Jesse Chavez and the Oakland A's are on fire in mid-May. Credit: Getty Images
1. Oakland Athletics (28-16, previous: 3) – Oakland is the hottest team in the baseball at the moment, simply dominating its competition, as in its weekend sweep of the Indians the A's outscored Cleveland, 30-6, and didn’t hit a single home run along the way. Winners of nine of 10, they will have the second and third legs of a nine-game road trip by taking on the Rays and Blue Jays this week.
2. Detroit Tigers (27-13, previous: 5) – Though the Tigers fell Monday night in Cleveland, they are still the hottest team in the game besides the Athletics. Detroit has won seven of its last 10 games, including a sweep of the Red Sox over the weekend at Fenway Park. The loss Monday was their first road loss in 12 games as they had won 11 straight to that point. Following two more games in Cleveland they will host the Rangers for four games over the weekend.
3. San Francisco Giants (28-17, previous: 1) – San Francisco continued its strong start to the season as it has won six of its last 10 games, including seven games on the East Coast against the Braves and Marlins. The Giants' pitching has improved of late as their 3.21 team ERA is third in the NL. San Fran will host the second-place Rockies for three games before going back on the road for six.
4. Milwaukee Brewers (27-18, previous: 2) – Despite losing three games in a row, the Brewers are still the best team in the National League, although their offense has gone cold of late as over their last six games they’ve averaged just 2.33 runs per game. After getting off to a hot start, they are now averaging just 3.82 runs a game, which is 11th in the NL.
5. Colorado Rockies (25-20, previous: 4) – The Rockies slipped a bit this week, losing three of four at one point, but still are right there behind the Giants in the NL West. Their plus-51 run differential is by far the best in the NL, aided by their major league-leading 249 runs scored. They will now open a three-game set against San Francisco in a pretty big series for late May.
6. Atlanta Braves (24-19, previous: 6) – Winners of two straight and six of their last 10, the Braves are playing better baseball of late and leading the NL East, but definitely aren’t where they want to be, especially offensively. Atlanta is averaging just 3.35 runs per game, which is second to last in the NL, not something you’d expect from a team leading their division. Clearly, this is something to monitor going forward as it’s unlikely they will be able to consistently win getting as little offensive production as they have been receiving.
7. Los Angeles Angels (24-20, previous: 15) – As the weather has heated up, so have the Angels as they have now won seven of their last 10 games and are now in second place - alone in the AL West. Their plus-37 run differential is third in the AL as they’ve had no problem scoring runs, averaging 4.91 per game, tied for second in the league. Los Angeles will wrap up a 10-game home stand this week with games against the Astros and Royals.
8. New York Yankees (23-20, previous: 14) – Though they’ve gone .500 in their last 10 games, the Yankees have regained the top spot in the American League East as none of the four division other teams have done anything to move ahead. New York has remained consistent as they are in the middle of the pack both in terms of scoring runs (seventh) and team ERA (eighth). They did get some bad news this week when it was revealed that starter CC Sabathia won’t return until early July at the earliest.
9. St. Louis Cardinals (23-21, previous: 16) – It appears the defending NL Champs have got back on track, winners of four of their last five games. The Cardinals' offense is still looking to get things going as they average just 3.82 runs a game, 12th in the NL. They will have a good chance to continue their recent success with games against the Diamondbacks and Reds this week.
10. Miami Marlins (23-22, previous: 12) – The downward trend for Miami has continued as the Marlins learned they would be without ace Jose Fernandez for the season and have lost seven of 10 games to fall to third place in the NL East. They still have a plus-20 run differential, the best in their division, which shows just how dominant they were to start the year.
11. Toronto Blue Jays (23-22, previous: 17) – The Blue Jays still remain the only team in the AL East with a positive run differential, at plus-seven, as they continue to hang around with the rest of the division. A big part of their success so far has been their offense as they’ve averaged 4.78 runs a game, fifth in the AL. Following three games against the Red Sox, the Jays will take on the scorching hot A's.
12. Los Angeles Dodgers (23-22, previous: 7) – Despite being in the top-10 in all of baseball in a number of offensive categories, the Dodgers have struggled on the mound with a team ERA of 3.68, ninth in the National League. After dropping the final two games against the Diamondbacks, they will look to get back on track by taking on the Mets and Phillies on the road this week.
13. Washington Nationals (23-21, previous: 8) – The Nationals have done their best to overcome some injuries to open the season, thanks in large part because of their pitching as their team ERA of 3.27, fourth in the NL, has kept them right near the top of the NL East. Following two more games with the Reds, Washington will look to build some momentum with four games against the struggling Pirates.
14. Baltimore Orioles (22-20, previous: 9) – With the offense they had coming into the season many thought scoring runs wouldn’t be an issue for the Orioles, but their 3.98 runs per game ranks 10th in the American League. Even with the poor offense, Baltimore is just a half game behind the Yankees for first in a below-average AL East. Upcoming series’ with the Pirates and Indians should give the O’s a good opportunity to gain some ground on the rest of the division.
15. Kansas City Royals (22-22, previous: 21) – Kansas City has the talent to potentially contend for a Wild Card spot, but they haven’t been able to get the hitting yet this season. With one of the best staffs in the AL, the Royals are only averaging 3.91 runs a game, the second-fewest in all of the AL.
16. Seattle Mariners (21-22, previous: 10) – After two straight dominant weeks, the Mariners have come back to Earth, losing four straight and five of six last week. Only having played 18 games at home, Seattle has struggled, going just 8-10 at Safeco Field. Its pitching has remained consistent, posting a 3.58 team ERA, fourth in the AL. The Mariners will play two in Texas before opening an 11-game home stand as they look to improve upon their below-.500 home record.
17. Texas Rangers (21-23, previous: 11) – It isn’t a typical season for the Rangers as they are currently two games below .500 and in fourth place in the AL West. A minus-33 run differential has played a major part as they haven’t had the success either offensively or from the mound like in recent years. The Rangers will host the Mariners for two games before hitting the road for 11 straight.
18. Minnesota Twins (21-21, previous: 23) – One of the biggest improvements for the Twins this season has been their offense as they have been able to score runs, unlike a year ago. Currently, the Twins are sixth in the American League, scoring 4.64 runs a game. Minnesota will head to the West Coast for interleague games against the Padres and Giants this week.
19. San Diego Padres (21-24, previous: 20) – Not much as changed for the Padres and their offense has held them back, averaging the fewest runs in the NL with 3.09 runs per game, but they've allowed the fourth-fewest at 3.60. This will need to improve as they could be passed by the Diamondbacks and take over the basement of the NL West.
20. Boston Red Sox (20-23, previous: 13) – After appearing to have turned a corner early in the month, the Red Sox went in the opposite direction as they have currently lost four straight games, their longest losing streak since the end of 2012. Offense has been the biggest issue of late as they have scored only three total runs in their last 28 innings, including being outscored 13-3 in a weekend sweep at home courtesy of the Tigers. The Red Sox will host the Blue Jays for three games, which is a pretty big series, confidence-wise, for the defending champs.
21. Cincinnati Reds (20-23, previous: 24) – The Reds are still looking for that spark to get them going as currently they are in third place in the NL Central, but still far from out of it. Starter Mat Latos is still on the disabled list as he hasn’t pitched yet this season, so maybe when he comes back he will provide some life to get them jump-started and back to the success they had a year ago.
22. New York Mets (20-23, previous: 19) – Though the Mets sit three games below .500, they are still well within striking distance in the NL East, as unlike a year ago, the Braves haven’t run away with the division yet. Looking at the numbers it remains a mystery to why they are below .500 as they have averaged the fifth-most runs in the NL and their team-ERA is 11th. A nine-game home stand is on tap for the Mets as they look to crack the .500 mark.
23. Cleveland Indians (20-25, previous: 22) – Many thought the Indians would have a solid season after young talent surprised some last year, but that hasn’t happened yet in 2014 as the Indians sit five games below .500 and 9.5 games behind the first place Tigers in the crowded AL Central.
24. Chicago White Sox (19-21, previous: 18) – After a strong first few weeks of the season, the White Sox have leveled off and now sit two games below .500. They still average the second-most runs per game in the AL at 4.99, but simply cannot get the pitching and defense to compliment their offense.
25. Philadelphia Phillies (19-22, previous: 25) – Although the Phillies have won two straight, they still have lost six of their last 10 overall and sit in last place in the NL East. Pitching and defense has been the big reason for their poor start to the year as they have a team ERA of 4.02, 13th in the NL and have allowed 4.51 runs a game, the second-most in the NL. This has led to a minus-21 run differential, the second-worst mark in the league. After three games in Miami, the Phillies will look to start a winning streak at home with 11 straight home games.
26. Tampa Bay Rays (19-26, previous: 27) – The Rays have given their best effort to get by despite much of their rotation being out due to injuries, but wins have been hard to come by. Losers of two straight and six of their last 10, the Rays are five games out of first in the AL East.
27. Pittsburgh Pirates (18-25, previous: 26) – What a difference a year makes for the Pirates. A year after being one of the best stories in the game, the Pirates are now seven games below .500 a month and a half into the season. Their 3.91 team ERA, 12th in the National League, is a major reason why.
28. Arizona Diamondbacks (18-28, previous: 28) – Arizona has started to play much better ball of late as it has won two straight and six of 10. Ironically, they’ve been better on the road than at home as they have a 12-10 record away from Chase Field, compared to 6-18 at home.
29. Houston Astros (17-28, previous: 30) – Houston has played better ball of late, winners of three in a row and six of its last 10 games, but they are still the worst team in the American League and that doesn’t appear to be changing any time soon.
30. Chicago Cubs (15-27, previous: 29) – There isn’t much to say about the Cubs at this point, as how long is a realistic time for Theo Epstein to rebuild the franchise?