Friday, June 6, 2008

MLB Power Poll

I'm going to try to make these more consistently once my new computer finally arrives (which should be by next week). Thanks for bearing with me.

With the baseball season more than a third of the way through, the divisional standings are starting to look more true to form. The only leader that is really unexpected right now is the White Sox, and I'm still not ready to crown them yet considering they are on top of arguably the worst division in baseball. If I were to rank the Divisions from best to worst cumulatively right now it would be as follows.

1.) AL East
2.) NL Central
3.) NL East
4.) AL West
5.) AL Central
6.) NL West

You know things are bad in the NL West when there's only one team above .500 and that team is falling fast. Let's see how the poll looks in the first week of June.

1.) Chicago Cubs (39-22)- Another week, another number 1 on the Power Poll. It's hard to argue that Cubs are the most complete team in baseball...and it doesn't hurt when you've got the best record too. The Cubbies grace the top of the list thanks to just 1 loss in their last 10 games. They haven't lost by more than 2 runs since the end of April. They're tops in the league in Average, Runs, OPS, OBP, and Saves. Mad props to Kerry Wood for completely revitalizing his career. You've gotta be happy for this turnaround (unless you're an angry man from Quincy). He could become the next John Smoltz if things continue to progress according to plan. Speaking of Smoltzy, my best wishes go out to the guy, he's a class act.

2.) Boston Red Sox (38-25)- The Red Sox are back in the elite company after a great stretch that's seen them keep winning despite major injuries. David Ortiz joined Dice-K on the DL this week which could really put damper on the BoSox plans to go back to back as World Champs. If Big Papi is done for the year, a repeat is going to be extremely difficult (he leads the team in HR and RBI as usual). Still, you've gotta be impressed with their perseverence as they just swept the formerly red hot Rays. In the running for baseball's comeback player of the year has to be Big Fat Bartolo Colon. He currently sports a 3-0 record with a solid 3.50 era.

3.) Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (37-24)- Chalk up a 5 game winnign streak for the suddenly surging Angels. They don't even miss former Cy Young Winner Colon as their pitching has been phenomenal this season. Joe Saunders and Ervin Santana are a combined 17-4 on the year and John Lackey is back in the groove with a sub-2 era. He's just 1-1, but the wins will come. On the opposite end though, what the deuce is up with LA's hitting. Besides steals, they rank in the bottom half of every offensive category in the AL. The Normally vicious Vlad Guerrero is batting just .249 on the year. What's up with that?

4.) Tampa Bay Rays (35-25)- The Rays couldn't be stopped...that is until they ran into the defending champs. After getting swept by the BoSox, the Rays actually look human. James Shields lasted just 1 inning in today's start (he had a complete game shutout against them earlier this season) and they were outscored 19-6 in the 3 game set. Look for the bats to wake up in a 3 game road trip in Texas this weekend. Also, on the plus side, they had the number 1 pick in today's draft and picked Tim Beckham, a high school SS from Georgia. He's got no relation to International Football Star David, but his skills are supposedly out of the this world.

5.) Philadelphia Phillies (36-26)- The Phillies are one of the fastest risers on the Power Poll and could keep leaping if they continue this torrid pace (8-2 in their last 10 games). After a couple of shaky starts Cole Hamels has righted his ship in a big way with a 3 hit CG Shutout against Cincy today. After hamels though, the pitching is a muddled mess. That's very fortunate for the NL, because otherwise this team would be the runaway favorite in the Senior Circuit. The offense is arguably the most Swole in baseball right now with Chase Utley leading the charge (MLB leading 21 HR). On top of that, he leads the team in pretty much every category as well. If only he could pitch...

6.) St. Louis Cardinals- (36-26)- It's too bad the Cards are in one of the most competitive divisions in baseball because they are playing great ball right now. Unfortunately, the teams getting the press are the Cubs and the suddenly on fire Milwaukee Brewers (more on them later). The Cards don't care though, they don't need to be in the spot light as long as they keep the consistency going. The Pittsburgh Pirates have been giving them serious trouble (Whaaaaa?!!?) but outside of the Buccos, St. Louis hasn't dropped a series in a month. I know I mention him a lot but how can you not love what Albert Pujols is doing. He's top 3 in baseball in OPS, OBP, Slugging, Average, and Walks.

7.) Chicago White Sox (33-26)- I'm sure the Cards would love to switch spots with the White Sox, because they'd be running away with the AL Central. The South Siders
currently enjoy a 2 and a half game lead on the second place Twins after a sweep of the hapless Royals. Speaking of the Twinkies, they're in the Chi for a 4 game series at US Cellular. If Chicago continues their solid play, this division could have a gap the size of the Grand Canyon come next week. Thanks to Javier Vazquez and friends, it's been the White Sox pitching that's shutting down opponents with the best ERA and second best WHIP in the AL.

8.) Milwaukee Brewers (32-28)- The only team hotter than the Cubs right now is their division rivals to the North. Milwaukee is not only 9-1 over the past 2 weeks, but they also own a 6 game winning streak (current longest in the majors). The Cheese-chompers have been eating their foes alive during the current unblemished stretch to the tune of a 40-8 run differential. Ryan Braun is finally starting to match his highly impressive rookie campaign with top 5 totals in the NL in HR and RBI. And how bout my boy Ben Sheets. If he can finally stay healthy for a whole season (knock on wood!!!) he should get some votes for the Cy Young with a 6-1 record, 2.71 ERA and 60 K even after missing two weeks.

9.) Arizona Diamondbacks (32-28)- I had to do a double take myself after putting the D-backs at #9, but that's where they deserve to be. The only team to top the poll for more than 2 weeks (they were the kings of the castle for the first 7) are in danger of falling out of the top 10 completely. Why you ask? They're just 4-12 over the last couple weeks and have really failed to get their offense going. I think I put a hex on Justin Upton by giving him and his brother BJ the Poll Picture a month back. Since then, BJ has continued to rake while Justin is barely hitting above the Mendoza line (.200). During their current 2-8 slump, they've scored more than 4 runs just once. Really this wasn't that unexpected as they were the only playoff team last year to post a negative run differential. Poor Micah Owings is probably their best hitter right now. Ouch.

10.) Oakland Athletics (33-27)- The A's find themselves back in the Top 10 after a short hiatus. Oakland didn't really do anything to deserve falling out, but there were just other teams playing a little better than they were. That can't be said now and many teams have sunk back to mediocrity. They're now on a 4 game win streak after a big sweep over the Detroit Tigers, but is that really all that eye-catching anymore?? Damn you Kittens! Still how the hell is this team winning anyway? I give up. Go figure their top hitter Bobby Crosby isn't even ranked in the Top 50 of the AL in average at .265. Whatever, wins are wins and the A's have more than 2/3 of the league right now.

Also Receiving Votes: Florida Marlins, Atlanta Braves, Houston Astros

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