Sliding Rangers hold on to top spot while Pirates not what they seem

The Philadelphia Phillies, National League East champions for each of the past five seasons, are now eight games out of first place after winning just one of their past nine games. While the Phillies struggle, their Pennsylvania brethren in Pittsburgh are tied for the lead in the NL Central. However, the Pirates' continuing offensive difficulties make this likely to be a short lived affair, and our rankings suggest that the Phillies are still the best team in the state, even if they're not playing like it at the moment.

NOTE: All stats are through Sunday, June 10.

Rankings written by the Ben Duronio of Fangraphs. The system used to rank the teams is based not on the current standings or a gut feeling about team quality, but on how well they've performed at the underlying traits that predict future performance better than wins and losses.

wRC+ is an offensive index where 100 is league average and every point above or below that denotes how far from league average a player's performance has been up to that point. It is adjusted for park and league, so it takes into account the context of a player's surroundings, and allows for comparison of performance from players in different situations and in different times.

MLB Power Rankings
1 Texas <a href=Rangers" title="Texas Rangers">
Last Week: 1
WAR Winning Percentage: .674; Current Winning Percentage: .573; WAR Wins: 41; Current Wins: 35

The Rangers are still on top despite losing eight of their last 11 games due to the massive lead they built up during the first months of the season. Their .694 WAR winning percentage last week dwarfed the second-ranked Naionalts' .628, but with the Rangers trending downward, Washington could rise to the top spot next week for the first time this season.

While most of their pitching has been shaky during their rough stretch, Matt Harrison has been a key cog. Over his past four starts, including a complete game shutout of the Giants on Friday night, Harrison is 4-0 with a 1.63 ERA and 18 strikeouts against just five walks.
2 Washington <a href=Nationals" title="Washington Nationals">
Last Week: 2
WAR Winning Percentage: .623; Current Winning Percentage: .603; WAR Wins: 36; Current Wins: 35

The Nationals have had the best rotation in the game this year, as their starters have posted a Major League-low 2.95 ERA and 3.04 FIP. To put that FIP into perspective, the second lowest mark is St. Louis' 3.36. It helps when the top two starters, Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez, have each struck out more than 11 batters per nine, ranking first and second, respectively, in the National League. The offense has still been inconsistent, but Washington is hoping that Michael Morse's recent return from the disabled list will boost its run production.
3 Los Angeles <a href=Dodgers" title="Los Angeles Dodgers">
Last Week: 3
WAR Winning Percentage: .604; Current Winning Percentage: .639; WAR Wins: 37; Current Wins: 39

The Dodgers have been without Matt Kemp for quite some time, but exterior players have really stepped up in his absence. Jerry Hairston has a 159 wRC+ and Bobby Abreu has a .442 OBP since being picked up by the Dodgers in May. The Dodgers certainly do not have a lineup filled with big names, but the offense has produced well enough to allow them to run up the best record in baseball.
4 St. Louis <a href=Cardinals" title="St. Louis Cardinals">
Last Week: 4
WAR Winning Percentage: .604; Current Winning Percentage: .508; WAR Wins: 37; Current Wins: 31

Despite being third in the NL Central, the Cardinals still have the highest run-differential in the league at +58. A big part of that has been first baseman/outfielder Allen Craig, who has been worth 1.0 WAR and has a 185 wRC+ in 99 plate appearances. Craig has been on the disabled list twice this season, but his bat has been a big boost as the Cardinals deal with injuries to a plethora of position players.
5 New York <a href=Yankees" title="New York Yankees">
Last Week: 13
WAR Winning Percentage: .559; Current Winning Percentage: .576; WAR Wins: 33; Current Wins: 34

Russell Martin has just a .216 batting average, but his on-base percentage is above average at .348 and of his eight home runs, two -- including a walk-off -- came in Sunday's game against the Mets to help the Yankees sweep the Subway Series. Four of those eight home runs have come over the past six games, five of which have been Yankee victories. He is not the best catcher in the league, but a .216 Isolated Power from your No. 8 hitter shows the depth of the Bronx Bombers' lineup.
6 Chicago <a href=White Sox" title="Chicago White Sox">
Last Week: 5
WAR Winning Percentage: .559; Current Winning Percentage: .550; WAR Wins: 34; Current Wins: 33

The White Sox' decision to move Chris Sale from the bullpen to the rotation is looking like a great one right now. Sale been a tremendous starter in his first year as a starter and has even moved into the Cy Young coversation. Only Detroit's Justin Verlander has a higher WAR in the AL, and he has thrown 19 more innings than Sale, who has gone 4-0 in his past four starts with a 0.86 ERA and 38 strikeouts against just six walks.
7 Boston <a href=Red Sox" title="Boston Red Sox">
Last Week: 7
WAR Winning Percentage: .549; Current Winning Percentage: .483; WAR Wins: 33; Current Wins: 29

The Red Sox have had a serious power outage this past week, with just three home runs in the past seven days. Even with the lack of homers lately, Boston still has the eighth-highest home run total in the league and a wRC+ of 106. While players like Mike Aviles, Ryan Sweeney and Daniel Nava have produced well all year, the last-place Sox need Dustin Pedroia to hit better (100 wRC+) to close their six-game gap in the AL East.
8 San Francisco Giants
Last Week: 6
WAR Winning Percentage: .557; Current Winning Percentage: .537; WAR Wins: 33; Current Wins: 34

Pablo Sandoval's return is coming at a good time, as outfielder Melky Cabrera is battling a hamstring injury. Cabrera is expected to return Tuesday, which should allow the Giants to put together their full assortment of position players for the first time since Sandoval was injured in early May. The Giants are not a great hitting team, with just an 89 wRC+, but Sandoval's return should help improve that number.
9 Tampa Bay <a href=Rays" title="Tampa Bay Rays">
Last Week: 8
WAR Winning Percentage: .536; Current Winning Percentage: .583; WAR Wins: 32; Current Wins: 35

Despite Evan Longoria missing the majority of the season thus far and injuries hitting both Desmond Jennings and B.J. Upton at times, the Rays still have the American League's best record. Rookie Matt Moore has been a big boost to the team's success as of late, with a 3.44 ERA over his past 6 starts -- including an 11.38 K/9 ratio. His ERA for the season of 4.59 is not too impressive, but he has clearly made strides over the past month.
10 Philadelphia Phillies
Last Week: 9
WAR Winning Percentage: .535; Current Winning Percentage: .468; WAR Wins: 33; Current Wins: 29

Philadelphia's position players have the most WAR (7.3) in the majors over the past 30 days, along with the highest wRC+ (105) in the NL over that span. As the Phillies await the returns of Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, Carlos Ruiz and Hunter Pence have paced the offense with 21 home runs between them. Despite their 29-33 record and last place standing in the NL East, the Phillies still have the third-best run differential in the division.
11 Los Angeles <a href=Angels" title="Los Angeles Angels">
Last Week: 14
WAR Winning Percentage: .530; Current Winning Percentage: .525; WAR Wins: 32; Current Wins: 32

Since Mike Trout was called up on April 28, the Angels are 25-15 and have moved to within four games of the first place Rangers. Over the past month of play, Trout has the highest WAR in the AL (2.1) and the most stolen bases (11). Trout has done just about everything a player could be asked to do offensively, with 18 extra base hits and a .416 wOBA in 177 plate appearances. Since his call-up, there might not be a better player in the American League, which is pretty incredible for a rookie.
12 Arizona <a href=Diamondbacks" title="Arizona Diamondbacks">
Last Week: 19
WAR Winning Percentage: .523; Current Winning Percentage: .500; WAR Wins: 31; Current Wins: 30

Over the past two weeks, Paul Goldschmidt has been on fire. He has five home runs, a .439 batting average and a .927 slugging percentage over his past 47 plate appearances, spanning 11 games. On May 16, Goldschmidt was hitting just .219/.278/.343 with two home runs and now has a line of .293/.367/.523 just 18 games later. The D-backs are 8-2 in their past 10 games and although they are still 8 1/2 games out in the NL West they should not be counted out just yet.
13 Atlanta <a href=Braves" title="Atlanta Braves">
Last Week: 17
WAR Winning Percentage: .519; Current Winning Percentage: .567; WAR Wins: 31; Current Wins: 34

The Braves have been a streaky team all year, with five instances of at least four consecutive wins or losses. Atlanta won six in a row last week before falling to the Blue Jays in a spot start from rookie Julio Teheran on Sunday. A big reason for the Braves' success so far has been Michael Bourn, who is putting up crazy numbers in a contract year. The centerfielder already has established a new career high with six home runs and his .320 average, .372 on-base percentage and .469 slugging percentage would all be career-bests if he keeps them up. In addition, only the Reds' Joey Votto has a higher WAR in all of baseball than Bourn. Needless to say, he is looking at a real big pay day this winter.
14 Baltimore <a href=Orioles" title="Baltimore Orioles">
Last Week: 11
WAR Winning Percentage: .511; Current Winning Percentage: .567; WAR Wins: 31; Current Wins: 34

The Orioles have started to cool off after their hot start, going 5-9 since May 26. Adam Jones has still been leading the offense, but Matt Wieters has fallen off a bit as of late. Since the start of May, the switch-hitting catcher has hit just .227/.306/.367 with three home runs after hitting six home runs with a .364 on base percentage in April. In such a difficult division as the AL East, the Orioles need Wieters to play like he did in April, when he hit .279/.364/.574 with six home runs, to have a legitimate shot at the post-season.
15 Cincinnati Reds
Last Week: 16
WAR Winning Percentage: .507; Current Winning Percentage: .542; WAR Wins: 30; Current Wins: 32

The quietly dominant Joey Votto is at it again this year, as he leads the league in WAR and the majors in doubles, on-base percentage and OPS and the National League in slugging. Only Adam Dunn has as many walks, but Dunn has almost 50 more strikeouts than Votto. The Reds are relying heavily on their star player, as only Todd Frazier and Jay Bruce have hit above expectations so far.
16 Detroit <a href=Tigers" title="Detroit Tigers">
Last Week: 12
WAR Winning Percentage: .504; Current Winning Percentage: .467; WAR Wins: 30; Current Wins: 28

The Tigers just do not have much starting pitching without Justin Verlander as long as Doug Fister is injured. Verlander leads the staff with 3.0 WAR, and the next highest is reliever Joaquin Benoit at 1.0. While Verlander's win total will not match the 24 he put up this year (currently 5-4), he has still basically been the same pitcher, as his FIP is 2.66 and xFIP is 3.29 compared to last year's 2.99 FIP and 3.12 xFIP. The Tigers need better starting pitching and better defense to match their early season expectations.
17 Miami <a href=Marlins" title="Miami Marlins">
Last Week: 10
WAR Winning Percentage: .496; Current Winning Percentage: .517; WAR Wins: 30; Current Wins: 31

The Marlins have hit a rough stretch lately, going just 3-7 in their past 10 games. Despite the overall struggles of the team, star position players Giancarlo Stanton, Hanley Ramirez and Jose Reyes have hit very well over the past 30 days. All three have an OBP above .383 in that time and have been worth at least 0.9 WAR. If these three continue to hit as well as they have, the Marlins' offense will be one of the more dynamic offenses in the National League.
18 Milwaukee <a href=Brewers" title="Milwaukee Brewers">
Last Week: 15
WAR Winning Percentage: .494; Current Winning Percentage: .467; WAR Wins: 30; Current Wins: 28

The Brewers have gone 9-4 over their past 13 games, and now face the Royals and Twins in consecutive road series this week. Standing just 4 1/2 games out of first place, the Brewers are still very much alive in the NL Central. The decision to move Corey Hart to first base and to keep Norichika Aoki in rightfield has paid off nicely. Hart has been a key cog in the offense as he has been for the past few years, while Aoki has been a nice surprise atop the Brewer lineup, hitting .300 with three home runs and five steals.
19 New York Mets
Last Week: 20
WAR Winning Percentage: .492; Current Winning Percentage: .525; WAR Wins: 30; Current Wins: 32

While Johan Santana's June 1 no-hitter was the pitching performance of the year for the Mets, the best pitcher on the team so far has been knuckleballer R.A. Dickey. After striking out just 15.3 percent of the batters he faced last year, Dickey has jumped up to a 24.8 percent rate this year while his walk rate has stayed where it was. Not only has Dickey performed like an All-Star so far, there is a reasonable argument for him to start the game if he continues to pitch this well.
20 Cleveland <a href=Indians" title="Cleveland Indians">
Last Week: 21
WAR Winning Percentage: .466; Current Winning Percentage: .542; WAR Wins: 28; Current Wins: 32

The Indians, who trail the White Sox by a half-game in the AL Central, have had their chances to move into first place but have only managed to match Chicago's 5-5 record over the past 10 gaesm. While the Indians' overall mark of 32-27 is good, their -16 run differential points to them being somewhat fortunate to this point. They need better production from their position players overall to stay close to the top of the division, as they have the third-lowest position player WAR in baseball, ahead of only the Athletics and Pirates.
21 Toronto Blue Jays
Last Week: 25
WAR Winning Percentage: .464; Current Winning Percentage: .517; WAR Wins: 28; Current Wins: 31

The Blue Jays just can't find any consistent starting pitching outside of Brandon Morrow. Henderson Alvarez and Kyle Drabek have regressed significantly and now have FIPs in the mid 5.00s, while Ricky Romero has a 4.15 ERA and an even worse 4.79 FIP. Drew Hutchison has performed well at times and looks like he could develop into a solid major league starter, but he still has just a 4.66 ERA. If the Jays are going to land one of the wild card spots this year, they desperately need their starters to step up for the remainder of the season, or acquire some that will.
22 Kansas City Royals
Last Week: 22
WAR Winning Percentage: .459; Current Winning Percentage: .414; WAR Wins: 27; Current Wins: 24

After Alex Gordon and Jeff Francoeur had what seemed to be career-saving seasons in 2011, the two outfielders have struggled this year, with neither having a wRC+ above 100. With Wil Myers hitting .330 in Triple-A and needing a place to play, Francoeur has to step up his performance to hold onto a starting role and help keep the Royals from falling further behind in the AL Central.
23 Colorado <a href=Rockies" title="Colorado Rockies">
Last Week: 18
WAR Winning Percentage: .448; Current Winning Percentage: .407; WAR Wins: 26; Current Wins: 24

The Rockies are already 14 games back in the NL West and have allowed the most runs in the majors. With an offense that has seen an MVP quality performance from Carlos Gonzalez and a breakout year from Dexter Fowler, the lack of production from the staff has been even more unsettling for Colorado. Simply not being the worst staff in the majors would likely have the Rockies close to contention, given they have scored the second-most runs in the National League. To this point, reliever Matt Belisle has been their best pitcher with a 2.56 ERA and 1.0 WAR.
24 Chicago <a href=Cubs" title="Chicago Cubs">
Last Week: 23
WAR Winning Percentage: .433; Current Winning Percentage: .333; WAR Wins: 26; Current Wins: 20

Although his contract makes him very difficult to move, the recent performance of Alfonso Soriano could make him a viable trade target for a team looking for offense in the near future. The Cubs have already announced that every player aside from pitcher Jeff Samardzija is available ? possibly including, according to one report, Starlin Castro -- so getting 12 home runs in a 24 game span from Soriano could at least boost his value. The Cubs are well out of the race, but could get some decent returns at the deadline as they try and rebuild for the future.
25 Pittsburgh Pirates
Last Week: 27
WAR Winning Percentage: .432; Current Winning Percentage: .542; WAR Wins: 26; Current Wins: 32

The Pirates have only one position player with a wRC+ over 100. Andrew McCutchen can't do it himself, but if the Pirates are able to stay in contention for the next month or so they could be in position to acquire some position player talent around McCutchen and make a push. The pitching has been very good, but the position players have just been awful. The Pirates should be fortunate that they're 32-27, but it is difficult to see them sustaining this level of success with the current crop of hitters.
26 Houston <a href=Astros" title="Houston Astros">
Last Week: 26
WAR Winning Percentage: .424; Current Winning Percentage: .433; WAR Wins: 25; Current Wins: 26

The Astros have gotten just 84 wRC+ from their outfield, the worst in baseball. Justin Maxwell, whom they acquired off waivers early in the season, as been the only above-average hitting outfielder. Jordan Schafer's 14 steals are nice, but his production has tanked after a solid April; since then, he is hitting just .219/.283/.302.
27 Seattle <a href=Mariners" title="Seattle Mariners">
Last Week: 24
WAR Winning Percentage: .421; Current Winning Percentage: .435; WAR Wins: 26; Current Wins: 27

The combined no-hitter on Friday night against the Dodgers may have slid somewhat under the radar, just as the performance of that night's starting pitcher, Kevin Millwood, has all season. The Mariners are 8 1/2 games behind the Rangers in the AL West, so it is not as though they are entirely out of the race, but the likelihood that their performance regresses is rather high. If it does, Millwood will be an attractive trade target for any team looking to solidify its starting pitching. His 3.57 ERA and 3.45 FIP are both good, and he actually has a higher WAR than Felix Hernandez despite throwing fewer innings.
28 San Diego <a href=Padres" title="San Diego Padres">
Last Week: 28
WAR Winning Percentage: .374; Current Winning Percentage: .328; WAR Wins: 23; Current Wins: 20

The Padres have only one pitcher that has a higher WAR than Cory Luebke, who started just five games before needing elbow surgery. Their next-highest pitcher is Huston Street, who has thrown just 11 2/3 innings all season. That's a pretty obvious sign that the pitching is bad. The Padres have the biggest deficit of any team in the league, as they are already 19 games behind the Dodgers in the NL West.
29 Oakland Athletics
Last Week: 29
WAR Winning Percentage: .361; Current Winning Percentage: .426; WAR Wins: 22; Current Wins: 26

The Athletics have been pretty obviously the worst hitting team in the American League, with an 81 wRC+ for the season. While Josh Reddick, Yoenis Cespedes, Brandon Inge and the platooning Seth Smith and Jonny Gomes have hit well, almost every other player has been nearly unplayable due to their offense. Notably, Coco Crisp (39 wRC+) and Cliff Pennington (56 wRC+) have been the laggards on one of the worst offenses in baseball.
30 Minnesota Twins
Last Week: 30
WAR Winning Percentage: .354; Current Winning Percentage: .407; WAR Wins: 21; Current Wins: 24

The Twins may finally be on their way out of the Power Rankings cellar after going 7-3 in their past 10 games. Minnesota has swung the bats well lately, with a higher wRC+ than the Yankees and Tigers over the past two weeks, but the pitching is just not helping. Scott Diamond has been a nice player so far, with a ground ball rate above 60 percent and a walk rate under one batter per inning, but the Twins might not have one other starter that would be in any other team's rotation.
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