MLB Power Rankings: Pirates supplant Cardinals as new No. 1

It's all smiles in Pittsburgh these days as Russell Martin and the Pirates are on a tear. (Getty Images)
It’s all smiles in Pittsburgh these days as Russell Martin and the Pirates are on a tear. (Getty Images)

1. Pittsburgh Pirates (51-30, previously No. 2) – Finally there is a new No. 1 team as the Pirates leaped to the top, riding their nine-game winning streak going into play Monday. Their pitching has been outstanding in this stretch, limiting opponents to three runs or less in seven of the nine wins, which makes sense considering they lead the NL in ERA with a 3.13 mark. It’s a relatively easy week for the new No. 1 as they host the Phillies and then travel to Chicago to take on the Cubs.

2. Boston Red Sox (50-34, previous No. 6) – After slipping out of the top five last week, the Red Sox quickly picked things up this past week. They are the first American League team to reach 50 wins and did so by sweeping the Rockies and then putting an end to the Blue Jays’ hot streak as they took three-of-four from Toronto this past weekend. Although a lot of their wins may not be the prettiest, they are a very resilient team and continue to find different ways to pull out victories. The Sox will host the Padres for three games before going out West for a 10-game road trip before the All-Star break.

3. St. Louis Cardinals (49-32, previous No. 1) – The Cardinals dropped out of the top spot for the first time in a long time. They’ve dropped six of their last eight and three of their last four going into Monday. In their last eight games they’ve scored four runs or less five times, which goes against what they’ve done all season as they lead the NL in runs per game with a 4.95 mark  as of Monday. The Cards will look to regain their top spot with games against the Angels and Marlins this week.

4. Atlanta Braves (48-34, previous No. 5) – The Braves continue to get good pitching and thus maintain their strong lead over the rest of the NL East. They are second in the NL in run differential at plus-68 and allow the fewest runs in the NL at 3.39 runs per game, both going into Monday. Atlanta can distance itself even more in the division as their next nine games are against division opponents.

5. Texas Rangers (48-34, previous No. 4) - A 4-2 week maintained the Rangers’ lead in the AL West, but the Athletics are still right behind them trailing by only a half game as of Monday. The pitching has stepped up for Texas as this past week it had two shutouts and allowed just two runs in another. If the Rangers can continue to get this type of pitching, they could pull away from the A’s as currently the Rangers have the fifth best team batting average in the AL at .260. They have a good chance in doing this as their next two series’ are against the Mariners and Astros, both at home.

6. Oakland Athletics (48-35, previous No. 8) – Despite a tough schedule this past week with games against the Reds and Cardinals, the Athletics more than held their own, losing just once, proving they are one of the better teams the AL has to offer. As of Monday they are third in the AL in team ERA at 3.76 and fifth in runs per game at 4.67. Just percentage points behind the Rangers in the AL West, games against the Cubs and Royals could give them a good opportunity to take over first.

7. Baltimore Orioles (47-36, previous No. 9) – The Orioles have now won four in a row after sweeping the Yankees over the weekend and remain in second place in what is a very competitive AL East. Their offense continues to lead the way as going into Monday they are second in the AL in runs with 410, trailing only the AL East leading Red Sox. A six-game road trip now awaits the Orioles with stops in Chicago taking on the White Sox and New York to face the Yankees.

8. Cincinnati Reds (46-36, previous No. 3) – Cincinnati fell out of the top-five this week as it has now lost seven of its last nine games. The Reds remain in third place in the NL Central, 5.5 back of the first place Pirates. Their offense has been lacking of late, scoring three runs or less in seven of their last nine games. They will look to turn things around this coming week as they play their next seven games at home taking on the Giants and Mariners.

9. Cleveland Indians (44-38, previous No. 15) – The Indians made the biggest jump this week, moving up six spots and cracking the top 10. Although they trail the Tigers by percentage points for the AL Central lead, they are playing much better baseball of late. Their offense has gotten back to what it was at the beginning of the season as they have averaged nine runs in their past four games. They will travel to Kansas City before hosting the Tigers for a big series next weekend.

10. Detroit Tigers (43-37, previous No. 7) – Losers of five of their last six, the Tigers have allowed the Indians to get back into contention for the AL Central lead. Although their pitching has remained consistent, their offense hasn’t lived up to their 4.95 runs per game average as they scored three runs or less in their last three losses. A difficult eight-game road trip awaits the Tigers, beginning Monday in Toronto and finishing in Cleveland next weekend.

11. Tampa Bay Rays (43-39, previous No. 13) – Tampa won five of seven at home this past week and maintained its third place spot in the AL East. If the Rays are going to make a move to get back into the playoffs, their pitching will need to be better as they currently have a 4.16 team ERA, which is below the league average, something the Rays have not been in many years. They do have a relatively light schedule coming up before the All-Star break with seven games against the Astros, four against the Twins and three against the White Sox.

12. Arizona Diamondbacks (42-39, previous No. 10) – Despite being swept by the Braves over the weekend, and losing six of their last seven, the Diamondbacks are still leading the NL West by two games. Arizona averages 4.22 runs per game going into Monday, but that hasn’t been the case of late as in their last seven games they’ve scored three runs or less five times. The Diamondbacks will wrap up their East Coast trip with four games against the Mets to open this week.

13. New York Yankees (42-39, previous No. 11) – With all the injuries the Yankees have had to deal with this season it is pretty impressive they’ve managed to keep themselves in striking distance of a playoff spot. They are going through a rough patch right now, having lost five games in a row and sitting in fourth place in the AL East. They trailed the first place Red Sox by 6.5 games as of Monday. A four-game set against the Twins to open the week should give the Yankees a good chance to bounce back and get some momentum going as the All-Star break approaches.

14. Washington Nationals (41-40, previous No. 18) – Although they sit in second place in the NL East, the Nats have not been as good as many thought going into the year. Despite having the fifth best team ERA in the NL at 3.54, they were expected to be at, or near the top of the standings. Currently 6.5 games behind the first place Atlanta, they will look to get on a roll beginning with a seven-game homestand taking on the Brewers and Padres this week.

15. Colorado Rockies (41-42, previous No. 14) – The Rockies are in second place in the NL West, but that isn’t saying much as although it is a tightly bunched division, it is one of the worst in the league. Colorado is second in the NL in runs per game at 4.70, but a team ERA of 4.10 doesn’t help the cause. The next few weeks are critical for them as their next 13 games are all against NL West opponents.

16. San Diego Padres (40-42, previous No. 17) - San Diego is another team in the weak NL West. They’ve dropped four of their last five and are currently in third place. Their offensive has been in a bit of a rut of late, scoring two runs or less in three of their last five games. They will continue their long East Coast trip with games against the Marlins, Red Sox and Nationals this week.

17. Toronto Blue Jays (40-41, previous No. 12) – Last week the Blue Jays were the hottest team in baseball, but they were cooled off this week going 2-5 against the Orioles and Red Sox. Despite being in last place in the AL East they are not out of it by any means, only trailing the Sox by 8.5 games. They will look to get on another hot streak beginning with hosting the Tigers for four games to open the week.

18. Los Angeles Angels (39-43, previously not ranked) – Winning six in a row will get a team into the rankings for the second time this season. They averaged 6.33 runs per game in those six wins going into Monday. As of Monday they are sixth in the AL in runs per game at 4.66, which is something they hope to improve on, possibly making a second half run at a playoff berth. Although their next six games are at home, they will not be easy as they are against the Cardinals and Red Sox.

19. Philadelphia Phillies (39-44, previous No. 19) - As the Phillies sit in third place in the NL East they could be a team who unloads some of its talent at the trading deadline as it appears they don’t have much of a shot at the playoffs and have a number of players teams will be after. They will travel to Pittsburgh for three games to open the week before hosting the Braves next weekend.

20. San Francisco Giants (39-42, previous No. 16) - With the NL West being as competitive as it is, despite being three games under .500 the Giants are still only three games back and the last place Dodgers are just four. Four games in Cincinnati against the Reds will be tough as they look to leapfrog the three teams in front of them for the division lead.

*Stats and records through Sunday, July 1

Follow Metro sports writer Ryan Hannable on Twitter @hannable84



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