Stan "The Fan" Charles' MLB Power Rankings
Includes games on July 29
About Stan The Fan's MLB Power Rankings
I hope you have enjoyed my first year of attempting weekly power rankings. They are an evolving part of my repertoire, and as such, I will be working to improve them. My rankings, unlike some done by more statistically based folks, will depend a great deal on what my eyes see on the field, what my ears hear listening to the trade drums and what I'll call my smell test.
What separates these rankings is they do not simply follow the standings. They will attempt to reflect the moving target of ranking all 30 Major League Baseball teams.
1. Washington Nationals (61-40 overall, 6-1 since July 23) -- The Nats became the first National League team all season to hit the top spot. I have no idea whether they really intend to shut Stephen Strasburg down in September. But that is then, and this is now. With pitching like this, Washington is dangerous in any short series.
2. Cincinnati Reds (61-40, 6-0) -- What could possibly be wrong with a perfect 6-0 week on the road? The two teams the Reds beat -- Houston and then Colorado -- are road kill. Doing it without Joey Votto is pretty damned impressive.
3. New York Yankees (60-41, 3-3) -- The Pinstripes have been displaced after a solid-as-hell seven-week run atop the standings. They just got CC Sabathia back last week, and they acquired Ichiro Suzuki in a genius move by general manager Brian Cashman, who said his initial talks weren't about Suzuki. But, New York has lost A-Rod for 5-6 weeks. Andy Pettitte will be back, somewhere around Sept. 1, and he still may be the difference maker in what's shaping up as a tough road to the World Series for everyone involved.
4. Texas Rangers (59-41, 3-3) -- Manager Ron Washington's club also got some bad news on the medical front. Neftali Feliz, who has been on the disabled list for close to two months with a sprained right UCL, was scratched from his fourth rehab start because of elbow soreness. This is in addition to losing Colby Lewis for the rest of the season. The Rangers are talking tough about stretching Alexi Ogando -- which sounds like a flawed plan. They lost out to the Angels for Zack Greinke, but still remain 4.5 games in front of the American League West.
5. Chicago White Sox (55-46, 5-1) -- General manager Ken Williams gets things done. The things he tries do not always work, but he tries awfully hard. His latest gambit is the acquisition of left-handed pitcher Francisco Liriano from the Twins for two minor leaguers. Although Liriano is just 3-10 and his ERA stands at a high and unimpressive 5.31, there is a back story that lots of scouts have seen. During 100 innings pitched, Liriano may have given up 55 walks and 12 home runs, but he also struck out 109.
6. Los Angeles Angels (55-47, 3-3) -- The Angels and Rangers squared off for a big-time pitcher, and the Angels have outspent and out-prospected the team in Dallas-Fort Worth. First it was C.J. Wilson's free agency, and during the past couple of days, they put up the necessary assets to pry away Zack Greinke. The Angels still trail the Rangers in the division standings by 4.5 games; they will be in the midst of a four-game series with Texas as you read this.
7. Detroit Tigers (54-48, 2-4) -- The Tigers spotted the field the first two months of the season, then came back and lapped the field, and now they have added two players who are big improvements at second base (Omar Infante) and in the rotation (Anibal Sanchez). While the Tigers slid back this past week, they should get rolling during the next two weeks.
8. Los Angeles Dodgers (56-47, 4-3) -- A big trade for Hanley Ramirez and a big three-game sweep in San Francisco have the Dodgers ready to make another deal for Ryan Dempster. If successful at pulling that off, they would step up with the big boys.
9. Pittsburgh Pirates (58-43, 4-3) -- The Pirates face a big three-game series early during the week at Wrigley Field, while the first-place Reds have a four-game series at home against the improving Padres. Pittsburgh can't afford a big swing, before they head to The Great American Ball Park for the weekend.
10. San Francisco Giants (55-46, 2-4) -- A weekend sweep at home versus the Dodgers isn't the end of the world -- that is, if they can regain the pep in their step against the reeling Mets, before playing three games versus the aimless Rockies at Coors Field. Getting Marco Scutaro from Colorado should help San Francisco get past yet another Pablo Sandoval trip to the DL.
11. Atlanta Braves (57-44, 5-1) -- Although this isn't the NFL, the Braves almost swept through one helluva trap week, playing Miami and Philadelphia -- two teams they could have been looking past. No word on any major new pitching targets, in light of the botched attempt to acquire Ryan Dempster from the Cubs.
12. Tampa Bay Rays (53-49, 4-2) -- Just when you thought they were dead in the water, the Rays are back. The fact they have held up this well, with Evan Longoria out, says a lot about their pluck. But they score close to a half-run per game fewer without him, as evidenced by their 15-8 record while he played and the 38-41 record without him. By the end of this week, at home against the Orioles, Longoria should be back.
13. Boston Red Sox (51-51, 3-3) -- A 3-3 week didn't get them much closer to the division lead, but they are within hailing distance of an AL wild-card spot. Ortiz gets back on Sept. 1 and Jon Lester's last outing was promising.
14. Oakland Athletics (55-46, 4-2) -- Whoa, Nellie -- the A's are 17-4 since the week before All-Star break. Billy Beane, a no-longer-30-something GM who may just be doing the best work of his career, deserves the Academy Award that Brad Pitt didn't get for his portrayal of Beane. With all the stuff about the Tigers snatching Prince Fielder and Angels snatching Albert Pujols, Beane was swooping in under the big-money boys and several others to get Yoenis Cespedes for four years at $36 million, which may be the best deal in baseball.
15. St. Louis Cardinals (54-48, 4-3) -- A 9-4 run during the last 13 games shows that the Cardinals aren't dead in the water. Their biggest problem is the Reds and Pirates are playing out of their minds. Carlos Beltran's big first half was a huge plus, but he has been slowed down. With Roy Holliday, Lance Berkman and Yadier Molina all solid, Beltran is a huge key.
16. Baltimore Orioles (53-49, 2-5) -- The Birds are 12-18 during the past 30 games. Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter are grinding away, but it will take all of Duquette's creativity to be able to use his assets to improve the team at the deadline. Keep an eye on closer Jim Johnson -- he may be springing a leak that would spell the end for a turnaround season.
17. Toronto Blue Jays (51-50, 3-3) -- Going 8-7 during the past 15 games, without Jose Bautista, is excellent. The fact the Blue Jays are at .500 without Brandon Morrow for seven weeks and Ricky Romero being a negative factor is downright amazing. Colby Rasmus, Edwin Encarnacion and Brett Lawrie have been super solid. The loss of catcher J.P. Arencibia for 6-8 weeks is a big blow. Toronto may have the ammunition in shortstop Yunel Escobar to get back an important future chip, then bring up top prospect Adeiny Hechavarria.
18. Arizona Diamondbacks (51-51, 4-3) -- As good as the Diamondbacks were in 2011, and as bad as they've been for most of this season, for them to be just 4.5 games behind both the Giants and Dodgers stamps them as one 15-of-20 streak away from being right there when the music stops.
19. Seattle Mariners (47-57, 5-2) -- Don't get me wrong; I love Ichiro, but he was playing in a different gear with the perennially bad Mariners. I am not sold on the talent Seattle got back -- right-handed pitchers D.J. Mitchell and Danny Farquhar, both No. 10 picks, by the Yanks in 2010 and Toronto in '09, respectively. Farquhar is one of Oakland A's GM Billy Beane's former acquisitions.
20. New York Mets (49-53, 2-5) -- The Mets' year is over. Just look at their 4-18 record during the last 22 games. As I stated last week, they have to build on the positives of this season, such as getting another year closer to the end of Jason Bay's contract. Provided they can collect themselves, the Mets be able to look back at this season and see this is where the future began.
21. Minnesota Twins (43-58, 3-3) -- All in all, a dismal season has turned to respectability for a prolonged portion of the season. General manager Terry Ryan didn't build the good Twins overnight. His replacement, Bill Smith, botched it up pretty well during his short time back, but the money is on Ryan reestablishing things for him to hand off in a year or two. Justin Morneau's contract would be a nice one to dump on someone.
22. Cleveland Indians (50-52, 3-4) -- Rumors are swirling that the Indians are shopping Justin Masterson. They'd be smart to sell off a couple pieces, but Derek Lowe and Ubaldo Jimenez, while not fetching as much as Masterson, would be the way to go. Cleveland needs to address roster imbalance. This is one talented team against right-handed pitching, but the Indians are ineffective versus lefties.
23. Philadelphia Phillies (45-57, 3-3) -- It's amazing how things can change so quickly. The Phillies swept Milwaukee at home at the beginning of the week, and lost their mojo somewhere on the plane ride to Atlanta, as the Braves swept the Phillies and turned them into definite sellers. The haul for Shane Victorino, Joe Blanton and perhaps Cliff Lee could help them get back quicker than most.
24. Miami Marlins (47-54, 3-3) -- The death watch for manager Ozzie Guillen is on. It'll be tough right now to turn Josh Johnson into a proper haul if he were on top of his game. Nothing in baseball stinks as much as a highly anticipated season for your fan base going south. Double the disappointment when that team is in its first year at a new stadium.
25. San Diego Padres (43-60, 2-4) -- Oddly, after the Padres signed Carlos Quentin, they turned around and signed reliever Huston Street to a nice two-year extension, with a club option for a third. Might they do the same now with third baseman Chase Headley? I'd say no, as the Orioles remain intent on acquiring him.
26. Milwaukee Brewers (45-56, 1-6) -- Turn out the lights. This party is over. The grand Zack Greinke experiment is also over. General manager Doug Melvin needs to move more meat.
27. Chicago Cubs (42-58, 4-2) -- The word was Ryan Dempster wanted to help the Cubs make a trade, using him as a two-month rental, and then return as a conquering hero. His turning down spending two months in Atlanta hardly helped the Cubs. They are down to the wire with both Dempster and Matt Garza, and Garza's health has probably made a deal for him unlikely until the offseason.
28. Kansas City Royals (41-60, 1-6) -- See my comments above about what stinks and add when your team's marketing campaign is "This is R Time," and you host the All-Star Game. I waned a little three weeks ago, but manager Ned Yost should go.
29. Colorado Rockies (37-63, 1-5) -- My old friend Dan O'Dowd, the general manager of the Rockies, was smart to cut his losses and deal career underachiever Jeremy Guthrie to Kansas City GM Dayton Moore, who was looking for any reason he could find to put one of his career lowlights (trade of Melky Cabrera for Jonathan Sanchez) in his rearview mirror.
30. Houston Astros (35-68, 1-6) -- The haul was huge in numbers acquired for Carlos Lee, Brett Myers, Wandy Rodriguez, J.A. Happ, Brandon Lyon and David Carpenter. My money is on GM Jeff Luhnow knowing what he was doing.
Posted July 31, 2012