Stan 'The Fan' Charles' MLB Power Rankings
By Stan "The Fan" Charles
Including games on June 17
1. New York Yankees (6-0 since June 11, 40-25 overall) -- The Yankees swept through Atlanta and Washington to stake their claim on the No. 1 spot. Joe Girardi grabbed his 500th win as a manager, reliever David Robertson was activated and starter Phil Hughes is back from the dead.
2. Los Angeles Angels (4-2, 36-31) -- In the standings, the Angels are four games behind the Rangers. What should scare everyone else is the Angels have gotten hot (18-7 during their last 25) -- mostly without Jered Weaver, who is scheduled to return from the DL this week.
3. Texas Rangers (5-1, 40-27) -- Texas handled the Diamondbacks and hapless Astros. With injuries mounting, the Rangers brought up two youngsters -- Leonys Martin and Justin Grimm -- more for what they may be able to do later during the season.
4. Tampa Bay Rays (2-4, 37-29) -- The Rays are holding their own and then some, without stud third baseman Evan Longoria, who looks to be about 2-3 weeks away from returning. They mastered the Marlins, and pitcher Alex Cobb was brilliant during Sunday's 3-0 win.
5. Baltimore Orioles (5-1, 39-27) -- Pitchers Jason Hammel and Wei-Yin Chen have formed a dynamic 1-2 punch. Both have seven wins, and they closed out the Braves with 16 consecutive shutout innings. Brian Roberts' return has inspired his mates.
6. Los Angeles Dodgers (3-3, 42-25) -- The new Dodgers owners stamped themselves as serious (as if there was any doubt after they purchased the team for $1.2 billion), in signing outfielder Andre Ethier for a five-year deal with an option for nearly $100 million. Can a trade for Cole Hamels be in the offing?
7. Washington Nationals (3-3, 38-26) -- It was an up-and-down week for the Nats, who swept a three-game series in Toronto and came back to Nationals Park, where the Yankees swept them during a three-game series. These guys are learning how to win, and the Yankees gave them quite a lesson. The release of relief pitcher Brad Lidge should send a message to all.
8. Cincinnati Reds (6-0, 38-27) -- The Reds had a nice week against two teams, the Indians and Mets, who had been playing well. This club is playing with an abundance of confidence right now, and their next nine games are against the Indians, Twins and Brewers. Look for them to put a stranglehold on NL East during this span.
9. Boston Red Sox (4-2, 33-33) -- Things are never boring with Bobby Valentine in charge. He's like a jockey getting everything out of an injury-plagued horse (see injuries to Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury, Cody Ross, Andrew Bailey, et al). Yet, this shoulder issue that has landed Josh Beckett on the DL could be Critical Mass time.
10. Chicago White Sox (2-4, 35-31) -- Chicago let two series get away versus the St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers. But now, the schedule feeds the Sox red meat, with Cubs coming into their house.
11. Miami Marlins (2-4, 33-33) -- Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen could and should erupt. Losing five of six versus the cross-state Rays isn't the way to stamp a team as the real deal. Now Miami heads to Boston's Fenway Park, for what could be a trap series.
12. San Francisco Giants (3-3, 37-30) -- Matt Cain's perfect game was a thing of beauty. Yet, at the end of the day, the euphoria gave way to losing three of their last four games of the week versus the Astros and Mariners. That's not good, and the saga of pitcher Tim Lincecum isn't trending the right way.
13. Detroit Tigers (4-2, 32-34) -- This is an example of why these power rankings are not just a recitation of the standings. The twin performances by Doug Fister and Max Scherzer -- albeit against the Rockies -- were just what the doctor ordered for Jim Leyland's gang.
14. New York Mets (3-3, 35-32) -- Like their NL East rival Nationals, the Mets had a total yo-yo week. The Mets surprised the world sweeping Tampa in St. Petersburg, Fla., and then went home and had a dud series versus the Reds. Jason Bay is injured again, and it could be another concussion.
15. St. Louis Cardinals (3-3, 34-33) -- St. Louis' mediocrity isn't too much of a surprise to me. The absence of pitcher Chris Carpenter was a huge obstacle in the Cardinals' hopes for a real shot at a repeat of last year's World Series victory. Am I the only one that accurately analyzed what the absence of pitching coach Dave Duncan would mean?
16. Toronto Blue Jays (3-3, 34-32) -- The Blue Jays lost three starting pitchers -- first Brandon Morrow, then Kyle Drabek and then, by week's end, Drew Hutchison. All are now on the DL. I can't imagine the understudies can keep them close in the AL East standings.
17. Kansas City Royals (5-1, 29-35) -- I got caught up last week in getting caught up with my disappointment about the Royals. Manager Ned Yost is not going anywhere. Although the Royals have moved back to within five games of the White Sox in a suddenly wide-open AL Central, if Bruce Chen and Luke Hochevar can't suddenly rediscover themselves, they can't contend. The bullpen has developed as a huge plus.
18. Pittsburgh Pirates (2-4, 34-31) -- Manager Clint Hurdle called out his offense, saying, "too many of our hitters want to get a hit, rather than get a good pitch to hit." Those words weren't lost on enigmatic former No. 1 pick Pedro Alvarez, who hit four home runs during the last two days at Progressive Field in Cleveland.
19. Atlanta Braves (1-5, 35-31) -- I watched the Braves three straight games, and they are surprisingly unimpressive. The lone exception was shortstop Andrelton Simmons. Since coming back from an injury last August, catcher Brian McCann has played in 84 games, batting just .211, with 13 homers and a 36.8 slugging percentage. During his prior 6.5 seasons, he hit .286, with a career 48.6 slugging percentage. The injury to pitcher Brandon Beachy could be calamitous.
20. Milwaukee Brewers (2-4, 30-36) -- Stopper John Axford struggled during back-to-back games this week. The team's streak of 69 consecutive wins when taking a lead into the eighth inning came to a screeching halt. Manager Ron Roenicke hasn't been blessed with a lineup he can count on.
21. Arizona Diamondbacks (2-4, 32-34) -- The Diamondbacks have been 17-14 during their last 31 games. But, the hole they put themselves in early continues to haunt them. Starting pitching is the largest culprit.
22. Philadelphia Phillies (2-4, 31-37) -- This team is DOA at a stadium near you. The great run of the past few years is just about over. Symbolic of what is going on is the inevitable money grabs by Cole Hamels and Shane Victorino, which is probably going to lead to the Phillies dealing Hamels.
23. Oakland Athletics (5-1, 31-36) -- The A's had a great week against two really bad teams in the Rockies and Padres. The big news of the week is that the Manny Ramirez experiment in Oakland is over.
24. Cleveland Indians (1-5, 33-32) -- This was a disaster of a week for manager Manny Acta's team. First, they let Reds manager Dusty Baker get into their heads and then Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez went 5-for-11 against them, with nine RBIs, reminiscent of Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe. The good news for the Indians is they are only 1.5 games behind the AL Central-leading White Sox. If they can avenge last week's sweep from the Reds during this week's series, the reward is the Astros on a plate June 22-24.
25. Minnesota Twins (2-4, 26-39) -- Give manager Ron Gardenhire credit for not throwing in the towel. The offense and relief pitching are far better than the starting pitching.
26. Seattle Mariners (2-4, 29-39) -- How do you get swept at home against the Padres, and then take two out of three from the Giants? It's not hard if you are the wildly inconsistent Mariners.
27. San Diego Padres (4-2, 24-43) -- I watched Huston Street close out a win for the Padres June 17 versus the A's. But then I also watched Ernesto Frieri save one for the Angels. It's hard to comprehend what the Padres' brain trust didn't see in the smooth fire-balling Frieri.
28. Chicago Cubs (2-4, 22-44) -- What can you say? Well, at least president of baseball operations -- and former Boston general manager -- Theo Epstein didn't get swept by the Red Sox. Somewhere, Boston CEO Larry Lucchino is smiling.
29. Houston Astros (1-5, 27-39) -- Three weeks ago, this club was 22-23. Since then, it has gone 5-16. The pitching has sprung multiple leaks after not allowing double digits in runs during a single game for the first 49 games. During the last 17 games, they have done it six times.
30. Colorado Rockies (1-5, 25-40) -- Things got so bad, the Rockies re-signed Jeff Francis. He had a nice homecoming -- 3.1 IP, allowing 10 hits and eight earned runs. Todd Helton says he is committed to being a Rockie. Isn't that nice.
Posted June 18, 2012