April is the best month of the year, as it brings the promise of another season of baseball. At Rant Sports, that means it is time to continue our Power Rankings for the 2012 season. For the third week, we will try to place a greater emphasis on how teams have performed over the first week of the season. Starting this week we will focus on the top 10 teams in the majors.
Texas Rangers (This Week: 1, Last Week: 2) - They’re the best team in the majors, and for the first time they’ve earned the coveted number one slot. Having the best offence and pitching staff in the American League will do that for a team. The starting pitching has been phenomenal, but Yu Darvish has struggled significantly so far. He’s got fantastic stuff, but he’s got no control over where it’s going which has led to a 6.62 BB/9.
St.Louis Cardinals (This Week: 2, Last Week: 1) - They drop down to the number two spot, but that says more about how good the Rangers have been then anything else. It’s going to be tough losing Lance Berkman as he’s headed to the disabled list. Matt Carpenter will likely replace Berkman, but that’s no easy feat given that he was hitting 348/500/522 so far this season.
Washington Nationals (This Week: 3, Last Week: Eight) - The pitching has been fantastic so far, and they’re tied for second in the majors with a 2.38 ERA. The offence hasn’t been very good so far, but Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche are making up for their poor seasons last year. The scary thing is, this might be the worst team in Washington over the next few years.
Detroit Tigers (This Week: 4, Last Week: 3 ) - Raise your hand if you thought by the third week of the season the Tigers lineup would be below average. I sure didn’t, but here we are, and the Tigers have a wRC+ of 96. This is a very top heavy team, and once you get past the big bats and arms the supporting cast isn’t very strong.
New York Yankees (This Week: 5, Last Week: 6) - They’re tied for the lead in the American League East, and they just bashed 5 home runs against Clay Buchholz and the Boston Red Sox. The rotation has held them back so far, but with Michael Pineda expected to come back soon and Andy Pettite working his way back to the majors, the Bronx Bombers are primed for a breakout.
Atlanta Braves (This Week: 6, Last Week: 14) - It sounds unnatural that the Braves, who have struggled to score runs over the past few years, lead the majors in runs scored. Jason Heyward has shown off his skills as a true 5 tool player (340/411/580, 2 HR, 5 SB along with plus plus defence) while Freddie Freeman and Brian McCann have gotten off to fantastic starts as well. It’s not a coincidence that the Braves first victory of the season was when Chipper Jones rejoined the team. They were 0-4 without Jones, and they’re 9-1 since he’s been back.
If this is Chipper’s last season, let’s take the time to appreciate just how awesome he’s been. A career 304/402/533 batting line, 456 homers, 1568 RBI, 149 SB and 87.9 WAR. And this season he’s got a 979 OPS. Chipper Jones is simply amazing, and even at age 39 he’s still one of the best players on a loaded Braves squad.
Los Angeles Dodgers (This Week: 7, Last Week: 9) - It’s easy to be the best team in the National League when the majority of your games have been against the San Diego Padres (6-1), Pittsburgh Pirates (3-0) and the Houston Astros (1-0, with 2 games left). The Dodgers haven’t done so well when they’ve faced a team that isn’t rebuilding, as they’re 1-2 against the Milwaukee Brewers. They’ve taken advantage of the schedule, but let’s wait and see how they do against some 500+ teams before we put them any higher in our power rankings.
Tampa Bay Rays (This Week: 8, Last Week: 4) - Surprisingly it’s been the offence keeping them in the hunt for a playoff spot. The Rays bullpen has been a disaster, with few reliable options available for Maddon. The problem has been a complete lack of control, as only one reliever has a walk rate lower then 3 per 9 innings. That’s just unacceptable, and if the Rays don’t get Kyle Farnsworth back soon they could be in a lot of trouble.
Arizona Diamondbacks (This Week: 9, Last Week: 5) - The D-Backs have been fairly average across the board, and that’s not going to cut it. Justin Upton is off to a slow start, while pitchers Daniel Hudson and Josh Collmenter have struggled in the early parts of the season. It might not be long before Collmenter is replaced with one of Arizona’s prized pitching prospects.
Philadelphia Phillies (This Week: 10, Last Week: 11) -It’s not a surprise that the Phillies lead the majors in ERA (2.20), or that the lineup would be a disaster without Ryan Howard or Chase Utley. They currently rank 29/30 in runs scored with 41, and you know things are bad when Cole Hamels is the second best hitter on the team (358 wOBA). They’ve gotten virtually no production from any of their infielders, and no matter how good the pitching staff is if they don’t score some runs they’re not going to make the playoffs.