Thursday, August 8, 2013

MLB Power Rankings: Braves, Tigers on fire

Photo by USA Today
By Steve Roney
CSNwashington.com

The Braves and Tigers are each riding winning streaks of epic proportions, and are benefitting in different ways. The Braves have used their 13-game streak to put serious distance between themselves and the remainder of the NL East field, putting the division crown all but out of reach for the second-place Nationals. The Tigers, meanwhile, have used their 11-game streak to stave off the also-surging Indians and Royals.

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

1. Atlanta Braves (70-45; LW: 7) - Hughes: They've won 13 straight games and show no signs of slowing down, but are they peaking too early?

2. Boston Red Sox (70-46; LW: 3) - Hughes: Jake Peavy fared well in his first start with the 'other' Sox and could solidify their rotation for the stretch run.

3. Pittsburgh Pirates (69-44; LW: 1) - Zuckerman: It's no longer a question if they'll snap the 20-year losing streak, only if they'll also snap their postseason drought. Looking good for that, too.

4. Detroit Tigers (67-45; LW: 5) - Zuckerman: Just when it looked like they might be in danger, Tigers take down Indians and roll off 11 straight wins.

5. St. Louis Cardinals (66-47; LW: 6) - Zuckerman: They're really feeling the loss of Molina, not just at the plate but behind it as well.

6. Tampa Bay Rays (66-47; LW: 2) - Hughes: Rookie Wil Myers has been sensational. Though it's only a quarter of a season, he already looks like one of the better young power hitters in the game.

7. Los Angeles Dodgers (63-50; LW: 8) - Roney: L.A.'s record before Yasiel Puig's debut on June 3: 25-32. Their record since: 38-18. Of course it's not all thanks to him, but it's also no accident. 

8. Oakland A's (64-49; LW: 4) - Roney: That gust of wind earlier this week was the collective sigh of relief from the entire city of Oakland, as Bartolo Colon escaped a Biogenesis suspension. The way they must have been preparing themselves for life without Colon, his non-suspension is almost equivalent to adding an ace at the deadline. 

9. Texas Rangers (65-50; LW: 11) - Roney: They're surging right now, but continuing to do so without Nellie Cruz, their leading home run and RBI man, will be extremely difficult.  

10. Cincinnati Reds (63-51; LW: 9) - Zuckerman: A really solid team, but at this point they may have no choice but to settle for a Wild Card.

11. Baltimore Orioles (63-51; LW: 10) - Hughes: Chris Davis is back to hitting the cover off the ball, just in time for the pennant race to start heating up.

12. Cleveland Indians (62-52; LW: 12) - Zuckerman: Missed a golden opportunity to catch Detroit in the Central, but they're still in the postseason race.

13. Kansas City Royals (58-53; LW: 15) - Zuckerman: Just enjoyed their best prolonged stretch in years. Unfortunately it happened just as Tigers and Indians got hot, too.

14. Arizona Diamondbacks (58-55; LW: 14) - Roney: I know Ian Kennedy is having a down year, and in fact may continue to trend downward, but he came in fourth in Cy Young voting just two seasons ago, and they got very little in return for him. There's no such thing as "surplus" pitching, and even if there was, the Diamondbacks don't have it.

15. New York Yankees (57-56; LW: 13) - Hughes: Alex Rodriguez' return has been entertaining for all of us viewing it from the outside, but it hasn't helped them end their recent losing.

16. Washington Nationals (54-60; LW: 16) - Hughes: The division seems entirely out of the question at this point. Now the focus is on the Wild Card, but even that is easier said than done.

17. Toronto Blue Jays (53-61; LW: 20) - Hughes: They are a massive disappointment this season, and will likely have the same group together next year. Josh Johnson is their only big contract coming off the books.

18. Seattle Mariners (53-61; LW: 17) - Roney: They just gave Jason Bay his release, and the end might be near for the one-time slugger, derailed by injuries. Home run total in 2009, with the Red Sox: 36. Home run total in the four years since: 37.

19. San Diego Padres (52-62; LW: 22) - Roney: Regression from Chase Headley was to be expected, but he looks like he's not going to hit even half as many home runs as last season's 31 (he has eight as of this morning).

20. Los Angeles Angels (51-62; LW: 21) - Roney: They're not the worst team in baseball, not even close, but does anyone else have worse long-term prospects? The farm system is barren, save for C.J. Cron, who may be blocked at the major league level for years, and they have what feels like $1 billion committed to Pujols, Hamilton, Wilson, and Weaver.

21. Colorado Rockies (52-63; LW: 18) - Roney: It's odd for a team with two young superstars to be so mediocre, but injuries are a big part of that. Since the start of 2010, Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez have missed almost 300 combined games -- and CarGo just hit the DL once again.

22. New York Mets (51-60; LW: 23) - Hughes: Matt Harvey has continued to pitch well out of the All-Star break and is probably just behind Clayton Kershaw in terms of NL Cy Young favorites.

23. Philadelphia Phillies (51-62; LW: 19) - Hughes: Locking up Chase Utley is something they probably had to do as he deserves to someday retire as a member of the Phillies.

24. San Francisco Giants (50-63; LW: 26) - Roney: Remember when this was the best rotation in the major leagues? Or, even further back, when Tim Lincecum and Brandon Webb were the class of NL pitching?

25. Minnesota Twins (49-62; LW: 25) - Zuckerman: Now pitching for Minnesota: Jamey Carroll! And he retired the side!

26. Chicago Cubs (50-63; LW: 24) - Zuckerman: At what point is it fair to question Theo's ability to turn this franchise around? Still nowhere close to contending.

27. Milwaukee Brewers (49-65; LW: 27) - Zuckerman: At least Kyle Lohse proved to be a solid acquisition.

28. Miami Marlins (43-69; LW: 28) - Hughes: Jose Fernandez, 20, has turned some heads this season as an NL All-Star, but 22-year-old Jacob Turner (2.68 ERA through 12 starts) is another keeper for the Fish.

29. Chicago White Sox (43-69; LW: 29) - Zuckerman: It hasn't gotten much attention, but things are a complete train wreck on the South Side.


30. Houston Astros (37-76; LW: 30) - Roney: With four more Astro wins, the '62 Mets will surely pop champagne Miami Dolphins-style (they do that, right?), but Houston is still on pace to eclipse last year's 107 losses for their third straight 100-loss season.

35 comments:

Dave said...

I just saw the 50 Biggest Blunders show on the MLB Network. Nyjer's temper-tantrum inside-the-park homer was right there in the middle.

It was a good reminder to me that lots of baseball fans have been much more disappointed than I am this week.

I would, however, like to see some decent baseball played against the Phillies this weekend. Dropping to third place because the Phils beat us would be a tough pill to swallow.

Candide said...

Here's hoping the Astros fire Bo Porter during the off-season. You know why.

Dave said...

Candide, that's definitely a comment that makes me go "hmmmmm..."

Section 222 said...

Unfortunately I'm sure the Astros know they have a good one, and they as much as said when they hired him that the expected to be rebuilding for several years. I'm afraid we're going to have to accept that Bo's not coming back.

NatsJack in Florida said...

CBS Sports is reporting that Matt Williams of the D-Backs is a solid consideration for the Nats.

Tcostant said...

Dave that is the only time I've ever booed a National while in the ballpark.

Dave said...

I was out of town, and thus not at that game, or I may well have booed too.

SonnyG10 said...

"Braves and Tigers on fire". And we helped fuel the flames.

The Real Feel Wood. Accept no substitutes. said...

Looks like Jon Heymann and CBS Sports place greater credence on what they hear from Phil Wood than the likes of Del Boca NatsJack and Section222 do. Phil reported the Matt Williams rumor on his postgame show last night. He also added the detail that Matt Williams is a minority owner of the DBacks, which could complicate the deal.

Sec. 3, My Sofa said...

From Mark, in-game: Here's a valid question for Davey Johnson postgame: Why, in a tie game in the eighth, was a fresh Tyler Clippard not considered out of the bullpen? I'm not sure what the rationale there would be.

I have a theory.

It's safe to say there is a "faction" (Mark's word) in the clubhouse that wanted to retaliate for Bryce.

Davey would probably know who's in that group. I wonder if Davey kept Clippard out of the eighth inning, with Heyward and Upton coming up, because he pretty much knew Clip would drill somebody? Two, if he got the chance.

"THAT's for Bryce. And THAT's for DREW!"

Section 222 said...

I sure hope Heymann and CBS Sports have a source other than Feel's brother. Maybe they'll pick up his rant for the umpteenth time about how closers should pitch more than an inning and are paid too much.

Sec. 3, My Sofa said...

And as long as I've got you here, Woody, could you explain that "heritage" comment? Seriously, what was that supposed to refer to?

Steven Berke said...

Williams sounds like the type manager we might want--young and presumably energetic. But he'd be the first (and only) Nats manager other than Acta to come to the job without prior managing experience. What if Scoscia or Girardi are available?

Candide said...

(From last post...):

NatsFan1a said...

BDYPOOTV


Do what, now?

Nearest I can decipher it would be something like, "But Did You (something something) On TV?"

Candide said...

Sec. 3, My Sofa said...

"THAT's for Bryce. And THAT's for DREW!"


Hey, the season's lost already. And with the team not performing, might as well do SOMETHING to get the fans going.

JD said...


Steven Berke,

We don't necessarily need a retread in the manager's job. Matheny is doing just fine in St.Louis. The trick is to find a good young, smart and energetic candidate who presents a solid plan in his interview including his pitching and offense philosophy and who he views as potential coaching staff candidates.

natsfan1a said...

Yes, and insert "play one." That was in response to sec3's IANAD, which I took to mean "I am not a doctor," given the context. :-)

Candide said...

(From last post...):

NatsFan1a said...

BDYPOOTV

Do what, now?

Nearest I can decipher it would be something like, "But Did You (something something) On TV?"
August 08, 2013 2:11 PM

Candide said...

OIC

UnkyD said...

Doc and B-Mitch POUNDING on Ladson, over excuses....

Sec. 3, My Sofa said...

Doc and B-Mitch POUNDING on Ladson, over excuses....

OK, I might be better off with acronyms, or at least alphabetics.

I know who Ladson is. After that, it's all cabbage crates over the briney.

Sec. 3, My Sofa said...

Which is just my way of saying "Huh?"

The Real Feel Wood. Accept no substitutes. said...

From Mark, in-game: Here's a valid question for Davey Johnson postgame: Why, in a tie game in the eighth, was a fresh Tyler Clippard not considered out of the bullpen? I'm not sure what the rationale there would be.

Well, Mark, perhaps a better question would be why was Tyler Clippard not used at that point in the game? Because you know he was considered, seeing as how he was warming up in the bullpen. But here are some of the other considerations that surely played into Davey's choice:

(a) It was a tie game in the 8th, making extras a distinct possibility.

(b) Davey had already used three guys out of his seven man bullpen.

(c) The most recent pitcher he used, Mattheus, had thrown only two pitches.

(d) Barring a double switch, the pitcher's spot was due up second in the bottom of the 8th.

Given all that, leaving Mattheus in to start the 8th made perfect sense. Indeed, Mattheus proceeded to get the first two outs before putting two guys on. At that point, then, it made perfect sense to use the lefty Krol to face the lefty Heyward. Isn't this exactly the situation that caused everyone to question the pre-season choice to have Duke as the only lefty in the pen?

If Krol had done his job and got Heyward out, no one would have been questioning the non-use of Clippard, because Clippard clearly would have pitched the top of the ninth if the game was still tied at that point.

And why not bring in Clippard to face Upton after Heyward singled? Well, first they would have had to stall a bit to get Clippard back up in the pen, and second right after Upton was Freeman, another left handed batter.

Just because Davey couldn't or didn't want to explain his logic in the postgame doesn't mean there wasn't logic behind his choices.

JD said...


NL,

I think that punting the rest of the season is a serious blunder for a couple of reasons:

1) It will start eroding the fan base which just this year started following the team.

2) It will affect off season moves because Rizzo needs to figure out if he has a solid team here as he thought or if major basic changes are required to the core.

I agree with you that firing Davie is out of the question (Sorry JayB) but I think that if Rizzo approached Davie gently he would be receptive to a mutual separation which still respects his accomplishments and does not embarrass him unnecessarily.

The added benefit in such an arrangement is that we get a glimpse of Randy Knorr's in game management capabilities. I am not in favor of a player/manager arrangement.

Sec. 3, My Sofa said...

Candide said...

Sec. 3, My Sofa said...
"THAT's for Bryce. And THAT's for DREW!"

Hey, the season's lost already. And with the team not performing, might as well do SOMETHING to get the fans going.


I got yer "pitch to contact," right here.

The Real Feel Wood. Accept no substitutes. said...

Sec. 3, My Sofa said...

And as long as I've got you here, Woody, could you explain that "heritage" comment? Seriously, what was that supposed to refer to?


My bad. I simply assumed that anyone singing barbershop under a fake Irish name had to be from the Judeo-Christian tradition and would understand the concept of an eye for an eye. They really need to work on that big screen at Nationals Park, because Section222 sure doesn't look Hindu when they project him up there.

Sec. 3, My Sofa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
natsfan1a said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Real Feel Wood. Accept no substitutes. said...

"The added benefit in such an arrangement is that we get a glimpse of Randy Knorr's in game management capabilities."

I would venture to say that in-game management capability is one of the last things that Rizzo will be looking for in the new manager.

natsfan1a said...

Yeah, and plunk this, bub. (Postus interruptus fix.)

sec3 said...
I got yer "pitch to contact," right here.

Sec. 3, My Sofa said...

Wow.

Section 222 said...

My reaction exactly Sofa.

TexNat said...

The more important question than who is going to be managing the Nats next season is what are they going to do to improve the lineup?

Faraz Shaikh said...

I hope our next hitting coach is that marlins hitting coach who got fired earlier. I heard he hits very well.

Dave said...

I went away to do something for a couple hours and it got all weird in here.

natsfan1a said...

Y'all have dirty minds. :-)

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