Thursday, May 30, 2013

MLB Power Rankings: NL Central rules MLB

Photo by USA Today
By Steve Roney
CSNwashington.com

St. Louis leads a stacked NL Central division, which by any measure has three of the top teams in the major leagues. Texas, meanwhile, is still the class of the AL, but they've been surpassed by a couple of the Cardinals' rivals.

Here's how Nationals Insider Mark Zuckerman, Nats writer Chase Hughes, and I see the rest of the big leagues shaking out:

1. St. Louis Cardinals (35-17; LW: 1) - Hughes: Each week we laud about their rotation, but their offense isn't too shabby either. Among their key contributors are Yadier Molina (4th rd. pick), Allen Craig (8th rd. pick) and Matt Carpenter (13th rd. pick). It's incredible how they find talent.

2. Cincinnati Reds (33-20; LW: 3) - Hughes: Everything is coming together for Cincy's pitching staff with Mat Latos, Bronson Arroyo, Homer Bailey, and Mike Leake all pitching as well as they ever have in their careers.

3. Atlanta Braves (31-21; LW: 4) - Roney: Whatever they do, they need to keep giving Evan Gattis regular at-bats. WIth Uggla, Heyward, and Upton Senior struggling, he's too good to languish on the bench.

4. Texas Rangers (32-20; LW: 2) - Zuckerman: Texas is absolutely dominating its division: 19-9 vs AL West, 13-11 vs everyone else.


5. Pittsburgh Pirates (33-20; LW: 8) - Hughes: They always seem to tease their fans with hot starts, but their pitching may be the difference this year. A.J. Burnett and Jeff Locke are legit All-Star candidates so far.

6. Boston Red Sox (32-22; LW: 6) - Roney: Jacoby Ellsbury is heating up at the perfect time for the Sox, and for himself as well -- he's a free agent at the end of the year, and was looking nothing like the $15 million/year player he probably thinks he is.

7. Detroit Tigers (29-22; LW: 10) - Hughes: Call me crazy, but I think this Miguel Cabrera guy is pretty good. If he keeps it up he belongs in the conversation of the best hitters we've seen in a long, long time.

8. New York Yankees (30-22; LW: 5) - Roney: Mariano Rivera recently blew a save while recording no outs for the first time in his career. Once, in 700 save opportunities. We can say the words, but we won't truly appreciate how dominant he is and has been until he's been long retired.

9. Arizona Diamondbacks (30-22; LW: 11) - Zuckerman: Patrick Corbin (8-0) is the real deal and gives Arizona a very deep rotation.

10. Oakland Athletics (31-23; LW: 13) - Zuckerman: A perfect 9-0 vs. the wretched Astros so far this season.

11. San Francisco Giants (28-25; LW: 9) - Zuckerman: Sandoval-Posey-Pence makes for a very dangerous trio in the heart of the lineup.

12. Baltimore Orioles (29-24; LW: 12) - Roney: Manny Machado leads all AL position players -- including a certain third baseman in Detroit -- with a 3.4 WAR. The difference between Manny Machado has made for the Orioles: 2.5 games out of first, where they are now, or 2.5 games out of last, where they'd be without him.

13. Cleveland Indians (28-24; LW: 7) - Hughes: Cleveland is starting to fall back to where everyone predicted they would belong. Really though, how long was Mark Reynolds going to keep playing like an MVP candidate?

14. Washington Nationals (27-26; LW: 16) - Roney: Ryan Zimmerman carried his batting practice show over into the real game last night, and yet still couldn't will the Nats to a win.

15. Colorado Rockies (28-25; LW: 15) - Zuckerman: Only 1 of 5 starters (Chacin) is averaging more than 6 innings per outing.

16. Tampa Bay Rays (28-24; LW: 14) - Roney: As good as Fernando Rodney was last year (0.60 ERA), that's how bad (5.40 ERA) he's been this year. Do we need more proof that the idea of the longtime, shutdown closer will die with Rivera's retirement?

17. Philadelphia Phillies (26-27; LW: 18) - Roney: I feel like a broken record, but it's hard to feel like Domonic Brown has truly arrived (13 HR) while his on-base percentage remains below .300.

18. Chicago White Sox (24-26; LW: 20) - Hughes: With the Nats finally starting to hit, they've passed several teams, the White Sox among them, in run production. Chicago has the worst offense in the American League.

19. San Diego Padres (24-28; LW: 19) - Zuckerman: Not a lot of household names, but they're playing respectable baseball right now.

20. Los Angeles Angels (24-29; LW: 24) - Zuckerman: Just completed perhaps the quietest 8-game winning streak you'll ever see.

21. Los Angeles Dodgers (22-29; LW: 23) - Zuckerman: Don Mattingly has survived his firing... for now. Still seems like it's only a matter of time.

22. Minnesota Twins (22-28; LW: 22) - Hughes: Besides Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, and Josh Willingham, the Twins' roster is a bunch of no-names. Their top prospects are all in the minors right now as well.

23. Kansas City Royals (21-29; LW: 17) - Hughes: When they started 17-10 people thought maybe this was the year. But since they have fallen back into the cellar and their inability to hit for power is a big reason for it.

24. Toronto Blue Jays (23-30; LW: 26) - Roney: Well, so much for the Jays' season of rebirth. They're in last in the AL East, with the only losing record in the division.

25. Seattle Mariners (22-31; LW: 21) - Zuckerman: Not only is Michael Morse cooling off, now he's out with a strained quad.

26. Chicago Cubs (21-30; LW: 25) - Hughes: Former National Edwin Jackson is having the worst year of his career. He is 1-7 with a 6.11 ERA on an otherwise decent pitching staff.

27. New York Mets (21-29; LW: 28) - Roney: Any other team would be looking, or should be looking, to trade David Wright this summer. The Mets probably can't afford to, though, for more reasons that I care to count.

28. Milwaukee Brewers (19-32; LW: 27) - Hughes: Milwaukee is one of the biggest disappointments this year and it has everything to do with pitching. Ryan Braun, Jean Segura, and Carlos Gomez have been excellent.

29. Houston Astros (16-37; LW: 29) - Zuckerman: Trying to think of something nice to say ... hmm, Jose Altuve is a pretty good little player.

30. Miami Marlins (13-40; LW: 30) - Roney: Is there any doubt that Kevin Slowey and Ricky Nolasco will be traded this summer? It is 100% the right move for the Marlins to make, but if you're a free agent and you have an option other than Miami, why would you sign there, as Slowey did this winter? Signing with Miami is like buying into a timeshare instead of purchasing a vacation home.

41 comments:

blovy8 said...

Man, if a team is desperate enough to trade for Kevin Slowey, they probably aren't going to win anyway.

bowdenball said...

Why would "any other team" look to trade a guy who's only 30 and just signed a contract that will keep him with the team for another seven years? I know the Mets are bad right now, but I don't think they're targeting their rebuild for 2022.

Don said...

Nats at 14 seems generous -- the Rockies and Rays have better records and more complete clubs and the nats have a losing record over the last 10, the Rocks are 5-5 and the Rays 6-4.

David Proctor said...

I'm not at all convinced the Rockies have a more complete club. Their pitching will not continue to do this well. Their bats might, but their pitching will doom them. The Rays maybe, I don't know.

NatsLady said...

The Rays have troubles of their own, especially with David Price out.

David Proctor said...

MLB Network just had a short bit on the Nats. Said that Ryan Zimmerman's home runs is a great sign for the Nats. Said not to worry about the loss, but to look at the offense that is starting to get going.

Basically what some of us have been saying here.

blovy8 said...

Hard to believe there were four guys in the lineup hitting .170 or worse. That is some serious out-making.

mick said...

David Proctor said...
MLB Network just had a short bit on the Nats. Said that Ryan Zimmerman's home runs is a great sign for the Nats. Said not to worry about the loss, but to look at the offense that is starting to get going.

Basically what some of us have been saying here.


and your right, but I think Werth has to be part of the equation

Eric said...

Agreed about Werth, mick.

WaPo has Davey sounding optimistic that Werth will be in the line up this weekend, possibly as early as tomorrow.

Would be appropriate, since that's where he went down...

mick said...

Eric... just hope that his injury is not a re occurring one, with the hamstring,

Eric said...

Indeed...hopefully the warmer weather will let him move past it for good.

A DC Wonk said...

Caps Fan said...

"I find it hard to believe that he will play poorly the entire year. He will either get it together or get sent to the bench or AAA."

You could have said the same thing about Cristian Guzman in 2005. And you would have been wrong on all counts.


Huh? But I _didn't_ say it then, and I _wouldn't_ have said it then. For tons of reasons. E.g.

1. Guzman had a long track record of hitting .270 or more -- Espi doesn't

2. The Nats didn't have a whole lot of SS options past Guzman (Junior Spivey?) -- the Nats do now

3. Guzman was in the first year of a 3-year $13M contract (Espi is making $526K this year)

4. Kasten isn't Rizzo

5. '05 Nats weren't favorites to win the division

I could go on . . . but the point is that the two cases are nowhere near comparable other than they their low batting averages.

Steady Eddie said...

Wonk said, the point is that the two cases are nowhere near comparable other than they their low batting averages.

Oh, you're being such a silly Wonk -- how could you let mere facts get in the way of a bit of mindless ventilation? ;o)

David Proctor said...

We could theoretically have both Werth and Harper back for the series in Atlanta. That would be nice.

Sec. 3, My Sofa said...

And in Guzzie's defense, he did have a tolerable September in 2005. Way too late, sure, but he only stunk for five months, not all six.

A DC Wonk said...

Steady Eddie said...

... Oh, you're being such a silly Wonk -- how could you let mere facts get in the way of a bit of mindless ventilation?


I just like to make sure my research-gun works -- so I practice from time to time by shooting fish in a barrel ;-)

Caps Fan said...

"5. '05 Nats weren't favorites to win the division

I could go on . . . but the point is that the two cases are nowhere near comparable other than they their low batting averages."

I seem to recall the 2005 Nats having the best record in baseball at the All Star Break, despite the presence of Guzman and his Mendoza line in the lineup. I seem to recall fan outrage at the fact that Guzman was being run out there day after day, even though he never got better until September when it was too late. Yet I also seem to recall all of the fan outrage and booing (they weren't yelling "Goooooooooooz") making absolutely no difference.

There's your comparison. In the midst of a pennant race, the underperforming Espinosa is run out there day after day, despite fan outrage. You expect a different outcome? No way. It's SSDD.

Eric said...

"We could theoretically have both Werth and Harper back for the series in Atlanta. That would be nice."

To say the least!

natsfan1a said...

Hey, *some* of us were yelling Guz. :-)

Also, make that "Bowden" rather than "Kasten" in #4, Wonk, as I don't believe that Kasten joined us until 2006.

NatsLady said...

Are we still on Espinosa? And we are comparing his situation to a team with a different manager, a different GM and almost entirely different teammates? OK

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

The Braves just went to their AA to bring up Alex Wood for their bullpen. I suggested a few weeks ago Ian Kroll also of the Nats AA and the ex-resident expert on the Minor Leagues said that teams don't do that.

Never say never. Nate Karns direct from AA. Ryan Zimmerman direct from AA. It doesn't happen often but it doesn happen.

Caps Fan said...

"NatsLady said...

Are we still on Espinosa? And we are comparing his situation to a team with a different manager, a different GM and almost entirely different teammates? OK"

The French have a saying for it. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

David Proctor said...

I know Werth went 1-2 in his rehab debut yesterday, but I didn't hear how he felt afterwards. Is this a case of no news is good news? Has anyone seen a report?

natsfan1a said...

On another note, the Sports Bog (which is linked to at left) has a post about the MASN mixed booth, where viewers can share their opinions. My review (with hat tip to the short-lived, Jon Lovitz voiced cartoon of the mid-1990s) "it stinks." Charlie and Dave will once again be voicing tonight's game footage for me tonight.

natsfan1a said...

(hat tip to the Department of Redundancy)

Gonat said...

Is anyone going to the Mid-Atlantic Evil Empire's lair tonight? I'm going. Won't get there until 8PM. My buddy for the team is getting me tix and have no idea where I'm sitting.

Nats 128 said...

David Proctor, I gave you a H/T for your in game analysis last night. Good job on reading Jordan Zimmermann.

David Proctor said...

Thanks Nats 128.

Today's lineup: Span cf, Bernadina rf, Zimmerman 3b, LaRoche dh, Desmond ss, Moore lf, Tracy 1b, Suzuki c, Espi 2b, Haren rhp

David Proctor said...

Interesting that LaRoche is DHing and Tracy is playing 1B.

Nats 128 said...

Chad Tracy and Espinosa need to make tonight the night they contribute in a big way to this team.

Eric said...

"Interesting that LaRoche is DHing and Tracy is playing 1B."

Interesting way to put it...I'd go with...WTF?!?!? ;)

MicheleS said...

David P.. add my H/T to you as well, you pretty muched called the ZNN command issue right off the bat.

Davey is trying to get Tracy some field reps. Trying to keep him fresh. And WHEN are we going to see Mr Kobernus get a start? I would like to see him in the OF or heck even Lombo in Left.

David Proctor said...

My guess is Davey thinks Tracy playing the field will help him lock in and hit better.

Eric said...

I'm very curious to see Kobernus in action myself...

Steady Eddie said...

"Interesting that LaRoche is DHing and Tracy is playing 1B."

Giving ALR a night off without losing his hot bat.

NatsLady said...

Davey must feel RZimm's arm is OK. Still, interesting choice.

natsfan1a said...

No, I don't tend to get to weeknight games even at Nats Park and Baltimore takes much longer to get to from here. Plus, I don't want to give Mr. A** any of my hard-earned money. Plus, I already had a young fellow from Baltimore "accidentally" bump into me (several times) after Sunday's game at Nats Park. No thanks. But good luck to you and, of course, to our Nats!

Gonat said...

Is anyone going to the Mid-Atlantic Evil Empire's lair tonight? I'm going. Won't get there until 8PM. My buddy for the team is getting me tix and have no idea where I'm sitting.
May 30, 2013 3:22 PM

natsfan1a said...

That's not a comment, that's a pitch. :-)

Eric said...

Interesting way to put it...I'd go with...WTF?!?!? ;)
May 30, 2013 3:33 PM

Eric said...

lol natsfan1a!

Sec. 3, My Sofa said...

(hat tip to the Department of Redundancy)

Isn't that the Department of Redundancy Department, a division of the Small Animal Administration?

natsfan1a said...

Good call, sec3.

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