MLB Power Groupings: Falling Fast or Ready To Pounce?

Nino Colla@TheTribeDailySenior Writer IMay 5, 2009

KANSAS CITY, MO - APRIL 30:  Manager Trey Hillman #22 of the Kansas City Royals meets with players on the mound during a pitching change against the Toronto Blue Jays on April 30, 2009 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by G. Newman Lowrance/Getty Images)

I said last week I'm not a big fan of Power Rankings on a weekly basis. So when I sat down to try to put another rankings list together this week, I sputtered about halfway through and threw up my hands.

I'm dropping Boston two spots because of a series against the Rays, I'm forced to move the Yankees up more than several spots, and this just isn't working for me.

So I devised something that should please me and the idea of power rankings and perhaps be a little more innovative than ranking teams based off some made-up criteria that I formulated on the third floor of the library on campus.

What I've done here is group teams together randomly. Not randomly, but I might as well have.

What I really did was put teams into several groupings based on their standing. Some of the groupings are made up—actually, all of them are, but some of them are made up because they don't fit anywhere else.

What am I talking about, and why did I just start a third consecutive paragraph with the word, "what?"

You'll see in a moment, because it's time for what I call the MLB Power Groupings.

You aren't contending, and you never will, at least not this year.

Washington, Baltimore, San Diego, Colorado

Baltimore and San Diego tried to avoid this group for as long as possible, but the truth is inevitable for both of them. Baltimore has won just two of their last 10, and San Diego has gone 2-12 after starting 9-3.

I might have been able to wait a week before putting the Padres in this group, but what the heck, it's just delaying things, and we don't like delaying things.

Washington and Colorado? Well, they're just glad they have some company now.

Your status is on life support, so get going, or just go.

Oakland, Houston, Pittsburgh

The Athletics are really treading thin water with this start. Their saving grace is they play in a division that is led by Seattle, and the big dog in Los Angeles is struggling. However, they can't keep this up, or else Matt Holliday's stay in the Bay Area is going to be very short.

Houston and Pittsburgh are sort of like polar opposites, but they are what we thought they were: teams in a division that is going to be decent at the top, but neither of them is going to be at the top. Houston is on their way up and Pittsburgh is on their way down, but they'll meet in the middle.

I can't figure out what you're doing, but you better stop it.

Cleveland, Arizona, New York Mets, Los Angeles Angels, Tampa Bay

Whoa, this is crowded, and quite honestly it's one of the groups I've made up! It's also a group that will eventually disappear because sooner or later this is no happy medium.

These teams all need to decide what side of the fence they are on. They all have the talent to compete, but not all of them are off to the great starts.

Cleveland and Arizona are two teams with talent that some thought could get it done, realistically aren't right now, and are now being left for dead in the water.

The Mets and Angels are two teams that people are being cautious with. Obviously the rebuilt bullpen for New York is working wonders, but their starting pitching is now failing them, as is the case with the Angels.

But the Angels have an excuse: Half of their starters are injured. They can hang around in this area for two reasons though. They've really got a lot of talent, and overall the two teams ahead of them are just...blah.

No confidence is instilled with Texas and Seattle—two flawed teams in two different ways. The Angels might be flawed in their own right, but don't think they won't find a way to get their starters healthy and put themselves back in this race.

Finally we have Tampa Bay, who made the Red Sox look mortal after they were on a big win streak. I think some people are starting to question Tampa, but I also think some realize that they can be trusted; they just need a little more time to adjust to their new role as favorites.

What are you? NO REALLY, WHAT ARE YOU?

Minnesota, Atlanta, Chicago White Sox

The Twins are really a team that could be in the above group, but I'm cutting them slack with their injuries. Chicago is in the same division and is more of a question than the Twins for me.

They are getting some decent pitching, trying to implement some small ball techniques, but it's painfully clear they still thrive on the home run. Yet they are still at .500 with their record. It's just confusing.

Atlanta...just...stop it. This team likes streaking on both ends, and really I have no clue which side is for real.

I know what you are, but you aren't going to last!

Milwaukee, New York Yankees, Texas, San Francisco

There is a common theme here. All of these teams have one thing but not the other. One has what the others want, and three have what the other need.

Can you guess the riddle?

Milwaukee, New York, and Texas have what San Francisco needs, and San Francisco has what the other three want.

Oh, I'm so clever.

If you read the power rankings last week, you'll know I'm not too fond of Milwaukee and New York for their pitching reasons. Texas can be thrown in there, but I'm fond of them because their offense is bananas and they play in a sleepwalking division.

For Milwaukee, Trevor Hoffman is a boost, and I think they are making strides, but I'm still not ready to buy in.

New York is New York, and considering they can't beat Boston, I'm not taking them seriously either.

Texas is going to be a .500 team, so perhaps this is a little bit rash of a spot to put them in. But I know what they are about, and this team and their offense is destined for an even record unless they find pitching.

San Francisco has pitching, but they have no offense. Really, it's horrible. I thought it would be a little better than it is, but clearly it is not. Of course their pitching is good enough to keep them in that range Texas is at, but they can't even get enough offense. Eighty-four runs is pathetic.

I can't figure out what you're doing, but it would be pretty cool to see it continue.

Kansas City, Seattle

I actually know what Kansas City is doing—they are pitching well. Still, it will be pretty cool to see it continue.

Unless it's at the expense of my Tribe, of course.

Seattle is truly a team I have no clue what they are doing. I know Erik Bedard, Jarrod Washburn, and Felix Hernandez are pitching so well right now. But their leaders in runs batted in?

Jose Lopez, Russell Branyan, Franklin Gutierrez, and Yuniesky Betancourt.

Now, Lopez belongs, and I guess Branyan does as well—but Russell Branyan, really? What year is this?

I love Franklin Gutierrez—I'll gladly take that—but him and Betancourt being among the team leaders in run production?

That can't really continue to happen along with Seattle winning as well, can it?

Not top-notch, but a surprise that will stay.

Cincinnati, Florida

I picked Cincinnati to finish third in the division, but third in a division with six teams and with full wherewithal to know they could be above .500 and serious contenders for a playoff spot.

I'm feeling pretty good about that.

Their pitching is lights out—from top to bottom, rotation to bullpen. They'll be around this year.

Florida was my pick to win the NL East, and while I was looking pretty smart a few weeks ago, the Marlins are starting to lose ground.

But they are still atop a tough division, and they've got staying power. This team is just staying middle ground for now as they grow. They are mid-pack in both offense and pitching, but that will get better as their young players start to realize the spot they are in.

Biding your time until you're ready.

Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia

Really, there is nothing to see here. Chicago and Philadelphia are just kind of hanging around. They're good, and they'll be in it when it counts, but right now, things are just kind of even.

Maybe I was wrong, but you've got work to do.

Toronto, Detroit

I picked these two teams to finish dead last in both their divisions after I revised my picks.

Wow...nice one genius!

I'll say this much. Baltimore is much worse off than I thought they would be, and Toronto is actually much better off. I wasn't wrong about what Toronto is though.

They've got pitching problems, but apparently they are much better off than Baltimore, and what they have is at least keeping them afloat.

They might not win the division—nay, they won't win the division, but they won't finish last.

Detroit, on the other hand, was a team that scared me off because of a rash of injuries and a shaky bullpen.

Well, that shaky bullpen is actually maintaining enough to stay afloat, and guys like Justin Verlander are actually producing.

But they are still middle of the pack in a middle of the pack division, and they've got work to do if they want to keep it up. They've also got to stay healthy.

Top of the Pack, don't you look back.

Boston, Los Angeles Dodgers, St. Louis

There really isn't much more to say. These are three teams who have the talent and the staying power.

Boston just has to bide their time. Toronto has yet to face the Red Sox; in fact, they've only played three games against one East team, Baltimore. They've been beating up on the AL Central and West divisions.

It's only a matter of time before they get their hands on Toronto and Toronto starts to face more challenging competition. So keep the course and just plugging away.

The Dodgers are in a horrible division, point blank. Plus their offensive talent is far superior.

However, I wouldn't go tabbing as them best team in all of baseball yet. Like Toronto, this is a team that has beaten up on weaker opponents. They've faced nothing but their own horrible division and Houston.

That's not really inspiring.

Then we have St. Louis, who has not only faced the cream of the crop, they've done it well. I'm not surprised by the Cardinals, and I think they've got a realistic shot to not only make the playoffs, but also topple the Cubs.

They've got a few stiff tests in Philadelphia and Cincinnati coming up, and I expect them to do what they do best and come out looking just as good.

Extra Bases

I love LA: The Dodgers are undefeated at home so far at 11-0.

Zack Greinke: The Royals ace has more complete games by himself, three, than every other team's pitching staff.

Great Eight...Teen: Ian Kinsler is second in the majors in extra base hits. Carl Crawford leads all of baseball in stolen bases. That number for both of them is 18.

Hitting Ain't Everything: Both Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay have given up at least 45 hits, the most in the majors, but both have ERAs under four.

Texas Power: The Rangers lead all teams in home runs with 45; Oakland, San Francisco, and Pittsburgh, the three lowest teams in that category, can't even match that combined.

Royal Nights: Kansas City would rather play games at night given their record splits. They have 11 wins at night compared to a 4-6 record in day games.

So Close: Colorado is 0-7 in one-run games. That stat can be an Achilles' heel or a strength, and obviously it isn't working for the Rockies. See Florida, 5-1.

Better Times for the Tribe: Could Cleveland just be battling through a stretch of tough opponents? ESPN's SOS says maybe. Okay, it doesn’t say it, but maybe that is an answer.


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