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 fourth week, we will try to place a greater emphasis on how teams have performed over the first month of the season. This week we will continue to focus on the top 10 teams in the majors.
Texas Rangers (This Week: 1, Last Week: 1) - They’re 9 games up on the Los Angeles Angels, and they continue to prove they’re the best team in baseball. Adrian Beltre is likely to miss some time, but this is a team that’s simply firing on all cylinders. Josh Hamilton (9 HR, 22 RBI, 1.162 slugging) is on pace for an MVP calibre year, with Ian Kinsler not far behind.
St.Louis Cardinals (This Week: 2, Last Week: 2) - The Lance Berkman injury is hurting them, but this is a surprisingly well rounded team. Yaider Molina (899 OPS) continues to mash, and David Freese (955 OPS) has picked up right where he left off from the playoffs. They’ve got a pretty easy week ahead, and I’d be surprised if they didn’t have at least a 6 game lead for next week’s Power Rankings.
Washington Nationals (This Week: 3, Last Week: 3) - The best team in the NL lost Ryan Zimmerman due to an injury, so they replaced him with the best prospect in the minors. Bryce Harper has been called up, and at 19 it’s too early to suggest that he can make up for Zimmerman’s production. However the Nats have one of the worst offences in the league, so it wouldn’t take much for Harper to be an improvement.
Tampa Bay Rays (This Week: 4, Last Week: Eight) - BJ Upton is healthy and back in the lineup, and the Rays are in first place. Things are looking good for the Rays. How about the pickup of Fernando Rodney? He’s been awful for years, and now he’s 1-0 with 6 saves and a 1.08 ERA while filling in as the closer. The Rays have done a good job targeting pitchers in free agency, and Rodney is no exception.
Atlanta Braves (This Week: 5, Last Week: 6) - They’re on a 3 game winning streak, and look like one of the elite teams in the NL. Michael Bourn has been fantastic for the Braves, posting a 385 OBP while stealing 7 bases and playing gold glove calibre defence in center. And once again, how about the performance of Chipper Jones ? In 46 at bats he’s hit 3 homers, has driven in 12, and has managed a 920 OPS. He’s still the engine that drives the Braves offence.
Los Angeles Dodgers (This Week: 6, Last Week: 7) - They’ve had an easy schedule, but they’ve taken advantage of it. They struggled in their first major test of the season, going 1-2 against the Braves. They took game one against the Nats, but today they’re up against Stephen Strasburg. And after that, they won’t play a contending team until the third week of May.
Matt Kemp Fun Fact Of The Week: Kemp is currently outhomering the Dodgers 10-9.
Bonus Matt Kemp Fun Fact: Kemp is currently outhitting the Chicago Cubs, 10-7.
New York Yankees (This Week: 7, Last Week: 5) - Pretty devastating news about Michael Pineda. The Yankees needed an arm like his in the playoffs, and to lose him for the entire season is a big blow to the pitching staff. The starters have been awful so far, but a lot of that is due to the insane amount of home runs they’ve given up. But they’ve managed to get by thanks to the fantastic depth of their bullpen. David Robertson still hasn’t allowed a run, while Cory Wade has been outstanding.
Baltimore Orioles (This week: 8, Last Week: N/A) - If I had told you before the season started that the Orioles would be a game out of first, and that it was because of their pitching that they were winning you would have called for me to be fired. And I wouldn’t have blamed you for saying so, as pitching as been their Achilles heel over the past decade. Yet here we are, and the Orioles rank third in the AL with a 3.21 ERA. The bullpen has been scary good, as Luis Ayala, Matt Lindstrom and Jim Johnson have yet to allow a run. The best arm in the pen just might be Pedro Strop and his 96+ MPH fastball, the future closer for the Orioles.
Cleveland Indians (This week: 9, Last Week: N/A) -The Indians have taken advantage of a soft schedule, working their way to the top of the AL Central. The biggest surprise might be the return to form of Travis Hafner. With a 995 OPS for the season, Hafner is proving their is still life left in his bat.
Detroit Tigers (This Week: 10, Last Week: 3) - Apparently the middle of the order can’t hide the poor pitching staff. Max Scherzer (8.24 ERA) and Rick Porcello (6.45 ERA) are doing their best to break Brian Matusz‘s record of worst ERA in a season. Drew Smyly (1.13 ERA) has been fantastic so far.