Wednesday, July 2, 2008
MLB Power Poll
Interleague play was just what the doctor ordered. I felt that this year's matchups were the best as a whole in several seasons. One thing that I find interesting is that from a fantasy and All-star perspective, the NL dominates. Clearly, the premier players in the game right now are located in the Senior Circuit. However, you've gotta believe that the team to beat in the All-star game is the AL. They completely dominated in interleague play and top to bottom the league is much stronger overall. This is especially apparent in this week's Power Poll.
1.) Tampa Bay Rays (51-32)- A new number 1 graces our presence. They are the 5th individual team to take over the Numba One Spot since the start of the poll and the third different club in three weeks to be on top. In one of the most hyped series of the year, the Rays have dominated the Red Sox in 2 straight to take a 2.5 game lead in the AL East. It's going to be a fight between Scott Kazmir (7-3, 2.23 ERA, 72 K's in 11 starts this year) and the ace of the next team for the AL Starting Pitcher in the All-Star game in my opinion.
2.) LA Angels (50-34)- This is probably the most balanced team in baseball at this point. They've got depth like nobody's business, especially in the Rotation and the Outfield. That's why I think the Angels are poised to make a deep run in the playoffs because they won't get tired in a 7 game series. This could be the best rotation in baseball right now, with three possible 20 game winners on the roster (Swervin Ervin Santana and Joe Saunders already have a combined 20 between them) led by the always swole John Lackey, the league leader in ERA at 1.44 and sporting a 6-1 record on the season. I didn't even mention young Jered Weaver who took that bizzare L against the Dodgers last week even though he no-hit them.
3.) Chicago White Sox (48-35)- This marks the peak for the Chi Sox and the first time they've ever been above their cross-town rivals. Well this was a long time coming, especially after they just swept the Cubbies this weekend and are now on a 6 game winning streak. The White Sox are the anti-Cubs. They don't have the big names, but they squeeze every ounce of talent out of their players. For as insane as Ozzy Guillen can be sometimes, he's a genius manager and really knows how to motivate his players. Unfortuantely, he can't let his team slack at all as the Twins and Tigers are going to make things interesting all year long.
4.) Chicago Cubs (50-34)- That last statement wasn't meant to be too much of a jab on the Cubs. They aren't wasting their talent by any means, but they are paying a lot more for their players and therefore are expected to always perform well. The good news for the North-siders is that they're about to welcome back arguably their two biggest names. Carlos Zambrano is expected to come off the DL to take the hill in a huge series against the Cardinals on Friday and Alfonso Soriano shouldn't be out too much longer after that. Regardless, the Cubs should be able to breath a litte as they've got three series against pathetic teams over the next two weeks (Reds and Giants).
5.) Boston Red Sox (50-36)- Boston is on a 4 game losing streak, but all of those losses have been close. 3 were by just one run and they are playing the raging Rays so they can't be too dissapointed with themselves. On the other hand, Tampa is starting to create a little distance and this should be a minor concern. I think Boston will be alright in the end, but they don't want to get too complacent. They've gotta be thankful for the resurgent JD Drew who has staved off injury to become the biggest producer in the majors over the last month (12 HR, 27 RBI since the beggining of June).
6.) Minnesota Twins (47-38)- The Twins have been the hottest team in baseball for about 2 weeks now and don't show any signs of letting up. Just when it looked like the Tigers were back on track, the Twinkies pounded them two days in a row. It's really kind of a mystery how this team has plowed their way into the playoff hunt. They lost their best two players (Johan Santana and Torii Hunter) and yet are stronger than ever. Their pitching really isn't that impressive and they've been doing it without Francisco Liriano. Unfortunately for Minnesota they haven't been able to gain any ground on the White Sox who refuse to lose. Something has to give eventually.
7.) St. Louis Cardinals (48-37)- The Cards finally got revenge on the Royals by taking two of three from them last week to polish off their interleague play schedule. They should be happy to be back playing in the Senior Circuit because they didn't really perform up to snuff against the AL (7-8). After they're done with the Mets in a couple days, their biggest rivalry heats up again against the Cubs. This time, they're in the Lou looking to chip away more at the 2.5game divisional defecit.
8.) Milwaukee Brewers (45-38)- The Brew Crew represents the final NL team this week. There's only three and they're all from the Central. The East and West have both been pathetic so I can't justify giving any of those teams a spot. Milwaukee isn't playing inspired baseball right now and need to step it up if they want to stay in the highly competitive divisional race. They were hotter than any other team in the NL a week ago, but haven't taken advantage of other team's follies. With the talent on that team, there's no excuse for them not to contend till the end.
9.) Oakland Athletics (45-38)- The A's have been holding steady playing .500 ball over their last 10, yet they're still somehow just 4.5 back of the Angels. With the second lowest payroll in the game, it's a wonder that they're in the position they are right now. A lot of the success can be attributed to Rich Harden who's finally been able to keep it together and stay healthy for basically the whole year. He has yet to lose (5-0) and sports a 2.25 era. He's still behind his teammate Justin Duchscherer (1.91), but he's pitching as well as anyone in baseball right now.
10.) New York Yankees (44-40)- The Yanks were on a strong run for awhile, but this week they've taken a step backward. They've lost 3 in a row and scored just 4 runs during that span against sub-par pitching tossed out by the Rangers and Mets. It's terrible timing too as they've got a ridiculously hard divisional schedule coming up over the next week at Yankee Stadium against the Rays and Red Sox. Will they survive and drop further behind the leaders in the AL East?
Also Receiving Votes: Philadelphia Phillies, Texas Rangers, Detroit Tigers, Florida Marlins