April 23, 2013
Last week's ranking in parentheses
1. Braves (1): They stopped scoring runs over the weekend in Pittsburgh but bought themselves time with the 13-2 start.
2. Giants (2): Tim Lincecum took a shutout into the seventh Saturday, his best start of the season. Imagine how that rotation will look if he reverts to his previously overpowering self.
3. Nationals (3): They have scored only seven runs in four starts by Stephen Strasburg, who has lost his last three. But the legend of Bryce Harper continues to grow, including two homers with the flu.
4. Rangers (6): Matt Harrison's back surgery will test the organizational pitching depth. But Texas won four of the first five games started by rookies Nick Tepesch and Justin Grimm.
5. Reds (9): Five double-digit scoring days already. Joey Votto appears to be heating up.
6. Tigers (4): While it's easy to focus on the closer question, the bigger issue with the defending AL champs is consistent run production. Torii Hunter did not get to enjoy his trip to Anaheim as the Angels swept the Tigers.
7. Athletics (5): Swept by the Rays in Tampa Bay, the A's are missing Yoenis Cespedes.
8. Cardinals (7): Finding at-bats for Matt Adams is a challenge for Mike Matheny. That falls under the heading of Good Problems to Have.
9. Rockies (12): Only the snow can slow these fellows down.
10. Red Sox (13): Neil Diamond's appearance on Saturday was really cool.
11. Orioles (11): That's 17 straight extra-inning wins and counting.
12. Diamondbacks (8): The fast start has slowed down the Justin Upton questions. But they're coming.
13. Royals (15): Ervin Santana got racked in his first start but has looked like a No. 2 starter his last three times out.
14. Yankees (16): After a homerless opening day, the Pinstripes homered in 16 straight games with backup catcher Chris Stewart getting the only one Sunday.
15. Rays (17): Sweep of the A's came at just the right time.
16. Dodgers (10): The injuries to Zack Greinke and Chad Billingsley have taken the sparkle out of the rotation. It doesn't help that they've lost all four of Josh Beckett's starts.
17. Phillies (14): Roy Halladay is back on track, which is a huge relief.
18. Pirates (20): Travis Snider is showing why the Blue Jays brought him to the big leagues when he was only 20. He could be a difference-maker if he can keep this up.
19. Brewers (25): Jim Henderson has settled down the bullpen.
20. Angels (23): Albert Pujols' plantar fasciitis is a huge concern. The Angels swept the Tigers with him limited to DH duties but may need to sit him at some point for his long-term good.
21. Blue Jays (18): Waiting to get on a roll, with Josh Johnson and Brandon Morrow among those spinning their wheels.
22. Mets (19): Matt Harvey looks like the best young pitcher in the game. He demonstrated that in beating Stephen Strasburg on Friday.
23. White Sox (22): Last in the majors in walks and on-base percentage. No wonder Rick Hahn and Robin Ventura spent the winter and spring training talking about winning with pitching and defense.
24. Indians (21): Weekend in Houston woke up the bats.
25. Twins (28): At least Joe Mauer's hitting again.
26. Mariners (24): Things could get real ugly real fast in the Mariners don't start winning. Jack Zduriencik was under pressure to shake up his roster this winter, but the rebuilt lineup is last in the AL with 3.1 runs per game and a .631 OPS.
27. Padres (30): Swept the Dodgers and then got swept by the Giants. Naturally.
28. Cubs (26): Welington Castillo has thrown out six runners trying to steal, more than any catcher other than Matt Wieters (7). Unfortunately, opponents haven't stopped running.
29. Astros (27): The biggest starts being made for Houston executives are by Oklahoma's Jonathan Gray and Stanford's Mark Appel. Gray has moved alongside Appel, at the least, in consideration for being the first overall pick in the June draft.
30. Marlins (29): Giancarlo Stanton, who has only two extra-base hits, failed to homer in a four-game series at Great American Ball Park. His .545 OPS is down from .969 last year. You wonder how badly his shoulder is bothering him.
Copyright © 2013 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC