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Posted: Monday May 7, 2012 12:29PM ; Updated: Monday May 7, 2012 2:41PM

Season has had something of everything, except change up top

Story Highlights

The Rangers, Cardinals, Braves, Nationals and Dodgers are the top five

The Twins replace the Tigers at No. 30 but Detroit only rises two spots

The Astros make the biggest jump while the Mets take the biggest tumble

The Rangers and Cardinals are still atop the rankings as they have been each week of the year, but the Braves and Nationals are right on their heels. Albert Pujols finally hit his first home run for the Angels and Nationals' phenom Bryce Harper stole home on Sunday for his first ever stolen base. The season is in full swing, with a no-hitter and perfect game having already been thrown along with two three home run games as well. Oh, and first baseman Chris Davis got a win for the Orioles, the first time an American League position player earned a victory since 1968.

NOTE: All stats are through Sunday, May 6.

Rankings written by Ben Duronio of Fangraphs.com. The system used to rank the teams is based not on the current standings or a gut feeling about team quality, but on how well they've performed at the underlying traits that predict future performance better than wins and losses.

wRC+ is an offensive index where 100 is league average and every point above or below that denotes how far from league average a player's performance has been up to that point. It is adjusted for park and league, so it takes into account the context of a player's surroundings, and allows for comparison of performance from players in different situations and in different times.

MLB Power Rankings
1Texas Rangers
Last Week: 1
WAR Winning Percentage: .722; Current Winning Percentage: .643; WAR Wins: 20; Current Wins: 18

Elvis Andrus is making his case for best shortstop in the American League, combining great plate discipline, terrific defense and improving on base skills during the first portion of the season. The Rangers have battled some injury issues to their No. 3 and 4 hitters, Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre, but have not missed a beat offensively as they have the second highest slugging percentage in baseball and the highest on-base percentage in the AL.
 
2St. Louis Cardinals
Last Week: 2
WAR Winning Percentage: .722; Current Winning Percentage: .607; WAR Wins: 20; Current Wins: 17

Only six National League starters have a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Lance Lynn's 4.29 mark and his 1.60 ERA is fifth among all NL pitchers, though his .198 batting average against on balls in play suggests his ERA will rise. His transition to starter has been a huge lift to the Cardinals rotation, which has received poor results from Adam Wainwright and are missing last year's post-season hero Chris Carpenter.
 
3Atlanta Braves
Last Week: 4
WAR Winning Percentage: .613; Current Winning Percentage: .621; WAR Wins: 18; Current Wins: 18

Chipper Jones, at age 40, has been the best hitter on a team that is leading the majors in runs scored. On Saturday night, he became just the second Brave to have five RBIs in a game while 40 or older. The other? Babe Ruth, with the Boston Braves. The only two position players, including bench members, with a wRC+ under 100 are the shortstops, Tyler Pastornicky (86) and Jack Wilson (-30). Their pitching has struggled, with their starters posting a 4.70 ERA, but their offense has more than made up for their pitching issues.
 
4Washington Nationals
Last Week: 10
WAR Winning Percentage: .601; Current Winning Percentage: .643; WAR Wins: 17; Current Wins: 18

No team has pitched better than the Nationals this year, which is the biggest reason that they are currently leading the NL East. The Nationals have four starters with an ERA under 2.30, and Edwin Jackson, the only one who has an ERA higher than that, owns an FIP of 2.80. The offense has not been at the level Washington would like, mostly due to injuries to Ryan Zimmerman, Mike Morse, and now Jayson Werth, who was finally starting to live up to the $126 million contract he signed after the 2010 season before breaking his wrist on Sunday night.
 
5Los Angeles Dodgers
Last Week: 5
WAR Winning Percentage: .601; Current Winning Percentage: .643; WAR Wins: 17; Current Wins: 18

Left-handed Dodger starters are a combined 9-0 and Clayton Kershaw, last year's NL Cy Young award winner, has the highest ERA of the trio at 2.63. Their ERAs will likely rise as the season continues, but their overall team defense should help them keep low marks. In terms of Ultimate Zone Rating, the Dodgers have been the best defensive team in baseball.
 
6New York Yankees
Last Week: 3
WAR Winning Percentage: .576; Current Winning Percentage: .536; WAR Wins: 16; Current Wins: 15

The Yankees have just one starting pitcher with an FIP under 4.00, and the league average FIP is 4.07. They need better starting pitching, especially with closer Mariano Rivera out for the year. The Yankees are set up well to be able to handle Rivera's loss in the bullpen, as David Robertson, Rafael Soriano and Cory Wade have all pitched very well, but the starters will need to pitch better to limit the innings their relief pitchers are forced to throw. Currently, Yankee relief pitchers have thrown the fourth-most innings in the AL at 93 1/3.
 
7Arizona Diamondbacks
Last Week: 8
WAR Winning Percentage: .568; Current Winning Percentage: .483; WAR Wins: 16; Current Wins: 14

The D-backs are one game below .500 in terms of actual winning percentage, but they have played better than their record states. With men in scoring position, the Diamondbacks pitching staff has the second highest strikeout-to-walk ratio in the NL, but they have allowed the fifth-highest batting average against on balls in play in those situations. If they keep pitching as they have with men in scoring position, they'll allow fewer runs than they have been.
 
8Tampa Bay Rays
Last Week: 6
WAR Winning Percentage: .548; Current Winning Percentage: .655; WAR Wins: 16; Current Wins: 19

The Rays' offense has been extremely potent throughout the majority of their lineup. Eight of the nine regulars have a wRC+ above 100, with Sean Rodriguez being the laggard of the group. With Evan Longoria injured, the offensive performance of the rest of their lineup becomes even more vital. On the pitching front, Matt Moore has seriously underwhelmed to start the year, with an ERA and FIP both above 5.00.
 
9Baltimore Orioles
Last Week: 14
WAR Winning Percentage: .540; Current Winning Percentage: .679; WAR Wins: 15; Current Wins: 19

The Orioles are the third AL East team on the list, with 41 home runs, the second-highest total in baseball behind the Yankees, being the biggest driver behind their success. Baltimore is also second to the Yankees in isolated power, which is the difference between a team's slugging percentage and batting average. The starting pitchers have been solid as well, with ex-Rockie Jason Hammel having a career resurgence in Baltimore, posting a 2.09 ERA, 2.52 FIP and 1.3 WAR along with a 4-1 record in his first six starts in the American League.
 
10Houston Astros
Last Week: 17
WAR Winning Percentage: .536; Current Winning Percentage: .464; WAR Wins: 15; Current Wins: 13

The Astros are a sub-.500 team, but only three NL teams have performed better offensively according to wRC+. Middle infielders Jed Lowrie and Jose Altuve have been their best position players, combining for 3 WAR between them. Pitching has been an issue, with Wandy Rodriguez being the only starting pitcher with a WAR above 0.3.
 
11San Francisco Giants
Last Week: 7
WAR Winning Percentage: .526; Current Winning Percentage: .500; WAR Wins: 15; Current Wins: 14

After breaking out in Kansas City with a .305/.339/.470 line last year, Melky Cabrera has continued to mash in San Francisco with a current line of .313/.370/.443. The Giants have run into an injury bug, with Brian Wilson and Jeremy Affeldt hitting the disabled list along with position players Pablo Sandoval, Aubrey Huff and Freddy Sanchez. Along with the injury issues, the Giants are struggling to get first baseman Brandon Belt plate appearances, which they should probably change in order to keep scoring runs with much of their offense sidelined.
 
12Chicago White Sox
Last Week: 12
WAR Winning Percentage: .519; Current Winning Percentage: .464; WAR Wins: 15; Current Wins: 13

Adam Dunn said before the season that he intended to win the Comeback Player of the Year award, and he is certainly a leading candidate to this point in the season. After homering on Sunday, Dunn has homered in four of the past five games and has eight for the season, along with a .372 on base percentage and a .590 slugging percentage. In 2011, Dunn hit just 11 home runs and had a .292 OBP and .277 SLG. Dunn may be rivaled for the award by his teammate Jake Peavy, who owns a 1.99 ERA over his first six starts after posting a 4.92 mark in 111 2/3 innings last season.
 
13Philadelphia Phillies
Last Week: 11
WAR Winning Percentage: .513; Current Winning Percentage: .483; WAR Wins: 15; Current Wins: 14

The second best starter for the Phillies in terms of FIP so far this year? Joe Blanton. He has not struck out many batters, but his 2.1 percent walk rate is best in the big leagues. Roy Halladay had a poor outing against Atlanta after being spotted six runs, which has forced his ERA to 3.40, but that should come down as the season moves forward. One thing to worry about with Halladay, however, is his low strikeout total. His current strikeout rate is 16.8 percent, and he hasn't finished a season below 20 percent since 2007.
 
14Colorado Rockies
Last Week: 18
WAR Winning Percentage: .506; Current Winning Percentage: .444; WAR Wins: 14; Current Wins: 12

The Rockies are third in the NL in runs scored but last in the NL in runs allowed. The lineup is deep and powerful, but the rotation has serious trouble pitching deep into games. Colorado's starters have thrown the least amount of innings in the NL, which has forced its relievers to pitch the most innings of any bullpen in the league. Hitting that well and pitching that poorly will leave you in the middle of the pack, which is pretty much where the Rockies sit.
 
15Kansas City Royals
Last Week: 9
WAR Winning Percentage: .498; Current Winning Percentage: .333; WAR Wins: 13; Current Wins: 9

The Royals have essentially been O.K. in every facet of the game, while not being great or terrible in any along the way. Their wRC+ is 3 percent above average while their pitching is 2 percent worse than average according to FIP. Those factors show the Royals' record does not accurately portray their performance to date, and after sitting at seventh in these rankings two weeks ago, their winning percentage and WAR winning percentage are getting closer together.
 
16Milwaukee Brewers
Last Week: 16
WAR Winning Percentage: .479; Current Winning Percentage: .429; WAR Wins: 13; Current Wins: 12

Brewers catchers Jonathan Lucroy and George Kottaras are currently hitting .300/.398/.520 and have combined for the highest catcher WAR in the National League. Milwaukee has needed every bit of the hitting it has received from its catcher combo, as it has a 93 wRC+ after finishing 2011 with a 105 mark and 2010 with a 106. The Brewers have had trouble finding offensive production outside of Ryan Braun, Corey Hart and their catcher duo. Add in injuries to Carlos Gomez and Alex Gonzalez, who were hitting better than career levels, and things are looking down for Milwaukee's offense.
 
17Boston Red Sox
Last Week: 15
WAR Winning Percentage: .476; Current Winning Percentage: .407; WAR Wins: 13; Current Wins: 11

The bad news for the Red Sox' starters is that their ERA is 5.88. The good news is that their FIP is nearly a run lower at 4.95, signaling that they should get better results going forward. Currently, the lowest ERA of any of their five starters to make more than one start is Josh Beckett's 4.45, which is surprising considering the talent of the Red Sox rotation. Clay Buchholz has been particularly worrisome in his six starts, as he has a strikeout-to-walk ratio of just 1.05 and has already allowed 10 home runs.
 
18Los Angeles Angels
Last Week: 21
WAR Winning Percentage: .472; Current Winning Percentage: .414; WAR Wins: 14; Current Wins: 12

Albert Pujols finally hit a home run on Sunday, ending the longest drought of his career. The Angels are already 6 1/2 games behind the Rangers in the AL West and are currently last in the division, but Pujols hitting like Pujols could change that pretty rapidly. If he hits for his career averages for the rest of the year, he will end with a .299 batting average and 30 home runs.
 
19Miami Marlins
Last Week: 23
WAR Winning Percentage: .469; Current Winning Percentage: .500; WAR Wins: 13; Current Wins: 14

Gaby Sanchez, Jose Reyes, Logan Morrison, Heath Bell and John Buck have all been worth negative WAR, which cannot happen if the Marlins want to compete in the NL East this season. Bell has been particularly worrisome and was demoted from the closer's role. He is currently walking over 10 batters per nine and has had serious trouble locating any of his pitches. This is just the first year of his three-year contract, which makes his struggles even more troubling for the Marlins.
 
20Chicago Cubs
Last Week: 26
WAR Winning Percentage: .465; Current Winning Percentage: .393; WAR Wins: 13; Current Wins: 11

Bryan LaHair is the only Cub to have more than two home runs, and as a team the Cubs have just 15, second worst in the majors. The lack of pop in the Cubs' bats coincides with a lack of on-base potential,a s they have just a .304 team OBP. Their poor offense has mitigated their great starting pitching, currently ranked sixth by WAR and backed by three sub-3.00 FIPs in Jeff Samardzija, Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza. As good as the Cub starters have been, their bullpen has been equally bad, as they currently have no stand out relievers and closer Carlos Marmol was demoted.
 
21New York Mets
Last Week: 13
WAR Winning Percentage: .447; Current Winning Percentage: .536; WAR Wins: 13; Current Wins: 15

I bet Mets starting pitchers are upset about the fences being moved in right now. They have allowed the second-most home runs in the NL, 12 of which have come in Citi Field. Johan Santana, who seems to be back on track, has allowed just one but the rest of the rotation has had home run issues. Aside from Santana, the lowest home run per fly ball of any rotation member is Jonathon Niese's 15.4 percent. For reference, the NL average is 9.9 percent.
 
22Cincinnati Reds
Last Week: 20
WAR Winning Percentage: .443; Current Winning Percentage: .519; WAR Wins: 12; Current Wins: 14

Reds starters have the second-biggest difference between their ERA and FIP, so don't expect their starter's ERA to remain at 3.64 when their FIP is 4.13. Johnny Cueto has a sparkling 1.31 ERA, but he is striking out fewer than six batters per nine innings and has had a left-on-base percentage of 90.3 percent. Homer Bailey is in a similar situation but is likely headed for even worse results, as his 3.77 ERA is backed by an FIP over 5.00. The starters have received favorable results overall, but that is not expected to continue over the entirety of the season.
 
23Cleveland Indians
Last Week: 19
WAR Winning Percentage: .438; Current Winning Percentage: .577; WAR Wins: 11; Current Wins: 15

The Indians' offense has the best walk-to-strikeout ratio in the league. Unfortunately for Cleveland, its pitching staff has the worst strikeout-to-walk ratio in the league. The Indians are producing offensively for exactly the same reason as their pitching is struggling: they walk often and strikeout seldom. The Indians have a contact-heavy staff, but Derek Lowe has the team's best ERA by a starter, and he has struck out fewer than three batters per nine innings.
 
24San Diego Padres
Last Week: 25
WAR Winning Percentage: .430; Current Winning Percentage: .310; WAR Wins: 12; Current Wins: 9

Matt Kemp has the same number of home runs (12) as the entire San Diego team, which speaks to how little power the Padres pack. They are a very patient offense, walking more than any other team in the NL, but their offense needs a bit more bite in order to turn around their season. There is a chance that the team's top starter Cory Luebke, will need Tommy John surgery, which will put even more pressure on a weak-hitting offense.
 
25Toronto Blue Jays
Last Week: 29
WAR Winning Percentage: .410; Current Winning Percentage: .552; WAR Wins: 12; Current Wins: 16

The fact that the Blue Jays have won 16 games without much offense from Jose Bautista, Colby Rasmus, Yunel Escobar or Adam Lind can be looked at as a positive. When these guys get going, watch out AL East. The Blue Jays rank so low compared to their actual winning percentage mostly because of their ERA-FIP split, which is the largest in all of baseball: a 3.76 ERA and 4.65 FIP. Henderson Alvarez (2.83) and Kyle Drabek (3.34) both have low ERAs, but their FIPs of 5.20 and 5.30 respectively signal that their results are not sustainable.
 
26Seattle Mariners
Last Week: 27
WAR Winning Percentage: .405; Current Winning Percentage: .433; WAR Wins: 12; Current Wins: 13

Once again the Mariners' biggest issue is at the dish. Only one AL team has a lower OBP than Seattle, with Justin Smoak's .241 mark and Chone Figgins' .250 OBP being the biggest culprits of bad on-base skills for the Mariners. The good news is that after a down year for Ichiro in which he posted a wRC+ of 82, he is now at 113, which is not far off his career mark of 116. The Mariners do not pitch well enough to succeed with such a poor offense, so something has to change in order for them to move up in the standings.
 
27Pittsburgh Pirates
Last Week: 24
WAR Winning Percentage: .401; Current Winning Percentage: .429; WAR Wins: 13; Current Wins: 12

Erik Bedard and James McDonald have made for a nice one-two punch at the top of the Pirates' rotation, with both having sub-3.00 ERAs and similarly low FIPs. The problem with the Pirates lies at the plate, where they have the league's lowest OBP and wRC+. Only the Phillies have walked at a lower rate than the Pirates, and combine that with a serious lack of punch and similarly low contact skills, and you can see why the Pirates rank so low despite having strong pitching.
 
28Detroit Tigers
Last Week: 30
WAR Winning Percentage: .398; Current Winning Percentage: .519; WAR Wins: 11; Current Wins: 14

As we stated last week, when the Tigers came in at 30, Detroit won't be this low all season. They are already moving up the rankings, and once Ryan Raburn (6 wRC+), Brennan Boesch (46) and Delmon Young (70) start to hit close to their career rates, the Tigers will jump even faster. Doug Fister is expected to return this week, which should help what has been an otherwise weak rotation.
 
29Oakland Athletics
Last Week: 22
WAR Winning Percentage: .365; Current Winning Percentage: .517; WAR Wins: 11; Current Wins: 15

Brandon McCarthy and Bartolo Colon have been solid atop the Oakland rotation, but Tommy Milone has fallen apart in recent starts as has Tyson Ross. Oakland has a putrid offense, so it needs good performances from its rotation in order to compete at the level that its real winning percentage suggests. The A's currently have the third-lowest batting average against with runners in scoring position, which is probably not sustainable given the talent of their pitching staff.
 
30Minnesota Twins
Last Week: 28
WAR Winning Percentage: .306; Current Winning Percentage: .259; WAR Wins: 8; Current Wins: 7

The Twins have been the worst team in the majors based on both current winning percentage and WAR winning percentage. They have had one of the worst offenses in the bigs with an 86 wRC+ and an even worse pitching staff, with a 5.69 overall ERA. The lowest ERA in their rotation is Carl Pavano's 4.62, with the next lowest being Jason Marquis' 5.40. The Twins have been awful in every aspect thus far, and things do not look like they will be changing anytime soon.

 
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