Thursday, June 27, 2013

MLB Power Rankings: Central dominance

Photo by USA Today
By Steve Roney

The National League Central division is ruling baseball like never before, with the two best teams in the majors and a third (Cincinnati) not far behind. How many divisions throughout history boast have boasted a third-place team that would be atop many other divisions? The guess here is few.

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

1. St. Louis Cardinals (48-30; LW: 1) - Roney: Prince Albert has been gone for a while now, so it's no surprise that they don't miss him...but I'm still a little surprised. Allen Craig, Jon Jay, and especially Swiss army knife Matt Carpenter are an offensive force themselves.

2. Pittsburgh Pirates (48-30; LW: 7) - Roney: Former No. 2 overall pick Pedro Alvarez is finally cultivating an average (currently .242) that's at least vaguely acceptable when paired with his light tower power (19 HRs so far, 30 last year).

3. Boston Red Sox (47-33; LW: 3) - Zuckerman: Jacoby Ellsbury is 32-for-35 in stolen base attempts. And he hasn't even faced the Nats pitching staff!

4. Texas Rangers (45-33; LW: 9) - Hughes: Their pitching has been questionable over the last month, but they're still winning. Having Yu Darvish pitch every fifth day doesn't hurt.

5. Cincinnati Reds (45-34; LW: 2) - Roney: Every starter on the team has a sub-4.00 ERA, and none better than Mike Leake, who has rebounded from seasons past to be the Reds' most effective starter (7-3, 2.61).

6. Oakland Athletics (46-34; LW: 5) - Hughes: As a team, Oakland has drawn the most walks in the majors. For comparison's sake, the Nats have four players with 20 or more walks while the A's have ten.

7. Atlanta Braves (45-34; LW: 4) - Zuckerman: 12-1 to start the season, 33-33 since. They're begging the Nats to overtake them.

8. Detroit Tigers (42-34; LW: 8) - Roney: The amount of strikeouts this starting pitching staff is piling up is mind-boggling, and should blow away the previous season record (set by the Wood-Prior-Zambrano Cubs).

9. Baltimore Orioles (43-36; LW: 6) - Zuckerman: If they can add an ace to the rotation, these guys are as good as anybody in baseball.

10. New York Yankees (42-35; LW: 11) - Zuckerman: In the thick of AL East despite .240 team batting average. Is that sustainable?

11. Arizona Diamondbacks (41-36; LW: 10) - Hughes: Paul Goldschmidt has to be the most unheralded superstar in the majors. Unbelievable he was an 8th round pick.

12. Tampa Bay Rays (41-38; LW: 13) - Zuckerman: They win three, they lose three, they just can't get on a roll. Sound familiar?

13. Cleveland Indians (40-37; LW: 14) - Roney: How pleased are they with Jason Kipnis? 17 bags and 11 homers so far, he's a hot streak away from being a 30-30 player. Maybe next season.

14. Toronto Blue Jays (39-38; LW: 16) - Zuckerman: Finally got it going during 11-game winning streak, so now they're in the race.

15. Washington Nationals (39-38; LW: 18) - Zuckerman: By next week, lineup should be: Span, Rendon, Harper, Zimmerman, LaRoche, Desmond, Werth, Ramos. That group really should score enough runs.

16. Colorado Rockies (39-40; LW: 14) - Hughes: It's a shame Troy Tulowitzki keeps getting injured as he's the premier shortstop in the game. Maybe it's time for a position switch.

17. San Diego Padres (39-40; LW: 17) - Hughes: Pitching continues to be their issue and Jason Marquis' recent struggles aren't helping.

18. San Francisco Giants (38-40; LW: 12) - Hughes: San Francisco's pitching troubles have carried on and there is no end in sight. It would make sense if they traded for a starter before the deadline.

19. Kansas City Royals (36-39; LW: 19) - Roney: Alex Gordon broke out of a slump with a 3-5 performance last night that included a home run. That's good news, because if he's not hitting them, no one is.

20. Philadelphia Phillies (38-41; LW: 20) - Zuckerman: Poor Cole Hamels (2-11, 4.58). And poor Phillies (they still owe him $112.5 million over the next 5 years).

21. Minnesota Twins (34-40; LW: 21) - Roney: Is Justin Morneau trade bait at the deadline? Only if someone can take the rest of his $14-plus million contract for the season. It's too bad the Yankees don't need a first baseman...oh, wait...

22. Los Angeles Dodgers (35-42; LW: 24) - Hughes: They may still be way under .500, but man Yasiel Puig is fun to watch. He hasn't done enough to deserve an All-Star bid, but few will complain if he's in it.

23. Los Angeles Angels (35-43; LW: 22) - Hughes: As long as ace Jered Weaver continues to pitch this poorly, the Angels are going nowhere.

24. Seattle Mariners (34-45; LW: 23) - Hughes: Despite having two of the best starters in the A.L. this year, pitching as a whole is still an issue. It may be time for local kid Danny Hultzen to get a shot.

25. Chicago Cubs (32-44; LW: 25) - Roney: Garza is healthy again, giving the Cubbies a decent starting trio to build around.

26. Milwaukee Brewers (32-44; LW: 27) - Roney: Jean Segura has been the revelation of the season in Milwaukee, and is a great reason (or cautionary tale) for those looking to trade (and trade for) starters at mid-season.

27. Chicago White Sox (32-43; LW: 26) - Roney: The White Sox are another that may look to sell off veteran pieces at the deadline -- Dunn and Konerko could become bats for hire.

28. New York Mets (31-43; LW: 28) - Zuckerman: Harvey and Wheeler: Electric. Everybody else: Not so much.

29. Houston Astros (30-49; LW: 29) - Hughes: With Jason Castro and Matt Dominguez coming around, a nice young core is starting to emerge in Houston. Once Carlos Correa and Mark Appel are ready, the 'Stros may not be half-bad.

30. Miami Marlins (27-50; LW: 30) - Zuckerman: Nolasco for sale! Nolasco for sale! Step right up and get a Nolasco for bargain prices!


JD said...

How about those Bucs?

Faraz Shaikh said...

Hope we can get the game in before it starts raining.

Sec. 3, My Sofa said...

Faraz, I think they'll be fine. It looks like PA and NY are getting most of it.

Eric said...

Interesting that Mark listed Werth as batting 7th.

Tcostant said...

Yu Darvish could have been a National. Instead of paying Jackson and Haren $25M they should have used that as a down payment on the posting fee. I said it then and still say it now. This was no 30 year old pitcher, but a youngest who hasn't even enter his prime.

I saw it live at 2009 World Baseball Classic and any shout there would have seen it too.

Faraz Shaikh said...

Sec 3, that is nice. They just issued Tornado warning to Montgomery county, that is why I wondered.

Eric said...

0% chance of rain here near College Park from now until 8 p.m. Only exception is a 25% chance at 6 p.m.


sjm308 said...

Tcostant: Darvish is amazing but that wasn't an open bidding process was it? I thought each team submited an offer and the highest bid won. And that was just for the opportunity to then try and sign him. That would be pretty tough to try and figure out how high to go but I do agree that he seems to be worth it. Still can't figure out why the Cubs put 50+ million into our boy Edwin.

From the last post - "The Wire" the best TV show I have ever seen, and I love Eric pulling out a fairly obscure Dylan song as well. I am partial to Gram Parsons and Emmy Lou Harris singing "Streets of Baltimore" but its been done by many others.

Go Nats!!

Eric said...

The Wire is amazing indeed.

The version of Hattie Carroll on Rolling Thunder Revue is devastating.

Tcostant said...

sjm308 said...Darvish is amazing but that wasn't an open bidding process was it? I thought each team submited an offer and the highest bid won. And that was just for the opportunity to then try and sign him.

Me: All true. We knew it would take at least the $50M it took to get Dice-K, if the Nationals had bid $51M and lost I wouldn't say a word. But Rizzo was high on him and we didn't even bid.

JD said...


29 teams didn't get Darvish and most of them chose not to participate in the closed bid process. It's not quite as simple as you make it out to be.

d'grviii 8 said...

Emmylou Harris is from DC (graduated from Gar-Field HS in Prince William County) yet when she chose to sing about a city she chose Baltimore. Don't tell Ghost of Steve M.

Sec. 3, My Sofa said...

Still got our minds set on Yu? It's gonna take money--a whole lot of money. It's gonna take plenty of money. Rudy Clark said it first, in 1962.

Tcostant said...

JD - What not simple? You put in a bid and hope you’re the winner. If you loss, you loss nothing. If you win and Yu wants another $100M on top of that, you don't sign him and get the posting bid back. As an added bonus, you loss no draft pick and the posting fee doesn't count towards luxury tax.

Sec. 3, My Sofa said...

Somehow, I just can't imagine Emmylou Harris singing "Chocolate City."

sjm308 said...

Used to listen to Emmy Lou for free down at the Childe Harold near Dupont back in the 60's. Was just amazed at her voice (umm, and maybe a few other things). She has aged beautifully and we never miss her when she is back in town.

Sec. 3, My Sofa said...

Although ... people can surprise you sometimes.

Eric said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sjm308 said...

Sofa: if she did, it would be done well!!

sjm308 said...

Especially if Buddy Miller was playing lead guitar.

Tcostant said...

But I would love to hear Emmylou Harris sing "God Bless America".

Remember on Yu, we didn't know that Det would be that great last year, can you just image for a second if Yu was on this team???

Eric said...

"Somehow, I just can't imagine Emmylou Harris singing 'Chocolate City.'"


"Sofa: if she did, it would be done well!!"


That's awesome you got to see her back then, sjm. She is indeed a very beautiful woman.

Eric said...

Have y'all ever seen this article about the hunt for the Mothership in Seat Pleasant, MD (right on the DC border)?

Sec. 3, My Sofa said...

Maybe that should be our next meme, Eric, to replace "Best 25", when Harper and Buffalo get back: The Awesome Power of a Fully Operational Mothership! TAPOAFOM!

Eric said...


I would love to hear some PFunk in the stadium, not to mention some good ol' Grateful Dead! I peg Werth as the most likely to bust out either one.

Eric said...

Actually...Chocolate City would be fantastic as a replacement for Take on Me during the stretch.

"Gainin' on ya!"
"Can ya feel ma breath? HUH!"

sjm308 said...

I am ready for them to do away with Take on Me and George Clinton can replace that with just about anything he has done!! I still think it should be Chuck Brown though. They used to use him but for some reason he doesn't make the playlist anymore.

Baseball in a couple minutes!!

Go Nats!!

Eric said...

Chuck Brown would be awesome, too!

Sometimes you can still find his soul banging on buckets outside the half street metro station. Always a nice treat.

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