By Evan Roberts
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1. Texas Rangers (1) 23-13
Man, this offense is ridiculously good. Scoring double digit runs is a routine thing for the defending #1 Roberts’ ranked Texas Rangers. In humbling the upstart Orioles early last week they scored double digit runs in the first 2 games as they won 3 out of 4. Then against the Angels they scored double digits in both victories in winning 2 of 3. A big part of that is Josh Hamilton who is off to a historic start including a 4 home-run game in Baltimore. It’s probably about to get uglier for the rest of the AL West. Their next opponents: Kansas City, Oakland, Houston and Seattle.
2. Baltimore Orioles (5) 22-14
Why not give the O’s the #2 spot. I certainly don’t expect it to last but they did just take 2 of 3 from Tampa Bay! Look, I’m not a believer in the Orioles, but they are surprising the baseball world with their fast start. Besides hoping the starting pitching remains solid, especially Chen and Hammel, they need to get Mark Reynolds’ bat going. Mark is still under .200 and has only hit 2 home runs.
3. Los Angeles Dodgers (4) 24-11
The Dodgers move up one spot with help from a very strong week that saw them take 2 of 3 from the Giants and then sweep Colorado. But now things may get very interesting in Los Angeles. Matt Kemp is dealing with a hamstring injury, and missing Kemp from their lineup changes everything. Andre Either has had a tremendous year and even has more RBI’s than Kemp, but they will need others to step up while Kemp is out.
4. Atlanta Braves (8) 22-14
The Atlanta Braves waltzed into St. Louis and actually cooled off the Cardinals! In the process, they moved into first place in the NL East. What is up is down and what is left is right in Atlanta. Their offense continues to be surprisingly good…they have 7 guys who have driven in at least 18 runs, but their pitching has been mediocre to bad. In an NL East that appears to be wide open due to the fall of Philadelphia, Atlanta is putting in an early claim.
5. New York Yankees (9) 20-15
Not a bad week for the Yankees. First they overcame David Robertson’s blown save and loss to Tampa Bay by winning the series. Then they took 2 of 3 from Seattle, got Robinson Cano hot and saw the return of Andy Pettitte. Andy wasn’t great, but remember it was his first start in well over a year. Gardner had a setback which hurts the depth of their lineup, but what they really need now is for Mark Teixeira to finally get hot. He heard the boos after striking out with the bases loaded on Sunday. Maybe the trip back to Baltimore will get him going. He hit the game winning home run in Monday’s win.
6. St. Louis Cardinals (7) 20-15
The Cardinals got cooled off by the number 4 ranked team (see above) as they got swept by Atlanta at home. The Cardinals starting pitching has been awesome and Carlos Beltran is having an insane start to the year, but the key to long term success may be Adam Wainwright. Wainwright has struggled in his return year, but it’s hard to imagine Lohse, Lynn, Westbrook, etc. keeping it up so they need to find the old Wainwright.
7. Washington Nationals (3) 22-13
The Nats did win 2 of 3 from Cincinnati but their game 3 loss was tough to take. Closer Henry Rodriguez allowed a walk off grand slam to Joey Votto in the bottom of the ninth with 2 outs. We know Rodriguez can throw 101 MPH, but the Nats are an example of a team that shouldn’t name one closer. Their entire bull pen has been pretty solid, so shouldn’t Davey Johnson just go with match-ups? Tyler Clippard is probably their best reliever why shouldn’t he get a shot to pitch in the 9th once in a while? The schedule will get tough for Washington in a week when they play 15 straight games against the NL East.
8. Tampa Bay Rays (2) 22-14
Yeah, we decided to drop the Rays a bit. Sorry, Tampa. It was a tough week for Joe Maddon’s crew as they lost 2 of 3 in New York and then 2 of 3 in Baltimore. Despite scoring 9 runs in the finale against Baltimore, the bats have gotten quiet since the injury to Evan Longoria. When you look at Tampa’s lineup you wonder where the offense is going to come from. They will need Matt Moore to show the promise he showed last year and need to be carried by the arms.
9. New York Mets (NR) 20-15
Despite two brutal losses in Miami over the weekend where Frank Francisco imploded the Mets had a pretty impressive road trip. They came back over and over again against Philadelphia in a 3 game sweep, and have showed an ability to fight back all season. Besides the bullpen and closing situation, the other concern is getting production from SS and C with the injuries to Tejada and Thole. But right now manager Terry Collins has to start doing what I suggested with Washington. Throw the closer role away and go with the hot hand to get the final outs.
10. Miami Marlins (10) 18-17
We talked about the Mets blowing games in Miami, but the other side is how the Marlins fought back against the Mets pen! In winning 2 of 3 from the red hot Mets, the Marlins used 9th inning comebacks in 2 of the 3 games against Frank Francisco to win the series. Giancarlo Stanton and Jose Reyes are starting to heat up, plus Carlos Zambrano is showing he is the old Zambrano. The Marlins have played good baseball for a while despite their Monday loss to Pittsburgh.
How would you rank ‘em? Make your case in the comments below…