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Power Rankings: Cardinals jump Rangers despite Hamilton's heroics

The Cardinals take over the top spot this week from the Rangers, as the two have continued to trade places in these rankings all season. Joey Votto and Giancarlo Stanton each hit walk off grand slams on Sunday, marking the first time that has happened on the same day since 1998. The outburst of power from Votto and Stanton helped their teams climb the rankings, as both the Reds and Marlins are within arms reach of their division leaders.

NOTE: All stats are through Sunday, May 13.

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
1St. Louis Cardinals
Last Week: 2
WAR Winning Percentage: .766; Current Winning Percentage: .588; WAR Wins: 26; Current Wins: 20

With Lance Berkman returning on Sunday, the National League's most powerful offense will finally be at full power. Allen Craig will move to a part time role, but with the age of the Cardinals corner outfielders and first baseman, they should be able to find enough plate appearances for Craig, who has a career 143 wRC+ and five home runs in 10 games this year.
2Texas Rangers
Last Week: 1
WAR Winning Percentage: .723; Current Winning Percentage: .657; WAR Wins: 25; Current Wins: 23

Josh Hamilton has five more home runs than the entire San Diego Padres. His 3.2 WAR is better than five other teams' position player total. This Bonds-ian type start has helped the Rangers score more runs than any other team in baseball as well as maintain the league's highest slugging percentage, and the rest of the Rangers haven't been too bad either.
3Los Angeles <a href=Dodgers" title="Los Angeles Dodgers">
Last Week: 5
WAR Winning Percentage: .613; Current Winning Percentage: .676; WAR Wins: 21; Current Wins: 23

While Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier are the the big names in L.A., A.J. Ellis has been a huge reason for the Dodgers' hot start. There is an argument to be made, in fact, that Ellis has been the best catcher in baseball this year, as his 1.8 WAR is the best in the league at the position. Ellis' performance is fueled by a walk rate of almost 20 percent, behind only Joey Votto and Ben Zobrist, and while part of that comes from hitting lower in the order in the National League he's always been a selective hitter, and might turn out to be Jason Kendall Lite.
4New York <a href=Yankees" title="New York Yankees">
Last Week: 6
WAR Winning Percentage: .598; Current Winning Percentage: .559; WAR Wins: 20; Current Wins: 19

While Curtis Granderson has just one stolen base, his line is nearly identical to his 2011 breakout year. Granderson is hitting .260/.349/.557 compared to .262/.364/.552 last year, when he hit 41 home runs after hitting 24 the season previous, so the improved skills do not seem like a fluke. The Yankees have battled injuries to Brett Gardner and Nick Swisher, but have still remained an overall potent outfield thanks to Granderson's punch and Andruw Jones effectiveness as a role player.
5Atlanta <a href=Braves" title="Atlanta Braves">
Last Week: 3
WAR Winning Percentage: .597; Current Winning Percentage: .629; WAR Wins: 21; Current Wins: 22

Jason Heyward's bounceback season has been a huge boon to the Braves thus far, who currently lead the NL East. Heyward is not far from matching his WAR total from last year, while he has already matched his stolen base total with nine thefts in 11 chances. The Braves' starting pitchers have struggled, with the second worst starting pitching ERA in the NL, but their offense and bullpen have kept them atop the division thus far.
6Washington <a href=Nationals" title="Washington Nationals">
Last Week: 4
WAR Winning Percentage: .581; Current Winning Percentage: .618; WAR Wins: 20; Current Wins: 21

The injuries are continuing to mount for the Nationals, who have now lost catcher Wilson Ramos to a torn ACL after losing Jayson Werth to a broken wrist. As an offensively challenged team even with those two, the Nationals will need to get better production from every position player aside from Adam LaRoche, who has six home runs and a .430 on base percentage. Look for the Nationals to bring in someone from outside the organization to boost the offense and give the pitching some assistance.
7Boston <a href=Red Sox" title="Boston Red Sox">
Last Week: 17
WAR Winning Percentage: .545; Current Winning Percentage: .441; WAR Wins: 19; Current Wins: 15

The Red Sox's record ? 15-19 through Sunday -- does not accurately portray how they have played to date, as they have produced offensively to the tune of a 112 wRC+ and have the largest gap between their ERA (5.00) and FIP (4.53). Red Sox pitchers have stranded just 68.8 percent of runners, which should rise as the season progresses(only the Twins, who have the worst record in the majors, have stranded fewer runners this year). Boston's record does not look great, but this still a talented team, and it's playing better than its record suggests.
8Philadelphia <a href=Phillies" title="Philadelphia Phillies">
Last Week: 13
WAR Winning Percentage: .543; Current Winning Percentage: .457; WAR Wins: 19; Current Wins: 16

Philadelphia has the second highest total pitching WAR but are number 12 in overall ERA, mostly due to a .333 wOBA allowed with runners in scoring position. The Phillies have pitched well, but they should be receiving even better results. Their offense continues to struggle without the injured Ryan Howard and especially Chase Utley in the lineup, but they should be able to expect better performances from Shane Victorino, Jimmy Rollins and Hunter Pence than what they're getting now.
9Baltimore <a href=Orioles" title="Baltimore Orioles">
Last Week: 9
WAR Winning Percentage: .537; Current Winning Percentage: .629; WAR Wins: 19; Current Wins: 22

Most people would be surprised if they were told in March that the Orioles would lead the league in home runs on May 14, but Adam Jones and the rest of the O's have made it happen. Jones (10), J.J. Hardy (8) and Matt Wieters (8) are leading the way in home runs for what has turned into an extremely potent offense. Their bullpen has also been a big reason for their early success, as they lead the American League with 38 shutdowns.
10Milwaukee <a href=Brewers" title="Milwaukee Brewers">
Last Week: 16
WAR Winning Percentage: .513; Current Winning Percentage: .441; WAR Wins: 17; Current Wins: 15

The same issues that have caused the Red Sox to have an underwhelming record have also plagued the Brewers, as no team in baseball has a worse ERA (4.69) to FIP (3.60) split. Closer John Axford and starter Zack Greinke have suffered from a mixture of poor defense and poor luck, which has led to higher ERAs than expected, and these kinds of gaps generally don't persist all season.
11Tampa Bay <a href=Rays" title="Tampa Bay Rays">
Last Week: 8
WAR Winning Percentage: .508; Current Winning Percentage: .600; WAR Wins: 18; Current Wins: 21

Matt Joyce is staking his claim as the best position player in Tampa Bay aside from the injured Evan Longoria, as he leads the team with seven home runs and has a .403 wOBA. Joyce, Luke Scott and Carlos Pena have destroyed righthanded pitching, with 15 home runs combined against righties. Longoria and outfielder Desmond Jennings are battling injuries, but the Rays offense has still produced without two of its better position players.
12Arizona <a href=Diamondbacks" title="Arizona Diamondbacks">
Last Week: 7
WAR Winning Percentage: .500; Current Winning Percentage: .429; WAR Wins: 17; Current Wins: 15

The D-backs have four relief pitchers with an ERA under 2.52 in Brad Ziegler, David Hernandez, Brian Shaw and Craig Breslow. Struggles from starters Daniel Hudson (injury) and Josh Collemnter (ineffectiveness) have been the driving force behind Arizona's slow start, but the team's bullpen has been rather effective outside of closer J.J. Putz. The offense has been inconsistent at times, but that should change once Justin Upton's 82 wRC+ gets closer to his career mark of 117.
13San Francisco <a href=Giants" title="San Francisco Giants">
Last Week: 11
WAR Winning Percentage: .498; Current Winning Percentage: .500; WAR Wins: 17; Current Wins: 17

Only two teams in baseball have a lower walk rate than the Giants, which has subsequently resulted in the team scoring more runs than just five teams. No hitter with more than 65 plate appearance has a walk rate above the league average of 8.4 percent. The Giants pitch very well in both the rotation and bullpen, but their lack of offense has continued to weigh them down this season.
14Miami Marlins
Last Week: 19
WAR Winning Percentage: .489; Current Winning Percentage: .529; WAR Wins: 17; Current Wins: 18

Giancarlo Stanton took over the team lead in home runs with Sunday's walk off grand slam, and his power has really came to life in the past two weeks. Over the past 14 days, Stanton has hit six homers and has a slugging percentage over .750. It is no coincidence that the Marlins are 10-4 over that stretch, as Stanton is the straw that stirs the drink in Miami.
15Chicago <a href=White Sox" title="Chicago White Sox">
Last Week: 12
WAR Winning Percentage: .488; Current Winning Percentage: .457; WAR Wins: 17; Current Wins: 16

Gavin Floyd has increased the use of his cutter and two-seam fastball, and his performance has seen immediate results. Floyd's strikeout rate of 23 percent is the highest of his career, while his 7.1 percent walk rate is below his career average. All of this has resulted in his ERA dropping from 4.37 last year to 2.53. The White Sox have had some great pitching this year, with Floyd being a huge part of their rotation's success to date.
16Chicago <a href=Cubs" title="Chicago Cubs">
Last Week: 20
WAR Winning Percentage: .478; Current Winning Percentage: .412; WAR Wins: 16; Current Wins: 14

According to WAR, Jeff Samardzija has been the majors' 12th best starting pitcher this season. The conversion of Samardzija from inconsistent reliever to top flight starter has been one of the more fascinating storylines this season, as the righty has a 4-1 record with a 2.89 ERA, 2.55 FIP, and a 3.21 strikeout-to-walk ratio. The Cubs have struggled offensively but with Samardzija and his fellow righties Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza, the Cubs rotation is a very valuable unit.
17New York <a href=Mets" title="New York Mets">
Last Week: 21
WAR Winning Percentage: .475; Current Winning Percentage: .559; WAR Wins: 16; Current Wins: 19

The Met bullpen has had a few blowups, with seven blown saves on the season, but the unit has performed better than its 4.92 ERA suggests. Bobby Parnell and Tim Byrdak have been excellent, while Frank Francisco's 8.56 ERA does not correlate with his 4.23 FIP. The bullpen does not possess many top notch arms, but it is better than it has shown.
18Cincinnati Reds
Last Week: 22
WAR Winning Percentage: .469; Current Winning Percentage: .515; WAR Wins: 15; Current Wins: 17

Joey Votto hit more home runs on Sunday (three) than he had hit throughout the entire season prior to the start of the game (two) and capped his huge night with a walk off grand slam. While Votto's home run total is low compared to other perennial MVP candidates, he does lead the league in doubles and still has a .466 on base percentage.
19Los Angeles <a href=Angels" title="Los Angeles Angels">
Last Week: 18
WAR Winning Percentage: .468; Current Winning Percentage: .429; WAR Wins: 16; Current Wins: 15

The trio of Ervin Santana, Albert Pujols and Erick Aybar have combined for -2.4 WAR to this point in the year, which is the primary reason for the Angels' struggles. Pujols does have one home run, but his .234 on base percentage is putrid as is his .275 slugging percentage. What may be most surprising about Pujols' struggles is his 4.8 percent walk rate, which is down from a career mark of 13 percent.
20Kansas City <a href=Royals" title="Kansas City Royals">
Last Week: 15
WAR Winning Percentage: .466; Current Winning Percentage: .394; WAR Wins: 15; Current Wins: 13

The Royals wRC+ is two percent below average and their FIP is exactly league average, so this team is not quite as bad as they have performed, though their record and their performance are lining up a bit more than early in the season. Their pitching staff has the highest walk rate in the American League, much of which could be blamed on Jonathan Sanchez's 17.5 percent mark. While they walk a tremendous amount of batters, the Royals have done a good job of keeping the ball in the park, surrendering the third-fewest home runs in the American League.
21Colorado <a href=Rockies" title="Colorado Rockies">
Last Week: 14
WAR Winning Percentage: .463; Current Winning Percentage: .394; WAR Wins: 15; Current Wins: 13

Troy Tulowitzki has looked nothing like himself this season, with just an 82 wRC+. To put how poor that number is into perspective, he had marks of 138, 145 and 131 over the past three seasons. The Rockies are already 10 games out in the NL West, so their star shortstop will need to get his bat together in order for the team's season to turn around.
22Houston <a href=Astros" title="Houston Astros">
Last Week: 10
WAR Winning Percentage: .460; Current Winning Percentage: .441; WAR Wins: 16; Current Wins: 15

Over the past seven games, the Astros have hit .180/.229/.239, bringing their total wRC+ down to 89. The Astros do not pitch well enough to win while their hitting suffers so badly, and they are just 2-5 in that stretch. Wandy Rodriguez is building his trade value with a 1.99 ERA and 3.09 FIP, so the Astros may get a solid package for him if they do indeed move him before this year's deadline.
23Cleveland <a href=Indians" title="Cleveland Indians">
Last Week: 23
WAR Winning Percentage: .437; Current Winning Percentage: .529; WAR Wins: 15; Current Wins: 18

The only Cleveland starter with more than two starts and an ERA under 4.66 is Derek Lowe, who has a 2.47 ERA despite a 3.94 FIP. The contact-heavy staff has not hurt the Indian's real record yet, but they will need better pitching to stay atop the relatively weak American League Central. They will also need better production from their outfield, as Shin Soo Choo is the only regular with a wRC+ above 100.
24Detroit <a href=Tigers" title="Detroit Tigers">
Last Week: 28
WAR Winning Percentage: .431; Current Winning Percentage: .500; WAR Wins: 15; Current Wins: 17

The Tigers are right on the Indians' tail in both the standings and WAR rankings, but they need their hitting to come together in order to be atop the division. The Tigers have just a 91 wRC+ after adding Prince Fielder to a unit that posted a 109 mark last year. Obviously, the offense has underperformed. Not helping the cause are the subpar on-base percentages of Ryan Raburn (.204), Brennan Boesch (.254) and Delmon Young (.288).
25Seattle <a href=Mariners" title="Seattle Mariners">
Last Week: 26
WAR Winning Percentage: .426; Current Winning Percentage: .444; WAR Wins: 15; Current Wins: 16

Kyle Seager has just a 2.6 percent walk rate in 116 plate appearances, but has remained a very effective offensive player and has actually been the best position player on the roster thus far. Alex Liddi, John Jaso and Casper Wells have all been above average with the bats while the offense awaits Jesus Montero, Justin Smoak and Dustin Ackley hitting to their capabilities. Seattle's offense actually has a chance to be well-rounded, but it needs its best hitters to produce in order to reach that level.
26San Diego Padres
Last Week: 24
WAR Winning Percentage: .408; Current Winning Percentage: .343; WAR Wins: 14; Current Wins: 12

The Padres are the only National League team with a walk rate above 10 percent, which is about the only positive there is to find for their offense. They have the league's lowest isolated power, have hit just 13 home runs and have the second worst batting average in the majors. Anthony Bass has been a nice starter, with a 3.23 ERA and 3.11 FIP, but the struggles of the team's offense greatly outweigh any positives that can be found in the rotation.
27Oakland <a href=Athletics" title="Oakland Athletics">
Last Week: 29
WAR Winning Percentage: .403; Current Winning Percentage: .514; WAR Wins: 14; Current Wins:

18 The A's are above .500 for the season, but WAR thinks that their record may be at least slightly inflated. Jarrod Parker and Brandon McCarthy have been excellent in the rotation, but the rest of the unit has struggled. Closer Grant Balfour has -0.2 WAR to this point, and the infield's offense has been as bad as the outfield's bats have been good. Josh Reddick is looking like he could be a star, but Jemile Weeks, Kurt Suzuki and Cliff Pennington have yet to start contributing much offensively.
28Toronto <a href=Blue Jays" title="Toronto Blue Jays">
Last Week: 25
WAR Winning Percentage: .394; Current Winning Percentage: .543; WAR Wins: 14; Current Wins: 16

No team has a larger gap between their WAR winning percentage and their actual winning percentage than the Blue Jays, which is mostly due to the team's staff having the second lowest strikeout-to-walk ratio in the league, ahead of only the Indians. The team's ERA has been 7 percent better than average while their FIP has been 7 percent worse than average, which suggests that they will need to pitch better in order to maintain their results. The defense has been solid, but they are not good enough with the gloves to warrant an ERA that much lower than their FIP
29Pittsburgh <a href=Pirates" title="Pittsburgh Pirates">
Last Week: 27
WAR Winning Percentage: .372; Current Winning Percentage: .471; WAR Wins: 13; Current Wins: 16

Andrew McCutchen had a crazy week with the bat, but the Pirates are still one of the worst teams in the league based on WAR, despite their 16-18 record. McCutchen played in just five games as he was coming off of an illness, but the star centerfielder hit .588/.650/1.118 with three home runs after hitting none before the start of the week. Pittsburgh needs better offense from the rest of their lineup to continue playing close to .500 ball.
30Minnesota Twins
Last Week: 30
WAR Winning Percentage: .348; Current Winning Percentage: .294; WAR Wins: 12; Current Wins: 10

The good news is that WAR thinks the Twins should have a better record than their current MLB-worst mark of 10-24. The bad news is that they would still be the worst team in the league if they have received the results that their WAR suggests. The staff's top pitcher according to WAR, Scott Diamond, has made just two starts and they have been forced to relegate Francisco Liriano, who owns the rotation's highest K/9 rate, to the bullpen. The Twins have a few good bullpen arms and a few good bats, but overall they have been pretty atrocious outside of a few players all season.

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