MLB Power Rankings Week 6-8: Here Come the St. Louis Cardinals...Again

Lake CruiseAnalyst IMay 23, 2011

MLB Power Rankings Week 6-8: Here Come the St. Louis Cardinals...Again

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    ST. LOUIS, MO - MAY 5: Matt Holliday #7 of the St. Louis Cardinals hits a game-tying RBI single against the Florida Marlins at Busch Stadium on May 5, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    St. Louis Cardinals fans don't want to hear anything about the Cincinnati Reds—unless it's about beating them.  Hear this: The Reds got swept by the Cleveland Indians over the weekend and dropped 2.5 games behind the Redbirds.

    This comes after the Reds swept the Cards in Cincinnati and briefly took over first place.  Yes, despite the plethora of injuries, the Redbirds are rolling like the Mississippi River they play ball by.  Play it smart and get this ball started.  Roll audio and switch graphics...

American League: Hideki 'Godzilla' Matsui and the Oakland A's: Getting Better

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    OAKLAND, CA - MAY 13:  Hideki Matsui #55 of the Oakland Athletics at bat against the Chicago White Sox at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on May 13, 2011 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    The Oakland A's are trying to stay in the race for the AL West.  They have stiff competition in first place Texas and second place Los Angeles.

    Not many teams are over .500 in the AL.  The A's aren't one of them, unfortunately.  Which teams in the AL make Lake's Power Index this week? 

    Whether your fortunes come in Osaka or Oakland, keep reading to find out. 

5. Texas Rangers: Ron Washington and Crew Have Been Righting the Ship

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    ARLINGTON, TX - MAY 07:  Pitcher Neftali Feliz #30 of the Texas Rangers and David Murphy #7 celebrate a 7-5 win against the New York Yankees at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on May 7, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Neftali Feliz is converting every save opportunity, and Michael Young is holding it down for the offense.  

    The around .500 Rangers will soon get Josh Hamilton back and could make a run to separtate from the pack.

    We'll see what's popping when Ham comes back from his injury. 

4. New York Yankees: Fading and Still One of the Few Teams Above .500 in the AL

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    ST. PETERSBURG, FL - MAY 16:  Catcher Jorge Posada #20 of the New York Yankees prepares for batting practice just prior to the start of the game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on May 16, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/
    J. Meric/Getty Images

    The Yankees blew the Mets out in the finale of their series this past weekend.  The navy blue gave the blue and orange the blues.

    Now, New York has to battle to keep pace with the Red Sox and the Rays in the AL East—one of the toughest divisions in baseball.

3. Boston Red Sox: They Were Hoping to Get to .500 and Beat the Yankees to Boot

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    BOSTON, MA - MAY 05:  John Lackey #41 of the Boston Red Sox sits in the dugout before the game against the Los Angeles Angels on May 5, 2011 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
    Elsa/Getty Images

    The above .500 Red Sox rolled the Yankees in Boston, but their race to the top was derailed by the news John Lackey is going on the shelf.

    He hasn't been as effective as they'd hoped in the last two seasons, so it could be a blessing. 

    It sounds harsh, but it's MLB

2. Tampa Bay Rays: The Surging Rays Aren't Sliding Away Going Forward

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    BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 06:  Evan Longoria #3 of the Tampa Bay Rays slides into second base ahead of the throw to Robert Andino #11 of the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on May 6, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Imag
    Greg Fiume/Getty Images

    The Rays have been running away from the pack since Evan Longoria returned.  They tied the Yankees for first place going into the weekend.

    Come Monday, they're still there.  America had better realize the Rays are for real.

1. Cleveland Indians: All Fruits Ripening for the Raking Tribe of Ohio

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    CLEVELAND - MAY 13:  Michael Brantley #23 of the Cleveland Indians trots past second base after hitting a solo home run off of Doug Fister #58 of the Seattle Mariners during the game on May 13, 2011 at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Jare
    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    Michael Brantley and the Indians scalped the Reds over the weekend and proved they're the best team in baseball so far this season.

    Chris Perez—formerly of the Redbirds in St. Louis—has been solid so far and is making the Cardinals wish they still had his services as a closer. 

National League: The Colorado Rockies: The Giants Took Their Mojo

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    DENVER, CO - MAY 09:  Troy Tulowitzki #2, Huston Street #16, Chris Iannetta #20, Todd Helton #17 and Ian Stewart #9 of the Colorado Rockies celebrate after defeating the New York Mets 2-1 at Coors Field on May 9, 2011 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    The Rockies got swept by the Giants two weekends ago and are starting to fade.  Barely keeping their heads above .500, Colorado will need to pick it up.

    But are they good enough to make my top five NL teams.  Advance to the next slide to see what's up.

5. Milwaukee Brewers: Bud Selig's Team Seemingly Wants a Winning Season

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    ST. LOUIS, MO - MAY 8: Prince Fielder #28 of the Milwaukee Brewers hits a single against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on May 8, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    The Brew Crew swept the Colorado Rockies over the weekend and are on the heels of the Cincinnati Reds for second in the NL Central.

    If the Brewers' pitching staff reaches its potential, then they could challenge for the division crown.  I'll be watching to bring you the latest news about the Brews of Wisconsin.

4. San Francisco Giants: Holding Steady After Knocking off the Rockies

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    CHICAGO, IL - MAY 13: Andres Torres #56 of the San Francisco Giants hits a triple in the 7th inning against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on May 13, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.  The Cubs defeated the Giants 11-4. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    The Giants are in first place and looking to put some distance between them and Colorado.  The Rockies got swept by the Giants earlier this season and haven't been the same.

    The NL is tough and teams are trying to distance themselves from the rest of the pack, but it's been very competitive so far.  If the Giants can keep it up, then they'll have a shot at back-to-back World Series titles.

3. Florida Marlins: The Fish and Closer Leo Nunez Have Been Saving Miami

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    CINCINNATI, OH - MAY 1: Emilio Bonifacio #1, Chris Coghlan #8 and Mike Stanton #27 of the Florida Marlins celebrate after the final out against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on May 1, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Marlins defeated the Re
    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    The Marlins got done up by their state rivals, the Tampa Bay Rays.  The Marlins lost their ace—Josh Johnson—to injury over the weekend.

    I'll be watching to see if they can hold off the Atlanta Braves for second in the NL East.

2. The Phillies Were No. 1 in Winning Percentage in the Majors

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    Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

    The Phillies hope to get Chase Utley back, and boy do hey need him.  In their last nine games, they are 3-6 and averaging less than two runs.

    They have the struggling Cincinnati Reds coming up starting today.  We'll see how that goes.

1. St. Louis Cardinals: The Redbirds Have the Cincinnati Reds Seeing Red

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    CINCINNATI, OH - MAY 14: Albert Pujols #5 of the St. Louis Cardinals looks on late in the game against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on May 14, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Reds defeated the Cardinals 7-3. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Im
    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Even though the Reds swept the Cardinals two weekends ago, the Cardinals are still very formidable.  If they shore up their bullpen, watch out.  The Cardinals are serious World Series contenders this year.

    The latests in the seemingly endless line of closers—Fernando Salas—could be a keeper.

In the Majors: Lake's Final 4 so Far

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    NEW YORK - MAY 21:  Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees looks on from the bench after hitting a solo home run in the bottom of the sixth inning against the New York Mets on May 21, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Pho
    Mike Stobe/Getty Images

    Reports of the Bronx Bombers' death have been greatly exaggerated.  The Yankees are still tied for first place in the AL East and managing to keep the Bronx zoo closed.

    The Big Four will need to continue to do the job for New  York. 

    Going into Week 8. here are Lake's Final Four in MLB to date...

4. Philadelphia Phillies: Chase Utley's Return Had Better Help the Offense

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    ST. LOUIS, MO - MAY 5: Starter Josh Johnson #55 of the Florida Marlins pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on May 5, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    The Phillies will need to step on the gas and hope Chase Utley brings a hot bat.  This isn't the same old Phillies offense.

    The boys from Philadelphia are in need of some desperate hitting to hold off the Cardinals and Marlins—who have just about as many wins—for No. 1 in the NL.

3. Tampa Bay Rays: They're Sneaky Good

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    BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 06:  Johnny Damon #22 of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrates with Ben Zobrist #18 and B.J. Upton #2 after hitting a home run in the ninth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on May 6, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryla
    Greg Fiume/Getty Images

    James Shields shut the Marlins down on Sunday afternoon, and he helped Tampa show Miami a thing or two about professional baseball.

    The Marlins are high in the L.P.I., but Tampa Bay treated them like their junior varsity. 

2. St. Louis Cardinals: Good Starting Pitching and Veteran Leadership

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    ST. LOUIS, MO - MAY 18: Starter Kyle Lohse #26 of the St.Louis Cardinals pitches against the Houston Astros at Busch Stadium on May 18, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    So the offensive woes continue in Philadelphia and the St. Louis Cardinals have just about as many wins as the Phillies.  This may come as a shock to some, but the Cardinals are pitching just as well as the Phillies right now.

    Left-hander Jaime Garcia is a leading candidate for the Cy Young.  He's leading the league in ERA and came into Sunday's game against the Royals with an 0.38 ERA in his last three starts including Milwaukee and Philadelphia.

    They lead the league in shutouts and winning percentage.  The offense is batting .280 or better, and they're driving in big runs.  Speaking of runs...how about the one the No. 1 team on my list is on?  They are the top story this year so far.

1. Cleveland Indians: They've Snuck Up on People so Far, We'll See How It Goes

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    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    They have the talent and it's coming to fruition now.  If they can stay healthy and Michael Brantley continues to perform, watch out.

    They play strong defense, hit with power and steal bases when Choo is healthy.  After rolling the Reds over the weekend, the Indians have to wonder what's next.

    Clinching the division seems like a wrap at this point.  I'm staying on point as I stroll out of here.  Sail with me next time on the smooth waters of Lake's Power Cruise.