MLB Power Rankings: Week Nine
Team (Current Record|Last Week's Ranking)
1. Los Angeles Dodgers (39-19|1)
The Dodgers could have easily been at the No. 2 spot had it not been for back-to-back heroic performances from Andre Ethier. While the O-Dog and Casey Blake have struggled, James Loney and Ethier have stepped up.
The Dodgers lead the Majors in batting average (.281) and on-base percentage (.361). They also lead the National League in runs (303), hits (563), and RBI (2.87). The pitching, with the return of Hiroki Kuroda, continues to dazzle, leading the Majors in ERA (3.57) and batting average against (.235).
2. Philadelphia Phillies (32-22|6)
Just when it looked like Brad Lidge was getting back into his groove (saving five in a row), he blew back-to-back saves against the Dodgers for a Major League-leading total of six blown saves. Chase Utley and Raul Ibanez continue to shine as Jimmy Rollins continues to struggle.
The Phillies lead the National League in home runs (75), slugging (.461), and extra base hits (206) and rank second in runs (295), RBI (283), and total bases (861). Cole Hamels, J.A. Happ, Jamie Moyer, and rookie Antonio Bastardo were all stunning last week.
3. Boston Red Sox (33-23|8)
How stunning was the pitching last week? They compiled a measly 2.00 ERA. Josh Beckett and Jon Lester were phenomenal, which should bring consistency back to the Red Sox rotation. Combine that with an impressive Dice-K and the Majors' best bullpen, and that's one devastating pitching staff.
The Red Sox offense is top five in the Majors in runs (297), home runs (65), total bases (869), RBI (284), on-base percentage (.357), slugging (.450), and extra base hits (205). Watch out for a heating up J.D. Drew.
4. New York Yankees (32-23|2)
There's a return to normalcy in the AL East as it looks like the Yankees and Red Sox will compete for first place and the Wild Card. Mark Teixeira continues to be an RBI machine, and a healthy Derek Jeter continues to sizzle at the top of the lineup. Starting pitching has been just a little better but continues to be a concern with its 4.87 ERA.
The Yankees lead the Majors in total bases (935), home runs (87), and slugging (.483). They're second in runs (317), RBI (301), and extra base hits (211). They're third in hits (541), batting average (.279), and on-base percentage (.358).
5. Milwaukee Brewers (33-23|5)
Just as Ryan Braun is cooling down, Prince Fielder is heating up (.440 avg./3 HR/6 RBI last week). The Brewers need both to be hot at the same time to be truly devastating, especially as Corey Hart and J.J. Hardy continue their struggles.
The pitching staff has been great, especially Yovani Gallardo and Jeff Suppan in the past week. Better pitching is needed from Manny Parra. The bullpen also continues to be one of the best in the Majors ever since Trevor Hoffman has come into the fray.
6. Texas Rangers (32-23|6)
The current 10-game stand against the top tier of the AL East will let us know if the Rangers are for real. The Rangers continue to pound the ball, leading the Majors in home runs (87) and extra base hits (214). They're also second in total bases (910) and slugging (.476).
Elvis Andrus has cooled down significantly, and more production is needed from Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Kevin Millwood and Scott Feldman were dazzling last week, but the problem was their bullpen, which compiled a 6.00 ERA.
7. Toronto Blue Jays (31-27|9)
The Blue Birds still somehow lead the Majors in hits (573). It's surprising because their hit leader Aaron Hill batted .000 with a .045 on-base percentage last week. Adam Lind and Lyle Overbay have been forced to carry the load as the rest of the offense, especially Alex Rios (whiffed five times in one game) and Vernon Wells (.100 on-base percentage last week), continues to struggle as they play their way out of the AL East race.
The Blue Jays still lead the American League in batting average (.280) and are third in total bases (.902).
8. St. Louis Cardinals (31-25|4)
Why do the Cardinals deserve a top-10 spot after being blown out by the Rockies 21-5 over the past two games? Their starting pitching staff still has a 3.69 ERA, good for second best in the Majors. Chris Carpenter is on pace to pull off a better season than people predicted Zack Greinke would have.
What was the offensive surprise of the last week? Rookie Colby Rasmus had a higher OPS (1.333) than Albert Pujols (1.256). Brendan Ryan has played well, while Ryan Ludwick and Skip Schumaker have to bat better than a combined .140.
9. Cincinnati Reds (29-26|9)
The Reds have to miss Joey Votto, as they had an awful offensive week. Only Brandon Phillips performed well. Laynce Nix needs to perform more consistently to help this offense. Matt Maloney and Johnny Cueto had good pitching performances last week, and the bullpen has been spectacular (only two blown saves). A big surprise has been the pleasant play of relief pitcher Nick Masset.
Edinson Volquez is back on the DL, meaning their starting pitching is probably going to get roughed up if they can't find a suitable replacement.
10. Detroit Tigers (29-25|10)
The Tigers have the best starting pitching staff in the American League (3.81 ERA). Justin Verlander and Edwin Jackson have been dubbed the best one-two pitching punch in baseball. Both have been more than excellent. Dontrelle Willis continues his inconsistent play, and Rick Porcello finally hit a bump, which means that Armando Galarraga has to pitch much better
Brandon Inge and Curtis Granderson played phenomenal last week (.366 batting average), which is necessary, as Miguel Cabrera has a minor injury keeping him out of play.
11. New York Mets (29-25|7)
The Mets are injury-riddled and running out of bodies. They were "embarrassed" to be swept by the Pirates and got trounced on by the Nationals on Saturday. No player had more than three RBI last week. The only player who showed up was David Wright.
Despite this, the Mets are still second in the National League in batting average (.276) and on-base percentage (.360). The starting pitching was awful last week, excluding a rare gem by Tim Redding.
12. Los Angeles Angels (28-26|15)
The pitching is all over the place. Ervin Santana was spectacular, out-dueling Verlander. Jered Weaver has continued his All-Star campaign, and the return of Kelvim Escobar should bring some stability to the starting pitching rotation. The Angels continue to have the worst bullpen in the American League (5.66 ERA and .298 batting average against).
Vlad is finding his groove (.320 avg. last week), Chone Figgins continues his superb play, Bobby Abreu is an offensive monster, and Torii Hunter continues to be the center of this offense.
13. San Francisco Giants (28-26|13)
Aaron Rowand has been on an offensive tear (.480 avg. and 1.239 OPS). The offense and pitching are at opposite ends of the spectrum. The Giants are the worst team in the Majors in home runs (28), RBI (200), and total bases (677). They're also the worst National League team in runs (214), on-base percentage (.314), slugging (.371), and extra base hits (138).
On the other side of things, the pitching is third best in the Majors with a 3.78 ERA. This starting pitching staff is scary—Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, and Barry Zito (who gets no run support).
14. Tampa Bay Rays (29-28|19)
The opposition's batting average against the Rays' pitching staff last week was an astonishing .177. Akinori Iwamura, Jason Bartlett, Evan Longoria? Who needs them? The team has won with B.J. Upton heating up (.467 avg. last week), Ben Zobrist's clutch hitting, Matt Joyce's runs batted in, and surprise play from Joe Dillon.
The Rays lead all of baseball in runs (321), RBI (304), and stolen bases (90). They're also top-five in hits (540), home runs (72), total bases (901), on-base percentage (.355), slugging (.456), and extra base hits (205).
15. Chicago Cubs (27-26|12)
Derrek Lee continues to heat up, and Reed Johnson has provided a spark to a team that can't seem to find any offense. Where has Alfonso Soriano gone? The Cubs are the second worst in the Majors in hits (442) and fifth worst in batting average (.248).
Ryan Dempster and Carlos Zambrano combined for a 0.00 ERA last week, and Randy Wells and Ted Lilly were fabulous. Their bullpen is problematic, as evident by its 4.59 ERA.
16. Minnesota Twins (28-29|22)
The M&M boys continue to do their thing, but that's all about this offense has besides Jason Kubel. Nick Blackburn, Kevin Slowey, and Scott Baker have done well for the starting rotation. Francisco Liriano finally threw a gem, which is good news because Glen Perkins and Anthony Swarzak had major pitching problems.
17. Oakland Athletics (24-30|28)
The A's went 6-1 last week. Matt Holliday has been on fire (.480 avg./9 RBI/1.447 OPS last week). Jason Giambi's average doesn't show it, but he's been key, having belted eight RBI last week. The starting pitching staff full of rookies (Brett Anderson, Vin Mazzaro, Josh Outman) has been more than impressive.
18. Seattle Mariners (27-29|18)
When Ichiro, Russell Branyan, and Ken Griffey Jr. are all performing, this offense can be dangerous. Each one of them had an OPS over 1.120 last week. The pitching staff continues to be the story of the M's, who have an AL-best 3.77 ERA. King Felix, Erik Bedard, and Jarrod Washburn have all played All-Star worthy.
19. Florida Marlins (27-30|21)
This offense has three performers in Dan Uggla (.364 avg./6 RBI/1.245 OPS last week), Hanley Ramirez (.448 avg./1.053 OPS last week), and Jorge Cantu (.296 avg./5 RBI last week). That's about it. They're the third worst National League team in batting average (.248) and slugging (.384). Josh Johnson continues to be a pitching stud, but the rest of the starters need to contribute.
20. Chicago White Sox (26-29|17)
Scott Podsednik has brought stability to the top of the lineup. Only A.J. Pierzynski has performed offensively as of late. The White Sox are the fifth worst team in the Majors in runs (225), hits (458), and total bases (709). No team hits fewer extra base hits (136). Gavin Floyd has improved majorly, and Mark Buehrle continues to be consistent. The bullpen also continues to be one of the best in the Majors.
21. Atlanta Braves (26-28|16)
This offense is basically just Chipper Jones (.400 avg./6 RBI/1.137 OPS last week). The Braves are bottom-five in the Majors in home runs (38), RBI (215), total bases (700), and slugging (.383). More is needed from Brian McCann and Garret Anderson.
What impact will cutting Tom Glavine, calling up Tommy Hanson, and trading for Nate McLouth have on this team? Today will be a nice preview.
22. Pittsburgh Pirates (26-29|24)
They traded away their best player and still swept the Mets. Is there internal conflict with the GM? Jason Jaramillo and Jack Wilson have been on fire. Andrew McCutchen looks like a promising young player for the Bucs. Zach Duke continues to be extraordinarily underrated, but the rest of the starters have stunk, and Paul Maholm needs to be more consistent.
23. San Diego Padres (26-29|14)
The Padres are probably the most inconsistent team in all of baseball. The best ERA for a starting pitcher last week was a terrible 4.50 (Chris Young). Even Heath Bell has struggled. The offense is nonexistent, having the worst batting average in all of baseball (.238) and the fewest hits (435). They're also bottom five in runs (215), RBI (207), total bases (707), and slugging (.387).
24. Houston Astros (24-30|29)
Miguel Tejada now leads all of baseball in hits. Hunter Pence continues to be extremely underrated. Carlos Lee and Michael Bourn are playing out of their minds.
So what's the problem? The pitching staff. Roy Oswalt is way too inconsistent (there's way more bad than good). They're bottom five in the Majors in WHIP (1.76) and batting average against (.276).
25. Cleveland Indians (24-34|27)
Cliff Lee and Carl Pavano are a dangerous duo. Jeremy Sowers and Anthony Reyes also pitched well last week. This team should be better as they're a top-five offense in runs (300) and hits (538).
Asdrubal Cabrera, Victor Martinez, and Shin-Soo Choo continue to perform for the Tribe. They're hoping that Travis Hafner's return will help their offense even more. Also, Johnny Peralta has to play more consistently. The Indians are not out of the playoff picture.
26. Arizona Diamondbacks (24-32|25)
The D-Backs continue to have problems getting on base. They're the second worst in the National League in batting average (.242) and on-base percentage (.315). It doesn't help when their best player, Justin Upton, bats .211 during the week. Mark Reynolds has been their recent offensive spark. Doug Davis, Billy Buckner, Dan Haren, and Jon Garland all pitched well last week.
27. Colorado Rockies (23-32|26)
It looks like Garrett Atkins might lose his job. Ian Stewart was phenomenal last week (.435 avg./4 HR/12 RBI/1.567 OPS). Brad Hawpe and Todd Helton also continue their stellar play. The starting pitching staff has been way too inconsistent, as the pitching staff is bottom-four in the Majors in WHIP (1.47) and batting average against (.283).
28. Kansas City Royals (24-31|23)
Once the Cinderellas of baseball, the Royals now find themselves in an all-too-familiar place of struggling. Don't jump too quickly off the Greinke bandwagon, even though he's struggled his last two starts. The starting pitching staff must be more consistent (Gil Meche, Luke Hochevar, Kyle Davies) if they're going to compete in the easy division. Offense must be solid to back up good pitching.
29. Baltimore Orioles (24-32|20)
Adam Jones, Aubrey Huff, Brian Roberts, and Nick Markakis combined for one RBI last week. That's just awful and not going to get the job done. Only Luke Scott has been consistent, and Nolan Reimold has played great for a rookie. Rich Hill and Brad Bergesen have both been surprisingly good, but the rest of the pitching staff is bad, with an AL-worst 5.32 ERA, 17 quality starts, and .285 batting average against.
30. Washington Nationals (15-39|30)
What else can be said of the Nationals? They're just so bad defensively, offensively, and pitching-wise. Adam Dunn batted .100 with eight strikeouts last week. Only Cristian Guzman and Nick Johnson have been consistently good. John Lannan is also pretty good on a pitching staff that's the Majors' worst in ERA (5.50), quality starts (17), and WHIP (1.60).
Biggest climb: The Oakland Athletics jumped 11 spots from No. 28 to No. 17 after going 6-1 last week.
Biggest fall: The Baltimore Orioles fell nine spots from No. 20 to No. 29 after going 1-5 last week.
Best team average: The Los Angeles Dodgers have the best team average (2.67) by being first three times, second four times, fifth once, and eighth once.
Worst team average: The Washington Nationals have the worst team average (29.78) by being ranked last eight times and 28th once.
Teams yet to fall out of the top 10: Dodgers, Blue Jays, and Cardinals
Teams yet to climb out of the bottom 10: Indians and Nationals
Prediction of the week: Reds will go 6-0
Division Rankings/Picture (Current record|Last Week's Ranking)
*Divisional rankings are based on the average power rankings.
1. AL East (149-133|1): Bos (3), Nyy (4), Tor (7), Tam (14), Bal (29)
2. AL West (111-108|4): Tex (6), Laa (12), Oak (17), Sea (18)
3. NL Central (170-159|2): Mil (5), Stl (8), Cin (9), Chc (15), Pit (22), Hou (24)
4. NL East (129-144|4): Phi (2), Nym (11), Fla (19), Atl (21), Was (30)
5. NL West (140-138|3): Lad (1), Sfg (13), Sdp (23), Ari (26), Col (27)
6. AL Central (131-148|6): Det (10), Min (16), Cws (20), Cle (25), Kan (28)
If the playoffs started today...
1. Boston v. 3. Detroit
2. Texas v. 4. New York
1. Los Angeles v. 4. St. Louis
2. Philadelphia v. 3. Milwaukee
If awards were handed out today...
AL MVP: Justin Morneau (Minnesota Twins)
NL MVP: Albert Pujols (St. Louis Cardinals)
AL Cy: Zack Greinke (Kansas City Royals)
NL Cy: Johan Santana (New York Mets)
AL RoY: Nolan Reimold (Baltimore Orioles)
NL RoY: Gerardo Parra (Arizona Diamondbacks)
AL MoY: Ron Washington (Texas Rangers)
NL MoY: Joe Torre (Los Angeles Dodgers)
AL Comeback: Justin Verlander (Detroit Tigers)
NL Comeback: Barry Zito (San Francisco Giants)
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