Meaningful winning streaks are starting to shake up the landscape for the 2014 Major League season.
Near the top of each league, this means shuffling here and there in the standings and the arrivals of teams that were supposed to be good but had struggled thus far. That means teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers and Detroit Tigers re-asserting themselves and it means the sudden presence of the Cincinnati Reds in second place in the National League Central ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals.
The most consistently dominant team remains the Oakland Athletics, while the Milwaukee Brewers simply refuse to go away. As for the middle ground that used to feel so uncertain, the losing skids of teams like the Miami Marlins and Colorado Rockies have drawn a clearer line between the true playoff hopefuls and those that will be irrelevant soon.
As always these things are subject to change with one streak one direction or the other, but here are the MLB Power Rankings as things stand now.
1. Oakland A’s (51-30, no change)
2. Milwaukee Brewers (51-33, +1)
3. Detroit Tigers (44-34, +3)
4. Los Angeles Dodgers (47-37, +4)
The Dodgers and the Tigers charge near the top and unseat teams that have been up here longer for one simple reason: talent. These teams were picked as World Series favorites for a reason, so as soon as they start to resemble those teams they ought to be recognized as such. The Tigers tout the scariest 1-2 punch of hitters in the game currently with Victor Martinez and Miguel Cabrera. The Dodgers roll with the scariest rotation in baseball, especially with Josh Beckett and Dan Haren overachieving at the back end.
Neither of these teams are perfect, but they each have the resources to make a big move between now and the trade deadline. If they do they will solidify their status as the team(s) to beat.
5. Los Angeles Angels (45-35, -1)
6. Toronto Blue Jays (42-35, -2)
7. San Francisco Giants (46-36, -5)
This big drop probably seems harsh, but it has been developing over the course of the last month or so. Two red flags seem to be of particular concern for the Giants: they are now only three games above .500 at home, a place where they typically are dominant, and there is unrest in the back of their bullpen. This is still a team to be reckoned with, but they have some unfamiliar issues to address as they try to recover from a tough stretch in June.
8. St. Louis Cardinals (44-39, -1)
9. Washington Nationals (43-38, no change)
10. Seattle Mariners (44-38, +2)
11. Atlanta Braves (44-38, +2)
Just when they looked like a team with a lot of holes, especially on offense, the Braves have charged back to first place in the National League East. The Nationals still look like a more complete team, especially with the return of Bryce Harper this week, but the Braves just keep finding a way to hang around, much to their credit.
12. Cincinnati Reds (43-38, +3)
We noted the fact that the Reds were on the rise in last week’s MLB Power Rankings, and all they did this week was keep up the good work. Bryan Price‘s squad is now enjoying an impressive 14-4 stretch. The quality of their starting rotation is probably a bit underrated, something that is certainly a factor as they have officially made the National League Central one of the toughest divisions in baseball, right there with the American League West.
13. Baltimore Orioles (42-39, -3)
14. New York Yankees (41-39, -3)
15. Kansas City Royals (42-39, -1)
16. Pittsburgh Pirates (42-40, +1)
17. Cleveland Indians (39-42, +1)
18. Miami Marlins (39-43, -2)
19. Boston Red Sox (38-44, +4)
20. Texas Rangers (37-44, no change)
21. Minnesota Twins (37-43, -2)
22. Chicago White Sox (39-44, no change)
23. New York Mets (37-45, +1)
24. Colorado Rockies (36-46, -3)
25. Houston Astros (36-47, no change)
26. Philadelphia Phillies (36-46, no change)
The Phillies might have earned a move down in the rankings this week if not for the consistently poor play of the bottom four teams. That said, this disastrous week in Philadelphia should cement their status as sellers at the trade deadline. If they finally accept that fact, they will drive many of the key deals that occur in the next month or so, with some grumblings that even Cole Hamels could be available.
27. Chicago Cubs (34-46, no change)
28. San Diego Padres (35-47, no change)
29. Arizona Diamondbacks (35-49, no change)
30. Tampa Bay Rays (35-49, no change)
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