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MLB Power Rankings: Brewers making noise

Apr 17, 2014, 1:16 PM EST

Photo by USA Today Photo by USA Today

Here is our first installment of MLB Power Rankings featuring thoughts on each team from Mark Zuckerman, Chase Hughes and myself, Steve Roney:

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1. Atlanta Braves - Zuckerman: If only they could play the Nationals every single night.

2. Oakland Athletics – Roney: Who would’ve thought trading for a closer wouldn’t work out? Taste of your own medicine, Billy?

3. Milwaukee Brewers – Hughes: The Brewers are the early surprise in Major League Baseball. Their MLB-best 2.17 team ERA suggests they are no fluke.

4. St. Louis Cardinals – Hughes: Their offense is off to a slow start, but who needs runs when you have Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha?

5. San Francisco Giants – Roney: I’m just going to leave this right here, Nats fans: Pablo Sandoval has had both hamate bones removed, one each in 2011 and 2012. Total HR since the start of 2012: 28.

6. Los Angeles Dodgers – Roney: The way Dee Gordon is playing (1.006 OPS, 10 SBs), they may not need Alex Guerrero to do any sort of Puig impression midseason. That’s a very good thing.

7. Washington Nationals – Zuckerman: If only they never had to play the Braves.

8. Detroit Tigers – Hughes: The Tigers are second to last in the majors in runs scored (42) and have a lineup that features only three players under the age of 31. We’ll see if that catches up to them.

9. Toronto Blue Jays - Zuckerman: Buehrle off to a dominant start, would be a huge boon for Jays after disappointing ’13.

10. New York Yankees – Zuckerman: Can they actually win with an infield of Johnson, Solarte, Anna and Sizemore?

11. Chicago White Sox – Hughes: MLB’s best offense so far, the White Sox could be the real deal with rookie Jose Abreu in the middle of their lineup.

12. Baltimore Orioles – Zuckerman: Tillman: Great so far. Rest of rotation: Umm…

13. Seattle Mariners – Roney: The new second baseman (Cano) is working out pretty well – might the old one (Ackley) finally be turning the Alex Gordon/Eric Hosmer corner?

14. Texas Rangers – Roney: Ron Washington has to be on the hottest seat in MLB, right? Unlucky for him, this might be the worst rotation of his tenure.

15. Tampa Bay Rays - Zuckerman: Tommy John surgery for Moore. Just a punch in the gut for Tampa Bay.

16. Pittsburgh Pirates – Hughes: The NL Central will be tough this year, but once they get Andrew McCutchen going, they’ll be fine.

17. Colorado Rockies – Roney: Charlie Blackmon: April flash in the pan du jour, or another example of the age-27 breakout?

18. New York Mets – Zuckerman: Terry Collins somehow gets more from his guys than anyone expects.

19. Boston Red Sox – Zuckerman: Too early to panic, but they need to get it going soon.

20. Cleveland Indians - Hughes: 26-year-old starter Zach McCallister could be in line for a breakout year. Through three starts he is 2-0 with a 2.04 ERA.

21. Cincinnati Reds – Hughes: Despite their losing record, the Reds have to be encouraged by Joey Votto’s start to the season. He’s hitting .327 and has four homers, nine RBI and a 1.062 OPS.

22. Los Angeles Angels – Roney: Stop me if you’ve read this before, but Josh Hamilton is on the DL. SO much fun debating which of their albatross contracts is the worst…

23. San Diego Padres – Roney: When the Rizzo-for-Cashner trade went down two years ago, I thought Josh Byrnes was playing Kevin McHale to Epstein’s Danny Ainge. Now, I love it for The Friars.

24. Philadelphia Phillies – Zuckerman: They can’t even take advantage of a brilliant start by Lee.

25. Minnesota Twins – Hughes: The Twins are in last place in the AL Central at 6-7. This could be the deepest division in baseball behind the AL East.

26. Kansas City Royals – Hughes: The Royals are once again seeing inconsistency from their starting rotation. It has held them back for years, and appears to be a problem once again.

27. Miami Marlins – Zuckerman: Bullpen is killing them right now.

28. Chicago Cubs – Zuckerman: The Cubs are in their third season under the leadership of Theo Epstein and seem to be making zero progress. At least Anthony Rizzo is off to a nice start.

29. Houston Astros – Hughes: The Astros just called up top prospect George Springer, a slugging outfielder who nearly pulled off a 40-40 season in the minors. He’s a favorite for Rookie of the Year.

30. Arizona Diamondbacks – Roney: League-leading 6 HRs, .196 AVG, .250 OBP. Yup, that’s who Mark Trumbo is.

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  1. Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 17, 2014 at 1:33 PM

    Only surprise is the Brewers and can their starting pitching continue? Since June 1st of 2013, Kyle Lohse is the 4th best pitcher in the Majors in ERA. Remember that guy Kyle Lohse? He doesn’t throw mid-90′s

    • Section 222 - Apr 17, 2014 at 4:17 PM

      Signing him would have meant giving up a draft pick, but yes, we know you think Rizzo should have pulled the trigger on that one. No doubt he would have been better than Dan Haren. And probably better than Roark or Jordan too.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 17, 2014 at 4:22 PM

        Gave up a pick for Soriano anyway but the risk with Lohse was a 3 to 4 year deal but short-term return could have been enough over the negative from Haren to make playoffs in 2013. I like the Fister deal and hope he can contribute.

      • Section 222 - Apr 17, 2014 at 5:06 PM

        Well aware of your position. At the time, Rizzo thought Haren on a one year deal was the better fit. I’m pretty sure you thought that was a pretty good signing at the time too. In retrospect, it was an awful signing, no disagreement there.

        Rizzo seemed to learn a lesson from two consecutive failed free agent signings and went for Fister this year. We all thought that was a great move too, and it probably was, if he ever gets healthy enough to actually, you know, pitch.

  2. adcwonk - Apr 17, 2014 at 1:40 PM

    Hey all, I’m back – did I miss anything? ;-)

    Wonk’s Thursday’s Thidbits

    Extending the stats that MZ noted in the prior post:

    Innings 1-3, Nats losing 33-15, ERA of 6.60, BA .240
    Innings 4-6, Nats winning 24-19, ERA 3.20, BA .264
    Innings 7-9, Nats winning 34-11, ERA 1.50 BA .297
    (Extra innings, Nats winning 4-3)
    I guess we’d be close to undefeated if we could just start the game in the 4th inning?

    Nats had a team SLG of .810 on Monday night (and OPS of 1.219). They are third in batting, and lead the lead in SLG and runs per game. (If it weren’t for the ERA which is 9th . . . ). Dead last in stolen bases. Tied for last (with Miami) with most errors, despite playing one fewer game.

    Cliff Lee lost 1-0 while pitching a complete game and throwing 13 K’s. The last person to do that was . . . Cliff Lee last year. Cliff Lee is 2-5 in games with the Phils in which he has 12+ K’s. In the meantime, Teheran was the _ninth_ Braves starter (in only 14 games) to allow one run or less in his outing. (And starters haven’t allowed more than three earned runs in any game this season)

    At the beginning of the week, one could say: The Brewers and Nationals have only seven losses combined, and they’re all against the Braves.

    The Brewers scored two runs on a strikeout.

    Nyjer Morgan (.348 in nine games) was optioned to Triple-A.

    Poor Bo Porter. Tuesday night the Astros started seven (seven!) guys in his lineup that had a BA of under .200 (and that included the DH!!)

    Johnny Cueto, what a lame performance last night. He was called out _twice_ for interference. (Umm, yeah, and there was that 9-inning, 3 hit, 0 BB, 12K shutout he threw, too).

    Tanaka throws another brilliant game. He’s the second pitcher in the modern era to start his career with 3 8+ K games. (Strasburg, of course, is the other – and he did it in four straight).

    Ryan Braun for the season has 0 HR and only 3 RBI (if you exclude April 8).

    The Rangers won after being down 2-1 with two outs and nobody on in the ninth. The rest of the inning: single off the SS glove, a walk, a grounder to SS and a throwing error. Everybody safe. Then: a wild pitch to tie the game, followed by a walk-off single. Their fourth walk off win of the young season.

    The White Sox, after 13 innings, ran out of pitchers. So they turned to infielder Leury Garcia to pitch the 14th (who had not thrown a single pitch in the majors or the minors previously). He retired the first two men he faced. But then two walks and a double scored two.

  3. kirbs3256 - Apr 18, 2014 at 9:04 AM

    Hey don’t hate on Theo yet. The cubs have 2 studs coming once they grt those service time extending dates.

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