MLB Power Rankings: Dodgers edge surging Brewers for No. 1 spot
The Brewers are the hottest team in baseball right now, but their fast start to 2014 couldn't get them to the top spot in this week's Power Rankings. That honor belongs to the Los Angeles Dodgers, who sit atop the National League West and our rankings. Milwaukee, which got five first-place votes from our group of experts, finished just behind the Dodgers. Oakland, Atlanta and San Francisco round out the top-five.
Top Team: Dodgers. Los Angeles had just two first-place votes, but narrowly edged the Brewers for the top spot, 202 points to 200. The Dodgers are 7-3 in their last 10 games and finished the week on a high note with a sweep of the Diamondbacks. L.A. got a big boost this week from Adrian Gonzalez, who has homered in four straight games and is now hitting .280/.339/.680 with five homers and 14 RBIs on the season. Overall, Los Angeles' infield has been on fire to start the year, with Gonzalez, Dee Gordon, Hanley Ramirez and Juan Uribe each boasting an OPS above .900. Gordon has tacked on an MLB-best nine steals, four of them coming Sunday. The rotation, meanwhile, has survived the absence of Clayton Kershaw. Dan Haren, in particular, has been stellar to start the season, with a 2.04 ERA in three starts (17⅔ innings).
Cellar Dweller: Diamondbacks. Things keep getting worse for Arizona, meanwhile, which is the only team with more than eight losses and has fallen to 4-11 overall. Already six games back in the NL West, the Diamondbacks have had a particularly hard time away from Chase Field, with a 1-8 road record. Paul Goldschmidt has done his best to keep Arizona afloat, hitting .317 with a pair of homers and nine RBIs. But he and new addition Mark Trumbo are the only hitters in the lineup producing; every other D-backs regular has an OPS of .720 or worse. The pitching also hasn't done its part, with Bronson Arroyo's 4.82 ERA the lowest on the staff by almost half a run. The Diamondbacks' starting rotation has already given up 14 home runs in 91⅔ innings. Trevor Cahill has been hit hardest, with a 9.17 ERA and 13 walks in 17⅔ innings.
Biggest Riser: Brewers and Blue Jays. Both Milwaukee and Toronto jumped 12 places this week, with the former climbing all the way to No. 2. At 10-2, the Brewers have MLB's best record, thanks in large part to an offense that is tied for fifth-best in the majors in batting average (.271) and slugging percentage (.436). Carlos Gomez's blistering start (.373/.411/.706 in 56 plate appearances) is leading the way, but Milwaukee is also getting good Aprils from Jonathan Lucroy (.997 OPS in 47 PA) and Aramis Ramirez (.380 average in 50 at-bats). The pitching staff is also contributing, especially Yovani Gallardo, who's surrendered only two earned runs in 18⅔ innings.
As for the Blue Jays, they're only 7-6, but are showing off some impressive early power. The team's 16 homers are the fourth-most in baseball, with Jose Bautista (five) and Melky Cabrera (four) leading the charge.
Biggest Faller: Marlins. Miami got off to a surprising 5-1 start but has dropped seven straight games since then. That has caused the Marlins to plunge from 10th in last week's poll all the way to 25th. Miami's offense has performed better than expected, but with Giancarlo Stanton slumping (.233 average, 11 strikeouts and one walk during the losing streak), the Marlins need more from the rest of their lineup. The bullpen hasn't helped matters, either, as the team's setup men haven't been able to get a lead to Steve Cishek. Miami's closer has made just three appearances all season, and just once since April 3.