MLB Power Rankings: Separating The Wheat And The Chaff

With every team at least 12 games into the season, we're starting to get a decent idea of who's who. Here we present to you an organized list of these team identities - a ranking, if you will - as voted on by SB Nation MLB bloggers Jim McLennan, Will McDonald, Sam Page, Kyle Lobner, Jeff Sullivan, and Randy Booth. Two new teams have entered the top ten, while only one is new to the bottom.

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MLB Power Rankings: The Wheat And The Chaff

April 20th. It's late enough in the season for some teams to be looking ahead to the future. The Orioles are 8.5 back in the East. The Astros are 5.5 back in the Central. The Nationals are the Nationals. There's already been some predictable separation to date, and for fans of the worst, the focus shifts to the farm system, to the draft, and to playing for pride and spoiling other teams' chances.

But it's also early enough for some teams who weren't given a shot to still be clinging to hope. The Blue Jays are ahead of the Red Sox. The Pirates are in second place. The Padres walked off twice in four days. If March is a time to daydream, April can be a time for a select few to start thinking it's possible. "If Kevin Correia keeps pitching like an ace, and if Chase Headley keeps slugging .500..."

This is the magic of the early season. We know in our hearts that the standings don't mean much right now. Boston will get better. Pittsburgh will get worse. Things will even out and go in large part as we've expected all along. But we also know that, every year, a new team seems to surprise, and now that we're a couple weeks into the year, we allow ourselves to imagine who that team (or those teams!) might be. Everybody's too optimistic in March. In April, there's evidence. In April - in this April - fans of the Blue Jays have some numbers on their side. So what if the odds are unlikely? When you pull for a team with low expectations, you take things one day at a time, and every additional day that Vernon Wells tears is up is one fewer day that you have to worry.

On April 4th, we expected the standings to look a certain way. On April 20th, we still expect similar standings, but now there are games in the bank. Meaningful games. For some surprising teams, things could come crashing down tomorrow, but the chance that they won't is all a fan needs.

30. Houston Astros

SBN Blog: The Crawfish Boxes

2010 record: 3-9

Last week's rank: 30

Lance Berkman probably isn't enough to fix this team by himself, but he should be enough to get the Astros at least one win on this homestand, which would be an improvement from the last one.

29. Baltimore Orioles

SBN Blog: Camden Chat

2010 record: 2-12

Last week's rank: 24

There haven't been many things that have gone well for the Orioles so far this year. What else do they need? Felix Pie just hit the disabled list, thinning out their bench. Dave Trembley's going to want to start sending out resumes, because if things don't change, he'll be out of a job within a month.

28. Kansas City Royals

SBN Blog: Royals Review

2010 record: 5-8

Last week's rank: 29

The Royals are averaging 5.25 runs per game, third best in the AL, thanks to a number of high batting averages. The Royals still don't walk (2nd worst in the league) but when the team hits .309 as a whole, you can mask many warts. After twelve games, the Royals featured six players hitting over .300, led by Scott Podsednik's .457 start. Oh, and they're still below .500.

27. New York Mets

SBN Blog: Amazin' Avenue

2010 record: 5-8

Last week's rank: 22

The Mets managed to win a game, and it only took them 20 innings (three facing a position player pitching) to do it. Meanwhile, John Maine continues to fall apart with no one in line to take his spot.

26. Pittsburgh Pirates

SBN Blog: Bucs Dugout

2010 record: 7-5

Last week's rank: 28

They've won 4 of 5 after sweeping the Reds over the weekend. They've still got a long way to go to prove they're for real, but their next nine games feature three against the Astros and six against the Brewers. If they could win five or six, they'd have their best month in quite some time.

25. Washington Nationals

SBN Blog: Federal Baseball

2010 record: 7-6

Last week's rank: 27

Including a thrilling comeback against the Phillies, the Nats have gone 4-1 in their last 5 games. Unfortunately the "1" was a total meltdown by offseason-prize Jason Marquis, whose ERA soared past 20.

24. Chicago White Sox

SBN Blog: South Side Sox

2010 record: 4-9

Last week's rank: 20

The Sox have won two blowouts by a combined score of 17-1, while otherwise enduring a pretty miserable start. The Ozzie Guillen designed lineup has hurt the White Sox, but the team's run prevention has also been disappointing. Jake Peavy, Gavin Floyd, and Freddy Garcia have all been worse than expected.

23. Cincinnati Reds

SBN Blog: Red Reporter

2010 record: 5-8

Last week's rank: 23

Getting swept by the Pirates was a significant setback, but Mike Leake, making his professional debut in the majors, has a 2.63 ERA in his first two starts. That should count for something, right?

22. San Diego Padres

SBN Blog: Gaslamp Ball

2010 record: 7-6

Last week's rank: 26

Alone in second, or two games out of the cellar? In the tight NL West, it's the same for San Diego, after some late-inning heroics and solid pitching allowed them to sweep the Diamondbacks; Adrian Gonzalez and Chase Headley continue to rake. Jon Garland will be taking the San Diego scorer to dinner after a hit was changed to an error, dropping his ERA from 5.40 to 3.60.

21. Cleveland Indians

SBN Blog: Let's Go Tribe!

2010 record: 6-6

Last week's rank: 25

The Indians looked like an all-offense/no-pitching team out of Spring Training, and instead they've mostly been the opposite. The Tribe is 12th in the AL in runs per game, and 7th in runs allowed. Through Monday, Cleveland was 5-1 against the White Sox, and 1-5 against everyone else.

20. Milwaukee Brewers

SBN Blog: Brew Crew Ball

2010 record: 5-7

Last week's rank: 18

If the Brewers could just find a way to play one-game series, they'd be fine: They're 4-0 in the final games of their first four series, and 1-7 in all other games.

19. Arizona Diamondbacks

SBN Blog: AZ Snakepit

2010 record: 5-8

Last week's rank: 15

Short outing and extra games triggered a meltdown in Arizona's bullpen on last week's roadtrip, where the team went 1-5. Over the past four contests, their starters have allowed four runs in 23.1 innings - that's an ERA of 1.54 - and the Diamondbacks have lost every game, including three leads blown by the 'pen. Coming to town: Cardinals and Phillies. Ulp.

18. Chicago Cubs

SBN Blog: Bleed Cubbie Blue

2010 record: 5-8

Last week's rank: 21

The Cubs still aren't getting much from Aramis Ramirez or Carlos Zambrano, and over the weekend they dropped two of three to the Astros. Even with the losses, though, they're still within earshot in the Central.

17. Texas Rangers

SBN Blog: Lone Star Ball

2010 record: 5-7

Last week's rank: 10

A stretch that started with such promise ended with a weekend sweep in New York that dropped the Rangers into last place. There are any number of reasons to be concerned, but foremost among them might be Rich Harden, who's walked or beaned 17 batters in 13.1 innings. Also of note: Nelson Cruz has seven home runs, and the rest of the lineup has three. Hurry back, Ian Kinsler. This is a good team, and the pitching has been there, but there are too many question marks to make up an early hole.

16. Toronto Blue Jays

SBN Blog: Bluebird Banter

2010 record: 8-6

Last week's rank: 17

After a hot start, the Jays have predictably cooled off a little. The starters have come back down to Earth a tad. Nevertheless, they still lead the Red Sox in the standings, which is a bit of an accomplishment even in a season this young.

15. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

SBN Blog: Halos Heaven

2010 record: 7-7

Last week's rank: 14

That's more like it. After an unusual start, the Angels ripped off four straight wins to pull themselves back into the mix. Scott Kazmir looked terrible in his return and Joe Saunders is trouble, but this team has to be pleased with the Jered Weaver/Joel Pineiro/Ervin Santana trio, which has combined for 51 strikeouts, 12 walks, and 20 runs through nine starts. Brian Fuentes is about to return from the DL, which may or may not be a good thing. One issue: Brandon Wood continues to look hopeless.

14. Seattle Mariners

SBN Blog: Lookout Landing

2010 record: 7-7

Last week's rank: 19

Like the Angels, the Mariners rebounded from an ugly beginning to win five of their last six games. The lineup is finally showing signs of life, and the team has received some solid starts from the back of the rotation. It'll be interesting to see how long they continue futzing around with Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Sweeney at DH, given that they're a combined 9-45 with a double. In a lineup this mediocre, you can't afford to give away outs for the sake of hanging on to relics. Casey Kotchman is an early candidate for surprise of the season.

13. Colorado Rockies

SBN Blog: Purple Row

2010 record: 6-7

Last week's rank: 7

Ubaldo Jimenez crossed Colorado off the list of teams without a no-hitter on Saturday, and after three starts looks a legitimate ace: 1.29 ERA and 20 K's in 21 innings. Ian Stewart and Brad Hawpe are carrying the offense for now - the Rockies are asking for the return of Troy Tulowitzki, whose OPS+ of 58 suggests replacement by a weak-hitting pod person.

12. Los Angeles Dodgers

SBN Blog: True Blue LA

2010 record: 6-6

Last week's rank: 13

Manny, still being Manny, broke San Francisco hearts with a two-run pinch-hit homer late in Sunday's game that won it for LA. Every regular starter bar Blake DeWitt is batting .290 or better, and all three outfielders - Ramirez, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier - have an OPS for the season above 1.000. With hitting like that, who needs pitching?

11. Florida Marlins

SBN Blog: Fish Stripes

2010 record: 8-5

Last week's rank: 16

After taking two of three from the Phillies, the Fish are knocking on the door for the division lead. Nate Robertson is enjoying his switch to the inferior league, with a 2.20 ERA through 3 starts. Rookie Gaby Sanchez, meanwhile, has had little difficulty in adjusting to the bigs, which was a major concern coming out of March.

10. Oakland Athletics

SBN Blog: Athletics Nation

2010 record: 9-5

Last week's rank: 12

Despite a disappointing showing by Ben Sheets, the A's won't slow down, as they've taken three of their first four series. Playing the Orioles, of course, factors into that, so the following three-game set against the Yankees should be a good test of their mettle. You know you're in a good place when Sheets is your worst starter. The other four guys have 52 strikeouts and 17 walks in 11 games. If you haven't already, it's time to learn the name "Brett Anderson."

9. San Francisco Giants

SBN Blog: McCovey Chronicles

2010 record: 8-5

Last week's rank: 9

Soft schedule or not, this team deserves to be 8-5. The offense has been better than expectedb(OPS+ 106) and the pitching has been insanely good: the team ERA+ is 152, and only one starter as yet has a loss to his name. After three starts and 20 innings, the only blot on Tim Lincecum's ERA is a two-run shot to Brian McCann; to go with that 0.90 ERA, his K:BB ratio is 24:3.

8. Detroit Tigers

SBN Blog: Bless You Boys

2010 record: 7-6

Last week's rank: 11

The Tigers haven't generated much attention one way or the other, but they've been a little better than some expected early. Despite a rough start to the season from Justin Verlander (he's allowed 13 runs in 17 innings) and Jeremy Bonderman, the Tigers have kept their heads above water thanks to a surprisingly robust offense, which currently ranks sixth in the AL in runs per game. Amazingly, Dontrelle Willis is still in the rotation and still has an ERA under 5.00.

7. Atlanta Braves

SBN Blog: Talking Chop

2010 record: 7-5

Last week's rank: 8

He's clutch too! After the Braves were no-hit by Ubaldo Jimenez, Jason Heyward lifted fans spirits the following night with a walk-off single. No word on whether he'll also be replacing the injured Jo-Jo Reyes in the bullpen.

6. Boston Red Sox

SBN Blog: Over The Monster

2010 record: 4-9

Last week's rank: 3

First it was the bullpen, and now it's the starting rotation. Oh, and the lineup, too. Plus the injuries (Jacoby Ellsbury may hit the DL and Mike Cameron is fighting abdominal issues). Basically, the Red Sox have started off in pretty much the worse way possible. Playing a lot of the Yankees and Rays can do that to a team. They'll be happy to play some more normal opponents for a little while.

5. Philadelphia Phillies

SBN Blog: The Good Phight

2010 record: 8-4

Last week's rank: 2

The Phils are 2-3 since losing shortstop Jimmy Rollins to a calf strain, to no fault of his replacement, Juan Castro, who is 7-21. Should Castro also falter, however, they've got an able replacement waiting in the stands.

4. Minnesota Twins

SBN Blog: Twinkie Town

2010 record: 9-4

Last week's rank: 5

After years as an AL Central-inflated mediocrity, the Twins are starting to have the look of an elite team. Thanks to a nice off-season, the lineup is deeper than any in recent team history. Behind Jon Rauch, the bullpen has yet to show much of a drop-off in spite of the loss of closer Joe Nathan. The team's weak spot might be the rotation, especially with Nick Blackburn struggling, but the possible reemergence of Francisco Liriano could be a major boon.

3. St. Louis Cardinals

SBN Blog: Viva El Birdos

2010 record: 9-4

Last week's rank: 6

They've already won series against three divisional opponents, but won't see another until playing the Reds on April 30. 1.5 up on the Pirates, and 3.5 up on the Brewers. Didn't take long for this division to sort out as expected.

2. Tampa Bay Rays

SBN Blog: DRays Bay

2010 record: 10-3

Last week's rank: 4

It's early in the season, but the Rays may have the best team in baseball. Their lineup is scary and their pitching rotation has looked great. It also helps when you sweep the Red Sox in such impressive fashion. Despite the calendar, there is absolutely nothing wrong with opening up such a big lead over Boston. If those teams were about even two weeks ago, a six-game difference can only work in Tampa's favor.

1. New York Yankees

SBN Blog: Pinstripe Alley

2010 record: 9-3

Last week's rank: 1

The Yankees' lineup is still producing a lot of runs and the pitching staff is keeping its team in the games for wins. Until or unless this roster literally falls apart, they'll be No. 1 or 2 in the AL East all season long. It's almost boring how good this team is. Oh, Mark Teixeira is struggling? No worries. Robinson Cano will just hit out of his mind.

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