2011 MLB Power Rankings: After two full months of play, who will grab the top spot?
We're now two months through the 2011 MLB regular season, but it's never too early to start talking about postseason baseball.
Teams such as the Phillies, Red Sox, Yankees, Rangers and Cardinals are right where we expected them to be prior to the season. However, teams such as the Indians and Diamondbacks have steadily worked their way up to the top of their respective divisions.
And as June rolls around, divisional races begin to take shape, and contenders are beginning to separate themselves from the pack.
How will your team fare in our latest Power Rankings?
Follow Alec Dopp on twitter: @doppler9000.
30. Minnesota Twins (17-37) - Joe Mauer's absence has proved to be both untimely and unfortunate for the major's worst team thus far. And though Mauer should return to the lineup sooner than later, these Twins are undoubtedly the worst of the worst through two months of play.
29. Houston Astros (22-34) - The debut of 20-year-old pitching phenom Jordan Lyles was probably Houston's highest point of the season, as consistent pitching and hitting have come as a colossal problem through two months of the season.
28. Chicago Cubs (23-31) - Believe it or not, Chicago boasts the league's best team batting average (.275) and 10th-best OBP (.331). However, the pitching has been anything but impressive—ranking dead—last in the majors in BAA (.283), QS (18) and WHIP (1.55).
27. Washington Nationals (24-31) - Dead last in the power-packed NL East, the Nationals don't have much going for them at this point in the season. What else can we say?
26. San Diego Padres (24-32) - On the mound, San Diego is one of the best in the business (3.31 team ERA, .246 BAA). At the plate, work needs to be done (.295 OBP, .232 BA). Baseball's most puzzling team? I think so.
25. Baltimore Orioles (25-29) - After their hot start to the season, the O's have now dropped five straight, and are getting minimal production out of Mark Reynolds.
24. Kansas City Royals (25-30) - The Royals remain optimistic regarding the development of young stars such as Eric Hosmer and Alcides Escobar. Meanwhile, the Kansas City offense actually ranks second overall in runs scored (360). Are we in for a turnaround?
23. Colorado Rockies (26-29) - Losing Jorge De La Rosa to injury will prove costly, but manager Jim Tracy should have confidence in his power-hitting team moving forward. After all, Troy Tulowitzki is a threat to get hot at any given time.
22. New York Mets (25-30) - Jose Reyes may be on his way to a career-best season, but if management opts to trade him away, New York's offense will be severely limited. For now, though, things are on the up-and-up for the Mets.
21. Chicago White Sox (27-31) - A sluggish start put Ozzie Guillen's club in hot water, but they've managed to recover behind a consistent batting lineup and rotation.
A starting rotation comprised of Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Hiroki Kuroda, Ted Lilly and Jon Garland, the Dodgers have registered the third-most quality starts (36) of any major league team.
The key to the Dodgers' success, however, will be how healthy they can remain.
If Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp can stay hot, Los Angeles will have a shot at the NL West by the end of the season. If not, well, you get the point.
The Pirates haven't grabbed as much national attention as they'd probably like, but make no mistake, this team means business from top to bottom.
Sitting at a pleasant 26-28, Clint Hurdle and his crew are one of the most overlooked teams in the National League and could make some noise if they can manage to stay around .500.
Offensively, they are anything but a juggernaut—ranking in the bottom three in team BA (.228), R (223), OBP (.303) and SLG (.343).
But on the mound, they've excelled tremendously from where they were last season, carrying a 3.43 team ERA—enough to be seventh-best in the entire league.
When I set out to predict the winners of each major league division, I originally had Oakland winning the AL West. So far, they've underachieved to some extent. But don't overlook what they can do down the stretch.
Behind AL Cy Young-contender Trevor Cahill and one of the league's most complete starting rotations, there's no telling what this team might accomplish.
If they can manage to produce at the plate, these A's could go well into the postseason.
Maintaining the National League's MVP of 2010, Joey Votto, the Reds clearly maintain of the baseball's most lethal offensive attacks.
In fact, Cincinnati ranks in the top five in runs (425), BA (.271), OBP (.343) and SLG (.430) among all other major league teams.
So what seems to be the problem?
The Reds rank 22nd in the majors in team ERA (4.22), and Travis Wood leads all starters with a 5.05 ERA.
If Dusty Baker's crew can improve on the mound, they'll be in good shape for a NL Central title.
The Angels boast one of the most diverse and balanced offensive attacks in all of baseball and will be surefire contenders to win the AL West by the end of the season.
Wiley veterans such as Bobby Abreu, Torii Hunter and Howie Kendrick lead the way for Los Angeles' offense and have a plethora of role-players such as Alberto Callaspo and Mark Trumpo.
As always, these Angels are at their best when on the mound with starters Jered Weaver and Dan Haren, who are widely considered to be two of the top starters in the game today.
With Jose Bautista, the Blue Jays continue to be one of baseball's premier offenses, and things are only getting started.
Toronto ranks in the top seven in team BA (.270), OBP (.335) and SLG (.429) respectively but will need more production out of players such as Rajai Davis, Corey Patterson and Yunel Escobar if they expect to contend in the AL East.
Likewise, Ricky Romero continues to impress, carrying a 2.88 ERA, 66 strikeouts and a 1.17 WHIP. He'll need to be on top of his game as the season progresses.
After another lackluster start to the season, the Mariners have caught fire as of late, winning eight out of their last 10 against divisional opponents.
The key to Seattle's success of late has come from their power arms, where both Felix Hernandez and Michael Pineda have imposed their will on opposing batters.
Nevertheless, this Mariners ballclub doesn't have the ideal power-lineup necessary to compete with the Rangers, Athletics and Angels—ranking in the bottom four in team BA (.226), R (241), OBP (.299) and SLG (.325).
A great start but much improvement is yet to be done.
Once again, Miguel Cabrera continues to dominate opposing pitching, only this time to the tune of 10 HR, 37 RBI, .431 OBP, .310 BA and 58 H.
But other than Cabrera, where will Detroit's offensive production come from?
Johnny Peralta is out to an impressive start, and Brennan Boesch will continue to progress at the major league level, but Jim Leyland's crew cannot survive on those two players alone.
With Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz back in the everyday lineup, the Rangers are as lethal as any team in baseball.
Moreover, the Rangers have found a diamond in the rough with Alexi Ogando and maintain one of baseball's most steadfast pitching staffs.
For as good as San Fransisco's pitching staff has been, their hitting lineup has been every bit as disappointing.
In fact, Bruce Bochy's crew lineup ranks in the bottom eight in BA (.243), R (244), OBP (.311) and SLG (.368). For the defending World Series champions, that's anything but effective.
If these Giants aren't able to solve their hitting disputes, they won't get the chance to defend their championship in the postseason.
Even without Carlos Pena and Matt Garza, the Rays continue to slug their way towards the top of the AL East.
And though they aren't particularly talented at hitting or pitching, Joe Maddon has managed to direct his young team to the promised land.
If breakout star Matt Joyce can continue his hot hitting, Tampa Bay will be back in the postseason with a chance at the World Series.
When GM Doug Melvin traded for Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum last offseason, this is exactly what he had in mind.
Over the last few weeks, Milwaukee has made substantial progress with their high-risk/high-reward starting rotation, as Greinke now carries a 5-1 record with 45 strikeout to just six walks.
If you thought that was impressive, now think about just how effective Marcum (6-2, 2.80 ERA, 1.05 WHIP) and Yovani Gallardo (7-2, 3.89 ERA, 1.34 WHIP) have been thus far.
Oh, and did I forget to mention they have Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder playing at optimum level?
Without question, Atlanta maintains baseball's best pitching staff from top to bottom, leading the league in team ERA (2.91), WHIP (1.15) and BAA (.230).
But the question remains: why aren't they higher on this list?
As it turns out, Atlanta has offensive problems of their own, especially with Dan Uggla and Jason Heyward.
Can they turn it around in time for a late-season run at the NL East title?
The acquisition of Adrian Gonzalez has worked wonders for Boston, as he leads the team in BA (.329) and RBI (46). But what about Carl Crawford?
So far this season, Crawford has managed to hit .237 with just four HR and 21 RBI and hasn't been more ineffective during his nine-year career than he is now.
Be that as it may, these Red Sox are still as solid as ever when it comes to their veteran stars such as Josh Beckett, Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz.
Whether or not they can keep up that success will determine how far they go this season.
Josh Johnson was undoubtedly baseball's best hurler for the first month of the season, and his untimely injury will continue to be a conflicting issue for this young group of players.
However, in his absence, players such as Anibal Sanchez and Ricky Nolasco have stepped up their game to some degree, hopefully with the thought that they can weather the storm without Johnson's aid.
On the other side of the spectrum, these Marlins haven't received the normal output from stars such as Hanley Ramirez and Omar Infante, but Mike Stanton and Gabby Sanchez have contributed exceptionally well.
The Diamondbacks are easily baseball's hottest team of late, and it's had to do with their balance in the batter's box and on the mound.
Offensively, Justin Upton and Chris Young lead the way with 58 RBI and 20 HR between them, but let's not lose sight of their surplus of role-players such as Miguel Montero, Stephen Drew, Kelly Johnson and Ryan Roberts.
However, the real reason for Arizona's success is their production on the mound. Ian Kennedey, Daniel Hudson and J.J. Putz combine for one of the best staffs in all of baseball.
The Yankees have once again managed to power their way towards the top of many power rankings. The only difference is who's leading them.
Curtis Granderson continues to put up staggering numbers for the Bronx Bombers, and Mark Teixeira has been every bit as impressive as well.
Additionally, CC Sabathia and the rest of New York's staff have been solid through two months, and if things continue, they'll be back in the postseason with a legitimate shot at the World Series.
Despite the loss of Adam Wainwright for the entire 2011 season, the Cardinals still remain one of baseball's premier clubs.
One of St. Louis' breakout stars, Kyle Lohse, leads the team in ERA (2.16), and wins (seven).
Still, that's not where the success of Tony La Russa's ballclub ends.
These Cardinals rank first in the majors in team BA (.283), OBP (.356), and rank second in runs scored (280). And if Albert Pujols returns to his customary form, there's no telling how far this team might go.
The Phillies have quickly become one of baseball's most lethal teams, but it hasn't come offensively.
Ranking in the top three in team ERA (3.21), WHIP (1.23) and QS (37), Roy Halladay and the Phillies' starting rotation can only be described as one of the most unrelenting staffs in the game today.
Nevertheless, the Phillies still have unfinished business offensively—where they fail to crack the top half of all major league teams in BA (.250), OBP (.317), SLG (.379) and runs scored (228).
One of the most refreshing storylines of the 2011 season, the Indians are an extremely capable young ballclub poised for a postseason run.
Behind arguably baseball's most stable offensive lineups, Cleveland seems like a legitimate contender to win the AL Central.
Leading the Indians in BA (.306), HR (10), RBI (39) and H (67), Asdrubal Cabrera has been the catalyst for Cleveland's offense thus far. If he can keep this pace up, he'll be in discussion for AL MVP when it's all said and done.
Additionally, Cleveland's starting rotation and bullpen success makes them baseball's complete team to this point in the season.