Posted: Thu July 11, 2013 11:31AM; Updated: Thu July 11, 2013 11:31AM
Joe Lemire
Joe Lemire>MLB POWER RANKINGS

Cardinals return to No. 1 but AL dominates rest of top five

Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
David Price
The return of David Price has coincided with a Rays resurgence that has Tampa Bay in playoff position.
Cliff Welch/Icon SMI

As of Power Rankings' first reckoning back in February, the 2013 season figured to be one headlined by the National League. At the time, four of the game's top five teams projected to be from the NL, but as we've reached mid-July, the Power Rankings leaderboard shows the inverse, with four of the top five teams residing in the AmericanLeague.

Though the Cardinals have ridden a five-game winning streak back to No. 1, the Red Sox (last week's No. 1), A's, Tigers and Rays populate slots 2-through 5, with the Rangers looming at No. 7. (The Yankees, seemingly as immortal as the protagonists in the old Highlander TV series, sit at No. 10.) With the All-Star Game less than a week away, these AL teams will be especially invested in winning -- as bonafide contenders, they would benefit from homefield advantage in the World Series.

As a weekly reminder, this year Power Rankings is trying to objectively determine who is the best team at the moment, by weighing season performance with recent play. The rankings are ordered 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, July 10.

MLB Power Rankings
1St. Louis Cardinals
Last Week: 4
No team gets more offense from the right side of the infield than the Cardinals. They are the only team whose first baseman (Allen Craig) and second baseman (Matt Carpenter) both have adjusted OPS+ scores higher than 125 (i.e. 25 percent above average when taking league and ballpark into account). Carpenter has a 147 and Craig a 138.
 
2Boston Red Sox
Last Week: 1
The Red Sox lead the majors with 210 doubles and are on pace for 366 this season, which would rank sixth all-time. Notably, two Boston teams are already tied for second place -- the 1997 and 2004 editions both hit 373 -- while the '03 squad clubbed 371 doubles (fifth place) and the '10 Sox hit 358 (tied for sixth, for now).
 
3Oakland Athletics
Last Week: 5
Oakland has the AL's third-best bullpen ERA (3.14). Anchoring that group is closer Grant Balfour, whose 41st consecutive save broke a franchise record held by Dennis Ecklersley -- just part of his overlooked exploits this year.
 
4Detroit Tigers
Last Week: 10
In addition to being 13-0, Tigers starter Max Scherzer is also on pace to become only the third pitcher in AL history to finish a year with a K/9 above 10 while maintaining a WHIP below 1.00. The other two pitchers are Johan Santana, who did so with the Twins in 2004, and Pedro Martinez, who did it three times with the Red Sox in 1999, 2000 and '02.
 
5Tampa Bay Rays
Last Week: 7
David Price's first two starts since returning from a triceps injury have been his best two of the season -- combined, he's gone 16 innings with 15 strikeouts and one run allowed while not walking anyone. One important note, however, is that he faced the AL's two lowest-scoring offenses (Houston and Chicago) which also happen to be two of the four least likely to walk.
 
6Atlanta Braves
Last Week: 3
Even with two top relievers, Jonny Venters and Eric O'Flaherty, lost for the season to arm injuries, the Braves have overtaken the Pirates for best bullpen ERA in the majors at 2.65. Atlanta has seven pitchers who have made at least 14 relief appearances and who have an ERA under 3.00, which would tie a major league record for a season currently held by the 2010 Braves and the 2012 Athletics.
 
7Texas Rangers
Last Week: 11
Conjure a list of the AL's best hitters over the last four years, and you'll probably think of Miguel Cabrera, Jose Bautista, David Ortiz, Josh Hamilton and Robinson Cano. Indeed, those are five of the top six on the OPS leaderboard, but less discussed is the guy ranking fourth, Adrian Beltre, who has shaken off a slow start this season to hit 20 homers with a .909 OPS this season.
 
8Pittsburgh Pirates
Last Week: 2
The Pirates lost four straight games this week while scoring 1, 3, 1 and 1 runs in those games. Pittsburgh is actually tied for the major league lead with 15 wins in games scoring three or fewer runs, but that losing streak cost the Pirates their hold on first place in the NL Central.
 
9Cincinnati Reds
Last Week: 6
The Reds' offense continues to be propped up by Joey Votto, Shin-Soo Choo and Jay Bruce, with minimal help from the rest of the lineup. Those three are Cincinnati's only players whose adjusted OPS+ is above league average among the 11 Reds with at least 100 PAs -- only the Marlins and Yankees have fewer players with an above-average OPS+ this year.
 
10New York Yankees
Last Week: 15
The Yankees just won't fade away. They've won seven of their last 10 and get a major reinforcement on Thursday, as shortstop Derek Jeter returns to action. In his absence, New York had the majors' second-worst offensive production from the position with a .552 OPS.
 
11Los Angeles Angels
Last Week: 12
We're finally seeing some glimpses of the real Josh Hamilton. He hit his first multi-homer game of the season on Wednesday, and he recently compiled a 12-game hit streak in which he also drew seven walks -- that was a walk rate of one every 7.4 plate appearances, whereas the rest of the season he's been drawing a free pass only once every 16.4 PAs.
 
12Los Angeles Dodgers
Last Week: 13
Lost amid a crowded outfield of storylines -- Puig-mania, Matt Kemp's injury woes and Andre Ethier's status as possible trade bait -- is that Carl Crawford has returned to productivity. After two lost years in Boston, Crawford has a .271/.330/.420 batting line with a 110 OPS+ that is solidly above-average.
 
13Kansas City Royals
Last Week: 14
As Grantland contributor Rany Jazayerli noted on Twitter, Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas is in the midst of the worst single-season performance ever with runners in scoring position: entering play on Wednesday, he was 4-for-61 in those situations with four singles and just six RBIs. (No player with at least 60 ABs with RISP has fewer RBIs than Moustakas.)
 
14Baltimore Orioles
Last Week: 9
Manny Machado is one of four 21-and-under players to be named an All-Star, and he has gotten plenty of attention for his hitting -- he's on pace to break the record for doubles that has stood since 1931 -- but his defense has been exceptional, too. According to the Fielding Bible, he has saved 21 runs defensively, seven more than any other player at his position.
 
15Arizona Diamondbacks
Last Week: 20
After dealing with elbow pain this spring, rookie centerfielder Adam Eaton finally made his season debut on Tuesday. This will probably cut into the playing time for A.J. Pollock, whose .260/.299/.430 batting line is unspectacular, although he held his own defensively. Pollock ranks third among big league centerfielders with nine runs saved, according to the Fielding Bible.
 
16Cleveland Indians
Last Week: 8
The seventh inning seems to be Justin Masterson's breaking point. He has pitched into that frame 16 times but finished it only nine times. His ERA in innings 3-6 is no higher than 3.50 in each, but it's 10.80 in the seventh; it's also the only inning in which opponents are hitting at least .300 with an OBP of at least .400 and a slugging percentage over .500.
 
17Chicago Cubs
Last Week: 17
With all the attention on Carlos Marmol's shifting roles and eventual release from the team, it's been easy to overlook Kevin Gregg's dominance as his replacement. Before blowing a save (in a game the Cubs still won) on Sunday, he had converted 15 of 16 chances with a 1.53 ERA in 29 1/3 innings. He had inherited just eight runners but only one scored.
 
18Washington Nationals
Last Week: 19
The Nationals' offense tails off late in games. Their OPS in innings 1-6 isn't great (.721, 18th in MLB) but it dips dramatically in inning seven or later (.618, 29th in MLB). Relatedly, their highest-scoring innings are innings 2-5.
 
19Philadelphia Phillies
Last Week: 22
Phillies centerfielder Ben Revere had a .244 average and .287 OBP as recently as June 11, but he's had a torrid four weeks in which he's gone 44-for-108 (.407) and raised his season stats to a .302 average and .336 OBP.
 
20New York Mets
Last Week: 21
If you feel like the Mets' latest lousy season has been longer than usual, you're right. Not only has New York already played 11 extra-inning games this season, but five have gone at least 13 innings (including Monday night's 16-inning win in San Francisco) and their average game length is the third-longest in history, according to this story in the Wall Street Journal.
 
21Toronto Blue Jays
Last Week: 18
After reinventing the rotation this winter with costly trades, the Blue Jays certainly expected better production than they have gotten. The worst part, however, is not only the starting pitchers' 4.93 ERA (28th in majors), but the fact that it is is the franchise's worst mark since 2002.
 
22Colorado Rockies
Last Week: 16
The Rockies are underachieving slightly on their +2 run differential, which leads to an expected record of 46-46, though they are actually two games worse than that. Though it has played one-run games on par (14-14), Colorado is only 10-19 when the margin of victory is two or three runs.
 
23Seattle Mariners
Last Week: 23
The venerable Raul Ibañez has already smacked 22 home runs this season. He's one of two Mariners to hit 20 or more homers before the All-Star break in the past decade: Russell Branyan did it in 2009, and Ibañez himself accomplished it in 2006 during a previous stint in Seattle.
 
24Milwaukee Brewers
Last Week: 29
Signing free-agent starter Kyle Lohse cost the Brewers a draft pick, which they likely regret given their last-place standing, but it's not Lohse's fault. He leads Milwaukee's rotation in ERA (3.47), quality starts (11) and K/BB rate (3.67).
 
25San Francisco Giants
Last Week: 27
San Francisco had a disastrous June in which it went 10-17, but the month was very kind to catcher Buster Posey. He went 37-for-99 (.374) with 11 doubles, five homers and a 1.062 OPS in June and overall is quietly having the type of season that would merit consideration for another MVP trophy -- if only the Giants weren't in last place in the NL West.
 
26Chicago White Sox
Last Week: 28
His ERA doesn't reflect it, but by some metrics John Danks is pitching some of the best baseball of his career. Danks, who has thrown quality starts in six of nine outings including his last three, may have a 4.31 ERA but his 5.86 K/BB rate is double his previous season best thanks to a miniscule 1.1 BB/9 rate.
 
27San Diego Padres
Last Week: 26
The Padres have gone on a 10-game road trip in late June for two years in a row: in 2012 they went 7-3 to kick off their late-season charge; in 2013, they went 1-9 on the trip to freefall below .500. After dropping two of three to the Rockies at home leading into this weekend's four-game set with the Giants in San Diego, the Padres are off on another 10-game swing with stops at division leaders St. Louis and Arizona.
 
28Miami Marlins
Last Week: 24
Closer Steve Cishek started the year poorly -- allowing multiple runs in two of his first three appearances -- but has been outstanding since with a 1.95 ERA, 0.95 WHIP and 17 saves in 18 chances over 37 innings of work.
 
29Minnesota Twins
Last Week: 25
The Twins are fading in the summer heat. They were just three games under .500 as of June 20, but ever since the summer solstice the next day they've gone 4-15, during which time they've failed to win back-to-back games.
 
30Houston Astros
Last Week: 30
Kudos to catcher Jason Castro, whose All-Star selection was deserved and not simply as a pity pick to ensure a representative from each team. Among AL catchers, his 12 home runs are tied for second-most, and his .804 OPS ranks third among qualifiers.
SI Videos
Videos from the Web
 
SI.com
Hot Topics: Sammy Watkins NFL Draft Rick Adelman NFL Questions Aaron Hernandez Donald Trump
TM & © 2014 Time Inc. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved. Terms under which this service is provided to you. Read our privacy guidelines and ad choices.
SI CoverRead All ArticlesBuy Cover Reprint