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Posted: Thursday May 6, 2010 12:47PM; Updated: Thursday May 6, 2010 1:39PM
Joe Lemire
Joe Lemire>MLB POWER RANKINGS

Blue Jays jump into top 10 but Rays continue reign at No. 1

Story Highlights

The Blue Jays were off to a better start last May and quickly collapsed

The Giants have another stellar pitching duo to go with Lincecum and Cain

The Orioles continue to struggle but they did get some revenge against a nemesis

At this point last year, the only thing more surprising than the Blue Jays' first-place status was how quickly and completely they fell from that lofty perch. They went to Boston for a three-game series last May 19 at 27-14 and leading the AL East by 3.5 games (and No. 1 in the Power Rankings). A three-game sweep at Fenway began a nine-game losing streak from which Toronto never recovered, eventually bottoming out in fourth place. The Blue Jays haven't yet reached the heights they did last year and they may not ever lead the division the way the still-No. 1 Rays are playing, but the Jays may not fall as precipitously, either, and are looking like they could hang around the tough AL East. Toronto boasts the game's most powerful offense and Shaun Marcum and Ricky Romero have been the game's best pair of unheralded starters, each sporting an ERA under 3.20 and a WHIP under 1.10. This week, the Jays move into the Top 10 after taking three of four from AL West-leading A's, sweeping the Indians and taking advantage of slumps by a trio of expected AL heavyweights: the Red Sox, Angels and Mariners.

MLB Power Rankings
1Tampa Bay Rays
Last Week: 1
Not enough can be said about the marvel of efficiency that is the Rays, who have a plus-75 run differential and a major-league leading rate of scoring 40 percent of all their baserunners. Tampa Bay is also leading the AL in a baseball-reference.com stat called Extra Bases Taken Percentage, which counts up the number of times a runner advanced two bases on a single and three bases on a double.

The Rays will try to protect their No. 1 ranking by making the rest of their West Coast trip as successful as it has been so far. After beating the Mariners in the first two games of their set, the Rays still have to travel to Oakland and Anaheim before heading back to Tampa.
 
2Minnesota Twins
Last Week: 2
Joe who? Top catching prospect Wilson Ramos was called up and had four hits in his major-league debut, the 12th player in history with that many hits. For an encore, Ramos had three hits in each of his next two games as well. With reigning AL MVP Joe Mauer sidelined with a bruised left heel -- he reportedly will avoid the disabled list -- Ramos' breakthrough might mean Mauer can be moved to DH with more regularity to save his legs, with Ramos behind the plate.
 
3New York Yankees
Last Week: 3
Until Nick Johnson had three hits on Wednesday, including a double and his second homer, he was on a very strange pace. Through the Yankees' first 26 games, of which Johnson had played 22, he had only nine hits but 22 walks, a terrible .134 average but a good .363 on-base percentage; over 162 games that projects to 56 hits and 137 walks. In other news, the drama around starter Javier Vazquez builds: manager Joe Girardi has elected to skip his next start in the pressure cooker of Fenway Park this weekend. (Also worth noting that shortstop Derek Jeter is the only one of the Yankees' "Core Four" who has avoided injury and thus not yet fallen victim to the SI cover jinx.
 
4St. Louis Cardinals
Last Week: 4
Evidence that loose teams play well: On Monday afternoon, before their showdown with the first-place Phillies in Philadelphia, many of the NL Central-leading Cardinals intently watched the David Spade and Chris Farley comedy Black Sheep while a half-dozen other players engaged in a high-entertainment card game (judging by their boisterous reactions, which included Albert Pujols running a celebratory lap around the clubhouse at one point). On Monday evening the visiting Cards beat the Phillies 6-3 in a battle of two of the NL's best. It seems the Cards have team chemistry in spades.
 
5Philadelphia Phillies
Last Week: 5
Fans running on their home field aside, the Phillies have a few problems. Shortstop Jimmy Rollins won't be returning from his calf injury for at least a few more weeks. Interim closer Ryan Madson kicked a chair and broke his toe, sideling him for about eight weeks. And the healthy starters not named Roy Halladay have a 5.19 ERA. But the Phillies play in the bastion of mediocrity that is the NL East, where the other four teams are all average or close to it, so the three-time defending division champs ought to weather the storm just fine.
 
6San Francisco Giants
Last Week: 6
The buzz around the Giants for a couple years has been that pitchers Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain are incomparable. But all of a sudden, there's another starting duo putting up numbers that challenge them, and the bonus for the Giants is that these other two starters are fellow Giants. While Lincecum and Cain are a combined 5-1 with a 2.19 ERA and 0.91 WHIP, Barry Zito and Jonathan Sanchez are comparable at 7-2 with a 1.89 ERA and 1.04 WHIP.
 
7San Diego Padres
Last Week: 7
Five of their eight most-used players -- Kyle Blanks, Everth Cabrera, David Eckstein, Jerry Hairston and Will Venable -- get on base less than 32 percent of the time but the Padres have soared to first place in the NL West in spite of that. So far the Pads have made the most of each rare on-base opportunity: They lead the league in stolen bases (31) and rank second with a .296 average with runners in scoring position.
 
8Detroit Tigers
Last Week: 9
Legendary Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell passed away this week, and this young scribe will cede the floor to this nice tribute from SI's Joe Posnanski.
 
9Oakland Athletics
Last Week: 12
The A's are quickly morphing from a small-market team into a tiny-market team. On Monday at Oakland-Alameda Coliseum just 8,874 fans showed up -- and it looked like fewer given the cavernous football stadium in which they play -- which was the smallest crowd in seven years. Minority owner Lew Wolff, the group's spokesman, has tried to show how hard the franchise has worked to stay in Oakland, but many aren't buying it.
 
10Toronto Blue Jays
Last Week: 18
The Toronto Blue Jays are the surprising major-league leader in home runs with 43, as Jose Bautista, John Buck, Alex Gonzalez and Vernon Wells are all exceeding expectations; each has at least five. (So does Adam Lind, but that's to be expected.) It's unclear how many homers the Jays would have hit in America, given the ever-fluctuating exchange rate.
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