Baseball's best team is its hottest one, too, earning it another week atop the Power Rankings. The Giants, buoyed by a league-leading 42 victories and an MLB-best five-game winning streak, once again edged out their Bay Area-rivals, the Athletics. In fact, the top four remains identical to last week: San Francisco, Oakland, Toronto and Milwaukee. The Angels replaced the Tigers for the last spot in the top five.
They're No. 1: Giants. It's been a stunning first half of 2014 for San Francisco, which leads the majors in wins and winning percentage and already has a massive 9½-game lead in the National League West. That entire advantage has been built in just one month of play: Since falling into a tie with Colorado for first place back on May 7, the Giants won 21 of their next 29 games to surge way in front. This week will provide a stern test for San Francisco, however, which hosts the surging Nationals in a four-game series.
Cellar Dweller: Diamondbacks. The D-backs have made this their home, but they may be vacating soon. They finished this week just a point away from getting out of the basement, and with five wins in its last six games, Arizona has passed the Cubs, Rays and Phillies in winning percentage, and is just a game behind San Diego in the NL West. What's been fueling that run? A ton of offense. The D-backs have scored 44 runs in their last six games, 28 of which came in two games against Colorado.
Biggest Riser: Indians. After struggling through April and picking up some steam in May, Cleveland is making a move in June by winning six of its seven games this month. That's helped the Indians bounce back from a four-game skid at the end of May, has the team above .500 for the first time since April 9 and has put them within three games of Detroit for the American League Central lead. The pitching staff's return to form has led the way; Cleveland has a 3.18 ERA in June that is 10th-best in baseball and a big improvement from April's 4.44 mark and May's 3.86.
Biggest Faller: Rockies. Just a few weeks ago, Colorado threatened to bust into the rankings' top five. But one horrid month of play has changed all that, as the Rockies have plummeted all the way to 19th on the heels of a 1-5 week that included a three-game sweep at the hands of the lowly Diamondbacks. Since being in that aforementioned tie with the Giants on May 7, Colorado has collapsed, going 7-19 to fall 12½ games back. Things have gotten so bad that the Rockies lost back-to-back games in which they scored a combined 15 runs because they gave up 28.
A few words about the...
Nationals: In the last Power Rankings, we wondered if Washington was setting us up for another season of disappointment. But the Nationals went a big way toward answering those concerns, going 5-1 last week to move into a tie for first place in the NL East and all the way up to seventh in the rankings. As expected, the week's soft competition — the Padres and Phillies -- gave Washington plenty of opportunity to climb back into the division race. Now comes a brutally hard week that will really test the Nats: seven road games, four in San Francisco and three in St. Louis.
Yankees: It's been an odd season for New York, which finds itself comfortably ahead of Boston and Tampa Bay in the AL East standings but staring up at first-place Toronto. The Yankees are going in reverse, having won just three of 10 to fall to No. 15 in the rankings. New York faces a tough AL West road trip this week before crucial series against Toronto and Baltimore. One man who is performing up to expectations: Masahiro Tanaka. The AL Cy Young and Rookie of the Year frontrunner will likely garner MVP support as well as he continues his brilliant season, and with good reason: The Yankees are 10-2 in games he starts and 21-29 in all the rest.
Astros: At No. 24, they're still much closer to the basement than the penthouse, but this season has been an eye-opener for the Astros, who have shown progress with all the young talent they've stockpiled the last few seasons. At 28-36, Houston isn't close to playoff contention, but since hitting a season-worst 15 games under .500 back on May 23, it has gone an impressive 11-4. That includes series wins over the Mariners, Royals and Angels. At the very least, the Astros' days as pushovers seem to be coming to a close.