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Red-hot Rockies roll to top spot

Pop, it seems, restored the pop.

After Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki began the season 0-for-8 in his first two games, he swapped out one pop song (Katy Perry's "Firework") for another (Justin Bieber's "Baby") -- and in his second at bat of game No. 3, he homered. In fact, since making the change in music, Tulowitzki has hit .393 with three doubles and five home runs.

This hot streak doesn't quite compare with the 14-home-runs-in-15-games barrage he went on last September, but it has coincided with another Rockies hot streak. Colorado went 13-2 in that stretch of September, and it is now 8-1 in its last nine games. Even without ace Ubaldo Jimenez, the rotation hasn't lost a start -- the club's one loss in that stretch was a 14-inning affair with the Pirates -- and has compiled a 3.04 ERA in 53 1/3 innings.

Paced by their shortstop, the Rockies are on a roll -- one that has shot them up the charts to the top of this week's Power Rankings.

NOTE: All stats are through Wednesday, April 13.

MLB Power Rankings
1Colorado Rockies
Last Week: 6
While the Rockies are most associated with purple, there's a distinctly burnt orange look to third and fourth place on the franchise's alltime saves list, as those pitchers -- Huston Street and Bruce Ruffin have 61 and 60, respectively -- are both University of Texas graduates. Street is off to a fast start, recording saves in all six opportunities he's had so far. He has 11 strikeouts and has allowed only one run in 10 innings, even throwing three shutout frames in the team's extra-inning loss to Pittsburgh. He seems to be enjoying the success too: While in New York this week, he stopped by the MLB Fan Cave in Manhattan's Greenwich Village and asked pedestrians, "Do you know where Huston Street is?" (Alas, NYC locals know Houston Street is pronounced "How-ston.")
 
2Philadelphia Phillies
Last Week: 3
No Chase Utley and no Jayson Werth or Domonic Brown? No problem. The Phillies aren't just winning games with an improvised lineup, they're still crushing the baseball. Philadelphia, which sports baseball's oldest lineup (average age is 32.2), is the only team batting better than .300, and they're hitting .318. Six of their eight everyday players are batting above .325. This year's edition of the Phillies have hit only nine homers and are more apt to string together a rally off a series of singles -- check their ninth-inning rally Opening Day -- than go yard back-to-back but with that pitching staff it's been enough for now.
 
3Texas Rangers
Last Week: 1
Much has already been made about the injury to Josh Hamilton and how the Rangers can proceed differently once he returns -- perhaps by instituting The Josh Rules -- but the club does have David Murphy to fill in. He won't win an AL MVP like Hamilton did, but he might be the best fourth outfielder in baseball. Texas can only hope he's half as good as their other injury replacement: With starting pitchers Tommy Hunter and Brandon Webb on the D.L., the Rangers turned to converted reliever Alexi Ogando, and he has won both of his starts without allowing an earned run in 13 innings.
 
4Cincinnati Reds
Last Week: 2
Joey Votto said to anyone who would listen this spring that he believed he could be even better than he was last year when he bested Albert Pujols for the NL MVP -- and so far his encore is indeed shaping up to be better than the first act. Through 12 games Votto has a brilliant hitting line of .444/.527/.667 with two home runs and nine walks. As FanGraphs details, his plate discipline is even better than before, allowing him to cut way down on his strikeout rate.
 
5Cleveland Indians
Last Week: 14
Who is that man and what has he done with Asdrubal Cabrera? The 25-year-old middle infielder already has four home runs this year, exceeding his total from last year (though he played only 97 games because of a fractured forearm) and rapidly approaching his career high of six from both 2008 and '09. For the Indians to find such power from an unexpected source must be like hitting the lottery -- an experience that Cleveland's recently cut minor leaguer Joel Torres now knows. Torres won $1 million on a scratch ticket purchased while visiting his mother in New York and plans to continue pursuing his dream of reaching the majors.
 
6Kansas City Royals
Last Week: 9
The first in the recent wave of great Royals prospects was Alex Gordon, the third baseman picked No. 2 overall in 2005 who drew comparisons to his hero, legendary Royals third baseman George Brett. The rest of the story is well known: Gordon washed out as a major league hitter and third baseman. But after an exile back to the minors, he is born again as a leftfielder and a formidable No. 3 hitter in Kansas City's order. He has a .346/.382/.519 batting line and leads the AL with 18 hits.
 
7New York Yankees
Last Week: 7
Poor Gustavo Molina. He unexpectedly landed the Yankees' backup catcher gig ahead of prospects Jesus Montero and Austin Romine. He excitedly priced flights for his wife and daughter to travel from Venezuela to see him at Yankee Stadium. And yet he has not played this season, as his one scheduled start last week was rained out and, more importantly, starter Russell Martin has been a revelation for New York. The Dodgers castoff is batting .294 with three home runs and eight RBIs in his first 10 games. Hope for Molina? While Martin told manager Joe Girardi he wants to play all 162 games, the skipper reportedly told him, "I don't think so."
 
8Chicago White Sox
Last Week: 8
White Sox lefty Mark Buehrle, who already owns a no-hitter and a perfect game, carried another no-no through five innings on Monday night, the ninth time in his career he's begun a game that way. He remains a marvel because the four-time All-Star often gives up a lot of hits. Buerhle has allowed 9.5 hits per nine innings in his career, including 10.5 per nine in 2010, which ranked 88th among qualifying major-league pitchers. Few pitchers, it seems, have such a discrepancy between their best stuff and their pretty good stuff.
 
9Los Angeles Angels
Last Week: 15
Angels co-aces Jered Weaver and Dan Haren are both 3-0 with dueling microscopic ERAs: Haren's is 0.73 while Weaver's is 0.87. Weaver is striking out more hitters (27 in 20 2/3 innings) while Haren is pitching with more control, with 21 strikeouts compared to just two walks. After Weaver struck out 15 in a start, Haren responded with a one-hit, complete-game shutout. The one-upmanship is impressive, with Haren holding the lead -- on Saturday he made his first relief appearance since 2004, picking up a win while throwing the 14th inning of the Angels' victory over the Blue Jays.
 
10Baltimore Orioles
Last Week: 5
Like all the stats herewith, remember that we're discussing a small sample size -- seven or eight percent of the season -- but the early returns on Mark Reynolds' approach are positive. He's not suddenly going to be renamed Mr. Contact, but he's swinging at fewer pitches out of the zone (a drop from 26.4 to 20.8 percent) and making better contact in the zone (up from 69.5 to 74.1 percent). As a result, his strikeouts-per-at bat ratio is better, moving from 2.36 to 3.33. Over 500 at bats, that's a difference between 212 strikeouts and 150. Though he's also homering less frequently (one in 33 at bats so far), he's hitting .273 with five doubles.
 
11Milwaukee Brewers
Last Week: 21
The Brewers' lefthanded No. 4 starter last year, Chris Narveson, was mediocre, compiling a 4.99 ERA and 1.38 WHIP to along with his 12-9 record. He got a few strikeouts (7.4 per nine innings) with moderate stuff, inducing swings and misses on just 20.2 percent of his pitches, good for 69th-best in the majors. In 2011, however, Narveson has been practically unhittable in his first two starts against the Braves and Cubs. His swing-and-miss percentage is now 42.2, which leads all of baseball, and he has yet to allow an earned run in 13 innings. According to data at Brooks Baseball, the vast majority of his swings and misses have come on his changeup, with 16, compared to seven on his fastball and six on his curve.
 
12Florida Marlins
Last Week: 16
Sun-Sentinel Marlins beat writer Juan C. Rodriguez snapped this photo of Atlanta's Dan Uggla and Florida's Mike Stanton with the caption, "A look at the Marlins current and perhaps future career home run leader." The offseason departures of Uggla from the Marlins and Carlos Peña from the Rays cut the number of franchise career home run leaders who are still active with their clubs from three to one: the Rockies' Todd Helton, who has 334. In addition to Uggla and Peña, two other players who lead a franchise home run list remain active elsewhere in baseball: Orioles DH Vlad Guerrero, who tops the Expos/Nationals leaderboard, and Twins DH Jim Thome, who is No. 1 with the Indians.
 
13Toronto Blue Jays
Last Week: 4
This winter the Blue Jays traded Vernon Wells to the Angels and received Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera. The Jays then flipped Napoli to the Rangers for Frank Francisco. Through 12 games in Toronto, Rivera is 4-for-33 with no extra-base hits, and Francisco has yet to leave the disabled list. While Wells has been even worse (a .102/.154/.122) batting line, Napoli has crushed the ball in limited playing time, hitting three homers in six games. Trades obviously aren't evaluated by a dozen games, but what can be evaluated is this: No matter what happens on the field, the Jays aren't paying Wells $86 million the next four years.
 
14San Francisco Giants
Last Week: 17
The NFL has its successful Hard Knocks franchise on HBO; MLB now has The Franchise on Showtime, which follows the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants through spring training and debuted Wednesday night with a 30-minute preview episode. There's plenty of fervor about the Giants off the field -- including, among others, SI's profile on closer Brian Wilson, this New York Times Magazine article on Tim Lincecum and an ESPN The Magazine piece on Pablo Sandoval's offseason transformation -- but in the early going of the 2011 season they were struggling to keep their heads above water in the competitive NL West.
 
15Los Angeles Dodgers
Last Week: 20
Last year Matt Kemp's average fell roughly 50 points and his OBP and slugging 40 points each, but this year Kemp is a totally new player. He's off to an astronomical start with a .425/.531/.625 batting line, leading the majors in stolen bases with seven and runs created, a Bill James-created statistic that estimates the number of runs a hitter contributes to his team, with 14. Admittedly, Kemp's batting average on balls in play is .485, an unsustainable rate, but the torrid start ought to boost his confidence, which at times seemed lacking last year.
 
16Chicago Cubs
Last Week: 22
There are 108 pitchers who have thrown enough to innings to qualify for the leaderboard on rate stats -- i.e. one inning per team game played -- so it's tough competition to be No. 1 in anything, but Matt Garza is tops in four (admittedly related) categories. He has the highest strikeout rate (14.2 K/9); the highest batting average against on balls in play (.541); the best FIP (0.61), which stands for Fielding Independent Pitching and adjusts ERA for defensive performance; and is tied for the lowest HR rate (with 27 other pitchers). Furthermore, Garza is also tops in hitters swinging outside the strike zone (47.1 percent) and in hitters making contact within the strike zone (96.4 percent).
 
17Oakland Athletics
Last Week: 25
Trevor Cahill, Oakland's 23-year-old All-Star starter, signed a contract extension that's worth more millions ($30.5) than he has career wins (29). Cahill was brilliant in 2010, going 18-8 with a 2.97 ERA and 1.11 WHIP, and is off to a strong start in '11, going 1-0 with a 3.12 ERA in three outings. Cahill's contract is for five years with club options for 2016 and 2017, meaning the terms and compensation are nearly identical to what the Red Sox just gave Clay Buchholz. It's fitting, Hardball Talk notes, because they're basically the same pitcher: Cahill has a 3.74 ERA in 392 2/3 innings. Buchholz has a 3.77 ERA in 374 1/3 innings.
 
18Detroit Tigers
Last Week: 18
One can only hope that the Tigers' medical plan with Dr. James Andrews includes a frequent patient discount card for reliever Joel Zumaya -- something akin to "buy 10 MRIs, get the 11th free" -- who returns over and over again for any of a series of arm ailments. Most recently Zumaya felt pain while tossing lightly and may have a nerve problem. Zumaya has averaged just 32 innings the past four years and doesn't seem likely to return to Detroit's bullpen anytime soon. The Tigers could use the help -- their relievers have a 4.94 ERA, which ranks 26th in the majors.
 
19Atlanta Braves
Last Week: 13
During the first week of the season Braves blog Chop N Change posited its "Declaration for the Correct Placement of Jason Heyward", a manifesto about why Jason Heyward ought to be batting second and Nate McLouth batting sixth and not vice versa: "We hold this truth to be self-evident -- the best hitters should hit at the top of the batting order." It continues in detail from there, and the point is sound. Heyward leads the Braves in OBP (.400) and slugging (.583) and ought to get more at bats than McLouth, whose numbers pale by comparison (.289 OBP and .293 slugging).
 
20St. Louis Cardinals
Last Week: 23
As always, streaks and slumps are magnified at the start of the season, so it only seems like the first 10 games were the worst slump of Albert Pujols' career, a stretch that had the unhappy coincidence of occurring after an offseason that was dominated by talk about his impending free agency. Pujols began 6-for-40 with one homer and a .150 average, at one point going eight consecutive games with multiple hits. That must have seemed like an eternity for him as he had only 10 longer multi-hit droughts in his life, and none more than 11 games. Then on Tuesday he snapped back to life, smacking three hits. On Wednesday he added two more. As Pujols told USA Today, "Come on. It's not like I forgot how to hit."
 
21Arizona Diamondbacks
Last Week: 24
New GM Kevin Towers seemingly starred in a made-for-baseball reality show this offseason called "Extreme Makeover: Bullpen Edition." Last year the Diamondbacks' relievers had a collective 5.74 ERA, the majors' worst by more than a run. So Towers traded third baseman Mark Reynolds to the Orioles for righthanded relievers David Hernandez and Kam Mickolio. He signed free agent J.J. Putz to be his closer. He selected Joe Paterson in the Rule 5 draft. And so what's been the end game? Through Wednesday Arizona's bullpen has a 6.17 ERA, the NL's worst, and Mickolio was demoted to Triple-A.
 
22San Diego Padres
Last Week: 12
Mat Latos may be the team's young ace, a 23-year-old coming off a career year (14-10 with a 2.92 ERA) who looked fine in his first start after dealing with bursitis in his shoulder, but he still handles some menial young player tasks such as catching the ceremonial first pitch. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Latos first had to catch the pregame toss as a rookie in 2009 and then again in 2010 because he remained the youngest player. Now he does it because he enjoys it -- except when veterans bump him out for stars, such as reliever Mike Adams claiming catcher duties when boxer Sugar Shane Moseley was in town.
 
23Pittsburgh Pirates
Last Week: 10
Andrew McCutchen served as the Pirates' leadoff hitter for half of last season, but he was moved to the No. 3 spot of the order this year to better utilize his ability to drive in runs. In the 80 starts by players other than McCutchen, Pittsburgh's production atop the order was abysmal: .222/.293/.341. Jose Tabata made 33 of those starts as a rookie last year, but with extra seasoning he's excelling as the leadoff man in the early going, batting .325/.460/.525 with two homers, five steals and 11 runs scored, tied for third place in the NL.
 
24Washington Nationals
Last Week: 27
After leaving the Phillies to join the Nationals in the offseason, Jayson Werth undoubtedly assumed he'd get booed when playing his former team in Philadelphia, but on Tuesday he got the same treatment at home in Washington, thanks to a number of out-of-town fans who made the trip. Werth, however, responded with a double and a home run despite the boos from the crowd -- and from the opposing dugout, where Phillies manager Charlie Manuel had joked all week he'd give his former player a hard time. "When we played against Manny Ramirez, Charlie was always yelling at Manny," Werth told reporters after the game, referring to another former protégé of Manuel's. "I'll take that as a compliment."
 
25New York Mets
Last Week: 11
The Mets need feel-good stories and in Jason Isringhausen they have one. The once ballyhooed New York pitching prospect (part of the mid-90s trio of pitching prospects, along with Paul Wilson and Bill Pulsipher, dubbed Generation K) has come full circle from his first team from whom he was traded in 1999. In between 293 career saves, he's had six elbow surgeries -- three of them Tommy Johns, the last of which required the ligament from a cadaver because he had exhausted his own -- not to mention several more operations on his shoulder and hip. But in first appearance with the Mets this year after signing a minor league deal in the offseason, he retired both hitters he faced.
 
26Minnesota Twins
Last Week: 19
The Twins are known for developing strike-throwing starters, and they've got their work cut out for them with 2010 first-round pick Alex Wimmers, who in his high Single-A season debut faced six batters and walked them all, hurling three wild pitches for added effect. Four of the runners scored on the Ohio State product, who walked only five batters in his first 15 2/3 professional innings at the same level in 2010. Immediately after the start Wimmers was placed on the seven-day minor league DL with "flu-like symptoms" when, really, it was everyone watching who was sick to their stomachs.
 
27Seattle Mariners
Last Week: 26
Michael Pineda, Seattle's 22-year-old rookie, had to be precocious just to crack the Opening Day rotation rather than pitch in the minors to start the season, and he's been even better than advertised. In two starts spanning 13 1/3 innings, he's struck out 11 while allowing four earned runs, nabbing his first career victory Tuesday night against Toronto. His four-seam fastball reached as high as 98 mph and averaged 95.5. His stuff was so electric that the Blue Jays swung and missed at 14 of his 73 fastballs -- and were suitably impressed after the game.
 
28Tampa Bay Rays
Last Week: 30
Sam Fuld grew up a Red Sox fan in Durham, N.H., and had 30 family and friends trekking down I-93 to watch his first career game at Fenway on Monday night, and they all saw a treat. Fuld homered, tripled, doubled and, in the ninth inning, hit a ball down the leftfield line. He hesitated rounding first -- as if thinking he'd stop for the single and thus the cycle -- before motoring onto second. His teammates would have forgiven him for stopping, as they led Boston 15-4 at the time, but then again, each base is precious for the Rays: Tampa Bay entered the game with a .284 slugging percentage, worst in the majors and an offense reeling from the loss of Evan Longoria to the D.L. and Manny Ramirez to an unexpected retirement.
 
29Houston Astros
Last Week: 29
Brett Myers is at it again. Last year Myers became only the fifth major league pitcher since 1920 to go six or more innings in each of a season's first 32 starts, and in 2011 he's spun three quality starts in a row, allowing just four earned runs in an NL leading 20 1/3 innings. Since joining the Astros and teaming with pitching coach Brad Arnsberg, Myers has been a new pitcher and a new man.
 
30Boston Red Sox
Last Week: 28
Yep, dead last. And the pitching is to blame. After allowing seven runs on eight hits and two walks in just two innings on Monday night, Red Sox No. 5 starter Daisuke Matsuzaka is now 13-14 with a 5.24 ERA, 1.55 WHIP and a 4.5 BB/9 ratio since the start of the 2009 season. The club committed $103 million to obtain him for six years -- $51 million posting fee plus $52 million salary -- which still has nearly $20 million left through 2012, prompting a Boston Globe writer to call for Dice-K to be traded.
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