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.
This week, the West continues to have a strong presence in the Power Rankings as nearly half of the teams that appear are from the division. Once a very strong team in the Power Rankings, the San Francisco Giants have continued to drop down the Rankings as they lose their hold on the division. How far they fall will depend on if the offense can discover what made them so consistent early in the season.
The Oakland Athletics did win four out of seven this week to maintain their best record in the league but this was not the only way in which they won. During this week the A’s acquired two very strong pieces to their already strong team, starters Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from the Chicago Cubs for a package of players headlined by shortstop prospect Addison Russell. A successful week on the field and in the front office has made them an early on favorite to win the World Series and it isn’t even the All-Star break yet.
The Los Angeles Dodgers took four out of seven this week and stands alone in first place on the National League West division. A huge reason for this is the efforts of ace Clayton Kershaw. The lefty that already has a no-hitter on his 2014 season is riding a scoreless streak of 36 innings. The Dodgers are up to full strength and living up to the lofty expectations many had of them. Dee Gordon is shining at second base and on the base paths while the deep Dodgers starting rotation makes them a very strong candidate atop the Power Rankings and maybe for late October baseball.
The West is strong this week. The Los Angeles Angels won five of seven this week and finished off the week on a three-game winning streak. Mike Trout is arguably one of the best players in the league today, paired with Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton; the Angels have a powerful middle of the lineup. The Angels rotation is anchored by Garrett Richards, helping C.J. Wilson and Jered Weaver form a nice rotation. The Angels still need to solve the problem in the bullpen but they have a strong hold on the first place in the Wild Card as the Oakland A’s look to be a challenge to catch up to.
4. Milwaukee Brewers
The Milwaukee Brewers have continued to experience a decline on the Power Rankings. The Brewers went up against the Toronto Blue Jays and players like Marco Estrada will find their rotation spot in jeopardy if he doesn’t turn his season around. Will Smith was having a great season up until he went north of the border for interleague baseball. The once potent lineup is finding it hard to keep it up, scoring four runs or more in just two of the five games. It’s hard to win when the pitching must be nearly perfect in protecting a one or two-run lead. The Pittsburgh Pirates have begun to heat up and if the Brewers aren’t careful, the Pirates will run by them too.
5. San Francisco Giants
The San Francisco Giants’ downward spiral continues to stem from their struggling offense. In three of the Giants’ games this week, the offense was shut out. The Giants lost four of six games this week and have lost their hold on the West. It seemed like just a few weeks ago that the Giants were the top team in the league with the best record. Now they have the first Wild Card spot but that will not be enough for the Giants.
6. Detroit Tigers
The Detroit Tigers have won four out of seven games this week. The Tigers were able to sweep the Oakland A’s but the positive incline hit a bump and stumbled back when they lost to the struggling Tampa Bay Rays. Inconsistency from the Tigers’ rotation and injuries in the lineup is hindering the Tigers ability to succeed. While Victor Martinez and Miguel Cabrera are hitting well, it’s hard to hit well when you are sitting on the bench nursing an injury. Rick Porcello continues to shine but he can’t be the only pitcher to do well if the Tigers intend to win the Central.
7. Washington Nationals
Winning five out of six has put the Washington Nationals just a half game behind the Atlanta Braves. The Nats are riding the wave of contributions from Anthony Rendon, Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman while pitching has been stellar from Jordan Zimmermann and Gio Gonzalez. The Nationals are one of the few teams that are in second place in the standings but a higher spot on the Power Rankings than their first place rivals but when you carry such a good amount of momentum, it seems like only a matter of time before they take control of first place.
8. Atlanta Braves
Riding a seven-game winning streak, the Atlanta Braves are trying as hard as they can to keep the Washington Nationals away from the division lead. The Braves are getting a second surge of success from Aaron Harang and Ervin Santana, who joins Julio Teheran as the Braves look to get back into a positive direction. If the Braves can keep getting enough positive surges to keep the Nationals away, they will come away with the division crown, but it will be just barely.
9. Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pittsburgh Pirates carried a strong end to last week with a strong current week and they found themselves in second place ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals but behind the Milwaukee Brewers. Outfielders Gregory Polanco and Josh Harrison have been key contributors to complete a young potent offense around former MVP Andrew McCutchen. The Pirates still hope that Ernesto Frieri will take to his new home and succeed like he could not in Anaheim. The division is within reach for the Pirates if they can return to th effectiveness they had last year.
10. Seattle Mariners
Since when did the American League West look like the American League East? Seattle Mariners have won five of six this week and are the third team in contention for the Wild Card and possibly even the division. Felix Hernandez continues to be a dominant ace atop the rotation while Kyle Seager is picking up his offensive numbers to support Robinson Cano in the lineup. Barring any setbacks or injuries, the Mariners are a force to be reckoned with in a very crowded West division.