Is Anyone Better Than the Phillies? MLB 2011 Power Rankings
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The earliest returns on this year had the Red Sox as the worst team in baseball, and the Indians, Royals and Pirates staring down the standings at their opponents. While Boston has climbed back to the top of the East, a couple of those surprise teams have fallen off.
With MLB playoff races starting to heat up, it's time to figure which teams rank in the top 10 in the MLB. It's also time to determine the best team, currently, in baseball with about six weeks left in the regular season.
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10. Arizona Diamondbacks, 64-53, 1st Place
The D'Backs have surprised everyone as they battle for first place in the NL West.
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After having the worst bullpen in baseball a year ago, the D'Backs went to work last offseason doing everything in their power to fix it. And with a repaired pen, Arizona finds themselves locked into a tight battle with last year's World Series Champions, the San Francisco Giants in the NL West.
Without Stephen Drew, this team only has one star-powered player to lean on and Justin Upton has them in contention.
A pitching staff led by a transformed Ian Kennedy keeps these guys in every game.
While they've already overachieved this season, they don't appear to be going away and the Giants will need another run of late-season magic to hold off the D'Backs down the stretch.
9. Los Angeles Angels, 64-53, 2nd Place
Miek Sciocia will lean on his stellar pitching to take the Angels to the playoffs.
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Since losing Kendrys Morales to a broken ankle last season, the Angels offense has never been the same. And while that's true this year, their rotation in enviable. Led by potential Cy Young winner Jered Weaver and All-Star Dan Haren, the Halos feature a staff that is deep and talented. Ervin Santana, who tossed a no-hitter a couple weeks back, Joel Pineiro and youngsters Tyler Chatwood and Garret Richards, give the Angels plenty of pitching options down the stretch.
This probably winds up as the strongest team to miss the playoffs because the pitching won't be enough to climb past the Rangers at the end of the season. However, weaker Mike Scioscia teams have played baseball in October, so this race should be a good one until the end.
8. Detroit Tigers, 61-55, 1st Place
Justin Verlander is looking to pitch the Tigers into the playoffs.
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Not sure any pitcher is as dominant as Justin Verlander every time he takes the ball right now. Verlander matches up with any other team's ace and generally does so by flirting with a no-hitter.
On the other side of the ball, they've got the AL's version of Albert Pujols in Miguel Cabrera, whose still leading the way for an above-average offense. And even though Victor Martinez, Brennan Boesch and Jhonny Peralta were already playing the parts of quality supporting cast, the Tigers went out and bolstered their lineup by adding a solid bat at third base in Wilson Betemit.
Detroit had very few glaring holes, and after plugging up one with Betemit, they added Doug Fister to their rotation solidifying that area of their team for a playoff run.
7. Texas Rangers, 66-52, 1st Place
Koji Uehara was a key addition for the Rangers at the deadline.
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Even after losing Cliff Lee in free agency, the defending AL Champs are a force to be reckoned with. The offense is still premier, and Alexi Ogando has filled the vacancy left by Lee's departure.
The only question mark surrounding this team was getting the ball from the starter's hands to those of closer Neftali Feliz, and Texas answered that question by adding Mike Adams and Koji Uehara at the deadline. By bringing in those arms they've turned their lone weakness into a strength.
One scary thought is their offense has rarely been completely healthy all season, with Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz or another big bopper spending time on the DL. Currently, Adrian Beltre is working back from the 15-day disabled list.
6. San Francisco Giants, 64-54, 2nd Place
The Giants are hoping Cody Ross will get a chance to repeat as NLCS MVP
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The Giants have been at or near the top of the NL West all season, and even though the D'Backs currently hold a game and a half lead San Francisco has the better team.
The Giants pitching—starting and relieving, is as good as any other team in the MLB and at the deadline they addressed their primary concern by adding a middle-of-the-order bat. Even though results haven't been as expected since bringing in Carlos Beltran, the Giants will click together.
This team needed an extra game last season to make the playoffs and should be primed for another late season push.
5. Atlanta Braves, 69-49, 2nd Place NL East, 1st Place Wildcard
Dan Uggla's 31 game hit streak has rescued his season and that of the Braves.
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The Braves have fallen completely out of the NL East race since the trade deadline, but still hold the second best record in the National League and have a five game lead in the wild card standings.
They added a high quality bat in Michael Bourn at the trade deadline to bolster the offense but will continue to rely on pitching down the stretch.
Dan Uggla's 31-game hit streak has helped salvage his own season and given the Braves a big bat in the middle of the lineup that was essentially absent in the first half of the season.
4. Milwaukee Brewers, 67-50, 1st Place
A free agent after the season, Prince Fielder has the Brewers in the middle of a playoff run.
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Since a battle of beanballs with St. Louis last week, the Cardinals have fired on all cylinders.
The offense, led by Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder, is on fire, despite leadoff man Rickie Weeks being on the DL with a sprained ankle.
Zack Greinke is taking the form of an ace, and a solid supporting cast of Yovanni Gallardo, Shaun Marcum and Randy Wolf (as well as Chris Narveson, who just hit the DL for a cut on his finger), have the Brewers stampeding towards an NL Central crown.
They pushed all of their chips in on potentially the last season Fielder is a Brewer, and so far the results are there.
3. New York Yankees, 70-45, 2nd Place AL East, 1st Place Wildcard
The Captain and co. are headed back to the playoffs.
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There are certainly questions surrounding who will take the ball after CC Sabathia in Game 2 of the playoffs, but the good news for the Yankees is they'll have a need to answer that question as they have the second best record in the AL.
The offense is still quite potent, the bullpen is solid and this team simply knows how to win games.
2. Boston Red Sox, 72-44, 1st Place
Adrian Gonzalez has given the Red Sox plenty of reasons to smile this year.
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After starting 2-10, the Red Sox have turned in a season more in line with what was expected of them this year.
Offseason acquisition Adrian Gonzalez has made the trade worth it already as he is probably the front-runner for AL MVP.
Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia have kicked the tires as MVP candidates as well, and David Ortiz is having a top notch year, which has been enough to get past some injuries to the pitching staff all season.
Still, having a couple of aces like Josh Beckett and Jon Lester and a solid bullpen to lean on has the Red Sox looking down on the entire American League.
1. Philadelphia Phillies, 77-40, 1st Place
The Phillies have taken off since trading for Hunter Pence.
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The Phillies were already arguably the best team in baseball, then they traded for Hunter Pence and have since gone on an absolute tear extending their lead in the NL East to 8.5 games over the Braves.
Pence joins an already star-studded lineup capable of scoring as much as anyone.
The starting pitching has been as good as advertised, and the Phillies are on pace for 107 wins.