MLB Power Rankings - June 1st, 2008
Ranking the 30 Major League Baseball teams at the conclusion of May
1. Chicago Cubs (33-21) + 4 spots
The NL’s best offense is led by none other than Carols Zambrano, who is hitting a robust .324, good for best on the team among players with at least 35 ABs.
2. Tampa Bay Rays (32-22) + 4 spots
S.O.S to the rest of the AL East: The young, talented Rays gain more and more confidence with each passing week, as they begin to realize their mixture of speed, defense and solid pitching can thrive in the post-steroid era.
3. Los Angeles Angels (32-23) - 1 spot
If an Apr. 23 paraffin bath and wax treatment won’t help heal Vlad’s troublesome right index finger and coinciding offensive struggles, it is likely nothing will. Oh, wait--how about a shopping spree to the Pacific Palisades that includes a world-class manicure and pedicure?
4. St. Louis Cardinals (32-23) - 1 spot
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported May 30 that injured starter Mark Mulder would seriously contemplate retirement should his incessant rotator cuff problems require a third surgery.
5. Philadelphia Phillies (31-24) + 9 spots
With his 18th home run and RBIs 47 and 48 in the Phils’ 10-3 win over Florida on May 30, Chase Utley surpassed Houston’s Lance Berkman to take the NL lead in both categories.
6. Florida Marlins (30-22) + 3 spots
If it wasn’t for that Utley guy, Dan Uggla might be the league’s premiere second baseman. As it stands, he’ll have to willingly take a back seat with his 16 homers and 38 RBIs.
7. Chicago White Sox (30-23) + 1 spot
A rotation that leads the AL in quality starts combined with the demonic possession of LF Carlos Quentin (14 HR, 48 RBI) has the Sox full speed ahead, while the rest of the Central remains either stuck in neutral or firmly planted in reverse.
It’s been a wacky month for Boston manager Terry Francona. Not only does your flamboyant outfielder initiate a You Tube firestorm by high-fiving a fan in the first row, but 24 year-old cancer survivor turned starter Jon Lester decides to throw a no-hitter four days later.
9. Houston Astros (30-25) + 11 spots
The only thing perceivably capable of derailing the runaway offensive freight train that is Lance Berkman (.385, 17 HR) is Houston’s woeful team ERA of 4.48.
10. Toronto Blue Jays (30-26) + 16 spots
The Jays unparalleled ascent up the rankings coincides with the team’s 19-9 mark since late April. A nearly untouchable pitching staff continues to lead the AL in quality starts (32), opponents’ batting average (.234) and ERA (3.32).
11. Oakland A's (29-25) - 7 spots
When healthy, starter Rich Harden can be one of the league’s most dominant performers (6 G, 3-0, 2.60 ERA in ’08). The problem has been keeping the 26 year-old right-hander off the DL, as he has made seven trips to the injured list since ’05.
12. Atlanta Braves (29-25) + 10 spots
The other-worldly Chipper Jones continues his offensive onslaught while a statistically top-rated pitching staff conjures memories of the franchise’s glory days of the 90’s. The only question is how this team has managed to hover around .500 after nearly 55 games.
13. Arizona Diamondbacks (30-24) - 10 spots
Since last we saw the D’Backs, they have undergone a frightening free-fall with a dreadful month of May. Virtually unbeatable in April, Arizona has lost 7 of its last 9, including a three-game sweep at the hands of the hapless Giants.
14. Cincinnati Reds (25-29) + 9 spots
They’re not quite ready to anoint Jay Bruce the savior of the city in Cincinnati just yet, but an 8-14 start to your major league career will certainly make people think about it.
15. Minnesota Twins (28-25) + 1 spot
Center fielder Carlos Gomez is merely beginning to create favorable returns as a part of the trade that sent ace Johan Santana to the Mets. In fact, the Twins are confident Gomez in time will make everyone forget about the departed Torii Hunter as well.
16. Baltimore Orioles (26-26) - 4 spots
Righty Daniel Cabrera already has more than half as many wins this year (5) as he did all of last season (9), and his 3.60 ERA ranks fourth in the AL.
17. Texas Rangers (27-28) + 13 spots
Time will ultimately tell whether the Rangers or Reds got the better of that Hamilton-Volquez deal. And while Volquez has been stellar in Cincy, it’s hard to imagine Texas shedding any tears with Hamilton (.327, 13 HR, 58 RBI) turning in an MVP-like season.
18. Los Angeles Dodgers (26-27) - 11 spots
It’s unlikely catcher Russell Martin will win a second consecutive Gold Glove in ‘08, but he is well on his way to receiving another Silver Slugger Award with a .326 batting average.
19. New York Mets (26-26) - 2 spots
Blame manager Willie Randolph all you want for the Mets’ struggles thus far, but the fact remains-- a roster so stockpiled with lucratively paid superstars yet so obviously void of leadership needs to start playing up to its potential.
20. New York Yankees (26-27) + 1 spot
If the Rays and Sox continue to distance themselves from the rest of the AL East pack and the Yanks remain mired around .500, will it be a buy or sell mentality in the Bronx come mid-July?
21. Milwaukee Brewers (26-28) - 8 spots
Despite the time spent battling a troublesome triceps muscle, staff ace Ben Sheets is still the healthiest he has been in years, and it shows. He ranks in the top ten in the NL with a 2.93 ERA, and his two complete games lead the league.
22. Cleveland Indians (24-29) - 4 spots
DH Travis Hafner’s May 30 trip to the 15-day DL seems a bit overdue. The mighty left-handed slugger, who is hitting a lowly .217 with only four home runs, has been suffering from a sore right shoulder since spring training.
23. Pittsburgh Pirates (25-28) + 6 spots
A tell-tale sign that improvement is needed amongst the Buccos pitching staff: reliever Damaso Marte leads the team with four wins, while starter Zach Duke’s hefty 4.41 ERA is nearly a half run better than anyone else in the rotation. Okay, make that two signs.
24. Detroit Tigers (22-31) - 14 spots
Since his inauspicious MLB debut on May 6-- when he allowed a home run to Manny Ramirez on his first pitch in the big leagues-- reliever Freddy Dolsi has been nearly untouchable, allowing only one run in over 10 innings and dropping his ERA from 5.40 to 1.64.
25. San Francisco Giants (23-31) - 6 spots
The Giants have enjoyed a rather eventful and historic past seven days. On May 25, SS Omar Vizquel played in his 2,584 th game at the position, passing his idol, Luis Aparicio. Five days later, the San Francisco infield turned the team’s first triple play since 1999 in a 7-3 loss to the Padres.
26. Washington Nationals (23-32) + 2 spots
If the pain in Ryan Zimmerman’s left shoulder persists, one of the league’s worst-rated offenses will have to look elsewhere for a bulk of the production to replace the third baseman’s 8 HRs and 27 RBIs.
27. San Diego Padres (21-34) - no change
Lost in the ineffectiveness of the NL’s most futile offense is the quietly strong season of first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. He is hitting .370 in his past seven games and leads the squad with his 15 home runs and 48 runs batted in.
28. Seattle Mariners (20-34) - 13 spots
The M’s will be glad to see the calendar turn. Seattle has had an absolutely dreadful May, going 8-20 while being outscored nearly 2 to 1.
29. Colorado Rockies (20-34) - 4 spots
Unexpectedly developing into the ace of the staff, Aaron Cook (7-3, 3.36) is the only member of the Rockies rotation to win more than two games and post an ERA below four.
30. Kansas City Royals (21-33)
On April 9, the Royals enjoyed an abbreviated one-game lead in the AL Central. Now, just over a month and a half later, they are lagging some 9.5 games behind. It’s amazing what a 12-game losing streak will do for a team.
by Ryan Faller
Ryan Faller works for MLB.com in addition to providing baseball articles for Pro Baseball Fans.
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