|Josh Donaldson and the A’s atop first Power Ranking|
We are now two full months into the 2014 Major League Baseball season, and teams have had more than ample time to separate themselves based on their results and ability to overcome adversity, such as debilitating injuries.
So now is the time that a relevant Power Ranking of the game’s top clubs can begin to sort out the contenders from the pretenders. There are 16 teams in MLB with .500 or better records. If your favorite is not one of them, your favorite is not likely going to the post-season.
POWER RANKING – JUNE
1. OAKLAND ATHLETICS
The 2-time defending A.L. West champion A’s not only have the top record in the American League at 35-22 for a .614 win percentage, they are also ranked 1st in all of MLB in Pitching and Hitting. Their 20th-rated Defense is currently their only weakness, but at least at this stage it is not a separator that is hurting their results on the field. Manager Bob Melvin is using his entire roster. A full dozen players have more than 100 plate appearances. Three players are in double-digits for homeruns, led by the MLB leader in oWAR, Josh Donaldson. On the mound, the A’s have four starters who have been extremely effective, led by young ace Sonny Gray. Now they appear to have found a legit longterm closer option in Sean Doolittle. The staff overall ERA is below 3, incredible for an A.L. team. If they stay healthy, they are again both A.L. West and World Series contenders.
2. MILWAUKEE BREWERS
There is perhaps no bigger surprise team in all of baseball than the Brew Crew. Though they possess just the National League’s 2nd best record, they may be MLB’s most complete team to this stage of the season. Milwaukee is 11th in Hitting, 7th in Pitching, and 8th in Defense. Not at the top of any category, but they have so far demonstrated no major weakness. Ryan Braun and Carlos Gomez are both legit NL MVP candidates right now, and may be the league’s top 1-2 punch at the plate.
3. LOS ANGELES ANGELS
The scary thing about the Halos is that they just might be about to get measurably better as Josh Hamilton comes off the DL this week. He will join Mike Trout and Albert Pujols in giving LA’s “other team” a true 3-headed monster on offense, where they are already the game’s 4th-ranked club. With the 7th-ranked Defense, it is only the Angels 15th-ranked Pitching that keeps them from making a big run at Oakland in the A.L. West right now. Young starters Garrett Richards and Tyler Skaggs are keys, but this is a “buy” team for a veteran arm.
4. SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
The top team in the National League standings is also baseball’s overall #3 in Pitching and #7 in Hitting. Much like Oakland, they have a weakness on ‘D’, where they are ranked down at #21, just below the A’s. But like their by-the-bay cousins, it isn’t hurting them at this point. Tim Hudson has easily been the best off-season free agent signing in the sport, and he teams with Madison Bumgarner to give the G-Men a dynamic 1-2 punch atop their rotation. Outfielder Mike Morse may be the 2nd best off-season signing, giving them a true impact power bat to this point.
5. TORONTO BLUE JAYS
Rounding out the Top 5 to this point in the season, this is about where everyone thought the Jays would be a year ago. That disappointing season is being quickly forgotten in a barrage of homeruns being launched by the game’s #2 Offense. A half-dozen players have at least 8 longballs, led by the dynamic 1-2 punch of Edwin Encarnacion (19) and Jose Bautista (14), but they are not one dimensional. The Jays are fundamentally sound, with baseball’s 6th-ranked Defense. Only their 22nd-rated mediocre pitching keeps them from the top, that despite a Cy Young-caliber season from 10-win veteran Mark Buehrle.
6. SAINT LOUIS CARDINALS
7. DETROIT TIGERS
8. BALTIMORE ORIOLES
9. SEATTLE MARINERS
10. LOS ANGELES DODGERS
Best of the rest:
Atlanta Braves, New York Yankees, Texas Rangers, Chicago White Sox,
Miami Marlins, Colorado Rockies
Too soon for Divisional, Wildcard, Pennant, or World Series picks. But here is the first call – if you’re not mentioned somewhere in the above, you’re not going to the playoffs. Period. Take that to the bank. Tell your team to start selling now.