MLB Power Rankings: Where the Cleveland Indians Mess Everything Up

Kevin JackmanContributor IIIMay 18, 2011

MLB Power Rankings: Where the Cleveland Indians Mess Everything Up

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    CLEVELAND - MAY 13:  Asdrubal Cabrera #13 of the Cleveland Indians fields a ground ball against the Seattle Mariners during the game on May 13, 2011 at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    What a crazy season this has already been. The Cleveland Indians have the best record in the league, the Kansas City Royals aren't too far behind and the Red Sox, Rays and Yankees have all spent time in the AL East cellar.

    The National League has its own share of oddities though. With the Marlins hot and the lack of a clear cut favorite in the NL Central, this year in baseball has already proven to be a unique one.

    So at the quarter way point, let's examine who are the worst of the worst and best of the best.

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30. Houston Astros

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    ATLANTA, GA - MAY 17:  Matt Downs #16 and manager Brad Mills of the Houston Astros argue with homeplate umpire Alfonso Marquez #72 after Downs appeared to be hit by a pitch but it was ruled a foul ball in the 11th inning against the Atlanta Braves at Turn
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Just about nothing is going the Astros' way these days. By removing the last piece of the "Killer B's" in Lance Berkman and then discarding Roy Oswalt, we knew the Astros would be in for a rebuilding project. 

    We didn't know it would be this bad.

    Through May 17th, Houston has the worst record in baseball and no real hope of reversing their fortunes. Last year's glimmer of hope, Chris Johnson, is mired in an extreme cold streak that may warrant a minor league trip.

29. Arizona Diamondbacks

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 14:  Juan Miranda #46 of the Arizona Diamondbacks reacts to his strikeout in front of Rod Barajas #28 of the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on May 14, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
    Harry How/Getty Images

    In a division stacked with elite arms, the D-backs just cannot compete. It may be because their "ace" is Ian Kennedy. Sadly enough, Arizona's best pitcher happens to be the young, but talented Daniel Hudson, who was acquired last year from the White Sox in exchange for Edwin Jackson. Beyond him it's a battle to get production.

    The offense isn't much better. Last year's surprise story in Kelly Johnson has preformed a complete 360 degree turn around as he is batting below the Mendoza line this year.

    Only hope for this team is to deal Justin Upton, Chris Young and Johnson to get an infusion of some talented arms to re-boost their farm system.

28. Seattle Mariners

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    BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 12:  Ichiro Suzuki #51 of the Seattle Mariners in action against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on May 12, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    It is a shame that this is how Ichiro's career begins to end. When he came into the league in 2000 with the Mariners he led them to the best record in Major League history. Now he is stuck on a perennial loser in Seattle.

    But fans in the Northwest shouldn't lose too much hope. Once the Mariners deal Felix Hernandez and receive some prospects in return, Seattle should be in better position to win in the future.

    But like I said, Ichiro probably won't be around to see it. 

27. Minnesota Twins

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    MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 14: Manager Ron Gardenhire #35 of the Minnesota Twins takes starting pitcher Nick Blackburn #53 of the Minnesota Twins out of the game during in the eighth inning on May 14, 2011 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Blue Jays d
    Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

    Who saw this coming? I sure didn't. The Twins were my pre-season favorites to beat out the Chicago White Sox in the AL Central. Boy, I seriously could not have been farther off. 

    What a disappointment Minnesota has been, especially with all the talent they have on their roster. Then again, when your franchise player is hurt and the other is coming off a concussion, it's no wonder why you would be the worst to in the American League. 

    Once Morneau starts swinging the bat well and Mauer comes back from his knee problems, look for Minnesota to inch up the standings.

26. San Diego Padres

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    PHOENIX, AZ - MAY 16:  Chase Headley #7 of the San Diego Padres high fives teammate Kyle Phillips #16 after scoring a first inning run against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the Major League Baseball game at Chase Field on May 16, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizon
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Can we finally call Ryan Ludwick a one-year-wonder? What? San Diego fans already have? Oh, I guess that makes sense after being a huge bust in the spacious Petco Park. But really, what did they expect?

    San Diego's reputation used to be excellent pitching and above average defense with an offense that can at least put up a few runs. Now they have absolutely nothing.

    The only thing working in their favor is a superior record over Arizona and a few other National League teams.

25. Pittsburgh Pirates

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    PITTSBURGH - MAY 09:  Neil Walker #18 of the Pittsburgh Pirates celebrates with teammate Ryan Doumit #41 after scoring in the 8th inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the game on May 9, 2011 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jar
    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    Now I will admit, the Pirates aren't nearly as bad as they have been over the last two decades. Having said that, their pitching staff is very thin beyond Charlie Morton, who is showing promising signs of becoming a formidable starter.

    The offense has a lot of potential, but is maybe a year or two away from truly breaking through. Pedro Alvarez needs to start making better contact and Jose Tabata must return to his early-season form.

    This team has a chance to finish around .500 but this will most likely be the 19th straight year they don't reach that mark.

24. New York Mets

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    HOUSTON - MAY 14:  First baseman Daniel Murphy #28 of the New York Mets fields a ball as first base umpire Chad Fairchild signals fair at Minute Maid Park on May 14, 2011 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    The on the field problems are close to equaling those of their financial problems. Oh wait, David Wright is going on the DL, scratch that the Mets are toast. 

    They have two solid players this year with Jose Reyes hitting .313 and Carlos Beltran, who's hitting like the Beltran of old. Problem is - both are like glass chandeliers in a Chuck E. Cheese. The question isn't "if" they will get hurt, it's "when."

    New York needs to blow up their roster and they have the big names to do it successfully. Look for them to compete in four or five years.  

23. Chicago White Sox

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    CHICAGO, IL - MAY 16: Adam Dunn #32 of the Chicago White Sox takes a swing against the Texas Rangers at U.S. Cellular Field on May 16, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Rangers defeated the White Sox 4-0. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    What a whiff of a signing Adam Dunn has been so far. A lot of people around the Chicago area were expecting a 50-homer season, and I don't think his 16 home run pace is going to cut it.

    Aside from Dunn, the pitching staff and bullpen have been huge let-downs so far, but with the return of former Cy Young-winner Jake Peavy, the Sox have a shot to recover in the standings.

    The offense needs to start performing consistently and someone in the bullpen must emerge to fill the closer role if Chicago wants a chance to take home the crown this year. 

22. Chicago Cubs

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    CHICAGO, IL - MAY 13: Ryan Dempster #46 of the Chicago Cubs walks off of the field after pitching in the 5th inning against the San Francisco Giants at Wrigley Field on May 13, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.  The Cubs defeated the Giants 11-4. (Photo by Jonat
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    I couldn't separate the two Chicago teams because at this point they are equally terrible. I would say the White Sox have more potential this season, but right now the Cubs are playing slightly better. 

    The top three starters - Ryan Dempster, Carlos Zambrano and Matt Garza - have under-performed so far but have shown signs of escaping their early-season struggles.

    In addition, Carlos Pena's bat is coming around, but if Aramis Ramirez continues his power outage, it could be a long summer on the North Side.

21. Baltimore Orioles

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    BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 12:  Starting pitcher Zach Britton #53 of the Baltimore Orioles delivers to a Seattle Mariners batter at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on May 12, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    Zack Britton is throwing very, very well so far this season and looks to be the Orioles first legitimate ace since Erik Bedard got traded to Seattle. He has had some decent support behind him too, which is extremely rare in Baltimore.

    On offense, the team has a good nucleus of young talent that includes Adam Jones, who is putting up some very solid numbers through the teams first 40 games.

    The Orioles could finish as high as third this season if the Tampa Bay Rays return to earth sometime soon.

20. Washington Nationals

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    WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 17:  Ryan Zimmerman #11 of the Washington Nationals looks on from the dugout against the Milwaukee Brewers at Nationals Park on April 17, 2011 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    With Ryan Zimmerman out for an extended period of time, the situation in Washington appears bleak until Bryce Harper comes up in few weeks, which he won't.

    Coming into the season, I had some modest hope that the Nationals could finish around .500, but without the emergence of a top-end starter, and the below average production from Jason Werth, reaching a winning record will be tough.

    The Nationals have Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper on the way, which just goes to show one thing: coming in dead last actually does pay off.

19. Kansas City Royals

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    KANSAS CITY, MO - APRIL 20:  Billy Butler #16 of the Kansas City Royals congratulates Melky Cabrera #53 after Cabrera scored on an Alex Gordon triple during the 1st inning of the game against the Cleveland Indians on April 20, 2011 at Kauffman Stadium in
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Yes, I know they are 20-20 right now, but come on... it's the Royals we are talking about. They have a lot of guys who are playing well beyond their ceiling and should come back down to a reasonable level.

    However! Next year looks to be very promising with a HUGE wave of talent on the verge of reaching the Majors. Only problem is trying to find room for everyone.

    Alex Gordon is finally living up to his potential, and I don't expect him to slump too bad from here on out. So a decent, but sub-.500 year is in store for K.C.

18. Los Angeles Dodgers

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 14:  Matt Kemp #27 of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts at the plate as he hits a grounder to short to start a game ending double play against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the ninth inning at Dodger Stadium on May 14, 2011 in Los Ang
    Harry How/Getty Images

    I have been waiting for the Dodgers' young core of players to finally put it together, but they refuse. I really do not understand how a team that consists of Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw can't at least be over .500.

    This may sadly be the beginning of the end for what was supposed to be the Dodgers push to contend. If they are smart, they wait one or two more years, try and add some pitching, and give this group of guys one last shot at winning.

    But they probably won't so.... who wants Ethier?

17. Toronto Blue Jays

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    TORONTO, CANADA - MAY 9:  Jose Bautista #19 of the Toronto Blue Jays hits during MLB action against the Detroit Tigers at the Rogers Centre May 9, 2011 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)
    Abelimages/Getty Images

    Over Bautista's last 162 games he has hit 64 home runs. Did the Major League's forget to test this guy or is this really happening?

    As Bautista goes, the Blue Jays go. They do have some solid pitching though. Ricky Romero looks like a very solid thower that has the potential to turn in to an ace.

    They have some good, young talent, but the fact that they must win in the cut-throat American League East means they don't have a chance at making the playoffs.

16. Milwaukee Brewers

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    CINCINNATI, OH - APRIL 3: Rickie Weeks #23 of the Milwaukee Brewers celebrates with Ryan Braun #8 after hitting a home run to lead off the game against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on April 3, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Reds won 12-3
    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Ryan Braun is scorching hot, and if Corey Hart picks it up, and Zack Greinke returns to form... watch out, these Brewers could be potent. Could be.

    Problem is that it always seems to be that way up in Milwaukee. They have talent, but with this presumably being Prince Fielder's last season, it could be their last chance to truly make a push for the NL Central crown.

    Now if they can convince Prince to stay, that's a whole other story. If that happens, they could be the team to beat for the next five or six years along with the Reds.

15. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

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    ANAHEIM, CA - MAY 11:  Manager Mike Scioscia of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim argues with home plate umpire Dan Bellino during the game with the Chicago White Sox on May 11, 2011 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty I
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    It has been a frustrating season for the Angels to this point, but there are signs that point to a smoother road ahead.

    Jared Weaver and Dan Haren combine to create one of the nastiest duos in the Major Leagues. That's what has led them to being over .500. The thing holding them back is their offense.

    Kendry Morales is still not back, and they desperately need a big bopper in that lineup. Howie Kendrick was able to carry them early, but he isn't a legitimate home run threat.

14. Detroit Tigers

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    DETROIT, MI - MAY 02:  Justin Verlander #35 of the Detroit Tigers throws a first inning pitch while playing the New York Yankees  at Comerica Park on May 2, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Justin Verlander went through 50 hitters without giving up a base knock, and that seems to have sparked the dormant Tigers.

    With his flame-throwing abilities, and Miguel Cabrera anchoring the lineup, Detroit has put themselves in position to compete in a wide open AL Central.

    The only problem that needs to be addressed is the lack of solid starters in the back end of the rotation. But they finally have a guy who has solidified the closer role in Jose Valverde.

13. Oakland Athletics

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    OAKLAND, CA - MAY 15:  Trevor Cahill #53 of the Oakland Athletics congratulates Mark Ellis #14 of the Oakland Athletics after he made a play to end the seventh inning against the Chicago White Sox at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on May 15, 2011 in Oakl
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    This batch of A's remind me of the teams in Oakland during the late 90's and early 2000's. A fantastic core of young, extremely talented starters surrounded by a barely-average offense.

    With Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson, and Gio Gonzalez, the A's have a very promising season and, potentially, decade in front of them.

    All they need to do now is add a bat to that lineup that will make it somewhat formidable.

12. Colorado Rockies

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    DENVER, CO - MAY 10:  Troy Tulowitzki #2 of the Colorado Rockies is welcomed home after his solo homerun off of starting pitcher Mike Pelfrey #34 of the New York Mets by Seth Smith #7 of the Colorado Rockies in the second inning at Coors Field on May 10,
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    The Rockies never get off to hot starts, they like to be the underdog who come out of nowhere in September to surprise everyone. But not this year.

    Led by a torrid start from the league's best shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado has been one of the best stories in baseball to this point.

    The amazing thing, though, is that they have survived without Ubaldo Jimenez for a chunk of the year, and he is finally coming back into form.

11. Atlanta Braves

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    ATLANTA, GA - MAY 17:  Chipper Jones #10 of the Atlanta Braves tosses his helmet after striking out in the eighth inning against the Houston Astros at Turner Field on May 17, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    If only the injury bug would just leave the Braves alone, maybe they could get a chance to be on an even playing field with the Phillies. Unfortunately, Chipper Jones is a bug magnet and just can't seem to stay healthy anymore.

    Having said that, the Braves have a lot of pieces that could prove very useful come September when they try and make a final push. Dan Uggla has been horrendous, but should at least finish around .240.

    With a great starting staff led by Tommy Hanson, the Braves will most certainly contend for the National League wild card.

10. Florida Marlins

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    WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 15: Hanley Ramirez #2 of the Florida Marlins looks on from the dugout during the first inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on May 15, 2011 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    It is a wonder how the Marlins are sporting the third best record in the league despite a terrible year from their best player, Hanley Ramirez.

    In all honesty, I still don't get how they keep winning, they just are. They have some solid pitching and a decent closer in Leo Nunez. They also have some nice pieces on offense, especially if Hanley comes around soon.

    Look for them to fade soon, but give them credit, they are on a rampage right now.

9. New York Yankees

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    NEW YORK, NY - MAY 15:  Jorge Posada #20 of the New York Yankees reacts after missing a pitch against the Boston Red Sox during their game on May 15, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    It doesn't feel right putting the Yankee's and their gigantic payroll this low, but they deserve it thus far. Struggles from seemlessly everyone at some point this year have plagued the Bronx Bombers.

    Good news - they have mucho dinero. I wouldn't put it past the Yankee management to make a deal for Felix Hernandez or another big named player down the road to ensure a playoff ticket.

    They could probably grab the wild card if they didn't make a move, but they'll do it, and they will improve.

8. Texas Rangers

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    CHICAGO, IL - MAY 17: Adrian Beltre #29 of the Texas Rangers fields the ball at 3rd base against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on May 17, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    This team is loaded on offense and they will still be without Josh Hamilton for another month or so. By the way, give it up to Michael Young and the year he is having after such a rough off-season.

    The pitching is the surprise this year for the Rangers as Wilson, Lewis, Hunter and Ogando have collectively been pitching very well. Not to mention the fact they have an incredible talent in Neftali Feliz closing it out.

    The Rangers should win the division and could make another solid push to make it all the way to the World Series again.

7. San Francisco Giants

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    SAN FRANCISCO, CA - APRIL 08:  The 2010 World Series trophy is displayed as San Francisco Giants players line up before the start of the Giants' opening day game against the St. Louis Cardinals at AT&T Park on April 8, 2011 in San Francisco, California.
    Pool/Getty Images

    I feel bad putting them this low at number seven, but it is incredibly hard to repeat when you force all your young starters to throw more innings than they ever have before. Madison Baumgarner has had a rough year and Jonathan Sanchez has been up and down as well.

    The offense is still a worry, especially now after Brandon Belt didn't impress right out of the gate. Plus, Aubrey Huff usually doesn't have back-to-back good seasons.

    The Giants have a ridiculous staff, but they will be tested now that the Phillies also have a super staff.

6. Tampa Bay Rays

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    ST. PETERSBURG, FL - MAY 03:  Outfielder B.J. Upton #2 of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrates his two run walkoff home run against the Toronto Blue Jays at Tropicana Field on May 3, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
    J. Meric/Getty Images

    B.J. Upton and company have had a remarkable turnaround after their horrendous 1-8 start. The most impressive thing about their run - they did it without their best player, Evan Longoria.

    The pitching staff has proved to be good enough to compete, led by the young but experienced David Price. In addition, the offense has been booming, led by the re-surging Ben Zobrist.

    Look for them to come down to earth, but continue to compete for a wild card spot in the second half.

5. St. Louis Cardinals

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    HOUSTON - APRIL 26:  Lance Berkman #12 of the St. Louis Cardinals doubles to center field in the ninth scoring Matt Holliday with the go ahead run at Minute Maid Park on April 26, 2011 in Houston, Texas. Houston won 6-5. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    If someone told me that the Cardinals best hitters would go 1) Lance Berkman 2) Matt Holliday 3) Albert Pujols, I would have said you were crazy. But you would be right.

    Now, the lineup may be getting all the attention, but the pitching staff has been overachieving, and could continue to do so. Why? Because I have learned over the year to NEVER doubt Dave Duncan, the Cardinals pitching coach.

    Look for a fun-filled race to the wire between the Reds and Cardinals come the end of September

4. Cleveland Indians

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    KANSAS CITY, MO - MAY 17:  Carlos Santana #41 of the Cleveland Indians points skyward as he crosses home plate after a solo home run during the 5th inning of the game against the Kansas City Royals on May 17, 2011 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Misso
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    I know what you're thinking - "Indians are number four?!?!?" and normally I would agree with you that a surprise team, this early in the season shouldn't be so high. Yet, they have the BEST record in the league and are out in front of the weakest division in the American League.

    They have gotten some great pitching performances from Masterson and Tomlin, guys who have the potential to keep it up too.

    I just wonder what is going to happen when this team hits it's first losing skid, will they bounce back, or revert back to their previous form.

3. Cincinnati Reds

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    ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 23: Joey Votto #19 of the Cincinnati Reds watches his two-run home run leave the park against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on April 23, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    This team is playing some very good baseball of late and is close to seizing complete control of the NL Central. Joey Votto isn't even carrying this team, it seems like the whole lineup contributes. 

    Brandon Phillips, aside from being a great defensive second baseman, is hitting the cover off the ball and protecting Votto in the order perfectly. They just need Bruce to be more consistent.

    It appears their only downfall is pitching, but they have a ton of it, so it shouldn't be too much of a worry for Reds fans. 

2. Boston Red Sox

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    NEW YORK, NY - MAY 15:  David Ortiz #34 of the Boston Red Sox in action against the New York Yankees during their game on May 15, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    If power rankings purely reflected the standings than how boring would that be? The Red Sox have the most balanced team and are starting to really pick it up.

    Josh Beckett looks like he is 27 again, while Jon Lester is the real ace of the rotation. They need more production from John Lackey if there is any hope of taking the AL East back from the Rays.

    The hitting is coming around with Jacoby Ellsbury getting extremely hot and Kevin Youkilis teaming up with Adrian Gonzalez to form one of the best righty-lefty combos in the Majors.

1. Philadelphia Phillies

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    PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 17:  The Phillie Phanatic pumps up the crowd as the Phillies take on the San Francisco Giants in Game Two of the NLCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Citizens Bank Park on October 17, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by J
    Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

    Finally, we have our number one team in the Majors, and it really shouldn't be much of a surprise. This is a very well balanced team that has effectively battled injuries all season long. 

    Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee are the best 1-2 duo in the league and than you follow them up with Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels... that's just cruel. Now they just need to solidify their closer role.

    They need Chase Utley back soon to help anchor the offense and help out Ryan Howard and company. Yet, in his absence the Phillies have to be happy with the efforts they got from the back-ups.