Every Monday morning, a look at the top dozen teams in baseball ... and the best of the rest.
On to the rankings…
Ranking | Team | Record | Last Week
1 Texas Rangers (30-18) (1)
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Some week, the Rangers won’t be ranked No. 1. It’s not this week. Texas has won six of 10 and still leads the league in runs, batting average, on-base percentage and slugging.
2 Los Angeles Dodgers (32-15) (4)
Catcher A.J. Ellis, a 31-year-old career backup, has been a revelation for Los Angeles, batting .317/.442/.517 in 37 games. Ex-Royal alert: Ellis’ backup, Matt Treanor, hit his second homer of the season on Sunday in a 5-1 victory over Houston.
3 Washington Nationals (29-18*) (5)
The fourth homer of Bryce Harper’s career came on Sunday night against Livan Hernandez, a 37-year-old who won a World Series MVP award when Harper was still in preschool. But the Nationals’ story continues to be about pitching. On Sunday in Atlanta, left-hander Gio Gonzalez allowed two runs in seven innings while striking out 10. He improved to 7-1 with a 2.04 ERA.
4 Tampa Bay Rays (29-19) (3)
The Rays took the final game of a lively series at Fenway Park on Sunday. And now, here’s one of the most interesting player lines of the season: Tampa Bay’s Ben Zobrist is batting just .206 but has posted a .352 on-base percentage while walking 35 times (with just 32 strikeouts).
5 Baltimore Orioles (29-19) (7)
It’s hard to think of the Orioles as the fifth-best team in baseball — especially after they lost two of three at home to the Royals — but here’s some credit for playing .604 baseball through 48 games. The Orioles also managed to lock up center fielder Adam Jones to a six-year, $85.5 million deal.
6 St. Louis Cardinals (26-22) (6)
A May slide knocked the Cardinals out of first place, but St. Louis still has the second-best run-differential in baseball (+63) and Carlos Beltran (with an OPS+ near 170) is threatening to have a career year at age 35.
7 New York Yankees (26-21) (9)
Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter passed George Brett on the all-time hits list on Sunday, singling against Oakland for career hit No. 3,155. Jeter took over sole possession of 14th place in the record book.
The Yankees issued a statement with a comment from Brett:
“I’m always kind of bummed out when guys pass you because you had your own place in the record books for a while, and I had that one there for a while,” Brett said in the statement. “But a guy like Derek comes around and passes you, really, I think it all depends on the type of person that did it. I have the utmost respect for him. I’ve only met him one time, very briefly, but for a guy to play as long as he has in New York, and I’ve never heard one bad thing said about the guy, he’s definitely a team player, he’s a clutch player. He’s been the backbone of this organization for a long, long time and when a guy like that passes you, I’d like to shake his hand and look him in the eye and say congratulations.”
8 Cincinnati Reds (27-20) (12)
Red first baseman Joey Votto has been a freak during the month of May, batting .350/.490/675 while the Reds have climbed past St. Louis and into first place in the NL Central.
9 Atlanta Braves (26-23) (2)
The Braves are in freefall mode in the formidable NL East. After Sunday’s loss to Washington, Atlanta has lost seven straight, its worst skid since dropping nine straight in 2010.
10 Chicago White Sox (26-22) (17)
The White Sox aren’t the biggest movers of the week... but they’re close. Paul Konerko went two for four and hit his 11th homer on Sunday; he’s now batting .399/.476/.681 — the best season in the AL by someone not named Josh Hamilton.
11 Miami Marlins (26-22) (11)
Giancarlo Stanton has been lighting up that ridiculous Marlin sculpture in Miami all May, hitting 10 homers thus far. But he finally drilled a baseball directly into the sculpture on Friday.
12 Los Angeles Angels (24-25) (20)
This is more like it: The Angels have won 7 of 10, 18 of 29, and Albert Pujols, even after a zero-for-four performance on Sunday, is batting .300 with four homers in his last six games. Center fielder Mike Trout, who won’t turn 21 until August 7, has been a crucial spark in the lineup.
The best of the rest:
13 Cleveland Indians (26-21) (10)
14 New York Mets (27-21) (19)
15 Toronto Blue Jays (24-24) (8)
16 Boston Red Sox (23-24) (13)
17 San Francisco Giants (25-23) (14)
18 Detroit Tigers (23-24) (15)
19 Philadelphia Phillies (21-21) (16)
20 Arizona Diamondbacks (22-26) (18)
21 Oakland A’s (22-26) (21)
22 Kansas City Royals (19-27) (26)
23 Pittsburgh Pirates (23-24) (2)
24 Houston Astros (22-25) (22)
25 Milwaukee Brewers (19-28) (23)
26 Seattle Mariners (21-29) (24)
27 Colorado Rockies (17-29) (27)
28 San Diego Padres (17-32) (28)
29 Minnesota Twins (15-32) (30)
30 Chicago Cubs (15-32) (29)