Friday, May 2, 2008

Weekly Power Rankings - Lots of New Faces!

After a week and a half of baseball action, it’s time once again for the weekly power rankings. We’ve got some new teams this season to the rankings and some perennial charting teams that are disappointingly missing from the list. (World Champion Cincinnati Reds, Chicago White Sox, AL Champ Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston Red Sox) Things have gone so wonky this season that the New York Mets and their free agent frenzy almost made the list.

Current Rank (Previous Rank)

1. (1) Philadelphia Phillies: Season 23-13, Past Week -
Hello again, old friend. Led by the usual suspects, Jake Clapp and Del Wilhelm, the Phillies once again have one of the most devastating offenses while also having a capable pitching staff. It’s hard to imagine this offense being scarier, but it might have just happened with the recent acquisition of Rafael Nieves, provided he can return to form. Expect the Phils to make another serious title run.

2. (7) Kansas City Royals: Season 24-12, Past Week -
Incredibly, there is a team that has scored more runs than the Phillies. With DH Al Perez and last season’s home run derby champ Danny Alexander doing the most damage, the Royals are scoring runs at a mind boggling rate. On top of that, their pitchers also have the second best ERA in the American League. Royals fans will have no reason to sing the blues watching their team this season.

3. (NR) Charlotte Knights: Season 25-11, Past Week -
Charlotte, welcome to the power rankings! Our first new addition has stormed out of the gate this season with the best record in baseball. After an off-year last season, Jose Mondesi has returned to his previous form and has led this offense into becoming the second most productive in the AL. Their unconventional pitching rotation is once again led by the dynamic Turner Mordecai and is currently the league’s third best unit. It seems that Kansas City and Charlotte are destined to be fighting for this division late into the season.

4. (3) Arizona Diamondbacks: Season 21 - 15, Past Week -
The Diamondbacks have been a fixture near the top of these rankings mostly as a result of their tremendous pitching. This unit is once again second in the league in ERA, but this time they are much closer to the pack. Surprisingly, it is their offense this season that has kept them in the Top 5. The D’backs have done it with a well-balanced, timely attack without any MVP candidates and currently sit #2 in the league in runs scored. If the offense can sustain this pace, this team will be extremely tough when the pitching lives up to its potential.

5. (NR) Seattle Mariners: Season 24 -12, Past Week -
Our second new addition to the rankings comes as a big surprise as the M’s have yet to finish a season over .500. The offense has played small ball to near perfection as Karl Turner has proven to be a great addition to this team and Richard Ishii is finally performing as he has been expected to. While it was veteran Freddy Alston who got the massive free agent contract, it has been Fred Rolle, Rob Tolberg, and Diego Ibarra that have pitched brilliantly to lead the rotation. The Mariners look like they have figured things out this season and will be in the hunt in what appears to be the current toughest division in all of baseball.

6. (NR) Portland Beavers: Season 23-13, Past Week -
The Pacific Northwest appears to be the new hotbed of divisional rivalry as the Beavers are right on the heals of the Mariners in the standings and on this list. Their improved offense is again led by Bobby Dawkins and sits in the middle of the pack in the AL. The pitching is what drives this team and earns them their place here with their league leading ERA. While the starters have been above average, it is the Beaver bullpen that has been spectacular and far and away the best unit in baseball. This team will be a force to be reckoned with because once they get a lead, they do not give it up easily.

7. (NR) St. Louis Cardinals: Season 22-14, Past Week -
The Cardinals make their first appearance on the chart surrounded by a cloud of suspicion. While their regular stars are performing as expected (Dee Bolling, Chad Seabol, and closer Pedro Cabrera), there have been a few raised eyebrows about the surprising seasons by shortstop Kordell Daneker and starter Jordan Barrett. Their opponents have been petitioning the commissioner’s office for increased drug testing, but if the Cardinals are clean, they appear to be on the right track for their first division title.

8. (10) Anaheim Angels: Season 20-16, Past Week -
The Angels return to the power rankings from the shocking position of last place in the fierce new look AL West. With DH extraordinaire Darryl Whitaker sidelined for the entire season, it seems that the trade of Karl Turner to their division rival has proved quite costly. Fortunately a savior has arrived in Travis Murphy, hallowed be thy name. So far, he is turning AL pitching into his own personal batting practice exhibition. Will this youngster be able to carry this team to a third straight division title? Time will tell.

Ed. Note: Seeing what Murphy is doing this season leads to the question, when will we see his Pound (VA) High School teammate, Dee Dee Hutton, doing similar damage to NL pitching?

9. (NR) Pittsburgh Pirates: Season 20-16, Past Week -
Pittsburgh arrives on the list courtesy of a new act that is bound to keep Pirate fans entertained for years to come, The Clyde Redmond Show. This incredible talent will be confounding NL pitchers for many years as they will be unable to keep him from reaching base safely at an alarming rate. Combined with the powerful James Sherman, the Bucs have quite the dynamic duo. The pitching, led by the steady Tris Breen, is in the middle of the pack of NL staffs. Lacking depth on the offense and the pitching, the Pirates likely don’t have a long playoff run in them this season, but they certainly have some pieces to build around.

10. (NR) Montreal Expos: Season 19-17, Past Week -
After two sub par seasons, the Expos are giving Montreal residents something to get excited about other than the next hockey season. Bernard Springer is one of the best hitters alive but unfortunately the grind of the baseball season is hell on this poorly conditioned “athlete.” If he could play everyday, this team would get a huge boost in the standings and he would likely take home MVP hardware, but as that is not the case, they will have to scrap and claw to stay on top of this division. Fortunately, that task will be made easier by Kareem Hamilton, who seems to have finally figured out how to pitch in this league and is having a spectacular season. If Springer goes on a tear, this team could be tough in the playoffs, as the offense firmly rests on his shoulders.

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