By Mike Ivcic
The weather is warming, school is wrapping up, and that can only mean one thing â the random single interleague weekend that baseball continues to force upon us! As everyone outside of Dodger Stadium prepares to find a DH or watch their star pitcher handle a bat, we once again rank all 30 MLB teams. For yet another week, the top (Texas, Tampa) and bottom (San Diego, Minnesota) was easy. Itâs the other 26 that usually draws some criticism â but thankfully not nearly as much as the MLB schedule. Records through Thursday, May 17.
1. Texas Rangers (24-15) 1 â I debated flipping Texas and Tampa this week, but I decided to give the Rangers a one-week reprieve. They are 9-11 in their last 20 games, but trips to Houston and Seattle should help rectify that.
2. Tampa Bay Rays (24-15) 2 â Losing a guy like Jeff Niemann would normally cripple a team, but something tells me the Rays will simply plug the hole in the rotation and keep on chugging right along in a rugged AL East.
3. Los Angeles Dodgers (25-13) 4 â Technically, this is now the best team in baseball, and they haven’t lost three straight all season. It does help that Ted Lilly and Chris Capuano are a combined 10-1 this season, and 13-2 including Clayton Kershaw.
4. Baltimore Orioles (25-14) 7 â He turned the Yankees around, managed the Diamondbacks from infancy to a step away from the Series, oversaw the talent boom in Texas, and has now flipped the O’s. At some point, Buck Showalter deserves to get his due.
5. Atlanta Braves (24-15) 5 â Since opening the season getting swept by the Mets, the Braves have lost just one series since (Phillies), which only furthers my theory that winning every series is the best mindset to successful baseball.
6. Cleveland Indians (22-16) 6 â Somehow this team is six games over .500 despite being outscored by 3 runs on the season. That’s probably because their on base percentage (.341) is almost 100 points higher than their batting average (.249).
7. St. Louis Cardinals (22-16) 3 â Getting swept by the Braves and splitting two-gamers with the Cubs and Giants isn’t ideal for a team that still ranks first or second in almost every offensive category. Relatively easy schedule through the All-Star break after a weekend in Hollywood.
8. Washington Nationals (23-15) 8 â 30 of the next 33 games are against teams .500 or better, and the other three are in Boston. Check the standings on June 24 and see if this is truly a playoff team, because this is one tough stretch of games.
9. New York Mets (21-17) 9 â David Wright is batting .411 with an on base percentage over .500. I know Josh Hamilton’s power numbers are incredible, but no individual player has been more important to his team this season than Wright.
10. Toronto Blue Jays (21-18) 12 â Taking both from the Yankees took some sting off losing 2 of 3 to Minnesota and both to the Rays. Mets-Rays-Rangers-Orioles in the next two weeks will be a big measuring stick for this club.
11. Miami Marlins (20-18) 13 â Another good week for the Fish, who capped in all off with a win from Josh Johnson. If they get him going too, they might actually host a playoff game in their first year in their new ballpark.
12. New York Yankees (20-18) 10 â A crucial series for the Yankees this weekend, hosting the Reds after dropping their last three games. In what is suddenly a five-team division once again, the Bronx Bombers might not have enough pitching to compete.
13. Cincinnati Reds (19-18) 14 â Couldn’t take advantage of a tough week for the Cards, going 3-4 ahead of their trip to the Bronx. Someone other than Joey Votto needs to start coming through in big situations if they really want to challenge St. Louis.
14. San Francisco Giants (19-19) 15 â Apparently my comment about the Giants was chopped off last week. My response: Giant fans, you probably wouldn’t have liked it anyway. But hey â at least your team is still .500 heading into a big interleague series withâ¦
15. Oakland Athletics (20-19) 17 â …this team! The one-game-over-.500 A’s are one of baseball’s best stories, and why not? They’ve once again built a young, scrappy team that pitches well and plays solid defense. There’s something to be said for fundamental baseball.
16. Detroit Tigers (18-20) 11 â It’s just about time to stop making excuses for this team. Either they start playing better beginning immediately, or we start talking about Cleveland as the clear-cut frontrunner to win the AL Central.
17. Philadelphia Phillies (20-19) 22 â Nice jump after beating the teams (Padres, Astros, Cubs) they’re supposed to beat. A visit from the Red Sox will be a good barometer to show if this team is back or just better than the bottom of the National League.
18. Boston Red Sox (18-20) 27 â Suddenly the much-maligned Sox are two games under .500 and two games back of the Yankees for fourth. I can’t imagine what might happen in the NY media if Boston actually forces the Yanks into last place.
19. Los Angeles Angels (17-22) 18 â They can say that firing Mickey Hatcher didn’t have anything to do with Albert Pujols, but a 10-year, $240 million contract brings with it a lot of sway with some front office management decisions.
20. Arizona Diamondbacks (17-22) 19 â Arizona gets an interesting interleague matchup with the Angels this weekend â two teams expected to be playing for a division title now just hoping to avoid becoming irrelevant on Memorial Day.
21. Pittsburgh Pirates (18-20) 23 â Considering all of the bullpen blowups throughout the majors, the Pirates have to be happy with Joel Hanrahan’s performance, which continues to keep the Pirates afloat in a winnable division.
22. Chicago White Sox (18-21) 16 â The pains of a new manager â Robin Ventura needs to settle on whether he wants Chris Sale to be a starter or a reliever. Either way, all of the pitchers have to be better to stop wasting good years from Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn.
23. Milwaukee Brewers (16-22) 20 â It continues to confound me that a team that has such talent in all three areas of the roster â starting pitching, relief pitching, and lineup â continues to play such poor, inconsistent baseball after only losing one player from a division-winning club.
24. Houston Astros (17-21) 24 â The 5-13 road record continues to hold this team back, but I thought it would take until mid-June for this team to score 159 runs and win 17 games, so at least there’s some optimism surrounding this franchise.
25. Kansas City Royals (15-22) 28 â Following their 12-game losing streak, the Royals were 12-6 before dropping the last two to Baltimore. Considering that includes a 4-game split with the Yankees and a 2-game sweep in Texas, it might be signs of this club turning the corner.
26. Seattle Mariners (16-24) 21 â Seattle went 1-6 on a log road trip to New York, Boston, and Cleveland â a trip that culminates in Denver this weekend. A team that was once 11-10 is now bracing for a long summer yet again.
27. Chicago Cubs (15-23) 25 â Read an interesting article that demolishing Wrigley Field is the recipe for turning the Cubs around. Which brings me to an interesting question â would Cubs fans actually trade Wrigley Field for a World Series title?
28. Colorado Rockies (15-22) 26 â Rockies are 3-10 in the last two weeks. They get three at home against freefalling Seattle to save a season that is suddenly on the brink of quickly spiraling out of control.
29. San Diego Padres (14-25) 29 â Despite a talent-depleted roster, the Padres have at least been winning a game in almost every series they play. It’s a good sign that this team continues to fight even though they’re further out of first place than any team in baseball.
30. Minnesota Twins (12-26) 30 â Winning two in Detroit says more about the Tigers than it does about Minnesota. Perhaps the Twins really should consider trading away the big-name pieces and rebuild with designs on ’15 and ’16.
Three series to watch this weekendâ¦
1) BAL @ WAS (5/18-5/20) â That’s right, I said it â the biggest series this weekend is the Beltway Battle between the O’s and Nats. Now turn off the Twilight Zone music and start stocking up on canned goods and bottled water.
2) BOS @ PHI (5/18-5/20) â A pair of resurgent teams collide in Boston this weekend. Both have World Series aspirations, but both are now simply trying to get back into the playoff mix. One of the two hot streaks ends in Citizens Bank Park.
3) STL @ LAD (5/18-5/20) â Two division leaders meet in the only non-interleague showdown of the week. The Cardinals have a chance to close the gap on L.A., while the Dodgers can solidify their top ranking in the entire National League.
Check out Mike Ivcic’s weekly column, “The Tenth Inning,” every Monday and the weekly “Power Rankings” every Friday, only at ultimatecapper.com
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