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Tigers ride quartet of arms to top spot, Cardinals stay No. 2

Photo: /AP

Justin Verlander (1.55 ERA) leads Detroit's dominant starting staff, which has the Tigers in first place in the AL Central.

Conjure the profile of a top-shelf starting pitcher through the first five weeks of the season, and his numbers might look something like this: 4-1 record, 2.32 ERA, 10.1 strikeouts per nine innings and 2.1 walks per nine.

If that imaginary pitcher is leading your rotation every fifth day, you're in great shape, yet those are the average numbers of the top four pitchers in the Tigers' rotation -- Justin Verlander, Anibal Sanchez, Doug Fister and Max Scherzer -- meaning Detroit is getting that level of production to start 80 percent of its games. Fifth starter Rick Porcello struggled early but has pitched well in his last two outings and, in all, Detroit's rotation has logged quality starts in 12 straight games, during which time no starter has walked more than two in a game.

On the backs of that pitching -- plus, of course, a high-scoring offense led by Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder -- the Tigers have ascended to the top spot in this week's MLB Power Rankings. Their AL Central rival Indians, who have won nine of 10, join them in the top three, sandwiched around the Cardinals, who remain in second place.

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. This is done to remove subjectivity, and it 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 Wednesday, May 8.

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