Stan 'The Fan' Charles' MLB Power Rankings
By Stan "The Fan" Charles
Including games on July 1
1. New York Yankees (5-2 since June 25, 48-30 overall) -- It took this bunch a while, but the Yankees have found their stride. Despite a season-ending injury to Mariano Rivera, and now injuries to CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte, they have grabbed a sizable American League East lead over a group of flawed teams.
2. Texas Rangers (5-2, 50-30) -- If moving Neftali Feliz from the bullpen to a starting role had truly worked out, if Alexi Ogando were healthy and if three other members of the Rangers' pitching staff weren't on the disabled list, they probably would have been too far in front for the Angels to feel as if they could catch them. But, those above items have left the Angels a chance to catch them.
3. Los Angeles Angels (4-2, 44-35) -- Mike Scioscia's team should have no real problem making the playoffs. If their front four in the rotation all click at once, the Angels can be dangerous … and although he isn't as proven as other closers, Ernesto Frieri may just be the most dominant closer in the AL now.
4. Boston Red Sox (4-3, 42-37) -- Bobby Valentine has done a remarkable job winning over his team to his methodology, especially given the caliber of players out for lengthy DL stays. With Ellsbury, Crawford and Bailey all due back shortly, it'll come down to whether Beckett and Lester can find their A games.
5. Washington Nationals (4-3, 45-32) -- It's hard to believe it was a mere 10 days ago that slumping Ryan Zimmerman looked as if he was about to go on the DL for a second stint because of his shoulder. Instead, he took the cortisone shot route and is now hot as a pistol. Yet, despite all the positives, the Nationals' 10-9 record during the past three weeks is a head scratcher.
6. San Francisco Giants (5-2, 45-35) -- On Memorial Day, the Dodgers held a 7.5-game lead over their California rival. The Dodgers collapsed, but the Giants also caught fire. Buster Posey going to the All-Star Game again is a great feel-good story.
7. Chicago White Sox (4-3, 42-37) -- A powerful lineup combines with decent enough starting pitching to have the White Sox on the threshold of being in with the big boys. Picking up Kevin Youkilis may be the difference maker, one way or the other.
8. New York Mets (4-3, 43-37) -- Will general manager Sandy Alderson have the money to add a salary at closing time? With pitchers R.A. Dickey and Johan Santana doing a strong impersonation of a 1-2 punch that is equal to any in baseball, the Mets are sticking. An injury to closer-poser Frank Francisco may have allowed reliever Bobby Parnell to evolve into a closer.
9. Cincinnati Reds (4-3, 43-35) -- With the Cubs and Astros not being contenders in the division race, all the Reds had to do was shake the Pirates, right? Not only have they not shaken the Pirates, they have the Cardinals just 2.5 back and a Brewer club just one trade away from being able to contend.
10. Detroit Tigers (4-3, 39-40) -- After several down weeks, the Motor City Bengals have gone 14-11 and seem to be headed in the right direction. Offensively, Austin Jackson looks as if he may be stepping up, and pitching-wise, Rick Porcello, Max Scherzer and Doug Fister have to help out Justin Verlander.
11. Tampa Bay Rays (1-6, 41-38) -- The Rays are struggling mightily, going 12-18 their last 30. David Price is doing his part, but without Evan Longoria in the lineup, the rest of the starting staff needed to pitch up to lofty expectations. Jeremy Hellickson has pitched well, but after a stint on the DL, he lasted into just the third inning this past Friday against the Tigers, before taking a Prince Fielder liner off his shin. There's no word on how long he'll miss this time, but Rays could suddenly be a seller.
12. Baltimore Orioles (1-5, 42-36) -- Local fans have been waiting for the other shoe to drop, and it probably has after a 3-9 run has allowed Yankees to grab hold of a six-game lead in the AL East. But, with the exiling of starters Tommy Hunter and Brian Matusz to Norfolk, there is always hope their replacements can do better. The acquisition of 41-year-old Jim Thome helps the presence of the lineup.
13. Los Angeles Dodgers (1-6, 44-36) -- The Dodgers had an inevitable fall from grace, but didn't see a free fall coming. Center fielder Matt Kemp is due back within two weeks, and like a boxer staggered on his feet, the Dodgers need to hold on until the bell rings. It's hard to believe Carlos Lee, the Astros' aging first baseman, exercised his partial no-trade to block a deal to Dodgerland.
14. Pittsburgh Pirates (4-3, 42-36) -- Manager Clint Hurdle has continued to do an impressive job building the team's confidence. If things start to fall apart, who will be the buyer for pitcher A.J. Burnett?
15. St. Louis Cardinals (3-3, 41-38) -- When Tony La Russa was manager, the sum of the parts was greater than the hole, but during Mike Matheny's first season, is the opposite effect at play? The Cardinals' stats look good, and yet, they have not taken hold, and it doesn't look like as if pitcher Chris Carpenter will be able to help.
16. Toronto Blue Jays (3-4, 40-39) -- After the Blue Jays lost three starters during four days, a 9-10 record with games being started by the likes of Brett Cecil and Jesse Chavez didn't look so bad. Toronto signed Jamie Moyer, and he showed during his first Triple-A appearance that the Orioles did the wise thing in ending that marriage.
17. Miami Marlins (4-2, 38-40) -- A 3-17 run ended with a sweep-avoiding win at home against the Cardinals, which was followed up with a sweep against the fast-fading Phillies. This is a huge week if the Marlins intend to get back into the thick of things -- four in Milwaukee and three in St Louis to close out first half.
18. Cleveland Indians (3-4, 40-38) -- If location is the key word when it comes to real estate, then pitching is the key word for the Cleveland Indians, as they rank 28th in ERA, 26th in WHIP and 21st in batting average against. They are only 1.5 games behind the White Sox, but seem miles away.
19. Atlanta Braves (3-3, 41-37) -- This year's edition of the Braves doesn't do much well. Offensively, they are in the top 15 in each key category, while the pitching is bottom tier. Atlanta is only 4.5 games behind the Nats, but it's hard to see them gaining anything, unless something changes.
20. Arizona Diamondbacks (2-4, 39-39) -- The D-backs were also the beneficiaries of the Dodgers' collapse. Kirk Gibson's guys play pretty well on offense, and the pitching isn't horrible. Gibson's intensity as a player has given way to a steady hand as a manager. Perhaps Arizona will make a move or two, and then make one big move in the standings.
21. Milwaukee Braves (3-3, 36-42) -- This has not been a good first half by the Brewers, but they are just seven games out of first, and the Reds have been unable to dispatch the Bucs and the Cards. General manager Doug Melvin is capable of pulling a rabbit out of his hat.
22. Minnesota Twins (4-3, 33-45) -- Despite what has been a bad season to date, the Twins are showing a pulse. There's not much doubt they'll be sellers. The good news is that with Francisco Liriano, Justin Morneau and Josh Willingham, plus the likes of bullpen arms Jared Burton, Matt Capps and Glen Perkins, Minnesota has the most ammunition as the trade deadline approaches.
23. Kansas City Royals (4-3, 35-42) -- A lot of people loved this team before the season. Disappointments abound in every category. Start with outfielder Alex Gordon and starting pitcher Luke Hochevar. They've been pretty damned awful. Also, Melky Cabrera trade for Jonathan Sanchez has been an unmitigated disaster.
24. Oakland Athletics (3-4, 38-42) -- Maybe by next season they'll figure out who's on first? To date, they have had Brandon Allen, Daric Barton, Kila Ka'aihue, Brandon Moss and now Chris Carter. None of them look to be the man.
25. Philadelphia Phillies (2-5, 36-45) -- This season has seemed like a bad dream for Philadelphia. But the nightmare really started during a playoff loss to the Cardinals last season, when Ryan Howard ruptured his Achilles tendon. Unlike Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs, Howard made no foolish proclamations as to how quickly he'd be back. Chase Utley is back, but the purge may have just begun -- first Jim Thome. Can Shane Victorino and Cole Hamels be far behind? Proceed with caution.
26. Seattle Mariners (3-4, 34-47) -- I happened to catch manager Eric Wedge on a pregame show Saturday night, less than 24 hours after Red Sox pitcher Aaron Cook shut out Seattle. Wedge didn't sound too patient. But his offensive options are limited. I know it could be sacrilege, but the most attractive pawn they could give up probably is the iconic, yet aging Ichiro Suzuki.
27. San Diego Padres (4-3, 30-50) -- The great white hope has arrived -- uber prospect, right-handed pitcher Kip Wells. The problem is he was that guy in 1998.
28. Chicago Cubs (5-1, 29-49) -- The Cubs have just signed a Cuban exile, free agent Jorge Soler, for $30 million during nine years. They followed that up the other day signing 16-year-old shortstop Frandy De La Rosa out of the Dominican Republic. This is how president of baseball operations Theo Epstein is trying to skin the cat in Chicago.
29. Colorado Rockies (3-4, 30-48) -- Let's see. The Coors tastes good and those mountains are nice to look at. And, compared with Baltimore, the humidity is non-existent.
30. Houston Astros (2-5, 32-47) -- Carlos Lee just taught new GM Jeff Luhnow a lesson this past weekend. He turned down a deal to the Dodgers that might have brought back one solid prospect to get the ball rolling in the right direction. It'll probably be a while before the Astros give anyone any part of a no-trade clause in their contract.
Posted July 3, 2012
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