2012 MLB Power Rankings: Updated Top 10 Teams – Orioles and Rangers Top the List: With the summer months fast approaching, the sweltering hot days that wear down teams and separate the contenders from the pretenders are right around the corner. In the meantime, teams are doing their best to put themselves in a good position heading into this crucial stretch of the year. Roughly 40 games into the 2012 season, there are certainly some surprises at the top and the bottom of the division races. Preseason favorites like Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Phillies are sitting in the cellar of the AL and NL East, and the Los Angeles Angels are only 1.5 games out of last in the AL West. Needless to say, the struggles of these teams and other have opened the door for a few surprises in the latest addition of MLB Power Rankings.

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2012 MLB Power Rankings Thru May 19th

1.      Baltimore Orioles (26-14): That’s right. Baltimore is in the top spot, and we are midway through the month of May. The Orioles are leading the AL East, and they are tied for the most wins in the majors this season. Young hitters like Adam Jones and Matt Wieters have blossomed, and Balitmore currently has an MLB-leading 62 home runs as a team. The pitching has also been much better than expected, and the Orioles have the fourth-best ERA in baseball. The team’s surprising success is looking more sustainable by the game, and this would be the ultimate underdog story.

2.      Texas Rangers (25-15): The Rangers have scored more runs than any team in baseball this season, they are hitting .291 as a team, and they have the third-best team ERA. They also have this guy named Josh Hamilton, who is well on his way to winning a second AL MVP Award. The Texas lineup is absolutely loaded with power and speed, and offseason addition Yu Darvish has provided an instant boost to the starting rotation. The two-time defending AL pennant winners have so much firepower that it borders on being unfair.

3.      Los Angeles Dodgers (26-13): While Matt Kemp may get a lot of the headlines, it is really the Dodgers’ pitching staff that has carried the team this season. Defending NL Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw leads a rock solid starting rotation, and Los Angeles currently ranks second in the majors with a 3.07 team ERA. The fact that the Dodgers have been able to maintain their solid pace despite Kemp missing time with injuries only solidifies this team’s chance for the long haul.

4.      Tampa Bay Rays (24-16): Injuries to slugger Evan Longoria and closer Kyle Farnsworth haven’t stopped the Rays from being one of the best teams in baseball. James Shields and David Price lead a rotation that ranks second in the majors in strikeouts, and even though Tampa Bay doesn’t have the most loaded lineup, the offense finds ways to get it done. Thanks to the third-most steals in baseball and timely hitting, the Rays rank in the top 10 in terms of runs scored. Speed kills, and this team has it in their lineup and on the mound.

5.      Atlanta Braves (25-15): With a constantly-improving young lineup featuring the likes of Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman and Brian McCann and a lights out bullpen, the Braves are threatening to return to the glory days when the dominated the NL East. For the first time in a long time, Atlanta’s offense is scaring opponents, and the Braves currently rank third in team batting average and are tied for the second-most runs scored. The starting pitching has struggled at times, but having Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel at the backend, the Braves can shorten games. Atlanta has a ton of young talent, and this team is just scratching the surface of what it can do.

6.      Washington Nationals (23-16): Washington ranks third-last with just 141 runs scored this season, but that hasn’t stopped the Nationals from having one of the better records in the majors this season. The secret to their success has been incredible pitching, and Washington currently leads baseball with a 2.90 team ERA, 1.11 team WHIP and 341 strikeouts. Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmerman lead the stellar rotation, and if the lineup can provide any kind of run support, the Nationals will be tough to handle.

7.      Cleveland Indians (22-17): The surprise leaders of the AL Central don’t really pop on the stat sheet except for the win column, which is all that counts in the long run. Cleveland has a young lineup that strikes out too much and a young rotation that walks too many batters, but the Indians do rank in the top 10 in runs scored this year. Consistency is going to remain an issue for such a young, inexperienced team, but the good has outweighed the bad so far. Not to mention the fact that no other team in the division seems eager to step up and take control anyway.

8.      St. Louis Cardinals (22-17): Injuries have plagued St. Louis all season, as Jon Jay, Lance Berkman, Carlos Beltran, Allen Craig and Chris Carpenter have all missed time 6ro dealt with nagging issues. Still, the defending World Series champs are leading the NL Central and have had one of the most reliable offenses in baseball. The Cardinals rank second in runs scored and team batting average and have hit the fifth-most home runs this season. The pitching hasn’t been great, but it hasn’t been bad either. With a rotation that is missing its ace and a ton of other injuries, St. Louis should only get better as it gets healthy.

9.      New York Yankees (21-18): The Yankees’ pitching staff is a wreck, but what else is new? Yes, the loss of closer Mariano Rivera is a devastating blow to the bullpen, but at the end of the day, New York is all about belting homers and scoring runs. The Yankees rank third in the majors in home runs, and the lineup is as loaded as ever. Not to mention that since returning, Andy Pettite has looked like a capable No. 2 starter to CC Sabathia. The Yankees don’t have much pitching, but the last few years have shown that a strong offense can mask the problem to a degree.

10.  Miami Marlins (21-18): After a rough start, the Marlins have been one of the hotter teams in baseball the past month. Miami has been the NL version of Tampa Bay in many ways, relying on pitching and speed to win games. With Jose Reyes and Emilio Bonifacio at the top of the lineup, the Marlins are leading the majors in steal. Meanwhile, the pitching staff ranks sixth in team ERA. Closer Heath Bell has been a mess so far, but if Miami can solidify the bullpen, the marlins have the speed and starting rotation to make a little noise despite a below average offense.

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