MLB Power Rankings Week 24: Colorado Rockies Refuse To Lose
While some division races are winding down, others are just starting to heat up.
The Rockies, dead in the water two weeks ago, have ripped off 10 wins in a row and are now in the mix for both the Wild Card and NL West title.
Carlos Gonzalez continues to remind voters why he should be in the MVP conversation.
Troy Tulowitzki has jut finished a incredibly hot stretch as well. How hot? Well how does eight home-runs and 17 RBI in nine games sound?
The tandem are the reason the Rox find themselves within striking distance.
The Giants have been able to capitalize on the Padres' massive slump and have tied them for first in the NL West. How will the Padres and their dismal offense respond?
The Reds, losers of seven out of ten, are allowing the Cardinals a chance to get back in the NL Central race. Yet St. Louis hasn't been able to capitalize a whole lot, going 3-4 in the past week.
The Phillies have taken first place away from the Braves in the NL East. But with six games remaining between the two teams, that race is far from over.
The AL is lacking excitement at this point. The Rangers are in a very comfortable position in the AL West.
The Yanks and Rays have the AL East and Wild Card well in hand. And the Twins have opened up a six-game cushion on the White Sox.
As the season hits the final weeks, all of the questions about who will make the playoffs lie in the NL.
30. Pittsburgh Pirates
From Elias: Andrew McCutchen is the third Pirate aged 23 or younger with 30 steals in a season.
Barry Bonds did it twice in 1986 and 1987 (age 21 and 22), and Hall of Famer Max Carey also did it twice in 1912 and 1913 (age 22 and 23).
He also had the game-winning double in Sunday's win over the Reds.
There, I said something nice about the Pirates. It is possible.
29. Baltimore Orioles
Jeremy Guthrie has gone 7-3 with a 2.38 ERA over his last 10 starts going back to July 23. Only three other pitchers have won seven-or-more games since that date.
Jake Fox hit a two-run home run on Saturday. It was Fox's fifth home run in 29 games since joining the O's from the A's in June.
It was the 10th deep ball by a Baltimore first baseman this season. Orioles' first basemen were the last team in baseball to reach double-figures in homers in 2010.
28. Seattle Mariners
The offense is anemic. Beyond awful. Incompetent to the tune of not being able to score over four runs in 19 out of their last 20 games.
So it's no surprise they rank 29th or 30th in virtually every offensive category.
27. Arizona Diamondbacks
From Elias: Rookie Daniel Hudson continued his string of impressive starts since the Diamondbacks acquired him from the White Sox just before the July 31st trading deadline.
Hudson is 5-1 with a 1.91 ERA in eight starts since Aug. 1. That ties him with the Orioles' Brian Matusz (5-1) for the major-league high in wins by rookies since that date.
A positive sign for a team that desperately needs better pitching to compete next year.
The Diamondbacks have acquired right-hander Matt Gorgen from Tampa Bay to complete the trade that sent reliever Chad Qualls to the Rays.
26. Cleveland Indians
Fausto Carmona snapped a six-game losing streak with a three-hit shutout against the Twins on Friday.
Carmona is the first AL pitcher in 30 years to end a streak of six or more consecutive losing starts with a shutout. The last pitcher to do so was Rick Langford of the A's in 1980.
That was the season in which Langford completed 22 consecutive starts, including each of the six straight losses leading up to his shutout!
In a lost season in Cleveland, salt was added to their wounds Saturday night. Former Indians star Jim Thome cranked a 12th-inning home run for the Twins in their 1-0 win over the Tribe.
25. Kansas City Royals
One of the few bright spots for the Royals this season has been Joakim Soria.
The 26-year-old closer has been outstanding in save situations. He is second in the AL with 37 saves.
He is sporting a tidy 1.68 ERA, and his 1.05 WHIP is among the best in baseball. In fact, he hasn't allowed a run since July 28.
24. Chicago Cubs
Ryan Dempster struck out eight in seven solid innings, earning his 100th career win in beating the Brewers 1-0 on Saturday.
This is not a new development as Dempster really owns the Brew Crew. He is 15-2 with a 2.90 ERA in 22 career starts against the Brewers.
23. Washington Nationals
The production of Ryan Zimmerman should not be overlooked. He has batted .301 on the season, blasting 25 home runs and knocking in 83 RBI for an offensively challenged ball club.
He has hit .345 off left-handers and conitues to play stellar defense at third for the last-place Nationals.
22. Milwaukee Brewers
The Brewers will go with a six-man rotation for the rest of the season, which means right-handed prospect Mark Rogers will make his first major league start.
Manager Ken Macha made that announcement on Sunday after meeting with pitching coach Rick Peterson to figure out the season's final three weeks.
Rogers was scheduled to start one of the Brewers' four games against the Marlins (Sept. 23-26), and might make a second start during the Brewers' next series against the Mets.
21. New York Mets
Johan Santana has a tear of the anterior capsule in the left shoulder and will have season-ending surgery in the near future, the Mets announced. Santana is unsure if he'll be ready to pitch by Opening Day.
The injury is on the front and bottom portion of the shoulder, close to the pectoral muscle, the team said.
Santana said he will start throwing in January, but didn't have a specific timetable for his return. The following quote may scare Mets fans:
"I think the most important thing here is to be ready to be 100 percent. Whether it's April, whether it's May, July, October ... who knows?" Santana said.
"Time will tell how I recover but I've just got to go back to being healthy and being 100 percent."
20. Houston Astros
Chris Johnson struck out on three of his four trips to the plate against the Dodgers on Thursday, but his other at-bat was a three-run homer, giving the Astros a 3-2 win.
From Elias: Johnson is the first player this season to hit a home run producing the game-winning run on his only non-strikeout plate appearance in a game in which he struck out at least three times.
The Astros are 31-22 since the All-Star break. The big reason why? The team batting average was been 24 points higher (.262 vs .238).
Also, they have been great at home. The 'Stros have won 16 of 22 at Minute Maid Park.
19. Los Angeles Angels
Would you do the Dan Haren trade over again, Angel fans?
Haren has posted a 3-4 record in 10 starts. He has a 3.04 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP. So I guess you could say it has worked out well enough.
But his numbers are by no means anything special. The trade was also around the same time the Angels began their journey into mediocrity.
18. Los Angeles Dodgers
Dodgers right-hander Vicente Padilla was been scratched from his start against the Astros on Sunday.
He could very well be done for the season after a setback of the discomfort caused by a bulging disc in his upper back, a injury that recently landed him on the DL for two weeks.
Padilla, one of the Dodgers' best starting pitchers all season, has made just one start since his return, allowing three runs in four innings on Monday.
17. Oakland Athletics
The A's announced that Bob Geren's option for 2011 will be exercised. Geren's overall record since becoming Oakland's manager in 2007 is 297-329.
GM Billy Beane said the team's success, despite its youth (the A's have the lowest average age in the league, and much of the second half the rotation averaged 23 years) and numerous injuries (the team's 23 players on the DL are second most in team history), are the main reasons he wanted Geren back.
16. Detroit Tigers
Miguel Cabrera has not received enough credit for the incredible season he has put together. He's hitting .335 with 34 home runs and 116 RBI.
Add 44 doubles and 100 runs scored, And that's with three-plus weeks to go!
It's a shame the Tigers ran into so many injuries at the same time. The spectacular play of Cabrera has turned into an afterthought because of the Tigers' .500 record.
15. Florida Marlins
Marlins rookie Logan Morrison has reached base in 31 straight games.
From Elias: The last rookie to reach base safely (via hit, walk or HBP) in 30 or more straight games was James Loney with the Dodgers in 2007 (30 straight).
The last rookie with a streak longer than 30 games was Hanley Ramirez of the Marlins in 2006 (36 games).
Between Morrison and Mike Stanton (20 HR, 49 RBI), the Marlins have a very sunny future.
14. Toronto Blue Jays
Jose Bautista hit his 45th and 46th home runs of the season Friday.
From Elias: Bautista, who hit only 13 homers in 113 games in 2009, became the fourth player in major-league history to hit at least 45 homers in a season after hitting fewer than 15 the previous year.
Mark McGwire in 1987 (49, after hitting three as a late-season call-up in 1986), Cecil Fielder in 1990 (51, after hitting nine in 1988 and not playing in the major leagues in 1989), and Carlos Pena in 2007 (46, after hitting one in 18 games in 2006).
13. St. Louis Cardinals
Yadier Molina insists he's just in a slump.
Molina has batted .214 with no walks and one extra-base hit in 11 games since suffering a knee injury in Washington on Aug. 26.
He's had a hit in each of the past four games, but he has struck out four times in that span as well.
Somewhat strange for a player who is consistently among the toughest to strike out.
The Cards need his bat to make a run in the NL Central. They are currently six games behind the Reds.
12. Boston Red Sox
Red Sox infielder Mike Lowell is planning to retire at the end of the 2010 campaign, according to a Boston Herald report.
Lowell on Saturday confirmed what had long seemed to be a likely decision.
"I'm retiring," Lowell told the newspaper.
"I just don't want to make it a song and dance because I don't think that's necessary, but if someone needs something official, yeah, I'm going to retire. This is going to be my last year."
It's been a final year for Lowell, he has hit a mere .223 with 21 RBI in part-time duty.
11. Chicago White Sox
Manny hasn't produced a lot since coming over to the White Sox from the Dodgers. But the team has been better. They just ripped off a 7-3 road trip, yet the red-hot Twins have been able to keep pace.
As a White Sox, Ramirez is 7-for-27 (.259), all singles, since he made his White Sox debut on Sept. 1 in Cleveland.
"I'm not pressing. Everybody knows they're not expecting a lot out of me because, like I said, I haven't played in a long time," said Ramirez. He spent nearly a month on the DL with the Dodgers before switching teams.
10. Colorado Rockies
The Rockies are white-hot. They have won 10 games in a row and it's not as if the competition was a bunch of cupcakes.
They took three in a row AT San Diego, before taking four in a row over the first place Reds at Coors.
The late season magic has been well documented. The Rox are 58-33 in September since '07. That is impressive.
Carlos Gonzalez has been unreal, recently snapping a 15-game hitting streak he had. Over that span he hit north of .500!
For the season, Gonzalez is in the thick of the Triple Crown race with a .337 average, 32 HR, and 100 RBI. En fuego
Troy Tulowitzki has been right behind Cargo. He hit eight home runs in eight games ending last week.
For the season, he's hitting .323 with 20 dongs and 72 ribbies. That's after he missed 33 games with a broken wrist.
He's also getting it done with the leather. He leads the NL in fielding percentage for shortstops. He is an all-around All-Star who has to be considered one of the top three players at his position.
9. Texas Rangers
Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton is still not sure when he's going to return to the lineup.
The majors' leading hitter hasn't attempted any baseball-related activities since a throwing session Tuesday, when he felt discomfort in the strained muscle on the left side of the rib cage.
Hamilton said he saw the club's physician, again on Friday and all the X-rays were negative.
"I'm doing everything I possibly can to get better," said Hamilton, who has a .361 batting average with 31 homers and 97 RBI on the season and is considered a MVP candidate.
Great sweep this weekend of the Yankees. Even without Hamilton, the Rangers were able to gut out three straight over the best team in baseball.
8. San Diego Padres
Oh jeez. The fall of the Padres has been tough to stomach. The feel-good story for most of the year is crashing back down to earth at a alarming rate.
When Chase Headley and his .266 average is second best on the team among your regulars...there is a problem. The offense has averaged 2.2 runs in the last 17 games
Sure the pitching has overachieved all season, but sooner or later the offense has to carry part of the load. And well, it just hasn't happened.
The road ahead doesn't get any easier. The Padres will be traveling to Colorado for a three-game set against the red-hot Rockies, then they make a trip to a desperate St. Louis club.
Oh, and don't forget the series left against the Reds, and the last three games of the year...at San Francisco.
The Padres are falling apart and look as if they will fall out of the playoffs completely. Bummer.
7. San Francisco Giants
Great week for the Giants. They were able to win their series against the Padres and have grabbed a share of the division lead with San Diego.
Tim Lincecum has gotten back on track and won a duel with Padres ace Mat Latos on Sunday. He also struck out his 200th batter.
He is only the fourth player in Giants history to strike out at least 200 in three straight seasons.
His 29-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio in his last three starts means he's baaack.
Outfielder Andres Torres had an appendectomy Sunday and is expected to be out for 10 to 14 days. It's a big blow for the Giants. He was excelling from the leadoff spot for San Fran.
The Giants should be able to cruise this week. They open up a three-game set against the hapless Dodgers, and then the mediocre-at-best Brewers come to town. Looks like it's time to start pulling away for the Giants.
6. Atlanta Braves
Alex Gonzalez has eight extra-inning runs batted in this season, tying him with Nelson Cruz for the major league lead in that category after his three-run walkoff homer for the Braves on Saturday.
Jason Heyward is in the middle of an incredible hot streak, hitting .429 with five homers, 15 RBI and a .520 OBP and 1.189 OPS in his past 21 games going into Sunday night's game.
His thumb injury looks to have no effect on his swing, and the rookie has been huge for the Wild Card-leading Braves.
As the Braves and Phillies battle back-and-forth for first in the NL East, remember that the two clubs play each other six times down the stretch.
5. Cincinnati Reds
The Reds are starting to slow down a bit. They lost five games in a row this week, and closer Coco Cordero blew two saves in a row against the lowly Pirates.
Is it a September swoon or just a lull in the 162-game grind?
It doesn't help that the Reds have played the past 10 games with three outfielders.
Jay Bruce injured his oblique in batting practice 12 days ago and hasn't played since. Laynce Nix is on the DL, and Jim Edmonds has yet to return from his injury.
Miguel Cairo was forced to play in the outfield over the weekend. When the ultra utility man was asked about the last time he played in the grass, he could not recall.
Well that's what Baseball Reference is for, Miguel. He played in just a handful of games in the outfield in '08.
4. Minnesota Twins
The Twins have been red hot since the All Star break. They have the best record in baseball and are currently riding an 8-1 streak.
The White Sox have been hot, but the Twins have been schorching. The division lead contiues to grow as the schedule contiues to get smaller.
At this point it looks like a safe bet that the Twinkies will return to the postseason for another chance to knock out the mighty Yankees.
Fun fact: Kevin Slowey earned his first win in nearly a month and the Twins won their 4,000th game since the franchise moved to Minnesota, 6-2 over the Cleveland Indians on Sunday.
3. Philadelphia Phillies
The Phils had been lurking for awhile and have now finally overtaken first place.
A big reason for all the second-half success? Well they got healthy, but they also got Roy Oswalt.
He has been lights out for Philly. He's gone 6-1 and hasn't allowed more than four runs in any of his nine starts with the Phillies.
The bullpen has gotten a break in his starts as well, he's gone at least six innings in every start.
The deadly one-two combination of Roy Halladay and Oswalt must have the rest of the NL shaking in their boots.
2. Tampa Bay Rays
Elias says: The Rays beat the Jays, 13-1 Saturday, after scoring nine runs in Toronto Friday.
It's the third time this season that the Rays have scored at least nine runs in back-to-back road games. Tampa Bay did that only four times in the first 12 seasons of the team's existence.
Buckle up, Rays fans. A three-game set against the Yankees is on tap for Monday. With the Rays only a half-game back in the AL East, the Rays can really shake thing up a bit this week.
Monday's pitching matchup features two possible Cy Young candidates in David Price and C.C. Sabathia. Give me the under in that matchup.
1. New York Yankees
Javier Vazquez' days in the starting rotation maybe be ending very soon.
Andy Pettitte is scheduled to return from the DL next Sunday.
What's the deal with Derek Jeter? He is in a horrendous slump (eight for his last 67 after Saturday's game).
The Rangers busted out the brooms against the Bronx Bombers this weekend. We'll see if this mini-slump turns into a big one when they travel to Tropicana Field to visit the Rays.
First place is on the line and the two teams have seven games head-to-head in the final three weeks.