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Red Sox surge into top spot while Tigers, Yankees make big jumps

Photo: Mary Schwalm/AP

David Ortiz has looked as good as ever in helping the Red Sox to the majors' best record.

The Boston Red Sox are the best team in baseball right now, and it's not even close. Just as we all saw coming, right?

Thanks to a resurgent rotation and a dynamic offense, the Red Sox are the first team to 20 wins (no one else has more than 17); they have the best run differential (+49, 20 runs better than the field); and they are the hottest team (8-2 in their last 10, also the best in the game).

The real key to their success this season is, as Joe Sheehan wrote, the pitching staff led by Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester. While Lester has been very good, Buchholz has been the game's best pitcher so far this year at 6-0 with a 1.01 ERA and a career-high strikeout rate of 9.5 per nine innings, a 51 percent improvement on his 6.3 mark from the past four seasons. As a pitching staff, the Red Sox have a 9.90 K/9, second only to the Tigers' 9.93; both are more than 1.2 higher than any full-season K/9 rate in the modern era.

As a reminder, this year's Power Rankings are now ordered based on a quantitative formula that considers season record, last-10 record (with a small strength of schedule component) and season run differential. That explains why there's more week-to-week movement than in year's past, as the rankings more accurately rate the teams that are playing the best right now.

NOTE: All stats are updated through Thursday, May 2.

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