Each week during the regular season, I will rank the 10 best teams – and the five worst teams – in the major leagues. I will also single out a team that is on the rise and a team that is on the decline.
To view previous rankings, click here.
Team records are through May 8.
THE TOP 10
1.Chicago White Sox (24-7) – The White Sox refuse to fall and continue to play hard. Start giving a lot of credit to Ozzie Guillen, who gets this team ready to play. His new philosophy has seemed to rub off on the players.
2.St. Louis Cardinals (19-11) – Their offense is starting to dominate and they always find a way to win. For instance, a week ago, they scored seven runs in the ninth inning against Cincinnati to win 10-9. They're starting to get solid pitching from former 20-game winner Matt Morris, who has all the potential in the world but hasn't put it all together the last few years.
3.Los Angeles Dodgers (19-11) – I think it's fair to say that Jim Tracy might be the most underrated manager in the majors. He continues to put together solid teams with a lot of players that nobody has heard about. The Dodgers are 14-8 against NL West opponents and if they continue to dominate in the division, the race could be over quickly. Jeff Kent (.330) and Milton Bradley (.322) lead a hot offense.
4.Baltimore Orioles (20-10) – They are going to have endure the small injuries to Sammy Sosa and avoid the injury bug. If they do, they'll continue to surprise people. They are a veteran team that keeps winning big.
5.Atlanta Braves (20-10) – They were dominant in a sweep of Houston over the weekend. They're getting great pitching from Mike Hampton, who has returned to his pre-Rockies form. Andruw Jones and the lineup are starting to heat up.
6.Florida Marlins (17-11) – Their pitching staff is still dominating, with Josh Beckett and Dontrelle Willis trying to one-up each other. Juan Pierre, who's getting hot, ignites the entire offense. He's starting to steal bases, which poses more problems for the opposition.
7.Boston Red Sox (18-13) – They gave a surprise start to a former teammate of mine, Jeremi Gonzalez. When he came up, we all thought he had great stuff. He's getting a second chance with Curt Schilling and David Wells out. Johnny Damon (.369) continues to be one of the best leadoff hitters in the AL.
8.Minnesota Twins (19-11) – Ron Gardenhire is another underrated manager who continually has his team ready to play. Not many people know much about the Twins but they've become accustomed to winning under Gardenhire. The offense is glad to see Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau healthy and hitting everything in sight.
9.Arizona Diamondbacks (18-14) – They're getting solid pitching from Javier Vazquez and Russ Ortiz, but you have to say their biggest surprise would be Troy Glaus, who is the leading candidate for NL Comeback Player of the Year.
10.Washington Nationals (17-14) – This is another club that just won't go away despite playing in a tough division. A lot of credit must go to manager Frank Robinson for the job he has done with a young team. Robinson is getting solid offense from Brad Wilkerson, Vinny Castilla and Nick Johnson, just to name a few.
ON THE RISE
Milwaukee Brewers (15-15) – They've battled their way back to .500 after an impressive sweep of the Cubs. Ned Yost is getting the most out of a team that is very young and inexperienced. They enjoyed three walk-off wins last week.
ON THE DECLINE
Seattle Mariners (13-18) – Offensively, they're a much better team than this, with the two big signings of Adrian Beltre and Richie Sexson. The schedule isn't easing up, though. The M's are in the midst of a 12-game stretch against the Red Sox and Yankees (although they might beat up on the Yanks).
THE BOTTOM FIVE
28.Tampa Bay Devil Rays (11-21) – Although they have the second-best team average (.285) in the majors, their pitching just can't hold the opposition.
29.Kansas City Royals (8-23) – They're actually underachieving in a lot of ways, considering some of the talent they have. Their offense isn't bad but the overall pitching is keeping them down. Mike Sweeney (.389) is having a great year individually and could draw a lot of interest when the trade deadline approaches this summer.