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MLB Power Rankings: Giants are back

May 1, 2014, 5:44 PM EST

Photo by USA Today Photo by USA Today

Here are this week’s MLB Power Rankings featuring thoughts on each team from Mark Zuckerman, Chase Hughes and myself, Steve Roney:

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1. Atlanta Braves (LW: 1) – Hughes: After getting shelled by the Marlins on Wednesday, Aaron Harang now sports the worst ERA among Braves starters at 2.97. 2.97!

2. Oakland Athletics (LW: 5) – Zuckerman: Ravaged by injuries, they still have the AL’s best record. Never underestimate these guys.

3. Milwaukee Brewers (LW: 2)  - Roney: They’ve been incredible in the early going, but when Mark Reynolds is only third on the team in strikeouts, I don’t take that as a wonderful sign.

4. Detroit Tigers (LW: 9) – Roney: Think the Tigers are happy with their side of the Fielder trade? Kinsler has been great so far.

5. San Francisco Giants (LW: 10) – Zuckerman: Nice to see Morse healthy and productive: 6 HR, 20 RBI, .932 OPS.

6. Washington Nationals (LW: 8) – Hughes: Early season injuries are nothing new for the Nats, but this is getting ridiculous. It was not an easy first month on the job for Matt Williams.

7. New York Yankees (LW: 7) - Hughes: Only in baseball can you just toss together a group of aging free agents and have it click immediately. This Yankees team is good.

8. Los Angeles Dodgers (LW: 6) – Zuckerman: Nice to see Haren healthy and productive: 3-0, 2.03 ERA.

9. New York Mets (LW: 23) – Hughes: The Mets have a top 10 rotation in terms of starters ERA right now. Imagine if they had Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard.

10. Colorado Rockies (LW: 12) – Zuckerman: Tulowitzki (7 HR, 22 RBI, 1.205 OPS) is off to a ridiculously good start.

11. St. Louis Cardinals (LW: 4) – Roney: I don’t agree with demoting Kolten Wong. If he doesn’t begin to mash at AAA soon, this plus his October baserunning gaffe could really mess with his confidence.

12. Kansas City Royals (LW: 13) – Roney: Half of their regulars – including erstwhile mashers Eric Hosmer and Billy Butler – are still without a home run. On May 1.

13. Texas Rangers (LW: 3) – Zuckerman: They’re 14th in the AL in homers. 14th??? Texas???

14. Los Angeles Angels (LW: 11) – Zuckerman: Pujols looks like his old self again. Which is a good thing for the Angels, and for all of baseball.

15. Baltimore Orioles (LW: 17) – Hughes: Matt Wieters is finally becoming the offensive force we all thought he would be. And Nelson Cruz? What a signing that was.

16. Philadelphia Phillies (LW: 24) – Hughes:  For as banged up as the Nats have been, the Phillies have been very fortunate in the injury department. Considering all the guys they have over 30, that’s amazing.

17. Minnesota Twins (LW: 25) – Roney: Do you know the name Chris Colabello? Just your average 30 year old sophomore near the AL lead in RBI (2nd, with 27).

18. Boston Red Sox (LW: 16) – Hughes:  Xander Bogaerts is starting to prove what all the hype was about.

19. Miami Marlins (LW: 22) – Hughes: Who would have guessed Marlins Park would give such a home field advantage? They’re now 11-4 there after beating the Braves Tuesday and Wednesday night and 2-10 on the road.

20. Chicago White Sox (LW: 20) – Roney: When I heard Jose Abreu described as “the Cuban Miguel Cabrera”, I took that with a whole heap of salt, but he’s been best-case scenario right from the beginning.

21. Cincinnati Reds (LW: 21) – Roney: Billy Hamilton hitting home runs is merely gravy for the Reds – he now has as many (1) as does Phillies slugger Domonic Brown.

22. San Diego Padres (LW: 19) – Zuckerman: Nice pitching staff but offense is last in the NL in runs, homers, batting average, OBP, OPS.

23. Tampa Bay Rays (LW: 14) – Hughes: It was a rough month for Tampa Bay as even David Price (3-2, 4.75) had major troubles.

24. Pittsburgh Pirates (LW: 18) – Roney: Edinson Volquez has a 3/1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Pittsburgh will take that for sure.

25. Toronto Blue Jays (LW: 15) – Hughes: With R.A. Dickey continuing to struggle, at what point do the Jays trade for some pitching? Once again they can hit, they just can’t pitch.

26. Seattle Mariners (LW: 27) – Zuckerman: Nice to see Chris Young healthy and productive: 1-0, 3.04 ERA.

27. Cleveland Indians (LW: 26) – Roney: Signs of life from Carlos Santana! Two home runs hopefully mean his bat is warming with the weather.

28. Chicago Cubs (LW: 29) – Roney: The Javier Baez countdown is well under way – with the way Rizzo and Castro are swinging the bat, Baez at second could give them a dirty infield.

29. Houston Astros (LW: 28) – Zuckerman: Help is on the way, but it’s not going to help them much this year.

30. Arizona Diamondbacks (LW: 30) - Zuckerman: What an unexpected train wreck right now in Arizona.

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  1. Ghost of Steve M. - May 1, 2014 at 5:49 PM

    What is this fascination with the Barfs? The Brewers still deserve the #1 until they fall back in the pack.

    #8 Dodgers: Haren is now 4-0 but who’s counting.

  2. secretwasianman - May 1, 2014 at 5:54 PM

    Angels 14 th Nats 6th? Didn’t they nearly sweep us in our park?

  3. Ghost of Steve M. - May 1, 2014 at 6:00 PM

    5. San Francisco Giants (LW: 10) – Zuckerman: Nice to see Morse healthy and productive: 6 HR, 20 RBI, .932 OPS.

    When Morse is healthy he is a beast. Can he stay healthy? Will his defense be a problem? Everything I’ve heard is he is making plays on defense but just lacks the reads on balls to be rated as average. Fangraphs rates him worst in LF.

    When I pulled up the stats it was distressing to see how bad Bryce Harper is on their rankings. When your UZR is with Matt Holliday that’s not good. I’ve kind of thought that. Bryce has slipped in range rankings and he sure has. Great arm but range has been lacking. He hasn’t gone hard after balls twice that I can remember.

    http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=lf&stats=fld&lg=all&qual=100&type=1&season=2014&month=0&season1=2014&ind=0&team=0&rost=0&age=0&filter=&players=0

    • David Proctor - May 1, 2014 at 6:04 PM

      He was a plus CFer. He has been bad in the corners. He was bad in the corners in 2012, 2013 and this year. Of course, UZR is useless over a small sample. 1 month means nothing. Even one year is small for UZR. They say you need three full seasons to get an accurate reading.

      I didn’t understand it then and I still don’t understand why we moved Harper from CF. No, he was not Span. Yes, he sometimes made things more difficult than they were or took circuitous routes. But, he was still a good center fielder on the whole.

      • nats128 - May 1, 2014 at 6:20 PM

        Strange isnt it. I think Bryce isnt going back hard to the wall however I doubt the numbers. I think he relies on the gun of an arm but needs to get more aggressive on his routes to the ball. Just last week he was criticized for taking a easy route on a hard shot through the infield in the Angels game and Ibanez scored on him from 2nd base.

      • npb99 - May 1, 2014 at 11:32 PM

        Is your point that if Rizzo had left Harper in center, we could or should have kept Morse? A healthy Morse, Harper and Werth is a great hitting outfield.

      • David Proctor - May 1, 2014 at 11:38 PM

        No, I am not obsessed with Morse as some are. His defense was a huge liability and he can’t stay healthy. I do think we could have easily replaced Morse in LF though.

    • David Proctor - May 1, 2014 at 6:05 PM

      BTW, look at Anthony Rendon’s UZR at 3B. Not pretty. Has him as a much better 2B. But again, you need a large sample.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 1, 2014 at 6:07 PM

        Rendon has gotten much better and those errors don’t help but you need reps when you are moved around.

        I think we saw yesterday that he can keep improving.

      • Hiram Hover - May 1, 2014 at 7:17 PM

        Both UZR and DRS like Zim better at 3B than Rendon on the season.

        Small sample size, yada yada yada. But still – yikes.

    • DaveB - May 1, 2014 at 6:19 PM

      I agree that there have been some plays where Bryce appeared to be lagging in his routes, but definitely a small sample size for defensive measurements. Note that he is right next to Carlos Gonzales (2013 GG … although I didn’t really agree with that one). Also, I still think he was dealing with some physical issues even before he got hurt.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 1, 2014 at 6:23 PM

        I agree with you. Bryce just hasn’t looked right the whole season and Spring Training.

        Nats128, thanks for the reminder on that Angels play. I remember it well and was very critical of Bryce going horizontally to the baseball instead of a diagonal aggressively to cut it off.

    • Sec 3 My Sofa - May 1, 2014 at 6:36 PM

      I have an unsettling fantasy that Bryce gets lost in thought in LF, wondering how he’s going to look in navy pinstripes.

  4. dgourds - May 1, 2014 at 6:13 PM

    Gosh I miss Michael Morse. He was the soul of the team in 2012–even when he was injured. When he’s healthy, he’s just a beast.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 1, 2014 at 7:23 PM

      I liked the guy also but LF is not the place for him.

    • Steady Eddie - May 1, 2014 at 7:34 PM

      The Giants are just incredibly lucky that they didn’t have to carry him through last year’s dumpster fire of a season.

      I miss him too but if Ghost thinks Gio’s performances are a mixed box of chocolates — at least they’re all chocolates!

      • nats128 - May 1, 2014 at 8:22 PM

        Thats funny. Box of chocolates with a few nuts.

    • janebeard - May 1, 2014 at 8:50 PM

      I’m with you. He was the reason we made the playoffs, I believe. I’m so glad he’s having great year again. I really miss him though. We could have had him instead of Hairston or McLouth. Water under the bridge, I know…

    • coop202 - May 1, 2014 at 11:41 PM

      +1. Him and Gio kept the team loose

  5. Eugene in Oregon - May 1, 2014 at 6:33 PM

    I’m not particularly impressed by any of the defensive ratings. The FanGraph version (above) has Jason Heyward as the best defensive RF in baseball. I’ve seen him play an awful lot of games over the past three years and — although maybe my eyes and memory are lying — he certainly doesn’t strike me as the best RF out there. Stats are wonderful things when they can be applied consistently, but I’m not persuaded they can be when it comes to baseball defense.

  6. NatsLady - May 1, 2014 at 7:12 PM

    Fish game is free on MLB.TV

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - May 1, 2014 at 7:49 PM

      Thanks.. So how do I watch it on my iPad? Do I have to had subscribed to MLB TV already?

      • NatsLady - May 1, 2014 at 9:33 PM

        Down load the MLB app. It’s free. When you bring up the scores it should say “free game.”

    • Eugene in Oregon - May 1, 2014 at 8:21 PM

      Only half-listening, but heard Miami announcers say that Braves were blaming lop-sided losses yesterday and day before on Marlins stealing signs, having spies in the stands, etc. Good grief.

      • nats128 - May 1, 2014 at 8:24 PM

        Eugene, is that right. Chop wine chop wine.

      • Sec 3 My Sofa - May 1, 2014 at 8:37 PM

        That’s silly. 1), the owner would never pay for that, and B), anybody in the stands to steal signs would stand out too obviously, there’s no place to hide. Unless they were in the home run statue.

      • Eugene in Oregon - May 1, 2014 at 8:42 PM

        Sofa: Love you answer (1); you’re absolutely right. And as for (B), they mentioned that the Braves zeroed in on some guy with a red hat (or something like that), but then he got up to get a beer in the middle of an AB, so they figured that wasn’t who was doing it. (BTW, caught and appreciated the little homage to Paul Reiser there.)

      • Eric - May 1, 2014 at 8:52 PM

        The spirit of McCann is strong with these ones.

      • Sec 3 My Sofa - May 1, 2014 at 9:47 PM

        @Eugene: Red hat guy … hilarious. You can’t make up stuff that good. (Still miss MAY)
        Eric: +1

  7. janebeard - May 1, 2014 at 8:51 PM

    Man I miss it when we don’t have a game. I know they need the nights off, and frankly so do I BUT I miss it still.

    • scnatsfan - May 1, 2014 at 9:42 PM

      Agree

  8. Ghost of Steve M. - May 1, 2014 at 9:40 PM

    NatsLady, another costly error for the Dodgers

  9. ehay2k - May 1, 2014 at 9:52 PM

    Barves just struck out with bases loaded, down by one, to end the inning.

  10. Mrsb loves the Nats - May 1, 2014 at 10:06 PM

    Fish done swept the braves…. Congrats Fish.

  11. Ghost of Steve M. - May 1, 2014 at 10:06 PM

    Miami sweeps Atlanta. Glad Mark had them #1

  12. David Proctor - May 1, 2014 at 10:06 PM

    The Marlins sweep Atlanta.

  13. Steady Eddie - May 1, 2014 at 10:06 PM

    And now Cishek pulls off the four-out save and the Fish sweep the Barves!

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 1, 2014 at 10:09 PM

      How sweet was that! The Marlins announcers are real negative guys. They kept talking about Cishek’s blown save. Dude is just nasty.

      Nats need a guy on their bench like Shafer. Comes in to cause havoc on the basepaths. Super fast and smart baserunner.

      • Steady Eddie - May 1, 2014 at 10:13 PM

        It WAS really impressive the way Cishek made Freeman flail away at a heater way outside and high.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 1, 2014 at 10:16 PM

        Freeman is finally into a slump. You have to wonder if he’s hurt.

      • Mrsb loves the Nats - May 1, 2014 at 10:31 PM

        Has Freeman had a day off yet? Best thing on and about the Braves…

        Braves live and die by the long ball… Kinda anxious to play them in June…

        But I realize we’ve gotten get through our own tough stretch of games coming up….

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 1, 2014 at 10:47 PM

        No days off yet.

  14. Steady Eddie - May 1, 2014 at 10:09 PM

    And the Rox are up 6-0 on the Mets in the 5th.

    Of course, this is in Coors Field so it’s still anyone’s game.

    But if it holds up, the Nats have second-place, one and a half games back.

  15. ehay2k - May 1, 2014 at 10:11 PM

    I believe the Barves just got swept by the Fish. Given their current losing streak, the Barves are trending towards a 17-145 season! Sell the team to Pepsi!

    So early. Histeria is misplaced, especially on the team closest to home, where passion tends to blind reason. Go to the AJC Barves page to see what I mean.

    GYFNG!

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - May 1, 2014 at 10:24 PM

      I’m still laughing at the stealing signs stuff…

  16. Ghost of Steve M. - May 1, 2014 at 10:21 PM

    Here is a crazy stat. Freddie Freeman in 6 games this year vs Fish he has not had a hit. What do they know that nobody else knows?

    • Sec 3 My Sofa - May 2, 2014 at 12:38 PM

      They’re stealing his signs. Must be.

  17. iconicwoodencap - May 1, 2014 at 10:21 PM

    Since there’s no game, I’ll ramble a bit. I have to admit, I pretty much missed 2012 (followed every game last year). I’ve always been curious about the way M Morse comes up so frequently with such strong wistfulness on this forum. The other day, I saw a brief clip of an RBI double he hit. Man, what an electric smile, obvious charisma, and great energy. I believe he was also giving a sign of appreciation to another player. Just that vignette gave me a clue. I kinda wish I’d seen him in his productive groove with the nats. Glad he’s doing well atm.

    As others have stated, I end up feeling slightly uneasy about the Take on Me sing-a-long. If you break up with somebody, you gotta stop listening to “our song.” That said, I am also not fond of the presidents race, Screech, or the phrase “Natitude.” But then again, maybe I’m just an aging curmudgeon. I’ve got a ticket on Tuesday to see the Mystery Pitcher against the LAD. I hope that by some miracle it will be Fister. I was at the park to see Roark’s CG with my dad, a memory neither of us will forget.

    I just have to say I love this team. TEAM. the scrappy bench, those who weren’t around in ’12, those filling injury gaps, outperforming expectations, and playing their hearts out. It’s not about a few stars and punching bags this year, it’s about comeback kids, fresh faces, and the leadership of veterans. Battered and bruised, but still kicking. This team has grit and heart. Win, lose, or draw on the season, I am proud of this team and the sense of identity, joy, and confidence I see that was so often absent last year (until the final weeks).

    The other night I turned off the Angels game at the end of the eighth in a defeatist funk, only to miss the amazing 4-run 9th inning. These guys never give up. I decided that night neither would I. If they win 100 or end up winning 80, I’m with them for the journey.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 1, 2014 at 10:53 PM

      I wanted to Michael Morse to be the 1st baseman here when LaRoche didn’t accept his QO. Once LaRoche was resigned then there was no room for Mikey with a full outfield.

      He’s not a good LF but like the Cardinals have done with Matt Holliday, if you hit like that the tradeoff is OK, but again, the Nats didn’t have an opening for him after LaRoche was signed.

    • Eric - May 1, 2014 at 11:24 PM

      Great post, woodencap, nice to see you drop by!

    • npb99 - May 1, 2014 at 11:43 PM

      Great post, woodencap. I’m guilty of Morse nostalgia. He had an explosive bat, was a free spirit, and seemed to help keep the team loose. The current roster has more grim and intense guys, but they’re fighters and have heart too.

      I also hate too much cheap gimmicky at ballparks, the dance contests, t-shirt tosses and that nonsense. I finally caught my first game at Fenway a couple of years ago, and it was all baseball and no nonsense, with lots of stats of minor league player updates flashing onto the scoreboards between innings. The Nats don’t have the Rex Sox’s tradition and deep passion yet in their fan base but I hope it’ll come over time.

    • coop202 - May 1, 2014 at 11:50 PM

      The whistfulness comes from an uptightness the team has seemed to play with since he left. He was a great bat but looked like Moore in the outfield (just kind of lost). But the team just seemed to have more fun with him here even during the rough stretches. I see flashes of that this year, particularly in the walk offs, but still waiting for it to feel the same.

  18. Eric - May 1, 2014 at 11:33 PM

    Rockies and Marlins had a productive off night for us…between the Rockies beating the Mets and the Marlins completing their sweep of the Braves (!!!), we’re suddenly back in second place and only 1.5 games back.

    Hoping to see the Nats capitalize this weekend!

  19. Faraz Shaikh - May 2, 2014 at 12:22 PM

    don’t agree with nats high ranking at sixth. I don’t think they have played like sixth best team in majors.

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