A's pitching powers them to top of Rankings
Last week's No. 1, Milwaukee, maintains best record in baseball
The A's are a force, and everybody knows it. The two-time defending American League West champs don't sneak up on anyone anymore.
Oakland leads the division -- again -- and it now boasts the best record in the AL. But is it the best team in baseball?
Some say yes. These are a few reasons why: Starter Jesse Chavez is sporting an ERA of 1.38, good enough for fifth in the AL, while teammates Scott Kazmir (1.68) and Sonny Gray (1.80) are also in the Top 10. You can argue the A's rotation is the best in baseball; unsurprisingly, it currently has the lowest ERA.
But how do the A's match up against the Brewers, Braves, Dodgers and Cardinals in the NL? What about the Yankees, Rangers, Tigers and Royals in the Junior Circuit? It's time to hear your voice.
For the fourth consecutive season, MLB.com has set up a panel of experts to vote on the top 15 teams each week. The group includes MLB.com vice president and executive editor Carlton Thompson, executive editor Matthew Leach, columnists Mike Bauman, Hal Bodley, Anthony Castrovince, Richard Justice, Tracy Ringolsby, Phil Rogers and Lyle Spencer, along with reporters Alyson Footer and Jesse Sanchez.
What do you think? Agree, disagree? Have your opinion counted by submitting your Power Rankings.
1. Athletics: It all starts on the mound in Oakland. Overall, Oakland's starters have allowed three runs or fewer in 16 of the first 18 games. The A's have the best record in the AL, but there is still work to do. The club has committed 20 errors in its first 18 games.
2. Brewers: Milwaukee can win anywhere. Ron Roenicke's crew is 9-1 away from Miller Park, the National League's best road record to start a season since the 1995 Atlanta Braves started 10-0 away from home. The Brewers still have baseball's best record at 14-5, but they now must worry about a possible suspension for Carlos Gomez, who was ejected Sunday as part of a benches-clearing incident.
3. Braves: Atlanta leads the Major Leagues with a 2.40 ERA and is coming off a 4-2 road trip. A resurgent B.J. Upton is riding a five-game hitting streak and has hit safely in seven of his past eight games.
4. Dodgers: Adrian Gonzalez is a big reason why Los Angeles leads the NL West. The first baseman is riding a 15-game hitting streak and is displaying the power that once made him one of the most feared batters in the league. By contrast, Hanley Ramirez is 1-for-13 since being hit by a pitch on the back of his left hand in San Francisco last week.
5. Cardinals: Yadier Molina entered the week on an 11-game hitting streak, and he has hit safely in 14 of the 17 games he's played in this season. What's more, the All-Star is hitting .415 in his past 10 games. The Cards are in the middle of 20 games in 20 days, and manager Mike Matheny has been aggressive in finding days off for his regulars during that span. St. Louis currently trails the Brewers by three games in the NL Central standings.
6. Giants: San Francisco's bullpen has been exceptional, leading the Majors with an ERA of 1.79. Tim Hudson has been a welcome addition to the staff and continues to provide stability to the rotation. He has pitched 30 consecutive innings without a walk -- a franchise record to begin the season.
7. Nationals: Many still believe the Nats might be the best team in the NL, but it's already been an eventful start to the season. The club has had to endure injuries to several key players, and a mini-drama unfolded this weekend when Bryce Harper was removed from Saturday's game for not hustling to first base on a ball he hit back to the pitcher. Harper returned to the lineup and went 1-for-4 in Sunday's 3-2 victory against the Cardinals.
8. Yankees: Masahiro Tanaka is off to a scorching start for the AL East leaders. The right-handed pitcher has recorded 28 strikeouts in 22 innings, while walking just two. What's more, he has recorded at least eight strikeouts in each of his first three Major League starts, joining Stephen Strasburg (2010 Nationals) as the only two pitchers since 1900 to accomplish the feat.
9. Rangers: Texas traded for Prince Fielder so he could provide more pop, but the first baseman is hitting just .188 with two home runs this season. He has also been walked intentionally eight times this season, the most in Rangers history and the most by any player in April since Albert Pujols with the Cardinals in 2008.
10. Blue Jays: The Blue Jays completed a nine-game road trip against the Orioles, Twins and Indians with a respectable 5-4 record, but they are not satisfied with the results. Jose Bautista has six home runs, while catcher Dioner Navarro chipped in 12 RBIs while solidifying the position.
11. Tigers: The Tigers took two of three from the Angels over the weekend and lead the Royals by one game in the AL Central standings. Miguel Cabrera remains one of the most feared hitters in the game, and Detroit's offense has added a weapon this season. The Tigers have 15 stolen bases through 15 games, which is more than they had until the 50th game of last season.
12. Rockies: Don't count out Colorado this season. The club sports a .500 record and is right in the mix in the NL West. Justin Morneau is locked in at the plate and drove in five runs on Sunday. He's riding a five-game hitting streak and has driven in 12 runs during that span.
13. Royals: The Twins snapped the Royals' five-game winning streak on Sunday, but there is still plenty of optimism in Kansas City. The starting rotation ranks third in the AL with an ERA of 2.95, and young starter Yordano Ventura has been as advertised this season, boosting an already well-rounded rotation.
14. Orioles: The Orioles' record is hovering around the .500 mark, but the offense could get a boost soon. Injured third baseman Manny Machado will play seven innings at third base on Monday before serving as designated hitter in an extended spring game on Tuesday. J.J. Hardy suffered a right hamstring injury running the bases in his fifth-inning at-bat on Sunday, though it is not believed to be serious.
15. Twins: Minnesota has been inconsistent this season, struggling on offense on some days, and playing shaky defense on others. The team still ranks second in the AL in runs scored. The club put it all together against the Royals on Sunday, tying a season high with 13 hits and adding eight walks in the victory. Could a winning streak be on the horizon?