MLB Power Rankings: Why the Indians and Braves Are the Best Teams in Baseball

Jim Piascik@@JimPiascikCorrespondent IMay 11, 2011

MLB Power Rankings: Why the Indians and Braves Are the Best Teams in Baseball

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    This kind of teamwork has the Indians playing as well as any team in the league.
    This kind of teamwork has the Indians playing as well as any team in the league.Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    It may not be a popular notion, but judging a team solely based off of their current win-loss record isn't the best way to judge a team. Looking at the number of runs a team has scored and given up yields a much better notion of how a team has really played and eliminates any lucky/fluky wins.

    I've explained my power rankings in more detail in previous columns (http://bleacherreport.com/articles/686651-mlb-power-rankings-how-far-the-rays-rose-the-white-sox-fell-and-a-new-1 and http://bleacherreport.com/articles/676326-mlb-power-rankings-ranking-all-30-teams-to-this-point-in-the-season).

    The most important thing is that the Pythagorean W-L I use is how a team would finish if they continued scoring and allowing runs at their current pace. This gives the best picture of the true nature of each team's play.

    Without further ado, let's get to the rankings:

#30 Minnesota Twins (12-21)

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    No-hitter or not, there are still major problems in Minnesota.
    No-hitter or not, there are still major problems in Minnesota.Nick Laham/Getty Images

    Pythagorean W-L: 48-112

    Last Week: 30

    No change from last week for the Twins. Francisco Liriano may have thrown the first no-hitter of the season, but that doesn't change reality.

    Liriano currently holds a 7.07 ERA, a 1.598 WHIP and a -0.4 WAR (WAR as of Tuesday morning), pairing beautifully with Carl Pavano and his 6.64 ERA, 1.452 WHIP and a -0.9 WAR.

    The offense has been just as dreadful, scoring only 3.15 runs a game, 29th in the league. It's not a good time to be a Twins fan.

#29 Los Angeles Dodgers (16-20)

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    His hit streak may be over, but Andre Ethier is still a great player.
    His hit streak may be over, but Andre Ethier is still a great player.Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Pythagorean W-L: 64-98

    Last Week: 26

    The Dodgers may have a halfway decent record, but truth is, they aren't playing all that well. They're 25th in runs scored and 22nd in runs allowed.

    They have some very good players (Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Clayton Kershaw) but are quite a few pieces away from making a legitimate run at the playoffs.

#28 Houston Astros (13-22)

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    Brett Myers needs to pitch better for there to be any hope for the Astros.
    Brett Myers needs to pitch better for there to be any hope for the Astros.Bob Levey/Getty Images

    Pythagorean W-L: 64-98

    Last Week: 27

    I've been defending the Astros for a while now, claiming they aren't the worst team in the league. While they're still 28th, they've been slowly slipping down.

    Brett Myers isn't pitching as well and the team is last in runs allowed per game. They're above the Twins and Dodgers for now, but if Houston doesn't stop hemorrhaging runs soon, they'll be in even more trouble. 

#27 Baltimore Orioles (14-19)

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    The Orioles have had few moments to celebrate this year.
    The Orioles have had few moments to celebrate this year.Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Pythagorean W-L: 64-98

    Last Week: 20

    It all started out so well for the Orioles. Their 6-1 start has to feel like ages ago at this point.

    They fell seven spots to 27th this week because they only have three hitters with an OPS+ over 100 (Luke Scott, Robert Andino and Matt Wieters) and are allowing 4.88 runs a game, 27th in the league.

    Their veteran additions are still struggling and are looking more like busts. 

#26 Chicago Cubs (15-18)

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    Brighter days are probably ahead for Matt Garza and the Cubs.
    Brighter days are probably ahead for Matt Garza and the Cubs.Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Pythagorean W-L: 66-96

    Last Week: 28

    After moving up two spots this week, things are starting to look up on the North Side.

    They're still not getting much out of their offense (3.85 runs per game, 21st in the league) and giving up far too many runs (4.76 per game, 26th in the league), but Matt Garza's strikeout rate (11.7 SO/9) offers hope for his season.

    If only Alfonso Soriano could mix in some walks (only four compared to 31 strikeouts) with his 11 home runs.

#25 San Diego Padres (14-21)

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    This great Padres pitching is being wasted by their horrendous offense.
    This great Padres pitching is being wasted by their horrendous offense.Bob Levey/Getty Images

    Pythagorean W-L: 69-93

    Last Week: 23

    The problem with the Padres is very simple: they can't score runs. They are dead last in runs scored per game (3.09), ruining the fact that they are seventh in runs allowed per game (3.66).

    I know Petco Park is a pitcher's dream, but what does it take for the Padres to get a little bit of life on offense?

#24 Seattle Mariners (16-19)

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    I think that everyone's happy to see this come to an end.
    I think that everyone's happy to see this come to an end.Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Pythagorean W-L: 69-93

    Last Week: 22

    The Mariners have a very similar problem to the Padres. Their anemic offense has been wasting great pitching from the likes of Felix Hernandez and Michael Pineda.

    Hopefully, the moves this week (cutting Milton Bradley, demoting Ryan Langerhans) will jump-start this offense and turn things around for the Mariners.

#23 Washington Nationals (16-18)

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    The Nationals are really starting to miss Ryan Zimmerman.
    The Nationals are really starting to miss Ryan Zimmerman.Rob Carr/Getty Images

    Pythagorean W-L: 70-92

    Last Week: 18

    The biggest thing missing from the Nationals are stars. Without Ryan Zimmerman, Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg, the Nationals are a collection of supporting pieces.

    They aren't a bad team, but without a transcendent player in the lineup, they'll be a 70-92 team at best.

#22 Chicago White Sox (14-22)

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    The White Sox have had reason to smile recently.
    The White Sox have had reason to smile recently.Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Pythagorean W-L: 72-90

    Last Week: 29

    It was rough for the South Side last week falling all the way to 29th, but they're rebounding this week. This team isn't as bad as they've played to this point.

    As much as it pains me, I'm sure they'll make a run and make life difficult for my Cleveland Indians.

    That pitching staff is still deep and the offense will turn it around. Ozzie Guillen will have plenty of good to rant about soon enough.

#21 Milwaukee Brewers (15-20)

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    Zack Greinke didn't have the debut he wanted this past week.
    Zack Greinke didn't have the debut he wanted this past week.Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Pythagorean W-L: 74-88

    Last Week: 12

    The Brewers get Zack Greinke back and fall nine spots in these rankings. No one fell as much as Milwaukee did in the week they got their star pitcher back.

    They're still a very good team but will need to get things together soon. Trade rumors are swirling around Prince Fielder already, and more losses will only make it worse. 

#20 Toronto Blue Jays (15-20)

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    Jose Bautista needs some help in Toronto for the Blue Jays to win more games.
    Jose Bautista needs some help in Toronto for the Blue Jays to win more games.Abelimages/Getty Images

    Pythagorean W-L: 75-87

    Last Week: 14

    Like the Brewers, the Blue Jays have fallen quite a ways in these rankings this week. Their problem is that Jose Bautista is the only great player on this team.

    The rest of the Blue Jays lineup leaves a lot to be desired (as was evident when Justin Verlander carved them up this past week).

    You can see the pieces starting to form in Toronto, but they're not there yet.

#19 Pittsburgh Pirates (18-17)

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    The Pirates are winning; what a novel thought.
    The Pirates are winning; what a novel thought.Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    Pythagorean W-L: 76-86

    Last Week: 25

    The world must be ending; the Pirates are above .500. Finally, after all these years of rebuilding, Pittsburgh fans are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

    Players like Neil Walker and Andrew McCutchen are young (25 and 24, respectively) and coming into their own.

    As long as the Pirates continue to make good decisions, they'll continue seeing their record above .500.

# 18 New York Mets (15-20)

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    Jose Reyes is playing very well, but how much longer will he be a Met?
    Jose Reyes is playing very well, but how much longer will he be a Met?Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    Pythagorean W-L: 76-86

    Last Week: 21

    Things are really not that bad for the Mets. Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes, Ike Davis and David Wright are great players and playing well. Their pitching is thin, but in a perfect world, the Mets could compete in 2012.

    The problem is their financial situation will probably see them sell off at least Beltran and Reyes this year.

    Unfortunately for Mets fans, hanging around mediocre might be all the success they see for a while.

#17 Boston Red Sox (17-18)

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    Hard work has Carl Crawford starting to turn things around.
    Hard work has Carl Crawford starting to turn things around.Abelimages/Getty Images

    Pythagorean W-L: 77-85

    Last Week: 17

    Another week, another 17th place finish in these rankings. The Red Sox have come a long way from their horrid start, but they're still missing something.

    Luckily for them, Carl Crawford seems to be coming out of his funk and Josh Beckett and Jon Lester are an epic one-two punch.

    Boston needs John Lackey to give them something for the $15.3 million they are paying him if they want to make the playoffs this year, though.

# 16 Arizona Diamondbacks (15-18)

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    The Diamondbacks need more than just Ian Kennedy to pitch well.
    The Diamondbacks need more than just Ian Kennedy to pitch well.Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Pythagorean W-L: 78-84

    Last Week: 19

    Arizona is a team without many big names, but they're getting the job done. By being the seventh best scoring offense (4.67 runs per game), they've offset being the 28th best team in runs allowed (4.88 per game).

    If they can start pitching better, maybe the Diamondbacks can make a run in a fairly weak NL West. 

#15 San Francisco Giants (18-16)

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    The Giants haven't been any good at all on offense without Kung Fu Panda.
    The Giants haven't been any good at all on offense without Kung Fu Panda.Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Pythagorean W-L: 80-82

    Last Week: 16

    Is it a problem when Pablo Sandoval has accumulated the best offensive and defensive stats and has been out for almost two weeks?

    The pitching is elite, but the offense is downright ugly at times. Giants fans should pray that the Jose Reyes trade happens, because they need some sort of spark plug for this anemic offense.

#14 Detroit Tigers (18-18)

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    Justin Verlander's no-hitter has helped the Tigers move way up in these rankings.
    Justin Verlander's no-hitter has helped the Tigers move way up in these rankings.Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Pythagorean W-L: 81-81

    Last Week: 24

    Playing like a .500 team is normally nothing to cheer about, but when it means you've moved up 10 spots in one week, it's cause for celebration.

    The Tigers were the biggest movers this week and find themselves in the upper half of the rankings.

    Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer are great pitchers, and Victor Martinez's return has spurred on the ninth best scoring offense in the league (4.50 runs per game). 

#13 Texas Rangers (18-18)

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    Without Nelson Cruz, the Rangers are free-falling in these rankings.
    Without Nelson Cruz, the Rangers are free-falling in these rankings.Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Pythagorean W-L: 84-78

    Last Week: 9

    Whereas the Tigers have been the high risers this week, the Rangers have continued their descent. Their pitching, which started strong, has faded.

    Their offense is now missing Nelson Cruz as well as Josh Hamilton. They may have gotten off to a hot start, but the Rangers seem to be fading without their great players.

#12 Oakland Athletics (19-17)

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    Trevor Cahill seems to be living up to his new big contract.
    Trevor Cahill seems to be living up to his new big contract.Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Pythagorean W-L: 86-76

    Last Week: 15

    The Athletics' pitching remains elite, and their offense is starting to round into form.

    They'll need to move out of 28th place in runs scored (3.53 per game) to make a serious push for the playoffs, but only allowing 3.31 runs per game (third best in the league) surely makes up for their troubled offense.

    Replacing Kevin Kouzmanoff at third base could be a good start.  

#11 Kansas City Royals (18-16)

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    Alex Gordon and the Royals have been surprising all year.
    Alex Gordon and the Royals have been surprising all year.Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Pythagorean W-L: 87-75

    Last Week: 13

    I still worry about their long-term viability, but the Royals are holding up nicely. They've actually managed to move up two spots in these rankings and have the fourth best scoring offense (5.00 runs per game) in baseball.

    If they could only find a way to fix their pitching (4.62 runs per game, 25th in the league), they could make a run in a not-so-strong AL Central.

#10 Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (20-16)

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    Vernon Wells has been a drag on this team all year.
    Vernon Wells has been a drag on this team all year.Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Pythagorean W-L: 89-73

    Last Week: 8

    The Angels are currently the best team in the AL West, but I have big concerns about them.

    Past Jered Weaver and Dan Haren, who else can pitch for them? How much longer can they expect Vernon Wells to be an everyday outfielder?

    His DL trip might allow them to see they need to move on. Their pitching will let them get away with some mistakes, but by no means should they think they're all set. 

#9 Colorado Rockies (19-14)

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    Things are looking a little bit better for Ubaldo Jimenez and the Rockies.
    Things are looking a little bit better for Ubaldo Jimenez and the Rockies.Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Pythagorean W-L: 89-73

    Last Week: 7

    The Rockies started the year on fire, but they have cooled as of late. Troy Tulowitzki has finally looked human after looking like Babe Ruth incarnate in the way he was hitting home runs.

    The good news is that Ubaldo Jimenez is rounding back into form. The Rockies are in the very weak NL West and should be fine despite their recent struggles.

#8 Florida Marlins (20-14)

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    Anibal Sanchez has flirted with two no-hitters already this year.
    Anibal Sanchez has flirted with two no-hitters already this year.Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images

    Pythagorean W-L: 90-72

    Last Week: 6

    The Florida Marlins don't have the pleasure of playing in a weak division. Day in and day out, the NL East is the best division in baseball.

    The Marlins have Josh Johnson's greatness, Anibal Sanchez's emerging greatness, an elite bullpen and a slew of good hitters.

    Plus, they've done it despite Hanley Ramirez still being in a funk. The future looks good for the Marlins.

#7 Cincinnati Reds (19-16)

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    Johnny Cueto's return has helped the Reds in a big way.
    Johnny Cueto's return has helped the Reds in a big way.Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Pythagorean W-L: 92-70

    Last Week: 11

    Johnny Cueto's solid return has helped an otherwise weak starting rotation, but I still have major questions about their rotation.

    As long as they keep scoring runs (5.11 per game, third best in baseball) they'll be fine. To be great, though, they'll need to give up fewer runs.

#6 Tampa Bay Rays (20-14)

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    Evan Longoria's return aids an already dangerous Tampa Bay Rays team.
    Evan Longoria's return aids an already dangerous Tampa Bay Rays team.J. Meric/Getty Images

    Pythagorean W-L: 97-65

    Last Week: 10

    Those pesky Rays just keep on winning. They've found some way to replace their many offseason losses flawlessly and continue winning.

    There must be something in the water down in Tampa, because their transition has been beautiful.

    The Rays play the game the right way and look dangerous this year. Plus, they've been doing it all without Evan Longoria, who's back now.

#5 New York Yankees (19-13)

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    How long can Bartolo Colon keep pitching like this?
    How long can Bartolo Colon keep pitching like this?Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Pythagorean W-L: 99-63

    Last Week: 2

    The Yankees better watch out because the Rays are gaining on them. The Yankees are obviously the best team money can buy, but they have their flaws.

    They have the best scoring offense in baseball (5.31 runs per game), but are only 14th in runs allowed (4.13 per game).

    The real question I have is: Can Bartolo Colon and Freddie Garcia keep this up all year for the Yankees?

#4 St. Louis Cardinals (20-15)

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    Lance Berkman has been unconscious this year.
    Lance Berkman has been unconscious this year.Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    Pythagorean W-L: 101-61

    Last Week: 4

    The Cardinals remain in great shape in these rankings. Lance Berkman and the rest of the second best offense in baseball (5.23 runs per game) have paired with the tenth best defense (3.97 runs per game) to form a killer combination.

    Sure, Albert Pujols is still struggling and the bullpen is still a work in progress, but the Cardinals are very good right now and have the potential to keep getting better. 

#3 Philadelphia Phillies (23-11)

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    Chase Utley is close to being back with the big league club.
    Chase Utley is close to being back with the big league club.Nick Laham/Getty Images

    Pythagorean W-L: 102-60

    Last Week: 3

    The Phillies have the second best pitching and defense in baseball, only allowing 3.29 runs per game. This with their tenth best offense (4.41 runs per game) has them playing very well.

    Please notice that I said tenth best. Their offense has its dry spells but is still playing very well.

    Plus, Chase Utley is starting his rehab. The Phillies are very well off. Don't worry, Philadelphia. 

#2 Atlanta Braves (20-16)

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    Chipper Jones is leading a very strong Braves team.
    Chipper Jones is leading a very strong Braves team.Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Pythagorean W-L: 105-57

    Last Week: 5

    I've been on the Braves all year and they're finally starting to pay me back. They took two of three from the Phillies this past week and are starting to come into their own.

    They give up the fewest runs per game of anyone in baseball (2.97 per game). If they can get a little more offense out of players like Dan Uggla, the Braves might be able to take over first place in these rankings. 

#1 Cleveland Indians (22-11)

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    Grady Sizemore has been a big part of the Indians' greatness this year.
    Grady Sizemore has been a big part of the Indians' greatness this year.Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Pythagorean W-L: 105-57

    Last Week: 1

    Two straight weeks on top of these rankings? Enough to make me happy.

    The Indians are fifth both in runs scored and runs allowed per game (5.00 scored, 3.55 allowed) and playing great all-around baseball.

    They might have slipped up on their West Coast trip this past week, but they're still the best team in baseball.

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