Wednesday, April 23, 2008
MLB Power Poll
The Knuckleballer is back like Tim Wakefield for another week of ranking the top 10 teams in Major League Baseball. Without further ado, let's take the current pulse of the league.
1.) Arizona Diamondbacks (15-5)- I see no reason to move this team anywhere. After all, they had the best record in baseball last week, and that fact hasn't changed. Brandon Webb is the game's best pitcher at 5-0 while Dan Haren and Micah Owings are a combined 7-0 (Haren pitches tonight against the Dodgers). It's hard to argue that there's a pitching staff in the majors that can even come close to challenging the D-Backs (not the D-bags).
2.) Boston Red Sox (15-7)- The BoSox currently lead the AL in the standings by a couple of games. Sloppy Big Papi is finally breaking out of his funk with 12 Ribbies in his last 5 games. The Sox haven't lost since my last post, but one thing to keep an eye on is their Starting Pitching. Beckett and Dice-K have each been scratched from starts this week.
3.) Chicago Cubs (14-6)- The Cubbies are as hot as any team in baseball right now cruising on a 5 game winning streak with sweeps over the Pirates and Mets. A big key to the North-siders hot start is the performance of Carlos Zambrano. Remember how bad he was the last 2 seasons to start the year. His era was over 7 in the month of April in 2006 and 2007. This year, he's 3-1 with 27 K's and a 2.67 era. Now if the rest of the rotation can at least put up respectable numbers, this could be a very dangerous team. Luckily, Hill and Lilly both got W's in their last starts after a sluggish first couple of outings. The surprise so far though has to go to Ryan Dempster who has ressurected his career with 3 wins this year.
4.) Milwaukee Brewers (12-8)- The Brew Crew are starting to get their groove back as well with wins in 4 of 6 (both losses were by a run). Their offense hasn't gelled yet, but once they do, it's going to be trouble for NL pitching. Speaking of pitching, the Brewers got some great news this weekend when their young stud Yovani Gallardo came off the DL to pitch 7 strong innings (only 1 ER). Unfortunately, Ben Sheets is having his annual injury time off and he was skipped in the rotation this week. If Milwaukee wants to stay in the thick of the NL Central race, it's imperative that Sheets is healthy for most of the year.
5.) St. Louis Cardinals (13-8)- Once again, it's a triple play for the NL Central as the Cubs, Brewers, and Cards go 3 in a row. There isn't much separation between this trio right now with the Cardinals bringing up the rear only because they haven't been quite as hot this week as the other two squads (5-5 in their last 10 games). The hitting has remained solid with Albert Pujols leading the charge (a scorching .352 average and 4 Jacks so far). However, the pitching is coming back to earth a little bit. Braden Looper has been taken for a loop lately and a starting pitcher hasn't won since Todd Wellemeyer got a W on Friday (although it looks like he's well on his way to another tonight). Although people may call it fluky, the way these Red Birds have played so far, they must be taken seriously.
6.) Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (12-9)- Before dropping their last two games, the Angels had won 6 of 7. If I had done this poll on Monday, the Angels might have slipped in at number 3, but that shows that these rankings are tighter than a pair of Jim Bonfield's pants. The Angels as always are quietly making a stand in the AL West. No one talks about the Halo's because they play their games after San Fran goes to bed, but beware, when John Lackey comes back you aren't going to want to fuck with this team. They'll be tested this week though with series against the Red Sox and Tigers.
7.) Chicago White Sox (11-8)- It's been a full week since the Chi Sox have had a streak of any kind. They've alternated wins and losses every day and it shows that this team is still inconsistent. Sometimes they look like world beaters (see: @ Tampa on Friday) and sometimes they look like a Little League team (see: vs. New York on Tuesday), but you never know which Chicago team is going to show up. It's still early, but this team needs to establish a rhythm if they want to be contenders instead of pretenders.
8.) Florida Marlins (12-8)- The Marlins have been swimming smoothly against inferior competition with wins in 3 of 4 over the Nats and Pirates. Now they need to show that they can compete with the big fish in the sea. They're at Atlanta and Milwaukee coming up and it will be an important test to see if these fish aren't just flashes in the pan...what am I talking about, in a month Florida will be long gone from this list. Hopefully they enjoy this hot start while they can (every Marlin should send Hanley Ramirez a free case of Corona for everything he's done for them).
9.) Oakland Athletics (12-9)- The A's are another team that has a nice little 3 out of 4 win streak going. They probably want to keep it quiet that those 3 wins were over the Royals, but a win is a win. Some interesting stats for Oakland so far this season...Joe Blanton leads the majors in Innings pitching, however he's also given up more hits than any other pitcher so far. It's tough to see this team staying in the hunt when their leading batter is Kurt Suzuki (.319 average) and their best pitcher by ERA is Dana Eveland (1.90). The A's have a total of 8 Homeruns...while Chase Utley has 9 by himself. Glad I'm not an Oakland fan.
10.) Philadelphia Phillies (11-10)- Speaking of Sir Utley...he helps the Phils land in the 10 spot once again after a ridiculous week in which he hit 6 HR in 6 games. Philly is on a 3 game winning streak and is tied for 2nd in the NL East. Unfortunately, Jimmy Rollins landed on the DL this week for the first time ever. They'll need last year's MVP to be healthy if they want to have any shot at winning their highly competitive division. Either way, there's a shot that Philadelphia could have three MVP winners in three straight years (Howard in '06, Rollins in '07, Utley??? in '08). Hey anything's possible and at his current rate, it doesn't seem unrealistic that he could become the 4th second baseman to win the award. Lastly, how bout Brad Lidge. After a tumultuous past couple of seasons, Lidge has righted the ship with 5 saves and 0 ER this season.
Posted by Andrew Adamson at 8:15 PM