We had some very nice weather for Memorial Day weekend in California, which is probably why we didn’t get anything posted on the blog. As the ever so powerful NBA marketing campaign has taught me, we need to get back to the top of our game. So I’m back at the computer to dish out some MLB power rankings. San Diego, Cincy, and Oakland are by far the biggest surprises in the MLB as they all hold their respective divisional leads, and nobody saw that coming. If you did, you’re a liar! It was quite an eventful weekend, and maybe if you were camping you might not have known that Roy Halladay threw a perfect game or that the Lakers and Celtics are squaring off in the NBA Finals for another classic, yippee… Anyways, here’s who I see as the top 16 teams in the league.
#1 Tampa Bay Rays (34-17)
They may have struggled a little lately. Being swept by Boston and going 4-6 over their last ten isn’t encouraging, but they have to be tested sooner or later to see if they are indeed for real. It’s a long season, and that three game lead they have in the division could disappear quickly with everyone in the AL East playing well. I think they need Pena to hit a little better than .177, and the rest of their lineup has been in a little bit of a lull. I’m sure they will start hitting again. I don’t see any Phillies like slumps coming on.
#2 New York Yankees (31-20)
The Yankees are starting to put up some runs and wins in bunches. They’ve only lost one series this whole season, and whenever you see them on your teams schedule, you are worried. I almost put them atop my rankings, but just couldn’t talk myself into it since they are three games back. The Yankees have a cakewalk in June, so don’t be surprised to see them atop the AL East by the end of the month.
#3 Minnesota Twins (31-20)
I dismissed the Twins in our predictions for the season, but when fantasy drafts came around I was all in on guys like Morneau, Mauer, and Span for all my leagues. Seems like they love their new digs. They are 19-9 in their brand new Target Field. Nick Blackburn just finished off an amazing month going 5-0 with a 2.49 era. Twins are finally liking that extension they gave him. I still can’t figure out why I didn’t see them as this good when the year started.
#4 San Diego Padres (31-20)
How do the Padres have the best record in the NL going into June? It’s a loaded question. Are they a $38 million team, built for now!?! I’ll go out on a limb and say no, but the future is as bright as the sunshine in SD. What’s amazing is they could conceivable take on some big names around the trade deadline instead of shopping AGon and Heath Bell around like we all thought they would be doing. Matt Latos went 4-1 in May with a ridiculous 1.49 ERA. Looks like they got a pretty good pitcher from Chicago in the Peavy deal.
#5 Cincinnati Reds (30-22)
Back to back feel good stories this season. Most had predicted the Padres and Reds finishing dead last or close to it, and that still could happen, but they sure have proved many doubters wrong. Shockingly they are both leading their divisions. Rolen is playing like it’s 2006, and their whole team is clicking. We will see what happens when they stop playing the Astros, Pirates, and Indians. I find them a little less believable than the Padres at this point, but a great story thus far nonetheless.
#6 Atlanta Braves (29-22)
The Braves are finally getting a little production from Chipper. Heyward is still making all the right adjustments, and continuing to tear through pitchers. Glaus is also proving that he’s not washed up quite yet, and this mix of youth and veterans might just make some noise if the Phillies continue to struggle.
#7 Toronto Blue Jays (31-22)
The Jays are showing the AL East that they won’t be going away. They set a record for team homers in May, and are getting the better end of come from behind wins. Shawn Marcum and Rickey Romero have been stellar, if they can get someone else to eat up some innings in that rotation they could push for a wild card spot. Kevin Gregg has been great closing out games for them, and has given them stability at the end of games that they’ve lacked for years.
#8 Oakland Athletics (28-24)
The A’s are holding it down in the west, and just took three out of four against Detroit. Brett Anderson was solid in his return from the DL. Trevor Cahill has had three good starts in a row, which has been a big plus filling in for the steady Duscherer who is calling it a season after scheduling a surgery.They haven’t been hitting the cover off the ball, but have had enough timely hitting to pull out some victories late in the game. Are they going to be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline is becoming a pertinent question now. In 2008, they were only three games out of first at the All-Star break, and still had a firesale, will that happen again?
#9 St. Louis Cardinals (30-22)
They were awful for a little while there, but now that Pujols starting hitting bombs again everything is okay in St. Louis. I think that the Cards in the end will beat out the Reds, but it sure is making this division much more interesting. Does anyone see the Cards fading with their solid pitching staff? That’s what I thought! Jaime Garcia has the lowest ERA (1.49) for a rookie through 10 starts , he deserves more recognition than Strausburg at this point.
#10 Philadelphia Phillies (28-22)
Yes, Roy threw a perfect game, and that was pretty cool. Maybe we weren’t quite as fired up about it like we were with Braden’s perfect game, but an amazing accomplishment nonetheless. It’s scary how bad this Phillies offensive funk has been. The worst part for them is they are wasting some great starting pitching that could hurt them if it fades and they start giving up a bunch of runs.
#11 Boston Red Sox (29-23)
Weren’t people writing them off a couple weeks ago? I know that I had some doubts creeping into my mind. Now that Ortiz and Beltre are swinging the bats well it looks like everybody else is relaxing a little. They’ve won seven of their last ten, and for the first time this year, they can sniff first place. Lester looks like a man possessed and is clearly the ace of the staff. The Bucholtz-Lester combo is looking much better than the Beckett-Lackey combo, who would’ve thought!?!
#12 Los Angeles Dodgers (29-22)
I was wondering when the Dodgers would pick it up. They are way too talented to be as bad as they were early on. Ethier returned to the lineup tonight, and that is only going to help them as they’ve been on fire without him in the lineup. I wonder if having the Lakers in the L.A. spotlight has helped them go on an unnoticed run. Broxton is making guys look foolish. If you don’t believe me, just look at his 23.1 IP with 35 K’s.
#13 Texas Rangers (26-24)
Uh-oh, Nelson Cruz is back on the DL. Fortunately they still have Vlad in the lineup pounding the ball into submission so far this year. Their pitching has left them recently, and they face the Rays coming up next, so that’s not a good place to help get those pitchers some confidence back. The Rangers seem to already be having the pitching problems that plague them every year.
#14 San Francisco Giants (27-23)
Buster Posey is already a hero in a Giants fans eyes. He seems to have already added some protection for Pablo Sandoval. Big time Timmy Jim isn’t looking like his Cy Young self, and was outdueled by Ubaldo Jimenez today. On the bright side, they finally got Matt Cain a win after failing to score him any runs in his previous three starts. The Giants need to add a bat sooner or later that demands some respect in the lineup. Posey is nice, but a rookie can only do so much.
#15 Detroit Tigers (26-24)
The Tigers have struggled recently, and finally gave up on the D-Train. Their pitching has been very shaky, and I thought it would be much bigger of a strength. They will need Schezer to pickup where he left off, striking out 14 A’s players in 5.2 innings Sunday. This team is way too up and down for me to figure out. I think they are good, but they will need some more production from their lineup to stay in contention from players not named Miguel Cabrera.
#16 Colorado Rockies (27-24)
Jimmenez is unfathomably good. With all the perfection going on, I almost forgot that this guy threw a no-hitter earlier this year, and hasn’t looked back since. He’s on a historically good pace this year, and if he keeps it up beating the best pitchers on every squad, the Rockies could easily take the division. One thing I’m wondering about the Rockies is, is Helton’s defense really worth it anymore? He’s only hitting .262 with one homer and nine RBI’s, and at this point wouldn’t you just want to throw Giambi in there so you at least get some homers out of the position?