It was a balanced week around most of the League, but more than a few hot shots from a week ago took it on the chin. The top of the list is keeping it’s self intact mostly as the first month of the season goes into the books, and the surprise team of the year thus far in Cleveland holds the largest margin of divisional “dominance” at only 4.5 games.
Here’s how they all stack up after the first full month of the season, with an additional month’s end look at the top rookies in each league this week.
1. Phillies (1): They broke even last week, going 3-3 vs. the D’Backs and Mets, but nobody can make a push to knock them from the top. Roy Halladay threw his second complete game of the year while still having given up only one homer all year.
2. Indians (7): After a 6-0 week, the Tribe leads the Majors in wins and have 13 consecutive home wins. Their 4.5 game lead in the A.L. Central is tied for the biggest divisional lead margin in baseball.
3. Yankees (2): A four win week for the Bombers, but for a change their pitching was the strength and led the way. If they can find a perfect balance between their ridiculous offense and some consistency from their staff, they’ll live atop this poll this summer.
4. Marlins (5): The Marlins quick start continues with more inspired performances from their pitching staff, has they took four of six from the Reds and Dodgers last week. They continue to push the Phils nightly in the East.
5. Rockies (4): Alright week from the West leaders, but they still have the biggest lead of any team in the N.L., all while waiting on Carlos Gonzalez to find his form and join up with Troy Tulowitzki to be the devastating combo they were last season.
6. Cardinals (9): The Majors best hitting lineup keeps on winning series, and has gotten some solid all-around starting pitching all while playing musical chairs in the bullpen. If they can get Chris Carpenter rolling (no wins in April), they could hide in the Central.
7. Angels (8): Even with their Ace of Aces Jared Weaver sidelined by sickness on Sunday, they still managed to comeback to beat the Rays and regain the lead in the West.
8. Rays (11): The Rays resurgence continues, as they swept the Twins to start the week out with an amazing day on the job from Ben Zobrist in a Wednesday double header sweep (7 hits, three doubles, two home runs, 10 RBI…with 8 in one game).
9. Rangers (3): The Jays beat them with the bats and A’s beat them off the mound, and the Rangers stumbled to the 2-5 record last week, and back into a tie for first place in the division.
10. Royals (10): They swept the Twins to end out the week and stay in second in the Central, but they have to find a way to beat the Indians if they want to stay in the picture in the Central (0-3 sweep in Cleveland to start the week). Getting their starters ERA under 5 would be a great start in that effort against a potent Indians rotation.
11. Reds (12): The Reds continue to swing and miss for consistency, but took an import series against their division rival Brewers to kick the week off. If somebody would join the party that Joey Votto has been attending all year at the plate, this would not be a problem.
12. A’s (14): Played well in a week against their two chief opponents in the West, LA and Texas, picking up 3 wins. Their team ERA of 2.76 is easily the best in baseball, but their 97 team hits is second worst in the A.L. Once again, gotta hit to help.
13. Orioles (23): They reversed their mega slide from first place last week, picking up five wins against the still slumping Red and White Sox. Rookie Zack Britton is carrying the team on the mound (5 wins) while they await ace Brian Matsuz’s return still.
14. Blue Jays (20): Jose Bautista is playing the game at a level that nearly nobody in any uniform is right now, but the rest of the Jays have to knock him in when he doesn’t do it for himself (which is rare).
15. Giants (16): A frustrating week in San Fran, as they only manage to go 3-3 against the Nationals and Pirates, failing to put distance between themselves and the slumping Dodgers or close the gap on the Rockies.
16. Braves (18): After finally winning a series this year in San Diego, inconsistency found them again when they returned home, as they dropped two games the Cardinals in the final two innings.
17. Nationals (19): The Nats continued to play the spoiler to the big name N.L. clubs, taking two of three from the Giants over the weekend, but played down the level of their early week match ups as they went 1-3 against the Pirates and Mets.
18. Dodgers (17): Andre Ethier set the Major League record for an April hitting streak at 26 games, and it stands at 27 overall headed into today. However it couldn’t inspire much else from the Dodgers as they dropped below .500 again while losing series against the Marlins and Padres.
19. Brewers (14): Another tumble by the Brewers, who had the same result in series last week against a divisional power (2 losses vs. Reds) and bottom feeder (two losses in Houston).
20. Red Sox (13): Once again, the Red Sox fail to keep their momentum up and dropped four games against previously struggling Seattle and Baltimore clubs.
21. Mariners (24): The spoiler of the week, the last place club in the West won five of six against Tigers and Red Sox. Ichiro is coming alive in a hurry as well (tied for the A.L. hits lead with 39)
22. Tigers (6): After a dominant week, the Tigers were owned against a league power in Cleveland and a previously floundering Mariners squad, failing to win at all last week and now carrying a six-game losing streak.
23. Pirates (27): A winning week for the Bucs, that featured taking a series against one of the tougher home teams (and overall teams actually…) in Colorado.
24. Mets (26): They are starting to wake up some, but have to start beating the East’s elite (1-2 vs. Chilly) as they do their mediocre (2-1 vs. Washington).
25. D’Backs (29): A turnaround week in Phoenix, that even featured a series win over the Phils, handing Roy Oswalt his first L of the year.
26. Cubs (21): They need a boost everywhere and soon, as they have gone from the middle of the up for grabs N.L. Central to being one game from the bottom of it.
27. Astros (28): They are playing better than their record indicates, and are giving every team a run for their money. If they catch the right string of series in a row, they could pull it together.
28. Padres (30): They gave some decent-yet-struggling clubs in LA and Atlanta a tough time last week, and aren’t out of the West totally, but they have to find some real offense somewhere soon.
29. White Sox (25): The free fall continues in Chicago, who went from shutting down the Yanks twice early in the week to being ran at home by the O’s over the weekend.
30. Twins (22): Once more, PAGING JOE MAUER, PAGING JOE MAKER! The Twins got slapped around for yet another week, dropping all six contests last week and have totalled only 9 wins after a full month of baseball.
M-V-ME: My picks for each league’s best now.
NL-Lance Berkman: A big question mark headed into the season about what he had left or if he’d even be able to get on the field, especially at a new, old position. Well so far so good in right field in St. Louis for Berkman, who has been the most consistent threat in the Cardinals lineup so far this season. He is in the top three in all Triple Crown stats, and is the league leader in on-base + slugging. While Albert Pujols has been slow to start and Matt Holliday has been out of the lineup, he has carried the Cards to being baseball’s most potent lineup and atop the N.L. Central. (Runners Up: Matt Kemp, Ryan Braun)
AL-Jose Bautista: For a few weeks he’s been approaching this nod in my weekly run down, and finally its just too much to deny the man from his proper respect. While the Jays have had difficultly put folks on-base in front of him to really capitalize on his production, Bautista has continued to punish the ball and handle biz on his own. Coming into today his .357 average and nine homers each lead the A.L. and he leads the league in runs scored as well. If the Jays want to really stay in the mix out East, they’d be well served to start putting a few more folks on in front of the inevitable Bautista impact at the plate. (Runners Up: Robinson Cano, Alex Gordon)
KINGS OF THE HILL
NL-Josh Johnson: The Marlins keep winning, and Johnson keeps making scoring against him seem more and more impossible. His 0.88 ERA is the lowest in the NL by nearly half a run. In just over 41 innings this season, he has surrendered only six runs, with just four of them being earned. The Marlins pitching has continued to come into it’s own and has a legit top 5 pitcher in the game coming to age at the head of it. (Runners Up: Roy Halliday, Kyle Lohse)
AL-Jared Weaver: Once again, I’m running a repeat in this column for Weaver, but it’s still not even close here. He may be the MVP of all of baseball thus far. He missed his second start of the week due to illness, and missed a chance to extend his club record for wins in a month to seven, but earlier in the week he pushed his record to 6-0 vs. the A’s throwing a complete game shutout with 10 strikeouts, in what seems to be the norm for his this year. (Runners Up: Dan Haren, Justin Masterson)
ROOKS IN REVIEW
1. Michael Pineda-Mariners: It was a great debut month for the highly touted Mariners flame thrower. He’s looking every bit up to what seemed like unreal Felix Hernandez comparisons, as he stands 4-1 with a 2.01 ERA and 30 strikeouts in his first 31 Major League innings. Scary stuff on deck here, stay tuned.
2. Zack Britton-Orioles: After not being expected to start the season with the club, the O’s top prospect now has five wins, good for second in the A.L. and has allowed one run of fewer in four of his first six Major League games.
3. Darwin Barney-Cubs: Not a whole lot to get excited about in North Chicago yet, but their young second baseman has given them flashes of hope for a turnaround. He’s hitting .333 on the season, and his 31 hits are the second best total for any N.L. second baseman.