Ascending Rankings a Giant undertaking
San Francisco holds tight to poll position with neighbors across Bay right behind
The eyes of the baseball nation are once again on the Bay Area.
For the second week in a row, the Giants and the A's are the top two teams on MLB.com's Power Rankings. These baseball neighbors -- separated by only a few miles -- are giving new meaning to the term "back to back."
The Giants' offense has seen better days, but the club still managed to come away with a 7-3 record on a 10-game road trip against three of last year's playoff teams. Should the Giants, not the Dodgers, be the favorites to win the National League West? For their part, the A's appear to have the perfect balance of hitting, pitching and defense this season, and it's hard to blame Oakland fans for expecting a third consecutive American League West title.
Are the A's the best team in baseball? What about the Tigers, Brewers or Braves?
Don't forget about the Rockies and the Nationals.
Which team deserves to be on top?
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. Giants: The NL West leaders just wrapped a 10-game road trip against the Braves, Pirates and Dodgers with an impressive 7-3 record. There is, however, room for improvement. San Francisco scored three runs or fewer in seven of the 10 games on the trip. The Giants also have gone 38-for-197 with runners in scoring position in their last 28 games.
2. Athletics: The two-time-defending AL West champs lead the league in on-base-percentage and walks, but they also rank second in the league in runs scored. They've also stolen 24 bases in 27 attempts this season. Add solid defense and strong pitching to the mix, and it's easy to see why some expect them to finish on top of the division again.
3. Tigers: Detroit leads the AL Central by five games, and its pitching is a big reason why. Tigers starters lead the AL with a 2.73 ERA, and opponents are hitting just .226 against them. Victor Martinez and Miguel Cabrera have combined for 13 home runs and 51 RBIs this season.
4. Brewers: The NL Central leaders won two of three from the Yankees over the weekend to take the series after they dropped their previous two sets. Aramis Ramirez (strained hamstring) is expected to go on the disabled list, but Ryan Braun, who has been slowed by a right rib-cage strain, is swinging the bat well during batting practice and could return from the DL soon.
5. Braves: Atlanta is coming off of a three-game sweep of the Cubs, leads the Marlins by two games in the NL East and appears to have built up some much-needed momentum heading into this week's showdown against the Giants. Though the Braves went 4-5 on their just-completed homestand, they got those four victories in the last five.
6. Rockies: Colorado's defense has been superb, and the bats have been explosive all season. The Rockies lead the Major Leagues in virtually every offensive category, including hits, runs, home runs, RBIs, batting average and OPS. Moreover, they just completed a stretch of 40 games in 42 days and trail the first-place Dodgers by only two games in the NL West.
7. Orioles: The AL East leaders are coming off a five-game winning streak, but they still can't seem to catch a break. Chris Davis made his much-anticipated return on Sunday, but the O's lost All-Star catcher Matt Wieters to the disabled list because of right elbow discomfort, and it's uncertain when he will return.
8. Angels: The Halos have won three in a row, and they can thank their starting rotation for keeping them in the mix in the AL West. The starters rank among the AL leaders in ERA, innings pitched, strikeouts and average against. Tyler Skaggs is the first Angels pitcher to win three games in a season as a 22-year-old since Brian Anderson in 1994.
9. Marlins: Miami has lost three in a row, but the club still trails the first-place Braves by only two games in the NL East. The Marlins' starters have been impressive all season, but they are coming off a rough weekend against the Padres. Jose Fernandez on Friday, Nathan Eovaldi on Saturday and Henderson Alvarez on Sunday combined for an ERA of 7.71 in the series. They allowed 12 earned runs and 20 hits in 14 innings
10. Dodgers: Los Angeles sits in third place in the NL West and trails the first-place Giants by 4 1/2 games, but nobody in Hollywood is panicking. It's early in the season, and history could be on the Dodgers' side. At this point last season, L.A. was 17-22 and in last place, 5 1/2 games out. San Francisco was 23-15 after 38 games and leading the division.
11. Red Sox: There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic if you are a Boston fan. The Red Sox have won six of their last eight, nine of 14 and 12 of 19 dating back to April 19. Also, the rotation has allowed only 25 earned runs in the past 11 games for a 3.20 ERA in 70 1/3 innings.
12. Rangers: Texas' pitching has been inconsistent and the offense has disappeared at times, and those are two of the main reasons why the club has lost two in a row and sits in fourth place in the AL West. What's more, starter Martin Perez experienced discomfort in his left elbow after his third straight subpar start Saturday and will miss at least one turn in the rotation.
13. Yankees: It was a forgettable weekend for the Bombers. The club lost two of three to the Brewers and CC Sabathia hit the disabled list on Sunday. It's a tough blow for a team that will already be without Ivan Nova for the year because of Tommy John surgery and Michael Pineda until June because of an upper back strain.
14. Nationals: Washington's rotation ranks just outside the top half among NL teams in ERA, but the bullpen has been one of league's best all season. Defense has been an issue. The Nats committed more errors (five) than they scored runs (four) against Oakland in their last series. They also registered just 15 hits and lost all three games.
15. Cardinals: St. Louis sat at .500 after completing a grueling season-opening stretch that included 26 of 38 games on the road. The Cards have been inconsistent all season, and manager Mike Matheny said that's part of the reason his club is still looking to establish an identity.