Friday, May 10, 2013

MLB Power Rankings: Cardinals ascend

Photo by USA Today
By Steve Roney

On the strength of their starting pitching the Cardinals have finally knocked the Braves from the top spot in the rankings; here's how Nationals Insider Mark Zuckerman, Nats writer Chase Hughes, and I see the rest of the league shaking out.

1. Cardinals (21-12; LW: 5) Hughes - Their entire starting rotation boasts ERAs of 2.72 or lower and Carlos Beltran is an early MVP candidate.

2. Rangers (21-13; LW: 3) Zuckerman - Was Yu Darvish worth all the money? Right now, the folks in Texas certainly think so.

3. Braves (21-13; LW: 1) Roney - With Brian McCann back, wither Evan Gattis? Though he's cooled from his torrid start, the Braves need his bat to stay in the lineup.

4. Giants (20-15; LW: 8) Zuckerman - How is it that the World Series champs in two of the last three years still flies under the radar?

5. Orioles (21-14; LW: 7) Roney - Guess who's helping to drive the O's bus -- Nate McLouth, who's hitting and running (.299 avg., 3 HR, 11 SB) like it's 2008.

6. Yankees (20-13; LW: 4) Roney - How are they doing this without a single plate appearance from Granderson, Teixeira, Jeter, and A-Rod? Scrapheap pickups Vernon Wells and Travis Hafner are hitting so well, you'd think their careers weren't almost over.

7. Tigers (19-13; LW: 12) Hughes - The Nationals just knocked them down a peg, but that lineup will keep them around the top all year.

8. Red Sox (21-14; LW: 2) Roney -  Andrew Bailey is back on the DL and Joel Hanrahan is sending x-rays to Dr. James Andrews, thrusting Junichi Tazawa into the closer role. He'll be the fifth player in the last 14 months to fill that role for the Sox.

9. Nationals (19-15; LW: 16) Roney - With all of the umpiring shenanigans the past couple of days, it's easy to overlook the egregious ejection Bryce Harper endured. Hard not to feel that some umps want to throw him out.

10. Diamondbacks (20-15; LW: 13) Zuckerman - Team Grit isn't lacking in talent, either. Goldschmidt and Gregorius are beasts.

11. Royals (18-13; LW: 9) Hughes - Jeremy Guthrie, at 34 years old, is 5-0 with a 2.28 ERA. What is going on?

12. Reds (19-16; LW: 14) Hughes - They are top ten in runs scored and team ERA, signs that suggest they'll be moving up this list soon.

13. Rockies (19-15; LW: 6) Zuckerman - A healthy CarGo-Tulowitzki combo is as formidable as any 1-2 punch in baseball.

14. Pirates (18-16; LW: 10) Hughes - Starling Marte looks like the real deal, but can their pitching keep it up? They need Jonathan Sanchez to get his act together.

15. Indians (18-14; LW: 19) Hughes - Remember Scott Kazmir? He struck out ten with no walks in six innings against the Athletics yesterday.

16. Athletics (18-18; LW: 11) Zuckerman - Ex-Nat Tommy Milone (3.13 ERA) has been the best return from Gio trade.

17. Twins (16-15; LW: 17) Hughes - Joe Mauer is the only player in Minnesota's lineup hitting over .269 and Vance Worley is not the guy they thought they were trading for.

18. Rays (16-18; LW: 20) Roney - Evan Longoria is scorching to the tune of a .414 average, with two homers and nine RBI.

19. Brewers (15-17; LW: 15) Hughes - Milwaukee has the worst team ERA in the National League, but there is talent there. We'll see if they turn things around.

20. Padres (16-18; LW: 26) Zuckerman - Jason Marquis: 4-3, 3.48 ERA. … Wait, is that right? Yes, it is. Who knew?

21. Mariners (16-19; LW: 22) Zuckerman - Michael Morse owns one-fourth of Seattle's entire home run total.

22. Phillies (16-20; LW: 21) Roney - Chooch Ruiz is back from suspension, which is a huge boost -- Erik Kratz was giving them almost nothing, offensively.

23. Mets (14-17; LW: 23) Roney - Zimmermann and Kershaw are great, but Matt Harvey might be the best pitcher in the NL right now.

24. White Sox (14-18; LW: 24) Hughes - I don't think many predicted Chicago to be this bad. Starting pitching has been okay, they just can't hit.

25. Dodgers (13-20; LW: 18) Zuckerman - $216 million apparently doesn't go as far as it used to.

26. Cubs (13-21; LW: 27) Hughes - The Nats are about to get a first-hand look at Chicago who actually have a nice rotation this season save for Edwin Jackson's 0-5, 6.39 ERA so far.

27. Blue Jays (13-23; LW: 28) Roney - Does anyone else get the feeling we may look back on R.A. Dickey's Cy Young award the same way we do Eric Crouch's Heisman? Not undeserved, but anomalous.

28. Angels (12-22; LW: 25) Zuckerman - Has the Mike Scioscia Firing Countdown Clock hit single digits yet?

29. Astros (10-25; LW: 29) Zuckerman - Bo Porter had better be the most patient man in the world. He's got a long road in front of him.

30. Marlins (10-25; LW: 30) Roney - With the performances that wunderkinds Fernandez and Ozuna turned in, there's finally something nice to say about Miami that doesn't involve the quality of the concessions.


EmDash said...

The Giants are an interesting team this year - they were built on pitching and defense, but Lincecum and Vogelsong seem mostly broken, Cain has been iffy this year (though he's more likely to figure things out than the other two), and it's hard to expect to rely on Zito, though he's somehow mostly been great this year. Kind of like the Nats started out this year, really. But their offense, which no one expected to be great, has somehow overcome a lot of that so far.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

I still think strength of schedule has to impact the power rankings as you are looking at a 35 game window.

A lot of pretenders in that Top 10.

Eugene in Oregon said...

After what they did in the offseason, hard to believe the Dodgers, Blue Jays, and Angels are so low on this list.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

2. Rangers (21-13; LW: 3) Zuckerman - Was Yu Darvish worth all the money? Right now, the folks in Texas certainly think so.

Letting Josh Hamilton walk seems like addition by subtraction and also gave them payroll flexibility.

They spent a ton on Yu Darvish and he can only help them 1 out of every 5 days. Yes, he is helping but will it last.

SonnyG10 said...

I'm glad the Dodgers are not doing well after they tried to buy a championship.

peric said...

They spent a ton on Yu Darvish and he can only help them 1 out of every 5 days. Yes, he is helping but will it last.

The real question is: is Yu Darvish better than the alternative? In the case of the Nats (and many here thought they should sign him) apparently not. But is that the case for the Rangers? Perhaps.

Faraz Shaikh said...

I think using initials would be cooler. MZ, CH, and SR.

GoSM, I wouldn't say a lot. Orioles and Red Sox are the only two teams that have surprised me so far. I knew Yankees would find a way to hang around despite pretty much all baseball gurus expecting them to crash below .500. they are the evil empire after all, wouldn't go away that easily. I expected angels to struggle but not this badly. Blue Jays as well. I thought they would be better than this. cardinals don't surprise me. they have lot more pitching prospects and some impressive hitters in their farm system. I am actually a bit jealous with their pitching depth in minors.

Rabbit34 said...

The power rankings will be completely shuffled the next time they come out. Really, what is the point to them? They don't help a team rise in the standings. They don't make a team play better or worse. A power ranking, as I see it, is the result of how a team plays, not the cause. You look at a power ranking and say...Oh yeah.

Harpo said...

"17. Twins (16-15; LW: 17) Hughes -
and Vance Worley is not the guy they thought they were trading for."


peric said...

I'm glad the Dodgers are not doing well after they tried to buy a championship.

At some point the wheat will get separated from the chafe and they will do a lot better. But basically that's their rebuilding stratagem: buy / trade for as much top MLB talent, preferably still young, as possible. Then let them compete with each other until the winners stand alone.

Rabbit34 said...

Oh yeah. Time for a carrot.

EmDash said...

Yu Darvish is pretty great, though. I don't know if he'll consistently be as effective as he is right now, but he's a pitcher that's just so *varied* in what he can do that he's really fun to watch.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Faraz Shaikh, I'm thinking the AL East is very weak this year. The Yankees are a huge surprise and probably the surprise of the year with the 4 All Stars who haven't played and accomplishing what they have.

Tampa I still think is the best team in the AL East but their bullpen has been awful. For years they have scrimped and saved on the payroll and the bullpen and their bench were put together with lots of retreads and it's finally bit them in the backside.

The Orioles don't have great starting pitching but what they have is a strong 1-6 in their lineup that is producing. Can McLouth keep it up? It's hard to believe. Chris Davis has been the difference maker for them. Big bat makes everyone around him better.

The Red Sox is getting some real good starting pitching and the younger looking David Ortiz is looking great. Can they keep it up since they are depending on so many players performing so much above their stat lines from last year.

Toronto just proves once again that there is more to winning than acquiring former All-Stars.

baseballjones said...

How long until A-Rod is not reflexively referred to as an All-Star? The guy has not played an All-Star caliber season since 2010.

Faraz Shaikh said...

GoSM, Faraz or FS is fine. I guess you can say AL East is weak. That could be the reason Blue Jays acted this off-season and traded farm for these players.

Did you guys see Aumont's tweet about untucking? WOW, Phillies players just cannot stop talking about Nationals, can they?

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