MLB Power Rankings: Giants, Tigers challenge Brewers as best in baseball
1. Milwaukee Brewers (22-11, previous: 1) – Another week, another stay at the top for the Brewers. Losers of four of its last six games, it just shows how dominant Milwaukee has been this season to still have the most wins in the league. Prior to Monday’s 8-3 victory over Arizona, their offense was in a slump, scoring three runs or less in five straight games. The Brewers will be put to the test this upcoming weekend with an interleague series against the Yankees.
2. San Francisco Giants (21-11, previous: 6) - San Francisco is playing the best ball in the National League at the moment as it has won six straight and nine of its last 10 to open up a two-game lead in the NL West. Their offense is much improved from a year ago as they are currently averaging 4.38 runs per game, the third-most in the NL. They will be without starter Matt Cain for a period of time as he was placed on the 15-day disabled list over the weekend.
3. Colorado Rockies (20-14, previous: 7) – Plenty of people are starting to jump on the Rockies bandwagon as they’ve won eight of their last 10 games and have scored an NL-leading 193 runs this season. They’ve even showed signs that their pitching is starting to come around, but they do need a dependable starter to emerge to go along with Jorge De La Rosa.
4. Oakland Athletics (19-13, previous: 3) – Despite losing two of three to the Red Sox over the weekend, the Athletics remain the best team in the American League. Along with a powerful offense, starter Sonny Gray has been lights out at the top of their rotation, going 4-1 with an ERA of 1.91. The A’s have been able to piece together their bullpen, which is one thing to keep an eye on moving forward, but Oakland should be in it for the long haul.
5. Detroit Tigers (18-9, previous: 13) – Detroit is one of, if not the hottest team in all of baseball, as it has won six straight and nine of its last 10 games. The Tigers’ plus-29 run differential is the second-best in the American League. During their recent win streak, the Tigers scored at least five runs in four of five and allowed three runs or less in four of five. Taking on the lowly Astros to open the week should extend the streak.
6. Washington Nationals (18-14, previous: 10) – Winning six of their last 10, combined with the losing streak by the Braves, the Nationals have climbed the ladder to first place in the NL East. Everyone is well aware of the strong pitching Washington has, but its offense has been solid to open the year as it has averaged 4.28 runs per game, fourth in the NL.
7. Los Angeles Dodgers (18-15, previous: 9) – The Dodgers are 12-6 on the road this season, but just 6-9 at Chavez Ravine. After a strong season last year, they’ve just been average to open 2014, owning the sixth-best offense in the NL and the eighth-best pitching staff (team ERA). Los Angeles will wrap up a 10-game road trip before hosting the division leading Giants over the weekend.
8. Texas Rangers (17-15, previous: 5) – It’s been an up-and-down season for the Rangers with many peaks and valleys as they are currently in one of their cold spells, losers of six of their last eight games. Texas’ offense has been a bit inconsistent as within the losing streak they’ve managed to score three runs or less five times. A tough stretch awaits the Rangers with their next two series’ coming against the Rockies and Red Sox.
9. St. Louis Cardinals (17-16, previous: 11) – There hasn’t been much the Cardinals could have done with the start the Brewers have gotten off to, but they themselves haven’t exactly lit it up. Sitting just one-game over .500 isn’t where the defending NL Champions want to be. After leading the NL in runs per game with 4.83 last season, they have averaged just 3.61 this year, the third-fewest in the National League.
10. Atlanta Braves (17-14, previous: 2) – Things have certainly changed for the Braves this past week as they have now lost seven games in a row and had, by far, the furthest drop off in the rankings. Their offense hasn’t been performing of late as in the seven losses, they’ve averaged just 2.29 runs per game. Atlanta has two more games against the Cardinals before a weekend series with the Cubs as it looks to shake the losing streak.
11. Miami Marlins (17-15, previous: 22) – Surprisingly, the Marlins are one of the hottest teams in the National League at the moment, winning seven of their last 10 games. Even though they are in a tie for last in the division, they have the best run differential, coming in at a plus-25. Averaging 4.78 runs per game, good for second in the league, will allow for that to happen, but in order to be considered a serious contender they will need to get better pitching besides ace Jose Fernandez.
12. New York Mets (16-15, previous: 8) – Although the Mets have an above-.500 record, there are still some concerns, especially in the bullpen as they allowed four runs in the final two innings to fall to the Marlins, 4-3, Monday night. Currently, their bullpen has an ERA of 4.27, which is 13th out of 15 teams in the NL. Mets fans should be happy with their offense thus far as they’ve averaged the fifth-most runs in the NL with 4.23.
13. Baltimore Orioles (15-14, previous: 17) – Baltimore has won six of its last 10 games, although its offense has struggled of late, as in its last three games the O’s have scored three runs or less. Overall, Baltimore’s offense has been solid to open the year as they’ve posted a .264 team batting average, which is among the top-three in the American League. Three game series’ against the Rays and struggling Astros await them this week.
14. New York Yankees (16-15, previous: 4) – After a solid stretch in late April, this past week didn’t go as well for the Yankees as they have lost six of their last 10. They have the worst run differential in the American League East at minus-19 and in six of their last seven losses they’ve scored three runs or less. New York is on the West Coast for a three-game series with the Angels, before traveling to Milwaukee for a big May series with the best team in baseball, the Brewers.
15. Seattle Mariners (15-15, previous: 27) – Seattle has won three games in a row and eight of its last 10 to get back to a .500 record. The addition of Robinson Cano is starting to show as the Mariners are starting to score runs, now averaging 4.20 runs per game.
16. Philadelphia Phillies (15-15, previous: 12) – Going 5-5 in its last 10 has been par for the course for Philadelphia this season as they have a .500 record, which has them in a tie with the Marlins for last place in an above-average NL East. Luckily for the Phils, the division isn’t separated by more than two games from first to last. For the Phillies to succeed moving forward, their pitching will need to improve as they are currently 12th in the NL, posting a 4.03 ERA.
17. Minnesota Twins (15-15, previous: 16) – Despite having a .500 record, the Twins are still in second place in the AL Central. Their offense has led them the first month or so of the season, leading a number of categories as they are third in runs scored with five per game and second in on-base percentage at .340. Minnesota is amidst a seven-game road trip, with all games coming within the division.
18. Chicago White Sox (16-17, previous: 14) – The White Sox will be a team this year which will go as far as their offense can take them as they have scored an AL-leading 166 runs to this point in the year. With the ace of their starting rotation, Chris Sale, set to return from the DL soon, their pitching staff will be given a boost to go along with their powerful offense.
19. Boston Red Sox (15-17, previous: 21) – Nothing has changed for the Red Sox since the start of the season as they simply cannot get anything going. Since the second game of the season, they’ve had eight chances to get over .500, but are 0-8 in those games. They’ve received tremendous starting pitching as they have the second-most quality starts in the American League, but the biggest issue is they just cannot get a big hit when they need it, as they are hitting .222 with runners in scoring position, 13th in the AL. They are also just 3-8 in one-run games.
20. Toronto Blue Jays (15-17, previous: 19) – In a weird quirk, the Blue Jays are the only team to have a positive run-differential (three) in the American League East, but yet they are in a tie for last place. For obvious reasons, pitching has been their downfall, posting a 4.50 team ERA, good for 12th in the AL.
21. San Diego Padres (15-18, previous: 15) – Scoring runs has been the issue for the Padres through the first month of the year as they have scored an MLB low 90 runs. They also rank dead last in the NL in all three major batting categories (batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage). If they can somehow turn their offense around they have the pitching and defense to possibly contend for a wild card spot.
22. Cincinnati Reds (15-16, previous: 23) – The Reds will enter their series with the Red Sox riding high after taking three-of-four from the Brewers over the weekend. Their pitching got it done as they didn’t allow more than three runs in any of the four games. Cincinnati got off to a slow start, but a strong past few weeks has got them back in the NL Central mix, trailing the Brewers along with everyone else.
23. Tampa Bay Rays (15-17, previous: 25) – Joe Maddon has pulled the Rays together and has not let the wheels fall off completely after losing starting pitchers Matt Moore, for the year to Tommy John surgery, and Jeremy Helickson, for significant time (still working his way back from elbow surgery). Alex Cobb is also out with an oblique strain. If they can stay afloat until they get those two pitchers back, the Rays could make a charge in the AL East.
24. Kansas City Royals (14-17, previous: 18) – The Royals have lost five straight games and are not playing good baseball of late. Their .307 team-OBP and .364 team slugging ranks third to last and second to last, respectively, in the American League. Kansas City has just opened a seven-game road trip with games against the Padres and Mariners upcoming.
25. Cleveland Indians (13-19, previous: 24) – Things aren’t going so well for Terry Francona and the Indians as they have lost eight of their last 10 games and are among one of the worst teams in the American League. Hitting has been the main issue as they are among the worst in the AL with a .232 batting average and are averaging the second-fewest runs per game, 3.84.
26. Los Angeles Angels (12-13, previous: 20) – The Angels have won six of their last 10, but still remain in third place in a competitive AL West. They have a plus-31 run differential, which is the second-best in the AL behind Oakland’s plus-49. They will be without Josh Hamilton, due to a wrist injury until likely just prior to the All-Star break, so if they can stay competitive until then, they will get a big boost when he returns.
27. Pittsburgh Pirates (12-20, previous: 26) – The miserable start to the season continues for the Pirates as they have lost seven of their last 10 games and their minus-16 run differential is the worst in their division, as even the Cubs have a better mark. After the Pirates’ pitching guided them to the postseason last year, this year is another story as their team ERA of 4.04 is 13th in the NL.
28. Chicago Cubs (11-19, previous: 29) – Being in the bottom third of the league in all major offensive categories is a major reason for the Cubs’ poor start to the season. It appears like the Cubs are on the way to their fourth straight losing season.
29. Houston Astros (10-22, previous: 28) – The bad news: the Astros have lost five of their last six games. The good news: they’ve scored eight or more runs in two of those games, showing some signs of improvement from their league-low 3.38 runs per game.
30. Arizona Diamondbacks (11-24, previous: 30) – There isn’t much to say about the Diamondbacks this year as the 11 wins in 35 games tells the story, but hey, at least stud first baseman Paul Goldschmidt hasn’t let the poor team performance affect his play at the plate.
*All stats and records are as of Tuesday, May 6.
Follow Metro sports writer Ryan Hannable on Twitter @Hannable84