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MLB Power Rankings: Watch out for the Jays

May 29, 2014, 6:53 PM EDT

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:

1. Giants (LW: 3) — Roney: As disappointing as the pitching was last year, it’s been so much better one through five this year. Even Lincecum has been solid.

2. Athletics (LW: 1) — Roney: Billy Beane and his interchangeable parts-as-the-new-Moneyball system continue to impress. And how about Josh Donaldson proving last year was no fluke?

3. Tigers (LW: 2) — Hughes: Is there a more underrated pitcher than Anibal Sanchez? Dude’s got a 2.56 ERA over the last two seasons in the AL.

4. Brewers (LW: 4) — Hughes: Yovani Gallardo, a starting pitcher, pinch-hit for a walkoff home run the other day. Everything’s going right for the Brew Crew.

5. Blue Jays (LW: 9)  — Zuckerman: They’ve scored the most runs in the AL, and they look like they might have staying power.

6. Cardinals (LW: 6) — Hughes: Is this the year Wainwright finally wins a Cy Young? He’s 8-2 with a 1.67 ERA through 11 starts.

7. Braves (LW: 5) — Zuckerman: Surprising fact: They’ve scored the fewest runs in baseball. Giving up the second-fewest has made up for lack of offense.

8. Dodgers (LW: 10) — Roney: Who knew Josh Beckett had nine consecutive innings of hitless baseball in him still? That was as surprising, to me, as it was impressive.

9. Yankees (LW: 10) – Zuckerman: Teixeira’s re-emergence as a productive hitter has been much-needed.

10. Angels (LW: 8) — Roney: 3.05 ERA, 1.10 WHIP. This is finally the C.J. Wilson that was bought and paid for.

11. Rockies (LW: 7) — Roney: Charlie Blackmon has cooled off. Anyone who sold high on him in fantasy baseball — that is how the game is won.

12. Marlins (LW: 12) — Zuckerman: Give them credit: They’re hanging in there thanks to a strong rotation. And that guy named Stanton, who is a pretty decent hitter.

13. Orioles (LW: 13) — Zuckerman: Nelson Cruz: Best acquisition by any team in 2014.

14. Rangers (LW: 17) – Roney: A huge, huge sigh of relief that Yu Darvish looks to be OK. Baseball has lost too many pitchers, and so have the Rangers.

15. Mariners (LW: 19) — Roney: Slashing .250/.306/.404, Dustin Ackley isn’t quite the latest Alex Gordon, but he’s finally a viable major league hitter (at least on that team).

16. White Sox (LW: 18) — Hughes: An All-Star two years ago, Paul Konerko is now a 38-year-old utility player hitting .171.

17. Nationals (LW: 14) — Zuckerman: The injuries have been a problem, but healthy guys aren’t hitting, either.

18. Reds (LW: 21) — Hughes: Cincy is the only team with a worse offense in the month of May other than the Nats. Matt Williams isn’t the only rookie manager having a rough month.

19. Mets (LW: 23) — Zuckerman: Hitting coach gets fired, blames Keith Hernandez. Didn’t he know Roger McDowell (hiding behind the bushes) was really to blame all along?

20. Twins (LW: 15) — Hughes: Switching positions was supposed to help Joe Mauer, but he’s currently having the worst year of his career.

21. Royals (LW: 16) — Hughes: Just when they get their pitching somewhat in check, their offense takes a nosedive. The Royals will get it together some day, right?

22. Red Sox (LW: 22) — Zuckerman: They lose 10 in a row, bring 2004 champs back for anniversary, sweep Braves. Go figure.

23. Pirates (LW: 25) — Hughes: The Buccos have the fifth-worst offense in the majors. Gee, if only they had a hitting prodigy waiting in the wings at Triple-A…

24. Indians (LW: 20) — Hughes: The Indians may want to call about Jeff Samardzija. They have the eighth best offense, but have allowed the third most runs of any team.

25. Rays (LW: 27) — Zuckerman: They’ve been right there in the mix six straight years, but it just may not happen this season.

26. Phillies (LW: 24) — Zuckerman: Sandberg has felt queasy all season. Is it his flawed roster? Or just a bad burger at Shake Shack?

27. Padres (LW: 26) — Roney: Tyson Ross looks great. How much of it is Petco, though?

28. Astros (LW: 29)  — Roney: George Springer has smashed six homers in six games. He could be the Evan Longoria that leads to a nice Rays-like rise down the road.

29. Diamondbacks (LW: 28) — Roney: A.J. Pollock has been a nice surprise. All the other surprises this year have been not so nice.

30. Cubs (LW: 30) — Hughes: The Cubs’ lineup is so bad, they could probably use Manny Ramirez right now, even if he turns 42 tomorrow.

  1. ehay2k - May 29, 2014 at 7:55 PM

    Sad – 17th seems high at the moment. I still have not recovered from being at the game last night – balls hit over heads, what seemed like a constant stream of Marlins bloopers when we played back, and then what can only be called chokes in the 8th and 9th innings. My fellow ticket syndicate member was there and said after the game that he felt like he was cheated – that he had wasted his time. I felt his pain.

    One day, we will teach players about 2 strike counts and how to adjust. We will also teach them about the concept of a sac fly. If only 1 or two hitters on the team have those skills, you have a huge LoB number, which we do.

    Are the Nats still not comfortable with the defensive alignment changes? Does anyone scout the outfield arms, or pay attention to the actual ball in play? Ramos tries for the double last night, and the other night Bobby “Let’s Send Moses Gain” Henley stops Werth when he had a good chance to score. Even Werth couldn’t believe he was given the stop sign. I guess Henley can’t tell bearded guys apart?

    But honestly, it was just horrible to watch last night. Good thing there is another game tomorrow. I hope MW reads the entire team the riot act in the interim.

    Lastly, Werth, in my view, needs a couple of days off. He has not looked himself.

    • therealjohnc - May 29, 2014 at 8:55 PM

      Rendon said he was trying to hit a sac fly the AB he struck out after fouling off several two strike pitches.

      I was at the game last night, and I felt disappointed – but not cheated. I saw amazing things. I saw Nate McLoth get four hits! I saw great defensive plays by both teams, and some comically bad baserunning by both teams. I saw the Nats come scrapping back from a 4-0 deficit to tie the game on Ramos’s first HR of the season. I saw smart baseball by both teams, too; the Marlins’ 2b backing up 1b on the bunt, riight where he should be. And Nate McLouth deking the Marlins out of a run in the 10th.

      Cheated? No, I wasn’t cheated at all. I’m going on Saturday, looking forward to it.

      • ehay2k - May 30, 2014 at 12:05 AM

        Much better perspective than I had, thanks very much for sharing. Just that 8th inning killed me a little, then the 9th was the coup d’grace. It looked to like the team quit after that.

  2. Drew - May 29, 2014 at 8:15 PM

    I think that 17th will improve.

    Here’s a topic for an off-day. I’ve reached the conclusion that the Nats made a bad mistake in vaulting Brian Goodwin from Hagerstown to Harrisburg.

    Michael Taylor — several months younger than Goodwin — has made stops at each level and is blossoming into a terrific player. In fact, how do you not conclude that — at this point — Taylor is the better player?

    Goodwin is hitting .209 at Syracuse, with a .652 OPS. He has not had an impressive stint since his admittedly great start at Hagerstown in 2012.

    Look at Taylor. In 49 games at Harrisburg, he has an OPS of 1.009. He is tied for the league lead with 14 home runs. He has 39 RBIs, 14 stolen bases and a .395 on base percentage.

    It’s not a fluke. Last year at Potomac, Taylor had 41 doubles, 87 RBIs and 51 stolen bases.

    Until 2013 I was not persuaded on Taylor. Now it appears that by scaling each rung in due course, he has turned himself into a dandy prospect.

    Sadly, it seems the Nats rushed Goodwin and damaged his development. I hope he can turn it around. But don’t be surprised if Span’s successor isn’t Goodwin, but Taylor.

    • Hiram Hover - May 29, 2014 at 8:46 PM

      I wouldn’t rule out the fluke possibility yet. Taylor’s BA has jumped 50 pts and his slugging is up almost 200 pts over his performance at Potomac last year. I need to see more than a 1/3 of a season at AA to believe its real.

      And you left out the most worrisome part. His K rate is almost 40% this year. If AA pitchers can do that to him, imagine how MLB pitchers will carve him up.

      • David Proctor - May 29, 2014 at 9:01 PM

        The benefit Taylor has is that he’s considered an elite defensive CF and can run. Goodwin is more of a corner OF and he’s never had great success stealing bases. Taylor doesn’t have to hit a lot to be valuable, if he can carry those tools. While his 35% strikeout rate has to come down some, he does walk too (11%). If Taylor can get that strikeout rate down to a still-high-but-passable 23% (about where it was the last three years), he could really be something. I’m in wait-and-see mode, but there’s no doubting the potential is there.

      • Hiram Hover - May 29, 2014 at 9:07 PM

        DP

        Absolutely. I am not dismissing him–just saying we need to avoid irrational exuberance. Prospects will break your heart, and 1/3 of a season at AA is not a long courtship.

  3. micksback1 - May 29, 2014 at 8:30 PM

    last night’s bottom of 8th really has me very down on this team

    • therealjohnc - May 29, 2014 at 9:00 PM

      You mean, even more so? To be fair, Mick, you’ve been pretty down on the team for a while.

  4. David Proctor - May 29, 2014 at 9:42 PM

    The Braves are having a disaster of an inning right now.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 29, 2014 at 9:50 PM

      The Oopston Brothers with Errors in the inning.

      • David Proctor - May 29, 2014 at 9:51 PM

        A very generously ruled “hit” on their supposed savior at 2B Tommy La Stella too.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 29, 2014 at 9:52 PM

        Johnny Gomes looked like the Gomes I remember. Men on 1st and 3rd and no outs and the pitcher in trouble and he swings for the 500 foot homer on the 1st 2 pitches and then they come up and in and out of the strike zone and he swings and misses.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 29, 2014 at 9:54 PM

        Verducci said he’d give a hit on it. LOL Not only did La Stella boot it, he fell over.

      • Joe Seamhead - May 29, 2014 at 10:56 PM

        I just love it when the Uptons screw up, especially BJ

  5. Ghost of Steve M. - May 29, 2014 at 10:12 PM

    Braves lose and Kimbrel loses!

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 29, 2014 at 10:13 PM

      Walkoff error!

      • manassasnatsfan - May 29, 2014 at 10:15 PM

        Kimbrel asked for 4 outs.

  6. David Proctor - May 29, 2014 at 10:12 PM

    Kimbrel walks the first two batters in the 9th, Chris Johnson throws the ball away and Red Sox win. Wow.

    • Danny - May 29, 2014 at 10:13 PM

      Only 2.5 back sadly womp womp

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 29, 2014 at 10:15 PM

      Replay shows LaStella didn’t catch the low throw. Ghost is happy!

      • manassasnatsfan - May 29, 2014 at 10:17 PM

        If he caught it I believe runner safe, bases loaded with 0 outs. Oh that is not a guarentee

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 29, 2014 at 10:20 PM

        Yes, I think you are right that he would have been safe.

  7. Danny - May 29, 2014 at 10:13 PM

    Only time we gain ground is when we don’t play.

  8. Eric - May 29, 2014 at 10:13 PM

    Red Sox walk off!!!

    I believe that makes a 4-game sweep of the Braves by the Sox, yes?

  9. David Proctor - May 29, 2014 at 10:17 PM

    We’re 2.5 back, despite being 2 under .500. How is this year different than last? The Braves aren’t very good. That’s how.

  10. knoxvillenat - May 29, 2014 at 10:17 PM

    The National League Least………for the time being anyway.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 29, 2014 at 10:22 PM

      If the Marlins had pitching, they are the best team, but they don’t and probably won’t trade for pitching. They play with heart and energy and take a bunch of no name guys and make things happen.

      • David Proctor - May 29, 2014 at 10:29 PM

        Sorry, not buying it. I’m not buying a guy like Casey McGehee, who was in Japan last year, hitting .300 for a full season. Look at the BABIPs on that team.

        They have good young players like Yelich and Ozuna and obviously Stanton, but they won’t hold up over a full season. I remember in 2012, the Mets and Marlins were right there with us and the Braves into mid-June before collapsing. I suspect the same will happen this year.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 29, 2014 at 10:33 PM

        It probably isn’t even worth debating since they have very little pitching or depth.

        Stanton if healthy can carry a team.

  11. manassasnatsfan - May 29, 2014 at 10:20 PM

    Edwin Encarcion has had 5 2 homer games this month. Have the Nats have any all season?

  12. David Proctor - May 29, 2014 at 10:32 PM

    Here are some posts from a Braves site:

    “Hitting sucks Fielding really sucks Pitching is mediocre (starters) or sucks (everyone else). The worst part is you can actually see the lackadaisical effort from a good number of players.”

    “My god this defense is abysmal. It seems we’re cycling in which category to suck. First hitting, then pitching, and now defense. These have been really stressful games to watch.”

    “All of us just need to accept it. The Braves are not a good baseball team. Hot streaks get you pumped up, but this team as is will never be consistent enough to do anything other than kick in our nuts time and time again. Pessimistic? Yea, but it is what it is. I for one have come to terms and no longer have any kind of hopes or emotional investment in this years chances for the postseason.”

    Sound familiar?

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 29, 2014 at 10:36 PM

      Is Secretwasian posting on the Barfs site also?

    • Eugene in Oregon - May 29, 2014 at 10:39 PM

      And I bet Houston’s equivalent is ecstatic given their five-game winning streak. Perspective and expectations are everything.

      • David Proctor - May 29, 2014 at 10:41 PM

        Speaking of them, they just took a 3-1 lead on the Orioles on George Springer’s 10th. He looked overmatched when we played them, but he is HOT right now.

      • Eugene in Oregon - May 29, 2014 at 10:53 PM

        Assuming he’s still managing there in two or three years — and I infer he’s not under unreasonable pressure — Bo Porter could have himself a very good team. I have my issues with the state of Texas, but I grew up an Astros fan and still like to see them do well.

  13. Ghost of Steve M. - May 29, 2014 at 10:38 PM

    George Springer. WOW

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 29, 2014 at 10:39 PM

      10 HRs in the month of May.

    • Eugene in Oregon - May 29, 2014 at 10:39 PM

      Yep.

  14. Ghost of Steve M. - May 29, 2014 at 10:50 PM

    Michael Morse once again powering the Giants. HR and double and 3 RBIs vs Cardinals

    • natinalsgo - May 29, 2014 at 11:00 PM

      A healthy Mike Morse is real deal game changer.

      • therealjohnc - May 29, 2014 at 11:10 PM

        The “healthy” part has always been the problem for him. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the Beast can avoid the injury bug.

  15. David Proctor - May 29, 2014 at 11:03 PM

    Bill Ladson says Zim will be going on a rehab assignment as soon as this weekend. It’s Ladson, so…who knows how accurate that info is.

    • Danny - May 29, 2014 at 11:05 PM

      Hopefully that’s accurate. That would put his time back in the nigs at a week..?

      • Danny - May 29, 2014 at 11:05 PM

        Bigs* lol

  16. natinalsgo - May 29, 2014 at 11:07 PM

    “Ghost of Steve M. – May 29, 2014 at 9:50 PM
    The Oopston Brothers with Errors in the inning.”

    Just waiting for the Braves pitching to totally fall apart. I see they had 3 errors charged and a few more bad plays that were ruled hits. Kimbrel not sharp at all and the home plate ump didn’t give him a wide strike zone.

    • Eric - May 29, 2014 at 11:44 PM

      He would’ve needed a double size zone to get strikes called on his fastball tonight. He was nowhere close with it, and was nibbling ineffectively with his curve.

      Walked 2 on 10 pitches, but his ERA went down. Heh.

  17. Ghost of Steve M. - May 29, 2014 at 11:22 PM

    Watching Matt Carpenter with 2 strikes. Easy serve of the ball into RF as if he was playing an friendly game of tennis with a buddy.

  18. Joe Seamhead - May 29, 2014 at 11:23 PM

    On the above subject of Taylor and Goodwin: stats are funny things. I didn’t do the math, but Michael Taylor went 3-4 last light and 3-3 today, so I’m sure that pushed his average up measurably, while Goodwin has been in a 10 game slump going 2-33, which has made his BA plummet. Both guys are striking out at way to high of a clip, with Michael getting 72 K’s in 207 PA’s with only 22 walks. Goodwin? 61 K’s, but 40 BB’s in 212 PA’s.
    I only actually saw Taylor play the one game, so I am in no position to say he is, or isn”t, the someday heir apparent to Span in CF, and I’ve never seen Goodwin play personally. I will say that my impression from the one game is that Michael Taylor is still very raw. He’s fast, seems to have a very good grasp on how to play CF. His swing reminds me of Justin Maxwell’s, a guy that I watched extensively since he was 13 years old.They say Taylor has worked on shortening it up. Well, I did see him lay down a bunt leading off the 1st, which I rarely saw JMax do. Honestly,a quick first impression & analogy of Taylor is that he is a good piece of clay that needs to be molded, but you are starting with pretty good clay.

    Speaking of stats being funny things? Though respectable, Kimbrel’s ERA of 1.93 is over twice as high as Rafael Soriano’s 0.86!

  19. edshelton2013 - May 30, 2014 at 7:38 AM

    Totally agree with Zuckerman’s summary on the Nats:
    “They’ve had a lot of injuries but the healthy guys aren’t hitting either”.

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