MLB Power Ratings

By Jack Magruder

Tampa Bay is clearly the best team, and the motivation derived from missing the 2009 playoffs after making the World Series in 2008 is another reason to suspect complacency will never be a factor. The Dodgers are back on the map after an uncharacteristic 8-14 start. If Stephen Strasburg’s debut next month is anything like Drew Storen’s, the Nats are in business.

RK     Team     REC     CHG     
1       Rays      32-14      –         

And it’s not even close after a 6-1 week that included two muscle-up victories in Yankee Stadium. The Rays have given up an absurdly low 138 runs. That’s a good fortnight at Rogers Centre or pre-humidor Coors Field.

2     Phillies 26-18     +1         

The potent lineup has suddenly gone south, 15 runs in the last six games, four of which were losses. Roy Halladay threw 118, 119, 121 and 132 pitches in the four starts before going only 5 2/3 innings in a 6-3 loss to Boston on Sunday. That’s too many.

3     Twins     26-18     +1         

The Twins win two out of every three at their new Target Field, and they would take that this week with series against the Yankees and Rangers. Steady, solid second baseman Orlando Hudson — a perfect Twin, really — has been a quality addition.

4     Yankees 26-18     -2         

It was a tough week in the Bronx — hammered by Tampa Bay, losing the Subway Series. Curtis Granderson appears near a return, which would help. Javier Vazquez is back in the rotation after his first career relief victory.

5     Dodgers  25-20     +6

The return of Rafael Furcal provides another piece to help the hottest team in baseball — 12-2 since Clayton Kershaw handed Ubaldo Jimenez his only defeat of the season, 2-0, on May 9. Whoever identified John Ely (3-1, 3.41) as the player to take in the Juan Pierre deal deserves a raise.

6     Cardinals  26-20  +4

The rotation will need short-term replacements for Brad Penny and Kyle Lohse, but when the top three are Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright and Jaime Garcia, there is no reason to fret. Garcia made seven straight quality starts before losing the streak when he was removed after 96 pitches in five shutout innings against the Marlins.

7     Padres     27-18     –

The Padres continued their mastery of division foe San Francisco by winning the first seven games of the season series. The contenders do not play again until Aug. 13. Mat Latos is 3-1, with a 1.29 ERA in May, having given up three earned runs in his last 29 innings. He has one more May start.

8     Tigers     25-20     -2

Manager Jim Leyland may hate the squeeze play a little less after he used it successfully in the ninth inning to salvage the last game of the Dodgers’ series Sunday. Well, maybe. “I don’t like the play and I never have,” he said.

9     Reds     26-20     –          

Scott Rolen is turning back the clock. His 10 home runs are one short of his total in 2008 and 2009, when he battled shoulder issues.

10     Blue Jays  27-21  -5

Bombs away. The Jays hit 10 of their major league-leading 76 home runs in three games at Chase Field over the weekend but still won only one of three games as their starting pitching struggled. Dana Eveland got designated for assignment after giving up eight runs Saturday.

11     Red Sox  26-21     +5          

David Ortiz’s hitting is starting to catch up to his ranting, and with Jacoby Ellsbury back and Mike Cameron close, the pieces on offense are falling into place. Josh Beckett’s misstep on a slippery Yankee Stadium mound landed him on the DL, though.

12     Rangers  26-21     +3

The Rangers ran off a season-long five game winning streak, sweeping a two-game miniseries from the Angels in the process. Tied with Oakland with a major league-best 18 home victories, 17 of the next 24 are on the road.

13     Braves     23-22     +4

Martin Prado’s move to the leadoff spot was a boon for the offense, and he hit so well that Bobby Cox dropped him to No. 3 in the order Sunday. Prado likes hitting in front of Jason Heyward and Chipper Jones. “I’m the least of their (opponents’) worries,” he said.

14     Marlins  24-22     –

Hanley Ramirez went locker to locker to apologize for his remarks about manager Fredi Gonzalez last week, and maybe it worked. But what was he thinking? Usually when you lope after a ball in play, it is not the manager’s fault.

15     Athletics  23-23  +5

Reinforcements are here — Coco Crisp and Mark Ellis were back in time for a weekend sweep of the Giants, although Crisp (chest muscle strain) is out again. Brett Anderson could return to the rotation by early June.

16     Rockies  23-22     -4

Since his April 17 no-hitter, Ubaldo Jimenez has given up 21 hits and four earned runs in 42 1/3 innings. Nine starts. Nine quality starts. Troy Tulowitzki is starting to find his power stroke with three homers in four games.

17     Nationals  23-23  -4

Reliever Drew Storen’s first week in the majors — strike out Matt Holliday on a 94 mph fastball, retire the only two men he faces to beat the Mets, get a single in his first major league at-bat against Baltimore.

18     Giants     23-21     -10

Bruce Bochy hit Tim Lincecum eighth on Thursday, but throwing strikes, not hitting them has become a slight hiccup. The two-time NL Cy Young winner has walked 10 in his last two starts. Then there is the offense — one run in the last 27 innings.

19     Mets     23-23     –     

The Subway Series victory over the Yankees — K-Rod whiffs A-Rod to clinch it — may keep the heat off manager Jerry Manuel and his struggling offense for the time being. Next up: three games with the Phillies.

20     Cubs     22-24     +2

One streak is over — Carlos Silva became the first Cubs’ starter since Dizzy Dean in 1938 to go 6-0 with a victory in Texas on Sunday, Elias informs. Now, about that other long-standing curse . . .

21     Angels     22-26     -3

Even the traditional tonic of interleague play — the Angels were a major league-best 14-4 last season — could not help last weekend, when they dropped two of three to St. Louis. The bats are picking up, with homers in 10 straight games.

22     Diamondbacks  20-26  +4

Stephen Drew’s insertion into the No. 3 spot in the batting order sparked an offensive surge, and closer Chad Qualls is back on track. Now comes a nine-game road test in the NL West.

23     Royals     19-28     +4

One of new manager Ned Yost’s changes — less little ball. Bunting a runner over early in games is no longer an option. Sabermetricians concur.

24     Pirates 20-26     -3

The Pirates have already swept and been swept at home by Cincinnati this season, and now comes their first trip to Great American Ball Park for a four-game set. The Bucs could use this as a way up in the NL Central.

25     White Sox 20-26  -2

The sophomore slump has claimed Gordon Beckham, and while the White Sox do not want to make a knee-jerk reaction to his slow start, something has to be done about the offense. Not that he is the only one scuffling.

26     Brewers  18-27     -1

Trevor Hoffman’s first “hold” in decades in career appearance No. 1,000 Sunday helped the Brewers stop a 1-8 tailspin, with John Axford getting his second career save Sunday. It is far too early to call that a trend.

27     Indians  17-28     -3

Nos. 1-2 hitters Asdrubal Cabrera and Grady Sizemore are out, Cabrera likely through the All-Star break, and manager Manny Acta expects no sympathy. “I’ve never gotten a ‘Sorry’ card for another manager,” he said.

28     Mariners  17-28     –

Now that Milton Bradley is back, maybe the Mariners can find an offensive spark. The M’s have not won a series in May, when they are 5-16. They are 5-12 in one-run games.

29     Astros     15-30     –     

With Roy Oswalt’s agent seeking a trade, perhaps now is the time to begin the makeover for real.

30     Orioles  15-31     –

Dave Trembley remains on thin ice despite the Orioles’ recovery from a 2-16 start.