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Baseball Rankings, June 29

   by Al McMordie - 06/29/2015

The Cardinals and Blue Jays continue to hold down the top two spots. But it's the Nationals which made the biggest jump for the second straight week, moving up five spots to rank 8th in our standings. The Rangers and Marlins both had dreadful weeks, and fell three spots each.

(Money Line Power Ranking in Parentheses)

1. St. Louis Cardinals (-136) - Cards continue to excel, reaching 50 wins before any other team. They are the first team to reach the half-century mark in wins in as few as 74 games since the 2005 Chicago White Sox. Rosenthal is healthy again and has returned as the top closer in the NL. (Last week: 1)

2. Toronto Blue Jays (-123) - Jays bullpen continues to be the weak link and it's looking weaker lately (6.75 relief ERA in past week) as the team demoted Brett Cecil from the closer's role for the second time. Only problem is, there really isn't anyone on the team or in the minors ready to step up and be a reliable stopper. (Last week: 2)

3. Los Angeles Dodgers (-122) - Kershaw lost his third start in a row for the first time in his career and that pretty much sums up the Dodgers' week as a sub-par road trip continues. This team is fortunate to be in the NL West with only one other real team to contend with. (Last week: 5)

4. Kansas City Royals (-119) - Royals should be in the market for a starter in the coming weeks as they are clearly the best team in the AL Central, but they have two starters on the DL and one has to wonder how much longer they will stick with RHP Guthrie. June relief ERA of 2.44, but starters sporting a 4.08 number. (Last week: 3)

5. Pittsburgh Pirates (-117) - Pirates treaded water last week but are still nine games over .500 with a +46 run differential. McCutchen is hurting a bit from being hit on the elbow by a pitch, but x-rays were negative and he won't go on the DL. Pitching continues to be second only to Cards. (Last week: 4)

6. Houston Astros (-114) - Nobody else seems to want the lead in the AL West, so Astros remain on top with a comfortable four-game lead despite going 4-6 in their last 10. The power is definitely alive and well as the Astros lead the AL in homers in June with 42. (Last week: 7)

7. Baltimore Orioles (-113) - No Adam Jones, no problem. Baltimore's star OF was out from June 20 to June 27 and O's went 5-1 during his absence. The bench of this team might be the best in baseball with guys like Lough, Paredes, Joseph, Young, and Pearce all contributing. O's bullpen has been best in MLB in June (1.78 ERA). (Last week: 6)

8. Washington Nationals (-109) - For the first time this year, the original five starters of the dream rotation are healthy and throwing like aces. Bad news is Rendon joined Ryan Zimmerman and Jason Werth on the DL. But that didn't prevent the Nats from having arguably their best week since the start of the season. (Last week: 13)

9. New York Yankees (-107) - Yankees pitching has imploded as their 4.56 ERA for the month of June is worst in the AL and last week their starters had a 7.18 ERA. It's ironic that the starter who had the best week was Ivan Nova making his first appearance in over a year (Tommy John surgery). But NY is still tied for the division league. (Last week: 8)

10. San Francisco Giants (-106) - Giants are now in a virtual tie with the Dodgers in the West and they get the depleted Marlins in Miami to start the week, before heading to DC. Giants are doing it with their typical small ball offense as they are second in NL in runs this month despite being just 11th in HRs. (Last week: 10)

11. Tampa Bay Rays (-106) - Rays are in a virtual three-way tie in the toughest division in baseball. Incredibly, only one game separates the top four teams -- and all of those are over .500 with positive run differentials. The average run differential of the top four teams in the AL East is a whopping +45.5. (Last week: 9)

12. Oakland Athletics (-104) - A's started the week with a sweep of the Rangers and ended by getting swept in three by the Royals. In their games vs. the Rangers, the A's had their best offense of the season with 22 runs in three games. The relief pitching has been outstanding lately, posting a 0.57 ERA over a six-day stretch. (Last week: 11)

13. Chicago Cubs (-103) - The week started out well for the Cubbies, but went downhill fast as after winning their first two vs. Dodgers, Chicago dropped the back-end of that series and then were once again beat up by the Cards. It's looking more and more like Cubs will have to go shopping for another starter at the deadline. (Last week: 14)

14. Minnesota Twins (-102) - OF Byron Buxton went on the DL and Danny Santana got called back up. Can IF Miguel Sano be far behind? The 22-year-old is tearing it up in the Minors (AA) after missing all of last year due to an injury. The pitching will soon get a boost from the return of Ervin Santana from a drug suspension. (Last week: 15)

15. Texas Rangers (-100) - Rangers got 3B Adrian Beltre back and they'll need him as it's been a rough week for Texas pitching as they allowed 31 runs in the first four games. Rangers have second-worst relief ERA in the month of June at almost five runs (4.91). Phenom Gallo was moved to OF with Beltre back in the lineup. (Last week: 12)

16. Detroit Tigers (+101) - We're now finding out how much the Tigers missed Victor Martinez's bat in their lineup. For a guy who can't play the field anymore, V-Mart is awfully valuable to this team. Bad news is that Verlander is hurting again, and was forced to miss a start with a bad back. Not sure yet how long he will be out. (Last week: 18)

17. Los Angeles Angels (+101) - Somebody needs to tell this team that it's supposed to be much better than this. Angels look like they're just going through the motions at this point and, with Weaver on the DL, don't be surprised if we see some activity from them before the trade deadline. (Last week: 16)

18. Arizona Diamondbacks (+103) - Paul Goldschmidt is probably the best hitter in the senior circuit at this point. And the fact that he can do what he's done this season with arguably the worst lineup he's had around him since he came to the Majors is quite astonishing. Can he win his first MVP award on a team that's this bad? (Last week: 17)

19. Cincinnati Reds (+103) - Cueto trade talks are heating up. The Yanks and Royals appear to be in discussions with the Reds for the righthanded ace, but with the All-Star game in Cincy, Reds probably will sit tight for now. Reds bullpen did not allow an earned run the entire week and has a 2.69 ERA for the month. (Last week: 21)

20. New York Mets (+106) - The on-again/off-again six-man rotation experiment is on again (with a different look) as Mets promoted top LHP prospect Steven Matz from AAA and designated Dillon Gee for assignment. Matz had a successful debut on Sunday and even went 3 for 3 at the plate with four RBI. (Last week: 20)

21. Atlanta Braves (+109) - Braves offense has been non-existent since Freddie Freeman went out with a sprained hand and now he's landed on the DL. Since June 21, Atlanta has plated just 11 runs and only managed more than two on one occasion. Atlanta gets red hot Nats to start the week. (Last week: 19)

22. Cleveland Indians (+109) - The Tribe offense is re-defining the term "small ball." Despite being in the middle of the pack in the AL in BA this month (.252), the Tribe is at the bottom in runs scored (66), HR (14), and RBI (62). Apparently, small ball works in the NL but not in the AL as the Tribe is 3-7 in the last 10. (Last week: 24)

23. San Diego Padres (+109) - Padres won the battle of NL West mediocrity by taking two of three from the Diamondbacks at home this weekend. They'll have a tough road coming up as, after two at home against the similarly mediocre Mariners, the Pads have to travel to St. Louis, Pittsburgh, and Texas. (Last week: 23)

24. Colorado Rockies (+111) - The Coors effect is back in a big way this year. Rockies are by far the top hitting team in the NL in June with a .281 average and their 134 runs scored are 25 ahead of the next team (SF). Not surprisingly, 18 of their 27 games in June have been at home. Unfortunately, the pitching is still really bad. (Last week: 25)

25. Miami Marlins (+113) - Marlins had probably the worst week of any team. First, they were schooled at home by two division leaders (St. Louis and L.A.), and then learned that star slugger Stanton had a broken bone which will require 4 to 6 weeks to heal (and possibly surgery). (Last week: 22)

26. Boston Red Sox (+115) - Injuries are starting to mount as Pedroia went on the DL with a bad hamstring and Hanley Ramirez is day-to-day with a hand issue (he's having an MRI this week). Despite the setbacks, the Sox found a way to have a .500 week and are 6-4 in their last 10. (Last week: 27)

27. Seattle Mariners (+122) - The only thing rising for this team last week was the lump on Robinson Cano's head after a freak accident in which the star 2B was hit in the dugout by an errant warm-up throw before a game against the Angels. The leash on Manager McLendon has to be getting very short at this point. (Last week: 26)

28. MIlwaukee Brewers (+130) - There are plenty of contenders who aren't going to sell the farm for Cole Hamels but who could still use a dependable #3 or #4 starter. And the Crew has a couple of such starters in Garza and Lohse with which it would be willing to part. The price is going to be right for somebody, maybe the O's or Royals. (Last week: 29)

29. Chicago White Sox (+131) - The Sox are finding new ways to lose games almost every day. They finally got seven solid shutout innings from Samardzija on Sunday, and then made the ill-fated decision to take him out in the eighth inning, while leading the Tigers, 4-0. Final score: Detroit 5 Chicago 4. (Last week: 28)

30. Philadelphia Phillies (+164) - Interest in Cole Hamels continued to climb as we approach the trade deadline. Manager Sandberg decided this would be a good time to abandon the Titanic and take his chances in the icy waters of unemployment, perhaps hoping he can land with a decent team in 2015, which is almost any but this one. (Last week: 30)

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