Is it possible to be angry when your favorite team wins a game 17-3? I can now answer that with an emphatic yes, after last Friday's bloodbath in Wrigley Field. The Cubs haven't won a series against a team with a winning record since their April 30-May 3 set against the Marlins. Yet they stay above .500 by pounding the Pirates into submission? They're like a 14-year-old bully who leaves his peers alone, but he loves to go home and beat up on the 10-year-olds. I dropped them as far as I could in this installment of the Power Rankings, but I'll honestly admit I considered putting them last.
- 1. Yankees | Record: 75-45 | Previous Week: 1
The Bronx Bombers have it on cruise control, sporting a seven-game lead in the vaunted AL East. You don't want to peak too early, true, but the Yankees still haven't gotten every cylinder firing. That is scary news for everyone else in baseball.
- 2. Angels | Record: 72-45 | Previous Week: 2
Rookie pitcher Trevor Bell has celebrity lineage. His grandfather, Bob Bell, was Bozo the Clown on TV for 25 years. He's in the Clown Hall of Fame. - Jeff Fletcher [Snyder's note: I'm really, really excited to see an Angels vs. Yankees postseason series. Hopefully it happens]
- 3. Cardinals | Record: 68-53 | Previous Week: 4
The Redbirds have gone 15-5 since July 26, not only wrestling first place back from the Cubs, but basically putting them away in the process -- taking advantage of the Cubs' awful streak of late.
- 4. Phillies | Record: 67-49 | Previous Week: 5
The champs' weakness early in the season was obviously starting pitching, but now they have too many. A nice problem to have as they head down the stretch with Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, J.A. Happ, Pedro Martinez, Joe Blanton and Jamie Moyer all quite capable of eating innings.
- 5. Dodgers | Record: 71-49 | Previous Week: 3
Maybe all that's gone wrong is they've just seen their luck even out in close games. The Dodgers won 20 of their first 29 one-run games. Since then, they've lost six of seven. Now their Pythagorean record (an estimate based on runs scored vs. runs allowed) is only one game off from their actual record. - Jeff Fletcher
- 6. Rangers | Record: 67-51 | Previous Week: 7
If you would have told Rangers fans heading into the season they'd be tied with the Red Sox for the AL wild card in mid-August, they'd have surely been happy. Now, you know they're hungry and want that playoff berth.
- 7. Red Sox | Record: 67-51 | Previous Week: 6
Say what you want about David Ortiz, but he still has power. Since June 6, Big Papi has 17 home runs, which means he's hitting one every 12 at-bats. That's a pace of close to 50 over the course of a full season. Of course, he's not doing much else, as that .319 OBP illustrates.
- 8. Rays | Record: 64-54 | Previous Week: 8
They can't seem to crawl any closer, but they are clinging to three games out in the wild-card race. Getting Pat Burrell and B.J. Upton hot would be nice (Tuesday night could have been the start).
- 9. Rockies | Record: 66-53 | Previous Week: 9
Ubaldo Jimenez is a legitimate ace. The 25-year-old has won five straight decisions and has a 2.87 ERA since the beginning of May. He's the type of pitcher who could scare teams in October.
- 10. Tigers | Record: 63-55 | Previous Week: 10
They're definitely pushing their chips to the middle of the table this year. Dave Dombrowski made another small move to bolster the depth, getting Aubrey Huff Monday. They have what they need to get the job done in the mediocre AL Central.
- 11. Marlins | Record: 64-55 | Previous Week: 11
The Fish are playing some great baseball, winning eight of their last 10. Trouble is, they can't seem to gain any ground. The top of the NL houses teams all playing well at the moment, possibly save for the Dodgers. Don't expect Florida to go away, though.
- 12. Giants | Record: 65-54 | Previous Week: 13
The first 2 1/2 weeks with Freddy Sanchez and Ryan Garko have yielded mixed results. Sanchez has hit .304, but Garko has batted just .224 with eight RBI, half of them coming on Tuesday night. - Jeff Fletcher
- 13. Braves | Record: 62-57 | Previous Week: 12
The Braves are going to need more from their investment in Derek Lowe if they plan to topple the three teams they trail in the wild-card standings. Lowe's ERA is currently 0.57 higher than his previous worst mark in the NL.
- 14. Mariners | Record: 61-58 | Previous Week: 14
A total of 14 Seattle players have spent time on the disabled list this year, the most in the American League. That doesn't even take into account that some players, like Adrian Beltre, have been on the DL twice. - Jeff Fletcher
- 15. White Sox | Record: 61-59 | Previous Week: 16
They're definitely within striking distance of the division-leading Tigers, but the White Sox need to play with more consistency. Sure, they can take three of four from the best team in baseball, but they're only 25-28 against their own division.
- 16. Twins | Record: 57-62 | Previous Week: 18
It's amazing to watch the development of Joe Mauer as an all-around hitter. He had everything but power before this season. In 2009? He's hit 25 home runs in 363 at-bats, helping him to an AL-leading .653 slugging percentage (it ain't close, either).
- 17. Blue Jays | Record: 55-62 | Previous Week: 17
As the Jays fall further and further out of any semblance of a race, they are still somehow clinging to a positive run differential. It's a testament to how dominant they were early in the season in addition to the strength of the AL East.
- 18. Cubs | Record: 60-57 | Previous Week: 15
Since reaching a season-high nine games over .500 on August 4, the Cubs are 3-9 -- with two of the wins coming at home against the
Indianapolis IndiansPittsburgh Pirates. If new ownership is ever put in place, an argument could be made the administration needs to be gutted (starting with Jim Hendry and Lou Piniella).
- 19. Mets | Record: 56-63 | Previous Week: 24
Starting to look presentable, and they should be getting David Wright and Carlos Beltran back in time for September. Of course, it's gonna take a 2007 Rockies-type effort to have a realistic shot at the playoffs.
- 20. Brewers | Record: 58-61 | Previous Week: 19
Unlike the Cubs, the Crew seems to play to the level of their competition. They won two of three in Los Angeles against the mighty Dodgers, but have also lost four of six to the Padres in the past several weeks and their last two against the Pirates.
- 21. Astros | Record: 57-62 | Previous Week: 20
Unfortunately for Astros fans, the team probably hasn't been bad enough to warrant a change in direction in the offseason according to management. Meanwhile, the team will just get older and the farm system has very little to offer in terms of future help.
- 22. Athletics | Record: 53-66 | Previous Week: 22
In the past month, the A's have picked up the players they hope will form the left side of their infield into the next decade. They got third baseman Brett Wallace from the Cardinals in the Holliday trade and they signed shortstop Grant Green out of USC. - Jeff Fletcher
- 23. Indians | Record: 51-67 | Previous Week: 23
Hopefully, for Cleveland's sake, Grady Sizemore can get things fixed before next season. This year has been a disaster for him, considering his age and immense potential.
- 24. Diamondbacks | Record: 54-66 | Previous Week: 21
Unlike most of the teams mired down here in the rankings, there is a great reason to watch the Snakes the rest of the way: Mark Reynolds and his home runs. It's looking like 50 is a sure thing, and he's right on the heels of Albert Pujols for the home run title.
- 25. Nationals | Record: 43-76 | Previous Week: 26
They started to settle down a bit, going 3-3 last week. Still, they are playing far too well to end up with the No. 1 overall draft pick again next June. Since July 21, they are 16-10. They also signed Stephen Strasburg. Lots of good news in Washington -- during baseball season. That just sounds weird, no?
- 26. Padres | Record: 51-70 | Previous Week: 28
Chris Young's season-ending surgery was bad news for the base-stealers in the National League. Young was the worst pitcher in the league at holding runners. Since 2006, opposing baserunners were successful in 120 of 126 steal attempts with Young on the mound. - Jeff Fletcher
- 27. Orioles | Record: 48-71 | Previous Week: 25
After what had to have been an encouraging first half, the Orioles are now 8-23 since the All-Star break. There's a lot of young talent, but can they grow into a winner before it's all traded away?
- 28. Reds | Record: 50-68 | Previous Week: 27
Sure, they've been decimated by injuries, but there are plenty of guys who haven't stepped up and done what has been expected of them as well. Brandon Phillips, Aaron Harang, Johnny Cueto and Willy Taveras, among others, need to be better.
- 29. Pirates | Record: 48-70 | Previous Week: 29
Ross Ohlendorf, who came over the in the Xavier Nady trade, is 4-1 with a 2.72 ERA in his past six starts. He's only 26 and it is his first full season as a starter in the majors. Give him time and he'll make that trade look smart. I'll bet you'll be able to say the same for most of the recent deals, if everyone is patient enough.
- 30. Royals | Record: 47-72 | Previous Week: 30
On the other hand, the Royals are paying eight figures to Gil Meche and Jose Guillen, neither of whom will be members of the team next time they even sniff a winning record. Mike Jacobs, David DeJesus and a few others probably could have been moved as well. The message: The Pirates will have the franchise turned around sooner than KC. At least they have enough guts to take the PR hit as they try to build a team. The Royals are treading water.