MLB Power Rankings for September 25th, 2013

david-ortizThe 2013 MLB regular season is almost at a close, which means that playoff positions are very close to being decided. Some teams like Boston, Oakland, Atlanta and St. Louis have nothing to worry about because they’ve already locked up postseason berths. Other teams like Tampa Bay, Cleveland and Texas are still fighting for their playoff lives. That said, let’s discuss the clubs that have already clinched postseason berths along with those who are still clawing for a spot.

1. Boston Red Sox (95-63), clinched AL East – After finishing an AL East-worst 69-93, the Red Sox have completed an impressive worst-to-first resurrection. Now they seek to beat out the A’s for the best overall record in the American League.

2. Oakland Athletics (94-65), clinched AL West – Oakland entered oakland-athletics-titleSeptember in a close battle with Texas over the AL West. Well that battle has turned into a bloodbath with the A’s outdistancing their division rival by 7 games. Bartolo Colon is peaking at just the right time with a 3-1 record and 0.90 ERA in his last five starts.

3. St. Louis Cardinals (94-65), clinched playoff berth – The Cardinals are in the midst of trying to close out the Central division, with a 3-game lead over Pittsburgh. This club can only get better if they get Allen Craig back by October.

4. Detroit Tigers (91-65), clinched playoff berth – The Tigers should come into the playoffs on a roll since they square off against bottom-feeders Minnesota and Miami to end the year. In a season filled with highlights for Detroit, Max Scherzer may top them all with his 20 wins.

5. Atlanta Braves (93-64), clinched AL East – Much like Detroit, Atlanta Atlanta Braves v Chicago Cubsgets two easy series to close out the regular season with Philadelphia and Milwaukee on the schedule. Both the offense and bullpen are looking strong. Now it’s up to Kris Medlen, Mike Minor and the rest of the starters to step up in October.

6. Cincinnati Reds (90-69), clinched playoff berth – Cincinnati is now likely fighting with Pittsburgh for home field in the Wild Card game. Assuming the Reds can beat the Pirates, they have a deep enough team to make some noise in the playoffs.

7. Los Angeles Dogers (91-66), clinched AL West – Think Boston’s one-year turnaround is amazing? How about the Dodgers, who became just the fourth team in history to go from last place after July 1st, to first in their division. Matt Kemp has only played 69 games this year, but if he can go in the playoffs, it’ll really boost the Dodgers’ World Series hopes.

8. Pittsburgh Pirates (91-68), clinched playoff berth – Pittsburgh finishes out the year in Cincinnati, which will decide who gets home field in the Wild Card game. Unfortunately, the Pirates blew their chance at a division title after losing three of four to the Padres last week.

9. Cleveland Indians (87-70), second in AL Central – Cleveland has been red hot in September and jumped into the second Wild Card spot as a result. Now they need to hang on with Texas only one game behind them.

10. Tampa Bay Rays (88-69), second in AL East – With a division title out of reach, Tampa Bay will fight to hold onto their Wild Card position. They’re currently one game ahead of Cleveland and two games ahead of Texas.

11. Kansas City Royals (83-74), third in AL Central – The Royals have very slim postseason hopes as they currently sit four games behind Cleveland for the last Wild Card spot. But playoffs or no playoffs, the Royals can be proud of how their rotation improved over the last couple of months.

12. Texas Rangers (86-71), second in AL West – Texas has played terrible down the stretch, posting one of the worst records in September. But if the Rangers can pick themselves up and start playing like they did in the season’s first half, they could still make the postseason.

MLB Power Rankings for September 10th, 2013

david-ortizNow entering the final stretch before the postseason, several teams are jockying for playoff berths. Only the Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers, Atlanta Braves and LA Dodgers have their playoff paths clearly laid out. Quite a few other teams are hoping for a good run to close out the regular season so they can join the World Series hunt. That said, let’s look at how the clubs that are still alive currently rank.

1. Boston Red Sox (87-58, 1st in AL East) – Boston is gelling at just the right time after scoring 57 runs in the last six games. Considering this feat came against the Tigers and Yankees, that’s quite an accomplishment. With Clay Buchholz (9-0, 1.71 ERA) returning, there’s no reason to think that they won’t finish with the league’s top record.

2. St. Louis Cardinals (83-60, 1st in NL Central) – Not only do we think that St. Louis is tops in baseball’s toughest division, but they’re also playing the best out of any NL team period. Following a sweep of the Pirates, this team finishes with a very favorable schedule that includes 12 home games.

3. Atlanta Braves (86-57, 1st in NL East) – Atlanta may have lost the league’s best record over the weekend, but that’s certainly no cause for concern. They’re a virtual lock for the playoffs and are still in the pole position for home field advantage in the NL playoffs.

4. LA Dodgers (84-59, 1st in NL West) – With a 12-game lead on the Diamondbacks, LA shouldn’t have much trouble grabbing the NL West title. However, they can’t be too happy about being swept by the Reds and losing four straight overall.

5. Oakland A’s (83-60, 1st in AL West) – Unlike several of the teams listed above, Oakland is no lock to win their division title. However, we like them to build some distance from Texas thanks to six upcoming games against the Twins.

6. Cincinnati Reds (82-63, 3rd in NL Central) – Cincinnati’s postseason dreams are far from a sure thing. However, they are doing their best to control the situation by winning three of four at St. Louis, and sweeping the Dodgers.

7. Detroit Tigers (82-62, 1st in AL Central) – Detroit has played dismally max-scherzerover the past two series. In fact, this might be putting it lightly since they’ve lost five of their last six games. The past two contests against the Royals were just awful as they surrendered 36 runs! Hopefully staff ace Max Scherzer (19-3, 3.01 ERA) can stop the bleeding.

8. Texas Rangers (81-62, 2nd in AL West) – Texas has cause for concern after losing two straight series to the A’s and Angels. But all is not lost since they have an opportunity to get the AL West lead back in an upcoming home series against Oakland.

9. Pittsburgh Pirates (82-61, 2nd in NL Central) – Pittsburgh is in a great position to grab a postseason berth this year. The only question is if they’ll be playing in a Wild Card game or grabbing a division title. If it’s going to be the latter, they’ll need to play better than they did recently, after being swept by St. Louis.

10. Tampa Bay Rays (78-64, 2nd in AL East) – The battle for the last Wild Card spot in the AL is going to be very competitive. Right now, Tampa Bay leads this race with a slim 1.5-game lead over Baltimore and Cleveland. But their postseason chances will be severely tested by Boston this week.

11. Baltimore Orioles (77-66, 3rd in AL East) – Can the Orioles hit enough homers to bat their way into the playoffs? A telling series against the Yankees this week will go a long ways towards answering this question.

12. Cleveland Indians (77-66, 2nd in AL Central) – The Indians will hope cleveland-indiansto take advantage of a favorable September schedule in their push for a Wild Card spot. Series against the Twins, White Sox and Astros should provide some wins. But what about the six games they play against the playoff-hungry Royals?

13. Kansas City Royals (75-69, 3rd in AL Central) – Don’t count Kansas City out of the postseason just yet. As just mentioned, they play Cleveland six times and also have Detroit and Texas coming up. This is certainly not an enviable schedule. But if KC can catch fire, maybe they’ll be a surprise postseason addition.

14. New York Yankees (76-68, 4th in AL East) – The last club with realistic playoff chances is the Yankees. Unfortunately, these chances just took a huge hit after Derek Jeter went down again with another ankle injury. Already dealing with a shaky bullpen, this injury definitely doesn’t help New York’s cause.

MLB Power Rankings for July 5th, 2013

jeff-lockeWe’re now at the halfway point in the 2013 MLB season and surprise has been a big theme this year. Picked by many to finish last in the NL Central, the Pittsburgh Pirates now have the best record in the Majors. The Oakland A’s have also exceeded expectations after posting 50 wins already and leading the AL West.

Of course, there have been some surprise struggles by teams that were supposed to be battling for division titles and a World Series appearance. The L.A. Angels (41-44), L.A. Dodgers (40-44), San Francisco Giants (39-45) and the Washington Nationals (43-42) definitely fit into this category. We won’t discuss these teams today, but we will cover the top 10 clubs in the MLB, as of July 5th, 2013.

1. Pittsburgh Pirates (52-32) – People have grown used to seeing Pittsburgh atop the standings….in football that is. But for the first time in over two decades, it’s the Pirates who are the talk of the Steel City. Looking at the stats, it’s not hard to see why Pittsburgh is the league’s best team so far. Their pitching has been outstanding, led by Jeff Locke (8-1, 2.12ERA) and Justin Wilson (7-1, 2.11ERA). Mark Melancon has been amazing in relief, posting numbers of 2-1, 0.87 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 41 innings. And let’s not forget about the defense either, which leads the MLB in efficiency.

2. Boston Red Sox (53-34) – Boston is now finding a little breathing room in the AL East after winning four straight games. Sure it took a sweep of the mediocre Padres to get here, but hey, wins are wins. And Clay Buchholz has been providing plenty of these, having gone 9-0 with a 1.71 ERA so far. Besides Buchholz and most of the bullpen, the rest of the staff has been average. Luckily, the Sox have been picked up by offense, with David Ortiz (.319 BA, 16HR) and Dustin Pedroia (.325, 13SB) leading the way.

carlos-beltran3. St. Louis Cardinals (50-34) – The Cardinals were leading all of baseball just a couple of weeks ago. However, that’s went out the window following a 2-6 stretch. Still St Louis has plenty to look forward to, including the seasons that Carlos Beltran (.309, 19HR), Yadier Molina (.351, 45RBI) and Allen Craig (.325, 10HR, 66RBI) are having. This club features the best top-to-bottom rotation too, led by Adam Wainwright (11-5, 2.36ERA).

4. Texas Rangers (49-36) – Texas may be slightly behind Oakland in the AL West, but based on talent alone, we have to put the Rangers here. Yu Darvish continues to be a strikeout machine (151SO in 111.1 IP) while Joe Nathan has been an excellent closer (28SV, 1.43ERA). Both Nelson Cruz (.269, 20HR) and Adrian Beltre (.304, 16HR) have provided the Rangers’ lineup with plenty of power.

5. Oakland Athletics (50-36) – The A’s performed well against the NL Central, racking up a 6-2 record against the Reds, Cubs and Cardinals. Now the trick will be finding a way to consistently repeat these kinds of stretches. For that to happen, Bartolo Colon (11-3, 2.78ERA) and Jerry Blevins (5-0, 3.00ERA) need more help in the starting rotation. Third baseman Josh Donaldson (.314, 14HR, 55RBI) continues to lead the battery.

julio-teheran6. Atlanta Braves (49-36) – The Braves have been comeback kids so far, rallying from behind 23 times to win. This kind of heart shows that Atlanta should do well with nerves come playoff time. Maybe they won’t have to come from behind quite as much now that Julio Teheran (6-4, 3.23ERA) has been playing so well. Teheran held a 1.95 ERA while striking out 37 and walking just four batters in 32.3 innings of work. Atlanta has the best bullpen in baseball, with Luis Avilan (2-0, 1.59 ERA) leading the way.

7. Baltimore Orioles (48-38) – Chris Davis continues to have an amazing season with a .331 BA, 32 HR’s and 83 RBI’s. The Orioles fielding has also been excellent, having only been outdone by the Royals (statistically). That just leaves the pitching, which is the only thing holding Baltimore back from being a true contender. Darren O’Day (4-0, 2.19ERA) and Chris Tillman (10-2, 3.89ERA) have been bright spots, but the bullpen has largely struggled for this club.

8. Cincinnati Reds (49-36) – After going 12-15 in June, the Reds have fallen 5-1/2 games behind Pittsburgh in the NL Central. Seeing as how they also have St. Louis to contend with, Cincinnati needs a strong July or they could be left out of the postseason. Joey Votto (.323, 14HR) and Jay Bruce (.275, 18HR) are doing their best to get the Reds back on track. Unfortunately, noted starters Bronson Arroyo (7-6, 3.50ERA) and Homer Bailey (5-6, 3.57ERA) have struggled to produce wins from the mound.

max-scherzer9. Detroit Tigers (46-38) – The big story for Detroit right now is Max Scherzer, who ran his record to 13-0 with a victory over Toronto. Unfortunately, he’s been the only story from a pitching perspective because the bullpen has been inconsistent at best. The Tigers have also hit terribly on the road, since the team batting average drops by 50 points away from Comerica Park. And this despite Miguel Cabreara (.364, 26HR, 85RBI) being in the lineup.

10. Cleveland Indians (45-40) – Cleveland remains in the AL Central picture just behind Detroit. And they can give a large thanks to Justin Masterson (10-6, 3.48ERA), who just pitched his league-leading third shutout. The Indians could use a couple more strong starters throughout the rotation though. The bullpen has definitely been a strength for the Indians, with Joe Smith (4-0, 2.01ERA) leading the charge.

MLB Power Rankings for April 30th, 2013

david-ortizIn the last Major League Baseball power rankings that we ran, nobody had played more than a couple of games, which made it difficult to gauge where teams were headed. However, a month is now down in the 2013 MBL season, and we’ve had time to get a little more accurate perspective on who’s for real this year.

Interestingly enough, some of the early season favorites have struggled out of the gate, with the L.A. Dodgers (12-13) and L.A. Angels (9-16) both falling short of expectations thus far. They certainly won’t be appearing in our top 10 this week, but the following teams will.

1. Boston Red Sox (18-7) – It’s been a season of streaks for Boston since they won seven games in a row earlier and are now on a five-game win streak. Clay Buchholz (5-0, 1.19 ERA) and Jon Lester (4-0, 2.27 ERA) have been the league’s best 1-2 starting combo this year. But there is cause for concern with the rest of the staff since it’s been average at best. The batting lineup doesn’t give opposing pitchers any break, and David Ortiz’s (.516 BA, 11 RBI) return from injury has only made the best team in baseball that much better.

yu-darvish2. Texas Rangers (16-9) – Nobody has pitched better in 2013 than the Texas starters. The Rangers’ staff boasts a 3.02 ERA, which is tops in the league. Yu Darvish (4-1, 1.65 ERA), Nicholas Tepesch (2-1, 2.53 ERA) and Justin Grimm (2-0, 1.59 ERA) have all been outstanding and are the biggest reason why Texas leads the AL West. On offense, Lance Berkman (.319 BA, .933 OPS) has shined with his new team; but some of the other hitters like David Murphy (.176 BA, .524 OPS) leave something to be desired.

3. Detroit Tigers (14-10) – There are some signs of life in the defending AL champions as they’ve now won four straight games. Anibal Sanchez (3-1, 1.34 ERA) has been one of the best pitchers in baseball while the offense is doing fairly well too. Miguel Cabrera (.375 BA, .992 OPS) and Torii Hunter (.375 BA, .917 OPS) have been outstanding, but they really need some help from Andy Dirks (.167 BA, .468 OPS) and Alex Avila (.169 BA, .490 OPS).

chris-johnson-braves4. Atlanta Braves (16-9) Following a disappointing sweep at the hands of the Detroit Tigers, Atlanta no longer has the league’s best record – although they do still top the NL. And they’ve gone just 3-7 over the past 10 games. But there’s certainly no reason for panic because the Braves feature two of baseball’s best hitters in Justin Upton (12HR, 1.171 OPS) and Chris Johnson, who’s hitting a torrid .387 so far. The bullpen has also been dominant with a league-leading 2.18 ERA.

5. New York Yankess (15-10) – The Yankees are currently going through some injury issues right now, but they’re still playing fairly well. Bright spots include starter Andy Pettite (3-1, 2.22 ERA) and closer Mariano Rivera (1.80 ERA, 9-for-9 SV). New York has also featured a solid batting lineup, led by Robinson Cano (.316 BA, .986 OPS), Travis Hafner (.305 BA, 1.117 OPS) and Vernon Wells (.294 BA, .911 OPS).

starling-marte6. Pittsburgh Pirates (15-11) – Pittsburgh has been the early season’s biggest surprise after ascending to the NL Central’s top spot. They’ve gone 14-6 after a rough 1-5 start and have mainly pulled this off through good pitching. A.J. Burnett (2-2, 2.83 ERA) is doing a solid job, as is Jeff Locke (3-1, 2.83 ERA). The only major weakness – and it’s a big one – has been Jonathan Sanchez (0-3, 12.71 ERA). On offense, 24-year-old Starling Marte (.323 BA, 7SB) has really stepped up and given the Pirates a spark.

7. Baltimore Orioles (15-11) – The Orioles have played strong at both home (7-5) and the road (8-6). Baltimore can give a big thanks to their hitters since the team is second in baseball with 129 runs scored. Going further, Adam Jones (4HR, 9RBI) and Chris David (9HR, 28RBI) have been a fearsome 1-2 punch over the first month. The only reason why the Orioles haven’t won more games is due to subpar starting pitching. Jake Arrieta was demoted after a poor start and the Orioles are currently searching for a reliable number five starter.

pat-corbin8. Arizona Diamondbacks (15-11) – Although a game behind the Rockies right now in the West, we like Arizona’s young emerging squad. First baseman Paul Goldschmidt (.305, .923 OPS) has looked really good while pitchers Pat Corbin (3-0, 1.91 ERA) and Wade Miley (2-0, 2.37 ERA) have helped give the Diamonbacks a solid rotation. However, Brandon McCarthy (0-3, 7.48 ERA) is really going to need to step up his play.

9. Washington Nationals (13-13) – This is not the ideal start for a team which most people thought was the best in the National League. A lack of offense has been detrimental so far with cleanup hitter Adam LaRoche (.135 BA, .480 OPS) epitomizing these struggles. Anthony Rendon (.200 BA) hasn’t done too well either after replacing the injured Ryan Zimmerman at third base. But as expected, the pitching staff has held things together with a collective 3.63 ERA.

10. Colorado Rockies (16-10) – The Rockies bolted out to a hot start and and still remain atop the NL West. However, their starting pitching has come back down to earth lately and Colorado has only gone 4-6 over the past 10 contents. But there’s also plenty to be excited about since this team gets staff ace Jhoulys Chacin back from injury. Plus the offense is leading the league with 127 runs scored and has smacked a collective 32 home runs.

MLB Power Rankings for April 3rd, 2013

Justin VerlanderThe 2013 Major League Baseball season has officially begun, which means that we finally get to see some meaningful baseball played for the first since last October. At this point, many people are predicting that the Detroit Tigers will be on top of the baseball world when the season’s over. However, there are definitely some other hungry teams that are hoping to prove the experts wrong. This being said, let’s take a closer look at these contenders as the 2013 MLB season begins.

1. Detroit Tigers (1-0) – Nothing went right for the Tigers in the World Series after being swept 4-0 by the Giants. However, Detroit looks prepared to make sure that doesn’t happen this year since their team is stacked. They signed ace Justin Verlander to a five-year, $180 million contract extension, and have added Victor Martinez and Tori Hunter to an already-solid batting lineup. These two, along with AL MVP Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder, should give opposing pitchers fits all season.

2. Washington Nationals (1-0) – The main mission for the Nationals will be keeping their stars healthy – namely staff ace Stephen Stasburg and Bryce Harper. The bullpen looks especially strong for Washington since they brought in closer Rafael Soriano to complement current closer Drew Storen and long-reliever Tyler Clippard. Once again, if the Nationals’ pitching avoids injuries, look for this team to come out of the National League.

matt-kemp3. Los Angeles Dodgers (1-1) – Did we say to watch for Washington to come out of the NL? Well Los Angeles will have something to say about this – especially with their dangerous 3-4-5 hitting rotation of Adrian Gonzalez, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier. The Dodgers won’t have to simply rely on home runs to bring them victories either because they feature a potent 1-2 pitching combo of Zach Grienke and Clayton Kershaw.

4. Los Angeles Angels (1-0) – The Dodgers aren’t the only game in town this year because the Angles should also have a stellar team. A year after winning the AL Rookie of the Year, Mike Trout should compete for the AL MVP award. L.A. added Josh Hamilton to an already tough lineup that includes Albert Pujols and Mark Trumbo. The bullpen could use some work, but the Angels do have good starting pitching, beginning with Jered Weaver.

5. Atlanta Braves (1-0) – As usual, the Braves figure to be in the NL mix once again, led by young outfielders Jason Heyward and B.J. Upton. These two should more than make up the retired Chipper Jones and his missing hitting production. The pitching will be lead by Kris Medlen and Tim Hudson, and Brandon Beachy is expected to strengthen the rotation when he returns from injury.

tim-lincecum6. San Francisco Giants (1-1) – Tim Lincecum headlines the defending World Champion Giants’ rotation as the 2013 MLB season opens. And he’ll be joined by Madison Bumgarner and Matt Cain, which should be one very formidable trio. Unfortunately, there are question marks for San Francisco, beginning with the offense. Sure they have reigning NL MVP Buster Posey; however, there’s not a lot of parts to place around him. And if Sergio Romo doesn’t come through, the Giants could have some major closer troubles.

7. Texas Rangers (1-1) – The loss of Josh Hamilton is definitely a blow to the Rangers’ hitting. However, the cupboard is hardly bare because Ian Kinsler, Adrian Beltre and David Murphy will provide quite an offensive punch. As for pitching, watch out for Matt Harrison and Yu Darvish, who could become huge stars this season. Joe Nathan will provide these two with strong support out of the bullpen.

joey-votto8. Cincinnati Reds (0-1) – There’s no question that the Reds will feature one of the strongest batting lineups in all of baseball. Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Jay Bruce and Ryan Ludwick anchor a very potent attack for Cincinnati. Plus the team picked up Shin-Soo Choo in free agency, and he’ll be making the switch from right field to center this season. Johnny Cueto and Mat Lutos give the Reds two very good starting pitchers, while Aroldis Chapman is a solid closer.

9. Arizona Diamondbacks (1-1) – Arizona upgraded their lineup by adding Martin Prado this offseason. He’ll join Jason Kubel, Paul Goldschmidt, Cody Ross and Aaron Hill on the field. And just think how good the Diamondbacks will be when they get centerfielder Adam Eaton back from injury. This team has several quality starting pitchers too, led by Brandon McCarthy and Ian Kennedy.

10. St. Louis Cardinals (1-1) – The Cardinals aren’t a team that’s filled with big names. But as they proved with last year’s NL Championship appearance, this club is definitely capable of winning. And St. Louis is more prepared than anyone else if the injury bug bites because they have such a deep team. The biggest star on the Cardinals should be staff ace Adam Wainwright, while the entire rotation will be fairly decent overall.