Apr 10, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Atlanta Braves assistant hitting coach Scott Fletcher (right) laughs with left fielder Justin Upton (left) in the dugout in the first inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

MLB Power Rankings: Atlanta Braves Continue to Shine

We’re two weeks in, and one thing is clear: the Atlanta Braves are on fire. Some surprising teams are in my Top 10, teams you would not expect after last season. I think that’s what I love most about baseball season, you never know what to expect.

1. Atlanta Braves

The Braves still hold onto the number one spot, for the main reason they still only have one loss on the season. The Braves looked unstoppable against the Nationals, sweeping them easily in D.C. After a two game series against the Royals, Atlanta hits the road to Pittsburgh, Colorado, and Detroit. It should be interesting to see if they can keep this fire alive.

2. Oakland Athletics

Moving from four to two, the Athletics have shown their dominance top of the AL West with a 10-4 record. They looked strong against the Angels, in which they got the sweep in pretty impressive wins. Their one hiccup came in their series loss to the Tigers, but playing the Astros at home should get them back on track. They’ll need that momentum as they play the Red Sox next week.

3. San Francisco Giants

In my first power ranking, I highly underestimated this year’s Giants team. San Francisco has shown they’re not going to go away easily, with series wins over the Cubs and a series sweep over the Rockies. While they only went 1-2 against the Cardinals, a key to a playoff berth is beating good teams.

4. Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox still look strong as the leader of the AL East. They struggled against divisional rival Orioles, but pushed right past the Rays. After a short three game series at Cleveland, the Sox come home for a 10 game home stand. The Royals might give them a run for their money, but I think the Sox will do very well against the Athletics and Astros.

5. Colorado Rockies

Although the Rockies and the Diamondbacks have the same record of 8-4, I like Colorado over Arizona. While they got swept by the Giants, they came back from that and swept the Padres. I guess we will see who is worthy of the higher when the two play each other in their upcoming series.

6. Arizona Diamondbacks

While Arizona looks strong with an 8-4 record, they’ve struggled these past two series. After losing their series against the Pirates, they came back and barely won their series against the Dodgers. They also have to play the Yankees in New York, which won’t be easy.

7. St. Louis Cardinals

Pitching has been a huge part of the Cardinal’s success this 2013 season. The Cardinals pitchers had a streak of 39 1/3 scoreless innings throughout this month of April. It will go in the record books as the third longest streak in Cardinals franchise history. If the pitching staff can keep this up, the Cardinals will once again be a force to reckon with come this postseason.

8. Washington Nationals

Washington stays in the same place since last week’s power rankings. While they still look good at 8-5, they had a chance to real prove themselves when the Braves came into town. Unfortunately for Nationals fans, that series ended in Atlanta bringing out the brooms. This can’t happen, especially not against your divisional rival.

9. Texas Rangers

While an 8-5 start is good, splitting a series with an under .500 team like the Mariners raises some concern.  Playing the Cubs should help them gain momentum, especially since the Mariners come into town right after the Rangers get back from Wrigley. Texas needs hitter like DH Lance Berkman and 2B Ian Kinsler to keep their bats hot.

10. Detroit Tigers

Detroit has been making a name for themselves lately, beating teams like the Yankees and more impressively the Athletics. They sit first in the AL Central, but the Royals are on their tails just .5 games back. Hitting doesn’t seem to be a problem for the Tigers, at least not when you have Prince Fielder who is currently hitting .429. Or when the majority of your starters are hitting above .300. I see nothing but good things ahead for Detroit.

11. Kansas City Royals

Kansas City also stays put in this week’s rankings. While the Royals did very well against the Phillies and the Twins, they struggled against Toronto. They still sit at second in the AL Central, .5 games behind Detroit, who they play next week. This week they face the Braves and Red Sox, and hitting will be key in winning those games.

12. New York Mets

It is not very often you can say that the Mets are the better team in New York right now. While they are only two spots ahead, it still counts. The Mets are currently second in the NL East, yet they are 4.5 games back. Regardless of that, the Mets have put up some impressive stats. They are 3rd overall in runs, on base, and slugging percentage. They are also 5th in batting average at .272.

13. LA Dodgers

The Dodgers may be just over .500, but when you play in the NL West that just doesn’t cover it. It is crucial to get wins against divisional opponents. Their lineup will play a huge part in that, especially from Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford. Both are hitting .396, have three home runs between them, and have brought in 13 runs. They are the clear leaders of the Dodgers offense right now.

14. New York Yankees

Currently sitting 1.5 games back from AL East leading Red Sox, the Yankees are out to prove they can be dominant without their big name starters. Kevin Youkilis and Robinson Cano have stepped up big on offense, hitting above .300 with 6 home runs between them. They will need the rest of the lineup to step up if they want to knock Boston out of the top spot.

15. Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles are looking pretty average in week 2, which is why I have them in the middle of the power rankings. The O’s are also third in the AL East, but only two games behind the leading Red Sox. They looked dominant in their series win over the Red Sox, yet failed to keep that same intensity against the Yankees. Too many close games are being lost, especially with runners on base or in scoring position. Something Baltimore will just have to work on.

16. Cincinnati Reds

What looked to be a surprisingly dominant Reds team, has quickly faded. The Reds are now under .500 at 6-7 thanks to series losses to the Cardinals and series sweeps to the Pirates. What to me is the most surprising is the 15-0 win over the Nationals. The Reds have proven they can do it against powerful teams, and they need to be able to do that against teams they are better at.

17. Pittsburgh Pirates

While the month of April has turned out very well for the Pirates so far, this upcoming week will put their team to the test. Wins over the Diamondbacks and Reds is impressive, but what would be most impressive is if the Pirates can get wins over the Cardinals and Braves. I don’t think it will happen; the Pirates just don’t have enough power on their lineup to bring in runs, which is key for beating teams like those two.

19. Toronto Blue Jays

Toronto is currently sitting in last of the AL East, and injuries are apparent. Bautista, Lawrie, and Reyes are all sitting the bench. This is the time when the rest of the lineup needs to step up, especially when divisional rivals Yankees are coming into town.

18. Philadelphia Phillies

An under .500 start is not common for a usually powerful Phillies team. They just can’t get wins when they need them. Chase Utley is leading the team in HR, RBI, R and OPS. In order for a team to be successful, you can’t have just one powerhouse hitter. Your team has to hit well collectively in order to bring in runs.

20. Seattle Mariners

Seattle’s bats need to heat up in order for the Mariners to get an over .500 record. Their leading hitter, Morse, is only hitting .293.  Injuries seem to be a problem; five players have gone down in the past six days. A key to Seattle success would be staying healthy and waking up their bats.

21. Cleveland Indians

Starting with a 5-6 record, the Indians have a lot of room for improvement. Losing to the Rays and Yankees is tough (though two games of that series were postponed), beating the White Sox helped bring up team morale. A three game series against the Red Sox could help their turn around, as long as they stay healthy. Also, P Justin Masterson needs to stay dominant and keep his ERA of 0.41 low.

22. Minnesota Twins

The month of April looks to be tough on the Twins. It started strong, beating teams like the Tigers and Orioles, until they got swept by the Royals and lost two of their games against the Mets (one game had been postponed). It looks like now they should have an easy road ahead of them, playing teams like the Angels, White Sox, and Marlins. However, after that the Rangers come into town and then Minnesota heads to Detroit. We’ll just have to wait and see on this one.

23. Chicago White Sox

Like the city’s brother Cubs, the White Sox have not gotten to a great start. Especially when you get swept by the Nationals and then lose the series to the Indians.

24. Chicago Cubs

I think at this point Cubs fans have accepted the fact that their baseball team isn’t very good. Being swept by the Braves, losing the series to the Giants and Pirates has brought the Cubs to a 4-8 record. Chicago puts up a fight, keeping their games close, but are not able to do what it takes to bring the winning run across.

25. Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays haven’t done a lot to prove they can hang with the big boys of the AL East. They are still in last place, and they only have a 4-8 record. And their road is only going to get tougher, playing the Orioles in Baltimore, and then hosting the Athletics and Yankees. It’s time for the Rays to step it up, and now is their perfect opportunity.

26. Houston Astros

The Houston Astros, since last week’s power rankings, have definitely started to turn their season around. Well, sort of. They are no longer the worst team in baseball, but they still only have 4 wins. It’s a start!

27. Los Angeles Angels

I thought this year would be a lot different for the Angels, with stars like Hamilton, Trout, and Pujols. The Angels haven’t been able to make anything happen yet, hence why they are 4-9 and in last place AL West. They have a tough road ahead of them, when the Tigers and Rangers come into town.

28. Milwaukee Brewers

I thought the Brewers would be able to make some happen on their offense, but apparently I was wrong. They’ve only managed one more win since last week, and while it was against the Cardinals they still lost the series. The Brewers have a chance to assert themselves with upcoming series’ against the Giants and Cubs.

29. San Diego Padres

Personally, unless you live in San Diego, I think the Padres get overlooked. And that’s understandable when you’re 3-10. A win over divisional rival Dodgers will certainly help bring their momentum up. Hopefully they can keep that going.

30. Miami Marlins

Unfortunately for Miami, the Marlins have taken their place as the worst team (currently!) in baseball. A 2-11 start isn’t the best, and starting a series against a powerful team like the Nationals doesn’t help their case. A key to turning their season around would be to do well

Tags: Atlanta Braves Boston Red Sox MLB MLB Power Rankings Oakland Athletics San Francisco Giants

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