St. Louis is back in first place in our Power Rankings, with two other Central teams as this week's biggest faller and riser.

By The SI Staff
June 01, 2015

Welcome back to the No. 1 spot, St. Louis. The Cardinals took advantage of the Royals' 1-4 week to jump into first place in this week's Power Rankings, edging the Dodgers thanks to four first-place votes. Los Angeles moved up to second place, with Kansas City falling to third. The Astros and Nationals swapped spots from last week, with Houston grabbing fourth and Washington dropping to fifth.

We're No. 1: Cardinals

St.Louis went 5–1 last week, sweeping the Diamondbacks and taking two of three from the Dodgers, but that impressive stretch isn't the only reason the Cardinals are back at No. 1. St. Louis has the most wins in baseball (33), the majors' best winning percentage (.660) and run differential (+60), the lowest ERA (2.73) and the biggest lead of any first-place team (six games). The only thing that hasn't gone to plan for the Cardinals so far is their offense: St. Louis' lineup is producing 4.18 runs per game with a team OPS+ of 101—both of those figures are just a touch above league average. That won't be helped by the loss of first baseman Matt Adams, who is likely to miss the rest of the season with a torn quad muscle. The Cardinals are going with Mark Reynolds at first base for the time being, but they will need a better solution to help jumpstart the offense.

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Cellar Dweller: Phillies

Here's one example of how bad things are for the Phillies: They have just one player with an OPS+ above league average. That would be first baseman Ryan Howard, whose 112 mark masks a brutal .284 on-base percentage and awful defense. By Wins Above Replacement, the only Philadelphia hitter at 1.0 or better is shortstop Freddy Galvis, and that's buoyed by a red-hot April (.355/.395/.434) that gave way to a brutal May (.240/.270/.271). Things are a little brighter on the pitching side, where Aaron Harang and Cole Hamels have posted WARs of 2.7 and 2.2, respectively. But the Phils are getting no help from an offense that is producing an MLB-worst 3.02 runs per game. Currently mired in a seven-game losing streak, the Phillies managed just 11 runs in 54 innings last week, making them an easy choice for No. 30.

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Biggest Riser: Pirates

Four teams—the Angels, Mariners, Pirates and Rangers—jumped four spots this week, so we'll focus on the one that finished the highest in our rankings: Pittsburgh, which moved from No. 11 to No. 7. The Pirates are scorching, with eight wins in their last 10 games, including a 5–2 stretch last week that got them back above .500 after a slump in the first half of May. Who's driving that resurgence? Unsuprisingly, it's Andrew McCutchen. After a dispiriting April (.194/.302/.333 in 86 plate appearances), McCutchen has looked more like his MVP-winning self since the calendar flipped to May. Last month, he hit .330/.419/.566 with five home runs, and he's been scorching in the last two weeks, with a .400/.491/.733 line in 53 PA. The Bucs enter June seven games behind the Cardinals in the NL Central, but just 1 1/2 out in the wild card, and a productive McCutchen should help them stay in the postseason hunt.

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Biggest Faller: Tigers

Detroit started the week by taking two of three from Oakland, but a trip to Los Angeles was a disaster, with the Tigers getting swept in a four-game set against the Angels. That has left Detroit 3 1/2 games out of first place in the AL Central and cost it six spots in this week's rankings, from No. 6 down to No. 12. David Price has been strong, with a 128 ERA+ that would be his best mark since his 2012 AL Cy Young campaign, and Alfredo Simon has posted a 2.67 ERA in 57 1/3 innings in his first year with Detroit since coming over in an offseason trade with the Reds. But the rest of the starting five has been a mess, with Anibal Sanchez the most worrisome of the group. The Venezuelan righty has an unsightly 5.75 ERA through 67 1/3 innings, including a whopping 12 home runs allowed. Sanchez's strikeout rate is strong (9.1 per nine) and he allowed just two runs in seven frames against the Angels last Friday. But he has to get his gopher-itis under control—he's allowed 12, second-most in the AL—if he's going to help the Tigers right their shaky rotation.

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