MLB Power Rankings — 15 June 2011

We endured an early start to the 2011 MLB season where the Boston Red Sox were awful and several other teams were pretenders. Now team’s identities are starting to be revealed and the playoff contenders are slowly being separated from the mediocre squads.

We’re taking a close look at who is for real and who is slipping in the rankings in our Week 11 MLB Power Rankings:

1. Boston Red Sox (39-26)

The Red Sox stacked lineup is starting to hit its stride, and as a result the ‘Sox are now 9-1 in its last 10 games, good enough for the best record in the AL.

2. Philadelphia Phillies (40-26)

While Chase Utley has yet to really start producing since returning from the DL and the rest of the lineup has been mediocre, the excellent starting pitching has been enough to garner the Phillies the top record in all of baseball.

3. Milwaukee Brewers (38-28)

The Brewers have been lighting it up recently, finally overtaking the Cardinals for the top spot in the NL Central. If Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun can continue their stellar seasons, and the rotation, led by Zach Greinke’s great return from the DL, can continue to shut down offenses, the Brewers could be tough to beat.

4. Atlanta Braves (38-28)

Although riddled by injuries to some of their top players in Martin Prado and Jason Heyward, the Braves have been able to plug the holes and get by with some great pitching from Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens and Brian McCann’s clutch hitting at the plate. They now stand just two games off the Phillies for the lead in the NL East.

5. New York Yankees (36-27)

The Yankees were swept by the Red Sox last week, but bounced back, taking 3 straight games from what had been a well-playing Cleveland team. They sit just two games back of the Red Sox with one game left in the Cleveland series before welcoming the Rangers in what should be a tightly contested series.

6. St. Louis Cardinals (38-29)

The Cards had been playing well, but were just swept by the surging Brewers and now sit a half game back in the NL Central, partly as a result of breakdowns from their starters late in their outings.

7. San Francisco Giants (37-29)

While ace Tim Lincecum hasn’t exactly been on his game lately, the Giants are still fortunate enough to be in first place in the NL West thanks to shutdown performances by their bullpen. A huge series with the Diamondbacks, who sit just 1 game back, lies directly in front of them.

8. Texas Rangers (36-31)

The Rangers lost a crucial chance to gain ground on the Mariners, dropping 3 of their last 4 to the struggling Minnesota Twins. Things won’t get any easier for them in the near future as a brutal road trip against the Yankees and Braves is on deck.

9. Detroit Tigers (35-30)

The Tiger’s play has been much improved in recent weeks, enough for them to catch the suddenly slipping Indians for a tie at the top of the AL Central. Solid pitching from Justin Verlander and some steady offense from Brennan Boesch and Miguel Cabrera has paved the way.

10. Tampa Bay Rays- (35-30)

The Rays are only 4 games out in the AL East, but have recently dropped some games they probably would like to have back, losing 2 of 3 to the Orioles and 3 of 4 to the Mariners.

11. Arizona Diamondbacks (37-31 )

This year’s surprise team, the Diamondbacks are currently are just 1 game back of the Giants for the NL West lead. Ian Kennedy (7-2, 3.23 ERA) has been much better than expected and the offense, led by Justin Upton, has been enough to keep them in games.

12. Cincinnati Reds (34-33)

The Reds offense has been extremely productive so far this year, but their starting pitching just hasn’t been there. However, with Mike Leake and Jonny Cueto starting to heat up and Homer Bailey coming off the DL soon, there could be an opportunity for the Reds to make up some lost ground on the Brewers and Cardinals.

13. Cleveland Indians (34-29)

It’s tough for me to rate a division leader this low, but the Indians have been awful over their last 10 game stretch, winning just 1 out of 9. To make matters worse, the Tigers have been playing well, and have caught up to them at the top of the division.

14. Seattle Mariners (34-32)

Honestly, who would have thought the Mariners would even be ranked close to this high at this point? Nevertheless, their starting pitching has been excellent, thanks in large part to the emergence of ace-in-the-making Michael Pineda and what’s starting to look like a bounce back year from Erik Bedard. The offense hasn’t been great, but Justin Smoak’s heavy hitting has provided just enough run support to get the job done.

15. New York Mets (32-33)

The Mets are currently facing a number of issues, but recently, their on the field play actually hasn’t been one of these. Jose Reyes’ hot hitting has provided a spark to get this team going and they are now 7-3 over their last 10 games.

16. Chicago White Sox (33-35)

Things haven’t been great so far for the White Sox this year, but they could certainly be a lot worse as they only sit 3.5 games out of the AL Central lead.  They next face the cellar-dwelling Twins which should provide an opportunity for them to gain ground as the division leading Tigers and Indians square off against one another.

17. Toronto Blue Jays (32-34)

The Blue Jays have benefitted greatly from Jose Bautista’s emergence, but unfortunately the reality is they still play in the brutal AL East. They only sit 7.5 games back with a lot of time still left, but they may just not have the talent to cut it day in and day out against the likes of the Yankees and Red Sox.

18. Florida Marlins (32-32)

The Marlins are clearly missing the production of Hanley Ramirez and Josh Johnson as they are now just 1-9 over their last 10 games and have fallen from 2nd place in the NL East to being just half a game up on the Mets for 3rd place. The roster, however, is still solid and the Marlins could easily make a run later on in the year if they can get their stars preforming like they should be.

19. Colorado Rockies(31-34)

The Rockies had struggled mightily earlier this year, but have started to pick up the pace somewhat, thanks to Troy Tulowitzki’s hot bat. Still, they are going to need Ubaldo Jiemenez to get back to form and their rotation to perform better as a whole if they want to be competitive down the stretch.

20. Baltimore Orioles (30-33)

The Orioles improved play has them close to .500. Their rotation has been serviceable and Mark Reynolds is finally showing signs of life. A big series starting Tuesday with division rival Toronto could move them into 4th place in the division.

21. Pittsburgh Pirates (31-33)

Andrew McCutcheon and a halfway decent lineup has the Pirates playing better than they have in years, which unfortunately still isn’t saying much.  Kevin Correia and Charlie Morton have been pleasant surprises in the rotation and an upcoming series with the Astros should provide an opportunity to get above .500.

22. Los Angeles Dodgers (31-36)

The Dodgers have somehow found a way to lose in spite of having Matt Kemp, one of the best players in baseball this year. Clayton Kershaw has been solid, but the rest of the rotation and the bullpen have been their Achilles heel.

23. Los Angeles Angels (31-36)

The Angels went on a six game losing streak last week, getting swept by the Rays and losing two of three to the Yankees. Their normally excellent starting pitching has been anything but that lately.

24. Washington Nationals (30-36)

The Nationals look improved on their completely abysmal play of years past, but still haven’t quite gotten over the hump. Consistent production out of Jayson Werth and the emergences of Ian Desmond and Michael Morse could go a long way for them.

25. Kansas City Royals (29-37)

The Royals youth movement moved into full-gear with the arrival of Mike Moustakas this past week. They have yet to really feel the effects of these top prospects, but the future in KC is undoubtedly bright.

26. Minnesota Twins (26-39)

Minnesota has caught fire recently after being a major disappointment for the majority of the season, going 8-2 in its last 10 games; a mark helped by the stellar pitching of Francisco Liriano. Injuries have really crippled this team, but they look to get many of their injured players, including slugger Joe Mauer, back in the next week or two.

27. San Diego Padres (29-38)

The Padres knew this was going to be a rebuilding year, and it has turned out to be just that. The talent just isn’t there right now for this team to contend.

28. Oakland Athletics (28-39)

When Josh Willingham is the best hitter on your team, you know your club is in for some rough times. Even despite the solid pitching of Gio Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill, Oakland has been pretty awful lately, partly because of breakdowns by their bullpen, winning just 1 game in their last 10.

29. Chicago Cubs (25-39)

The Cubbies have won just 2 games out of their last 10 and sit above only the lowly Astros in the NL Central. The starting pitching hasn’t been absolutely terrible, but the offense has been sputtering and hasn’t provided much run support. Perhaps the return of Alfonso Soriano later this week will provide some help.

30. Houston Astros (24-42)

As if things couldn’t get any worse for the Astros, now rumors are swirling about them being moved to the American League after the season. Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence have been impressive, but outside of them, this team is a mess.

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