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MLB Power Rankings: Nats moving up

Jun 13, 2014, 1:03 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. Oakland Athletics (LW: 2) – Hughes: The Athletics host the Orioles right after the All-Star break. I’m sure their fans will be happy to see Manny Machado.

2. San Francisco Giants (LW: 1) – Hughes: They may be hoping to avoid the Nationals come playoff time, but the Giants are still among the league’s best. Plus, Brandon Belt is coming back soon.

3. Milwaukee Brewers (LW: 4) – Zuckerman: Not sure most people realize just how good Jonathan Lucroy is. One of the best all-around catchers in the game.

4. Toronto Blue Jays (LW: 5) – Roney: Can’t say enough about the resurgence of Mark Buehrle, and what that has meant for Toronto.

5. Detroit Tigers (LW: 3) – Zuckerman: Max Scherzer just tossed his first career complete game Thursday night. Never would’ve guessed he hadn’t done it before.

6. Washington Nationals (LW: 17) – Roney: Doug Fister has been a huge boost – 5-1, 31 Ks in seven starts. Huge lift for the rotation.

7. Atlanta Braves (LW: 7) – Roney: Evan Gattis has given them everything Brian McCann would’ve at the plate – and he’s about 30 times cheaper. Not sure about his game-calling yet, though.

8. Los Angeles Angels (LW: 10) – Hughes: LAA has the fourth best offense and the eighth best rotation ERA in baseball. With the As in their division, though, it may be Wild Card or bust.

9. St. Louis Cardinals (LW: 6) – Zuckerman: Everyone in St. Louis is praying Adam Wainwright’s elbow injury isn’t serious.

10. Baltimore Orioles (LW: 13) – Roney: Machado should’ve gotten more games, in my opinion. His behavior against Oakland for three days was awful.

11. Los Angeles Dodgers (LW: 8) – Hughes: The Dodgers’ rotation is one of the best in baseball this year. Dan Haren’s 3.49 ERA is worst among the group.

12. New York Yankees (LW: 9) – Roney: Tanaka has been best-case scenario – but Yangarvis Solarte has been even more than that for New York.

13. Miami Marlins (LW: 12) – Roney: What an outfield. Christian Yelich, especially, has been a revelation.

14. Seattle Mariners (LW: 15) – Hughes: Robinson Cano is hitting .332, yet the Mariners as a team are 27th in the majors with a .237 team batting average.

15. Kansas City Royals (LW: 21)– Zuckerman: If they’re serious about contending this season, it’s time to show it.

16. Chicago White Sox (LW: 16) – Zuckerman: Jose Abreu and Adam Dunn have combined for 30 of their 68 homers as a team.

17. Cleveland Indians (LW: 24) – Zuckerman: Lonnie Chisenhall had a great week. In one night: 5-for-5, 3 HR, 9 RBI.

18. Pittsburgh Pirates (LW: 23) – Zuckerman: They’ve finally got Gregory Polanco in big leagues, but that can’t make up for injuries to Gerrit Cole and Francisco Liriano.

19. Colorado Rockies (LW: 11) – Hughes: The Rockies can score runs, but own the worst team ERA (4.63) in baseball. Tough to win like that.

20. Cincinnatti Reds (LW: 18) – Zuckerman: Joey Votto’s back, and not a moment too soon for a Cincinnati club that desperately needs an offensive spark.

21. Texas Rangers (LW: 14) – Hughes: Texas has won 90 games each of the last four years, but it’s hard to see them doing that this season with all their injuries.

22. Minnesota Twins (LW: 20) – Zuckerman: Ricky Nolasco and Kevin Correia combined: 7-12, 5.65 ERA. Not good from your Nos. 2 and 3 starters.

23. Boston Red Sox (LW: 22) – Roney: Jon Lester has been going strong, and is making himself a lot of money right now.

24. Houston Astros (LW: 28) – Hughes: Houston is rising much faster than many predicted and none of their three recent No. 1 picks have reached the majors yet.

25. New York Mets (LW: 19) – Roney: Jacob deGrom has been a nice little surprise so far for the rotation.

26. Philadelphia Phillies (LW: 26) – Roney: Anybody think that they’d be an improved squad, after an offseason spent not improving? Even Amaro had to know.

27. Arizona Diamondbacks (LW: 29) – Hughes: Paul Goldscmidt is a great player, but he can’t make up for the worst starting rotation in baseball.

28. San Diego Padres (LW: 27) – Hughes: With the Padres playing as bad as they are, does Bud Black last the rest of the season?

29. Chicago Cubs (LW: 30) – Zuckerman: They’re just not good. Plain and simple.

30. Tampa Bay Rays (LW: 25) – Roney: Wouldn’t be shocked to see Price moved before the deadline arrives.

  1. tcostant - Jun 13, 2014 at 1:37 PM

    For your reading enjoyment:

    http://mlb.si.com/2014/06/12/ryan-zimmerman-leftfield-washington-nationals-win-streak/

    • Doc - Jun 13, 2014 at 3:08 PM

      Thanks, tcostant!

    • Eugene in Oregon - Jun 13, 2014 at 3:37 PM

      Thanks. Interesting (and telling) juxtaposition with Matt Kemp’s approach to LF.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 13, 2014 at 4:08 PM

        Eugene, well said and Dodgers have clubhouse issues. Trading Kemp has not been easy due to his large contract.

  2. Section 222 - Jun 13, 2014 at 1:53 PM

    Seems like a somewhat slow day here, so I thought I’d post a stats-related question hoping that someone will take the time to explain. Brian Kenny and Eric Byrnes were discussing the WAR of a player yesterday, and Byrnes said something like, “You know Brian, thats bWAR that you just referenced. I would think you’d be more of an fWAR guy” And Kenny responded, you’re right, bWAR looking back, fWAR looking forward” (or something like that). Can anyone point to a good discussion of the difference between the the B-R and Fangraphs calcuation of WAR? If you feel like writing one yourself, of course, feel free.

    One other note of which the ESPN article about the Giants that someone posted in the last thread reminded me. Mikey Morse is having another good season having been moved from LF to 1B to replace an injured starter. (Brandon Belt this year, ALR in 2012.) It really seems like the place he’s most comfortable. For one thing, he gets to joke around with the guys who get on base.

    • chaz11963 - Jun 13, 2014 at 2:05 PM

      Triple 2- fWAR and b or r WAR just refers to the where the calculations came from- Fangraphs or Baseball Reference:

      http://www.fangraphs.com/library/misc/war/

      • Section 222 - Jun 13, 2014 at 2:16 PM

        Right, I understand that. But what’s the difference between the two? Clearly they take different things into account, or weight them differently. I have a sense that one of them uses more defensive metrics. Now I’ll click on the link you provided, where this question might be answered….

        I was in Section 222, Row C from 2008-2010. Great seats for the money, except that the sun is absolutely murder for day games (as I would guess it is in 121, depending on how far back you are. We switched to 314, Row D for 2011 to the present and are very happy there.

      • masterfishkeeper - Jun 13, 2014 at 2:32 PM

        Try these links, although they are still technical:

        http://www.fangraphs.com/library/war/differences-fwar-rwar/

        http://www.baseball-reference.com/about/war_explained_comparison.shtml

        Personally, although I’d like to really understand the differences, it seems like work, so I never really get to the bottom of it.

      • Section 222 - Jun 13, 2014 at 3:26 PM

        Thanks mfk!! That Fangraphs link definitely answers the question sufficiently for my purposes. Not that I actually understood it all, but still. The B-R link (chart) has a much more detailed comparison, but no simple explanation, and it threatened to make my head expode after few minutes looking at it. :-)

    • slidell2 - Jun 13, 2014 at 3:09 PM

      Regarding being able to joke around with other players, etc.: I was at a Senators-Yankees game in 1960 where Casey had Yogi Berra playing right field, of all places. Right field in Griffith Stadium was a lonely place unless you were playing close to the line. Nothing but that big green wall behind you. Yogi looked quite forlorn, chewing on his glove, looking towards the stands.

    • David Proctor - Jun 13, 2014 at 3:41 PM

      The primary difference is in the defensive metrics they use. B-R uses DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) and Fangraphs uses UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating). Both have their advantages and disadvantages. I usually advise looking at both and averaging them.

      • Section 222 - Jun 13, 2014 at 9:12 PM

        Thanks. Good to have that mind blowing chart on B-R translated into English.

  3. chaz11963 - Jun 13, 2014 at 2:07 PM

    By way, do you actually have seats in Section 222 at Nats Park? If so, which row? We are in 121 just below you, it seems to use you guys get ALOT of foul balls.

    • sjm308 - Jun 13, 2014 at 2:12 PM

      Let me tell you where there is NEVER a foul ball!! 308. In all my years, I have seen one foul ball actually reach our seats – that was Prince Fielder. I love the kids that bring their gloves to games and don’t tell them what their fate is up high but they pretty well figure it out.

  4. Section 222 - Jun 13, 2014 at 2:54 PM

    Talk about a meteoric rise in the rankings! Has any team ever gone up or down 10 spots in a week in Mark/Chase/Steve’s rankings? Something tells me there’s a wee bit of home cooking in that assessment.

    While we’re at it, is this a consensus view of the three of you, or do you each fill out your own rankings and take an average? :-)

    • Steve - Jun 13, 2014 at 3:42 PM

      We each rank 1-30, then use the average as a composite ranking.

      • Section 222 - Jun 13, 2014 at 10:03 PM

        Thanks for that info Steve. Must make for an interesting conversation each week.

    • bowdenball - Jun 13, 2014 at 3:51 PM

      The Nats have the 7th best record in the league, the 3rd best run differential in the league, and the best record over the last 10 games in the league. It’s certainly not home cooking- if anything they’re too low at #6.

  5. adcwonk - Jun 13, 2014 at 3:00 PM

    FWIW, http://www.baseballprospectus.com/odds/ projects us to getting the second most wins in the NL — 4.5 ahead of the Braves, and about a 1/2 game ahead of both the Dodgers and Brewers.

    Note that this doesn’t necessarily strictly indicate strength of the team, just a projection of how many wins they will have at the end of the season. Strength of schedule would matter here, etc.

    And, I might add, the Nats have the highest probability in the NL of winning the WS according to that projection!

    • chaz11963 - Jun 13, 2014 at 3:03 PM

      Same for Fangraphs:

      http://www.fangraphs.com/coolstandings.aspx

      • adcwonk - Jun 13, 2014 at 4:34 PM

        !!!!

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 13, 2014 at 3:47 PM

      That’s why I don’t get Mark’s post in Power Rankings. The MLB guys like Joe McGraine and others are just loving what the Nats did to the Giants on the Giants home turf.

      How do you rank the Giants #2 when it is the current hottest teams plus where they are heading.

      Who cares about Brandon Belt coming back when the Nats are missing Harper, Gio and Ramos.

  6. NatsLady - Jun 13, 2014 at 3:16 PM

    Here is the Injury Daze and Cardinals Series Preview

    As you can see, the Cards have a decision to make with Matt Adams’ return: should they demote Oscar Taveras? We should know in a couple of hours.

    • NatsLady - Jun 13, 2014 at 3:33 PM

      Actually, in less.

  7. Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 13, 2014 at 3:41 PM

    “@MLBONFOX: The @Cardinals announce they haveve activated 1B Matt Adams (left calf strain) from the 15-day DL & optioned OF Oscar Taveras to Triple-A.”

  8. Eugene in Oregon - Jun 13, 2014 at 3:50 PM

    From MLBTR:

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2014/06/padres-could-make-organizational-changes-soon.html

    Note the last paragraph, which reports rumors that Huston Street is a candidate to be traded. Given the kind of year he’s having and Atlanta’s need for relief help, do the Braves make a move for him? Not to replace Craig Kimbrel, obviously, but for the 8th inning and to spell Mr. Kimbrel when needed? If you were Washington’s management, would you consider acquiring Mr. Street both to add strength to an already-strong bullpen and, perhaps more importantly, to deny him to Atlanta? Discuss. (Sorry, just finished grading and I’m still in exam mode.)

    • knoxvillenat - Jun 13, 2014 at 4:06 PM

      Eugene,

      I thought the Barves had Carpenter as their 8th inning guy? And BTW, did you see the little dust up that ATL had with the Rockies yesterday?

      http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/mlb-big-league-stew/baseball-s-unwritten-rules-nearly-spark-a-fight-between-braves–rockies-094532530.html

      • David Proctor - Jun 13, 2014 at 4:13 PM

        Carpenter has an ERA of over 4 so the Braves have been rumored to be looking for relief help

      • ArVAFan - Jun 13, 2014 at 4:26 PM

        So apparently it wasn’t just McCann.

      • chaz11963 - Jun 13, 2014 at 4:36 PM

        Braves relievers have been really bad lately.

      • knoxvillenat - Jun 13, 2014 at 4:36 PM

        ArVAFan……….no not just McCann or Julio Tehrean (who got Harper last year as well as other Barves pitchers)……seems to me a pattern under Fredi Gonzalez.

  9. micksback1 - Jun 13, 2014 at 4:24 PM

    I would have been happy with a split with the Giants. Nats look impressive, however, The Cards and Braves are the teams that they need to get over the mental aspects of losing to them. Nats can go a long way this weekend by winning the series verse cards, let alone a game.

    Ramos injury has me annoyed. He may be either always injury prone, or the Nats conditioning coaches suck or both

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 13, 2014 at 5:35 PM

      Mick, I agree on the Ramos injury. Cold night and avoidable.

    • Whynat - Jun 13, 2014 at 6:42 PM

      Since both you guys know exactly what Ramos’s conditioning protocol is, correct?

      • Sec 3 My Sofa - Jun 13, 2014 at 9:10 PM

        Well, to be fair, reports that The Lobaton was suggesting Ramos stretch during the games implies Wilson wasn’t already doing that. Seems like a good idea to me.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
x-WASHINGTON 91 64 --
ATLANTA 76 80 15.5
NEW YORK 76 80 15.5
MIAMI 74 81 17.0
PHILADELPHIA 71 85 20.5
x-Clinched NL East title
Through Monday's games

NL PLAYOFFS STANDINGS

W L GB WCGB
x-WASHINGTON (3) 91 64 --
y-LOS ANGELES 89 68 3.0
y-ST. LOUIS 88 69 4.0
-------------------------
PITTSBURGH 85 71 --
SAN FRANCISCO 85 71 --
MILWAUKEE 80 76 5.0
x-Clinched division title
y-Clinched playoff berth
Through Monday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
TUE: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
THU: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
FRI: Marlins at Nats (DH), 1:05 p.m., 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Marlins at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Marlins at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
(End of regular season)
MON: OFF
Full season schedule

Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

ON THE RADIO

As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

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