6:42 PM CDT, April 29, 2013
Last week's ranking in parentheses
1. Rangers (4): They're 6-1 in starts by No. 5 and 6 starters Nick Tepesch and Justin Grimm. Move to the first spot because other teams ranked in the top 5 were 9-17 last week.
2. Tigers (6): Very impressive in sweeping the Braves, outscoring them 25-7. Anibal Sanchez's 17-strikeout game was the start of a great weekend.
3. Braves (1): Happy to be getting home after 3-7 trip to Pittsburgh, Denver and Detroit. Back to business against the Nationals.
4. Red Sox (10): It's time to start believing in these guys, who had a majors' best +40 run differential through Sunday. John Lackey's strong start Sunday hints that the rotation could be five deep, with Ryan Dempster and Felix Doubront continuing their strong work.
5. Cardinals (8): They have the Nationals' number, as they showed in sweeping low-scoring series behind strong starts from Shelby Miller, Adam Wainwright and Jaime Garcia.
6. Reds (5): Rookie Tony Cingrani worked 18 innings with a 1.50 ERA in his first three starts, including a win at Washington on Sunday. So much for the drop-off while Johnny Cueto recovers from a strained lat muscle.
7. Giants (2): Shortstop Brandon Crawford is continuing to emerge as one of baseball's true two-way players at his position. He's leading his team in homers with five.
8. Nationals (3): Rotation ranks fifth in NL in ERA. That's not bad but not as good as expected.
9. Orioles (11): Could Chris Davis wind up leading the league in home runs and RBIs this year? Probably not (his career OPS is .799) but he's positioned himself nicely for 35-plus homers and 100-plus RBIs, which would be a big step toward getting his team back in the playoffs.
10. Diamondbacks (12): Are they this year's Orioles? They're 6-0 in extra-inning games.
11. Yankees (14): Brian Cashman's late-spring roster restocking looked silly at the time. Not anymore, with the aging imports completely offsetting the run of injuries. Replacing right-hander Ivan Nova and catcher Francisco Cervelli is the latest challenge.
12. Athletics (7): They missed Yoenis Cespedes, who returned with a game-changing home run on Sunday.
13. Royals (13): Still not scoring runs like they did in the spring but averaged 5.6 runs last week, a big step forward.
14. Pirates (18): Very impressive in taking two of three in St. Louis. Rookie lefty Jeff Locke doesn't have great stuff but is looking fearless.
15. Rockies (9): Quiet stretch by Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez prompt call for third baseman Nolan Arenado, who was hitting .364 with a 1.059 OPS at Colorado Springs.
16. Rays (15): Matt Moore has been unbeatable.
17. Dodgers (16): Not a good sign that they've already needed nine starting pitchers, with Mike Magill the latest.
18. Phillies (17): Finally a win in a Cole Hamels start after five consecutive losses.
19. Brewers (19): Ron Roenicke did a nice job getting his team turned around after a 2-8 start. The rotation isn't great but could be good enough to compete.
20. Twins (25): Surviving April has been a nice trick while playing on baseball's frozen tundra.
21. White Sox (23): Scored 26 runs during a 3-5 homestand against the Rays, Indians and Twins. It's hard to see how they can get this lineup turned around, with hot stretches from Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko badly needed.
22. Angels (20): It's a good thing for Mike Scioscia that he's signed through 2018 as his teams have underachieved since 2009, when they last appeared in the playoffs.
23. Mets (22): Took two out of three from Washington to start homestand but then went 1-5 against the Dodgers and Phillies.
24. Indians (24): It shouldn't be much longer until Trevor Bauer gets a promotion from Triple-A Columbus. Daisuke Matsuzaka is an option too but his wildness (18 walks in 20 2-3 innings) remains an issue.
25. Mariners (26): Aaron Harang hasn't been enjoying Safeco Field's pitching advantage.
26. Padres (27): Carlos Quentin's return sent them to Wrigley Field after an unlikely sweep of the Giants.
27. Cubs (28): It's been a disappointing April for Alfonso Soriano. The good news is that May has historically been his most productive month (.849 OPS, 76 home runs).
28. Blue Jays (21): Season-opening power ranking had them third. But their -35 run differential ranks ahead of only the Astros (-50) and Marlins (-46). They rank 12th in the AL in OPS but have had even more problem preventing runs than scoring them, allowing the second most unearned runs in the AL. How secure is John Gibbons' job?
29. Marlins (30): Jeffrey Loria says he didn't order late switch of starters in Tuesday's doubleheader in Minnesota. Does anyone believe him? Through four weeks, they project to final record of 39-123.
30. Astros (29): Could they pass on Mark Appel and Jonathan Crawford to take third baseman Kris Bryant first overall in the draft? Bryant has monster power (22 homers, 44 games), which would play well at Minute Maid Park.
Copyright © 2014 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC