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 Oakland A’s may be regretting their trade of Yoenis Cespedes. Their grasp on the division lead is dwindling as the Angels make a strong push. Speaking of trades coming back to haunt them, the once favored Detroit Tigers are now on the outside looking in as, arguably the hottest team in the league, the Kansas City Royals, have made their move and it could be a permanent move to division leaders. Another team looking to finally make their move are in the National League as the Washington Nationals are trying to finally break away from the competition and stand alone as East division champions.
By just percentage points, the Los Angeles Angels have technically overcome the Oakland Athletics. After losing the first game of this week to the Boston Red Sox, the Angels would respond in a better way to their other weaker opponents, the Philadelphia Phillies and the Texas Rangers. The Angels would win the six games against the Phillies and Rangers, putting them in sole possession of first place, technically. The addition of Huston Street has given the Angels a great closer to a bullpen that was once considered their biggest weakness. The Angels made moves to fix a hole in their team and it has paid off immediately as they sit on top of the Power Rankings and the West.
2. Oakland Athletics
Falling out of first in the Power Rankings coincides with their fall out of technical first place in the West. For the A’s sake, they unfortunately ran into possibly the hottest team in baseball, the Kansas City Royals. The A’s would lose five out of six in the week and scored three runs or less in all of their losses. The second asset acquired in the trade to acquire Jeff Samardzija was starting pitcher Jason Hammel. Since joining the A’s, Hammel has struggled to a 1-5 record with an ERA of 6.75. The A’s appear to be missing the bat of Cespedes but there is still time for the offense to make up for his absence in the middle of their lineup.
The Baltimore Orioles have begun to pull away in the East. The Orioles would win a rain-shortened two-game series with the New York Yankees and likely pushed the Yankees out of contention for the division. The Orioles would struggle at Cleveland against the Indians but wins over division rivals is very valuable. It appears that Adam Jones is finally reaching his potential that always seemed possible for the All-Star center fielder.
The race to be best in the National League could be a photo finish. The Brewers won four out of seven games this week. While injuries to Matt Garza and Kyle Lohse affected the rotation, the addition of Mike Fiers is making their absence tolerable. Jonathan Lucroy has hit a lot doubles this season but he is reaching a recent cold spell. Carlos Gomez and the others have been picking it up for him and it has kept the Brewers on top of the division. For this week, the Brewers have reclaimed their title as best record in the National League.
5. Kansas City Royals
The Kansas City Royals have officially passed the Detroit Tigers in the Central division. It is a half game lead after this week, but that’s all you would need to be crowned division champions. The Royals won five out of seven games this week. The Royals would take three out of four with the Oakland Athletics. A big bat in the Royals lineup that had not been producing until late is Billy Butler. The continued success in the season for the Royals is the bullpen, anchored by Greg Holland while Kelvin Herrera and Wade Davis are having an outstanding bridge.
6. Washington Nationals
The Washington Nationals have been in their own way for most of the season. The opportunities they had to run away with the division would be in front of them but they would not grab it. They would not grab the opportunity until now. Despite losing a three-game series to the Atlanta Braves; the Washington Nationals would bounce back and sweep the New York Mets and finish the week with a five-game winning streak as they beat the Pittsburgh Pirates too. Anthony Rendon is arguably the best batter on this team and he’s having a breakout season along with pitcher Tanner Roark. The Nationals could begin to pull away in the division with the start of this winning streak.
7. Los Angeles Dodgers
The Los Angeles Dodgers won four out of seven games this week. The Dodgers took advantage of a sputtering Atlanta Braves and took three out of four games in their series. The Dodgers starting rotation would take another blow as Hyun-jin Ryu would go down with an injury. The good news for the Dodgers is Adrian Gonzalez has found the consistency he is known for with the bat and has been a key contributor for a while now.
8. Seattle Mariners
The Seattle Mariners are deep in the hunt for the second Wild Card spot. The Mariners would start this week with a five-game winning streak and it would be snapped at the end of the week by the Detroit Tigers but this has put them within striking distance of a Wild Card spot. Felix Hernandez continues to anchor the Mariners rotation with dominance though he would snap his streak of 16 starts with at least seven innings with two runs or less scoring at the end of this week. Robinson Cano is earning some MVP consideration for the offense he is providing in his first season with the Mariners.
9. Detroit Tigers
The fall from division leaders into Wild Card competition is a severe fall for the team once considered favorites, not only for the division but for a possible World Series appearance. The Tigers would lose four out of seven games this week. The week would start with a 19 inning affair with the Toronto Blue Jays that the Tigers would lose. A much bigger loss came earlier in the week when Justin Verlander exited the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates after just one inning on the mound. The acquisition of David Price would seem bigger than originally expected as Verlander joins Anibal Sanchez as another injured member of the once formidable rotation. The Tigers did not directly address their bullpen problems so the dip out of possible playoff contention is not that surprising.
10. St. Louis Cardinals
The St. Louis Cardinals currently hold the first of two Wild Card spots. They won four out of the seven games this week. Justin Masterson and John Lackey would pitch well when they aren’t facing familiar foes in the American League. The Wild Card is not a sure thing for the Cardinals as there are many teams close to them. Masterson and Lackey still need to prove they can be counted on to make up for the absence of Michael Wacha and Jaime Garcia. Matt Carpenter is starting off the offense well for the Cardinals and will need to continue if the Cardinals have postseason aspirations.