By Mike Ivcic
Another big week of baseball saw some small changes, along with one big jump and one somewhat big fall. Note to Angels and Red Sox: youâre slowly running out of time, guys. If you donât start winning games, youâll find yourselves in the bottom third next week.
1. Texas Rangers (11-2) 1 â Week two atop the power rankings was solidified with the 10-3 drubbing of Detroit on Thursday. It’s just a nightmare to have to pitch to this lineup with so many dangerous hitters, as Texas has now won 7 straight.
2. Detroit Tigers (9-4) 2 â Rick Porcello has emerged as a top-line arm in the rotation, but Jim Leyland still has to have doubts in his most honest moments about just how far Doug Fister and Max Scherzer can take this Tigers club behind Justin Verlander.
3. St. Louis Cardinals (9-4) 3 â Second only to Pittsburgh in the NL in runs allowed this season, and second only to Atlanta in runs scored. That’s what we in the business call “balance.”
4. Los Angeles Dodgers (10-3) 7 â It’s time to give this team it’s due, starting with manager Don Mattingly. He’s gotten everyone to believe they can rebuild to where they were a couple of years ago, and then just sits back and lets Matt Kemp do his thing.
5. New York Yankees (7-6) 5 â If Curtis Granderson plans on even coming close to duplicating his 41 homers from last season, this will be your AL East champion. Now just imagine what they’ll be if they ever get Michael Pineda figured out.
6. Tampa Bay Rays (7-6) 6 â Joe Maddon’s club is still holding steady right behind big brother. This year winning the division means a whole lot more, though, so expect this to be a dogfight all year long.
7. Washington Nationals (10-4) 8 â Reds-Mets-Cubs-Astros isn’t exactly murderer’s row of early-season opponents. That said, the Nats have won the games they were told to play, and now get to measure themselves against the new-look Miami Marlins this weekend.
8. Arizona Diamondbacks (7-6) 4 â An injury to Chris Young put a damper on the early-season momentum of sweeping San Fran. They’re still a top 10 team, but the struggles after losing just one player have to be a bit disconcerting.
9. San Francisco Giants (6-6) 13 â Pitching, pitching, pitching â and unlike their fellow 2010 NLCS partners the Phillies, this team has managed just enough offense to win the well-pitched games instead of coming up just short.
10. Milwaukee Brewers (6-7) 11 â Two big walk-off wins over the Dodgers helped the Brewers recover from a tough weekend. Whatever the reason, Milwaukee has suddenly become a difficult place for opponents to play.
11. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (4-9) 9 â Yes, I know they’re four games under .500, but just like no one panicked when the Steelers started 1-2, I’m not jumping off the LAA bandwagon yet. All I’m doing is enjoying the suddenly spacious amount of legroom on said wagon.
12. New York Mets (7-5) 15 â Small bump for the Mets, who went 3-3 on a road swing through Philadelphia and Atlanta. Johan Santana getting hammered Wednesday afternoon is not a good sign though, nor is the arrival of the Giants starting pitching this weekend.
13. Atlanta Braves (8-5) 22 â Big jump for the Braves, whose offense came alive with 24 runs in their last two games. That will definitely help cover up the lack of consistent starting pitching.
14. Toronto Blue Jays (6-6) 12 â Kyle Drabek has been a bright spot, but it’s never good when Edwin Encarnacion is a team’s best hitter. Perhaps that’s why they lost the last two games 12-2 and 9-4 to Tampa Bay.
15. Cincinnati Reds (5-8) 14 â Playing at Great American Ballpark should help the home team yield more than 39 runs through 13 games. The Reds don’t have the starting pitching to support that (lack of) offense.
16. Chicago White Sox (6-6) 17 â Eventually the Sox will fall down this list, but they spend another week at the break-even mark. Despite a perceived lack of talent, this young team is obviously prepared to compete on a nightly basis, a la Arizona 2011.
17. Miami Marlins (7-6) 20 â Much better week for Miami, though some it came from playing the Cubs. Still, they won games they were supposed to win and are ready for their big weekend test against the Nationals.
18. Philadelphia Phillies (6-7) 10 â They may have three of the best starting pitchers in baseball, but until this team finds a way to score more runs, they’ll lose a lot of games like Wednesday’s 1-0, 11-inning heartbreaker to the Giants.
19. Baltimore Orioles (8-5) 24 â Eventually this team will see their carriage turn back into a pumpkin, but for now they spend another week atop the AL East. They’d actually be a contender for second place in any other division in baseball.
20. Boston Red Sox (4-8) 19 â Why don’t the Red Sox get the same respect as the Angels? One, they fell apart last season and haven’t shown any signs of recovery, and twoâ¦ they don’t have Albert Pujols.
21. Cleveland Indians (6-5) 28 â Cleveland used a strong weekend to vault themselves back over .500, doing so with the third best offense in the AL. Need to keep that momentum against Oakland heading into this weekend.
22. Colorado Rockies (6-6) 18 â Congrats to Jamie Moyer, who became the first 49-year-old pitcher to win a game in the majors.
23. Seattle Mariners (7-7) 25 â I may have underestimated the Mariners in the preseason, but ultimately this will not be a playoff contender come July and August. The baby steps are still a positive sign for an organization that once house Randy Johnson, Alex Rodriguez, and Ken Griffey Jr. â all on the same team.
24. Pittsburgh Pirates (5-7) 23 â One spot drop more an indication of the success of other teams than anything the Pirates did or didn’t do. Coming home this weekend should help ease the difficult 3-6 road trip.
25. Oakland Athletics (7-7) 21 â Beating the Angels will help the confidence of this young team. So will the continued brilliance of young stud Yoenis Cespedes.
26. Kansas City Royals (3-9) 16 â Not a good week for KC, which suffered the biggest drop after failing to win a game since the last rankings. Winning at home (currently 0-6) would certainly be a step in the right direction.
27. Houston Astros (5-8) 26 â I’m going to be completely honest â I’m really not looking forward to finding something to write about this team for 26 weeks. And with that said, 2 down, 24 more to go â and they’re still not in last place yet.
28. Minnesota Twins (4-9) 29 â The Twins scored four runs in the first inning and still lost to the Yankees. One bright spot is that Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau each appear healthy and productive, which means one of them â likely Morneau â can be good trade bait in July.
29. Chicago Cubs (3-10) 27 â It’s going to be another long year for fans in Wrigleyville. Looks like Cubs fans will just have to wait ‘till next yearâ¦ again.
30. San Diego Padres (3-11) 30 â This team just continues to find ways to lose games. Not looking much better with three more against Philly this weekend, a team that’s now won 12 straight games at PETCO Park.
Three series to watch this weekendâ¦
1) TEX @ DET (4/20-4/22) â The Rangers took game one, but these two will now play three more in the Motor City. Saturday’s matchup of Verlander against Neftali Feliz should be a dandy.
2) NYY @ BOS (4/20-4/22) â I heard somewhere that these two teams have some sort of rivalry or bitterness developed somewhere in the past century or so, but I haven’t been able to find much about it onlineâ¦
3) BAL @ LAA (4/20-4/22) â Yes, this is a big series â for both teams. Baltimore can prove themselves as a legitimate group, and the Angels need to start winning games before they fall too far behind Texas.
Check out my weekly column, “The Tenth Inning,” every Monday and the weekly “Power Rankings” every Friday, only at ultimatecapper.com
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