Doesn’t it just seem right that since we are roughly a third of the way through the baseball season, we would release our third set of team-by team rankings? With each team having approximately 57 games under their belts, there should by now be a fairly clear picture of who the contenders and the pretenders are. Granted, guessing in the first week in June who will still be standing at the end of September is a bit like playing a hand of 7-card stud with only two cards on the table, but you should at least have a solid idea who has an “ace in the hole” and who is holding a big bag of bluff.
The Rockies clearly have an ace showing in Ubaldo Jimenez. With all the perfect game hullabaloo flying about, Jimenez’ 11-1 record and microscopic ERA haven’t been getting the attention they deserve. The problem: that ace has no kicker; the next best pitcher on the Rockies’ staff is arguably either the injured Jorge De La Rosa or the nearly anonymous Jhoulys Chacin.
It’s probably that lack of “Aces Up” that led us to be so wrong on the Padres and Blue Jays. Don’t look now, but the Padres have quietly strung together more wins than another team in the last calendar year. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays are in the thick of the race in the AL East, having just taken two of three from the Yankees and have a big series in Tampa this week.
The Giants are loaded with aces like Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain, but unlike poker, baseball is a game in which you need a few clubs in order to win, and the bat rack in San Francisco just doesn’t have any thump in it. On the other hand, the Cincinnati Reds are getting plenty of thump out of the likes of Jonny Gomes, Joey Votto and the suddenly resurgent Scott Rolen. They also are working on their own collection of solid young pitchers, such as Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, Aroldis Chapman (the phenom still fine-tuning at AAA Louisville), and if Edinson Volquez can regain his 200+ strikeout from following elbow surgery, this team may hold more than one surprise down the stretch.
But, there are still a lot of cards to come. Peruse the full rankings and draw your own conclusions. The numbers behind each team indicate change from the previous ranking. Teams with the biggest changes from the last ranking are in are in bold. The teams with the biggest difference between their preseason ranking and their current position are in italics.
- Tampa Bay Rays ↑ 3 (Pre-season Rank – #4)
- New York Yankees ↓ 1 (Pre-season Rank – #2)
- Minnesota Twins ↔ (Pre-season Rank – #10)
- Atlanta Braves ↑ 6 (Pre-season Rank – #8)
- Philadelphia Phillies ↓ 3 (Pre-season Rank – #1)
- San Diego Padres ↑ 10 (Pre-season Rank – #25)
- Toronto Blue Jays ↑ 12 (Pre-season Rank – #28)
- St. Louis Cardinals ↓3 (Pre-season Rank – #6)
- Cincinnati Reds ↑ 14 (Pre-season Rank – #18)
- Los Angeles Angels ↑ 3 (Pre-season Rank – #15)
- Los Angeles Dodgers ↑ 3 (Pre-season Rank – #13)
- Detroit Tigers ↓ 1 (Pre-season Rank – #14)
- Boston Red Sox ↑ 6 (Pre-season Rank – #3)
- San Francisco Giants ↓ 8 (Pre-season Rank – #17)
- Florida Marlins ↓ 8 (Pre-season Rank – #12)
- Oakland A’s ↓ 8 (Pre-season Rank – #21)
- Texas Rangers ↑ 4 (Pre-season Rank – #11)
- Colorado Rockies ↓ 9 (Pre-season Rank – #5)
- New York Mets* ↑ 9 (Pre-season Rank – #23)
- Washington Nationals ↓ 3 (Pre-season Rank – #24)
- Chicago White Sox ↓ 6 (Pre-season Rank – #9)
- Chicago Cubs ↑ 2 (Pre-season Rank – #22)
- Milwaukee Brewers ↓ 2 (Pre-season Rank – #20)
- Kansas City Royals ↑ 2 (Pre-season Rank – #29)
- Seattle Mariners ↓ 13 (Pre-season Rank – #7)
- Houston Astros ↑ 3 (Pre-season Rank – #26)
- Arizona Diamondbacks ↓ 5 (Pre-season Rank – #16)
- Pittsburgh Pirates ↓ 3 (Pre-season Rank – #27)
- Cleveland Indians ↓ 2 (Pre-season Rank – #30)
- Baltimore Orioles ↔ (Pre-season Rank – #19)
* Before you ask why the Mets and their 33 wins are ranked so low, it’s because they are the definition of “Blue smoke and mirrors.” The Oliver Perez debacle is just a harbinger of things to come in Queens.