

30. Houston Astros

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    HOUSTON - APRIL 27:  Carlos Lee #45 of the Houston Astros reacts after a strike called against the St. Louis Cardinals at Minute Maid Park on April 27, 2011 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    Team record: 11-17

    The Astros have a little two-game winning streak going, but the immediate future does not look very bright in Houston.

    Houston currently ranks last in the NL in fielding percentage and team ERA, and they have just one player that has hit more than two home runs this season. 

    Aside from outfielder Carlos Lee, who is owed $18.5 million this season and next season, the Astros appear to be deep into the stages of rebuilding. 

    Don't be surprised to see the Astros shop either starting pitcher Wandy Rodriguez or Brett Myers before the trade deadline, each of whom are owed well over $10 million after this season.

29. San Diego Padres

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    SAN DIEGO, CA - APRIL 5:  Starting Pitcher Aaron Harang #41 of the San Diego Padres throws from the mound against the San Francisco Giants during their MLB Game at Petco Park on April 5, 2011 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images
    Donald Miralle/Getty Images

    Team record: 11-17

    Despite a team ERA of just 3.03, tops in the National League, the Padres have had trouble winning ball games all season. 

    Their starting pitching has been very good, despite a slow start for Matt Latos. Meanwhile their bullpen has a collective ERA of 2.31, which is the best among all 30 teams in the MLB. 

    Offensively, however, the Padres have been nonexplosive, to say the least. The Padres have actually stolen more bases than any other team in the NL, but this has not made much of a difference. And even with the seven runs they scored against the Dodgers on Sunday, the Padres have averaged just 3.0 runs per game in 2011, the lowest among all 30 teams.

28. Chicago White Sox

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    CHICAGO, IL - MAY 01: Adam Dunn #32 of the Chicago White Sox prepares to bat against the Baltimore Orioles at U.S. Cellular Field on May 1, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Orioles defeated the White Sox 6-4. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Team record: 10-19

    Manager Ozzie Guillen must be beside himself as Chicago is off to a terrible start in just about every facet of the game. 

    The White Sox rank in the bottom half of the league in runs, batting average, team errors, and team ERA. 

    Starting pitchers Mark Buehrle and Edwin Jackson have struggled and newly acquired power hitter Adam Dunn has a slugging percentage under .300. 

    This is an older team and will need more production out of the guys mentioned above, in addition to veterans like A.J. Pierzynski and Juan Pierre, in order to turn things around.

27. Minnesota Twins

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    MINNEAPOLIS, MN - APRIL 9: Joe Mauer #7 of the Minnesota Twins in the dugout during the seventh inning of their game against the Oakland Athletics on April 9, 2011 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Athletics defeated the Twins 1-0. (Photo by Hann
    Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

    Team record: 9-18

    Nothing seems to be going right for the Twins, who are currently 10 games back in the AL Central. 

    The same Twins team that has won six division titles in the last nine years currently ranks last in the AL in runs scored and team ERA. 

    Minnesota has lost five in a row and is still without their star catcher Joe Mauer.

    Justin Morneau and Joe Nathan are finally healthy, but each of them are off to awful starts. 

    It is far too early to say that Minnesota is out of the AL Central race, but they must turn things around in a big way.

26. Arizona Diamondbacks

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    PHOENIX, AZ - APRIL 28:  Chris Young #24 of the Arizona Diamondbacks high fives teammate Melvin Mora #4 after scoring against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning of the Major League Baseball game at Chase Field on April 28, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona.
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Team record: 12-15

    Similar to last season, Arizona has hit for power, but has had difficulties shutting down their opponents. 

    The Diamondbacks offense has been productive, with guys like Stephen Drew, Ryan Roberts and Miguel Montero all off to great starts. 

    However, the pitching has been terrible. Of their five regular starting pitchers, only Ian Kennedy has an ERA below 5.46. They also have one of the worst bullpens in the National League. 

    But on a bright note, now that third baseman Mark Reynolds has departed, the Diamondbacks are no longer leading the league in strikeouts, for the first time since 2008.

25. Pittsburgh Pirates

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    DENVER, CO - APRIL 29:  Andrew McCutchen #22 of the Pittsburgh Pirates watches his solo homerun off of starting pitcher Jhoulys Chacin #45 of the Colorado Rockies in the third inning at Coors Field on April 29, 2011 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pe
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Team record: 13-15

    Pittsburgh is just three games back in the NL Central, but there is little reason to think that they will hang around for much longer. 

    The Pirates have scored less runs than any team other than San Diego. Out of their regular starters, only Neil Walker has a batting average above .265. 

    Their starting pitching has also been very shaky, but Kevin Correia and Charlie Morton have pitched well up to this point. 

    The main reason that Pittsburgh is only two games below .500 is their bullpen, which has a collective ERA of just 2.40. Currently Joel Hanrahan, Chris Resop and Daniel McCutchen each have an ERA under 2.00. 

    Assuming the Pirates bullpen comes back down to earth, it appears to be just a matter of time before Pittsburgh falls well below .500. 

24. Seattle Mariners

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    DETROIT - APRIL 26:  Felix Hernandez #34 of the Seattle Mariners pitches in the third inning of the game against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park on April 26, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. The Mariners defeated the Tigers 7-3. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty I
    Leon Halip/Getty Images

    Team record: 13-16

    After a terrible start, Seattle has won nine out of 14. 

    Felix Hernandez has pitched well as expected, but the big story on the Mariners pitching staff has been Michael Pineda. The rookie starting pitcher is 4-1 with an ERA of 2.01. 

    Seattle also somehow has a respectable offense in terms of runs scored, despite being towards the bottom in batting average, extra base hits, and batting average with runners in scoring position. 

    The Mariners are still hanging around, but they will be hard pressed to compete this season with an unreliable pitching staff and an offense that seemingly can only get worse.

23. Washington Nationals

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    WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 28:   Livan Hernandez #61 of the Washington Nationals pitches against the New York Mets at Nationals Park on April 28, 2011 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
    Greg Fiume/Getty Images

    Team record: 13-14

    Washington ranks among the very bottom in most relevant offensive categories, but has hung around due to an over-achieving pitching staff. 

    The Nationals are hitting just .226 as a team, second worst in the NL and have just one player hitting above .240. 

    However, they have received very solid starting pitching from Livan Hernandez, Jason Marquis, John Lannan and Tom Gorzellany. 

    The Nationals are unlikely to contend this season, but should at least be optimistic about the future. After all, Stephen Strasburg is expected to be back by the start of next season, in addition to outfielder Bryce Harper, who has been tearing it up in Single-A.  

22. Detroit Tigers

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    CHICAGO - JUNE 08:  Miguel Cabrera #24 of the Detroit Tigers swings at the pitch against the Chicago White Sox on June 8, 2009 at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Team record: 12-16

    Things have not gone as well in Detroit as fans had been hoping for. 

    The Tigers have lost six in a row and have received very little production out of their lineup outside of Miguel Cabrera and catcher Alex Avila. 

    Worst of all, they have the worst bullpen in the major leagues. 

    However, the starting pitching rotation looks very good, particularly Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, and Rick Porcello. If Brad Penny can return to his old form, the Tigers could be in good shape, especially in a weak division.

21. New York Mets

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    CHICAGO - APRIL 22:  Jose Reyes #7 of the New York Mets bats against the Chicago Cubs on April 22, 2008 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Team record: 12-16

    In what could be the final year in New York for Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran and Francisco Rodriguez, the Mets are looking for whatever positives they can find. 

    One year removed from a 2010 season in which the Mets had one of the worst offenses in the league, the Mets have improved to mediocre status. They have received solid play from Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes, each of whom were injured throughout most of last season. Meanwhile, Jason Bay finally returned to the lineup after being sidelined since last July. 

    The Mets have currently won seven out of 10, but they have a lot of work to do in order to be taken seriously as contenders. 

    New York has a team ERA of 4.58, which is among the worst in the NL The one bright spot has been starting pitcher Chris Young, who appears well on his way to a huge bounce-back season. 

    David Wright, Johan Santana and Jason Bay will still be under contract after the season, but with so many other key players expected to switch teams before the start of next season, don’t be surprised to see the Mets begin to rebuild, possibly before the trade deadline.

20. Toronto Blue Jays

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    TORONTO - APRIL 12:  Jose Bautista #19 of the Toronto Blue Jays steps into the swing during the game against the Chicago White Sox at the Rogers Centre on April 12, 2010 in Toronto, Ontario. (Photo By Dave Sandford/Getty Images)
    Dave Sandford/Getty Images

    Team record: 13-15

    Toronto is just two games under .500, despite a tough schedule and a variety of injuries. 

    The Blue Jays offense has been very solid up to this point. Jose Bautista is proving that his 2010 season was not a fluke and Adam Lind has already driven in 21 runs. Toronto has also stolen 30 bases, which is second among AL teams. 

    The biggest issue for the Blue Jays has been their starting pitching, but much of this can be attributed to Brett Cecil, who had an awful April and is now out of the rotation.

19. Chicago Cubs

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    CHICAGO - JUNE 25: Starting pitcher Carlos Zambrano #38 of the Chicago Cubs throws the ball in the 1st inning against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on June 25, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. Zambrano was suspended indefinitely by the Cubs for a
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Team record: 12-15

    The Cubs are just 3.5 games out of first place, but it feels like they are much further back. 

    Newly acquired first baseman Carlos Pena is hitting just .159 with one extra base hit and Cubs starting pitcher Ryan Dempster gave up 33 earned runs in 31 innings. 

    However, the Cubs have been fortunate up to this point as far as staying healthy. The only Cubs currently on the disabled list are starting pitcher Randy Wells and relief pitcher Andrew Cashner. The Cubs have also received solid production from many of their veteran players like Aramis Ramirez, Alfonso Soriano and Marlon Byrd. 

    But with Carlos Pena, Aramis Ramirez and Ryan Dempster all potentially set to be free agents after the season, it is unclear whether the Cubs will be buyers or sellers before the trade deadline.

18. Kansas City Royals

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    DETROIT - APRIL 09:  Billy Butler #16 of the Kansas City Royals doubles to left field in the ninth inning during the game against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park on April 9, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. The Royals defeated the Tigers 3-1. (Photo by Leon
    Leon Halip/Getty Images

    Team record: 15-13

    How the Royals currently find themselves above .500 is beyond me. 

    This is a team whose offense consists of two very good young players, in Alex Gordon and Billy Butler, and not a whole lot else. 

    This would make sense if the Royals had an excellent pitching staff, but the reality is that their No. 1 starting pitcher has been well-traveled veteran Bruce Chen. 

    If the Royals are still above .500 a month from now, then they should begin to earn respect.

17. Baltimore Orioles

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    BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 20:  Vladimir Guerrero #27 of the Baltimore Orioles celebrates with teammates after hitting a home run in the third inning against the Minnesota Twins at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on April 20, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo b
    Greg Fiume/Getty Images

    Team record: 13-13

    After winning six of their first seven games, Baltimore has tailed off a bit, having lost 12 out of 19. 

    Either way, the Orioles appear to be a respectable team for the first time in quite a while. 

    Buck Showalter has given the team a reason to believe, well, the team minus the bullpen, as Baltimore has the second highest bullpen ERA in the league. 

    The Orioles have received excellent starting pitching from Jeremy Guthrie and rookie Zach Britton, and appear to have a deep starting lineup. 

    Once guys like Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, Mark Reynolds and Derrek Lee start hitting, the Orioles could start piling on runs.

16. Oakland Athletics

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    OAKLAND, CA - APRIL 20:  Coco Crisp #4 of the Oakland Athletics in action against the Boston Red Sox at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on April 20, 2011 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Team record: 14-14

    Never has a ballpark dictated a team’s fate quite like the 2011 Oakland A’s. 

    Playing in pitcher-friendly McAfee Collesium, Oakland has the best ERA of any American League team for the second straight year. However, they have scored just 90 runs, second fewest in the AL. 

    The team is unlikely to go far with Coco Crisp as arguably their best offensive player, so it will be interesting to see if Oakland is willing to trade one of their young starting pitchers for a bat before the trade deadline.

15. Milwaukee Brewers

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    CINCINNATI - MAY 18:  Prince Fielder #28 of the Milwaukee Brewers swings at a pitch during the game against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on May 18, 2010 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Team record: 13-14

    Milwaukee may not have much depth, but Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder have carried the team to a respectable 13-14 record. 

    Braun and Fielder have combined to hit over .350 with 16 home runs and 49 RBI between them, but the rest of the offense has been very quiet. 

    Meanwhile, with starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo struggling and Zach Greinke still healing from a cracked rib, the Brewers have benefited tremendously from Shaun Marcum and Randy Wolf, who have each pitched very well. 

    If Gallardo can return to form and Greinke can return sooner than later, the Brewers could be a force to be reckoned with in the NL Central.

14. Los Angeles Dodgers

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    LOS ANGELES - APRIL 29:   Matt Kemp #27 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates as he crosses the plate on his solo home run in the seventh inning against the San Diego Padres on April 29, 2011 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Stephe
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Team record: 14-15

    Two years removed from a 95-win season, the Dodgers appear to be headed to a second consecutive season of mediocrity. 

    Limited financially due to the their strange owner's situation, Los Angeles has hovered around .500 all season and does not appear to be getting any better (or worse).

    Outfielders Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp have been outstanding at the plate, but the offense has been anemic otherwise. 

    Meanwhile, the Dodgers’ starting pitching has been solid, but the bullpen has been awful. 

    Los Angeles should be better off when infielders Casey Blake and Rafael Furcal return from injury, but not nearly enough to make them a great team.

13. Tampa Bay Rays

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    MINNEAPOLIS, MN - APRIL 28: Johnny Damon #22 of the Tampa Bay Rays singles against the Minnesota Twins in the second inning of their game on April 28, 2011 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Rays defeated the Twins 15-3. (Photo by Hannah Fosli
    Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

    Team record: 15-13

    The Rays have plenty of reasons to smile. They have played well of late, having won nine out of 12, and they expect to get Evan Longoria back on Tuesday or Wednesday. 

    Sam Fuld has been a nice surprise out of the leadoff spot, having already stolen 10 bases. Meanwhile, Ben Zobrist had 10 RBI in one day last week in a doubleheader against Minnesota. 

    Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena may have fled elsewhere, but the two of them are each hitting under .170 with one home run combined for their respective teams.

12. Atlanta Braves

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    ATLANTA, GA - APRIL 08:  Tim Hudson #15 of the Atlanta Braves throws a pitch during their opening day game against the Philadephia Phillies at Turner Field on April 8, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Team record: 14-15

    Similar to their teams in the 1990s, Atlanta has relied on excellent starting pitching, to go along with power hitting. 

    All five of Atlanta’s starters currently have an ERA below 3.50, including Jair Jurjrens, who has given up just one earned run all season. 

    The Braves rank just 10th in the NL in runs scored, but they have hit 29 home runs, fourth most in the league. Much of this can be attributed to the fact that the Braves have an on base percentage under .300 and have stolen just five bases all season. 

    Atlanta has a nice balance of young talent mixed with veterans and is likely to improve in the standings once the offense can get guys on base consistently.

11. Boston Red Sox

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    OAKLAND, CA - APRIL 20:  Adrian Gonzalez #28 of the Boston Red Sox in action against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on April 20, 2011 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Team record: 12-15

    After losing 10 of their first 12 ball games, Boston is 10-5 since. 

    While the Red Sox may be just 12-15 on the season, it is crazy to think that the they will stay under .500 for much longer. 

    Boston’s bullpen has been terrible all season, with a collective ERA over 5.00. Once the bullpen improves and John Lackey and Clay Bucholz get going, Boston may not lose ten more games for a few months. 

    After all, this is a team that went 89-73 last season despite major injuries to Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis and Jacoby Ellsbury. They lost Adrian Beltre due to free agency over the offseason, but have of course picked up Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford since. 

    Don’t be surprised if this is the last week that Boston is out of the top 10.

10. San Francisco Giants

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    WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 29:  Starting pitcher Tim Lincecum #55 of the San Francisco Giants delivers to a Washington Nationals batter during the sixth inning at Nationals Park on April 29, 2011 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    Team record: 13-14

    The defending champions have been just average through the first four and a half weeks of the season. 

    As you might expect, the Giants’ young starting pitching has been terrific, but the offense has been among the worst in the league. 

    Pablo Sandoval and Pat Burrell have each had bounce-back years up to this point, but there is little else to be excited about offensively. 

    In order for the Giants to get back to the postseason, they will need more out of Aubrey Huff, Miguel Tejada and Aaron Rowand, who have just four home runs between them.

9. Los Angeles Angels

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    ANAHEIM, CA - APRIL 10:  Jered Weaver #36 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim throws a pitch against the Toronto Blue Jays on April 10, 2011 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Team record: 16-12

    As he has done throughout his entire managerial career, Mike Scioscia has the Angels playing above and beyond expectations. 

    The Angels offense, which is still waiting for first baseman Kendry Morales to return, has been mediocre at best. 

    However, the Angels’ pitching has been outstanding. Jered Weaver and Dan Haren have been the best one-two combo in the league, while the bullpen has been the best among A.L. teams. 

    The Angels don't look particularly intimidating on paper, but as we have learned over the past decade, you should never discount them too early. 

8. Texas Rangers

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    ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 24:  Pitcher C.J. Wilson #36 of the Texas Rangers throws against the Kansas City Royals at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on April 24, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Team record: 16-12

    Texas lost four out of six this past week, but is still in good shape out West. 

    Even with the Josh Hamilton injury, the Rangers lineup is very deep. Texas ranks second among AL teams in team batting average, home runs and runs. 

    Meanwhile, the Rangers pitching has been very solid and figures to get even better with closer Neftali Feliz and starting pitcher Tommy Hunter each expected to return very soon.

7. Cincinnati Reds

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    CINCINNATI - JULY 17:  Joey Votto #19 of the Cincinnati Reds swings at a pitch during the game against the Colorado Rockies at Great American Ball Park on July 17, 2010 in Cincinnati, Ohio. He hit two home runs during the game.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Team record: 14-14

    Cincinnati has scored the second-most runs of any team in the National League, including the most home runs, and should be getting several players back from the DL very soon.

    Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips have led the way offensively, but the Reds could get Scott Rolen, Juan Francisco and Fred Lewis back this week. 

    Meanwhile, the Reds pitching staff has been sub-par, but could improve very soon. Out of their five regular starting pitchers, only Bronson Arroyo has an ERA under 4.40. But the Reds expect to get starting pitchers Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey back in the next few weeks. 

    Once Cincinnati gets healthy, they could start racking up wins and climb back towards the stop of the NL Central standings.

6. Colorado Rockies

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    DENVER - MAY 28:  Troy Tulowitzki #2 of the Colorado Rockies bats against the St. Louis Cardinals at Coors Field on May 28, 2007 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockies won 6-2. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Team record: 17-9

    Colorado is just 6-7 in their last 13 ball games, but still has a comfortable lead in the NL West. 

    For quite possibly the first time in the history of the franchise, the Rockies have been winning because of consistent pitching. Colorado has a team ERA that is under 3.60, despite the fact that Ubaldo Jimenez off to a miserable start. 

    Surprisingly, Colorado is hitting just .236 as a team and has not gotten much production from outfielder Carlos Gonzalez. However, great starts for Troy Tulowitzki and Todd Helton have helped Colorado win a ton of ball games. 

    But of course, Colorado is unlikely to win two-thirds of their ball games over the remainder of the season, unless you think that their bullpen can maintain their collective ERA of 2.64.

5. St. Louis Cardinals

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    ST. LOUIS - APRIL 06:  :  Albert Pujols #5 of the St. Louis Cardinals takes a swing against the Pittsburgh Pirates during Opening Day on April 6, 2009  at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri. The Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 6-4.
    Elsa/Getty Images

    Team record: 16-12

    In what could be the last year of the Albert Pujols era, the Cardinals are off to a hot start. 

    St. Louis ranks first among NL teams in batting average, runs, on base percentage and slugging percentage. This is in big part because of outfielders Matt Holiday and Lance Berkman, who are each hitting over .390.

    Meanwhile, despite starting pitcher Adam Wainright sidelined for the season, recovering from Tommy John Surgery, along with Chris Carpenter, who is sitting at zero wins, the Cardinals actually have one of the better pitching staffs in the league. Kyle Lohse, Kyle McClellan and Jaime Garcia are all off to great starts, which has kept St. Louis in the N.L. Central race. 

    But with Albert Pujols, Adam Wainright, Chris Carpenter and Yadier Molina all potentially set to be free agents in the fall, it is unclear how St. Louis will approach the rest of the season, particularly if the team begins to struggle.

4. Florida Marlins

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    CINCINNATI, OH - MAY 1: Hanley Ramirez #2 of the Florida Marlins bats against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on May 1, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Marlins defeated the Reds 9-5. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Team record: 17-9

    Arguably the biggest surprise in the NL over the first month of the season, the Marlins have now won 12 out of their last 16 games. 

    Starting pitcher Josh Johnson has been lights out. He has won all three of his decisions and currently has an incredible ERA of 0.88. 

    Meanwhile, the Marlins bullpen has a collective ERA of just 2.38, the second lowest ERA in the majors. Closer Leo Nunez has been a nice surprise out of the pen, now eight for eight in save opportunities. 

    On the offensive end, the only household name in the Marlins lineup is Hanley Ramirez, who is hitting just .200 with zero home runs. 

    It is unfathomable to think that Florida will continue to win 65 percent of their games for the remainder of the season, but don’t be surprised if the Marlins stay above .500 for most of 2011.

3. Cleveland Indians

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    BOSTON - OCTOBER 20:  Grady Sizemore #24 of the Cleveland Indians dives to catch a ball hit by Jacoby Ellsbury #46 of the Boston Red Sox in the fourth inning of Game Six of the American League Championship Series at Fenway Park on October 20, 2007 in Bost
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Team record: 19-8

    The Cleveland Indians, who are without a doubt, baseball’s most surprising team, just keep racking up wins. 

    Cleveland has scored the most runs of any team in the A.L. and also has the fourth best ERA. 

    Starting pitcher Fausto Carmona has struggled, but Justin Masterson and Josh Tomlin have helped make up for it, having combined to go 9-0 with an ERA of about 2.3 in the early going. 

    Whether or not the Indians make the postseason, the resurgence of Travis Hafner and Grady Sizemore has already made the 2011 season a success in itself.

2. New York Yankees

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    BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 23:  Pitcher CC Sabathia #52 of the New York Yankees delivers to a Baltimore Orioles batter at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on April 23, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    Team record: 16-9

    New York has taken care of business up to this point. 

    So far the Yankees have been winning with power. They have already hit 45 home runs as a team, as six different Yankees have hit five or more home runs. 

    The big question is whether the Yankees can continue to play well, despite a starting rotation that lacks depth after CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett. Right now, the Yankees have no idea what to expect out of 2010 All-Star Phil Hughes, who may have a dead arm.  

    It seems like only a matter of time before the Yankees make a trade for one of the better starting pitchers available in order to maximize their chances of winning the AL East.

1. Philadelphia Phillies

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    WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 13:  Starting pitcher Roy Halladay #34 of the Philadelphia Phillies delivers to a Washington Nationals batter during the second inning at Nationals Park on April 13, 2011 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    Team record: 18-9

    Philadelphia is the best team in the NL by most accounts and it is tough to argue that any team in baseball is better. 

    The big four of Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels have done about as well as you would expect. Meanwhile, the Phillies’ bullpen is among the best in baseball, despite injuries to Brad Lidge and Jose Contreras. 

    Offensively, the Phillies have one of the better lineups in the NL, even with Wilson Valdez filling in for second baseman Chase Utley. 

    The biggest knock on Philadelphia is their age. With the exception of Hamels, almost all of their regulars are above the age of 30. But either way, this is a very good ball club that fields well and is tough to beat in any three game series.

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