MLB Power Rankings: Cardinals jolt past Rangers
1. St. Louis Cardinals (32-17, previous No. 2) – An impressive 4-2 week has moved the Cardinals into the top of Metro’s power rankings. Pitching and defense was the theme of the week as they gave up an average of 2.5 runs per game. With a win on Friday starter Lance Lynn improved to 7-1 on the year. The Cardinals are wrapping up an eight-game road trip, which will end Tuesday in Kansas City.
2. Texas Rangers (32-17, previous No. 1) — The Rangers dropped two of three to the Athletics at home this week, including a Yu Darvish start, thus the reason for their drop. They still have the best pitching the American League has to offer, posting a 3.44 ERA, tops in the AL as of Sunday. Texas is in the midst of a stretch of 12 of 16 games away from home, which will certainly provide a test for the AL West leaders.
3. Atlanta Braves (30-19, previous No. 6) – Winning eight of nine going into Monday will allow you to move into the top three of the rankings. The Braves beat up on lowly competition in the Dodgers, Twins and Mets, but did it in convincing fashion, outscoring teams 49-25 in that stretch. The Braves will open the week with a four-game, home-and-home series with the Blue Jays.
4. New York Yankees (30-19, previous No. 3) – The big news coming out of the Bronx this week was yet another injury as Curtis Granderson fractured his pinkie finger Friday night and is expected to miss at least four weeks. The team is tied for first place in the AL East and is getting set for a subway series with the Mets to start the coming week.
5. Cincinnati Reds (31-19, previous No. 7) – After winning five games in a row, one would have thought the Reds would have taken over first place, but they are in the same division as the best team in baseball, the Cardinals, so second place will have to do. The Reds will face a tough test with four games coming up against the Indians, one of the bigger surprise teams in baseball.
6. Pittsburgh Pirates (31-19, previously not ranked) – The surprise Pirates are hanging tough in the loaded NL Central. Going into Monday the Pirates had won six of their last games with pitching and defense the key, holding opponents to two runs or less an impressive five times in that stretch. Pirate teams have started seasons strong in the past, but eventually have fallen off. It’s another “wait and see” situation in Pittsburgh.
7. Boston Red Sox (31-20, previous No. 4) – After a five-game win streak, the White Sox took two-of-three from the Red Sox, dropping them out of the top-five. They did, however, bounce back by taking three-of-four from the Indians. The Sox continue to be led by their aces Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz as going into Monday they were17-4 in games started by the duo, and 14-16 in games not. The team will now face old friend Jonathan Papelbon and the Phillies in a four-game series.
8. Detroit Tigers (28-20, previous No. 8) – A dominant 5-1week has pushed the Tigers past the Indians for sole possession of first place in the AL Central. The Tigers outscored their opponents 35-18 this week, and now lead the AL in hitting with a .285 average going into Monday. Detroit will play 8 of its next 15 games at home as it looks to stay atop the AL Central.
9. Cleveland Indians (27-22, previous No. 5) – The big story surrounding the team last week was manager Terry Francona’s return to Boston, but the team did get swept in a brief two-game set with the Tigers to drop out of first place in the AL Central. They still are one of the best stories in baseball coming off a 68-win season last year. The Indians are in a brutal stretch now with series’ against the Reds, Rays, Yankees and Tigers on tap.
10. Baltimore Orioles (27-23, previous No. 10) – Despite struggling against the AL East of late the Orioles remain in the No. 10 spot, mostly because of their powerful offensive attack this year. Going into Monday they were second in all of baseball in runs with 253. A four-game, home-and-home series with the Nationals awaits them this week.
11. Arizona Diamondbacks (28-22, previous No. 9) – Despite a 3-3 record this week the Diamondbacks are still tied for first in the NL West, although their offense has been an issue of late as they have scored four runs or less in five of their last eight games. They will be tested this week with a four-game series with the red-hot Rangers.
12. San Francisco Giants (28-22, previous No. 11) — A 4-2 week for the Giants has moved them into a tie for first in the NL West. They suffered a huge blow when they lost starter Ryan Vogelsong to a broken hand suffered in last Monday’s game. A Bay Area showdown with the Athletics is on tap this week.
13. Colorado Rockies (27-23, previous No. 12) – The Rockies dropped two-of-three to the Giants this week, thus dropping them out of the top spot in the NL West. The Rockies should get a break with their four-game series with the lowly Astros this coming week.
14. Tampa Bay Rays (25-24, previous No. 16) – A tough 2-4 week against AL East opponents has dropped them to fourth place in one of the most competitive divisions in all of baseball. They have remained competitive despite the four losses as three of the four were by one run. The Rays will look to get back in the running in the division with a four-game set with the Marlins to open this week.
15. Oakland Athletics (28-23, previous No. 14) – The Athletics beat up on the Astros with a sweep this past weekend, outscoring them 23-12. The A’s have quietly won eight of their last nine and are in second place in what is a pretty weak AL West division. They will look to prove themselves going against the Giants and White Sox in their next two series’.
16. Washington Nationals (26-24, previous No. 13) – Dropping five of their last eight games have dropped the Nats a few spots in the rankings, although they still stand in second place in the NL East. Offensively they struggled this past week averaging just three runs per game. After a four-game set with the Orioles, they will face the Braves and Mets in back-to-back critical NL East matchups.
17. Los Angeles Angels (23-27, previously not ranked) – One of the biggest disappointments to open the year have suddenly turned it around and are now the hottest team in baseball winning their last eight games going into Monday, scoring 53 runs in those 10 games. Their streak could continue as they have a four-game set with the Dodgers to open the week as a team with arguably the best talent on paper in baseball looks to get back in contention in the AL West.
18. Philadelphia Phillies (24-26, previously not ranked) — The Phillies have won four of their last seven games to earn a spot in the rankings. They sit in third place in the NL East, despite losing Roy Halladay through August, at the earliest. Still, with such star power on their pitching staff they have the ability to make a run at any time. Cliff Lee went the distance May 22 in a win over Miami and has had a great month of May.
19. Chicago White Sox (24-24, previous No. 20) — The White Sox enjoyed a good week with a 5-1 record, although three of those wins came against the Marlins. Their offense is still looking to get on track as going into Sunday they had the fifth worst batting average in baseball at .241. They will get a good chance to improve on their .500 record as they have the Cubs for a four-game set.
20. Kansas City Royals (21-26, previous No. 15) — The Royals plummeted five spots after a brutal 1-5 week and have now lost nine of their last 10 entering play Monday. Things don’t get any easier as their next two series’ will be against the best two teams in baseball in the Cardinals and Rangers, so it’s unlikely you’ll see them in the rankings next week.
*Stats and records through Sunday, May 26
Follow Metro Red Sox beat writer Ryan Hannable on Twitter @hannable84