This Week: vs. Detroit (3), vs. Oakland (4)
To start with, the Yankees didn’t do anything wrong this week to lose the top spot. Texas is just red hot. The Rangers have won 11 of their last 13, and have done it without much help from Josh Hamilton (intestinal illness) and their top starters. They did add Roy Oswalt to the mix on Friday, who picked up the win in his first start. I don’t know if any team will be able to slow down the two-time defending American League champs.
2. New York Yankees (-1, 43-28, 1st in AL East)
This Week: vs. Cleveland (3), vs. Chicago White Sox (4)
Again, nothing wrong with the Yankees week. The Braves snapped their 10-game winning streak, then recovered nicely over the weekend against cross-town rival Mets. They even made R.A. Dickey seem human Sunday night. Next week won’t be as easy for the Bombers, as they’re catching some hot pitching in the form of Justin Masterson, Jose Quintana and Jake Peavy. However, as long as they hit home runs, they’ll continue to win.
3. Baltimore Orioles (+1, 41-31, 2nd in AL East)
This Week: vs. LA Angels (2), vs. Cleveland (4)
The only reason the Orioles didn’t fall in the PR and actually gained a spot is because 1) the Dodgers are colder than them and 2) they managed to take 2 of 3 over the weekend from the Nationals. Even in the midst of a rough week, Jason Hammel continues to dominate the competition. He established a new career-high with 10 Ks against the Nats in 8 innings of one-run (unearned) pitching. I don’t think there will be any keeping him off the All-Star team this year.
4. Los Angeles Dodgers (-1, 43-30, 1st in NL West)
This Week: @ San Francisco (3), vs. NY Mets (4)
Swept by the A’s, losers of 2 out of 3 to the Angels, wasn’t a strong week at all for the Dodgers. If there is any good news at all, Chris Capuano maintained his winning ways, picking up his 9th while shutting down the scorching hot Angels offense. Capuano will get a chance at revenge this week, facing off against the Mets in LA, the team he pitched for last season.
5. Washington Nationals (+2, 41-29, 1st in NL East)
This Week: @ Colorado (4), @ Atlanta (3)
There’s potential for a huge week upcoming for the Nationals. Why do I say that? Both Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez will pick up multiple starts against the Rockies and division rival Braves. The only obstacle holding Washington back is their anemic offense. The Nationals offense hasn’t scored more than five runs in their last nine games, a span of which they’ve posted a 3-6 record.
This Week: @ Kansas City (3), vs. Detroit (4)
Any week looks better when you sweep a Sunday double-header in Philadelphia (especially when the author of these rankings is a hardcore Philly hater). David Price became the first pitcher in the American League to 10 wins last week, and he’ll get a shot at #11 in a great pitching match-up with Tigers’ ace Justin Verlander on Friday.
7. Los Angeles Angels (+2, 40-33, 2nd in AL West)
This Week: @ Baltimore (2), @ Toronto (4)
It’s Trout and Trumbo’s world, and we’re all just living in it. Does it help that Albert Pujols is starting to heat up? Absolutely. But, without Trumbo (.316/.368/.612 17 HR 49 RBI) and Trout (.338/.399/.531 7 HR, 29 RBI, 21 SB, 43 runs), the Angels season would be completely lost.
8. Cincinnati Reds (-3, 39-32, 1st in NL Central)
This Week: vs. Milwaukee (3), @ San Francisco (4)
Rough, rough week. And yet, the Reds maintained their lead in the NL Central. Literally the only bright spot to the Cincinnati week is the continued dominance of Johnny Cueto on the mound. 7 innings, only 3 hits and 1 walk against 9 strikeouts in his 9th win of the season. See? Its not necessarily all about Joey Votto in Cincy. Though, its still mostly about Joey Votto in Cincy…
9. San Francisco Giants (-1, 40-33, 2nd in NL West)
This Week: vs. LA Dodgers (3), vs. Cincinnati (4)
Its not going to be an easy week for San Fran. They’ll have to take down the likes of Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Johnny Cueto and Mat Latos in order to find success at home. As it currently stands, the Giants are in possession of the first Wild Card spot, and its never too early to worry about that sort of thing.
This Week: @ Philadelphia (4), @ St. Louis (3)
Its a little unbelievable that teams are still pitching to Andrew McCutchen (.340/.398/.577 13 HR 45 RBI). Neil Walker and Garrett Jones are currently the only other every day hitters in the Pittsburgh line-up hitting over .250. And neither of them are over .260. So, again, why do teams continue to take a chance by giving McCutchen even one strike to look at?
11. New York Mets (+3, 39-34, 2nd in NL East)
This Week: @ Chicago Cubs (3), @ LA Dodgers (4)
If you’re wondering why it feels like the Mets are always playing a good team over the last month, its because they have. Monday will mark the first time in 23 games the Mets won’t be playing a team with an over-.500 record. I’m one of the few Mets fans that view the team from week to week. So, do the two weekend losses to the Yankees sting? Yes. But, did the four wins earlier in the week make up for it? Absolutely. The true litmus test for if the Mets are real or not? The amount of txts I got from Yankee fans tonight during the R.A. Dickey start. Before, Yankee fans didn’t care if they beat the Mets. Now, it was a big deal. We’re back!
12. Chicago White Sox (-2, 38-34, 1st in AL Central)
This Week: @ Minnesota (3), @ NY Yankees (4)
The big story this week for the ChiSox, of course, will be how Kevin Youkilis performs in his new digs. The story for true White Sox fans (like our own Vinny Ginardi) will be the continued success from their starting pitchers not named Gavin Floyd or Phil Humber. If anybody saw Jose Quintana bursting onto the scene and not giving up more than two earned runs in any of his first six starts, you’re a freaking genius. Now, if only the White Sox can do better than the two total runs they’ve given him in support his last two starts while he’s given up none over 16 innings.
This Week: vs. Toronto (3), @ Seattle (4)
Winners of 9 of 11, the Red Sox have completely turned their season around. Will Middlebrooks made moving Kevin Youkilis not only easier, but necessary. He absolutely tore up opposing pitching last week. The team also got Cody Ross back and healthy off the DL, and he immediately slammed two home runs against the Braves on Sunday. However, one step forward, two steps back for the Sox. Clay Buchholz was hospitalized with intestinal bleeding and placed on the 15-day DL.
14. Atlanta Braves (-2, 38-34, 3rd in NL East)
This Week: vs. Arizona (3), vs. Washington (3)
The roller coaster that is the Atlanta Braves season continues right along. First, they lost three in a row. Followed that up with three straight wins against Yankees and Red Sox, then immediately dropped the final two in Boston. The worst news of the week was losing Brandon Beachy for at least a year to Tommy John surgery. Without Beachy, the pressure will be on Mike Minor to turn his season around, as well as Randall Delgado posting a strong second half and Jair Jurrjens pitching more like his All-Star past and not his below replacement-level present.
15. St. Louis Cardinals (-2, 38-35, 3rd in NL Central)
This Week: @ Miami (3), vs. Pittsburgh (3)
Should the Cardinals remain relevant throughout the rest of the season, Carlos Beltran is going to have himself a very strong case for MVP. He slammed his 20th home run of the season on Sunday as part of a .308/.393/.589 start to the 2012 campaign. Health may be the only thing standing between Beltran and one of his best offensive years in his storied career. It pains me to see him do so well in a uniform that provided his lowest moment with the Mets, but I am happy he’s doing work and proving his haters wrong.
16. Cleveland Indians (-1, 37-34, 2nd in AL Central)
This Week: @ NY Yankees (3), @ Baltimore (4)
The Indians are hanging around the AL Central, and it certainly helps that no other team in the division is separating themselves from the pack. However, this is not the week Manny Acta’s club needed, facing the top two teams in the East. They could step up and play well, or they could fade a bit from the field. It’ll be a telling week.
This Week: @ Atlanta (3), @ Milwaukee (3)
Winners of five of their last six, this is more like the D’Backs team people were expecting before the season started. Trevor Bauer is still lurking in the shadows of the Minor Leagues should the need for a starting pitcher emerge (by the way, the don’t have a scheduled starter for Thursday). Until then, the story that is Wade Miley’s magical season continues. Two wins last week pushed his season total to 9, including an 8 inning, 7 strikeout, 3 hit performance Sunday.
18. Toronto Blue Jays (-2, 37-35, 5th in AL East)
This Week: @ Boston (3), vs. LA Angels (4)
Everybody seems to be injured these days in Toronto. Brandon Morrow, Kyle Drabek, Brett Lawrie…its not been pretty lately. What has been nice, however, is the breakout performance of Colby Rasmus. Was it just a hot week in the up-and-down career for Rasmus, or are the Blue Jays finally getting positive returns on their trade with the Cardinals at last year’s deadline?
19. Detroit Tigers (-1, 35-37, 3rd in AL Central)
This Week: @ Texas (3), @ Tampa Bay (4)
The long year in Detroit seems to only be getting longer. Seven games next week against the #1 and the #6 team respectively isn’t exactly what the team needs to turn their season around. Again, the White Sox haven’t been able to put any distance between themselves and the struggling Tigers, so time is still on their hand to make some noise down the stretch.
20. Oakland A’s (+3, 35-38, 3rd in AL West)
This Week: @ Seattle (3), @ Texas (4)
Who said the A’s can’t make a few things interesting this season? Derek Norris spoiled what could’ve been a sweep by the Giants with his three-run, walk-off homer Sunday. Couple that with a surprising sweep of the Dodgers prior to this weekend, and the A’s are trending upward, especially with some of the teams below them either struggling to stay afloat or continuing to flounder.
21. Miami Marlins (-4, 34-38, 4th in NL East)
This Week: vs. St. Louis (3), vs. Philadelphia (3)
Well, things aren’t certainly getting better in Miami, are they? The Fish have lost 15 of their last 18, and its been an absolute team effort. Look, I won’t lie, it makes me a little happy inside to see Jose Reyes on a team struggling to compete when the Mets outrank him by 10 spots. And, when I say a little, I mean a whole f-ing lot.
This Week: @ Cincinnati (3), vs. Arizona (3)
Still waiting for the Brewers to find an identity. The longer they go without gaining ground in what is looking like a very top-heavy NL Central, the closer they come to having to deal with a decision involving future free agent starting pitcher Zack Greinke. Not a comfortable situation at all.
23. Philadelphia Phillies (-1, 34-40, 5th in NL East)
This Week: vs. Pittsburgh (4), @ Miami (3)
Chase Utley and Ryan Howard continue to inch their way back into the line-up, with Utley likely making an appearance before the All-Star break. However, Roy Halladay is still on the shelf and Cliff Lee is still remarkably winless. The more surprising story line to follow, could the Phillies move Lee and not Cole Hamels at the deadline if they’re out of contention?
24. Kansas City Royals (+0, 31-39, 4th in AL Central)
This Week: vs. Tampa Bay (3), @ Minnesota (4)
The clock is ticking until Wil Meyers is promoted to the show. Joining the likes of young power bats Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas in the line-up continues to shed a bright light on the Royals future. That light, however, does not cover the 2012 season.
This Week: vs. Oakland (3), vs. Boston (4)
I won’t lie, I caught some of the Mariners action this weekend. However, it wasn’t for any positive reasons. Apparently Oliver Perez is back in the bigs, and I’m completely invested into watching him do…well…whatever he actually does when he’s on the mound.
26. Houston Astros (+0, 30-42, 5th in NL Central)
This Week: vs. San Diego (4), @ Chicago Cubs (3)
Hey, the Astros can make some noise this week! I mean, this is really the only scenario they’ll play teams with less fire power than them. Still, Houston, don’t get your hopes up right now.
27. Minnesota Twins (+0, 29-42, 5th in AL Central)
This Week: vs. Chicago White Sox (3), vs. Kansas City (4)
Ben Revere has been a nice addition back into the starting line-up, but this team isn’t going to do anything until they find some starting pitching to match with Scott Diamond.
28. Colorado Rockies (+0, 27-44, 4th in NL West)
This Week: vs. Washington (4), vs. San Diego (3)
Troy Tulowitzki is out for at least another five weeks with a recurring groin issue. Nobody in their starting rotation is doing anything worth noting, and that’s the story of the 2012 Colorado Rockies.
29. San Diego Padres (+0, 26-47, 5th in NL West)
This Week: @ Houston (4), @ Colorado (3)
You’re still in San Diego. I’m not moving off this point. Carlos Quentin is going to be the biggest bat on the trade market (.324/.446/.676 6 HR). The question is, will the Padres actually trade their only proven slugger, or try to sign him to an extension before he hits free agency?
30. Chicago Cubs (+0, 24-48, 6th in NL Central)
This Week: vs. NY Mets (3), vs. Houston (3)
Anthony Rizzo is right around the corner. The team took the next step in their preparation for his promotion by moving Bryan LaHair to the outfield. One step forward at a time…