Throughout the 2014 regular season, some teams will shine and some will falter. Power Rankings will identify who has been moving upwards and who may be hitting a cold spell.
In this week, the top teams showed that baseball is a long season and even the best go through cold spells. Oddly, the best teams all went cold at the same time. Despite the struggles, few teams lost their high places atop the Power Rankings. This is quite telling of just how strong the select few teams have been up to this point in the season.
1. San Francisco Giants
A bad week is just an odd blip on the radar that is the San Francisco Giants 2014 season. After winning six of the first seven games to start the month of June, the Washington Nationals would visit the best team in the league and managed to take three out of the four-game series. The Giants would avoid the sweep thanks to Tim Hudson, who would notch his seventh win of the season and lowered his ERA to a major league-leading 1.81. The Colorado Rockies would come into town and continue making the week oddly bad as the Rockies would take two of the first three to end the Giants’ week on a sour note. Closer Sergio Romo would lose both of the first two games with the Rockies as the bullpen showed a rare hole in it. Telling of how impressive the Giants’ season has been that a 2-5 record on the week still does not knock them off the top of the Power Rankings.
2. Oakland Athletics
The other team of the Bay Area continues to put a lot of distance in the run differential for the positive. The A’s showed patience and power in a dominant 11-1 win to take the three-game series with the Baltimore Orioles. The A’s had a big test when they went on the road to Anaheim where they faced a tough division opponent in the Angels. Despite losing the first two games by scoring a total of two runs, the A’s were able to show off their offensive prowess with a strong 7-1 win to avoid the sweep. The once potent offense of the A’s begins to show some inconsistency when the Yankees shut them out to open their series in Oakland. The two top teams have showed holes but their lengthy leads over their respective division opponents is what keeps them as the first and second teams on the Power Rankings.
3. Toronto Blue Jays
In a stumbling American League East, the Toronto Blue Jays could have a rough week and still maintain their lead in the division. After a shutout by the St. Louis Cardinals ended the six-game winning streak, the Cardinals would repeat it one more time. The Blue Jays would lose five of the seven games in the week, including two of the first three in a four-game series with the division opponent Baltimore Orioles. The top teams in the league are showing a cold streak that returns them within striking distance of the pack. Despite the losses, the Blue Jays still maintain a decent lead. It shows just how dominant the Blue Jays started the season.
After completing a series win over the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Brewers went to New York where they soundly took two out of three against the Mets. The Brewers would welcome the Cincinnati Reds into town and won one of the first two games in their three game series. An emerging star is catcher Jonathan Lucroy. He is having a career year with the bat and continues to be stellar receiver with excellent pitch framing to help all of the pitchers get the beneficial count when necessary. Along with Carlos Gomez and Ryan Braun; the Brewers are having a great season where they can be truly considered a contender for the division title.
5. Detroit Tigers
One of the biggest strengths of the Tigers’ roster was once their starting pitching. Currently, Rick Porcello may be the strongest pitcher on the rotation but he lost to the White Sox this week. Justin Verlander struggled to the line of eight runs over 5.2 innings in a loss to the White Sox as well. The Tigers avoided the sweep thanks to the first career complete game of Max Scherzer, who had a good start after a number of consecutive bad ones. The Tigers’ offense would have to put together a sizable lead for the team to win one of the first two against the Minnesota Twins. If the starting pitching cannot find their true selves, the Tigers hold on first place will be gone sooner than later.
6. St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals played just five games this week but they made the most of the games. The Cardinals went north for interleague and took on the hot Toronto Blue Jays. After snapping the Blue Jays six-game winning streak, the Cardinals would win three in a row as they split their two-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays. The return of first baseman Matt Adams would supply the Cardinals’ some much needed power as he returned with a home run in each of his first two games back, including providing the lone run for a 1-0 win over the Washington Nationals. The Brewers are still maintaining some distance from the Cardinals but it is not without a little fire from the Cardinals, looking to take back the division and potentially more.
7. Washington Nationals
A strong week by the Washington Nationals has made it a very tight race atop the National League East division. After taking the three-game series with the San Diego Padres, the Nationals traveled to the Bay Area to face the best team in the league, the San Francisco Giants. The Nationals would lose one of the four-game series, just missing a sweep of the Giants. The Nationals would end the week on a three-game losing streak but three out of four with the Giants and the Braves stumbling with their hold of the East, the Nationals are tied for first in the East.
Josh Hamilton returned to the Los Angeles Angels last week and it appears the struggles of 2013 are a thing of the past. The all-star outfielder has been a force this week. After completing a sweep of the Chicago White Sox, the Angels would welcome the division-leading Oakland Athletics and would also take two out of three-game series. The Angels would end the week on a back-and-forth affair with an interleague opponent, the Atlanta Braves. All of the offense that Josh Hamilton and company bring cannot solve the woes of the Angels’ bullpen. If the bullpen continues to struggle, the Angels efforts to stay relevant in both the division and the Wild Card will go up in smoke.
9. Atlanta Braves
Losing a three-game series with the Arizona Diamondbacks is not the way you want to start a week. The Braves would make the trip from Arizona to Colorado for a four-game series. After having a war of offenses to a 13-10 win, the Rockies would take the last two games to split the four-game series. The Braves would finish off the week with a crazy marathon affair with the visiting Los Angeles Angels. Comebacks and leads surrendered, all resulted in a loss that put them in a tie for first place. The pieced together Braves rotation was only going to last so long, it appears that their time may be coming to an end soon.
10. Los Angeles Dodgers
The Los Angeles Dodgers are slowly looking like the team that many expected to show up. Clayton Kershaw is back and dominating, Matt Kemp is starting to look healthy and like vintage Matt Kemp, albeit in a new position. The Dodgers started this week on a three-game winning streak over the Colorado Rockies and the Cincinnati Reds. The four-game series with the Reds would be split but the Dodgers bounced back and took the first two of three with the Diamondbacks as the Dodgers look to chase down the rival San Francisco Giants.