Thursday, July 11, 2013

MLB Power Rankings: Red Sox reign

USA Today Sports Images
By Steve Roney
CSNwashington.com

There were undoubtedly those who figured the Red Sox would rebound from last year's last-place, 69-win season, but anyone who says they picked them to have baseball's best record at about the midpoint of the season is either lying or a huge fan of clam chowder. The AL East in general is top to bottom the best division in baseball -- though it can't match the NL Central's elite top three, all five divisional teams are within striking distance of first place, and only Toronto (at 44-46) owns a losing record.

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

1. Boston Red Sox (56-37; LW: 3) - Hughes: Boston has the majors’ best offense and much of it was built on the fly this offseason. Ben Cherington is a clear frontrunner for executive of the year.

2. St. Louis Cardinals (54-34; LW: 1) - Zuckerman: They've hit .338 with RISP. That's not sustainable over a full season, is it?

3. Pittsburgh Pirates (54-36; LW: 2) - Zuckerman: The pitching staff remains deep and talented. The lineup could probably use another bat, though.

4. Oakland A's (54-38; LW: 6) - Roney: Does anyone have a bigger All-Star gripe than Josh Donaldson? A .316/.385/.529 slash line with 15 homers and valuable defense should be enough to garner some midseason recognition.


5. Texas Rangers (53-38; LW: 4) - Roney: Yu Darvish hitting the DL is terrible news in the best of times, but with an already banged-up pitching staff and looking up at the A's in the standings? Not an enviable position to be in.

6. Atlanta Braves (52-39; LW: 7) - Hughes: Freddie Freeman is proving to be one of the best overall hitters in the game and he’s only 23.

7. Tampa Bay Rays (52-40; LW: 12) - Hughes: Tampa is on fire with the best team ERA thus far in July. David Price began the month with his two best starts of the season.

8. Cincinnati Reds (51-40; LW: 5) - Zuckerman: As much attention as their lineup gets, all five starting pitchers have ERAs under 3.70.

9. Detroit Tigers (50-40; LW: 8) - Zuckerman: Miguel Cabrera: .366-29-93 before the All-Star break. Al Kaline never hit more than 29 homers in any full season of a Hall-of-Fame career with Detroit.

10. Baltimore Orioles (50-42; LW: 9) - Hughes: Trading for Scott Feldman could end up making the difference for Baltimore, he gives them at least one legitimate starter to rely on most nights.

11. New York Yankees (49-42; LW: 10) - Hughes: New York has made it work through the season’s first half, despite all their injuries. They may need to be proactive at the deadline to keep their good fortune going.

12. Arizona Diamondbacks (47-44; LW: 11) - Roney: Somebody tell Ian Kennedy to stop hitting Dodgers. Hate 'em all you want, Ian, but this is getting out of hand.

13. Cleveland Indians (47-44; LW: 13) - Zuckerman: Quietly hanging around in the AL Central, with Tigers unable to shake 'em.

14. Washington Nationals (47-44; LW: 15) - Hughes: The offense is showing signs of life and should be a strength moving forward as long as they stay healthy. Anthony Rendon and Wilson Ramos at the back end of a lineup has to scare opposing pitchers.

15. Los Angeles Dodgers (45-45; LW: 22) - Roney: How on Earth is Yasiel Puig trailing Freddie Freeman in in the Final Vote? Not that Freeman isn't deserving (he absolutely is), but not at the expense of Puig, who's among the five or so most electrifying players in the game right now.

16. Philadelphia Phillies (45-47; LW: 20) - Hughes: The Ryan Howard news is devastating for their chances this season and could turn them into sellers at the deadline.

17. Kansas City Royals (43-45; LW: 19) - Zuckerman: Little-known-fact: Kansas City has the AL's best record since June 4. True story.

18. Toronto Blue Jays (44-46; LW: 14) - Hughes: Toronto is homering its way into the playoff mix, yet still ranks last in MLB’s premier division.

19. Colorado Rockies (44-48; LW: 16) - Roney: Every year there's at least one head-scratcher in the Home Run Derby lineup; this year, it's Michael Cuddyer. Nothing against Cuddyer, but no matter how well he fares, it just won't feel like he belongs among the four representatives from his league chosen to put on a home run show. Did Domonic Brown have other plans? 

20. Los Angeles Angels (44-46; LW: 23) - Roney: Josh Hamilton is slogging through a pretty lost season, hitting just .229 and getting on base at an abhorrent .289 clip. Changing teams isn't as easy as putting on a new jersey and continuing to chug right along. Across town, Carl Crawford is nodding his head.

21. Seattle Mariners (40-51; LW: 24) - Roney: I thought it would be a decade before a Mariners pitcher outperformed King Felix, but Hisashi Iwakuma is giving the longtime ace a run for his money, although he was shelled last night by Boston.

22. New York Mets (40-48; LW: 28) - Hughes: Will Matt Harvey start the All-Star game? Probably, although Clayton Kershaw probably deserves it at this point.

23. Chicago Cubs (40-49; LW: 25) - Zuckerman: Henry Rodriguez faced 5 batters last night: HR, 1B, 1B, BB, BB. Anybody miss this guy?

24. San Francisco Giants (40-50; LW: 18) - Roney: Not sure what's up with Matt Cain this year, but one of baseball's best and most consistent starters just lasted 2/3 of an inning last night against the Mets. It's likely he left with an injury, but he hasn't been himself all year.

25. San Diego Padres (41-51; LW: 17) - Roney: Chase Headley is heating up, which is absolutely essential if they're going to contend -- and in the NL West, nobody's out of it just yet. San Diego may be in last place, but they're only 6.5 games out of first.

26. Minnesota Twins (37-51; LW: 21) - Zuckerman: Kinda tough to win when your pitching staff owns a collective WHIP of 1.422.

27. Milwaukee Brewers (37-53; LW: 26) - Zuckerman: Positives this season: Jean Segura, Carlos Gomez. Negatives: Everything else.

28. Chicago White Sox (35-53; LW: 27) - Zuckerman: Weren't the Cubs supposed to be the really bad team in Chicago this year?

29. Miami Marlins (33-57; LW: 30) - Hughes: Giancarlo Stanton has more walks than RBI this season. That’s what happens when you’re surrounded in a lineup by scrubs.


30. Houston Astros (32-59; LW: 29) - Roney: They've supplanted the Marlins at the bottom spot, so of course we'll take this opportunity to say what we say here -- the veterans will be traded, and there are youngsters coming. So long, Carlos Pena and Bud Norris; hello, George Springer and Mark Appel. 

42 comments:

bowdenball said...

The Pirates have lost 6 of 9 in July. Their run differential ranks just 8th in the league. Their run prevention has benefited from an amazing .264 BABIP, easily the lowest in the league, 9 points lower than the #2 team and about 30 points lower than league average. It won't last.

They don't belong at #3 in any rankings other than "current winning percentage." The only thing powerful about them right now is the force with which they're plummeting back to earth.

Eric said...

Dredging this up from the last thread:
Ghost said:
"I want to see the 2012 version of Hairston!"

2 for 6 in Philly with a lead off hit against Hamels and and a late-inning sac fly isn't the worst way to get started here!

Eric said...

BTW - not sure if this is kosher here, but since there appear to be a number of deadheads...

I'm in a GD acoustic cover band called the Reckoning. We're playing this Sunday at the Greene Turtle in Columbia, MD from 2 - 5. I can post some links to vid/audio if there's interest, but I don't want to push the self promotion too far.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...


JD, 44 games played last year for Segura was fine but the 148 ABs put him 18 over the treshold. His a Rookie as he is referred to but you are correct, he's not eligible for the ROY award.

That may put Puig, Rendon, Gregorius, Shelby Miller and Pollock at the top.

Tcostant said...

Kind of scary that the Crds have Chris Carpenter making a Double-A rehap start this week. If he has anything left, that could be a huge lift to the team.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

3 teams with identical records and you stack the DBacks who are fading fast and the Indians who are dog paddling ahead of the Nats?

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Tcostant, if the Cardinals don't take the NL Central I will be surprised and if the Pirates don't fail I will be surprised.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

http://www.washingtontimes.com/blog/nationals-watch/2013/jul/11/how-anthony-rendon-and-wilson-ramos-have-changed-n/

Really good scribing by Amanda on the RR connection. She also brings up the 0-2 swing and in particular his ability to adjust to the inside pitch. Its particularly impressive as he stands so close to the plate the catcher/pitcher believe they can get him there. Uh, no!

Eric said...

I'd rather have the Nats listed too low than too high...keep any targets on someone else's back as much as possible!

NatsLady said...

Ghost, I wouldn't write off the Reds, especially if they can get Cueto healthy.

Eric said...

Whoa, Freddie Freeman is only 23? That's impressive...

UnkyD said...

Eric! Either post those links, or email them to me. Check my profile to contact me, and let me know how to get hold of one of your stickers... Would love to catch the Reckoning, sometime...

Janus said...

Is everyone done reading Kilgore now that the Post has a paywall? I am :(

Need to save my 20 articles for Bos, and you know occasional random "important" news.

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

UnkyD, I still need to count stickers...ultimately I can mail them or pass them off at a game.

Video
Audio
Facebook

If I'm breaking any established or host-defined protocol here, someone say the word and these posts are gone.

Joe Seamhead said...

Eric, funny GD related story, short version: About 7 or 8 years ago my son and his now wife broke down in Oregon while doing a post college graduation trip around the country. Long story short, the mechanic that worked on their van was Bob Weir's brother and he put them up at his place for almost a week while getting parts together for them.The particulars of the stay are rather entertaining.

Eric said...

Wow...yeah, I can only imagine! Would love to hear the long version of that stay! ;)

Section 222 said...

Amanda Comak has a piece up about Ramos and Rendon with this awesome quote from the Rake:

“I just try to get the barrel to it,” he said. “Don’t think in baseball. It messes you up.”



Section 222 said...

For you html gurus out there (Sofa? Eric?), can you explain why the links I embed in my posts aren't showing up blue or red? If you pass your cursor over the linked text it shows that there are links, but otherwise the are invisible, at least to me. For example I linked to Amanda's piece and if you pass your cursor over "Ramos and Rendon" you'll see it.

baseballswami said...

Note to Eck - leave The Rake alone !!!! Just say no to the notebook!!

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

222, how are you encoding the HTML? When I inspect the element, it just looks like this:

<a rel="nofollow">Ramos and Rendon</a>

Something's getting lost somehow...

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Sec222, look at my post at 3:02 ;)

BTW, that was a great quote but let's face it, he has such a good approach and mechanics that it's second nature to him which makes that "Don't think" as an automatic.

Like I said when he was drafted, his coach called Rendon the best hitter he has coached. That was a tall compliment considering he also coached Lance Berkman and a dozen other MLBers. It was cool watching this years College HR Derby won by a Rice kid Michael Aquino.

Eric said...

PS - if you want the enclosing carats to show up in your example of how you do it, 222, replace the < with < and the > with >

Otherwise, just replace 'em with | or - or something.

Eric said...

SON OF A

REplace < with &lt; and > with &gt;

sjm308 said...

Eric - I have no power here but if it involves music, you post away!! We have a family obligation that involves me gilling some ribs and drinking beer but let me know when the Reckoning is out and about. Break an arm or a finger!!

Go Nats!!

Eric said...

A linked url should look like this, at a minimum:
<a href="http://www.natsinsider.com">Nats Insider</a>

Don't leave out the quotes or anything.

Eric said...

Thanks sjm! We rarely play south of Frederick so far, but it should become more common over the next year or so.

Section 222 said...

The form you used in your post @3:48 is how I do it. But for some reason, while I've successfully made NatsInsider a hyperlink, it's not showing up in blue or red so people will know they can click on it.

Sorry to repeat you Ghost, but I guess hadn't read all the previous comments before I wrote mine. No beer, cold or otherwise, owed for that.

Davey should make a T-shirt out of that Rendon quote and send it to Espi.

JD said...


Bowdenball,

I agree about the Pirates although they have built up a nice cushion in the WC standings so maybe just maybe they hang on this year. I think the Cards win the division easily and I think Cinci leap frogs Pit into 2nd place.

I think the Dodgers win the west comfortably also. I think Arizona's starters are very so so. Their ace was projected as a no. 4 or 5 so he's bound to normalize.

Eric said...

222, fwiw, the link that led you to ask this doesn't lead anywhere...

You're using <a href> and not <a rel>, right?

JD said...


Sec 222,

Espi went 2 for 3 and a walk with a HR and a double last night. He's been hot for about a week and he's not striking out much.

One more week like this and he will be back up at the expense of Chad Tracy because he can play all the infield positions.

Eric said...

"One more week like this and he will be back up at the expense of Chad Tracy because he can play all the infield positions."

Whoa...talk about intrigue!

Get Your Re(n)d On said...

Washington Post paywall got you down? Here's a handy hint. When you try to read an article and it tells you you've hit the limit and will now have to pay, just go into your browser's settings and clear out all the Washington Post cookies. Presto, you're back in.

WaPo writing isn't worth paying for, except maybe for Boswell.

Eric said...

Or, just block all cookies by default and enable them only when you want to ;)

Sec. 3, My Sofa said...

OK, a couple few things on HTML.

First: NIDO "How-To ... make hyperlinks (first entry, row 2)

Since you brought it up -- HEY NATS LADY, LISTEN UP -- Blogger doesn't allow much HTML, but they do allow the "rel" attribute here, and the "nofollow" tag is useful if you're linking to your own website in here, in case Google doesn't figure out that you're talking about a related topic (an "organic link"), and you care about your search engine rankings. For now, at least, it can help your SEO to include it, thusly: Nats-friendly watering holes all the time, so if you're saying this gig is a Nats Insider event (cuz you just said it is), then I'd say link away, link away, link away, dixieland. Or Link Away, Link Wray.

Sec. 3, My Sofa said...

Hmmm.

*Thusly
a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.foo.org and so forth...

Sec. 3, My Sofa said...

and then
*ERIC--we link to Nats-friendly ...

natsfan1a said...

Wasn't that Fay's brother?

Link Wray

Sec. 3, My Sofa said...

Uh, no. Link Wray, a godfather of rock and roll, inventor of Power Chords.

RUMBLE
Turn it up first.

natsfan1a said...

Thanks, I learned something. :-)

Scooter said...

Rumble is the awesome.

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