Posted: Thu May 23, 2013 11:44AM; Updated: Thu May 23, 2013 2:30PM
Joe Lemire
Joe Lemire>MLB POWER RANKINGS

Red Sox join Indians in top 10 in advance of reunion showdown

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Terry Francona
Terry Francona has had an immediate impact in Cleveland, guiding the Indians into contention.
AP

In the offseason, Terry Francona and his protégé, John Farrell, both became managers of clubs that won fewer than 70 games last season. This weekend the two men -- Francona as skipper of the Indians and Farrell in the dugout for the Red Sox -- square off against each other for the first time in Boston, where they once helped the Sox to a World Series title. Francona, who managed in Boston from 2004-11, returns to Fenway Park for the first time as an opposing manager to face Farrell, his pitching coach during the Red Sox' 2007 championship season.

But this series isn't just about sentimentality. Both teams enter the weekend in playoff position. Francona's Indians are 26-19 and in first place in the AL Central, a half-game ahead of the Tigers, while Farrell's Red Sox are 28-19, leading the wild-card race and one-half game behind the Yankees in the AL East. And both are top-10 teams in this week's MLB Power Rankings.

Power Rankings are trying to objectively determine who is playing the best right now. As such, teams are now ranked based on a quantitative formula that considers season record, last-10-games record (with a small strength of schedule component) and season run differential.

NOTE: All stats are updated through Wednesday, May 22.

MLB Power Rankings
1St. Louis Cardinals
Last Week: 1
Just as the Cardinals' rotation receives the recognition it deserves on the cover of Sports Illustrated this week, lefthander Jaime Garcia is lost for the year to shoulder surgery while righthander Jake Westbrook remains on the DL until June. But St. Louis has rotation depth and an overshadowed bullpen which has gotten its act together -- since a six-run meltdown against the Pirates on April 28, the relievers have blown only one game and pitched to a 2.89 ERA.
 
2Cincinnati Reds
Last Week: 3
Joey Votto, who has an 11-game hitting streak, leads the NL in on-base percentage at .484. If that holds, this would be the fourth straight season he has led the league in OBP. The only players ever to have done that are some names you've probably heard of: Barry Bonds, Wade Boggs, Ted Williams, Lou Gehrig and Rogers Hornsby.
 
3Atlanta Braves
Last Week: 11
Rookie sensation Evan Gattis has homered in three of his last seven plate appearances: a go-ahead homer in the eighth inning on Saturday, a game-tying homer with two outs in the ninth inning on Tuesday and a grand slam on Wednesday. He's helped power the Braves to the majors' second-best offensive production in late-and-close situations (.773 OPS).
 
4Texas Rangers
Last Week: 2
Adrian Beltre has raised his season average nearly 70 points since May 1, when he was batting .214. Since then he has three four-hit games while smacking five home runs en route to lifting his average to its current .281. It may continue to rise, too, as he has cut his strikeout rate to a career-low 9.1 percent of plate appearances and his batting average on balls in play is a below-average .268.
 
5Pittsburgh Pirates
Last Week: 9
The Pirates have won 10 of their last 12, though it should be noted that all of those games were against teams with losing records. The good news, however, was how strong their strength of schedule in April was, and that they have winning records against the NL East and Central division leaders -- Atlanta (3-1), St. Louis (3-2) -- and against the only one of the NL West co-leaders they have played, Arizona (2-1).
 
6Boston Red Sox
Last Week: 14
Second baseman Dustin Pedroia is one of just six qualified major leaguers to have more walks (28) than strikeouts (26), though for the 2008 AL MVP that's par for the course as he has 377 career walks to 355 strikeouts. Pedroia currently has career highs in batting average (.332, sixth in the AL) and OBP (.420, third in the AL).
 
7Detroit Tigers
Last Week: 6
Miguel Cabrera's offensive feats continue to amaze. Consider these: He leads the majors in four-hit games (four); he's one of only two players with a three-homer game this season; and he has gone hitless only six times this season, compared to 21 multi-hit games and 17 one-hit games.

VERDUCCI: Explaining Cabrera's dominance
 
8Cleveland Indians
Last Week: 5
Some writers have noted recently that the Indians are 11-3 in one-run games and 5-0 in extra innings, likening them to the 2012 Orioles for their success in these two purported luck factors. One big difference: While Baltimore had a negative run differential for most of last year, Cleveland has a +29 mark.
 
9Colorado Rockies
Last Week: 18
How exaggerated is the offensive effect of Coors Field? The Rockies have the NL's highest team OPS (.769), yet their OPS+ -- adjusted for league and ballpark -- is 97, which is three percent below league-average.
 
10New York Yankees
Last Week: 4
Despite a lefty-dominated lineup, the Yankees are 10-4 when facing a lefthanded starting pitcher. In fact, New York's lefty hitters have produced better against LHPs (.710 OPS) than its righthanded hitters (.607) despite the fine work of Vernon Wells (.902 OPS vs. LHPs).
 
11Oakland Athletics
Last Week: 24
Scan the team rankings for production from third base and the top three are obvious: Tigers (Miguel Cabrera), Rays (Evan Longoria) and Mets (David Wright). It's the fourth-place that raises an eyebrow: the Athletics. Oakland has gotten a .308 average and .900 OPS from Josh Donaldson through 47 games; last season he had a .687 OPS in 75 games.
 
12Arizona Diamondbacks
Last Week: 7
The Diamondbacks have featured two of the league's hottest hitters this month, as first baseman Paul Goldschmidt (1.163 OPS) and third baseman Eric Chavez (1.141) rank second and third and, along with Gerardo Parra (.876). The three also have combined for 43 Runs Created, which is 57 percent of Arizona's monthly output from just 33 percent of its lineup.
 
13Tampa Bay Rays
Last Week: 10
Matt Moore is not (yet) the best pitcher in the league, but he's progressing in the right direction. The majors' only eight-game winner, the lefthander ranks in the AL's top five in ERA (2.29), fewest hits allowed per nine innings (5.6) -- and, unfortunately for him, walks (26).
 
14Philadelphia Phillies
Last Week: 21
Only two pitchers in baseball have had streaks of at least seven starts of six or more innings and two or fewer runs, and one of them is a Phillie. Yep, Kyle Kendrick, of course. That streak was snapped over the weekend, but on the season he has a 2.82 ERA and, until Cliff Lee joined him on Wednesday night, Kendrick was the owner of Philadelphia's only shutout.
 
15Chicago White Sox
Last Week: 23
Our long national (O.K., south side of Chicago) nightmare is now over: Jeff Keppinger has walked! In his 141st plate appearance of the year, the infielder not only drew his first walk but also drove in the winning run with it, as the bases were loaded at the time. Then, three days later, he walked again. In quasi-related news, the White Sox rank last in the AL in runs.
 
16Baltimore Orioles
Last Week: 8
The Orioles suffered one of the worst weeks any team in baseball has endured this season. They lost six straight games, including three consecutive games in which they allowed at least eight runs -- that tied the longest streak by any team in the 2013 season. They surrendered 30 total runs in those three games, the most by any club not named the Houston Astros.
 
17San Francisco Giants
Last Week: 12
A brutal turn of events: Ryan Vogelsong had given up at least six runs in each of his four previous starts, so his five shutout innings Monday night were a welcome sight . . . until he broke his throwing hand when a pitch hit his fingers . . . while he swung and missed (with the bat) for a strike.
 
18San Diego Padres
Last Week: 20
The Padres are arguably the game's best baserunning team. They lead the majors with 39 stolen bases, rank third with an 83 percent success rate and are third in the majors by taking the extra base (e.g. first to third on a single) in 47 percent of opportunities.
 
19Los Angeles Angels
Last Week: 27
The best contact hitters are those who walk more than they strikeout, and an unlikely candidate to achieve that feat is Chris Iannetta. The Angels catcher, who has begun the year with 28 walks and 31 strikeouts, entered the season with a 1.63 strikeout-to-walk ratio for his career and whiffed twice as much as he walked last season (60 to 29).
 
20Toronto Blue Jays
Last Week: 22
Jose Bautista doesn't always hit home runs, but when he does, he prefers to hit two. Toronto's slugger, previously described herein as The Most Interesting Man in Baseball, has only homered in two games in May, but both times he slugged a pair. He's doubled down in more ways, too. In his last nine games, he has five two-hit games, a four-hit game and zero games with just one hit.
 
21Los Angeles Dodgers
Last Week: 25
Clayton Kershaw leads the majors with a 1.35 ERA and with 73 1/3 innings pitched; he has allowed only three earned runs in his last five starts; and he has held lefties to just six hits in 47 at bats, a .128 average. He's really good. #analysis
 
22Washington Nationals
Last Week: 13
First, Lincoln lost Best Picture at the Oscars, and now he has yet to win a president's race in 23 tries, falling behind even notorious racing loser Teddy Roosevelt and newcomer Taft. The Nationals' struggles -- 4-6 on their West Coast road trip and the closer saying his four-year-old son could play better defense than the club's star rightfielder -- seem mild by comparison.
 
23Kansas City Royals
Last Week: 15
Miguel Tejada's three-run homer on Monday ended two droughts: It was his first big league home run since July 16, 2011, and it was the Royals' first homer with a man on base since May 10, a span of eight games. No major league club scores a smaller percentage of its run via the homer than the Royals, at 23.9 percent.
 
24Chicago Cubs
Last Week: 19
The Cubs are famous for their frequent matinees at Wrigley Field, so it's rather unfortunate that they are 7-16 in day games, whereas they are 11-11 at night. At least starter Matt Garza is back from injury, making his season debut Tuesday night and allowing just one hit in five shutout innings.
 
25Milwaukee Brewers
Last Week: 26
The Brewers' hitters are up at the plate to swing early and often. They are taking the second-fewest pitches in the majors (52.5 percent) and have taken advantage of the first pitch of an at bat better than any team in baseball, leading the majors in hits (83), homers (17) and OPS (1.045) when putting the first pitch in play.
 
26New York Mets
Last Week: 28
It's bad enough to be mired in a 1-for-38 slump, but Ike Davis hasn't helped himself in the field -- his obstruction on Tuesday cost the Mets a putout on the bases and his misplay on Wednesday became the Reds' winning hit. Overall, Davis is batting .147 with four homers through 42 games; if it's any consolation, through the same number of games last year, he was batting .159 with five homers and still finished the year with 32 home runs.
 
27Seattle Mariners
Last Week: 16
Blind item: a .355 OBP and .349 slugging percentage with a 1.6 K/BB rate. Seems like he could be a good leadoff hitter, right? Instead, it's the line for Mariners first baseman Justin Smoak. The lack of power (he has just three home runs) is concerning, but the on-base skills are greatly improved, meaning he'd be a good interim fit as No. 2 hitter rather than Dustin Ackley (.277 OBP).
 
28Minnesota Twins
Last Week: 17
Increasingly, Josh Willingham's plate appearances are chances for outfielders to take breaks -- because the ball either won't leave the infield or go over their head for a homer. Only 49 percent of his PAs result in the ball being put in play -- fourth-lowest in the AL -- and another 28 percent of his PAs are infield flyouts (mostly pop-ups), which is the AL's second-highest rate.
 
29Houston Astros
Last Week: 30
The Astros won their first series outside their division this week, in taking two of three from the Royals. Twice they've taken two of three games from Seattle and once from Los Angeles, but before playing K.C. they had lost all 11 other series, including getting swept seven times.
 
30Miami Marlins
Last Week: 29
Even a healthy Marlins roster would have trouble winning games, but Miami hasn't even had that luxury. With Matt Diaz's recent DL placement, there are now 11 Marlins on the DL and a total of 13 that have spent time there this season. One bright spot: first baseman Logan Morrison has begun a rehab assignment.
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