MLB Power Groupings: Summer Time, Kick It Up in Gear

Nino Colla@TheTribeDailySenior Writer IJune 2, 2009

NEW YORK - MAY 17:  Joe Mauer #7 of the Minnesota Twins catches against the New York Yankees on May 17, 2009 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. The Yankees defeated the Twins 3-2 in ten innings.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

It's finally June, and as of me writing this, it's the first day of a three-month span when baseball shall rule supreme.

Sure, the NBA Finals are going to kick into gear here in a few days (go Magic by the way), and there are at most five hockey games left. But it's the stage for baseball at this point in time.

The boys of summer are ready to go, and before we know it, the All-Star break will be here, and oh my, the season will be more than two months old.

Right now though, it seems as if there's been more than two months. It's been an action-packed first two months of the season, and we'll cover that after this week’s version of the groupings.

Speaking of, the power groupings, before I actually start assembling them, don't seem like they are going to undergo much change. However, when I start doing them, I start looking at different things, and by the time I get done there are changes there that I'm not sure how I made or why I made them.

I just knew I had to make them because something told me I did. That isn't saying they shouldn't have been made. It's just like, wow, I changed a lot.

So before I change my clothes, let's get to it.

Still no progress? Start thinking of unloading.

Washington, Baltimore, Houston, Colorado, Oakland, Arizona

This group probably won't change much for a while. They might add a team or two here and there, but really this spot is reserved for dwelling every week.

Let's start with Washington, who has lost six straight going into Monday's action.

Actually, let's move right along—I'm sorry I wasted your time.

Baltimore is kind of playing well, whereas everyone else really isn't. Colorado seems to have a little life with the comeback wins they've had this past week. They also fired Clint Hurdle, but how long will that adrenaline and or anger last?

It's pretty bland up in no-progress town.

Teetering on the brink of disaster.

Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Seattle, San Diego

San Diego got their own group last week, but they can only be special for one week in a row. They've removed themselves from the pack it up pack it in grouping, and while "teetering on the brink of disaster" doesn't sound very nice, it isn't actually a disaster, so that counts for something, right?

The Padres are sitting at the even mark at this point in time, and who knows where they will go from here? The Mariners, like the Padres, went about .500 last week and really didn't do anything to establish themselves in any which direction.

Pittsburgh has about a week of bad play from losing status, while Cleveland could be a week away from moving somewhere. They are surprisingly just two games out of fourth place but still have plenty of work to do. Things change in the AL Central, though, as you've come to learn.

Shifty Eyes

Tampa Bay, San Francisco, Florida, Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Angels, Minnesota, Kansas City

A trade of sorts happened here. Two teams, Minnesota and Los Angeles, I believed were making strides to get where they needed and expected to be.

Now, they've kind of fallen back into shifty eyes.

They join a group of teams that are just no longer a group of teams that were sitting pretty and now with shifty eyes. Tampa Bay, San Francisco, Florida, and Chicago are all teams that just haven't made any sort of move. All have probably made strides to getting out of this group, but in different directions of course.

Kansas City, meanwhile, is the one addition from a decent grouping. Boy, did they fall back a bit. They won just one game last week since the last groupings were released, and now they've got to be feeling pretty nervous. They might have another run in them to get back into things, but they might not.

Overall, shifty eyes is a middle group that you probably aren't going to be in long, and why would you? Shifty-eyed people are suspicious.

Make your move Malcolm.

Chicago White Sox, New York Mets

So they didn't acquire Jake Peavy and just went into this mode that said, "Yeah, we don't need him to win."

So the Chicago White Sox went out and just won. They lost just one game last week and are now second in the AL Central by just four games. They are rumored to be buyers, and why wouldn't you be in a winnable division that only needs a few pieces to be legit in winning said division?

They are joined by the New York Mets, who got themselves out of shifty eyes with a similar one-loss week as the White Sox.

The Mets are a streaky team, it seems like. But they've also had a rash of injuries, so you need to give them credit because they deserve a lot of it. Going into Monday's play, they're just a half game back in a division that is tough as nails.

I like the middle, where the center is warm.

Atlanta, Cincinnati

I really like these two teams. They've got pitching.

Teams like Atlanta and Cincinnati can just lay low with good pitching for a while, and who knows—when some of their bats start to come alive in the middle of the hot summer sun, who knows!

The Great American Ball Park is a place to play if you’re an offensive player. If things pick up, whoa man, it could be crazy.

So stay up with it, Atlanta and Cincinnati. You guys can do this sort of thing, and then when no one is watching, jump out of the bushes and creep the hell out of the teams around you.

Excuses us, but we play baseball as well.

Milwaukee, Texas, Toronto, Detroit, New York Yankees

No respect! I say no respect! Here are a group of teams that are all leading their divisions, minus Toronto. Yet it doesn't seem like they should be.

New York has made their move and is now wrestling with Boston for the AL East lead. Texas actually put themselves ahead of Los Angeles considerably in the past week, and Milwaukee is proving to be one hard team to crack at the top of the division standings.

Meanwhile, Detroit is just playing their game, up a good four games until things happen. I mean really, what do they have to do? Right now, just cruise around in this ridiculous division.

Finally, we have Toronto, the lone non-division leader of this group. Don't worry though, you play in the AL East, where the competition is fierce, and they are right in the thick of things two months into it.

Here we are, where we should be.

Los Angeles Dodgers, St. Louis, Philadelphia, Boston

What's crazy is that just two of these teams lead their respective divisions going into Monday's play.

But they are all are right where they should be according to my brain and opinion. Boston is going to be in this dogfight all year with at least three teams. St. Louis is having a nice little battle with Milwaukee, and who knows, they could soon be joined by the Reds and at a later date, maybe the Cubs.

Philadelphia, meanwhile, we know what they are in for.

Then there are the Dodgers, who just suck according to all the other teams here and in the previous group. They can stick it on cruise control, because even 75 percent of their best is better than this division.

Extra Bases: Monthly Besties

Best Hitter—Joe Mauer: This guy comes off the disabled list at the start of the month, right? Everyone is wondering what his back will do to him or whatever the major concerns were. But he comes off and goes right off. He is just two home runs away from matching his career-best 13 in a season.

Honorables: Carl Crawford, Mark Teixeira, and Jason Bartlett.

Best Starter—Justin Verlander: While I like Zach Greinke, there was one man that was that much better in the month of May. Justin Verlander won five games, which is nice, but his seven earned runs in just six games is downright dominant. He also struck out at least eight hitters in five of six games last month.

Honorables: Zach Greinke, Roy Halladay and Rick Porcello.

Best Reliever—Trevor Hoffman: What is this, 2006? Trevor Hoffman, like Mauer, came off the disabled list and went to work. Hoffman pitched in 12 innings last month, recorded 11 saves out of 11 tries, and has walked just one (yes. just one) hitter all year.

Honorables: Francisco Rodriguez, Huston Street, and George Sherrill.

Best Rookie—Rick Porcello: I went to sort the rookie statistics via ESPN, and there were only two qualified rookie pitchers. Bull-huckle! Rick Porcello is a rookie the last time I checked, and he's been just as good as his teammate Justin Verlander, hence the honorable mention in the starter of the month category.

Honorables: Elvis Andrus, Gerardo Perra, and Ryan Perry.

Best Game: Justin Verlander, May 8 against Cleveland: CG SO, 2 H, 2 BB, 11 K. With help from Curtis Granderson for robbing Grady Sizemore of a walk-off home run.

Other Best Game: The actual best game. Definitely the Tampa Bay collapse/Cleveland comeback on Memorial Day. Read my odd recap.

Best Debut: Anthony Swarzak, SP Twins. W, 7 IP, 0 ER, 5 H, 3 K.

Honorable Mention: John Mayberry Jr., OF Phillies. 2-3, HR, 3 RBI, and his "Dad" cheering him on.

Best Defensive Play: Chris Getz, you animal!

Godsend of the Month: Juan Pierre

June's another Month for: Garrett Atkins

*All statistics, standings, and opinions were based off their states going into Monday's action.


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