July MLB Report
Alright, we’re into July and the season’s half done. It’s time for me to start Power Rankings, but I’ll continue the “10 Words” as well. But first, my All-Star Selection Show.
Fan’s Choice: Joe Mauer, MIN
Verdict: Right choice. Mauer has walked twice for every time he’s struck out this year and is among the league leaders in average. He’s only got four homers, but he’s an above-average defensive catcher with great sideburns.
Fan’s Choice: Kevin Youkilis, BOS
Verdict: Wrong choice. Justin Morneau has put up slightly better numbers and has avoided in-game slapfests with teammates. Youkilis certainly has put up solid numbers, but Morneau is my clear choice for first base.
Fan’s Choice: Dustin Pedroia, BOS
Verdict: Wrong choice. And it’s still the wrong choice even after Pedroia’s 15-game hot streak that raised his numbers to warrant even going to the game. Ian Kinsler leads the league in multiple offensive categories and leads Pedroia in nearly everything. Kinsler may very well have been the best player in the AL in the first half and will have nothing to show for it.
Fan’s Choice: Derek Jeter, NYY
Verdict: Wrong choice. While Jeter’s had a down year thusfar, he’s still been the second best shortstop in the position-deprived AL to Michael Young. Jeter will probably make the team until he retires, but he’s not the deserved starter this year.
Fan’s Choice: Alex Rodriguez, NYY
Verdcit: Right choice. Not much argument here. Solid defense and among the league leaders in multiple offensive categories despite a DL stint. Easy selection
Fan’s Choice: Manny Ramirez, BOS – Josh Hamilton, TEX – Ichiro Suzuki, SEA
Verdict. Wrong, Right, Wrong. Josh Hamilton absolutely. But Manny and Ichiro not. You’d think Boston fans would be able to identify their own best outfielder to go to the ASG, but JD Drew gets the shaft despite carrying the team while Manny’s hitting .220 since Ortiz went down. Ichiro’s great because he’s Japanese and all, but Grady Sizemore is my third outfielder.
Fan’s Choice: David Ortiz, BOS
Verdict: Wrong, wrong, wrong. First, he’s hitting .250 and second, he hasn’t played since May. But then, this is the same fanbase that voted Nomar Garciaparra the starter in 2001 despite not playing a single game. Texas’ Milton Bradley has had an unbelievable season and will thankfully get his because of Ortiz’s injury.
Fan’s Choice: Geovany Soto, CHC
Verdict: Wrong choice. Bengie Molina or Brian McCann would have been acceptable. But Soto’s not a horrible choice. Just wait.
Fan’s Choice: Lance Berkmann, HOU
Verdict: Duh. No doubter.
Fan’s Choice: Chase Utley, PHI
Verdict: I think it’s right. It’s close, between him and Uggla, but I take Utley by a nose.
Fan’s Choice: Hanley Ramirez, FLA
Verdict: You have to at least consider JJ Hardy and Miguel Tejada before you pick Ramirez. But pick Ramirez.
Fan’s Choice: Chipper Jones, ATL
Verdict: Dude’s hitting almost .400 and his peripherals dwarf anyone else’s. Should be unanimous.
Fan’s Choice: Ken Griffey Jr, CIN – Alfonso Soriano, CHC – Kosuke Fukudome, CHC
Verdict: All wrong. The only one I could possibly see is Soriano, and he’s been out quite some time. Here are my three picks for the NL outfield: Matt Holliday, COL – Ryan Ludwick, STL – Xavier Nady, PIT. Holliday spent some time on the DL so his accumulation numbers are “down” but everything else is there. None of the guys the fans chose would even crack my top five as Pat Burrell and Jason Bay/Carlos Lee would round that out.
I’d like to see a good All-Star Game, especially if it means something. I want to see the best players from each league square off against each other, not some has-been big-names that get by on reputation and fanbase. I’ve also heard rumors, although not confirmed, that Cliff Lee (Indians) and Brandon Webb (Diamondbacks) have been tabbed to start. Lee I’d agree with, but I’d start Lincecum or Volquez for the NL.
POWER RANKINGS – 07/06/08
1. Tampa Bay Rays (54-32)
Twenty-two games over .500 after never having been more than 5 games over in the past decade? This team is stacked, not only at the major league level, but at every level below that. I wouldn’t be all too surprised if they turned into a dynasty if they can keep all their players.
2. Anaheim Angels (52-35)
Winning without a whole lot of offense. Every year I think they need to add a big, impact bat (Matt Holliday, Jason Bay?) and every year they don’t. But they still win, and who am I to argue against success?
3. Chicago White Sox (50-37)
I hate Ozzie Guillen and AJ Pierzynski, but they don’t seem to lose too much anymore. Good pitching makes them a contender, but eventually I think their over-reliance on the home run will knock them off a little.
4. Minnesota Twins (49-38)
Just think how good they’d be with Johan Santana and Matt Garza in the rotation instead of Livan Hernandez and Boof Bonser. They just recently won 10 in a row and 15 of 17. Along with the White Sox, they’ve seriously surprised me.
5. Boston Red Sox (52-38)
Still scuffling through injuries and slumps, but the every starting pitcher they run out seems to do okay. Papelbon has been lights out for the most part, but the middle of the bullpen is considerably more shady.
6. Oakland Athletics (47-40)
Dave Duncan gets all sorts of accolades for converting Braden Looper to a “successul” starter, but how about that Justin Duchscherer? Leads the league in ERA.
7. Philadelphia Phillies (48-40)
Not particularly great, but they winning both at home and on the road – one of only two NL teams to be doing so (St. Louis)
8. Chicago Cubs (52-36)
Getting to the meat of the schedule hasn’t helped as they’re only 7-10 in their last 17 contests. Carlos Zambrano’s return will help, but they probably need one (or two) more starters before July’s through.
9. St. Louis Cardinals (50-39)
Catching the Cubs as we speak, with a wild 3-run comeback on the Cubbies today. Somehow, the Redbirds keep finding ways to win and it hasn’t hurt that Pujols comes off the DL with 4-hit games.
10. New York Yankees (46-42)
In better position than they were last year, but the division and league is deeper and better than last year. They’ll need better starting pitching and a more consistent offense to rally again. Surprisingly, the bullpen’s been the best in baseball over the past 30 days.
11. Milwaukee Brewers (48-39)
Even blowing a 5-run, 9th inning lead doesn’t damper this team much, although Ryan Braun could probably start hitting again and they wouldn’t mind much.
12. Texas Rangers (45-43)
Won two of three in New York and are playing much better of late under Ron Washington. The pitching’s been predictably bad (83 ERA+) but the offense has been predictably potent (114 OPS+). This is probably what they are and they’ll middle out in the division.
13. Baltimore Orioles (44-42)
Think they’re glad the rid themselves of Erik Bedard? Adam Jones looks like a young (not fat, not lazy) version of Andruw Jones and George Sherrill has done an excellent job of knocking down saves.
14. Toronto Blue Jays (42-46)
This team should be so much better. Alex Rios can’t hit anymore, the rest of the offense is a mess and the bullpen hasn’t been anywhere near as good as expected. The starting pitching however, has been excellent.
15. Los Angeles Dodgers (42-25)
Barry Zito just struck them out 10 times. I should drop them to 30th because of that. But they’ve suffered through some injury problems and they’ve predictably underperformed throughout.
16. Detroit Tigers (43-44)
Every time they put together a winning streak, they run into a good team and everything crashes. Justin Verlander’s been pitching better and Curtis Granderson’s been hitting, but they were above .500. And that’s a start. A better start than say, 0-7.
17. Florida Marlins (44-43)
Above .500 but have been outscored by 26 runs. Something’s gotta give.
18. New York Mets (43-44)
Only four out of the loss column, for all the circus-freak drama coming from Queens this year.
19. Arizona Diamondbacks (43-45)
Go back up one line and look at Arizona’s record. Now know that they’re leading their division. Now wish your team played in the NL West. Ten of the AL’s fourteen teams would be leading the NL West.
20. San Francisco Giants (39-49)
I wish my team had Tim Lincecum. 10-1 on a team ten games under .500.
21. Cincinnati Reds (42-47)
Jay Bruce is exciting, but the Reds generally don’t have a chance to win if Edinson Volquez isn’t starting.
22. Houston Astros (41-47)
They’re having problems pretty much everywhere with their closer’s ERA ever rising, their ace’s hip acting up and their outfield hitting abysmally. But Lance Berkman is nothing short of spectacular.
23. Kansas City Royals (39-49)
Remember back in April when I said I thought the Royals were a better team than their cross-state rivals? Even though the Royals won the season series, I apologize for such an inane comment.
24. Atlanta Braves (41-47)
It sure took them long enough to demote Jeff Francoeur. Watching their games this season, they just look lost and inexperienced outside of Chipper Jones.
25. Pittsburgh Pirates (40-46)
They should set up a tent or something and just sell off their tradeable pieces sooner rather than later. Bay, Nady and Marte could all bring back nice packages to the constantly rebuilding Bucs.
26. Seattle Mariners (35-52)
They’re playing better under Rigglemann. Not much better, but better.
27. Cleveland Indians (37-50)
Grady Sizemore is already a 20-20 guy this year and I’ll certainly be paying attention to see if he can get up to 40-40. Oh, do the Indians have other players?
28. Colorado Rockies (37-51)
Matt Holliday should be dealt by the end of the month. He’d bring back a ridiculous return based on his contract and ability, although he’s certainly been aided by Coors Field.
29. San Diego Padres (35-53)
Remember when they and the Rockies were locked in a one-game playoff last year? So do they…so do they.
30. Washington Nationals (34-55)
They’ve been outscored by 120 runs. That’s insanely bad.