By Mike Ivcic
A change at the top, finally. Our latest power rankings sees the Dodgers give way after getting swept in Oakland, but who took the top spot? How about a team that recently won 10 games in a row and certainly looks like theyâre back in full force once again this season. Records through Thursday, June 21.
1. New York Yankees (41-27) 2 â Even without Rivera, this is quite possibly the most complete team in baseball now that their starting pitching appears to have straightened out.
2. Texas Rangers (43-27) 4 â Technically they’re the best team in baseball, but they haven’t been playing nearly as well as the Yankees. These two teams meeting in the postseason is every MLB exec’s dream this October.
3. Los Angeles Dodgers (42-28) 1 âIn the wonderful “travel-be-damned” schedule of MLB, the Dodgers now return to SoCal for a series in Anaheim, then head back to the Bay Area for three with the Giants. Go figure.
4. Washington Nationals (40-27) 3 â Winning the final two from Tampa saved this group from a potentially disastrous stretch. A 25-3 mark in games started by Gio Gonzalez and Stephen Strasburg also helps stop losing streaks.
5. San Francisco Giants (38-32) 5 â The fact that the Giants are 6 games over .500 and 4 back of the Dodgers with Tim Lincecum just 2-8 may be the most remarkable story of the season.
6. Tampa Bay Rays (38-31) 6â The Rays probably can’t wait for interleague to end. They’re 5-1 against Miami but 2-7 against the Braves, Mets, and Nationals.
7. Cincinnati Reds (38-30) 7 â Had momentum after sweeping the Mets but gave it all away by losing three in Cleveland. Letting the Pirates and Cardinals hang around isn’t a good thing.
8. New York Mets (38-32) 9 â The Mets have swept their last two weekday series and have been swept their last two weekend series. Doesn’t bode well for their visit from the Yankees this weekend.
9. Cleveland Indians (36-32) 16 â So much for getting swept by their in-state rivals. The Indians returned the favor this week and are back atop the AL Central once again.
10. Los Angeles Angels (38-32) 11 â For all their high-priced free-agent signings, the lineup is being powered by Mark Trumbo (.324, 17 HR, 48 RBI) and Mike Trout (.338, 6 HR, 28 RBI) â the only two players on the team with an average above .270.
11. Baltimore Orioles (39-30) 8 â It’s never a good thing when it takes until the 7th inning of the third game of a series to finally score a run. Thanks to R.A. Dickey, Johan Santana, and Dillon Gee, the Orioles had exactly that happen in Queens. Remarkably, though, they actually wind up missing Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez this weekend against the Nationals.
12. Atlanta Braves (37-32) 12 â Holding steady for the week after winning the final two in Yankee Stadium for a 3-3 week. It’s hard to see this team making a legitimate playoff run, though, now that they’ve lost their best starter, Brandon Beachy, for the rest of the year.
13. Boston Red Sox (36-33) 17 â Don’t look now, but here come the Sox! Winners of 5 straight, Boston closes the pre-All-Star Break schedule with Atlanta, Toronto, at Oakland, at Seattle, and then four at Fenway with the hated Yankees. It’s put-up-or-shut-up time for Beantown.
14. Pittsburgh Pirates (36-32) 15 â James McDonald has the best ERA in baseball since April 18 â which might be why the Pirates are now just two back of Cincinnati in the NL Central.
15. Chicago White Sox (36-33) 10 â Teams that want to be considered legitimate contenders don’t lose two of three at home to the second-worst team in baseball, which the White Sox did to the Cubs this weekend. They still have the Yankees and Rangers before the All-Star break, so they need wins right now against the lesser teams.
16. St. Louis Cardinals (35-35) 13 â The stats (top 10 in almost every offensive category, top 15 in almost every pitching category) suggests this team is “complete” and should be winning their division. The lack of Chris Carpenter’s presence is one possible explanation why they’re not.
17. Toronto Blue Jays (35-34) 18 â Before regular interleague started, I expected at least one AL East team to lose enough to finish the stretch with a losing record. As long as Toronto takes one game from Miami, the entire division will be .500 or better at the end of the weekend. Sick.
18. Milwaukee Brewers (32-37) 22 â Yes, I know the Brewers are still 5 games under .500, but watching them play this past week was like watching a completely different ballclub from April. The attitude is great, so if they want to make a move on the Reds, now is the time.
19. Arizona Diamondbacks (34-35) 19 â They’ve been flirting with that .500 mark all week and need another solid 4-5 game winning streak to set them in the right direction â and what better team to start that streak against than the Chicago Cubs.
20. Oakland Athletics (34-36) 23 â I don’t really have numbers to back this up, but every time I watch this team I get a feeling that they’re going to hang around just outside the playoff race this whole season. They’re a pesky bunch that won’t go away, and that makes them fun to watch.
21. Detroit Tigers (34-35) 21 â Tigers pitchers are 21st in WHIP (1.35) and 25th in opposing batting average (.263). That’s including Justin Verlander’s 0.99 WHIP and .204 BAA. Can’t imagine why this team’s still a game under .500.
22. Miami Marlins (33-36) 14 â The Marlins wrap up interleague with Toronto this weekend, dragging their 4-11 record against the AL with them â and they didn’t play the Yankees or Orioles, currently the top two teams in the AL East.
23. Kansas City Royals (31-36) 24 â Even at 5 games under .500, the Royals are still just 4.5 games back in the AL Central. Heralded catcher Sal Perez coming off the DL should make for an interesting weekend with the cross-state Cardinals.
24. Philadelphia Phillies (33-38) 20 â It’s time to call a spade a spade. Even if Utley, Howard, and Halladay all come back and produce, it still won’t be enough to get this group to the postseason.
25. Seattle Mariners (30-41) 27 â They snapped their six-game losing streak on Saturday and wound up taking two of three from both the Giants and Diamondbacks, but unless they sweep San Diego they’re next up on my “Playoff Dead List” on Monday.
26. Houston Astros (28-41) 25 â The Texas media made a big deal about the Astros and Rangers playing their final interleague games last weekend. I’m sure Houston is loving the idea of facing that team 18 times instead of 6 next season.
27. Minnesota Twins (27-41) 26 â After winning four series in a row, the Twins have now lost three straight. They’re only 9 games back since no one is running away with the Central, so if they could get consistent starting pitching they might get into the race.
28. Colorado Rockies (26-42) 29 â The new “75 pitch” rule is a great idea and I think most teams will eventually get to a similar model, but it’s killing the ability for starting pitchers to pick up a win, a la Jeff Francis on Thursday in Philadelphia.
29. San Diego Padres (24-46) 28 â Getting swept by Texas isn’t exactly a surprise, especially when Chase Headley leads the Friars with a whopping .267 batting average.
30. Chicago Cubs (24-45) 30 â The Cubs-White Sox series this past week was the lowest-attended series since interleague began. This is what happens when you’re not a good baseball team in a tough economy, even if the games were on the South Side and not at Wrigley.
Three series to watch this weekendâ¦
1) NYY @ NYM (6/22-6/24) â The Nationals failed to measure up against the Yankees, and so did the Mets the first time. Unlike Washington, the Mets get another chance. Be sure to check out Sunday Night Baseball for the game’s version of alphabet soup â C.C. Sabathia against R.A. Dickey.
2) LAD @ LAA (6/22-6/24) â The Angels should have won the first series between these two at Dodger Stadium, and now get their cross-town rivals reeling from the A’s. No doubt payback is on the mind of Mike Scioscia’s club.
3) STL @ KCR (6/22-6/24) â My show of love to the middle of this great country. The Royals are slowly climbing in the AL Central, while the Cardinals need to win this series to help regain their footing in a suddenly tough NL Central race.
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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