MAJOR LEAGUE RANKINGS
Last week’s ranking in parentheses:
1. Oakland Athletics (2): Scott Kazmir en route to third All-Star Game, two years after finishing 3-6 with the Sugar Land Skeeters of the independent Atlantic League in 2012.
2. San Francisco Giants (1): Starting pitchers’ ineffectiveness was primary cause of Giants giving up 51/2 games to the Dodgers in 11 days.
3. Milwaukee Brewers (3): Former MVP Ryan Braun is the household name, but the Crew’s keys are outfielder Carlos Gomez and catcher Jonathan Lucroy.
4. Kansas City Royals (14): Tigers outfielder J.D. Martinez on Royals, who overtook Detroit for first place last week by winning three of four at Comerica Park: “I’m kind of happy they’re gone.”
5. Washington Nationals (5): Bryce Harper, rehabbing from thumb surgery, hit 14 balls over the fence during 20 minutes of batting practice Thursday.
6. Los Angeles Dodgers (6): Best homestand of season was capped by Clayton Kershaw’s no-hit masterpiece.
7. Toronto Blue Jays (4): No challenge bigger for manager John Gibbons than monitoring work loads of starting pitchers R.A. Dickey (39) and Mark Buehrle (35).
8. Los Angeles Angels (6): If Angels ever solve their bullpen issues, they’ll be dangerous.
9. Detroit Tigers (7): Manager Brad Ausmus, a smart guy, make a dumb remark and immediately apologized. Twice. Give him a break.
10. St. Louis Cardinals (13): Cards’ heart-of-the-order batters — Matt Holliday and Allen Craig — have yet to heat up.
11. New York Yankees (12): General manager Brian Cashman determined to make trade for impact starter.
12. Baltimore Orioles (11): Minor league castaway Steve Pearce putting together career year at age 31.
13. Miami Marlins (8): Between Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Adeiny Hechavarria, Marlins lead league in vowels.
14. Atlanta Braves (10): Gavin Floyd’s seventh-inning elbow fracture, while pitching a two-hit shutout, underscored a cruel reality: Baseball isn’t fair.
15. Cleveland Indians (16): Tribe hoping Nick Swisher’s walk-off grand slam Thursday will turn around his dismal season.
16. Seattle Mariners (9): Suggested theme song of 2014 Mariners was a No. 1 hit for Ringo Starr in 1971: “It Don’t Come Easy.”
17. Chicago White Sox (17): Sox bats struggle outside The Cell, and they’ve got eight games remaining on a three-city trip.
18. Texas Rangers (18): Manager Ron Washington making do despite injuries, piecemeal roster.
19. Cincinnati Reds (21): Reliever Jumbo Diaz finally got call to The Show after pitching in 340 minor league games in 12 seasons.
20. Pittsburgh Pirates (20): Jason Grilli, who converted 33 of 35 save opportunities last season, is out as Bucs’ closer.
21. Minnesota Twins (19): Hard to believe outfielder/DH Jason Kubel, released Friday, is only 32.
22. Boston Red Sox (23): Slumping David Ortiz took his frustration out last week on official scorer at Fenway Park. Stay classy, Papi.
23. Philadelphia Phillies (28): Phils to NL East: If nobody else wants this thing, we just might take it ourselves.
24. Houston Astros (22): Outfielder Domingo Santana likely will be next top prospect promoted to the ’Stros.
25. Colorado Rockies (24): Momentum from first three-game road sweep of San Francisco in six years lost versus Dodgers, Kershaw.
26. New York Mets (26): Bartolo Colon’s first hit since 2005 was a stand-up double.
27. Chicago Cubs (25): Cubs trusting anticipated trade of Jeff Samardzija returns better prospect package than the M’s got for Cliff Lee in 2010.
28. San Diego Padres (27): Tony Gwynn was among a handful of players who were the most productive — and most admired — in their franchise’s history.
29. Arizona Diamondbacks (29): Baseball ops chief Tony La Russa quietly mulling shake-up plan for offseason.
30. Tampa Bay Rays (30): Coveted second baseman Ben Zobrist looks like Rays’ most viable trading chip.thenewstribune.com