Each week, writer Bryan Lienesch puts together the MLB Power Rankings, and in looking over the list, there were certainly a few things that required a bit of follow-up discussion. I had a chance this morning to discuss a few things with him, specifically regarding the New York Yankees.
GuysNation Rob: When you come up with your Power Rankings, what are the top two factors you look at each week?
Bryan (@bclienesch): Well I think the top two factors have to be a team's record juxtaposed with their strength of schedule and how they've fared specifically since the last rankings
How about individual players? When someone is added to a team through a trade, or a batter goes into a slump or someone is sidelined by injury, is that taken into account?
Bryan (@bclienesch): Sure. These past rankings were especially difficult because the trade deadline has just occurred and we really don't have a large enough sample size to see how teams will respond.
Injuries also are factored in, but we've seen teams react differently to impact players hitting the DL. Washington shined with a pile of stars sidelined while the Dodgers seemed to struggle the second Matt Kemp went down.
Slumps don't weigh in so much as they're fairly hard to predict when they will begin and end.
Your strength of schedule factor seems to have weighed in considerably this week. I'm not sure of any other way you can justify the Yankees being ahead of the Nationals.
Bryan (@bclienesch): Yes, absolutely. New York and Washington are within just a couple games of one another, but the Yankees have the toughest strength of schedule in the league.
When the two play their division's worst teams, I think there is a striking difference between Toronto and Miami.
So it's an overall strength of schedule, then? Because when I'm seeing that the Yankees only took ONE win against the Orioles in New York last week, and lost a game to the lowly Mariners this past weekend, I'm not seeing a lot of strength there.
Bryan (@bclienesch): Yes. What you're referring to definitely factors in, but every team goes through highs and lows. If we judged solely based on every two weeks, Cleveland would have easily been the worst team this week and I think it's fair to say that's just not true.
For teams to really fall down in the rankings, especially when they've had as good a season as New York or Washington has had, you really need to see a consistent downturn in their play.
People probably forget back in June the Yankees swept the Nationals IN D.C. Was that a statement? Absolutely. But that wasn't an accurate reflection of those two teams, either.
Safe to say that losing two-of-three to the Phillies is not as impressive as the Yankees doing the same against the Orioles, given that the Fightin' Phils are in the position people expected from Baltimore this year—10 games under .500 and not even sniffing the Wild Card?
Bryan (@bclienesch): That is true, and record in contrast to how they've done recently is an interesting debate. Baltimore is 6-4 in their last ten games and Philly is now 5-5.
For Baltimore, that's sort of on par with their season so far whereas Philly, whose record you see is worse in the same span, has shown marked improvement in relation to their season so far.
Again, not all teams are created the same at the same time. Philadelphia and Miami are within a half game of one another and the Nationals lost two-of-three to one and took three-of-four from another.
How do you explain that?
The answer is you can't, really. All you can do is interpret results with an informed point of view
What do you see from the New York Yankees specifically that you like this week? Any good matchups? Anyone hot at the plate?
Bryan (@bclienesch): Actually what's interesting about New York is that they're just the opposite. No one player is ever carrying the team.
Their hottest hitter right now is probably Robinson Cano and he's just coming out of a brief slump. They're are just too many veteran players on their roster. It's like every single person is a load-baring wall that ensures the house never collapses.
But it also helps that CC Sabathia is back to being lights out as always
Other than CC, who should the Yankees faithful be excited about seeing in the rotation?
Bryan (@bclienesch): Hiroki Kuroda has really put together a nice year, one that even the most diehard Yankees fans probably didn't see coming. He's really been the player to step up and cushion the loss of Michael Pineda just as Dave Robertson and Rafael Soriano have helped fill the big shoes left by Mariano.
With no days off and a road trip starting with four in Detroit, will the Yankees be atop your Power Rankings next week?
Bryan (@bclienesch): I think it's too early to tell. Certainly, if they struggle, a tougher schedule will ease any slide they take in the next Power Rankings. I wouldn't be surprised if Detroit took three-of-four from New York, but it's not just about wins and losses but HOW these teams are winning and losing games. These next couple weeks will be tough for the Yankees but, remember, tough is what they've been used to this season.
The MLB Power Rankings can be found each week on GuysNation.
Bryan Lienesch loves talking sports with people on Twitter (@bclienesch)