Cubs # 3 in this weeks power rankings

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Updated April 15

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1 Diamondbacks · Trends 1

Boy are we glad we had the stones to move them up as early as we did. They look like world beaters through three full weeks and have done it by owning their own division at a 13-3 clip.

2 Red Sox · Trends 3

Sure the AL might be a bit stronger, but no one can argue the D-Backs aren't worthy of being baseball's No. 1 right now -- even amid the Red Sox's hot streak.

3 Cubs · Trends 7

We don't think their ceiling is this high, but only the D-Backs have fewer losses through three weeks of play. They have played just six of their first 19 on the road, though.

4 Angels · Trends 4

The front end and back end of the rotation will both be fixed if John Lackey (triceps) can make his early return from the DL. Only the D-Backs have more wins out of their starting rotation. Take the top two veteran starters -- Lackey and Kelvim Escobar (shoulder, might be out for the season) from any other team in baseball and see if you could be saying the same.

5 Cardinals · Trends 5

They entered the season with one true weakness -- starting pitching. But never count out pitching coach Dave Duncan. He works miracles. Only the D-Backs have fewer losses from their starters, so clearly that can't really be considered a weakness right now. We still have questions, but Mark Mulder could be on the way to help resolve those, too.

6 Brewers · Trends 2

We were fooled into trusting Ben Sheets once more! Seriously, we will give him the benefit of the doubt and won't drop the Brew Crew too far. Yovani Gallardo's return buys them time with Sheets' triceps.

7 Mets · Trends 9

They have shown some life of late, mostly because Jose Reyes has. We have said it often, but perhaps you might finally buy into it: As Reyes goes, so goes the Mets. David Wright does the heavy lifting, sure, but Reyes is even more important to the team's success. When Reyes is on, the Mets win. It can't be stated enough.

8 Yankees · Trends 6

The young pitching -- a perceived strength -- is struggling mightily: Phil Hughes (0-3, 8.82) and Ian Kennedy (0-2, 9.64). Then, of course, Hank Steinbrenner goes and becomes the knee jerk: 'We need Joba starting!' Patience, rookie; act like you've been there. Young pitching takes time. Joba is right where he belongs and Hughes and Kennedy, to a lesser extent, will come around.

9 Braves · Trends 16

They have done an admirable job stop-gapping their rotation and closer's role and deserve credit. An offense with Chipper Jones, Mark Teixeira and Jeff Francoeur can make up for a lot of warts. Only the D-Backs, Cubs and Red Sox have scored more runs to date.

10 Phillies · Trends 10

Three NL East teams in the top 10 and the current division leader is excluded. Wow! The Phillies are getting better starting pitching than expected and Chase Utley looks like an MVP with the reigning one, Jimmy Rollins (ankle), on the DL.

11 White Sox · Trends 14

The recent progress of Gavin Floyd and John Danks is a double-barrel reason for optimism. The ChiSox are a serious threat if those two can sustain this for a significant stretch, because the offense hasn't really gotten hot yet (.242). They are fifth in runs scored entering Tuesday and might only climb that list.

12 Blue Jays · Trends 12

B.J. Ryan looks ready to lead what can be a very good bullpen to back a very good rotation. Pitching can keep you in the race a long time over the course of a season.

13 Mariners · Trends 21

Closer J.J. Putz will be back Tuesday and Erik Bedard might return Thursday -- two very good reasons for optimism. It is remarkable they are 10-10 heading into week 4.

14 Padres · Trends 11

Starting pitching will keep them from falling far from .500 over the season, so you have to consider them above some of the hotter also-rans right now.

15 Athletics · Trends 24

Only a few teams have had better starting pitching to date, mostly without help from Rich Harden (shoulder). We have to give them a little more respect for their solid start, but we don't see their punchless lineup (a league-low seven homers) helping much when the unproven starting pitching eventually cools off.

16 Indians · Trends 8

Big C.C. Sabathia won't stay down for long. He is the worst starting pitcher in the major leagues through four starts, a ridiculous anomaly. Lefties are erratic and streaky, but nothing but good should come from Sabathia as long as he is healthy.

17 Marlins · Trends 25

They will not be able to sustain. They are mashing in the lineup. Hitters get hot. But their starting pitching is still suspect and that's something that tends to fluctuate less. Despite the hot starts of Mark Hendrickson and Scott Olsen, only the Pirates have a worse starters' ERA than the Marlins (5.91).

18 Rockies · Trends 18

Clint Barmes, once a Rookie of the Year candidate before that deer meat incident, is hot and taking hold of the second base job right now. We knew they could hit. They need to prove capable in the rotation over the long haul, namely unproven talents Ubaldo Jimenez and Franklin Morales.

19 Orioles · Trends 20

Yet another hot team out of the gate that will fade as the weather warms. And the No. 1 reason is the same: starting pitching. Only the Yankees, Rays and Tigers have a worse starters' ERA than the O's (4.80) in the AL. Unlike the other teams, the O's don't figure to get much better than where they are. Like the Cubs, the O's have played an MLB-low six games on the road to date.

20 Tigers · Trends 23

The struggling AL Central portion of our rankings: The Tigers' slow start is almost out of their system. Expect them to pitch more consistently and move up from their unlikely No. 20 spot in runs scored.

21 Twins · Trends 22

Only the Padres and Giants have a worse OBP -- not make an out percentage -- than the Twins (.302). We knew they would struggle for offensive consistency, but hopefully the young pitching doesn't get discouraged.

22 Royals · Trends 13

Sure, Zack Greinke and Brian Bannister are making strides, but did you really expect them to slug it out with the big boys over the long haul? This is a developing young team, but they figure to be a streaky one until the talent becomes established.

23 Reds · Trends 17

Their starting pitching is a statistical anomaly at this point: Bad rotation ERA (4.54) is backed by a league-best 104 strikeouts and a league-low 33 walks among starting pitchers. That is a sign things will get better -- as long as Johnny Cueto and Edinson Volquez can make it over the long haul, of course.

24 Rays · Trends 24

Calling up Evan Longoria was followed by signing him to a six-year deal. Not a bad thing to buy out his arbitration years, which was a reason they decided to start him in the minors. A new ballpark and promise to compete in a few years could help him become a face of the beDeviled franchise.

25 Dodgers · Trends 19

OK -- Andruw Jones, now a No. 8 hitter, is a joke. He reported to camp in the worst shape of his career and might actually be finished as a reliable starting outfielder. Good thing the Dodgers have an extra center fielder on the bench in Juan Pierre.

26 Astros · Trends 27

Only the Indians and Nationals have a worse team batting average than the Astros (.237). That won't last, but the starting pitching behind Roy Oswalt doesn't figure to get much better.

27 Pirates · Trends 26

They have lost six in a row and have the worst starting pitching in baseball to date. We don't see either stretch lasting long. In fact, before the year is out, the developing pitching will prove to be a strength, trust us.

28 Rangers · Trends 28

They lead baseball with 48 doubles. If not for a hitter-friendly ballpark how in the world will this team score runs consistently? They are tied with the Tigers with the worst home record in baseball at 2-6.

29 Giants · Trends 29

No one is shocked they have scored the fewest runs per game in baseball at just over 3.00 per game. Is Matt Williams really the last home-grown hitting talent they have produced? How does a farm system produce so little for so long?

30 Nationals · Trends 30

Their starting pitching is a league-worst 3-11. Their offense has a league-worst .227 average. That adds up to a pitiful start and they are 2-15 in their past 17 games. Manny Acta's crew will be peskier in the summer months, though.

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Posts: 842

Cubs are playing great for sure- finally got their streak snapped by the Rockies.

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