MLB Power Rankings: Athletics first again as Orioles, Mariners climb
There was little change at the top of this week's Power Rankings, but there was a lot of movement outside of the top five. The A's hung on to the No. 1 spot for the second week in a row and third time overall, becoming the first team to spend consecutive weeks in first place. The Tigers, Giants and Brewers remained Nos. 2 through 4, respectively, while the Braves inched up one spot to No. 5. Beyond that, however, there was a lot of rising and falling, with nine teams moving up or down at least five places. This week also gave us our first change at the last spot in the rankings.
They're No. 1: Athletics. Oakland started the week on the wrong foot by losing three of four to Seattle, but quickly bounced back by sweeping the Nationals in a three-game set at home. That included a Sunday thumping of former A's starter Gio Gonzalez, keyed by two home runs from Derek Norris, who came to Oakland in the trade that sent Gonzalez to Washington.
The Athletics dropped 21 runs on Washington, but Daric Barton didn't help. The first baseman got just one at-bat in the three games and seems in danger of losing his roster spot thanks to a .143/.222/.161 line in 63 plate appearances. It doesn't help that he and his primary competition at first, Brandon Moss, are both lefties, or that Moss has put up a .274/.359/.476 line so far. A former first-round pick, Barton hasn't had an above-average season at the plate since 2010; one wonders how much longer the A's will give him to turn it around.
Cellar Dweller: Astros. For the first time this season, the Arizona Diamondbacks have been displaced from the rankings' basement, replaced by hapless Houston. Want to know how the Astros got here? Pick a stat, any stat. They are 28th among the majors' 30 teams in runs per game (3.47), 29th in OBP (.292) and dead last in ERA (4.82). It should come as no surprise, then, that Houston is tied with the Cubs for the fewest wins in baseball (12) and hasn't mustered a winning streak longer than two games all year. It doesn't help that the Astros' bullpen is incapable of holding a lead or keeping a game close. Houston's relievers have a 6.06 ERA in 120⅓ innings, far and away the worst mark in the league.
Biggest Riser: Orioles/Mariners. Both Seattle and Baltimore jumped seven places this week, with the Orioles bursting into the top 10 on the heels of a 5-1 week that included a three-game sweep of division rival Tampa Bay. Baltimore's pitchers allowed only 21 runs over those six games, and only 13 by the starters. Seattle, meanwhile, grabbed three out of four from division-leading Oakland and split a four-game series with Kansas City to climb above .500 in what's been an up-and-down season.The Mariners put together that strong week despite the fact that Robinson Cano still isn't providing any pop. He batted .300 with a .382 OBP last week but all nine of his hits were singles and he has just one home run and a .370 slugging percentage to date.
Biggest Faller: Rangers. Texas' rough week -- 2-5 with series losses to Colorado and Boston -- dropped it eight places and out of the top 10. The Rangers' pitching bears a lot of blame for the fall, giving up 42 runs over the week, including 12 in last Tuesday's 11-run loss to the Rockies in which first baseman Mitch Moreland was forced to take the mound. Yu Darvish has been brilliant, coming within one out of a no-hitter last Friday, and Matt Harrison has been solid in his return from injury, but the rest of Texas' rotation has been a disaster. Derek Holland hasn't pitched all year because of a knee injury, an elbow injury felled Martin Perez after three brutal starts, Colby Lewis has been shelled in his comeback attempt and Robbie Ross has yet to prove up to the task of being a major league starter. The Rangers' rotation needs help, and soon, but it's unclear where that assistance will come from.
A few words about the...
Rays: Tampa Bay's nightmare season continued with a horrific 1-5 week in which it was swept by Baltimore and lost two of three to Cleveland. The rotation has struggled, but don't go blaming fill-ins Cesar Ramos and Erik Bedard, who have pitched well in the absences of Matt Moore and Alex Cobb. Instead, it's been David Price and Chris Archer who have let the Rays down. Price's ERA is 4.53 thanks to a career-worst home-run rate of 1.5; he's given up at least one in seven of his eight starts. Archer's ERA, meanwhile, is 5.16; he's averaging over 10 hits allowed per nine innings and hasn't completed more than five innings in his last three starts.
Dodgers: Los Angeles went just 2-5 last week to fall from the top five and now sits 4½ games out of first in the NL West. May hasn't been kind the Dodgers, who are just 5-7 since the calendar turned, and it's been even worse to Adrian Gonzalez. The first baseman hit a scorching .317/.377/.644 with eight homers in March and April, but has managed a mere .136/.240/.205 with only one homer this month.
Mets: New York dropped seven spots this week, and the problem is easy to identify: The team can't hit. The Mets are 27th in the majors in batting average (.229), 29th in homers (22) and last in slugging percentage (.337). It doesn't help that they are getting virtually nothing from half the everyday positions in their lineup: catcher (.638 OPS), shorstop (.555), leftfield (.624) and rightfield (.590).