Monday, April 13, 2009

Week One MLB Power Rankings: It's a Topsy-Turvy World

One week into the Major League Baseball season, some things are predictable, like the Nationals being a last-place team, while others, not so much--Toronto and Baltimore out-pacing the New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays and last-place (yes, you read that right) Boston Red Sox.

So how to arbitrarily rank the teams thus far?

Please keep in mind that rankings are based on this week's performance in conjunction with their previous performance. Since this is week one and there are no previous weeks to consider, the rankings are entirely based on the performance this week. Trust me, the rankings a few weeks from now will likely look vastly different.

30. Washington Nationals: The only team in the Major Leagues still winless, and the only team with perhaps utterly no shot at winning the NL East.

29. Cleveland Indians: They got their first win today, and the offense *has* been there--they've scored 33 runs, second most in the division behind Detroit--but there are some major issues. For one thing, Cliff Lee is already 0-2 and Carl Pavano couldn't get an out in the second inning. It's hard to believe this team was one game from the World Series in 2007.

28. Houston Astros: The Astros have played one close game and allowed the opposition to score eleven runs twice. Roy Oswalt has not looked like Roy Oswalt.

27. San Francisco: Tim Lincecum may be destroying my fantasy team. Barry Zito...eeesh.

26. Boston Red Sox: They've had a rough opening schedule against the Rays and the Angels after the Adenhart tragedy, but the games against the Rays are really ones they have to win if the AL East plays out as everyone thinks it will. There is no excuse for Josh Beckett to have thrown at Abreu's head like that.

25. Oakland Athletics: They beat the Angels twice, but have hit a bump in the road against Seattle. Really, here it's a toss up between the Athletics and the Red Sox, but Oakland's Cahill impressed in a way the Sox staff hasn't.

24. Arizona Diamondbacks: An injured Brandom Webb, and Arizona fans, unlike Yankee fans, have an actual reason to panic.

23. Philadelphia Phillies: The defending World Series champions have eked out, and I mean eked out a 3-3 record. Moyer looks his age and they have a negative run differential.

22. Cincinnati Reds: A split and losing two out of three will get you about rank 22 in week one power rankings. Especially when you play in a six-team division. Harang looks better, though, and that's a sign of encouragement.

21. Pittsburgh Pirates: Hey, look! The Bucs almost break into the teens! See what playing .500 ball can do for you?

20. Kansas City: With some offense--any offense, really--this team would not be 3-3. Never mind Ponson and Ramirez; Meche and Greinke are legitimate starters and if the offense ever figures out that strike outs are, well, a bad thing, this team could win the AL Central. Alas, it's a big if.

19. Milwaukee Brewers: Newest slugger on the Brew crew? Starting pitcher Yovanni Gallardo! Who saw that coming? I mean, besides Micah Owings?

18. Minnesota Twins: Will be greatly improved once Mauer returns. Mauer : Minnesota :: Brodeur : Devils.

17. Colorado Rockies: Rockies have looked pretty decent and kind of end up here because they kind of fall last on my list of 'teams I follow'. They've scored the most runs in the NL west, but the runs allowed (29) explains the third place.

16. Texas Rangers: Dude, team can score. Just look at what they did to the Indians. Then again, see what the pitchers did to Detroit and understand why this team will be fun to watch, but probably not much more than that for another year or so.

15. Tampa Bay Rays: Looked real good against the Sox, before dropping two of three to the Orioles. Still, BJ Upton is coming back and David Price is only a phone call away.

14. New York Mets: Life is hard when you're an ace. You strike out thirteen down in South Florida and still do not win the game. Methinks by now Santana might be used to it.

13. New York Yankees: The argument can be made that the Yankees are the best of the .500 teams, and given that they should have won yesterday's game, should probably be a 4-2 team instead. They've scored the fourth most runs in the American League, and while they're middle-of-the-pack in runs allowed, it's important to remember 17 of those 27 runs came in games one and two--the Yankees have only allowed ten runs over four games since then. Teixeira's wrist is a legitimate concern, but until the news is made official, there's no real use in panicking. Anyway, the offense has held it's own over the past two games-even when trotting out the D line up yesterday.

12. Los Angeles Dodgers: Slotted here as they're the only other team above .500. Split the four game set with San Diego and took two of three from Arizona. Most teams will take a four game split and series win in a three game set with little complaint.

11. Chicago White Sox: Tied for the league lead in fewest runs allowed thus far. Their starters are, for the most part, legitimate, and if the offense picks up they've got a real shot at the AL Central. Then again, there really isn't any team, except maybe Cleveland, that doesn't have a chance.

10. Detroit Tigers: The only other team to score 40+ runs besides Toronto thus far, the Tigers ran rough shod over the Rangers after being kittens north of the border. Guess someone finally told the offense, "hey, go score 1000 runs!".

9. Chicago Cubs: Holy hell in a handbasket, did you see Reed Johnson steal a grand slam from Prince Fielder? I thought these guys were supposed to be cursed?! Well, if Gregg keeps closing they might be, but that's besides the point.

8. Baltimore Orioles: Taking two out of three from both the Yankees and the Rays is quite an accomplishment, especially back-to-back. Baltimore has a legitimate line up to compete now that will only get better with Weiters...but a lack of pitching behind Guthrie will be their undoing.

7. Atlanta Braves: Good news: at the end of Week One, Atlanta is tied for the league lead in wins. Bad news: Three of those wins came against the Nationals...whom we're not quite sure count as a major league team, anyway.

6. Seattle Mariners: The Mariners have looked good so far, as if the team got up and realized they had a + $100 million payroll. Here's to a speedy recovery for Ichiro-heard he went something like 7-10 in an AAA game, which is just crazy. Then again, he's Ichiro.

5. St. Louis Cardinals: This is a legitimate dark horse team if the pitchers can stay healthy. Big IF, and Motte should be pitching somewhere other than in the highest leverage situations. However, as long as you have Pujols in your line up, you'll always have a chance.

4. Los Angeles Angels: I realize other teams have won more, but given the heart that LA has been playing with since the Adenhart tragedy, I've got to pay some respect to a franchise I normally can't stand (for obvious Yankee-fan reasons). I think the semi-brawl yesterday likely had less to do with Beckett being a, well, thing you use in the shower, as it did a general last-straw in a team that probably has much too emotion to deal with at the moment.

3. San Diego Padres: What is it with the no-ffense teams in '08 suddenly exploding in '09? Certainly don't expect the Padres to stay here long, but they roughed up San Francisco starting, and when you've got Lincecum and Cain in your rotation, that's not that easy to do. Okay, so Zito is a gimme, but that's not the point.

2. Toronto Blue Jays: The Jays have scored 46 runs. Let me repeat that so that it sinks in: the Jays have scored 46 runs thus far, blowing away nearly every other team in the majors. Whose responsible? The big guns on this team are Vernon Wells and Alex Rios, but Adam Lind has simply inspired.

1. Florida Marlins: The Marlins' young rotation has been electric. Josh Johnson out-pitched Johan Santana--and Santana had 13 K. With Hanley Ramirez and Dan Uggla leading this offense, the Marlins could make a serious challenge for the NL East.

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