|MLB Power Rankings, 4/21: Are the Red Sox moving up?||04.21.11 at 11:27 am ET|
Here we go with Week 4 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 are in parentheses and all stats are through 4/20.)
1. Rockies (13-5, 5). We can now safely call Troy Tulowitzki an actual threat to Albert Pujols for the title of Best Player in Baseball, right? Without question — at age 26, with two straight top-five MVP finishes and a monster start to the 2011 season (seven homers, 1.183 OPS through 17 games) — he has to be included in the conversation, and if I’m starting a franchise tomorrow and could take any player in baseball he might be my first choice.
2. Rangers (11-7, 1). Ian Kinsler had three homers in 10 at-bats in the season opening three-game sweep of the Red Sox. In the 51 at-bats since, he has just one homer.
3. Phillies (11-6, 2). I knew there was a reason to toss furniture: Jose Contreras — filling in for an injured Brad Lidge — hasn’t allowed a run in his first seven appearances.
4. Yankees (10-6, 4). C.C. Sabathia has an ERA of 2.52 in his four starts. The ERA of the starting pitchers in the other 11 games is 6.67. Sabathia has a record of 0-1, the other starters a combined 5-3 mark.
5. Giants (10-8, 9). Things that interest me and only me, No. 688,224: Tim Lincecum has 939 strikeouts in 838 career innings pitched, or 246 more K’s than Bob Stanley in his 1707 career innings. In case you were wondering, thing that interested me and only me No. 688,223 was that the father in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off played the father in the original pilot of Beverly Hills 90210.
6. Indians (13-5, 13). This has been the best team in baseball this season. Biggest run differential (plus-33), tied for best record, only team in top three in both OBP and ERA. Who knows if this team is going to stick around — and that’s the reason they are ranked only sixth — but no team has been better in 2011.
7. Angels (12-6, 7). Jered Weaver is 5-0 with a 1.23 ERA and a league-leading 39 strikeouts. He’s been the second-best pitcher in baseball, which this season means he’s been the second-best pitcher on the Angels. Dan Haren is also 4-0, with an ERA of 1.16, a WHIP of 0.645 (tops in the league, Weaver is at 0.795) and a K/BB ratio of 13.5/1 (easily the best in the league, Weaver is ninth at 3.4/1).
8.Reds (9-9, 3). The Reds lead the NL in OPS (.801) and are second in slugging, batting average and OBP. But absolutely no help from the starting pitching — a 5.33 ERA — has killed the Reds over the last week, as the club has lost five-of-six.
9. Marlins (10-6, 16). Hideki Okajima has allowed three earned runs in his 0.2 innings of work this season, or as many as Josh Johnson has allowed in his four starts (27.0 innings) in 2011.
10. Royals (11-7, 15). If Bruce Chen (3-0, 2.42) is going to be Bret Saberhagen and Billy Butler (.367/.493/.533) is George Brett in 1980 Redux than I guess the Royals are going to stick around. Short of that, I just don’t see this as more than a nice start in what will inevitably end up as another 74-88 kind of season.
11. Athletics (9-9, 12). Best team pitching in the AL by a mile to this point — team ERA of 2.58 is .32 ahead of second-best Anaheim, no other team is within three-fourths of a run — but the lineup has been awful, posting a .306 OBP and .361 slugging percentage.
12. Dodgers (9-10, 10). If Bud Selig is looking for a legitimate candidate to clean up this mess in LA and provide some stability, I suspect I’m the man. When it comes to the financial side of the matter, I thought it would get tricky, but I just looked at my Bank of America account and forgot that I have almost $1,300 in savings. Toss in four $50 gift cards from Joe’s Fish House (thanks, Planet Mikey) and I think it’s going to be tough for Bud to say no.
13. Braves (8-11, 8). Derek Lowe got roughed up in a loss to the Dodgers on Wednesday — nine hits and five runs in three innings — on three days rest. I’m the first guy to admit that I know nothing (how did my Patriots 45, Jets 10 playoff pick turn out?), but I can’t think of any reason to pitch your best starter on three days rest in April.
14. Tigers (9-10, 17). The Tigers are one of 14 teams in baseball either two games above or below .500. It’s almost impossible, really, to put together the second half of this list with any confidence. Are the Tigers better than the Blue Jays? The Cubs or Rays? Padres or Nationals?
15. Rays (9-9, 24). Winners of eight-of-nine, and it really hasn’t been a matter of the offense waking up. After scoring 16 in that win over Dice-K and the Sox, the Rays haven’t scored more than five runs in a game since. But the pitching has been terrific, allowing two, three, two, three, four (the one loss), zero, one and one runs to carry the Rays back to .500 (not even back — first time they’ve been at .500 this season).
16. Cardinals (9-9, 23). From last week’s Power Rankings: “Albert Pujols and his .267 slugging percentage is exactly why we can’t put much stock in 11 games.” Well, a three-HR week and he’s now slugging .459. So what have we learned, folks? One, Albert Pujols is a really good hitter (and no, you didn’t know that until you started reading the Power Rankings). And two, I italicize words way too often.
17. Orioles (8-9, 11). Picking nits here, but if Zach Britton is going to be what everyone tells us Zach Britton is going to be, he’ll need to stop walking three guys in each start. Ten walks (eighth-most in the AL) in 25.2 IP, but he’s getting away with it thanks to less than a hit per inning and just two homers allowed.
18. Brewers (9-9, 20). Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun are both ranked in the NL top seven in batting average and OPS.
19. Cubs (9-9, 18). Alfonso Soriano already has six homers this season and now has 320 for his career. He’s 35 years old and has been good for a trip or two to the DL each year for the last half decade or so, which makes his odds of reaching 400 career homers a coin flip. But if he can get there — and manage to steal 38 more bases — he’d be the fifth 400/300 player in history. The other four? Barry Bonds, Willie Mays, Andre Dawson and Alex Rodriguez.
20. Blue Jays (8-10, 14). Kyle Drabek is having — much like Zach Britton — early success despite some alarming walk rates. Drabek has issued 15 free passes (most in the AL) in just 24 innings. Same deal as Britton, though, less than a hit per inning allowed, just two homers against and 19 Ks have led to a 1-0 record and 3.00 ERA.
21. Red Sox (6-11, 25). I would never suggest that the Red Sox would (or should) trade Carl Crawford to the Reds for Bronson Arroyo. Never. First, neither team would make the deal. Second, the Sox have already wisely invested $200 million or so in Josh Beckett, John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka. Where would a guy who pitches 200 innings every year with a 4.00 ERA fit in this rotation? And finally, think what the loss of Crawford would mean to this lineup. I mean, it’s April 21 and he’s already has two extra-base hits. That’s twice as many as Arroyo has. He’s been worth every penny of that minor-league contract he signed in December.
22. Padres (8-10, 22). What a hideous lineup. Last in slugging, last in OBP, last in batting average, last in runs. I’m going to have to go back and check, but I think Richard Marx complied better numbers in his three “MTV Rock N’ Jock Softball” appearances in the early 90′s.
23. White Sox (7-11, 6). I’ll take Ozzie and give you the field in the First Manager Fired Pool.
24. Nationals (9-8, 28). Livan Hernandez (2-1, 2.88 ERA) now has 168 career wins. At his current career pace, he will break Cy Young’s record of 511 wins in May of 2048. Given that he’ll be 94 years old, I’m not sure I like his chances.
25. Diamondbacks (9-9, 27). Same question as last week: Can they keep hitting? They are second in the NL in slugging percentage, OPS and fourth in OBP. The starting rotation has been Jaws: The Revenge level of awful — 5.67 ERA — but J.J. Putz has been as good a closer any so far this season (8.0 IP, one run, four hits, 10 Ks and zero walks in seven appearances).
26. Pirates (8-10, 26). Pedro Alvarez has 142 strikeouts in 454 career plate appearances, against just 43 walks. That would almost be OK if he was was hitting homers at a pace he did last year (16 in 347 at-bats), but he’s still looking for tater No.1 this season.
27. Astros (7-11, 30). Bill Hall is second in the National League with 22 strikeouts and has walked exactly one time. This is his 10th ML season, he’s made over $24 million and has never proved to be a useful offensive player.
28. Twins (6-12, 13). Nothing has gone right. Zero. Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau are both slugging under .300 and haven’t homered, Francisco Liriano has a 7.40 ERA and Joe Nathan has been removed as closer. Let’s just hope this is all solved by August 12, because nothing should cast a pall over Randy Bush Bobblehead Night.
29. Mariners (6-13, 29). Good news for the Mariners: At this pace, it will take Carl Crawford 419.2 games to break Ichiro’s record for hits in a season.
30. Mets (5-13, 21). And the Jose Reyes trade watch has begun.
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