June 18, 2013

Comment (1)

MLB Power Rankings

By: Joe Williams

There is another month of baseball to play before the MLB All-Star break so we should know who is good and who isn’t at this point, but I’ll bet there isn’t anyone out there who would have guessed that the best teams during the month of June would be Kansas City, Toronto, San Diego and Oakland. Meanwhile, teams like the Yankees, Rangers and Dodgers are struggling. Where will that leave those teams in today’s power rankings?

The Cardinals can celebrate being at the top of our latest MLB Power Rankings.

1. St. Louis Cardinals (44-25): As a Cubs fan, you never want to see the Cardinals at the top of the list but there’s no denying they have the best record in baseball and are +102 in run differential.

2. Atlanta Braves (41-28): The Braves hold the biggest lead of any division leaders at 6.5 games over Washington.

3. Cincinnati Reds (42-28): If the Reds were in any other division, they’d be in first place.

4. Oakland A’s (42-29): The A’s have made a huge jump from the 15 spot a month ago. That’s what an 18-7 record will do for you.

5. Boston Red Sox (42-29): Boston leads the majors in runs scored with 363.

6. Texas Rangers (38-31): Just like the end of last season, the Rangers have been caught by Oakland.

7. Detroit Tigers (38-29): Right now just Chris Davis is standing between Miguel Cabrera and a repeat triple crown.

8. Baltimore Orioles (40-30): Baltimore has quietly taken the lead in the wild card race and pulled within just 1.5 games of Boston.

9. Arizona Diamondbacks (37-32): I don’t think anyone expected the Diamondbacks to be leading the NL West at this point.

10. Pittsburgh Pirates (41-28): Forget about finishing over .500…the Pirates are on pace to finish close to .600.

11. New York Yankees (38-31): Could this be the beginning of the end for the Yankees. They’ve lost ground in the AL East and wild card races.

12. Colorado Rockies (37-33): Gonzalez and Tulowitzki have lead the Rockies into the race. The pitching will need to improve to stay in it to the end.

13. San Diego Padres (36-34): Seven straight wins will and the Padres are back in the hunt after a 2-10 to the season.

14. Tampa Bay Rays (36-33): Wil Myers has been called up. Now let’s see what he can do.

15. Kansas City Royals (34-34): The Royals have been the best team in baseball, going 12-4 in June.

16. Washington Nationals (34-35): It’s turning into a disappointing season in the capital. The Nats better get back on track soon or it will be too late.

17. Cleveland Indians (34-35): Here’s a team that has really cooled off and is just 5-10 in June.

18. San Francisco Giants (35-34): The Giants will have to do better than 14-22 on the road if they want to defend their title.

19. Toronto Blue Jays (33-36): The Jays have six wins in a row and are climbing out of a big hole.

20. Philadelphia Phillies (34-37): The Phillies are second in the majors in quality starts but don’t have much to show for it.

21. Minnesota Twins (30-36): The Twins are near the bottom in just about every pitching category. Not good.

22. LA Dodgers (29-39): Talk about a wasted season…nobody is farther away from next-to-last in their division than the Dodgers.

23. LA Angels (31-39): Here is another team that was supposed to contend and has let their fans down.

24. Milwaukee Brewers (28-40): It’s going to be a dead heat with the Cubs for last place in the NL Central.

25. Chicago Cubs (28-40): It’s going to be a dead heat with the Brewers for last place in the NL Central.

26. Seattle Mariners (31-40): King Felix and Hisashi Iwakuma are lights out pitchers right now. They aren’t getting much help though.

27. Chicago White Sox (29-38): It looks like it will be a tight race for worst team in Chicago.

28. New York Mets (25-40): The Mets are making a strong run towards the worst record in baseball with a 3-10 start in June.

29. Houston Astros (26-45): An 8-8 record so far this month is a big improvement for the AL West newcomers.

30. Miami Marlins (22-47): The Marlins are playing better, posting an 8-6 record so far this month.

May 21, 2013

Leave a Comment

MLB Power Rankings

By: Joe Williams

Now that we’ve made it a quarter of the way through the MLB season we know a few things we thought at the start of the season are right (Texas is good, Houston is not) and a few are wrong (Boston is good, the Dodgers are not). So it’s time for the first power ranking post of the season.

After losing six in a row, the Orioles have fallen close to the middle of the pack.

1. Texas Rangers (29-16): It sure looks like they picked the right time to lets Josh Hamilton leave town.

2. Atlanta Braves (26-18): One Upton brother has been their best player, while the other has been their worst.

3. Boston Red Sox (27-18): Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz are a combined 12-1 so far.

4. St. Louis Cardinals (28-16): The Cards lead the majors in ERA.

5. Cincinnati Reds (27-18): The Reds are 16-6 at home, the best record in the majors.

6. Cleveland Indians (26-17): Five straight wins and 8-2 in the last 10 makes the Tribe the hottest team in baseball.

7. New York Yankees (28-16): Who would have thought they would be in first place without all of their injured stars?

8. Detroit Tigers (23-19): The Tigers have scored 20 more runs than their opponents this month but are just 8-9 to show for it.

9. Pittsburgh Pirates (26-18): Forget about finishing over .500…the Pirates are on pace to finish close to .600.

10. Arizona Diamondbacks (26-19): I don’t think anyone expected the Diamondbacks to be leading the NL West at this point.

11. Colorado Rockies (24-21): The Rockies are leading the majors in runs scored with 222.

12. Tampa Bay Rays (23-21): Reigning AL Cy Young winner David Price has be awful, but Matt Moore (8-0) is filling the void nicely.

13. San Francisco Giants (25-20): The defending champs are known for their pitching but their batting average ranks second in baseball.

14. Baltimore Orioles (23-21): Six straight losses have the Orioles five games behind the Yankees.

15. Oakland A’s (24-22): The A’s are 24th in batting average, but 9th in getting on base. Why? They lead the majors in walks with 187.

16. Washington Nationals (23-22): Anybody know what’s going on with Strasburg? He’s been offered to me in my fantasy league and I just can’t decide.

17. Kansas City Royals (20-21): After a hot April (14-10) the Royals have cooled off.

18. San Diego Padres (21-23): San Diego has recovered from a 2-10 start. Can they keep it up?

19. Philadelphia Phillies (21-24): Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Roy Halladay are 7-13 combined. Ouch.

20. Seattle Mariners (20-25): King Felix and Hisashi Iwakuma are lights out pitchers right now. They aren’t getting much help though.

21. Chicago Cubs (18-25): Matt Garza is finally back….and the Cubs need him to be great.

22. Chicago White Sox (20-23): Paul Konerko, Jeff Keppinger and Adam Dunn are hitting .220, .199 and .172. They’ll keep losing if that doesn’t improve.

23. Minnesota Twins (18-23): After losing eight of the last ten, the Twins are in the AL Central cellar.

24. LA Angels (17-27): Here is the first of three teams battling it out for most disappointing team of the season.

25. New York Mets (17-25): Where would this team be without Matt Harvey?

26. Milwaukee Brewers (17-26): With the Astros moved to the American League, the Brewers are in danger of being the worst team in the NL Central.

27. Toronto Blue Jays (18-26): Toronto tried to fight fire with fire by signing big name free agents but so far they are getting burned.

28. LA Dodgers (18-25): The Dodgers by far the most disappointing team in the National League and maybe in all of baseball.

29. Miami Marlins (13-32): The Marlins have scored just 122 runs and are last in the majors. They are also last in batting average, on base percentage and slugging percentage.

30. Houston Astros (13-32): The Astros have allowed a whopping 266 runs this season and are last in the majors. They are also last in ERA, quality starts and WHIP.

March 13, 2013

Leave a Comment

2013 MLB Division Winners

By: Joe Williams

MLB’s Opening day is just a couple weeks away which means it’s time for my yearly ritual of predicting the six division winners and ensuring that those teams don’t have the season they are hoping for. What can I say? It’s a gift. So let’s get on with it.

After signing multiple star players this off-season, can the Blue Jays win the AL East?

A.L. East

It’s gotta be now or never for the Blue Jays right? The Red Sox aren’t going to make a 25-win improvement over last season and the Yankees have been ravaged with injuries. The division door is wide open and Toronto has added several star players. Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buerhle, R.A. Dickey and Melky Cabrera should be able to help the Blue Jays to the top in the A.L. East.

A.L. Central

It almost feels like cheating to pick the team that won it last year. Almost. The Tigers ought to be a hungry bunch after losing in the World Series last year. They may have the best hitter and pitcher in baseball in triple-crown winner Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander. And I don’t see anyone else in the Central making a run at 90 wins.

A.L. West

In 2012, the Oakland A’s surprised everyone and stole the title from the Rangers. Now it’s the Angels that everyone thinks will take the title after they recruited one of the biggest stars in Texas, Josh Hamilton. Adding Hamilton to a lineup with Mike Trout and Albert Pujols makes the Angels scary, but I’m going with another surprise in the West and taking the Rangers.

N.L. East

Everyone in Washington is left wondering “what if” after the Nationals shut down Stephen Strasburg at the end of the season and then collapsed in the playoffs. They’ll have a chance to redeem themselves this October after taking the N.L. East crown. Atlanta will fight them to the end and the Phillies won’t go quietly, but the Nats are the best overall team right now.

N.L. Central

With all the injuries in St. Louis, this looks like the Reds’ division to lose. They won 97 games in 2012 and added a dynamic player in Shin-Soo Choo. Plus…The Astros are gone. The Cubs are the Cubs. The Pirates are still trying to find a way to finish above. 500. So I guess that leaves Milwaukee. Can the Brewers make a run at Cincinnati? It will depend on what they can get from the starting rotation.

N.L. West

This will be the most interesting race I believe. There is a young up-and-coming team in Arizona; the defending world champs in San Francisco and the new Yankees in Los Angeles. The Diamondbacks are probably another year away and the Giants appear to be out-manned by the All-Stars the Dodgers brought in to win last year. A full season with guys like Hanley Ramirez and Adrian Gonzalez and the addition of Zack Greinke make L.A. the pick.

September 26, 2012

Leave a Comment

Taking a Look at True World Series Contenders

By: Matt Bowen

As the 2012 MLB season begins to wind down and the playoff picture begins to take shape, realistic expectations are realized for postseason play. MLB baseball is reaching a fever pitch heading into the post season. Once almost forgotten about because of the start of the 2012 NFL season, America’s true favorite pastime couldn’t be more exciting right now.

The Cardinals are the defending champions, but who will win the World Series this season?

This season adds another Wild Card contender into the mix, which was once frowned upon by diehard baseball fans, but is now quite exciting as the added slot has put many teams in the running.

Over the weekend the Washington Nationals, Cincinnati Reds and San Francisco Giants all clinched playoff berths in the National League.  The Atlanta Braves clinched a Wild Card spot  on September 25.

The Nationals have finally had success after struggling since moving to the nation’s capital in 2005. With a plethora of young talent and a Cy Young contender in pitcher Gio Gonzalez, the Nats will be in the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. Unfortunately for the up-and-coming squad, 2012 won’t be their year to win it all, but the future is bright.

In terms of the Braves, they get redemption for faltering down the stretch and missing the postseason last year.

As for the Reds, the team is a fine blend of pitching and hitting and they have a good shot of reaching the World Series. Led by slugger Joey Votto and a lethal bullpen to shutdown games, the team is feared. Don’t be surprised when the Reds end up in the World Series.

If the Reds are to win the NL pennant, they will have to defeat the Giants, who have the necessary experience to win it all. Considering they reached the ultimate goal in 2010, the Giants are primed to make another run.

The American League has some tight races at the top of the East and Central divisions as the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles are neck-and-neck along with the Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers.

Both of these battles are great for baseball as the Yankees and Tigers were the preseason favorites while the Orioles and White Sox were somewhat of an afterthought. Neither team expected to reach the magnitude of success they’ve enjoyed this season.

No team has yet to clinch in the AL, but the races sure are enticing.

The Wild Card picture is what’s best in baseball right now. There are currently five teams within five games of the four Wild Card spots.

The current leaders are the Orioles and Oakland Athletics in the AL and the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL. Within striking distance of the current leaders are the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Tampa Bay Rays and Tigers/White Sox in the AL and the Milwaukee Brewers, Los Angeles Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies in the NL.

So, who has a legitimate shot? Historically, the season’s best record or the highest payroll doesn’t guarantee a World Series ring. Like the St. Louis Cardinals of last season, many times it’s the team that gets red hot and rides the lightning that goes down in history.

Right now, the Giants and Reds looks like they’ll compete for the pennant in the NL and the Texas Rangers and the winner of the Central will duel in the AL.

August 2, 2012

Leave a Comment

True MLB Contenders Post Trade Deadline

By: Matt Bowen

It’s now August and the MLB trade deadline has past, meaning that the playoffs will be here before we know it. There was much speculation that the trade deadline would be relatively quiet compared to years past because of the new playoff format that Major League Baseball has adopted this season. This year, two wild card teams will make the playoffs. The thought behind the relatively calm trade market was that with more contenders, there would be fewer sellers willing to give up their proven talent for those of untested prospects.

Nonetheless, the deadline didn’t disappoint as there was plenty of action to keep MLB diehards plastered to Twitter for the latest deal. Now that the ink has dried and MLB lineups will primarily remain the same until season’s end, let’s look at the true contenders heading down the stretch.

Can Jason Heyward and the Braves come back to win the NL East?

AL East: No surprise here, the Yankees will end up walking away with the AL East this season. Just for insurance, they pried Ichiro away from the Seattle Mariners. The future Hall of Famer’s best days may be behind him, but he’s still Ichiro. The Yankees also landed third baseman Casey McGehee from the Pittsburgh Pirates.

NL East: It wasn’t the buyers that made a ton of noise in the NL East, it was the sellers. Knowing that their seasons are to be forgotten, the Miami Marlins and Philadelphia Phillies made multiple moves that shipped some fan favorites out of town. The Marlins did trade for outfielder Carlos Lee in early July, but then they traded Hanley Ramirez, Anibal Sanchez, Omar Infante and a few others away.

The Washington Nationals currently lead the division, but they won’t win it this season. That distinction will belong to the Atlanta Braves, who are a team that sputtered at the end of last season and gave away the division and a shot at the World Series. The Nationals are set for success for the next decade behind Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg, but it won’t happen this season.

AL Central: The AL Central will be a dogfight until mid-September, but will belong to the Detroit Tigers in the end. The Chicago White Sox are currently in front, but didn’t do enough at the deadline to ensure a divisional crown. Yes, relief pitcher Brett Myers is an established veteran, but their other acquisition, Francisco Liriano is a rollercoaster. Their rival, the Tigers, made one trade and sewed up two spots. Second baseman Omar Infante was needed and starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez will be a plus down the stretch. It will be a great race, but Detroit will win. The White Sox will still make the postseason will a wild-card berth.

NL Central: The Cincinnati Reds are currently the best team in baseball and the acquisition of closer Jonathan Broxton only makes them better. The Reds are 9-1 in their last 10 games and that’s without All-Star first baseman Joey Votto. The Reds do have solid competition in the Pittsburgh Pirates, but they’ll have to settle for a wild-card slot. The Pirates picked up a few utility spots to make their lineup stronger and landed starting pitcher Wandy Rodriguez, who signifies that the Pirates are all in. It’s been 20 years, but it’ll be time to party postseason style in Pittsburgh come October.

AL West: This division is simply ridiculous. Both the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim were penciled in to compete for the World Series before the season started and neither backed down at the deadline. The Angels made the first move when they nabbed star pitcher Zack Greinke from the Milwaukee Brewers. The Rangers counterattacked when they traded for pitcher Ryan Dempster, who is having a great season thus far and should only bolster his stats with the run support he receives from the Rangers. Texas currently leads the division by three games, but this one is a toss-up. The loser won’t be left out in the cold because they’ll be the top wild-card team heading into the playoffs.

NL West: The two top teams in the division this season, the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers both made serious moves at the deadline. The bitter rivals traded blows and the winner won’t be announced until the final days of the season. The Giants currently lead the division by the slimmest of margins and helped their own cause by getting Hunter Pence from the Phillies and Marco Scutaro from the Rockies. With these two fine ball players, the Giants are thinking about winning the World Series like they did in 2010. The Dodgers made a splash when the traded for Hanley Ramirez and Shane Victorino, who promise to produce in Dodger Blue. This race won’t be over until the fat lady sings and the loser will seek revenge from a wild-card position in the playoffs.