Monday, May 18, 2009

MLB Power Rankings Week Six

As the season progresses, teams till jump up and down the rankings, but not nearly as much as in the first few weeks.

30. Arizona Diamondbacks: They fired their manager, now a while ago, and have not improved all that much, if at all. That alone would be bad enough, but it's the middle of May and the snakes are already eleven games out.

29. Washington Nationals: No other team has won so few games; the -43 run differential is the second worst in all of baseball. Still, only 9.5 back of the Mets, instead of 11 out, they get to stay out of the basement another week. It's too bad Ryan Zimmerman lost his hitting streak--that was by far the most interesting thing going on with the team this year.

28. Oakland Athletics: Only the Nationals have fewer wins. Only the White Sox have scored fewer runs, and a starting pitching staff as young as the A's, there are bound to be rough outings. Billy Beane had a good idea in trying to nab sluggers during the off-season, but it seems like he chose the wrong ones.

27. Colorado Rockies: When the Pirates are playing like the Pirates usually play (ie, in last place and not on some hot streak), and then you lose to the Pirates, it's not a good sign.

26. San Diego Padres: Give them some credit. Despite their league-worst -47 run differential, they managed to outlast the Reds in a 16-inning marathon. This is, of course, what happens when two teams with not-very-good-right-now offenses meet up...Adrian Gonzalez could probably hit in spots 1-9 and be more effective than the rest of the Padres' offense.

25. Cleveland Indians: They don't have the league's worst record this week, so yay! That was a great move by Eric Wedge on Sunday, waiting for the Rays to take the field before telling the umpire that the Rays had two 3B and no DH, but as the season's gone for the Indians, they still lost that game.

24. Baltimore Orioles: They should call up Wieters. They won't, at least, not yet. The -33 run differential points to the biggest issue-although they can hit like a major league team, they can't pitch like one, and if you can't pitch, there's only so much an offense can do.

23. Chicago White Sox: The palehose are in something of a free fall as no team in the majors-not even the lowly Diamondbacks or Padres-have scored fewer runs. Closer Bobby Jenks broke one of baseball's all-time unwritten rule when he admitted intentionally throwing at a batter.

22. Pittsburgh Pirates: The Pirates are, once again, playing like the Pirates. Refreshing that some things always stay the same, no?

21. Houston Astros: Somehow, they're only two games under .500. Maybe it's because Oswalt has finally started winning (my fantasy team thanks him), or something.

20. Florida Marlins: Well, thank goodness for that 8-1 start, right? Ricky Nolasco is still not right, which is a big problem when Baseball Prospectus has labeled you as a prospective ace. I wonder how long before they give him the Wang/Perez treatment...

19. Seattle Mariners: Like the Marlins, if you're going to fall from grace, you should, well, fall completely and totally from it. They did walk-off against the Red Sox on Sunday, though, and they aren't on pace to lose over 100 games again, so that's something.

18. Minnesota Twins: I really don't know what you say to your team after losing three in a row via the walk-off. The Twins have played better than their 18-20 record, and could just as easily be 21-17 had their pitching staff not made three bad pitches at precisely the wrong time.

17. Atlanta Braves: A .500 record, a nearly nil run differential...if that doesn't define a non-descript third place team, I'm not really sure what does.

16. Los Angeles Angels: They were beginning to come on and then ran into the Texas Rangers, likely before they were ready. This team's still good, to still be as close as they are despite everything that's happened, and the best news is that they are beginning to get players back.

15. Tampa Bay Rays: They're still under .500, but they're beginning to heat up. When your pitcher ends up batting third because of a manager's error and then has a double and an RBI, you know karma is beginning to shift your way.

14. San Francisco Giants: They're over .500 and have done it all with pitching. The team should consider trading for a slugger at the deadline--if they do and Manny Ramirez is still suspended, things could get interesting for the Dodgers.

13. Kansas City Royals: They've had some struggles lately, as was probably likely they would, but the AL Central is so weak that I'm not sure anyone's really all that worried. Certainly, this is the latest KC has been over .500 in a good, long time, and Zach Greinke is still a stud.

12. New York Yankees: While the three walk off wins (literally) take the cake, let's not forget the team has won five straight, five of six and seven of nine. The starting pitching is truly getting there: of the two losses in the last nine, only one was truly a bad start-Phil Hughes couldn't make it out of the second in Baltimore, but the other loss was simply a good AJ Burnett running into a better Roy Halladay. With the three walk off wins, however, the Yanks have to believe they can win any game no matter what, and that might be more dangerous than the wins themselves.

11. Cincinnati Reds: Being on the wrong end of a 16 inning marathon sucks, but the "Reds" and "over .500" is not something we've heard in the same sentence for a while.

10. Detroit Tigers: What is Justin Verlander eating for breakfast, and where can I get some?

9. Philadelphia Phillies: No, this team isn't as good as last year's and yes, Jamie Moyer may be reaching the end, but it's still a good team that's only a half-game back of the Mets.

8. St. Louis Cardinals: The redbirds are still all sorts of fun, but the Brewers were better this week. Ever notice how the injury bug always seems to bite certain teams? The Angels, the Yankees...the Cardinals, perhaps?

7. Boston Red Sox: It's a tough West Coast swing, but when they're done, they're done. As in, for the rest of the year. Yankees fans are, of course, fuming.

6. New York Mets: Moving Oliver Perez to the DL seems to have worked all sorts of wonders. There have been some Mets moments--like Jose Reyes not running hard out of the batter's box, which theoretically cost the Mets the game--but the team is winning enough to grab a hold of first place in the NL East. If only Johan Santana could get some run sup...He did? Really? Oh.

5. Chicago Cubs: No Zambrano, no Ramirez and almost no problem. Alfonso Soriano is still all sorts of fun to watch, but the Cubs should stop taking lessons from the Yankees' bullpen.

4. Texas Rangers: They sniffed opportunity when the Angels became all sorts of injured and the Seattle Mariners returned to, well, being the Mariners. I'm not sure if there are many more teams that are so much fun to watch, from the incredible offense, still strong, to Josh Hamilton's spiderman-like climbing of the wall to make a play, and even the pitching is holding its own. The Angels have a lot of work to do.

3. Milwaukee Brewers: Five straight wins, and they've taken over the lead in the NL Central. They are 8-2 in their last ten, and beating St. Louis, one of the competitive teams in their division, certainly helps.

2. Toronto Blue Jays: They recovered nicely after having lost two of three to the Yankees, (though the third game could have been won by either team). The Jays still have yet to face the Red Sox or Rays, and have been feasting on the AL Central, but so far, they still have a game or two to play with in the AL East standings.

1. Los Angeles Dodgers: Manny who? The Dodgers keep winning, and they're playing as though Manny Ramirez never was a Dodger. Not only do they have the best record in baseball, a half-game better than the Jays, but they also have the league's best run differential--+70.