The hottest team in baseball is still in 4th place, but I am not going to jinx them by mentioning them. Although the team whose name rhymes with “Jue Blays” may be making an entrance into the top 10 if they maintain their current level of play. Anyways, with all but two of the current 1st place teams (the Tigers and Rangers) winning more than 5 of their last 10, the rankings are wide open this week. See where your team ranks:
#1 St. Louis Cardinals
As badly as I wish we could shake up the rankings in the top spot for a change, no one has played near well enough to dethrone the Cardinals. 4 guys have a batting average over .300 while their lowest average among starters is .243 (John Jay). That is just ridiculous balance. By the way: The Cards HAVE to get Matt Adams some more AB’s. Guy is hitting .314 with a .535 slugging percentage in limited time.
#2 Pittsburgh Pirates
All year I have ranked this team lower than their record deserved, but it is finally time for me to give the Pirates the benefit of a doubt…for now, anyways. How long can the pitching continue to bail out such a subpar offense? By the way: Where would this offense be without the sudden emergence of Pedro Alvarez? He has homered in 4 straight games and has 19 overall.
#3 Cincinnati Reds
It’s crazy to think that the team with the 3rd best record in baseball is third in their division, but that’s the case for the Reds. If the season ended right now, they would be tasked with a 1-game playoff on the road in Pittsburgh. I still think this team is way more balanced than the Pirates though (9th in runs and 4th in ERA) and will end up challenging the Cardinals for 1st in the division. By the way: Joey Votto is putting up monster splits and is doing it extremely quietly (.326/.440/.517).
#4 Atlanta Braves
I have the Braves ahead of the Red Sox mainly because their division is so much weaker than the AL East. The Braves have got to get Justin Upton back on track though. 1 HR in 28 games and a .180 average isn’t going to get the job done when you are supposed to be the offensive core along with Freddie Freeman. By the way: It is pretty impressive that even without Venters and O’Flaherty the Braves still have the leagues best bullpen thus far.
#5 Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox have a huge series coming up this week against the Toronto Blue Jays. I know the offense is still really good (1st in runs) and the starting pitching continues to keep them in the game (6th in quality starts), but I just get the feeling this will be a huge series for the Red Sox as far as their confidence goes. By the way: If Victorino is out for an extended period of time with his back, Ellsbury becomes the Red Sox most crucial player, at least in my mind. HAVE to keep him healthy.
#6 Texas Rangers
I have to admit, I am shocked at how this team responded to the skid they had a few weeks ago. Not only do they have Kinsler and their swagger back, but also are back in 1st in the AL West after sweeping the Cardinals. People forget just how big Kinsler is for this team. He is their heartbeat. By the way: Am I the only one concerned with the health of Joe Nathan? He is 38 years old and has already appeared in 35 games.
#7 Detroit Tigers
The Tigers are without a doubt the only 1st place team that could be described as a disappointment at this time. The Tigers are 1st in average and 2nd in quality starts, yet have the 7th best record in baseball. Luckily though, no one in their division appears to be much of a threat. By the way: If you didn’t see the play Victor Martinez made on Sunday, you should look it up. Remember, this guy is their typical DH.
#8 Oakland Athletics
This is what you get with this young exciting team. It’s like watching a season long NBA game. It’s all about streaks. Going to be a tough rest of the 1st half too. Reds, Cardinals, Cubs, Royals, Pirates, and Red Sox aren’t exactly a cakewalk. By the way: Cespedes will have to be better consistently if this team wants to start avoiding their ups and downs.
#9 Arizona Diamondbacks
The Dbacks are looking more and more like geniuses as Justin Upton continues to struggle. Now if only Martin Prado could start living up to his potential again. By the way: when it is all said and done, I still firmly believe that the Giants will be the only team challenging the Dbacks down the stretch.
#10 Baltimore Orioles
I haven’t had much faith in this team since spring training started and they have yet to give me a reason to change my mind. The pitching is just not good enough to compete down the stretch, as much as I hope I am wrong. By the way: Nate McLouth has almost as many steals as strikeouts 30 to 24. Shocking stat.
Please feel free to tell me how wrong I am on twitter: @Cole_Stevenson