Starting Pitching Helps Red Sox Establish Themselves in MLB Power Rankings

Starting Pitching Helps Red Sox Establish Themselves in MLB Power RankingsThe Red Sox may have limped out of the gate, but they are beginning to find their stride and climb the AL East standings.

Can they catch the Rays or Yankees? It should be an interesting summer.

With Memorial Day right around the corner, here's how Boston stacks up against the rest of the majors.

  • 1

    Tampa Bay Rays (32-13)

    James Shields is 5-1 with a 3.09 ERA this season, and his .352 BABIP against would have you believe that he's been unlucky to fare so well. The righty may be the MVP of the league's best team to date.

  • 2

    Philadelphia Phillies (26-17)

    Jayson Werth's 1.048 OPS is second only to Andre Ethier in the NL. With the big league average for right fielders more than 200 points lower at .818, it's not hard to see why Werth might be the hottest commodity on the market during the coming offseason.

  • 3

    New York Yankees (26-18)

    Perhaps all Javier Vazquez needed to get back on track was a National League foe. The beleaguered righty held the Mets to just one hit over six shutout innings in the Yankees win on Saturday.

  • 4

    St. Louis Cardinals (26-19)

    Albert Pujols has hit just one homer in May. He hasn't finished a month with fewer than three taters since September of 2007.

  • 5

    Minnesota Twins (26-18)

    Although Jon Rauch rarely dominates opposing hitters, he's done a fine job as the Twins' closer, saving 10 of 12 games. As a team that values its prospects, Minnesota might be inclined to stick with the 6-foot-11 behemoth rather than mortgage its future for a closer.

  • 6

    Cincinnati Reds (26-19)

    If you're looking for the most improved pitchers in baseball this season, look no further than Cincinnati's Johnny Cueto. The 24-year-old has pared his walk rate, upped his strikeout rate, and is reaping the rewards with a 3.60 ERA through his first nine starts.

  • 7

    Texas Rangers (25-20)

    C.J. Wilson allowed just 10 runs over his first seven starts of the year, but he's been torched for 12 runs over his last two outings. The Rangers need him to get back on track as the AL West race remains tight.

  • 8

    San Diego Padres (26-18)

    David Eckstein has struck out just four times in 174 plate appearances this season. He's on pace to post the lowest strikeout rate in the majors since Dave Cash in 1976.

  • 9

    Los Angeles Dodgers (25-19)

    The Dodgers, at 16-5, have the best record in the league for the month of May. Righty Chad Billingsley (4.85 ERA in April, 2.45 ERA in May) has been a big part of their resurgence.

  • 10

    Detroit Tigers (25-19)

    Of the relief pitchers signed this winter, none have excelled quite as much as Jose Valverde, who has converted 11 of 12 save chances and allowed only one earned run in 19 2/3 innings of work.

  • 11

    Boston Red Sox (25-21)

    Jon Lester has quickly reinserted himself into the AL Cy Young discussion by cruising to the tune of a 3-0 record, 2.32 ERA, and 0.87 WHIP in May.

  • 12

    Atlanta Braves (23-21)

    The Braves — led by an unlikely walkoff grand slam from Brooks Conrad — likely engineered the comeback of the season when they scored seven runs in the ninth inning to edge the Reds 10-9 last Thursday.

  • 13

    Florida Marlins (23-22)

    Josh Johnson blanked the White Sox for six innings on Sunday, but did not strike out a batter. The 26-year-old hadn't failed to log a whiff in any of his previous 85 career starts.

  • 14

    Toronto Blue Jays (27-20)

    Cito Gaston's team continues to blow away the rest of the league with 76 homers to date. Third baseman Edwin Encarnacion came off the DL and promptly mashed six of them during the past week.

  • 15

    Oakland Athletics (23-22)

    The previously erratic Gio Gonzalez has issued just 24 walks in 54 2/3 innings this season. If he can continue to harness his control, the 24-year-old — in tandem with Brett Anderson — could give the A's a formidable 1-2 punch of southpaws for many years.

  • 16

    Colorado Rockies (22-22)

    Rockies' second basemen have combined for a lowly .242 average and .672 OPS in 2010, so it's not surprising that they're interested in new free agent Kaz Matsui. The veteran compiled a .300 average over 523 at-bats with Colorado in 2006-2007.

  • 17

    New York Mets (22-23)

    A bevy of injuries might put the Mets in the market for a starting pitcher, but it's worth remembering that while Jerry Manuel's squad ranks seventh in the league in team ERA, they're 22nd in OPS.

  • 18

    San Francisco Giants (22-21)

    Bengie Molina was hitless in 17 at-bats before coming through with a pinch-hit single on Sunday. Top prospect Buster Posey, batting .327 in Triple-A, looms large.

  • 19

    Washington Nationals (23-22)

    The Nats are just 2 1/2 games out in the NL East race, and with Stephen Strasburg's arrival on the horizon, GM Mike Rizzo just might be a buyer at this year's trade deadline.

  • 20

    Arizona Diamondbacks (20-25)

    Starting pitcher Dan Haren has authored more extra-base hits (5) this season than 14 major league position players with at least 100 at-bats.

  • 21

    Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (21-26)

    Mike Napoli went yard in all three games of the Halos' tilts with the Cardinals, becoming the first player to accomplish the feat in the history of interleague play.

  • 22

    Chicago Cubs (21-24)

    Three of the Cubs' starting infielders rank among league's 40 worst players in OPS. Third baseman Aramis Ramirez (.495) is the only regular who hasn't been able to crack the still-pathetic .500 plateau.

  • 23

    Kansas City Royals (18-27)

    The Royals finally found a way to give Zack Greinke some run support on Sunday, scoring seven runs against the Rockies. Unfortunately, Greinke was shelled for eight runs in 3 1/3 innings and suffered his fifth loss anyway.

  • 24

    Chicago White Sox (19-25)

    With his batting line a disastrous .191 AVG/.294 OBP/.241 SLG, Gordon Beckham has been one of the league's biggest disappointments. A demotion to Triple-A can't be far off if his sophomore slump continues.

  • 25

    Seattle Mariners (16-28)

    Felix Hernandez and Cliff Lee were supposed to make the Mariners unbeatable in 40 percent of their games. Instead, they've won just two of the co-aces' last 11 starts.

  • 26

    Pittsburgh Pirates (19-26)

    Akinori Iwamura had gone 0-for-34 before collecting a pair of hits on Sunday, snapping his skid one shy of the major league position player record for consecutive hitless at-bats in a single season, held by Hal Finney since 1936.

  • 27

    Milwaukee Brewers (17-27)

    The Brewers are just 4-14 this season at Miller Park. No other National League team has fewer than nine wins on its home turf.

  • 28

    Cleveland Indians (16-27)

    Cleveland lost Grady Sizemore to a knee injury last week, but his replacement Trevor Crowe has notched at least one hit in eight of his nine games and is batting .324 compared to Sizemore's .211.

  • 29

    Baltimore Orioles (14-31)

    The Orioles have succeeded on a pathetic 57 percent of their stolen base attempts this season, the worst mark in the majors.

  • 30

    Houston Astros (15-29)

    Pedro Feliz smacked the 1000th home run by an Astro at Minute Maid Park on Sunday, but it wasn't enough to keep his team from dropping the rubber match to the Rays.

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