MLB Power Rankings (June 22): The Angels Are Going Streaking
Welcome back to our latest edition of MLB Power Rankings. Whether you like offensive showdowns replete with dingy dangy doos and grand salamis or pitchers' duels, I guarantee you won't leave disappointed. Without further ado, here are the most up-to-date rankings. Each team is given a rank, accompanied by its wins-loss record and its change in the rankings from the previous edition. +3, for example, would mean a team rose three spots in our rankings. -3 would mean the exact opposite. Ok. Here we go!
1. Texas Rangers (43-27, +/- 0) – The Rangers are easily the most balanced team in baseball and have a league-best +94 run differential to show for it. While Texas has benefitted from a relatively easy Interleague schedule, it did take four of six from the surging Giants and Diamondbacks. Ron Washington’s club has won nine of 10, outscoring opponents 51-15 in those nine wins; that’s just 1.67 runs allowed per game. Oh by the way, the Rangers lineup is stacked. They already have nine hitters with 25 RBIs or more.
2. New York Yankees (41-27, +1) – The Evil Empire is playing inspired baseball. On May 21, the Yankees were tied with the rival Sox for last place in the AL East with a .500 record of 21-21. Since, the team has won 20 of 26 behind stellar pitching. The bullpen has been spectacular even without Mariano Rivera, and recent 40-year-old Andy Pettitte is pitching like the ace of the staff. Who would’ve thought?
3. Los Angels of Anaheim Angels (38-32, +9) – Kind of like of Hansel from Zoolander, the Yankees and Angels are so hot right now. The Halos' pitching has been great all season, but the offense is starting to come around. Albert Pujols’ slow start has been well documented, but since May 22, the big guy has produced eight home runs and 25 RBIs. On May 4, the 32-year-old righty’s batting average was below the Mendoza line (.194), but he has been able to raise it to .255. The two MT’s, Mark Trumbo and Mike Trout, have been amazing, as well. Trout is only 20 years old, but is already one of the most exciting players in the league, whether he is making a diving play, killing the baseball or stealing a base. With the Rangers and Angels atop the AL West, get ready for an exciting battle all season long.
4. Washington Nationals (40-27, +/- 0) – The best pitching staff in baseball can be found in our nation’s capital. But in our instant-gratification era, baseball fans seem to be growing impatient with highly touted outfielder Bryce Harper. Yes, he will hit game-winning home runs and record three-hit games, but he will also go hitless in seven at bats, while striking out five times. He’s only 19. Give him time. With that said, he’s one of the best 19-year-olds this writer has even seen.
5. Los Angeles Dodgers (42-28, -3) – A No. 5 ranking may seem harsh for the third-best club (record-wise) in the MLB, but the team has some problems. Runs have been extremely difficult to come by. In the Dodgers’ latest series, they produced just two runs and eight hits in the three games combined. Andre Ethier is really slumping at a time when the team needs him most. For a while, the Dodgers were doing just fine without Matt Kemp, but his absence is finally catching up with them.
6. Baltimore Orioles (39-30, +1) – I’m not sure why, but the Orioles have played (and won) the most extra-inning games in baseball. They’ve won 9 of 11. Before the Mets swept the O’s earlier this week, Baltimore had won seven of eight, including a sweep of the surging Pirates. After a miserable May, catcher Matt Wieters is turning in a solid June, batting .328 with seven doubles. But Baltimore would like Adam Jones to smack more dingy dangy doos. On May 27, the Orioles signed the center fielder to the largest contract in franchise history. Since, Jones has hit just four home runs.
7. San Francisco Giants (38-32, +7) – Besides the Angels and Rangers, the Giants have played a lot of bad teams lately. Regardless, winning 14 of 22 is absolutely nothing to sneeze at unless you have really bad allergies. Matt Cain has been amazing and Melky Cabrera is unexpectedly batting .363. Considering Cain’s brilliance, many forget about fellow rotation-mates, Ryan Vogelsong and Madison Bumgarner. Vogelsong has recorded 12 quality starts out of 13 opportunities. So reliable! Bumgarner is only 22, yet he continues to improve every single season.
8. Tampa Bay Rays (38-31, -3) – The Rays rank 27th and 24th in batting average and slugging percentage, respectively, but they’ve been carried by their pitching. I’d like to single out southpaw starter David Price, who has surrendered three or fewer earned runs in 12 of 14 starts. Hats off to the lanky lefty!
9. Boston Red Sox (36-33, +4) – Winners of seven of their last eight, the Red Sox must be feeling pretty good. Beantown scores the second most runs in the league (after Texas), but pitching hasn’t been its strong suit. Fortunately for the Sox, some guys are starting to throw better. Take Clay Bucholtz, for example. After suffering through six miserable starts to open the season, the 6-foot-3 starter has lowered his ERA from 9.09 to 5.53. He’s done so by allowing three or fewer runs in six of his last eight starts. Boasting such a talented lineup, all Boston needs is mediocre pitching. Earlier in the year, the pitching was flat-out atrocious (well short of mediocre).
10. Pittsburgh Pirates (36-32, +8) – Much like the Yankees and Angels (and let’s not forget about Hansel), the Pirates are so hot right now. The typically offensively deficient Bucs have found a way to score seven or more runs in four of their last five contests. James McDonald is one of the most underrated pitchers around the league. Check his numbers and game log! Pitching aside, Pedro Alvarez recorded consecutive multi-home run games against the Indians last weekend. Andrew McCutchen’s power should not go unnoticed either. He’s not the biggest of guys, but Cutch slugged .709 and .657 in May and June, respectively. Enjoy this, James Santelli.
11. Cincinnati Reds (38-30, -3) – The Reds better watch out, because the Pirates are coming after them in the NL Central standings. However, I'm not too sure the Pirates can maintain their hot hitting. The Reds, on the other hand, boast the best hitter in the National League, Joey Votto. Wait until you see his numbers for June. He’s batting .471 with a slugging percentage of .809 and a 1.358 OPS. Is this real life?
12. New York Mets (38-32, +3) – The Mets have split their last 12 games, but what’s especially interesting is that in their last four series, they’ve alternated sweeping teams and getting swept. In case you haven’t noticed, knuckleballer R.A. Dickey has thrown two consecutive one-hit shutouts. In his last six starts, he’s allowed one earned run over 48.2 innings (an ERA of 0.19) and struck out 63 batters, while walking just five.
13. Detroit Tigers (34-35, +8) – Interleague play has been extremely kind to Detroit. Max Scherzer is starting to pitch considerably better. Although he’s still prone to giving up the dingy dangy doo, recently he’s been able to go deeper into games. Since center fielder Austin Jackson has returned from the disabled list, he’s driven in 13 runs in 11 games.
14. Oakland Athletics (34-36, +13) – The A’s have effectively shaken off an abysmal end to May by winning 12 of 19 this month and eight of their last nine. Most recently, the A’s pitchers stifled the Dodgers’ bats, holding the Blue Crew to two runs and eight hits in the three-game series.
15. Atlanta Braves (37-32, -5) – This season, Atlanta has proven to be a very streaky team. The Braves followed an eight-game May losing streak by winning eight of their next nine. They, then, dropped seven of eight affairs before winning their last two over the dangerous Yankees. The Braves’ split-personality has me confused as to what to write. I will say this: Chipper Jones, who is set to retire upon season’s end, has really struggled since his return from the disabled list.
Like Annie sings, the second half of these power rankings are only a day away.
And here they are: MLB Power Rankings 16-30.