MLB Power Rankings, 4/14: Red Sox continue to tumble
|04.14.11 at 6:23 am ET|
Here we go with Week 3 of the 2011 WEEI.com Major League Baseball Power Rankings. Every Thursday throughout the season we will be bringing you an updated version of the list, which will be determined by record, ranking within each team’s division and which team would have the best chance at winning if participating in a best-of-seven series.
Feel free to pick apart the admittedly imperfect rankings by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or sending a message via Twitter to twitter.com/kirkmin. Have at it.
(Note: Team record and last week’s ranking is in parentheses and all stats are through 4/13.)
1. Rangers (9-3, 1). A good formula if you’re looking to get the to spot in the rankings? How about the best slugging percentage in the American League, best OPS in the American League, most home runs in the American League, best ERA in the American League and fewest hits allowed in the American League. Losing Josh Hamilton (who wins co-moron of the week honors with Kobe Bryant for his shameful under the boss tossing of third-base coach Dave Anderson) is a killer, of course, and it’s likely the Phillies will take over the No. 1 position next week.
2. Phillies (8-3, 2). Since the start of the 2009 season Daisuke Matsuzaka has pitched 220 innings and has allowed 128 earned runs. During that same time span, Roy Halladay has pitched 281 more innings and has allowed 29 more earned runs (and has walked 43 fewer batters). Is there a point to this? Sure is: There is no way the Phillies are trading Halladay for Dice-K. And that’s why I’m here, folks.
3. Reds (8-4, 6). Through Monday night, the five key members of the Cincinnati bullpen — Francisco Cordero, Jordan Smith, Logan Ondrusek, Aroldis Chapman and Bill Bray — had made a combined 23 appearances (23.2 IP) and allowed two earned runs, or five fewer than Dan Wheeler in his 3.1 IP with the Red Sox this season.
4. Yankees (6-4, 3). Watching Derek Jeter limp to 3,000 hits (the last time a Yankees captain looked this bad in his late 30′s they named a disease after him) gives you an understanding of how tough it’s going to be for anyone to break Pete Rose’s career record of 4,256. Remember, Jeter was right on pace with Rose a couple of years ago. But what makes Rose — in my estimation — impossible to catch is what he was able to do in his late 30′s-early 40s. He had 215 hits at age 35, 204 at 36, 198 at 37 (Jeter will be 37 in June), 208 at 38, 185 at 39, led the league with 140 hits in the strike-shortened 1981 season at age 40 and tacked on 172 more in 1982. Pete Rose had two Hall of Fame careers — he did enough by the age of 33 to get in, and did enough after.
5. Rockies (8-2, 7). Wow, Huston Street pitched in seven of the Rockies’ first nine games? I wonder what song will be playing in the waiting room at Dr. James Andrews’ office when Houston is sitting there on June 16. I’ll go with “Come Monday” or “Almost Paradise.”
6. White Sox (7-5, 10). Player A: .298/.352/.502, career OPS+ 128. Player B: .281/.356/.499, career OPS+ 119.
Player A is Jim Rice. Player B? Paul Konerko. I’m not saying Konerko is as good a hitter as Rice was — the numbers tell us that — but there isn’t much of a difference, is there? And you never think of Konerko as anywhere near a Hall of Famer. But he’s got 382 homers and isn’t slowing down — he hit 39 homers last season and is off to another fast start in 2011, leading the league with 12 RBI. At age 35, I’d give him a one-in-three shot at 500 homers, which use to be a first-ballot lock in the pre-Balco era. Basically, Konerko is this generation’s Fred McGriff, 30-100 every year but never considered one of the 10 best players in baseball.
7. Angels (7-5, 11). Still very early on, but you can make an easy case that the two best starting pitchers in baseball this season have been Dan Haren and Jered Weaver. The two have made a combined seven starts — winning six of them — and have allowed a total of four earned runs in 44.2 innings. Yup, Scott Kazmir gave up more runs in his 1.2 innings this season that Haren/Weaver in their seven starts.
8. Braves (5-7, 5). Why the Red Sox won’t sign Jonathan Papelbon to a long-term, big-money deal, Reason No. 364: Craig Kimbrel’s (making 419K) first four games as a closer: 4 IP, three saves, 0.00 ERA, 7 K’s, 1 BB.
9. Giants (6-6, 8). Pat Burrell, the lead singer of a Rob Deer tribute band: Batting .207 but leads the NL with four homers (just six hits in 29 at-bats).
10. Dodgers (6-6, 9). James Loney hit .331 with an OBP of .381 and an OPS of .919 at age 23 in 2007. He’s gone down in all three stats in every year since and is hitting just .163 this season. If you really sit down and examine it, Loney has almost the same career arc as Katherine Heigl, who also peaked in 2007 (“Knocked Up”) and has been in about 496 hideous romantic comedies since. And yes, Loney’s .723 OPS in 2010 is the baseball equivalent of “27 Dresses.”
11. Orioles (6-4, 15). Until I see more from this lineup, I’m having a hard time buying these guys as legitimate contenders. Team OBP is .282 with a K/BB ratio of 59-25.
12. Athletics (6-6, 12). The A’s have team OBP of .285 and have worse K/BB numbers than the Orioles (74-26). So why are the A’s a much better bet to be in the mix all season? Better starting pitching — rotation ERA of 2.74 this season — and the AL West is just easier sledding than the AL East.
13. Indians (8-4, 25). Look, this is just half-reckless speculation, but it’s awfully tough not to have some suspicions about Travis Hafner, who hit a combined 75 home runs in 2005-06 and has hit 60 since. I’ll admit it, he’s usually my first or second pick in the “List of 103″ draft. Again, pure speculation, I know nothing (I should really just preface every column I write with that). The Indians absolutely need Hafner to be more 2006 than 2010 if they have any chance of building on this start, and so far he’s been solid (.908 OPS).
14. Blue Jays (6-6, 14). Goodbye to Carlos Delgado, who retired Wednesday. Last steroid-inspired comment for the week, I promise, but it strikes me that Delgado has career numbers — 473 HR, 1,512 RBI, 28th all-time in slugging percentage (.546) — that are, at the very worst, close to automatic Hall entry. But I bet he never gets even 50 percent of the vote. Why? Call it the Bagwell Rule. Just the whiff of suspicion is enough for voters. is that fair to a Bagwell or Delgado? Not really, it’s kind of sports McCarthyism, when you think about it. But it’s hard to blame the voters. Don’t we all look at every guy from the late 90′s-early 2000′s who put up big numbers and automatically assume guilt?
15. Royals (7-4, 24). Do I think a team with Bruce Chen, Kyle Davies and Luke Hochevar composing 60 percent of its rotation is going to win more games than it loses this season? Not a chance. But — as of 4:46 Wednesday afternoon — there are only eight teams in the majors that are least three games over .500, and the Royals were one of ‘em. I’ll put a couple of sub-.500 teams ahead of them, but it doesn’t seem fair to put a team like the Cardinals above them based on nothing except the notion that three weeks ago we thought the Cardinals would be just OK and the Royals would lose 95 games.
16. Marlins (6-5, 18). When Hanley Ramirez doesn’t hit — and he’s at .182/.250/.273 — this lineup is exposed. In 350 at-bats, the Marlins have a total of five home runs and are 13th in the National League with 37 runs.
17. Tigers (5-7, 17). Had lost four-of-five before picking up back-to-back wins over the Rangers. Justin Verlander has an ERA of 3.13 in his two starts. The 10 games not started by Verlander? The starting pitchers have an ERA of 7.o1.
18. Cubs (6-6, 19). Is this what Carlos Pena is now? I thought he was going to be decent value at $10 million this season, but he’s hitting .185 with just one extra-base hit after 10 games. On its own, who cares — 27 at-bats is no reason to get the shovels out — but this is coming off of a .196/.325./.407 disaster with the Rays last season.
19. Twins (4-7, 13). The reality is that they are lucky to be 4-7. Francisco Liriano is 0-3 with a 9.42 ERA. Joe Mauer is hitting .235 with one extra-base hit in nine games. Justin Morneau has as many homers as Mauer (zero) and is hitting .220.
20. Brewers (6-5, 23). Here’s what you like about the Brewers — unlike the Twins, the stars are playing like stars. Ryan Braun has an OPS of 1.211 (third in NL), Prince Fielder’s OPS is 1.174 and Yovani Gallardo has an ERA of 2.70 in three starts. So why do I have the Twins ranked ahead of the Brewers? I’m actually looking for an answer, because I have no clue.
21. Mets (4-7, 21). Ike Davis was a popular breakout pick before the season started, and as usual the media got it exactly right — Davis is hitting .351 with an OBP of .419.
22. Padres (5-6, 22). I’m no manager — though I am a distant relative of Bobby Heenan — but if I have the keys to the Padres there is no way I’m hitting Will Venable and his career .323 OBP in the leadoff spot, as Bud Black has done eight times this season. That’s a borderline fireable offense.
23. Cardinals (5-7, 20). I’m always a little nervous when we all get together and praise a major-league player for his integrity, as we saw on the “60 Minutes” slap and tickle piece on Albert Pujols last Sunday. No doubt he does a ton of swell charity work and that is hugely admirable, but I just wish we would step back and remember the past sometimes. On this, though, we can all agree: Pujols and his .267 slugging percentage is exactly why we can’t put much stock in 11 games.
24. Rays (3-8, 16). Johnny Damon seems concerned that he might be forced to wear a Red Sox hat if he gets in the Hall of Fame. A guy with two All-Star appearances in his 17-year career (same as Scott Cooper, who I’m told would be happy to wear a Sox hat in Cooperstown) and zero finishes in the top 10 in MVP voting probably doesn’t need to burn off IQ points worrying about something that is never going to happen.
25. Red Sox (2-9, 4). Message received. I placed the Red Sox fourth in last week’s rankings. I thought I was being prudent, smart, big-picture thinking. A bunch of comments and a ton of emails told me that I was wrong. And I was wrong. This piece of real estate should be, if not knee-jerk, at the very least reactionary. The Red Sox have been the worst team in baseball (by a lot) over the first two weeks. This is exactly where they should be. I’ll ask this, though: If I told you two weeks ago that the Sox would have A) zero injuries B) Jon Lester off to the best start of his career and C) a close-to-vintage Jonathan Papelbon, what kind of record would you have guessed for this team after 11 games?
26. Pirates (5-6, 26). Why the Red Sox won’t sign Jonathan Papelbon to a long-term, big-money deal, Reason No. 365: Joel Hanrahan (making $1.4 million) has four saves, a 1.42 ERA and eight strikeouts against one walk in six appearances.
27. Diamondbacks (5-6, 30). Can they keep hitting? The Diamondbacks lead the NL in slugging percentage, OPS and are second in home runs, batting average and OBP.
28. Nationals (5-6, 27) Here’s your weekly Carl Crawford/Jayson Werth update: Crawford, .152/.250/.378. Werth, .237/.370/.500. But hey, for one year and $8 million Crawford is OK value.
29. Mariners (4-8, 28). Back to Pete Rose: If Ichiro had started in the majors as a 22-year-old instead of 27 years old he might’ve had a shot at 4,000 hits. Figure he averaged 200 hits a season from 22-to-27 (not unreasonable when you consider he has never had less than 206 hits in a season), he’d be right around 3,300 hits today. A wonderful and unique player who has enjoyed a wonderful and unique career.
30. Astros (3-9, 29). The Astros have four regulars with at least 10 strikeouts (including 14 from Bill Hall), and the team leads the majors with 90 strikeouts. A problem on its own, but when you rank last in the National League in walks (24), it turns into a crisis.
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