Welcome to this week’s edition of The Fab Five, MLB Power Rankings. It’s been an interesting week for some of baseball’s best. The Rangers, Cardinals and Yankees have been able to continue plugging the holes caused by their numerous injuries, but how much longer can that last? The Indians keep finding new ways to win as well and have knocked the Tigers out of first in the American League Central. Does Cleveland really have what it will take to hold off the Tigers and possibly even the Royals for the rest of the season? Boston has also started their charge up the A,L, East ladder and trail the Bronx Bombers by only one half game in what is arguably the league’s best division.
So yes, there are a few changes this week. We say goodbye to the Giants and Tigers while welcoming the Bosox and Indians to the prestigious Fab Five. Don’t worry though, with the talent that both San Francisco and Detroit have on their rosters, I expect to see them again soon.
1. Texas Rangers
29-15, Previous: 2
Last 10: 8-2
While most of the buzz in Texas this week will center on the team’s call up of baseball’s top prospect Jurickson Profar, the focus could, and probably should, be about a Ranger team that has their best record in franchise history at this point in the season.
After finishing the week with a win on Sunday against the visiting Tigers, the Rangers have solidified their position as baseball’s current king. Fifth in the majors with 212 runs scored and second in slugging percentage (.453), Mitch Moreland (.294/ 10 HR/ 24 RBI), Adrian Beltre (.291/ 9 HR/ 28 RBI), and Nelson Cruz (.258/ 11HR/ 33 RBI), will have to continue to produce in order for this team to win in the fall. With their rotation anchored by the early Cy Young favorite Yu Darvish (7-1, 2.97 ERA), Texas has won 12 of their last 16 games overall and don’t look to be vacating first anytime soon.
2. St. Louis Cardinals
28-15, Previous: 1
Last 10: 7-3
Even as the Cards lose another starter in Jamie Garcia to the disabled list, St. Louis still manages to get quality starts from their rotation. Losing only twice last week (Mets and Brewers) still wasn’t enough to hold on to the top spot in the power rankings and St. Louis will need to maintain their winning ways in order to keep the Reds at bay.
Still, this team has one of the league’s best pitching staffs and a good mix of young talent and veteran leadership throughout their roster. If they can continue to get what they need from closer Edward Mujica and starters Lance Lynn (6-1, 3.27 ERA), Shelby Miller (5-2, 1.40 ERA), and Adam Wainwright (5-3, 2.51 ERA), combined with a team batting average of .266, fifth in MLB, there’s a very good chance that we could be watching this team well into the football season.
3. New York Yankees
27-16, Previous: 3
Last 10: 7-3
Usually, when a team is forced to start the year without not just one, but several of their best and most productive players, you can count on them being excluded from any playoff discussion by the All-Star break. In this case however, the Yanks have been able to weather the storm while awaiting the return of Jeter, Texeira, and until this past week, Curtis Granderson.
A resurgent Vernon Wells (.286/ 10 HR/ 23 RBI), a seemingly ageless Mariano Rivera (1.56 ERA, 16 SV), and a productive Robinson Cano (.295/ 12 HR/ 31 RBI), have helped to keep this team atop the A.L East. With Granderson’s timely return and Texeira’s apparent return just around the corner, baseball fans may have to get used to the “Evil Empire” of old. True, the rotation has been much more stable on previous Yankee teams, but Hideki Kuroda (6-2, 1.99 ERA) and CC Sabathia (4-3, 3.19 ERA) are far from undependable. The recent loss of Andy Pettitte does hurt, but as we’ve sen already this season, the Yankees will find a way to keep winning.
4. Boston Red Sox
27-17, Previous: N/A
Last 10: 6-4
When DH David Ortiz returned from the DL in mid April, there weren’t many (including myself), who would’ve believed that he could still produce at the level he currently is. Ortiz (.364/ 7 HR/ 29 RBI), who is now 37, has shown little decline in terms of his power and has helped the Bosox hit with runners in scoring position when they needed it the most.
Only a half game back of the first-place Yankees, the Bosox have won five straight and are third in the majors with 217 runs scored. Currently sixth in team batting average (.266), fourth in slugging percentage (.441), and second with a .344 team on-base percentage, the Red Sox play an intriguing four-game series against the Indians this weekend that may tell us a lot about just how good these guys are. With starters Jon Lester (6-0, 2.72 ERA) and Clay Buchholz (6-0, 1.78 ERA) showing no signs of slowing down, the Yankees and Orioles may want to settle in for a long summer.
5. Cleveland Indians
25-17, Previous: N/A
Last 10: 7-3
The Indians are without a doubt baseball’s hottest team right now and have parlayed their recent success into a first-place takeover in the A.L. Central. For many, it’s somewhat difficult to imagine this team keeping up this pace and outlasting the Tigers, or even clinching a wild-card spot with the quality teams in the American League.
Starting pitcher Justin Masterson has proven that he’s the ace of the rotation with his 7-1, 2.83 ERA record, but Cleveland will need some quality outings from starters Ubaldo Jimenez (3-2, 5.31 ERA) and Zach McAllister (3-3, 2.65 ERA) down the stretch if they have any real chance to contend. The Indians, who currently lead the majors with a .459 slugging percentage, are indeed capable of turning some heads and winning tough games along the way, but to win when it counts will be all that matters come October. Don’t let this week’s most repeated stat of the Indians beating seven former Cy Young winners fool you. The Tigers are the team to beat in the Central.