MLB Power Groupings: My Name is Toronto and I'm Fortunate to Be Here
You get to a point in the MLB season where you have to start realizing that some teams are better than you thought they were.
Or they are just that damn fortunate.
I hate to throw around the word lucky when I talk about the Toronto Blue Jays, just one team in particular. Sure you need some luck to do well in the MLB, it isn't all skill, and it never is.
But Toronto's body of work hasn't been all luck. They've been fortunate more than anything.
Who would have thought their pitching staff would survive the losses of A.J. Burnett, Dustin McGowan, Shaun Marcum, and little injuries here and there to others who've contributed?
They've been fortunate to have had performances from guys like Brett Cecil, Robert Ray, and even relief pitcher Brian Tallet. Had they not been that fortunate, they wouldn't be sitting atop the AL East in the middle of May.
Toronto was under the "proved me wrong, but with work to do" grouping a few weeks ago when the power groupings debuted. I can guarantee you that they've changed their group, but just where do they stand as of the 19th of May?
Read on to find out.
Still no progress? Start thinking of unloading.
Washington, Baltimore, San Diego, Colorado
Baltimore gets a pass, they've got more wins than some of the teams in better groups, but they are in the worst possible division you can be in. They might just be a middle-of-the-division team if they were in any other division.
San Diego and Colorado have a friend to battle with for the bottom of the division, but that friend is in a far worse group than this one, because they didn't have a chance from the get-go.
Washington is a team I’ll give some credit too because they can hit the ball. Things are going to get worse before they get better though. Calling up Double-A pitchers to the Majors don't tend to work out well at first.
Teetering on the brink of disaster.
Oakland, Houston, Pittsburgh
The saving grace for these three teams, the teams they are in divisions with don't feel like pulling away enough for me to declare them dead in the water.
Pittsburgh is falling fast and in a few weeks, I'd expect them to graduate to the bottom of the pile if this play keeps up. They've got one last chance to avoid it.
Houston seems to be closer to getting out of this group the more they win, but still right in the middle.
Oakland is just filled with all kinds of sad. They are right there with Pittsburgh in terms of falling off the map.
Two groups and seven teams in, nothing has changed by the group names.
Close up shop, you've disappointed us all.
We can't ever go back to Arizona, at least not in 2009! The Diamondbacks might as well forget ever contending this year.
The last ditch effort that saw Bob Melvin lose his job isn't really working, in fact they are in worse shape than they were two weeks ago.
Going into Monday's play, they are 11 games out of first place, in a division that is easy to contend in, especially with the top team losing its best hitter for a good month and a half-plus.
Time to pack it Arizona; I've lost faith in you.
If your division didn't suck, you'd be Arizona.
Cleveland, Chicago White Sox
Hey what's this?
Two teams, same division, kind of the same cruddy record.
But the same ridiculous chance to make some noise.
Cleveland is in much worse shape than Chicago because they've actually got the second worst winning percentage in the entire game. But they're only six and a half games out of first.
They've got some time, especially with the snails pace the other three teams are at.
Chicago was once nearer to the rest of the AL Central, but they now get closer to Cleveland by virtue of their series loss to the Tribe and the 2-8 record in their last ten games.
Here they come!
Minnesota, Los Angeles Angels, Tampa Bay
Admit it; you were really worried about these three teams to start the year. They were floundering around and you thought, "Oh dear, it looks like these playoff contenders are bombing."
Wrong sir! Or madam!
Minnesota has turned it around to the point of an 18-20 record. They've got their catcher back and they've made some strides to throw themselves back into the AL Central race.
Now they've all got work to do, Minnesota less than Tampa and Los Angeles because of their division, but tensions are eased a little bit seeing the teams starting to raise back up the division standings.
Los Angeles is actually ahead of the curve, still a few games behind Texas, but above .500 and getting a few starting pitchers back.
While Tampa seems to be working out their runs until they get some more consistent starting pitching, they’ve all rebounding like we’d expect them to after shaky starts.
Middle of the pack and that's a fact!
Atlanta, San Francisco, Cincinnati, New York Yankees, Kansas City Royals
Here are five teams that aren't bad, but aren't going to make the playoffs. They'll fight and fight hard at that, but it won't be enough.
Still, they are talented teams that will notch some wins. They also happen to be right in the middle in terms of their divisions and records.
Atlanta has been in the middle since the start and they'll probably end there as well by just teetering on that .500 record line. While San Francisco has sort of been in the same boat, they are actually second in the NL West by virtue of the Dodgers hot start.
Cincinnati was in the surprise to stick around grouping a few weeks ago. Well that group is gone and they've now graduated to a more serious standing. Watch out for the Reds.
I've figured out the Yankees at this point, they are a middle of the pack team. They were a member of the now defunct, I know what you are but you won't last group, but now they are just in the middle. The middle isn’t bad though, but it might not be good enough for the Boss’ spawn.
Welcome to the real world Kansas City! The Royals have been fighting hard to keep their positioning, but they've gone through some tough stretches, thanks to other teams, or just up and down play by themselves. They'll probably maintain this positioning for awhile now.
You have to appreciate their fight though. Pitching sticks, remember that next time you build a baseball team.
Stop making me look bad!
Milwaukee, Texas, New York Mets
Boy are these three making me look stupid.
I didn't think Milwaukee would last, same with Texas, but I sure as hell didn't see New York lighting their hair on fire and storming up to first place. They were the most likely, but the way they did it shocking to me because of how quickly they made their move.
Milwaukee seems to be getting what they need from the pitching staff. I don't know how long it will last, but they sure as hell aren't going away.
Texas is doing it with offense and while their time at the top may be numbered with Los Angeles getting their pitching back, the more they win now, the less they have to later.
New York wasn't destined for the bottom, but their hard charging is certainly a surprise, just don’t choke it away.
Don't fail me now!
Seattle and Florida, two of the bigger surprises to start the year are starting to fall back.
Florida's fall has been a steady turn down while Seattle's has come more as the expense to the Angels and Texas' success.
My thoughts: One of these teams will go up, the other down. You do the math.
Biding your time until you're ready.
Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia
They are both in second place, and I’m not changing a thing from the last time around, and why should I?
They've got injuries or issues, it doesn't matter. Their talent far-surpasses their vulnerability. Just wait till it gets good before you judge them.
Chicago is staying afloat with some of their heavy hitters out or not producing and Philadelphia is just sort of sluggish. Wait till things get going and let the division sparks begin.
The fortunate sons.
Remember my whole spiel about fortune and how Toronto wasn't lucky, but rather fortunate to have gotten what they've received so far.
Well Detroit is in the same boat. Who would have thought that Edwin Jackson would light it up quite like he has, Justin Verlander would all of a sudden click back into the pitcher we know he can be, and that maligned bullpen would not only be decent, but be one of the better ones in the AL.
Well it's happened and the Tigers are fortunate for it. They've still got some work to do, not as much as I thought two weeks ago, but they've been very fortunate to have found what they've got so far.
Once so dominant, now so worried.
Los Angeles Dodgers, St. Louis
How the mighty have fallen.
Only one of these teams is in control of their respective divisions, but both of them were in this group two weeks ago. Only the title was far more uplifting.
Now it's time to worry a little bit. St. Louis has dropped back into second, a little bit of a trip up, but Milwaukee’s fabulous play hasn’t helped matters either.
Los Angeles meanwhile has lost their prized hitter in the middle of the lineup. It isn't time to panic, but it certainly is time to worry about things being harder than they could have been.
They've still yet to get their hands on Toronto. So they don't have to worry. It's the Blue Jays that need to beware.
Hit Me: At their current averages, the Indians are on pace to beat the team hit by pitch mark they set last year by three, and the Red Sox are going to miss it by one. Boston pitching has also hit 27 opposing batters this year, the most in the majors.
Pitching Errors: The Cubs and Rockies have had seven errors come from the pitchers spot this year, while Detroit and Minnesota's pitchers have yet to commit one.
Efficient Running: Not only are they lapping the field when it comes to stolen bases, but the Rays have the highest percentage as a team. That's dangerous speed at its best.
Unselfish Jerks!: Boston has yet to record a sacrifice hit, shame on them. They've also grounded into the most double plays as a team.
Hold'em to Two: The Athletics have yet to surrender a triple this year. Surprising with how much foul ground that field has?
Run Wild: If you face the White Sox, run like hell. Chicago's ugly eight percent of runners thrown out is actually worse if you look at the raw number of how many runners they've actually thrown out. Three out of 38 runners have thrown out; meaning only three people were slow enough to get caught by A.J. Pierzynski and Corky Miller.
All statistics and records are heading into Monday’s play.
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