Friday, June 20, 2008
MLB Power Poll
We're smack dab in the middle of interleague play. It's been lopsided at best so far as 9 teams earned sweeps in the last round. Hopefully the next set will be closer. Today begins the fourth of the six series that take place each year. It's also includes arguably the best batch of matchups of any set. The top 3 in my opinion are: Cubs/White Sox, Angels/Philles, and Red Sox/Cardinals. It wouldn't be a stretch to think that any of these matchups could be possible World Series previews. I'm going to start shortening the analysis in the team portion of the power poll because it not only takes me forever to do, but it is also probably not super interesting to read.
1.) Chicago Cubs (45-28)- The Cubbies narrowly hang on to the top spot, but their grasp is so shaky that it's possible for the next 5 teams on the list to pass them in the next poll. What happened? Well, the surging Tampa Bay Rays handed them a good ol' fashioned ass whoopin'. They got swept for the first time all year. In fact, they haven't been swept since May 2007 against the Marlins. They've got something to prove in the Windy City Series this weekend. They'd also better hope that Carlos Zambrano only misses one start.
2.) Boston Red Sox (46-29)- Boston is officially taking over the world. The Sox won the last world series, the Celtics just captured the NBA title, and if the Pats wouldn't have choked, the city would own all 3 major championships. Ugh. The Red Sox actually had a solid week going 5-2, but I still need to see how Dice-K looks in his debut tonight before I can vault them into the top spot. They were impressive again by taking 2 of 3 against the Phillies this week and they'll need to keep up the great play when they host the Cardinals this weekend. Should be a great series.
3.) Tampa Bay Rays (43-29)- The Rays are on a roll. Get them some butter. They only lost once since the last poll including a huge sweep over the #1 Cubbies. Tampa Bay gets to host their third straight series and this time it's against the biggest slumpers in the league, the Houston Astros (8 game losing streak), so they'd better get another sweep. They're gonna need it if they want to catch Boston who still holds a 1 1/2 game lead in the AL East. They also need to stave off the White-Hot Yankees who just can't lose. This divisional race should be ridiculously entertaining down the stretch.
4.) Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (43-30)- The Angels play their third NL East team in a row this week and it's going to be a stiff test against the Phillies. LA didn't fair so hot against the other two losing 2 of 3 agains the Braves and Mets. Considering New York just fired their manager (right in the middle of the series) and Atlanta can't win on the road (Worst Road record in baseball) this is not a good sign. They can't afford to play like that against Philadelphia who will be looking for blood this weekend. Shouldn't the Angels have more than a 3 1/2 game lead over Oakland right now?
5.) Chicago White Sox (41-31)- The White Sox didn't just sweep the Pirates, they made them walk the plank. Chicago scored an interleague sweep record 37 runs during the 3 game set led by the unstoppable Carlos Quentin. Young Knuckleballer officially endorses Quentin as an All-Star starter. Who needs the Windy City Series more? Sure the Cubs have the better record, but the White Sox have the bigger division lead at 4 1/2 games (tied for biggest gap in the majors).
6.) New York Yankees (40-33)- There's not a hotter team in baseball right now. The Yankees make their much awaited debut in the power poll courtesy of a 7 game winning streak (3 games longer than any other team in the game). They swept back-to-back series for the first time since early 2007. It's about time that the team with the highest payroll got the ball rolling. The bad news for the Yanks long-term prospects? Chien Ming Wang is out till at least September. The Good News? Joba Chamberlain looks like a certified stud after a striking out 9 in just over 5 innings yesterday.
7.) Philadelphia Phillies (42-32)- The Phillies are letting key opportunities dissippate. They had the Red Sox right where they wanted them this week and they let it slip away. They lost 2 of 3 there and the same margin occured in their previous two series against the Cardinals and Marlins. They can't afford to let the rest of the NL East stick around, because the other line-ups are just too talented. They hold just a 2 game lead over Florida despite being the highest scoring offense in baseball. Time for pitchers not named Cole Hamels to step up.
8.) St. Louis Cardinals (42-32)- The Cards picked a terrible time to lay an egg. They just got swept at home by the KC Royals!!!! C'mon now, this can't happen when you're chasing the Cubs and getting savagely pursued by the Brewers. Now the Red Birds have to go and play the two scariest offenses in the AL over the next week. They're on the road to take on the Red Sox and Tigers. How much are they missing Albert "Winnie the" Pujols now?
9.) Milwaukee Brewers (39-33)- The hottest team in the NL actually moves down a spot?! Yessir, it's not the Brewers fault that everybody above them is either winning or still holds a solid lead in the standings. They also got usurped by the even more fiery Yankees. The Cheeseheads can rest assured that if they continue this play, they will climb up the Power Poll. They're on a 4 game winning streak right now and much of that recent success can be attributed to Papa Prince Fielder. He's finally starting to swing a mean bat and show that the vegetarian thing hasn't caused his power to become extinct. He homered twice against the Brew Jays this week and one of those was his second career inside the park job of his career. If you haven't seen a clip of this you gotta check it out, it's hilarious.
Picture Bentley trying to run a mile.
10.) Arizona Diamondbacks (39-34)- Once again, the D-backs are here by process of elimination. There's a Michael Strahan Tooth gap between the D-backs and the Brewers though right now, so don't think I put them in the same boat. What's the deal with Brandon Webb. Remember a month ago when he was 9-0? Well he's 2-3 since then and he's looked pretty weak sauce in his last two starts especially against the A's on Wednesday where he gave up 7 runs in less than 4 IP (3rd shortest start of his career). He's also not striking guys out anymore (10 in his last 3 starts combined). Micah Owings has also come back to earth in a big way (0-3 in his last 4 starts). The once undisputed pitching champs in baseball are now looking like lightweights.
Also Receiving Votes: Florida Marlins, Oakland A's, Minnesota Twins