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MLB Power Rankings: A’s leading the way

Jul 3, 2014, 5:12 PM EDT

Photo by USA Today Photo by USA Today
Here are this week’s power rankings with analysis from Mark Zuckerman, Steve Roney and I:
1. Athletics — Hughes: Scott Kazmir is a legitimate Cy Young candidate right now.2. Brewers — Zuckerman: Peripheral stats still say they’re not quite this good, should come back to earth a bit.

3. Tigers — Zuckerman: Rick Porcello, forgotten man of Detroit’s rotation, has been dominant.

4. Angels — Hughes: The Angels could be the second best team in the American League.

5. Dodgers — Hughes: The Dodgers own Major League Baseball’s best rotation with a 3.02 ERA. 3.02.

6. Nationals — Roney: Over the next few weeks we’ll find out if Bryce Harper is right, that Denard Span should be the odd man out.

7. Braves — Roney: I wouldn’t call it a breakthrough by any means, but Jason Heyward’s BA is right around league average. They’ll take it.

8. Giants — Hughes: Tim Hudson could be having the best season of his career at 38 years old.

9. Blue Jays — Roney: Can’t believe that Cincinnati gave up on Edwin Encarnacion a few years go. Just monstrous power.

10. Orioles — Roney: Manny Machado’s suspension was upheld — good. I think he should’ve gotten more games.

11. Mariners — Hughes: Former Nationals RHP Chris Young is 8-4 with a 3.11 ERA in 16 starts this year.

12. Cardinals — Zuckerman: 13th out of 15 NL teams in runs scored. They may need to make a move soon.

13. Pirates — Zuckerman: NL’s best record since May 6: Pittsburgh. Yeah, really.

14. Reds — Zuckerman: There are bigger names in the lineup, but Todd Frazier deserves more recognition.

15. Royals — Zuckerman: James Shields: 5.43 ERA last 9 starts. KC needs him to step up down the stretch.

16. Yankees — Roney: Tanaka should learn from that pitch he grooved to Napoli — when you’re dealing, just put hitters away.

17. Marlins — Roney: The Fish have a pretty decent young squad — but if they’re ever going to make the jump to constant contender, they need to figure out how to keep Giancarlo Stanton around for the bulk of his career.

18. Indians — Zuckerman: Briefly got themselves back over .500, but now sliding again.

19. Twins — Zuckerman: That big mid-season acquisition of Kendrys Morales? He’s got a .603 OPS in his first 21 games.

20. Red Sox — Roney: The Sox finally score a few runs…in a game in which they give up 16. To the Cubs. The championship hangover marches on…

21. White Sox — Zuckerman: Not sure enough people are appreciating what Jose Abreu is doing: On pace for 50 homers in first big-league season.

22. Rangers — Hughes: Yu Darvish is a one-man show in the Rangers’ rotation.

23. Mets — Hughes: Zack Wheeler is really struggling at 3-8 with a 4.25 ERA.

24. Padres — Hughes: Huston Street (0.90 ERA, 22 SV) could probably fetch a lot at the trade deadline.

25. Cubs –Zuckerman: Jake Arrieta: Ace? He’s certainly pitching like it.

26. Astros — Hughes: Jose Altuve has emerged as a star at 24. He’s hitting .343 with 37 stolen bases.

27. Rays — Roney: Boy do they miss Wil Myers — or at least, the player Wil Myers is supposed to be. Easy to forget that once he returns, he’s still no sure thing.

28. Phillies — Roney: GMs are only human, and I can’t say that in Ruben Amaro’s shoes I would have done things differently…but I really, really hope that I would.

29. Rockies — Hughes: Amazing the Rockies were once 22-14, yet now sit a game and a half out of last place in the majors.

30. Diamondbacks — Hughes: I’d imagine Arizona is close to becoming big sellers ahead of the deadline.

  1. Eugene in Oregon - Jul 3, 2014 at 5:26 PM

    “6. Nationals — Roney: Over the next few weeks we’ll find out if Bryce Harper is right, that Denard Span should be the odd man out.”
    ++++++++++++++++

    I’m sorry, but I’m not sure exactly what this means or how this notion would be demonstrated. By Danny Espinosa (from the bench?) hitting better than Denard Span? By Ryan Zimmerman making a bunch of throwing errors?

    • veejh - Jul 3, 2014 at 5:48 PM

      Looks like Zim is gonna be just fine at 3rd for the remainder (fingers crossed). Clearly, the offensive upside outweighs the defensive upside by benching Danny. Twas meant to be from the beginning. So be it.

    • mwstatsguy - Jul 3, 2014 at 6:12 PM

      If you believe in stats, it’s already decided. According to Bill James’ formulas, Harper creates 0.128 runs per at bat and Span 0.130-no difference. Harper may sell tickets, but Span is a real center fielder.

      • Eugene in Oregon - Jul 3, 2014 at 10:59 PM

        I do, indeed, believe in stats. But there’s no way you can statistically measure or analyze that statement (i.e., that the next few weeks will determine whether Bryce Harper was right). I remain unsure what it even means in anything more than the most general, cliched terms.

    • Steve - Jul 5, 2014 at 1:36 PM

      Eugene, you’re right. The blurb was edited after I submitted, and I bring that up only because I think the edits changed the meaning and removed some of the nuance of what I wrote. My original line was something to the effect of “The worst part about Harper’s comments is that he’s right — Span probably should be the odd man out.” Now, I recognize that that is still an incendiary (and in the eyes of some here, asinine) statement, but it’s a bit more clear and I believe it’s a defensible position.

      I like Denard Span, as a ballplayer and as a person, but if the Nationals are trotting out their strongest nine, he’s probably in the dugout — as of right now. He’s had a disappointing season at the plate, and (though trying to synthesize the various fielding metrics is an undertaking) he’s been roughly average in centerfield (with some indications that he’s been worse). Now, is center the ideal spot for Bryce? No, and a Werth/Harper/Zimmerman outfield doesn’t cover a ton of ground, either. Still, swapping in Harper’s bat for Span’s is tantalizing in my opinion, and since Harper can play a capable centerfield (for a time, at least), it’s at least feasible. That’s all I was trying to say.

  2. natsjackinfl - Jul 3, 2014 at 5:27 PM

    Steve Roney, you are now my least favorite contributor to the Web site for your cheap shot about Bryce and Dennard.

    • Joe Seamhead - Jul 3, 2014 at 6:13 PM

      I’ll drink to that. Jeez…

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 3, 2014 at 6:25 PM

      The story that the media want to use as a lightening rod. Like Rizzo said “old news”.

      The only debate is who to “rest” for each game. Even on MLB Network last night they listed “Ramos out (Rest)”

  3. Hiram Hover - Jul 3, 2014 at 5:30 PM

    Really? That’s your write up for a week when the Nats get Bryce back and have won 5 straight?!

    • Section 222 - Jul 3, 2014 at 6:15 PM

      +1. This blog can, and should, do better.

      • Joe Seamhead - Jul 3, 2014 at 6:19 PM

        We do better amongst ourselves. What a lame commentary.

      • Section 222 - Jul 3, 2014 at 6:28 PM

        I’ll admit that it’s not always easy to come up with a pithy one-liner about some of these teams. But the Nats? That’s kind of pathetic.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 3, 2014 at 6:33 PM

        Agreed. So many positives to hitch on to. I do like the 1-6 ratings this week. I just don’t see the Brewers hanging in there without an Ace to bookend Lohse. Also don’t think Tigers will hold it together but they’re in a weak division.

      • NatsLady - Jul 3, 2014 at 6:34 PM

        I don’t know how hard it is, but this guy does it EVERY DAY.

        http://www.baseballprospectus.com/hitlist/

      • Hiram Hover - Jul 3, 2014 at 6:35 PM

        +1, NL. Loved that write up re: Stras.

      • Section 222 - Jul 3, 2014 at 6:42 PM

        Love the blurb about the Braves. Thanks NL.

      • Faraz Shaikh - Jul 3, 2014 at 8:01 PM

        “MLB’s headline was “Price proves too much for Yanks” which was the first time in human history those words were written in that order.” Haha! Cracked me up!

    • NatsLady - Jul 3, 2014 at 6:39 PM

      Sorry, I exaggerated. Only Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Still funny, though.

  4. ehay2k - Jul 3, 2014 at 6:31 PM

    Recent blog posts have been underwhelming. Perhaps we have been spoiled, but for some reason the quality of the NI site, in my eyes anyway, seems to have declined.

    The Denard vs. Bryce tag line above is what I expect from ESPN, not from folks who follow the team daily and who know Espi is too big a hole in the lineup to play everyday.

    • Hiram Hover - Jul 3, 2014 at 6:37 PM

      To be fair, I very much appreciate Mark Z’s work.

      He has avoided the tabloid fodder. Did a smart preview about who plays where on Bryce’s return, and a nice write up re: the BP today when he could have gone for the cheap thrills of Bryce v. Matt. Kudos to him.

      • natsjackinfl - Jul 3, 2014 at 6:53 PM

        Mark’s the best and Chase does a good job, too.

        And it’s still the best place to discuss everything Nats. It’s the in game thread that has become tedious at best. And then it’s only 2 or 3 ccommenter’s that make it that way.

      • ehay2k - Jul 3, 2014 at 6:56 PM

        I totally agree HH. Was making a point about the quality of some of the newer contributors. Mark Z. consistently writes to the high standards instilled no doubt by his Northwestern education.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 3, 2014 at 6:39 PM

      Exactly 4 weeks from the trade deadline. I would like a NL East discussion on that.

      The Nats have the luxury of waiting for August 31st waiver claims but could try to swipe a lefty reliever and trade Blevins. Hairston with 1 hit since the end of May.

      • Danny - Jul 3, 2014 at 7:16 PM

        Wouldn’t shock me if Detwiler is dealt at the deadline. He is a luxury for our squad in the bullpen and can be easily replaceable in his current role. Many other teams would be interested in him as a starter.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 3, 2014 at 7:19 PM

        They’ve tried Danny. Rizzo wants fair value and nobody is offering enough.

      • masterfishkeeper - Jul 3, 2014 at 8:22 PM

        Did you see this discussion:

        http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/49258/trade-deadline-preview-nl-east

        I don’t see the Nats trading Espinosa, because he’s the only backup SS.

        I’d be fine with trading Hairston and calling up Moore or Souza. I’d be very happy with another quality lefty reliever.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 3, 2014 at 8:25 PM

        Yep, can’t trade Espi.

    • naterialguy - Jul 3, 2014 at 8:04 PM

      This is what I was saying a couple weeks back. The posters are purchasing the bloggers. Marks site has been diluted with some of these additional bloggers and by the extra thinks he now does as a result of his success. It is good for him but not so much for us.

  5. Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 3, 2014 at 7:41 PM

    “NatsLady on July 3, 2014 at 6:34 pm
    I don’t know how hard it is, but this guy does it EVERY DAY.

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/hitlist/

    They don’t seem to like the Barves. I like that. The Barves though are raking up on the injured and lowly teams. They have Arizona who lost AJ Pollack to the DL and Kirk Gibson is on the hot seat then they get the Mets again who will throw their #4, #5 and #1. Supposedly David Wright will be back in the lineup.

    The Barves have been rather fortunate and the Nats must face the Cubs #1, #2 and #3

    The Dodgers today are tied with the Giants for the NL West lead, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s the Nats, Cards, Dodgers are the division winners when the season is over.

    Even with the no-hitter by Lincecum and his shutout, the Giants are in a slide winning just 2 of their last 10.

    • NatsLady - Jul 3, 2014 at 8:05 PM

      Well, we DID just beat up on the “injured and lowly” Rockies and after that we have the last place Cubs (who, admittedly, are not playing like a last-place team) and then the last-place Fillies. who are playing like a last-place team.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 3, 2014 at 8:08 PM

        I thought the Nats play 4 against the Os after the Cubbies.

        Yes, good time to play the Rocks. They fielded a AAAA team on Tuesday vs Stras ,)

      • NatsLady - Jul 3, 2014 at 9:24 PM

        You’re right. Forgot about the O’s… easy to do. They are pests and we never do well against them.

  6. naterialguy - Jul 3, 2014 at 7:58 PM

    100″% agree. What a worthless shallow statement seemingly based on nothing but the desire to grab attention

  7. naterialguy - Jul 3, 2014 at 8:00 PM

    That comment was shipped to be a reply to this statement by Nats jack

    “Steve Roney, you are now my least favorite contributor to the Web site for your cheap shot about Bryce and Dennard.”

  8. David Proctor - Jul 3, 2014 at 8:56 PM

    Man the Phillies are useless

    • David Proctor - Jul 3, 2014 at 9:07 PM

      And Cishek blows the save, so maybe they’re not completely useless.

      • Sec 3 My Sofa - Jul 3, 2014 at 9:34 PM

        Wait, what? Cishek is on the Marlins.

      • David Proctor - Jul 3, 2014 at 9:39 PM

        Yeah, which means the Phillies aren’t useless. They got to Cishek

      • Sec 3 My Sofa - Jul 3, 2014 at 10:12 PM

        Ah. Ok. Phillies aren’t as useless as the Marlins. Got it.

  9. Doc - Jul 3, 2014 at 9:13 PM

    What’s your favorite sport Steve Roney? Marbles?

    You sir, are an a***h***! Espi needs you for his agent!

    • Sec 3 My Sofa - Jul 3, 2014 at 9:27 PM

      Ok, ok. I think he gets the point.

      • Steve - Jul 5, 2014 at 1:38 PM

        Loud and clear. Though I read it with Cameron from Ferris Bueller’s voice in my head, so I actually chuckled. Double points to Doc since Cameron was on the phone talking to Principal Rooney.

  10. ArVAFan - Jul 3, 2014 at 11:24 PM

    Suggested alternative blurb for the Nationals: this week we’ll find out if Jayson and Ian really got their hitting mojo back.

    Pertinent and (hopefully ) non- offensive.

    • Eric - Jul 4, 2014 at 12:11 AM

      Er, hopefully offensive: onslaught.

  11. Joe Seamhead - Jul 4, 2014 at 7:59 AM

    Amazing, the O’s are now in first place, as are the Dodgers, and the A’s are now only 3 1/2 up on the Angels. Things sure have changed in the past 2 weeks.
    The Cubs won’t be pushovers this weekend, nor will the O’s be next week. We get a much more accurate test as to how we stand in the next week than we did against the walking wounded Rockies.
    On the subject of Jerry Blevins, I hope for the team’s sake that he comes around to being the guy that the Nats thought that they were getting. That said, I said on the day that the trade was made that I thought that we traded the wrong guy, for the wrong guy. Billy Burns has not been setting the world on fire in the Texas League as far as his .249 BA/.328OBP is concerned, especially with his present 3 week slump, except the A’s are determined to for him to perfect hitting from both sides. But even with his BA struggles,he is only striking out at about a 1 in 6.5 PA. On an extreme positive? He has stolen 42 bases and has only been caught 3 times. I understand that there realistically was no room for him to advance in the Nats system, but I also think the club sold him cheap, and could’ve done better than Jerry Blevins for him. And if they make a serious run for the World Series it would’ve nice to have had his base running available. Nobody in our system has his speed, or base stealing talent.

    GYFNG!!!

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 4, 2014 at 9:01 AM

      Thanks for the Billy Burns update. The old saying is that you can’t steal 1st base which is true but I want my last guy on the bench to be a speed burner. With slow guys like Ramos and LaRoche, there will be the opportunity late in a game for a key pinch run and Billy the Burner was the guy.

      Half the season is over and Blevins hasn’t done the job. He better step up!

      • Eugene in Oregon - Jul 4, 2014 at 10:33 AM

        I continue to believe that Jerry Blevins should be used almost exclusively against LH batters. With the possible exception of a RH between two LHs, that should be his only real job. And I see him as pretty good at it. The effort to use him as a one-inning guy just doesn’t make sense, IMHO.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 4, 2014 at 10:39 AM

        Eugene, something has to change as you are correct the 1 inning efforts aren’t working. 859 OPS vs RHBs and 414 OPS vs LHBs.

        I would say it isn’t working against righties.

  12. stoatva - Jul 4, 2014 at 8:20 AM

    I suppose most have seen MLB’s video of all 30 starting first basemen reciting Lou Gehrig’s farewell address, which took place 75 years ago today, before a doubleheader against the Washington Senators.

    http://m.mlb.com/video/topic/24395376/v34196007/75th-anniversary-of-lou-gehrigs-speech

    It’s worth a watch, if you haven’t. It’s also kind of fun to see how many you recognize.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 76 57 --
ATLANTA 71 64 6.0
MIAMI 65 68 11.0
NEW YORK 63 72 14.0
PHILADELPHIA 61 73 15.5
Through Friday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
SAT: Nats at Mariners, 9:10 p.m.
SUN: Nats at Mariners, 4:10 p.m.
MON: Nats at Dodgers, 8:10 p.m.
TUE: Nats at Dodgers, 10:10 p.m.
WED: Nats at Dodgers, 4:10 p.m.
THU: OFF
FRI: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
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.

*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.

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