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Phil Rogers' MLB power rankings

Cardinals stay on top; powerful lineup helps Tigers move up

Phil Rogers

On Baseball

8:17 PM CDT, July 8, 2013

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1. Cardinals (2): They entered last week two games behind the Pirates and ended it tied for first place in the NL Central. Played just well enough to sweep the Marlins.

2. Tigers (4): Vaunted lineup was clicking last week — 49 runs in seven games and homers from seven players. Taking two of three in Cleveland, they swatted away the Indians' advance.

3. Red Sox (5): Baseball's best lineup leads the majors in extra-base hits and the AL in stolen bases. Jacoby Ellsbury is on pace to steal 65 bases.

4. Rangers (1): Troubling week for a pitching staff that allowed the Mariners and Astros to score 35 runs in six games. No starting pitcher had gone seven innings over the last eight games through Sunday, with Justin Grimm (two) and Nick Tepesch, now on the disabled list, failing to last five innings. There's urgency in the hunt for a rotation workhorse.

5. Pirates (3): The deserving Pirates have four All-Stars for the first time since 1981.

6. Reds (8): How good is Homer Bailey? Aside from his two no-hitters, he's 16-16 with a 3.86 ERA and an average of less than 61/3 innings per start. Pretty average, but he was ferocious in his one start against the Giants in the 2012 NLDS.

7. Athletics (10): No team in the majors hits fewer ground balls. That trend started last season, so it hasn't been a bad one and probably isn't accidental, in terms of how Billy Beane constructed his team.

8. Diamondbacks (11): How much pitching would these guys have if Brandon McCarthy and Daniel Hudson were healthy? Tyler Skaggs, Wade Miley and All-Star Patrick Corbin held the Rockies to two runs in 24 innings at Chase Field over the weekend.

9. Rays (12): Dismiss a Joe Maddon team at your own risk. Like the White Sox, they were 24-24 after 48 games. They then went 25-16, while White Sox went 10-27.

10. Braves (7): Take away his white-hot April and Justin Upton is hitting .219 with three homers and 20 RBIs. Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers doesn't make many bad decisions.

11. Orioles (6): Temporary downturn for the lineup. A bigger cause for concern is closer Jim Johnson being on pace for 11 blown saves.

12. Yankees (14): Just the thought of having Derek Jeter in the second half has helped the Yankees find their footing.

13. Nationals (15): They gave up a good pitching prospect (Ivan Pineyro) to get Scott Hairston from the Cubs. That shows how aggressive Mike Rizzo will be as he tries to tweak the roster to help Davey Johnson win in what likely will be his last season in the dugout.

14. Angels (17): They've gotten off the carpet but have a lot of ground to cover in competing against teams like the Rangers, A's, Orioles, Rays and Yankees.

15. Dodgers (18): The willingness to pay all of Ricky Nolasco's contract allowed the Dodgers to get him without sending top prospects to the Marlins.

16. Indians (9): They've seen about enough of Carlos Carrasco, haven't they? They could step up to get Matt Garza or another proven arm before the All-Star break.

17. Blue Jays (13): They won only five of the next 19 after an 11-game winning streak that moved them over .500. Can they face reality and become a midseason seller after the big buildup?

18. Phillies (22): Ryan Howard's trip to the disabled list might convince GM Ruben Amaro to listen to offers for Chase Utley and Michael Young, if not Cliff Lee and Jonathan Papelbon.

19. Royals (19): Would they trade any of their bullpen arms, such as Aaron Crow and Luke Hochevar?

20. Rockies (16): The starting rotation's 4.61 ERA ranks 13th in the NL, ahead of only the Padres and Brewers.

21. Cubs (24): Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer never stop working to add arms and kids who can hit. Trading Scott Feldman and Scott Hairston began their midseason sell-off, but the real news of the week was spending $6.1 million at the start of the international signing period, with more signings to come.

22. Mets (25): Rookie first baseman Josh Satin has a slash line of .321/.415/.481 in 35 career big-league games and has been even better than that since replacing Ike Davis this season.

23. Giants (20): When a Bruce Bochy team gets caught hitting out of order, you know the planets aren't aligned.

24. Twins (23): GM Terry Ryan says to blame the front office, not manager Ron Gardenhire. Offseason overhaul of coaching staff has produced no noticeable difference.

25. Mariners (28): Won back-to-back series at Texas and Cincinnati, creating something to build on.

26. Padres (21): Brutal trip to Miami, Boston and Washington created separation between teams in the tight NL West.

27. Brewers (26): Ryan Braun could be back Thursday after more than a month sidelined by a nerve injury in his right thumb. Like many others, he'll play with the Biogenesis hammer hanging over his head.

28. White Sox (27): The signing of 16-year-old Micker Zapata could be the White Sox's boldest long-term move since signing Dayan Viciedo. The bad news is that Viciedo's .630 OPS ranks 98th of 107 big-league outfielders with at least 150 plate appearances; his minus-1.5 WAR is 107th of 107.

29. Marlins (29): Why not listen to offers for Giancarlo Stanton?

30. Astros (30): Welcome to pro ball, Mark Appel. The first overall pick gave up two runs on three hits in the first inning of his debut in the rookie league.