Stan 'The Fan' Charles' MLB Power Rankings: May 12, 2014

Posted on May 12, 2014 by Stan 'The Fan' Charles

In regard to the escalating injury issue with Orioles catcher Matt Wieters (and yes, it is escalating), manager Buck Showalter said: "Obviously, I'm not going to insult your intelligence. But it's not like something you snap your fingers and people are going to bend over and give you what you need."

Orioles 2013: Matt Wieters

Photo Credit: Mitch Stringer/PressBox

If running a little bit of a con job isn't insulting people's intelligence, I am not sure what is. All parties -- Showalter, executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette and Wieters -- have been complicit in Wieters' elbow injury. How so?

One of the criticisms of Showalter's handling of the 2013 Orioles was that he overplayed key starters to the point that they couldn't produce the necessary late-season kick to push the team into the playoffs.

Nobody was overplayed quite as much as Wieters, who played in 148 of 162 games last season. The Orioles had played 34 games before Wieters ended up on the disabled list May 11, and backup catcher Steve Clevenger had already started 13 of them.

How does a catcher who sat out only 14 times during a 162-game season suddenly not start as a catcher 13 times during the first six weeks of the subsequent season? Well, he does that when he and his manager are hiding the possible severity of an elbow injury -- to the point of sending Wieters to visit noted elbow surgeon Dr. James Andrews.

What some O's fans and media failed to see was a telltale sign of a larger problem. Wieters, who has thrown out 32.5 percent of would-be base stealers during his career, has caught one of 12 base runners stealing so far in 2014. 

One part of Wieters' game that probably had observers feeling that nothing was wrong was his hot bat. He has a career .257 average, and he hit less than .250 during three seasons as a regular, but he had a .354 average entering the Orioles' May 4 game, his most recent start as a catcher.

So, what was the purpose of Duquette and Showalter running a little gambit on the fans and media? They may have hoped that shopping efforts for an upgrade at catcher might have more chance of success if the other teams didn't know the severity of Wieters' injury.

But now, Wieters is being shut down from all baseball activities. Perhaps with complete rest, he could come back in some sort of relevant fashion during the month of June.

The exact nature of the injury is still not clear. A relieved Orioles nation was thrilled May 7 with the news that Wieters, after being examined by Andrews, would not need Tommy John surgery -- as if that is the only surgery Andrews performs on an elbow.

There were also reports that the injury had no effect on Wieters' ability to swing a bat. But then, four days later, he was being shut down altogether, with an injury we don't seem to fully understand, for a period of time nobody seems to know for certain. It all seems so NFL.

On Wieters' side, you can also understand his desire to be stealth for a while. This injury is agent Scott Boras' worst nightmare. Duquette has publicly stated twice that he and the club have tried to go down the road of an extension with Wieters, which would have kept him with the team beyond 2015, when his contract will be up.

Now, it looks as if club and player share in the expensive risk Boras was willing to take. Wieters' career is far from in jeopardy, but as a catcher, he would be deserving of a bounty fit for a king. For a designated hitter/first baseman, go talk to the Minnesota Twins and ask them whether they would have signed catcher Joe Mauer in 2010 to a then-record eight-year, $184 million contract that runs through 2018 if they had known he wouldn't catch another game after the 2014 season.

For the Orioles' prospects for 2014, it is beginning to resemble more the football mantra of next man up. First, the club had to make do for five weeks without third baseman Manny Machado. Then, they had to make do without first baseman Chris Davis, and just as they get Davis back, Wieters replaces him on the disabled list.

***

Here are some interesting MLB stat notes.

The teams who have allowed the fewest unearned runs are the Cincinnati Reds with three and the Tampa Bay Rays with six. The Nationals have already allowed 28 unearned runs to date in 2014, while in the American League, the disappointing Cleveland Indians have given up 22. The O's, for the record, have allowed eight unearned runs to date.

What are the best and worst ERAs? In the National League, the Atlanta Braves' staff has been stingy to the tune of a 2.64 ERA, and, unsurprisingly, the woeful Arizona Diamondbacks show a team ERA of 4.81.

Despite the tribulations of closer Jim Johnson and the loss of two starters -- Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin -- the Oakland A's lead the AL with a 2.91 ERA. The Astros are bad to the bone, and the team ERA is 4.82.

Are you curious about complete games? In all of MLB, 17 out of the 30 teams have zero complete games. Eight teams have one, and just five have two. No team in MLB has three or more.

Another more modern stat that serves as an indicator on the effectiveness of the starting staff, and may have a relationship to a team's bullpen success or failure, is the quality start stat. A quality start is one in which the starter lasts at least six innings and gives up three or fewer runs.

The Brewers and Braves were tied for the MLB lead with 28 quality starts. The A's have 26, while the Reds and Red Sox are tied with 25. The three teams with the fewest quality starts are the Arizona Diamondbacks, Tampa Bay Rays and the Baltimore Orioles with 12.

The highest batting averages against a pitching staff are .276 for the Twins, .274 for the Orioles, .273 for the Phillies and .272 for the Rangers. The lowest batting averages against are the A's at .220; the Braves at .229; and the Angels, Reds and Cardinals at .230.

What teams have the most and fewest strikeouts by their pitching staffs? The Dodgers lead the way with 343 Ks, followed by the Indians, who have recorded 338, and the Nationals with 331. The lowest strikeout total for a staff is the Twins' 209, then the Orioles' 252, the White Sox's 258 and the Rockies' 261.

On the other side of that coin, the White Sox have allowed the most walks with 168, and the Blue Jays are next with 155. Meanwhile, the Tigers have recorded the fewest walks with 93, followed by the Braves and Giants with 94 and the Yankees with 96.

Here are this week's rankings.

1. Detroit Tigers (21-12 overall record, No. 2 ranking last week)

2. San Francisco Giants (24-14, No. 3)

3. Oakland Athletics (23-15, No. 5)

4. Atlanta Braves (21-15, No. 6)

5. Colorado Rockies (23-17, No. 9) 

6. Milwaukee Brewers (24-14, No. 1) 

7. Los Angeles Dodgers (20-19, No. 4) 

8. New York Yankees (19-17, No. 8) 

9. Baltimore Orioles (20-15, No. 11) 

10. Washington Nationals (19-18, No. 7) 

11. St. Louis Cardinals (19-19, No. 12) 

12. Boston Red Sox (19-18, No. 14) 

13. Texas Rangers (19-19, No. 10) 

14. Seattle Mariners (19-18, No. 17) 

15. Los Angeles Angels (19-17, No. 16) 

16. Tampa Bay Rays (16-22, No. 13) 

17. Kansas City Royals (18-19, No. 19) 

18. Toronto Blue Jays (18-20, No. 21) 

19. Cincinnati Reds (17-19, No. 15) 

20. Miami Marlins (20-18, No. 22) 

21. Pittsburgh Pirates (16-21, No. 24) 

22. Minnesota Twins (17-19, No. 20) 

23. Cleveland Indians (18-20, No. 25) 

24. Chicago White Sox (19-20, No. 26) 

25. New York Mets (17-19, No. 18) 

26. San Diego Padres (18-21, No. 27) 

27. Arizona Diamondbacks (15-25, No. 29) 

28. Philadelphia Phillies (17-19, No. 23) 

29. Chicago Cubs (12-24, No. 28) 

30. Houston Astros (12-26, No. 30)

Follow Stan on Twitter @StanTheFan.


next up:

Stan "The Fan" Charles Talks With Cal Ripken Jr.

May 12, 2014

Stan "The Fan" Charles talks with Cal Ripken Jr. about his latest book and his take on MLB's new replay system and rules about home plate collisions.

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