1. Texas Rangers (29-16) – Winners of nine of their last 11 before their loss Monday, and in complete control of the AL West, the Rangers find themselves as the best team in all of baseball. The Rangers bats have been hot to open the year as they are tied for the most home runs (58) and second in average (.274). They have also received great pitching led by Yu Darvish (7-1) and his major league leading 86 strikeouts. A five-game road trip awaits them this weekend following their mid-week series against the Athletics.
2. St. Louis Cardinals (28-16) – Pitching has been the key for the Cardinals and their tremendous start. Going into Monday they led all of baseball with a 3.18 ERA and their staff has combined for seven shutouts, and four complete game shutouts. The team is in the middle of an eight-game road trip against the Padres, Dodgers and Royals, which should give them a chance to extend their lead even more in the NL Central.
3. New York Yankees (28-16) – Few predicted the start the Yankees would get off to considering all the players they have missing to open the season. Neither the pitching or offense stands out in any particular category, but the team has just found ways to grab Ws. If they can put together a start like they have despite their injuries they should be at the top of these rankings all season, but they will be tested immediately with an eight-game road trip, including a weekend series with the Rays.
4. Boston Red Sox (27-18) – It’s been an up-and-down season (mostly ups) for the Red Sox so far, but they are in the middle of one of their hot streaks, winning five in a row before Monday’s loss in Chicago. Led by their aces Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz, the team has found themselves in second place in the AL East, trailing the first place Yankees. The team will return to Fenway for a six-game homestand beginning Thursday with the surging Indians and former manager Terry Francona coming to town.
5. Cleveland Indians (26-17) – After Monday’s win the Indians have now won five in a row and are in first place in the AL Central. This, after starting the year 8-13. They were third in all of baseball in home runs with 57 and fifth in RBIs with 200 as of Monday. Their pitching staff has also picked it up of late as they are third in the league in hits allowed per nine innings with 7.9. Cleveland will be tested with a four-game series at Fenway against the Red Sox beginning Thursday.
6. Atlanta Braves (26-18) – Despite playing 27 of their first 46 games on the road to start the year the Braves find themselves in first place in the NL East. Pitching has been key for Atlanta as it owns the sixth best ERA (3.43) in all of baseball. That has made up for a struggling offense that sports a .242 team average, well below the league average. The Braves will continue their trend of playing road games as beginning Friday they will play six straight away from home.
7. Cincinnati Reds (27-18) – Solid hitting and pitching has guided the Reds to an impressive start to open the season. The team is fourth in the league in ERA (3.37) and eighth in runs scored per game (4.77), both going into play Monday. Cincinnati will welcome the Cubs and Indians to town beginning this weekend for a five-game homestand.
8. Detroit Tigers (23-19) – Going into play Monday the Tigers led the league in runs scored per game with 5.29 and that has played a major role in their start to the season sitting in second place in the AL Central. They also lead the league in team average, hitting at a .280 clip. Detroit, and their powerful offense will host the Minnesota Twins for a four-game weekend series.
9. Arizona Diamondbacks (26-19) – The Diamondbacks have opened the year strong and sit in first place in the NL West. Pitching has been the key as going into Monday Arizona has the second-best ERA in baseball at 3.35, making up for their below average hitting, averaging just over four runs a game. The Diamondbacks are in the middle of a six game stretch against NL West opponents where they can prove they belong at the top of the division.
10. Baltimore Orioles (23-21) – After being the biggest surprise in all of baseball by making the playoffs last year, the Orioles have continued to play well, sitting in third place in a tough AL East. The offense has played a significant role in their success, averaging just under five runs a game, good for fourth in baseball going into Monday. Baltimore is in the midst of a 10-game stretch against AL East opponents, which will be a good indication of whether or not the Orioles are again, indeed, for real this year.
11. San Francisco Giants (25-20) – It has been a roller coaster of a ride so far this season for the Giants as they just cannot seem to find any consistency. They will roll off a four or five-game winning streak, only to lose three or four immediately following. Their pitching will need to get better as they are below the league average in ERA, posting a 4.21 mark going into Monday. A six-game homestand could provide the boost the Giants need to get back on top in the NL West.
12. Colorado Rockies (24-21) – Colorado’s offense has guided them so far this season as they are second in all of baseball, averaging 5.02 runs per game. They currently sit in third place in a competitive NL West, and will need their pitching to come alive if they expect to make a run at the division title. The team is in the middle of a six game stretch against NL West teams, which gives them a good chance to get back in the race and prove they belong.
13. Washington Nationals (23-22) – As expected, the Nationals' pitching staff has led the way this year as they sit in second place in the NL East. The staff is fifth in baseball going into Monday with a 3.43 ERA, but the offense is on the other end of the spectrum as they are third to last in the league in runs scored per game with 3.52. The team will return home for a five-game weekend homestand following a 10-game West Coast trip.
14. Oakland Athletics (23-22) – Despite a rash of injuries, the Athletics have been able to stay afloat and remain in second place in the AL West. Their offense was extremely hot to open the year, leading the league in runs for awhile, but they have cooled off of late averaging 4.60 runs per game, which is tenth in the league. They will get some players back and look to get their offense back on track as they are in the middle of a six out of eight game stretch away from home.
15. Kansas City Royals (20-21) – Although they have a .500 record, the Royals have been a bit of a surprise to open the year. They are going through a tough stretch of late, losing seven of their last nine before Monday’s series with Houston. The Royals will look to get above .500 with a six-game homestand with the Angels and Cardinals beginning Thursday.
16. Tampa Bay Rays (23-21) – It has not been the ideal start for the Rays, who currently are in fourth place in the AL East and are having to deal with an injury to ace David Price, who went on the DL last week with a strained triceps. Their usually dominant pitching staff has been below average this year, posting a 4.34 ERA. The Rays are wrapping up a 12-game stretch against the AL East.
17. Seattle Mariners (20-25) – Seattle is reeling of late after being swept by the Indians over the weekend. The Mariners are now in third place in the AL West and need to get it back on track fairly soon if they want to make any type of run at the playoffs. A five-game homestand beginning Thursday could help the cause.
18. Minnesota Twins (18-23) – The Twins are off to an average start and it hasn’t been good enough as they are fourth in the AL Central standings after being swept by the Red Sox over the weekend. Things don’t get any easier, as they are in the midst of a nine-game road trip against the Braves, Tigers and Brewers.
19. San Diego Padres (21-23) – San Diego has came back to life after a tough start to the season, but still sit in fourth place in the NL West standings. The team is just below the league average, scoring 4.09 runs per game as of Monday and are in the same boat in pitching with a 4.13 ERA.
20. Chicago White Sox (20-23) – The White Sox have been playing better ball of late, but still are in fourth in the AL Central. Lack of offense has been a cause for concern as going into Monday they are in the bottom third of the league in hitting, averaging just 3.69 runs per game. The White Sox could get back on track with home games against the Marlins and Cubs coming up.
*Stats through Monday, May 20
Follow Metro MLB writer Ryan Hannable on Twitter @hannable84