MLB Power Rankings: Cards lead stacked NL Central

MLB Power Rankings: Cards lead stacked NL Central
May 30, 2013, 11:30 am
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St. Louis leads a stacked NL Central division, which by any measure has three of the top teams in the major leagues. Texas, meanwhile, is still the class of the AL, but they've been surpassed by a couple of the Cardinals' rivals.

Here's how Nationals Insider Mark Zuckerman, Nats writer Chase Hughes, and I see the rest of the big leagues shaking out:

1. St. Louis Cardinals (35-17; LW: 1) - Hughes: Each week we laud about their rotation, but their offense isn't too shabby either. Among their key contributors are Yadier Molina (4th rd. pick), Allen Craig (8th rd. pick) and Matt Carpenter (13th rd. pick). It's incredible how they find talent.

2. Cincinnati Reds (33-20; LW: 3) - Hughes: Everything is coming together for Cincy's pitching staff with Mat Latos, Bronson Arroyo, Homer Bailey, and Mike Leake all pitching as well as they ever have in their careers.

3. Atlanta Braves (31-21; LW: 4) - Roney: Whatever they do, they need to keep giving Evan Gattis regular at bats. WIth Uggla, Heyward, and Upton Senior struggling, he's too good to languish on the bench.

4. Texas Rangers (32-20; LW: 2) - Zuckerman: Texas is absolutely dominating its division: 19-9 vs AL West, 13-11 vs everyone else.

5. Pittsburgh Pirates (33-20; LW: 8) - Hughes: They always seem to tease their fans with hot starts, but their pitching may be the difference this year. A.J. Burnett and Jeff Locke are legit All-Star candidates so far.

6. Boston Red Sox (32-22; LW: 6) - Roney: Jacoby Ellsbury is heating up at the perfect time for the Sox, and for himself as well -- he's a free agent at the end of the year, and was looking nothing like the $15 million/year player he probably thinks he is.

7. Detroit Tigers (29-22; LW: 10) - Hughes: Call me crazy, but I think this Miguel Cabrera guy is pretty good. If he keeps it up he belongs in the conversation of the best hitters we've seen in a long, long time.

8. New York Yankees (30-22; LW: 5) - Roney: Mariano Rivera recently blew a save while recording no outs for the first time in his career. Once, in 700 save opportunities. We can say the words, but we won't truly appreciate how dominant he is and has been until he's been long retired.

9. Arizona Diamondbacks (30-22; LW: 11) - Zuckerman: Patrick Corbin (8-0) is the real deal and gives Arizona a very deep rotation.

10. Oakland Athletics (31-23; LW: 13) - Zuckerman: A perfect 9-0 vs. the wretched Astros so far this season.

11. San Francisco Giants (28-25; LW: 9) - Zuckerman: Sandoval-Posey-Pence makes for a very dangerous trio in the heart of the lineup.

12. Baltimore Orioles (29-24; LW: 12) - Roney: Manny Machado leads all AL position players -- including a certain third baseman in Detroit -- with a 3.4 WAR. The difference between Manny Machado has made for the Orioles: 2.5 games out of first, where they are now, or 2.5 games out of last, where they'd be without him.

13. Cleveland Indians (28-24; LW: 7) - Hughes: Cleveland is starting to fall back to where everyone predicted they would belong. Really though, how long was Mark Reynolds going to keep playing like an MVP candidate?

14. Washington Nationals (27-26; LW: 16) - Roney: Ryan Zimmerman carried his batting practice show over into the real game last night, and yet still couldn't will the Nats to a win.

15. Colorado Rockies (28-25; LW: 15) - Zuckerman: Only 1 of 5 starters (Chacin) is averaging more than 6 innings per outing.

16. Tampa Bay Rays (28-24; LW: 14) - Roney: As good as Fernando Rodney was last year (0.60 ERA), that's how bad (5.40 ERA) he's been this year. Do we need more proof that the idea of the longtime, shutdown closer will die with Rivera's retirement?

17. Philadelphia Phillies (26-27; LW: 18) - Roney: I feel like a broken record, but it's hard to feel like Domonic Brown has truly arrived (13 HR) while his on-base percentage remains below .300.

18. Chicago White Sox (24-26; LW: 20) - Hughes: With the Nats finally starting to hit, they've passed several teams, the White Sox among them, in run production. Chicago has the worst offense in the American League.

19. San Diego Padres (24-28; LW: 19) - Zuckerman: Not a lot of household names, but they're playing respectable baseball right now.

20. Los Angeles Angels (24-29; LW: 24) - Zuckerman: Just completed perhaps the quietest 8-game winning streak you'll ever see.

21. Los Angeles Dodgers (22-29; LW: 23) - Zuckerman: Don Mattingly has survived his firing... for now. Still seems like it's only a matter of time.

22. Minnesota Twins (22-28; LW: 22) - Hughes: Besides Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, and Josh Willingham, the Twins' roster is a bunch of no-names. Their top prospects are all in the minors right now as well.

23. Kansas City Royals (21-29; LW: 17) - Hughes: When they started 17-10 people thought maybe this was the year. But since they have fallen back into the cellar and their inability to hit for power is a big reason for it.

24. Toronto Blue Jays (23-30; LW: 26) - Roney: Well, so much for the Jays' season of rebirth. They're in last in the AL East, with the only losing record in the division.

25. Seattle Mariners (22-31; LW: 21) - Zuckerman: Not only is Michael Morse cooling off, now he's out with a strained quad.

26. Chicago Cubs (21-30; LW: 25) - Hughes: Former National Edwin Jackson is having the worst year of his career. He is 1-7 with a 6.11 ERA on an otherwise decent pitching staff.

27. New York Mets (21-29; LW: 28) - Roney: Any other team would be looking, or should be looking, to trade David Wright this summer. The Mets probably can't afford to, though, for more reasons that I care to count.

28. Milwaukee Brewers (19-32; LW: 27) - Hughes: Milwaukee is one of the biggest disappointments this year and it has everything to do with pitching. Ryan Braun, Jean Segura, and Carlos Gomez have been excellent.

29. Houston Astros (16-37; LW: 29) - Zuckerman: Trying to think of something nice to say ... hmm, Jose Altuve is a pretty good little player.

30. Miami Marlins (13-40; LW: 30) - Roney: Is there any doubt that Kevin Slowey and Ricky Nolasco will be traded this summer? It is 100% the right move for the Marlins to make, but if you're a free agent and you have an option other than Miami, why would you sign there, as Slowey did this winter? Signing with Miami is like buying into a timeshare instead of purchasing a vacation home.