MLB Power Rankings (June 7): Yankees Rise To Top Three Spot
Can you believe that baseball is already over a third of the way done this season? Despite it already being June, several surprising teams still remain in the mix, this fascinating 2012 MLB season. Here are my power rankings, which are based on schedule, division, past performance, and predicted future performance:
1. Texas Rangers (33-24)
Despite the Rangers getting blown out twice recently against their weaker divisional foes along with losing a weekend series to the Angels, they are still baseball's best team. However, you have to wonder when the usual suspects (Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, Ian Kinsler) will start catching the injury bug.
After a scorching April, Matt Kemp's hamstrings have most likely cost him an NL MVP trophy this year. All I know is that the Dodgers' success without him definitely helps Don Mattingly's Manager of the Year campaign.
3. New York Yankees (31-24)
The Yankees have climbed up all the way to a second-place tie after a slow start thanks to some great recent efforts by the pitching staff. How good have they been? Yankees pitchers have allowed four or fewer hits in each of the past three games, something not done by the Yanks since 1998.
4. Washington Nationals (32-22)
Michael Morse is back in the lineup after his injury, with Jayson Werth soon to follow. Thanks to Bryce Harper's immediate impact, the offense looks to be very respectable now. Oh yeah, and they have the best starting rotation in baseball.
5. Tampa Bay Rays (31-25)
Desmond Jennings is back, but not even his return has sparked the Rays' bats. They really miss Evan Longoria, as their offense looks stagnant. They still have the best starting rotation in the AL East though, and the Francisco Rodney rejuvenation project has been a success so far.
6. Chicago White Sox (31-25)
The White Sox's remarkable run has been due to several players having bounce-back years, such as Adam Dunn, Jake Peavy and Alex Rios. Additionally, young players such as Chris Sale, Dayan Viciendo and Alejando De Aza have been playing great, as well. Looks like they don't miss Ozzie Guillen after all…
7. Baltimore Orioles (32-24)
Why so much hate for the AL East leaders? First off, seventh is not a bad ranking at all, but I just feel that this team still is a year away from making some real noise in the playoff race. Locking up their best player in Adam Jones for several years to come was a good start.
8. Cincinnati Reds (31-24)
9. Miami Marlins (31-25)
After recording baseball's best record in May, the Marlins look to continue similar success in June. Also, is there any player in the MLB more exciting than Giancarlo Stanton? Not only is he crushing absolute bombs, he's making great diving plays in the outfield, as well.
10. Atlanta Braves (31-25)
The Braves offense has improved from last year and their starting pitching led by Brandon Beachy has been strong so far, as well. Ironically, their biggest perceived strength coming into the season, the bullpen, has been their weakness.
11. Toronto Blue Jays (30-26)
After another gem thrown by Brandon Morrow, he's slowly proving to the rest of the league that he has definite potential to one day become a true ace. Also, Casey Janssen's great performance since taking over the closing role has transformed a bullpen that was among the league's worst last year.
12. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (29-29)
Was it the firing of hitting coach Mickey Hatcher that got this Angels offense rolling? Or was it coincidental that their surge was around the same time the Angels promoted top prospect Mike Trout? Or was it because they landed reliever Ernesto Frieri in the best trade of the MLB season so far?
13. Boston Red Sox (28-28)
Daniel Bard had one of the worst lack-of-control showings in years during his last outing on Sunday. After he got optioned to AAA, MLB batters have to be breathing a deep sign of relief that their life expectancy rose after Bard got sent down to the minors.
14. San Francisco Giants (32-25)
Melky Cabrera is proving that last year's breakout season with the Royals was not a fluke. On the flip side, Tim Lincecum is also proving that his early season struggles are not a fluke, either.
15. New York Mets (31-26)
16. Cleveland Indians (30-25)
Despite what looks to have been an awful trade in giving away their entire farm system for Ubaldo Jimenez, the Indians have managed to put up a good fight to the start of their 2012 campaign. Highly-touted prospect, second baseman Jason Kipnis, sure looks like the real deal.
17. St. Louis Cardinals (29-28)
It's amazing what injuries can do to a team. When healthy, this is easily the best offense in the National League. Lance Berkman and Chris Carpenter will be huge boosts to the team when they come off the disabled list (most likely after the All-Star Break). Additionally, Carlos Beltran is not only the best offseason acquisition, he's also my NL MVP so far.
18. Pittsburgh Pirates (28-27)
Don't be fooled by the Pirates' hot start. The Pirates were in first place in the NL Central as late as July 25 last year, yet they finished the year with a 72-90 record. They sure did not have a starting pitcher as dominant as James McDonald last season though.
19. Philadelphia Phillies (28-30)
Losing Roy Halladay for six-eight weeks is an absolute killer for this team. There is still no timetable set for when Chase Utley or Ryan Howard will return. How can you be surprised that this team is in last place with all of the injuries they've suffered and the fact that Cliff Lee still does not have a win this season?
20. Arizona Diamondbacks (27-30)
A popular pick by several baseball analysts to win the NL pennant this year, the Diamondbacks have been one of the most disappointing teams in baseball. However, don't be surprised if they make a run towards the top of the NL West soon if the Dodgers' fairytale season starts crumbling.
21. Detroit Tigers (25-31)
22. Milwaukee Brewers (25-31)
Ryan Braun has began the 2012 season with an even better start than his 2011 MVP season. However, the thing hurting the Brewers' lineup more than Prince Fielder going to the Tigers has been Rickie Weeks' absolutely putrid start to the season.
23. Seattle Mariners (26-33)
This past week, the Mariners' lineup erupted for 21 runs against the Rangers, and they do have a lot of young pieces to build around. Jesus Montero, Dustin Ackley and Justin Smoak are some of the big names that will anchor this team to several third-place finishes in the AL West this decade.
24. Colorado Rockies (24-32)
Carlos Gonzalez has been making a lot of headlines with his bat lately, but Dexter Fowler has had a great start to the season, as well. Don't count out this team quite yet in the unpredictable NL West, especially when Troy Tulowitzki comes back.
25. Houston Astros (24-32)
Everyone thought that the Mark Melancon-Jed Lowrie offseason deal was a heist by the Astros, and Lowrie has proven to be one of the team's best hitters. Jose Altuve has also been a great spark plug for an Astros offense that has been much better than it was expected to be.
26. Kansas City Royals (24-31)
Eric Hosmer has begun to heat up, and the Royals are a different team than the one that started 3-14. Unfortunately for the Royals, they are probably going to finish only one spot higher than their early last-place start to the season.
27. Oakland Athletics (25-32)
Yoenis Cespedes is back, but outside of him and Josh Reddick, the A's offense has been brutal. I wonder when the Moneyball sequel will come out, because Billy Beane needs another miracle to get this team out of the AL West cellar for the next bunch of years.
28. Minnesota Twins (22-34)
If you can name four or more guys in the Twins lineup right now, you truly deserve a medal. It becomes a lot harder now since Joe Mauer is currently out of the lineup due to injury.
29. Chicago Cubs (19-37)
Ryan Dempster won his first game of the season, well-deserved for the Cubs' ace who has been pitching like an ace all season. I'll set the over/under at 2.5 for how many more wins Dempster gets in a Cubs uniform before he is traded to a contender this season.
30. San Diego Padres (19-38)
After the Mets got their no-hitter, the Padres became the only MLB franchise left without a no-hitter. They also have never hit for the cycle or won a World Series. These truly are remarkably pathetic feats for a team in its 43rd season.