Major League Baseball Power Rankings Week 4 (4/30/2012)

Late edition of my weekly power rankings this weekend after a packed weekend. The Rangers, Nationals, Braves and Dodgers continue their recent stretches of great baseball, the Boston Red Sox have shown new life, and one team takes a nosedive. On to it!

  1. Texas Rangers (17-6)- Since his first start, Yu Darvish has given up three earned runs in 27.1 innings pitched; striking out 28 batters and lowering his season opening ERA from 7.94 to 2.18 to go along with a 4-0 start.
  2. Los Angeles Dodgers (16-7)- Dodger Stadium continues to chant “MVP” for superstar Matt Kemp and he continues to deliver. Kemp, last years MVP runner-up, just finished the month of April with 12 home runs, 25 RBI’s, and a .417 batting average.
  3. Washington Nationals (14-8)- When is it safe to assume these guys are for real? I would say right about now. Just finished a road trip sans Ryan Zimmerman in Los Angeles and San Diego at 2-4 with the sweep in Los Angeles coming on a combined series score of 9-5 (shut out 2-0 in the finale). Pitching is there, once the offense catches up look out.
  4. St. Louis Cardinals(14-8)- Quietly continuing another march to October in the early going this time around. Might be time to consider an early manager of the year shout to Mike Matheny. While it hasn’t all been smooth sailing, kudos to him for replacing LaRussa and doing so with all players on board. It may also be time to show serious respect to Jamie Garcia who has given up just five earned over his last 21.2, striking out 13.
  5. Atlanta Braves (14-9)- Went 5-2 out West, including taking 2-of-3 from the Dodgers in ninth inning comeback fashion. Fredi Gonzalez has taken a lot of heat since replacing Bobby Cox (some from you know who as well) but he seems to be doing a fantastic job in-game managing. Despite the Nationals early success the Braves are a half-game behind them in the East and it’s no secret why.
  6. Tampa Bay Rays(15-8)- The Rays sit atop the American League East and showed little signs of relinquishing it. B.J. Upton returned and has been punishing the ball (.387 BA). But with the news Evan Longoria might be out the next two months that puts a serious damper on an offense that could ill-afford to lose any staples. particularly one hitting .329 with four home runs and 19 RBI’s.
  7. New York Yankees (14-9)- Starting rotation continues to be a question mark, but with an offense like theirs who needs friends. The top five hitters in their lineup have combined for 26 home runs and 79 RBI’s in 23 games.
  8. San Francisco Giants (12-10)- Continuing to hang in there out West without closer Brian Wilson, since he went down on April 12th the Giants are 11-6 and seem to be employing the closer-by-committee quite well. Our Barry Zito watch shows four starts (1-0) an ERA of 1.67 (five earned) in 27 innings.
  9. New York Mets (13-10)- One day they look like the team everyone picked to implode (18-9 out in Colorado? Yikes!). Then all they do is go 5-2 to close out the month of April and you can’t help but be intrigued. David Wright (.389/4 HR/14 RBI) very well could have been player of the month if not for Kemp out in Los Angeles.
  10. Cleveland Indians (11-9)- I think we can all agree this very well may not last. But the Cleveland Indians are playing solid baseball and it is coming on a renaissance performance from Derek Lowe (4-1, 2.27 ERA). Don’t underscore Carlos Santana’s importance to this lineup either as he’s hit .316 the last week helping the Indians close April out at a respectable 6-4.
  11. Toronto Blue Jays (12-11)- Jose Bautista has yet to come above .200 on the season and is big-time scuffling. It’s a testament to the talent level on this team that they’re doing this well to start the new month. Someone recently asked me if I thought Brett Lawrie was as good as advertised. My honest response was that I was marketed the next big thing in baseball and got .278 with two homers and almost as many stikeouts (16) as hits.
  12.  Arizona Diamondbacks (12-11)- 5-3 after a five-game losing streak the Diamondbacks may have struck serious gold with the early success of Wade Miley (3-0, 1.82 ERA) as a starter to replace the dreadful Josh Collmenter (0-2, 9.82 ERA).
  13.  Philadelphia Phillies (11-12)- Entering big early series against the Braves will show whether this team is ready to hit their stride. As a team they just aren’t getting on base enough (.293 OBP) to generate enough opportunities to score runs for their starters. That spells bad news for a bullpen that ranks 17th in the majors between Kansas City and Minnesota.
  14.  Baltimore Orioles (14-9)- I can hear you Beltway goers laughing under your breath. Mark my words, no one wanted to skip this topic more than me this week. Alas, here we are, the beginning of May and the Baltimore Orioles are still playing above .500. Jim Johnson (8/8 in save opportunities, 0.00 ERA) is making the most of his opportunity as closer.  
  15. Boston Red Sox (11-11)- A funny thing happened when players and coaches stopped whining in Boston. The Red Sox finished the month 7-1 and have come back to .500. While I’m not close to proclaiming them as playoff contenders their recent surge is a good sign. David Ortiz finished the month batting over .400 (.405) with 6 home runs and 20 RBI’s.
  16. Cincinnati Reds (11-11)- 7-3 end of the month saw them get better results from their lineup as a whole. Bullpen has been stabilized since Aroldis Chapman solidified bullpen with end of the game presence and Homer Bailey, Johnny Cueto, and Mat Latos have turned in solid performances of late.
  17. Detroit Tigers (11-11)- Consider them the anti-Red Sox as they closed out April going 1-6. Top three starters this past week all had ERA’s above six and lineup is showing inconsistencies not present at the beginning of the season.
  18. Chicago White Sox (11-11)- Another team sitting on the fence record wise, the most important thing to remember when assessing this White Sox club is that with the Tigers struggling and the Indians not convincing enough to be taken seriously there is much to play for.
  19. Colorado Rockies (11-11)- Put up 18 runs against the Mets on Friday, then followed that up with two straight losses at home. Story of their season so far really.
  20. Milwaukee Brewers (11-12)- Ryan Braun made headlines yesterday with the first three-homer performance in Petco Park history. Other than that, this team is no better than .500 without consistency on both sides of the ball.
  21. Oakland Athletics (11-13)- Recently acquired Brandon Inge should pay immediate dividends for them on offense as the pitching continues to impress.
  22. Seattle Mariners (11-13)- Ichiro had 11 hits and batted .333 last week. That’s important because now we don’t have to write those “What’s Wrong With Ichiro?” stories for now.
  23. Pittsburgh Pirates (10-12)- Split the four-game set down in Atlanta over the weekend. Until their 9-3 win on Monday the team entered play with just 44 RBI’s on the season.
  24. Houston Astros (9-14)- Kudos to the Houston Astros for playing hard and getting the most out of a young group. As you know we here at “The Locker” are big fans of Jose Altuve (.360 BA through 22 games) and J.D. Martinez. Wandy Rodriguez is 2-2 but with an ERA of 1.72. This team appears to have some pieces to build upon.
  25. Miami Marlins (8-14)- Read here
  26. Los Angeles Angels (8-15)- Too much talent here to have a record like this. But here we are entering May and they are cellar-dwellers in the American League West. I have to think that if Albert Pujols gets hot things could change in a hurry.
  27. Chicago Cubs (8-15)- I will just let you read a recent Facebook post of mine to a friend of mine who is a Cubs fan: If someone paid for my plane ticket, food, hotel and behind home plate seats to Wrigley, I would take the first three and sneak over to watch the White Sox.  Mind you, I’ve ALWAYS dreamed of visiting Wrigley.
  28. San Diego Padres (7-17)- Cameron Maybin is hitting .188, has stolen just six bases, and has more strikeouts than hits through one month of play. Yeah…he’s definitely justifying the five-year, $25 million dollar contract he recently signed.
  29. Kansas City Royals(6-15)- Until Alex Gordon, Eric Hosmer, and Jeff Francouer decide to join the rest of the team in Missouri Royals fans can only look forward to the All-Star game.
  30. Minnesota Twins (6-16)- How bad is it that the starter with the lowest ERA sits at 4.91?

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