A set of hot streaks catapulted some long-gone teams back into the rankings this week, including a pair of American League East teams. Were the Orioles one of them? As always, these rankings are completely subjectively, yet still objectively correct.
1. St. Louis Cardinals (42-21; Last Week: 1)
A rainout prevented the possibility of a humbling three-game sweep of the Kansas City Royals, but either way, the Cardinals keep powering along. Five regulars are batting over .280, and John Lackey has the worst ERA in the starting rotation at a perfectly fine 3.59. There’s not a lot wrong with this team.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers (37-27; LW: 4)
The outstanding Yasiel Puig, who broke a bat over his leg in pretty impressive fashion Monday night, hasn’t had much occasion to do that since coming back from the disabled list. Monday was his first hitless game of the eight since his return, a stretch in which he’s hitting .419.
3. Chicago Cubs (34-27; LW: 8)
The Cubs’ push for relevance continues when, during a six-game American League swing this week, they’ll bring up mashing minor league catcher Kyle Schwarber to serve as the designated hitter before sending him back down next week. What a smart use of talent by a team with a lot of brainpower at the top.
4. Kansas City Royals (35-25; LW: 2)
The Royals should probably be No. 1 given how many All-Stars it looks like they will have. But the All-Star Game is silly and good for their fans for voting, whatever the legitimacy of it is. Center fielder Lorenzo Cain should be an All-Star regardless.
5. Pittsburgh Pirates (36-27; LW: not ranked)
Another tear by the Pirates has given them the third-best record in the league — and with a +56 run differential, they could be even better. Pitcher Charlie Morton’s return to the rotation (4-0, 2.05 ERA in four starts) has only deepened what is already a strong staff.
6. Houston Astros (37-28; LW: 5)
The Astros' steady stream of young talent keeps producing victories and putting them atop the American League West race, where they’re getting unlikely competition from the Texas Rangers. Shortstop Carlos Correa (.310/.333/.552 with a home run though seven games) certainly looks ready to keep that pipeline going.
7. Tampa Bay Rays (36-29; LW: NR)
Try doing a Sporcle of the Rays 25-man roster right now. Just do it and see how it goes. And yet, there they are atop the division after starting June 10-4, thanks in part to a good pitching staff led by Chris Archer. Over his last four starts, Archer has allowed four earned runs on 19 hits in 30 innings with 43 strikeouts. Not bad.
8. New York Mets (35-30; LW: 10)
Matt Harvey has come back down to earth recently — after allowing four home runs in his first eight starts, he’s allowed eight in his last four — but he’s still striking out batters and mostly keeping the ball on the ground. These Mets will go as far as their pitching takes them, and he’s a big part of that.
9. Minnesota Twins (34-29; LW: 3)
The Twins are still in the playoff chase, but eight losses in their last ten certainly hurt their cause. The addition of top prospect Byron Buxton will give them a certain boost, but will it be enough to replicate their big May run?
10. Toronto Blue Jays (34-31; LW: not ranked)
The 11-game winning streak that began with two wins over the Washington Nationals and included sweeps over the Houston Astros, Miami Marlins and Boston Red Sox ended Monday at the hands of the Mets, but Toronto’s hot stretch single-handedly altered the division race. There’s just as much competition as we thought there would be now.