We’re nearing the end of the first month of the 2010 season, and some unlikely teams are hanging tough in the early divisional races.
The surprising Athletics and Padres are both currently atop their respective divisions entering the season’s fourth week, while expected cellar-dwellers like Kansas City, Baltimore, and Pittsburgh are where we thought they would be at the bottom.
Here’s this week’s installment of the MLB power rankings.
1. Tampa Bay Rays (14-5, Last Week: 2)
The Rays sit at the top of baseball’s most loaded division, thanks in large part to their stellar 9-1 road record so far.
David Price enjoyed the best start of his young career Saturday against the Blue Jays, whirling a complete game shutout while giving up just four hits and striking out nine.
Tampa also boasts the best run-differential in the league at a whopping +50; the next-highest teams are Philadelphia and Minnesota at +31 each.
2. Minnesota Twins (13-6, Last Week: 3)
Francisco Liriano will take the hill Tuesday against Detroit, looking to improve to 3-0 on the young season.
He’s been looking like the Francisco Liriano of old thus far, and hasn’t given up a run in either of his last two starts (15 IP combined).
3. New York Yankees (12-6, Last Week: 1)
Javier Vazquez’s next good start will be his first of the 2010 season.
New York reacquired him during the offseason with hopes that he would solidify the starting rotation.
Needless to say, he hasn’t helped them to any of their 12 wins so far, as his ERA is right at 9.00 right now.
4. San Diego Padres (11-7, Last Week: 14)
The streaking Padres had their eight-game winning streak snapped Sunday by the Reds.
Pitching has been the key to San Diego’s early-season success, as they didn’t allow more than four runs in any single game during the streak.
5. Oakland Athletics (12-8, Last Week: 4)
The A’s bookended a 6-1 loss to the Indians on Saturday by outscoring them by a combined score of 21-0 on Friday and Sunday.
Much like San Diego, Oakland’s success is stemming from its superior pitching.
Gio Gonzalez has the highest ERA amongst the five starters, and it’s at a very respectable 3.68.
6. San Francisco Giants (10-8, Last Week: 6)
Matt Cain was the hard-luck loser Sunday against the Cardinals, losing a 2-0 decision after allowing two runs during five innings of work.
Despite not having allowed more than three earned runs in any of his starts this season, Cain is still looking for his first tally in the personal win column.
7. St. Louis Cardinals (11-7, Last Week: 7)
Pitching coach Dave Duncan seems to work miracles every season, picking guys up off of the scrap heap and turning them into very solid starting pitchers.
This year’s early-season success story has been former-ace Brad Penny, who is now 3-0 with a microscopic 0.94 ERA.
8. Philadelphia Phillies (11-7, Last Week: 5)
Since jumping out to a dominant 7-1 start, the Phils have experienced some tougher times of late, and are just 4-6 since.
The dip in performance has nothing to do with Roy Halladay, though, who improved to 4-0 already by tossing a complete game-shutout against the Braves Wednesday.
9. New York Mets (10-9, Last Week: 27)
The Mets were 4-8 when these rankings were published a week ago, but have won six of seven to climb over .500.
Mike Pelfrey continued his dominant ways against Atlanta Sunday night, extending his scoreless innings streak to 24 and lowering his ERA to 0.69.
10. Los Angeles Angels (10-10, Last Week: 18)
Kendry Morales has been on fire during his six-game hitting streak, and has raised his average from .255 to .329.
While he isn’t yet a “household name,” he ranks in the top 10 in the American League in average, home runs, RBI, and slugging percentage.
11. Colorado Rockies (10-9, Last Week: 17)
Tough week for the Rockies, as they unexpectedly lost their Team President Keli McGregor on Tuesday.
Ubaldo Jimenez continued to dominate in the first start since his no-hitter, pitching seven scoreless innings against the Nationals Thursday.
12. Washington Nationals (10-9, Last Week: 16)
Despite a run differential of -16, the Nationals have won six of their last 10 games and are tied with the Mets and Marlins in the NL East.
25-year-old middle reliever Tyler Clippard has punched out 19 batters in 14.2 innings of work, and has given up just one run.
Keep an eye on him in terms of fantasy baseball, because he could be the closing solution if Matt Capps were to falter at any point.
13. Florida Marlins (10-9, Last Week: 8)
Ricky Nolasco, projected by many to break-out this season, has delivered thus far.
He followed up his complete game, one-run effort against Philadelphia with eight innings of one-run baseball in a 4-1 win over Colorado.
14. Detroit Tigers (10-9, Last Week: 9)
The Tigers haven’t enjoyed a day off since April 15, and won’t have a break again until May 6.
It won’t be an easy road, either.
After they try to earn a four-game split with the Rangers Monday, they’ll face the Twins, the Angels, and the Twins once again.
15. Toronto Blue Jays (10-9, Last Week: 13)
The Blue Jays started 7-3, and are 3-6 since.
Ricky Romero has continued his strong start, and has pitched at least seven innings in each of his four starts.
16. Houston Astros (8-10, Last Week: 29)
In just two weeks, Houston has gone from the “DisAstros” to the “KickAsstros.”
They’ve won three consecutive series, and eight of their last 10 games.
17. Chicago Cubs (9-10, Last Week: 22)
Chicago swept the Brewers over the weekend in very impressive fashion, holding Milwaukee’s potent offense to just four runs in three games while scoring 25 runs of their own.
Carlos Silva will take the hill Monday against the Nationals.
He’s notorious for his early-season success, and most expect him to come back down to earth after starting the season 2-0 with a 0.95 ERA.
18. Cleveland Indians (8-10, Last Week: 12)
Cleveland can’t be too optimistic about Grady Sizemore’s start to the 2010 campaign.
After hitting .248 in just 106 games last season, the former All-Star is hitting .220 through 16 games this season, and has yet to hit a home run.
19. Chicago White Sox (8-11, Last Week: 28)
The Sox appear to have rebounded from their brutal start, and swept the Mariners over the weekend with three straight one-run victories.
34-year-old Paul Konerko just keeps on chugging, and currently leads all of baseball in home runs with eight.
20. Seattle Mariners (9-10, Last Week: 19)
The M’s followed their sweep of the hapless Orioles with their aforementioned sweep at the hands of the Chi Sox.
Cliff Lee, who dominated in a Triple-A rehab start Sunday, is slated to make his Mariners regular season debut Friday against Texas.
21. Boston Red Sox (8-11, Last Week: 25)
Boston looked better this week, winning a pair of series against Texas and Baltimore after being swept in four games by Tampa last weekend.
They’ll have a chance to climb above .500 this week with back-to-back sets against Toronto and Baltimore prior to next week’s showdowns with the Angels and Yankees.
22. Milwaukee Brewers (8-10, Last Week: 20)
The Brewers will have a chance to rebound from their ugly sweep at the hands of the Cubs with a three-game series against a team they swept last week, the Pirates.
Ryan Braun is off to a ridiculous start at the plate, hitting .366 (.432 OBP) with five home runs and a league-leading 20 RBI.
23. Los Angeles Dodgers (8-10, Last Week: 15)
L.A. is struggling, and has lost back-to-back series against the Reds and the Nationals.
It may get worse, as they now have to face the red-hot Mets for a three-game set in New York.
24. Texas Rangers (8-10, Last Week: 23)
After their collective hot start, the Rangers’ starting pitchers have fallen off.
Starter-turned-reliever-turned-starter C.J. Wilson has been a huge surprise, and has given up just three earned runs in 19.2 innings of work so far.
25. Arizona Diamondbacks (8-10, Last Week: 24)
Kelly Johnson has come out of nowhere to be a major early-season success story so far, and is hitting .322 with seven home runs and 12 RBI.
He torched the Phillies over the weekend, slugging four homers while driving in six runs to help the D’Backs take two-of-three from the defending NL champs.
26. Atlanta Braves (8-10, Last Week: 10)
Atlanta was rolling last week but is now in free-fall mode, having lost five in a row.
They’ll now head to St. Louis for four games and will host the surging Astros next weekend.
27. Cincinnati Reds (8-11, Last Week: 26)
Aaron Harang has been awful so far, and has given up 14 earned runs in his last two starts combined.
He’ll try to avoid dropping to 0-4 Tuesday night against Houston.
28. Kansas City Royals (7-11, Last Week: 21)
Jose Guillen is another player that has gotten off to a hot start at the plate, and is hitting .351 with seven home runs and 17 batted in.
Unfortunately, it hasn’t translated into much team success of late, as the Royals have lost six of nine.
29. Pittsburgh Pirates (7-11, Last Week: 11)
Pittsburgh has lost six consecutive games, and have been swept twice in a row.
Former Dodgers top prospect Andy LaRoche has looked good at the plate since returning from a back injury, going 6-for-8 in two games.
30. Baltimore Orioles (3-16, Last Week: 30)
The O’s are already 11 games behind the division-leading Rays, and manager Dave Trembley’s job may be in jeopardy.
To be fair, though, it’s not Trembley’s fault that Baltimore’s most productive hitter has been Ty Wigginton, of all people.