Another week, another period of domination for the juggernaut in Phily. However the big news this week revolves around slugger Max Ortiz. His failed trade to the Anaheim Angels has led to that front office scrambling for something else and multiple death threats for Alex Sanchez. Meanwhile, the Orioles swoop in and give away a big piece of their future, most notably stud shortstop Cliff Rivers, for the high-priced slugger.
Current Rank (Previous Rank)
1. (1) Philadelphia Phillies: Season 39-17, Past Week 16-4
Rafael Nieves has stepped right into the lineup and provided another weapon to scare opposing pitchers. Other than a 4 game split with the surging Expos, the Phillies steamrolled the competition this week and continue to look nearly invincible.
2. (2) Kansas City Royals: Season 37-19, Past Week 13-7
The offense just keeps on rolling as DH Al Perez continues his triple crown threat season. When you throw in the 1-2 punch of Cy Young candidates in Patrick Rivera and Stephen Fischer, the Royals have the look of fierce title contenders. Early in the week, it looked like the Royals might actually take the top spot but ending the week losing 3 of 4 at home to Cleveland put a big halt on that ascension.
3. (3) Charlotte Knights: Season 36-20, Past Week 11-9
Considering the fact that the Knights only played one winning team this week, the Boston Red Sox who swept them in 3 games, the week was a bit of a disappoint for a team in this position. We shall see how interleague play treats the Knights this coming week and if they can hold their place in the list.
4. (7) St. Louis Cardinals: Season 35-21, Past Week 13-7
After passing all the surprise drug tests the commissioner’s office could throw at them, the Cardinals just kept on their winning ways, with their only blemish for the week being a 2-1 series loss to Arizona. Besides the clean tests, suspicions have died down as their surprising performers have come down to earth while Dee Bolling and Chad Seabol continue to compete for an MVP. The Redbirds appear to have finally arrived this season and look to be real contenders.
5. (10) Montreal Expos: Season 33-23, Past Week 14-6
The Expos had a great week led by the league’s top pitching staff and one of the better producing offenses. With their youngsters performing brilliantly and even Marcus Kipling earning his paycheck, the Expos are the team to beat in the NL North. As their impressive 4 game split with the mighty Phils reveals, the Expos have the weapons to compete late into October.
6T. (5) Seattle Mariners: Season 34-22, Past Week 10-10
The Mariners week was a mixed bag. They looked good in taking 4 of 7 from the Red Sox and only losing 2-1 to the hot Royals, but to end the week losing 3 of 4 to the youngsters in Minnesota in my book drops them down so that they are in a tie on this list and in the standings with their division rivals in Portland.
6T. (6) Portland Beavers: Season 34-22, Past Week 11-9
The Beaver pitching continues to impress and has lead to the Beavers tie with their rivals in Seattle. The Beavers were also struck by a bit of inconsistency, preventing them from jumping ahead. A 3-1 series loss at Kansas City was followed by a Tampa sweep and a 2-1 series win at home versus the Royals. Ending the week with a 2-1 loss to the last place Orioles and a 4 game split with the disappointing White Sox does not yield much confidence.
8. (NR) San Francisco Giants: Season 33-23, Past Week 13-7
It was a great week for the rankings newest arrival from Frisco. Other than the week opening series loss to the Expos, the Giants took care of all opposition en route to their first ever division lead. Pitching has been the team’s strength and none have been better than rookie of the year candidate, George Bush. The Giants face a tough test in the coming week with interleague play against the very strong AL West. Will they be on the countdown for the long haul?
9. (4) Arizona Diamondbacks: Season 32 - 24, Past Week 11-9
After the first rankings came out, I realized that the D’backs had really gotten their ranking on the basis of past performance. So this week, they drop down to where they deserve to be for this season as their pitching, while still strong, has been much more inconsistent. With Felipe Tejada coming back off the 15-day DL this week, perhaps he can return to form and help to right this ship.
10. (NR) Boston Red Sox: Season 33-23, Past Week 12-8
The inconsistency of the Red Sox pitching is keeping them down this season. Outside of the impressive Jeff Bollea and the steady Gordon Wilson, the Sox have had no idea what kind of start they were going to get from game to game. It will be interesting to see what the blockbuster deal with the Nationals does to each franchise.
NR (9) Pittsburgh Pirates: Season 28-28, Past Week 8-12
Their lack of depth has caught up to them, but the pieces are being assembled for future seasons on this list.
NR (10) Anaheim Angels: Season 30-26, Past Week 10-10
After the Ortiz deal fell through, the Angels front office has been hard at work and has now struck a deal to bring Aaron Holliday over from Milwaukee instead. Will this new deal kick start this team back up the rankings?