Monday, November 24, 2008

Season 5 Power Rankings - 2nd Edition

1. (1) Montreal Expos, 51-32: Kevin Marte leads the NL's most devastating offensive unit, which is the driving force of this team. Their otherwise average pitching staff has a couple of top flight starters in Andres Cedeno and J. P. Taveras. The Expos hope to erase last season's playoff disappointment by raising more than a divisional banner this season.

2. (18) Charlotte Knights, 51-32: Turner Mordecai continues to be the MVP of this team as their high workload reliever who has pitched a spectacular season. On offense, the usual suspects of Jose Mondesi, Adam Martin, and B.C. Javier send balls out of Knights Castle too often for opposing pitcher's tastes. The Knights appear headed for a repeat division title, but their ultimate goals lie deeper into October.

3. (2) Anaheim Angels, 48-35: The power numbers have been there for the season's Angels, but mysteriously everyone seems to be hitting below their previous averages. Perhaps no longer have master leadoff man Contreras on base disrupting the pitchers has hurt this team more than they imagined? For the pitching staff, their is a new ace in town as Fernando Dotel has clearly emerged as the team's dominant starter and former Cy Young Haywood Charles has slipped a bit. Count on seeing this team making another serious October run.

4. (7) Philadelphia Phillies, 47-36: With Pedro Garrido hitting like an MVP and Darren Chance pitching like a Cy Young winner, the Phillies look like a very tough defending champ. The only possible weakness for this squad is the bullpen with their excessive amount of blown saves (17 in 41 opportunities). The Phillies appear poised for a serious title defense.

5. (10) Portland Beavers, 48-35: One of the most balanced star-free offenses is performing again with 9 players between 10-19 homers. The pitcher friendly confines of PGE Park also helps the Beaver staff with these season's prime beneficiaries being Nelson Stockton and Adam Anderson. This team is in prime shape to take either the division or a wild card.

6. (28) San Diego Padres, 48-35: The Padres has taken full advantage of the pitching friendly confines of Petco Park as they have had the most dominant pitching staff in baseball. Meanwhile the offense has been one of the league's lowest ranked units with free agent pick-up Shea Keefe being the only All-Star in the lineup. The NL West race should be a tight one for the rest of the season as no team appears to be a clear favorite.

7. (11) Cincinnati Reds, 47-36: The Douglas Carpenter era in Cincinnati has begun as he is the team's offensive superstar in a power packed offense. On the mound, Scot Pickford has been mowing them down with extreme regularity. His biggest obstacle to taking Cy Young honors is his lack of run support. This annual playoff participant is most likely looking at another wild card thanks to the Expos.

8. (23) Oakland Athletics, 48-35: With the lowest payroll in baseball, the A's would have to be the biggest surprise of the season. Their offense is full of solid contributors, but not a single All-Star. Their pitching has done well and includes a couple of All-Stars in starter Dave Hayes and closer Craig Evans. Can they hang with their more experienced division rivals or will they fade down the stretch? Either way, there is definitely optimism about the future in Oakland.

9. (12) Los Angeles Dodgers, 47-36: This team is all about the pitching, led by veteran Alex Kubinski, who while healthy has been absolutely brilliant. With young arms Alvin Sasser and Buck Barry, the Dodgers look to have a formidable playoff trio. As long as their collection of low OBP sluggers can keep the balls flying out of the yard, the Dodgers are going to stay in an intense NL West race.

10. (17) Seattle Mariners, 46-37: James Hutton is having a superstar season already saving 33 games in 35 opportunities. The excellent starting pitching keeps the team in every game, despite a mediocre offense with no stars. Thanks to the AL West being the strongest division in baseball, the Mariners currently sit in last place, 2 games out for their division or a wild card.

11. (6) Kansas City Royals, 44-39: The Royals have displayed a well balanced team with Danny Alexander and Al Perez putting up their usual impressive numbers on offense. The pitching has done consistently well, led by perenial Cy Young candidate Patrick Rivera. However, with the Knights in their division, the Royals will likely have to fight with all the AL West teams for a wild card.

12. (14) San Francisco Giants, 45-38: Jake Clapp's leadership has been instrumental in keeping this team in the hunt. With Clapp, Jolbert Romero, Casey O'Donnell, and Cristobal Marquez providing big-time offensively, the middle of the NL pack pitching staff has been able to keep this team successful.

13. (21) Washington DC Nationals, 44-39: The pitching has been brilliant in DC this season and continues to be so with the arrival of Estaban Marquez. If new arrival Hayes Swann can get going and help the weak offense, the Nats will have a shot at catching the Phillies.

14. (20) Chicago Cubs, 46-37: Julio Martin and Tony Masao have been the only standouts in a mediocre lineup, so it has been the solid pitching that has kept this team in the hunt. In a division with the Expos, a repeat wild card bid is the most realistic option.

15. (15) New York Mets, 44-39: Night after night, the Mets starting pitching has been putting them in a good position to win. With Walt Hernandez leading the way, the staff is one of the league's better units and has them nipping at the heels of the mighty Phillies.

16. (13) Texas Rangers, 43-40: After two seasons of big ticket free agent signings and some key trades, the Rangers are once again playoff caliber after their major overhaul in Season 2. Veteran pitchers Bollea and Flannagan are doing well as are big hitters David Zurbaran and Chris Mullens.

17. (32) Cleveland Indians, 43-40: With no major stars, but a collection of solid performers, the Indians have steadily risen from the depths of the AL to take the division lead. With divisional play coming soon, we shall see if the Indians turnaround is ready to take them to their first division title.

18T. (8) Minnesota Twins, 41-42: The addition of former MVP Valerio Guillen has provided a boost to the offense. The Twins issue is that besides Rico Herrera and Branch Vitiello, the pitching has been awful. The Twins have a fight ahead of them to earn their 3rd straight division crown.

18T. (16) Detroit Tigers, 41-42: Led by the premier young centerfielder in the game, Damian Chen, the offense has been strong. Outside of young starter Brian Clemens and veteran closer Earl Patterson, the pitching has not faired nearly as well. The AL North looks to be a tight race to the finish.

20. (22) Boston Red Sox, 41-42: Marlon Swift is crushing the ball and putting up MVP caliber power numbers, but so are opposing hitters when facing Boston pitchers not named Chico Guzman or Juan Machado. But in a weak AL East, the Red Sox are in the middle of a pennant race.

21. (4) New York Yankees, 41-42: Yankee management is scrambling to stop the downward spiral for a team that roared out of the gate 24-10 with the best record in the league and has since gone 17-32. All the stars on this team have been on offense as Sutton, Cunningham, Myers, and Jefferson have been great.

22. (9) Atlanta Braves, 40-43: Dee Dee Hutton and Dan Guerrero have slipped a bit from last season's spectacular performance. However the biggest issue with this team is that outside of the Big Three, there is no one that has provided any offense. Additionally, the pitching staff has not performed up to expectations and is in the lower half of the NL. With all that said, the Braves are in 1st Place. Go NL South!

23. (5) Florida Marlins, 39-44: While he stands on the mound, it doesn't get much better than Victor Lima. Meanwhile Doug Stewart appears headed back to the limelight after his rookie heroics in the World Series as he is on the verge of becoming a major star and thanks to the weakest division in the game, the Marlins are in the heat of a pennant race.

24. (3) Arizona Diamondbacks, 40-43: Pascual Martin and Robinson Jerzembeck have been superb leaders of the offense. Pitching was the dominant strength of this team for their 4 straight division titles and this season as they are on the verge of having that streak ended, pitching has become the weakness of this squad.

25. (26) Pittsburgh Pirates, 38-45: Redmond, McNeil, and Sherman continue to put up impressive offensive numbers. The crop of good young pitchers, led by Orlando Guerrero, give some hope for the future.

26. (30) Houston Astros, 32-51: Campbell and Ortiz have helped put runs on the scoreboard and the starting pitching has done well. Unfortunately, the Astro bullpen has been atrocious.

27. (19) Toronto Blue Jays, 35-48: J.J. Perez, Sammy Rincon, and Rick Melhuse have had another excellent season. However, the main issue is that outside of Martin Kielty and Wade Forster, the Blue Jay pitching has looked like batting practice.

28. (27) St. Louis Cardinals, 33-50: Starter Alvin Hynes has had a great rookie season, but has been surrounded by underperforming teammates.

29. (24) Baltimore Orioles, 32-51: Aging catcher Ralph Levine and young centerfielder Steven Miller have done well, but there hasn't been enough help around them to translate into victories.

30. (29) Milwaukee Brewers, 30-53: Dunn and Vitiello have been a solid 1-2 starting combo, but with little run or bullpen support, Brewer victories have been scarce.

31. (31) Tampa Bay Rays, 30-53: Rule 5 pick-up Dustan Kelly has been a bright spot in an otherwise dismal season in Tampa.

32. (25) Chicago White Sox, 25-58: Todd Winchester has had a great season, but unfortunately no one else on the ML roster has.

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