Power bats propel Texas, LA in Rankings
Hamilton has monster week, though Kemp's injury a concern
Let the debate begin.
Who is the most powerful player in the game right now, Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton or Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp, and which team would win the series if the Rangers and Dodgers started a three-game set today?
Is it too early to talk about an October matchup between these two AL West and NL West powers?
Of course it is. Just ask the fans for every team in the AL East and NL East.
Raise your hand if you think the Braves and the Orioles are the top two teams in the game. Do you envision a Cardinals-Rays October showdown, or maybe a Yankees-Nationals World Series?
With that in mind, who is ready for Interleague Play?
For the third season, MLB.com has set up a panel of experts to vote on the top 15 teams each week. Three former Major League players -- Larry Dierker, Mitch Williams and Frank Thomas -- are part of the process, as are columnist Peter Gammons and Carlton Thompson, vice president and executive editor of MLB.com. Former general manager and current MLB.com analyst Jim Duquette, along with MLB.com columnists Mike Bauman, Hal Bodley, Anthony Castrovince, Richard Justice, Matthew Leach and Jesse Sanchez are also part of the group.
Agree? Disagree? The power is yours.
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Josh Hamilton is reminding the baseball world why some consider him the best player in the game. Overall, he's hitting .402 with 18 home runs and 44 RBIs and is coming off a week that saw him hit .467 with nine homers and 18 RBIs for the two-time defending American League champs.
The Dodgers have the best record in baseball but might be without Matt Kemp for a period. Kemp, who ranks among NL leaders in homers, batting average and RBIs, left the game Sunday because of an irritation of his left hamstring strain and his status remains unclear. Can the Dodgers stay on top without him?
If you believe in momentum, then you will believe in the Braves. Atlanta just completed a 10-day road trip with a 7-2 record, which included sweeps in Colorado and St. Louis, moving them to the top of the NL East standings. Michael Bourn has been a catalyst at the top of the lineup, hitting safely in 28 of his past 35 games.
They are 35 games into the season, and only the Rangers have a better record than the AL East-leading Orioles in the American League. Are the O's for real? Here's something to consider: They have already picked up five wins in games in which they trailed after seven innings. They had five such wins all of last season.
The Rays have won two of their past eight games and have a record of 2-4 on the current road trip, yet they remain near the top in the division standings. They can thank Sean Rodriguez for keeping the offense afloat. The third baseman was riding a 10-game hitting streak before going 0-for-1 Sunday.
The Nats scored a total of 15 runs in the weekend series against the Reds, had 16 hits on Sunday and were a Joey Votto walk-off grand slam away from sweeping Cincinnati. They now trail the first-place Braves in the division, but nobody is panicking in Washington.
The Cards were swept by the Braves over the weekend, but they're still flying high. Carlos Beltran is hitting .343 with six home runs and 14 RBIs in his last 10 games, and Lance Berkman returned to the lineup Sunday for the first time since landing on the disabled list because of a left calf strain on April 19.
Two of the biggest players in franchise history are once again at the forefront of the resurgence in New York. Derek Jeter is batting .372 with five home runs over the team's first 34 games, and veteran left-hander Andy Pettitte made his return to the big leagues Sunday against the Mariners.
Jose Bautista appears on his way to breaking out of his season-long slump at the plate and Adam Lind is also making strides. Are their struggles part of the reason the club signed Vladimir Guerrero to a Minor League deal?
The Indians won two of three from the Rangers over the weekend, and that should surprise no one. Jason Kipnis is riding a 10-game hit streak, batting .421 (16-for-38) with seven RBIs in that span. Indians starters have registered quality starts in eight of the club's past nine games, posting a 2.89 ERA during that stretch.
Miguel Cabrera is playing like a candidate for the AL MVP award once again, and his production could push the Tigers to the top of the division by the end of the week. The slugger has hit safely in 13 of his past 17 games, dating back to April 17. During that stretch, he is batting .333 (23-for-69) with three doubles, four homers and 13 RBIs.
There is no denying Miami's flair for the dramatic. They've won five times on walk-offs this season, including Greg Dobbs' game-winning single on Friday night and a grand slam by Giancarlo Stanton on Sunday. Jose Reyes, who hit .220 with a .293 on-base percentage and six runs scored in April, is off to a better start this month.
Center fielder Andres Torres is starting to meet the expectations placed upon him. The veteran has at least one hit in each of his six games since returning from the disabled list, and he has at least one RBI in five of the six contests. It appears the Mets will be without shortstop Ruben Tejada for a spell after the infielder strained his right quad in Sunday's 3-1 win over the D-backs.
Joey Votto shined the brightest Sunday with three home runs, including a walk-off grand slam, but he's not the only one who has been putting on a show lately. Reliever Aroldis Chapman has retired 17 of his past 18 hitters, including 11 by strikeout. He hasn't allowed a run in 17 2/3 innings this season.
The Giants won two of three from the D-backs over the weekend and have fought their way back to second place in the division and a .500 record (17-17). The offense has struggled at times this season, but it racked up nine hits Saturday and season-high 14 on Sunday.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.