Power Rankings: Cardinals remain in first place for fourth straight week

1:22 | MLB
MLB Power Rankings: Cardinals remain in top spot
Monday June 22nd, 2015

As the season nears its midway point, there are a few surprises in the Power Rankings. There are just as many teams in this week's top 10 that didn't make the postseason a year ago—the Astros (No. 4), Blue Jays (No. 6), Rays (No. 7), Cubs (No. 8) and Yankees (No. 10)—as did. Meanwhile, some of the winter's busiest clubs, such as the MarinersPadres, Red Sox and White Sox, are languishing in the bottom 10. What's worse for that quartet is that there's no sign that better results are coming. Don't expect a sudden flip for these surprise contenders and unexpected bottom feeders.

We're No. 1: Cardinals

Consider this: On May 20, the Pirates were 18–22 and nine games back of the Cardinals for first place in the National League Central. Since that day, Pittsburgh has gone 21-8 and had two winning streaks of seven games—and all that's done is trim St. Louis' division lead to six games.

The Sixth Tool: How Michael Brantley and his father built an MVP swing

It's been that kind of season for the Cardinals, who have more or less dominated baseball from this year's first pitch. St. Louis leads the majors in wins (45) and winning percentage (.652) and is just one run behind Toronto for the league's best run differential (+78 to +77). As such, the Cardinals are in first place in our rankings for the fourth straight week and the seventh time already on the year. Of the three other teams to have been No. 1 this season, only the Tigers have claimed the crown more than once. It's a testament to the consistent excellence of this year's Cardinals squad.

Cellar Dweller: Phillies

Blame umpires, not Tabata for Scherzer's lost chance at perfection

Just as St. Louis has cemented itself as baseball's best team, Philadelphia is running away with the less-desirable title of worst in the game. The Phillies went 2–5 last week, including a humiliating 19–3 demolition at the hands of the Orioles on June 16, and at 24–47 (.338 winning percentage), they're on pace for a truly wretched 54–108 record. The 2013 Astros are the only other team in the last decade to lose that many games, finishing with a 51–111 mark that season. No Philadelphia team, meanwhile, has lost that many games since 1945, when that year's Phillies went 46–108. In fact, since the National League adopted the 162-game schedule in 1962, no Phillies team has ever lost more than 100 games in a season.

Is there any hope for the Phis to avoid that dubious history? It'll be tough. Philadelphia already has the worst offense in baseball at 3.1 runs per game with a team OPS+ of 77 that's last in the majors, and the pitching staff's 4.43 ERA is the game's fourth-highest. Those figures aren't likely to improve if the Phillies ditch their veterans at the trade deadline, as they should.

Biggest Riser: Reds

This week's rankings didn't see much movement up or down the list, with Cincinnati as the only team to gain at least four spots. The Reds didn't rise very high, though, going from No. 26 to No. 22, and their hopes of contending in the NL Central have long since vanished, as they sit 12 1/2 games back of St. Louis. But at 32–36, Cincinnati is just 5 1/2 games out of a playoff spot, and last week, the Reds took a series each from the Tigers and Marlins.

A-Rod's 3,000th hit latest milestone in unimaginable feel-good season

That said, there aren't exactly many reasons to believe Cincinnati will make any noise in the playoff race this year. It has three starters with an ERA+ of league average or better, but only ace Johnny Cueto (130) should be reasonably expected to keep that going, and as a free agent next year, it would behoove the Reds to move him at the trade deadline for a package of top-flight prospects. Anthony DeSclafani (111) and Michael Lorenzen (109), meanwhile, have some scary peripherals, with DeSclafani striking out just 6.1 per nine and Lorenzen walking nearly as many batters (29) as he's struck out (35).

On offense, Joey Votto has come back to life (158 OPS+) and Todd Frazier has turned into a franchise cornerstone (168). But Billy Hamilton remains awful (a .267 on-base percentage), Brandon Phillips is having a career-worst season at the plate (86 OPS+) and Cincinnati has lost Devin Mesoraco for the year to hip surgery, leaving the Reds with Brayan Pena and his career .656 OPS as the starter at catcher.

Biggest Faller: Padres

Thanks to his work behind plate, Cervelli is Pirates' quiet MVP

Both the Yankees (No. 6 to No. 10) and Padres (No. 19 to No. 23) dropped four spots this week, but we'll put our focus on San Diego, which fired longtime manager Bud Black last week, to no immediate avail. At 34–38, the Padres are a distant fourth in the NL West, sitting six games behind the Dodgers, and are 5 1/2 back in the wild card. The infield is a total mess: Starting second baseman Jedd Gyorko was demoted to Triple A two weeks ago, while third baseman Will Middlebrooks (79 OPS+) and shortstop Alexi Amarista (76) have been two of the majors' worst regulars so far. Things have gotten so bad that San Diego has started giving first baseman Yonder Alonso time at the hot corner—a position at which he'd played just 12 1/3 innings in his career prior to 2015.

The outfield isn't much better. Wil Myers is out for the next two months after undergoing surgery on his left wrist, while Matt Kemp has struggled to a .246/.283/.352 line with just four homers in 300 plate appearances to go with below-average defense in right. Justin Upton is mashing (a team-high 133 OPS+ and 13 homers), but as a free agent this winter, he's not likely to stick in San Diego beyond the end of this year. The Padres may have looked like true contenders this winter after their massive shopping spree, but almost nothing has worked out as planned.

  • 1
    1St. Louis Cardinals
    last week: 1
    points: 210
    High Vote: 1st (7x)
    Low Vote: N/A

  • 2
    2Los Angeles Dodgers
    last week: 2
    points: 195
    High Vote: 2nd (4x)
    Low Vote: 6th

  • 3
    3Kansas City Royals
    last week: 4
    points: 185
    High Vote: 3rd (2x)
    Low Vote: 4th (2x)

  • 4
    4Houston Astros
    last week: 7
    points: 184
    High Vote: 2nd (2x)
    Low Vote: 8th

  • 5
    5Pittsburgh Pirates
    last week: 5
    points: 179
    High Vote: 3rd (2x)
    Low Vote: 8th

  • 6
    6Toronto Blue Jays
    last week: 3
    points: 167
    High Vote: 2nd
    Low Vote: 12th (3x)

  • 7
    7Tampa Bay Rays
    last week: 8
    points: 162
    High Vote: 4th
    Low Vote: 11th (3x)

  • 8
    8Chicago Cubs
    last week: 9
    points: 159
    High Vote: 4th
    Low Vote: 10th (4x)

  • 9
    9Washington Nationals
    last week: 10
    points: 151
    High Vote: 3rd
    Low Vote: 12th (3x)

  • 10
    10New York Yankees
    last week: 6
    points: 149
    High Vote: 9th (5x)
    Low Vote: 13th

  • 11
    11Baltimore Orioles
    last week: 14
    points: 144
    High Vote: 7th (2x)
    Low Vote: 16th

  • 12
    12San Francisco Giants
    last week: 11
    points: 138
    High Vote: 7th
    Low Vote: 13th (3x)

  • 13
    13Texas Rangers
    last week: 12
    points: 116
    High Vote: 13th
    Low Vote: 16th (2x)

  • 14
    14Detroit Tigers
    last week: 13
    points: 111
    High Vote: 11th
    Low Vote: 17th (4x)

  • 15
    15Los Angeles Angels
    last week: 16
    points: 107
    High Vote: 11th
    Low Vote: 19th

  • 16
    16Minnesota Twins
    last week: 17
    points: 100
    High Vote: 13th
    Low Vote: 18th (5x)

  • 17
    17New York Mets
    last week: 15
    points: 99
    High Vote: 12th
    Low Vote: 21st (2x)

  • 18
    18Oakland Athletics
    last week: 20
    points: 90
    High Vote: 8th (2x)
    Low Vote: 26th

  • 19
    19Arizona Diamondbacks
    last week: 21
    points: 87
    High Vote: 15th (2x)
    Low Vote: 25th

  • 20
    20Atlanta Braves
    last week: 22
    points: 81
    High Vote: 13th
    Low Vote: 24th

  • 21
    21Cleveland Indians
    last week: 18
    points: 75
    High Vote: 17th
    Low Vote: 23rd (2x)

  • 22
    22Cincinnati Reds
    last week: 26
    points: 62
    High Vote: 20th (2x)
    Low Vote: 27th

  • 23
    23San Diego Padres
    last week: 19
    points: 56
    High Vote: 21st
    Low Vote: 24th (4x)

  • 24
    24Miami Marlins
    last week: 25
    points: 50
    High Vote: 21st
    Low Vote: 27th (2x)

  • 25
    25Boston Red Sox
    last week: 27
    points: 47
    High Vote: 20th
    Low Vote: 27th

  • 26
    26Seattle Mariners
    last week: 23
    points: 46
    High Vote: 19th
    Low Vote: 26th (3x)

  • 27
    27Chicago White Sox
    last week: 24
    points: 33
    High Vote: 22nd
    Low Vote: 28th (3x)

  • 28
    28Colorado Rockies
    last week: 28
    points: 24
    High Vote: 27th (3x)
    Low Vote: 28th (4x)

  • 29
    29Milwaukee Brewers
    last week: 29
    points: 14
    High Vote: 29th (7x)
    Low Vote: N/A

  • 30
    30Philadelphia Phillies
    last week: 30
    points: 7
    High Vote: 30th (7x)
    Low Vote: N/A

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.