Mikey’s MLB power rankings

We’re about 40% through the current major league baseball season. That means we’re about to enter the warmest part of the season both on the field and in the standings. Contenders will begin to emerge and pretenders will begin to fade if they haven’t faded already. So we thought it was a good time to have our first installment of MLB power rankings…..

1. Tampa Bay Rays (41-26)—Amazingly, the Rays have a better road record (23-11) than a home record (18-15). Also amazingly is how they jumped out of the gate and have stayed in front—with their usual formula of strong pitching (3.55 ERA leads the AL), speed (major league best 76 steals) and defense.

2. New York Yankees (41-26)—Don’t look now, but the Yankees have caught up to Tampa. They just have too much talent for the Rays to keep them down all season.

3. Boston Red Sox (41-28)—Struggling to keep pace with the Rays and Yanks, but now just one game back and right in the thick of it. Does anyone else feel bad for the Orioles and Blue Jays?

4. Atlanta Braves (40-28)—A huge surprise to be leading the NL East on June 19, but not as big a surprise as the Phillies sitting in third place.

5. Minnesota Twins (38-29)—Ignited by a new ball park and a fat new contract for their superstar catcher Joe Mauer, the Twins are going to run away with the AL Central because no one else wants to.

6. San Diego Padres (39-28)—Definitely the surprise of the first two months, Bud Black has this Padres team over-achieving. They recently relinquished first place, but took it right back, and the Padres may stay in the hunt because of how well they fare in those close, low-scoring games.

7. New York Mets (39-28)—Here’s another shocker. The Mets were picked by most pundits to be a fourth or fifth place team. And here they are battling the Braves for NL East supremacy. But the biggest surprise has been the starting rotation, where guys like Mike Pelfrey, RA Dickey and Jon Niese are reminding Mets fans of the Seaver/Koosman/Matlack days. And we haven’t even mentioned Johan Santana.

8. Los Angeles Dodgers (38-29)—They’ve quietly made their move from bottom feeders to frontrunners, and they have the talent to stay there. But seriously, Manny Ramirez has SEVEN home runs on June 19? Hmmmm.

9. Texas Rangers (39-28)—Everyone thought the Mariners would be the team to beat in the AL West this year, but they have one of the worst records in baseball at 26-41. Meanwhile, the Rangers are riding a frightening middle of the lineup (Guerrero/Hamilton/Cruz) to the division lead

10. San Francisco Giants (37-29)—With Barry Zito looking like his old self, this team is extremely dangerous with him, all-world Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Jonathan Sanchez.

Tie 10. Detroit Tigers (37-29)--A 7-game winning streak has them right here and only a half-game back of the Twins.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

NL East providing some exciting baseball

Going into the new baseball season, all eyes were once again set to watch the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays duke it out in the AL East. As it’s become customary, we assumed the division would deliver both the AL leader in wins, but also the Wild Card. Of course, this will probably still happen, but the hallowed division has turned into a head-scratcher given Boston’s poor start. I’m not lamenting this by any means (I’d love to see the Blue Jays in the playoffs, actually), but I’m here to tell you that there’s another division worth your interest: the NL East.

What? The NL East doesn’t just consist of the the Phillies and a handful also-rans? Well, not yet, anyway. Currently, three of the the division’s five teams have winning records (Mets, Phillies, Nationals), and the two others (Braves, Marlins) have enough talent to contend for the rest of the year. While I’d like to provide high-brow sabermetrics and detailed graphs, it’s really quite simple: The pitching and hitting on each of these teams are both decent at the very least. That’s it really, just decent. As long as one of these components isn’t woeful, a club should expect to hover above a .500 winning percentage. That may not satisfy a die-hard fan who has everything riding on their team making it to the World Series, but it sure does encourage neck-and-neck competition.

This is what we have in the NL East — an intriguing balancing act. The Mets surprisingly sit atop the leaderboard in the division, on the strength of their pitching no less. Mike Pelfrey has been sensational — who knows how — boasting a 4-0 record and a 0.69 ERA. With Johan Santana, Jon Niese and Oliver Perez performing well on the mound, the Mets have reason to be feel comfortable. And look, the hitting has not been phenomenal — merely decent. Jason Bay isn’t knocking blasts out of the park left and right, but guys like David Wright, Jose Reyes, Jeff Franceur and Ike Davis are getting on base. On base percentage can sometimes be the most feared statistic in the game. The Mets may not keep it up for long — there’s far too many question marks. Still, it’s nice to see the Phillies getting some guff from within.

Now, the Phillies will make the playoffs — there’s no way around it. Roy Halladay tops an intimidating rotation, and not even Brad Lidge or Ryan Madson will be able to consistently blow the countless leads provided by their hitting. I just think the NL East went a bit overlooked during the offseason. If it continues to play out as it has, this division could yield two playoff teams. None of the other teams look entirely vulnerable: the Braves quietly put together a solid unit during the offseason; the Nationals are stunning opponents with both power and unheard of pitchers; the Marlins are the Marlins, meaning we know nothing about them and they’ll still finish with a winning record.

I know, it’s strange, but the NL East had us fooled from the start. There’s some dramatic baseball in there.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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