warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

MLB Power Rankings (August 17): Musical Chairs Edition

Max Meyer |
August 17, 2012 | 1:28 p.m. PDT

Staff Writer

Despite incurring a ton of injuries, Strasburg and the Nats have so much to smile about. (Keith Allison/Creative Commons)
Despite incurring a ton of injuries, Strasburg and the Nats have so much to smile about. (Keith Allison/Creative Commons)
Sorry for the hiatus, but now that the Olympics are over, Neon Tommy's MLB Power Rankings are back with a vengeance. There's been a great deal of change since then, and the rankings prove it with only two teams staying at the same rank since our last power rankings. In addition, we start our newest rankings with a different team on top. 

1. Washington Nationals (73-45, +3)

The Nationals are 20-7 since All-Star shortstop Ian Desmond went on the D.L. and they hold the best record in baseball despite several of their impact players going on the D.L. this season. But those losses aren't nearly as big as Stephen Strasburg's will be once he reaches 180 innings.

2. New York Yankees (70-48, -1)

Here's a tale of the two Yankees' third basemen: Eric Chavez has hit 13 home runs in 202 at bats. Alex Rodriguez has 15 home runs in 352 at bats. The Yankees are paying Chavez $900,000 this season, while A-Rod is making $30 million this year. 

3. Cincinnati Reds (71-47, +/-0)

After Joey Votto was placed on the D.L. with a torn meniscus in his left knee, many baseball experts presumed that the Reds' would be in big trouble. Instead, they've gone 22-9 with Votto out, and they have the second-best record in baseball. Ryan Ludwick has stepped up considerably by hitting the second-most post-All-Star break home runs (10) in the National League. That's actually only four less homers than Votto's entire season output.

4. Atlanta Braves (69-49, +3)

The Braves' pitching has been a major reason for their post-All-Star break surge, but they need to make sure that the other aspects of the team are up to par in order to avoid a September collapse like last year. Their outfield defense has been great, too. According to ESPN's Buster Olney, the Braves have three of the top 8 outfielders in baseball in UZR (ultimate zone rating, a sabermetric stat to measure fielding performance).

5. Texas Rangers (68-49, -3)

The Rangers' two starting pitchers that they acquired in the middle of the season have been nothing short of disasters. Roy Oswalt was so bad that he was bumped to the bullpen. And I'm sure Ryan Dempster wishes he was still pitching in the National League. He's allowed 16 runs in his first 14 American League innings. He allowed only 13 runs total in his last eight starts with the Cubs. 

6. Chicago White Sox (65-52, +4)

While Chris Sale's possible innings management hasn't been spotlighted as much as Strasburg's, it will definitely have the same impact on the White Sox. According to MLB Stat of the Day, the AL Cy Young candidate became the second White Sox pitcher since 1918 to throw at least three games with 11 or more strikeouts in one season. 

7. Los Angeles Dodgers (65-54, +5)

I don't know why manager Don Mattingly has been so angry this season. In yesterday's game against the Pirates, Matt Kemp got ejected for arguing balls and strikes. Mattingly got ejected shortly after, for his NL-leading sixth time. However, with the Dodgers in first place, maybe the Dodgers respond well to that kind of fire.

8. Tampa Bay Rays (64-54, +6)

The Rays have had made several postseason appearances over the years, but they also have a knack for being on the wrong side of no-hitters and perfect games. According to Jayson Stark, the Rays are the first team to have gotten no-hit four times in four years. And according to ESPN Stats & Info, the Rays are the second team to have three perfect games thrown against them. The funnier part is that the other team to be perfecto'd three times, the Dodgers, have been in the MLB for 108 more years than the Rays. 

9. Baltimore Orioles (64-54, +4)

While top prospect Manny Machado's blistering start in the majors is a great story, the even better story is the fact that the Orioles are tied for the first wild-card spot, on August 17th! However, I'm not sure how confident I would feel starting Jason Hammel or Wei Yin Chen in a one-game wild-card playoff.

Matt Holliday and Carlos Beltran have combined to drive in 164 runs in 2012. (Mike CNY/Creative Commons)
Matt Holliday and Carlos Beltran have combined to drive in 164 runs in 2012. (Mike CNY/Creative Commons)
10. St. Louis Cardinals (64-54, +7)

The Cardinals sit in third place in the NL Central, only 10 games over .500, but this team is definitely primed for another big September run. Their +109 run differential is tops in baseball and they face the Mets, Brewers, Padres, Astros and Cubs in 18 of their 26 September games. 

11. Detroit Tigers (63-55, -2)

Everyone is in love with what Mike Trout is doing this season, but what about Miguel Cabrera? He's second in the American League in batting average (.327), third in home runs (30), and first in RBI's (103). He's also had eight seasons of at least 30 home runs, and he's still only 29 years old. 

12. Pittsburgh Pirates (65-53, -6)

A lot of people thought that the Pirates would not continue their first-half success, and they are definitely slowing down quite a bit in August. Two facts going against them: First half ace James McDonald has a 8.71 ERA post-All-Star break and according to Elias Sports Bureau, the Pirates have hit 21 home runs with two or more runners on base since May 27, five more than any other team in baseball (a number that is not sustainable). 

13. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (62-57, -5)

With that great offense and four aces, how are the Angels as mediocre as they are? Maybe it's the bullpen, which has an ERA above 6.00 after the All-Star break. Or maybe it's the fact that two of their aces, CJ Wilson and Dan Haren, simply haven't been pitching like aces. Wilson hasn't won an outing since June and Haren is in the midst of the worst season of his career (8-9 with a 4.68 ERA). 

14. San Francisco Giants (64-54, -9)

With Melky Cabrera's 50-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs now in play, the road to the postseason got a lot more difficult for the Giants. Despite Buster Posey's MLB-leading .434 batting average after the All-Star break and the recent return of Pablo Sandoval, this is a team that is tied for 17th in runs scored losing the player who was second in baseball in runs (Melky had 84). 

15. Oakland Athletics (62-55, -4)

While there is another rookie in the AL West making a lot of noise, the Athletics have to be really happy about two of their own. Yoenis Cespedes could be one of the best signings this past offseason, and he's been a savior in the middle of the Athletics lineup. Pitcher Dan Straily has been impressive as well, allowing one run or fewer in two of his first three big league starts. The A's have also won all three games he's started. 

16. Arizona Diamondbacks (59-59, +4)

Despite some very disappointing seasons by some of their top players (I'm especially looking at you, Justin Upton), the Diamondbacks only find themselves 5.5 games out of first place in the NL West. The team's MVP this season may very well be sophomore first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. After an awful April, he's hit over .300 in every single month along, while showcasing the same power he had in his rookie season.

Bobby Valentine, in happier times. (Keith Allison/Creative Commons)
Bobby Valentine, in happier times. (Keith Allison/Creative Commons)
17. Boston Red Sox (58-61, -2)

Bobby Valentine has angered his players so much that they had a heated meeting with the owners in late July after a mutinous text message sent by a group of Red Sox players. It's too bad that Terry Francona already used the beer, chicken and video games ploy last season to appease his players, or this whole mess could have been fixed by now. Oh, and fun fact from ESPN Stats & Info, the Red Sox are now 0-13 on Ben Affleck's birthday since the release of the film Good Will Hunting.

18. Philadelphia Phillies (54-64, +5)

When the Phillies signed Jonathan Papelbon to a four-year, $50 million contract, they thought that their leads would be protected. Instead, according to MLB Network, the Phillies have blown a lead in 32 of their 64 losses. Had they blown a lead in say a third of their losses (so I'll round to 22) instead of half of them, they would be only one game behind the Pirates for the second wild-card spot. 

19. New York Mets (56-62, +/-0)

Here's a team that could have really used a $50 million reliever. They have the worst bullpen in the majors this season, thanks to their 5.10 bullpen ERA. If only they hadn't signed Jason Bay (batting .159 with 6 home runs) to that awful four-year, $66 million contract three years ago, they could have used that money to acquire decent relievers by now.

20. Cleveland Indians (54-64, -2)

The Indians have been playing awful baseball since the All-Star break, with their 10-23 record proving so. They also had a historical 11 game losing streak during that span. According to ESPN Stats & Info, the Indians became the fifth team ever to have an 11 game losing streak while allowing at least five runs in all of those games.  

21. Toronto Blue Jays (55-63, -5)

It's been an extremely tough year for the Blue Jays, with almost every one of their big-time players spending time on the D.L. at one point or another during the season. With all of the unknown players currently on the roster due to all of these injuries, you might as well call this team the Toronto Who Plays. 

22. Seattle Mariners (55-64, +3)

Thanks to the incredible perfect game thrown by Felix Hernandez, here are a couple more perfect game/no-hitter facts. According to ESPN Stats & Info, the Mariners are the first team ever to have thrown a perfect game and to have a perfect game thrown against them. Safeco Field is also the first stadium to host three no-hitters in the same season.  

23. Miami Marlins (53-66, -1)

It's too bad Jose Reyes's 26-game hit streak (the highest in the majors this season) came to an end a week ago. That was the first positive highlight for the Marlins in weeks. 

24. Kansas City Royals (51-66, +4)

Looks like that Melky Cabrera-Jonathan Sanchez was actually a bad trade for both teams. Just kidding, Royals fans. Everyone knows that despite the suspension, Kansas City still got royally screwed on that trade. 

25. Milwaukee Brewers (53-64, -4)

Ryan Braun hit his 30th and 31st home runs yesterday, trying everything he can to escape the returning whispers after Melky's failed drug test. If anything, I'd like to test Carlos Gomez, who is somehow fifth on the team with 11 homers.

Third baseman Chase Headley is talented and affordable. (Kevin_SanJuanIslands/Creative Commons)
Third baseman Chase Headley is talented and affordable. (Kevin_SanJuanIslands/Creative Commons)
26. San Diego Padres (52-68, -2)

The Padres decided not to trade Huston Street or Carlos Quentin at the trade deadline and instead, signed them both to extensions. Not trading away Chase Headley was the best move though, because he is right now a top 3 NL third baseman signed to a very reasonable contract. 

27. Minnesota Twins (50-67, -1)

Let's look at the 30-home run guys so far this season: Josh Hamilton, Adam Dunn, Ryan Braun, Miguel Cabrera, Edwin Encarnacion, Curtis Granderson, and...Josh Willingham?!?! Willingham easily had the quietest 30 home runs in baseball, and the fact that his home park is Target Field is nothing to sneeze at. 

28. Chicago Cubs (46-70, -1)

The Cubs really do not like playing on the west coast. They are 0-13 when they face NL West teams away from home this year, and they have just six of these games left (three at Colorado and three at Arizona). According to Elias Sports Bureau, the 1992 Phillies are the only team with more consecutive losses (they had 14) at NL West parks. 

29. Colorado Rockies (45-71, +1)

According to ESPN Stats & Info, the Rockies are second in the majors this year with six grand slams. They'd probably need at least two grand slams every game just to be a .500 team, thanks to their awful pitching. 

30. Houston Astros (39-80, -1)

I kind of wish that the MLB could adopt the premier league's policy of relegation. Because there is no way that the Astros deserve to play in the major leagues this season. 



Email Max here or follow him on Twitter.



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.