Thursday, May 2, 2013

MLB Power Rankings: Atlanta, Boston on top

Photo by USA Today
By Steve Roney

Talk about the difference a year makes in Boston -- one season after their worst finish in 50 years, the Red Sox own baseball's best record, and sit at No. 2 in our weekly power rankings. Here's how Nationals Insider Mark Zuckerman, Nats writer Chase Hughes, and I see the rest of the league shaking out.

1. Atlanta Braves (17-10; LW: 1) Zuckerman - Freeman's return has bolstered an already good lineup, and McCann is about to return as well.

2. Boston Red Sox (19-8; LW: 4) Zuckerman - Amazing how John Farrell has helped change the culture so quickly at Fenway Park. They look legit.

3. Texas Rangers (17-10; LW: 2) Hughes - In a span of two years they let go of C.J. Wilson, Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli, and Michael Young yet they still keep on winning. Never bet against Jon Daniels and the Rangers' front office.

4. New York Yankees (17-10; LW: 12) Zuckerman - How are they doing this with a lineup including Lyle Overbay, Jayson Nix, Eduardo Nunez and Chris Stewart?

5. St. Louis Cardinals (16-11; LW: 6) Roney - Carlos Beltran continues to rake through his latter years, leading the team with seven home runs. They need Allen Craig and David Freese (combined home runs: zero) to start pitching in, though.

6. Colorado Rockies (17-11; LW: 5) Hughes - If the Rockies keep playing like this, they will find themselves atop this list in no time. They have the second best run scoring offense and Wilin Rosario, a 2012 NL Rookie of the Year finalist, is one of the game's best young catchers. Whether their pitching staff can improve is the question.

7. Baltimore Orioles (16-12; LW: 9) Zuckerman - Are Darren O'Day and Jim Johnson the best 1-2 relief duo in baseball right now? You can make the argument.

8. San Francisco Giants (16-12; LW: 7) Hughes - San Francisco's offense has been better than expected, a deep lineup when healthy as we are seeing now. Their pitching, however, could be a legitimate concern despite their recent history. That rotation looks a lot different when Matt Cain and Ryan Vogelsong are pitching like this.

9. Kansas City Royals (15-10; LW: 13) Roney - The wait for Moustakas and Hosmer to become the consistent big bats they projected to be goes on, but the Royals are sitting pretty for now.

10. Pittsburgh Pirates (16-12; LW: 14) Roney - Remember when Mark Melancon had a bad week last April and was never heard from again? He's now dominating again in the eighth inning for Pittsburgh, meaning it's only a matter of time before Ben "all your relievers belong to us" Cherington tries to trade for him again.

11. Oakland Athletics (16-13; LW: 3) Hughes - The tides have turned as all of a sudden the A's have the best offense in the majors and one of the worst pitching staffs. At some point their pitching will get it together, though I think the offense could be here to stay.

12. Detroit Tigers (15-11; LW: 16) Roney - Theirs is a feast-or-famine lineup, with most of their hitters positively noshing on opposing pitching right now. Once Victor Martinez gets going (he will), they're going to be scary one through seven.

13. Arizona Diamondbacks (15-13; LW: 11) Hughes - The D-Backs have enjoyed one of the best pitching staffs in the majors so far, including an early season surprise in Patrick Corbin (3-0, 1.91 ERA). Once their offense comes around, they could be the class of the N.L. West.

14. Cincinnati Reds (15-14; LW: 8) Roney - Shin-Shoo Choo has been everything that they hoped Drew Stubbs would be, sporting an OPS near 1.000.

15. Milwaukee Brewers (14-12; LW: 10) Roney - Jim Henderson has taken over the closer role and pitched admirably, but Ron Roenicke has yet to make it clear whether he's keeping the spot warm until John Axford straightens out, or if it's his to keep.

16. Washington Nationals (14-14; LW: 15) Zuckerman - Ryan Zimmerman can't come off the DL soon enough. Should have an immediate impact on struggling lineup.

17. Minnesota Twins (12-12; LW: 18) Roney - Vance Worley (0-4) has been a dud so far. With Alex Meyer far off in the minors, Twins brass better hope they didn't strike out on their offseason trades of Ben Revere and Denard Span.

18. Los Angeles Dodgers (13-14; LW: 20) Hughes - Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford have been great this season while Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier have not. If Gonzalez and Crawford can keep it up, that lineup is as deep and imposing as they thought it could be. Kemp and Ethier will come around at some point.

19. Cleveland Indians (12-13; LW: 22) Roney - As much as Tribe fans hope that Carlos Santana keeps hitting the way he is, they have to know that Mark Reynolds will not maintain a .295 average. Still, I think they would all make that tradeoff.

20. Tampa Bay Rays (12-15; LW: 19) Zuckerman - One year after we expected it, Matt Moore is developing into a big-time starter.

21. Philadelphia Phillies (12-16; LW: 24) Zuckerman - Amazing to see how quickly Roy Halladay has fallen from the best in the game to a major concern.

22. Seattle Mariners (13-17; LW: 25) Hughes - Seattle is the majors' fifth worst team at both runs scored and runs allowed, not a good recipe for success. My preseason surprise pick is not looking so good right now.

23. New York Mets (11-15; LW: 17) Zuckerman - In a tailspin over the last week, and the heat is starting to fall (probably unfairly) on Terry Collins.

24. Chicago White Sox (11-15; LW: 26) Roney - Is Chris Sale the next young arm to decline after a sharp innings increase? He's been solid so far, but not nearly as dominant as he started out last year, and his strikeout rate is falling. The Verducci Effect looms...

25. Los Angeles Angels (10-17; LW: 21) Hughes - Mike Scioscia has been with the Angels for 14 years, has a World Series ring, and a winning record. But few teams are as disappointing as L.A. at this point and their starting rotation is a disaster. His seat in the dugout is getting warmer.

26. San Diego Padres (10-17; LW: 29) Hughes - Things are so bad in San Diego right now, Jason Marquis is legitimately their best starter. Maybe if Yonder Alonso keeps it up and Jedd Gyorko comes around, Padres fans will have something to look forward to next season. Maybe.

27. Chicago Cubs (11-16; LW: 27) Roney - It's been more down than up for the Cubs so far, but if young slugger Anthony Rizzo (8 HR, .225 AVG) can get some more hits to start falling, then the North Siders can feel a little better about year two under Theo Epstein.

28. Toronto Blue Jays (10-18; LW: 23) Zuckerman - If they don't get it together ASAP, this could quickly become a disaster of a season in Toronto.

29. Houston Astros (8-20; LW: 28) Hughes - Though their record is terrible, the Astros are scrappy. Of their eight wins, they have five blowouts (9-1, 10-3, 8-3, 16-1, and 8-2). Their pitching, however, is the worst in the league and will keep them at the bottom for the foreseeable future.

30. Miami Marlins (8-20; LW: 30) Zuckerman - They hit 12 homers in the first 27 games. Twelve.


Tcostant said...

I love seeing the Royals do well. Good for that GM not listening to the neysayers and improving his team for this year.

The Astros and the Marlins might each loss 110 games this year, which is really unbelievable.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Tcostant, Gordon and Cain and some decent starting pitching and some timely hits. As we know, it's a long season.

peric said...

The Astros and the Marlins might each loss 110 games this year, which is really unbelievable.

Getting the much higher draft cap and the picks of the litter.

Tcostant said...

I just mean losing a 100 is hard, but 110 is almost unheard of unless your talking about the '62 Mets.

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