In the Power Rankings’ third week, the Texas Rangers’ TOTAL % had dipped to .511, and their rank was a middle-of-the-pack 15th. In other words, they were starting to look like a one-and-doner, a team that might get branded for being lucky that Joe Girardi forgot how to manage his bullpen for a few days last October. Since then, they have turned it around in a big way, particularly in the past four weeks. They have currently logged 11 straight wins, and after a pivotal three-game set this week with the Angels, the schedule gets awfully easy for the Rangers. For nearly a month — July 22 to August 14 — they don’t play one team currently residing in the top half of the rankings. Aside from a series with the Yankees, the Angels path doesn’t appear to be much more difficult in terms of where teams are in the rankings, but the Rangers — who own the best home record in the American League — will play 14 of the 22 games at home. The Angels meanwhile, will have to play 16 of their 22 on the road, and all 16 will be played in the eastern time zone. The Rangers, with a .608 WAR% and a .574 TOTAL%, have pulled away from the AL West competition in the rankings, and during this upcoming stretch, they have an opportunity to run away and hide from the Angels and the rest of the west in the standings as well. (As always click here to check out the methodology behind the rankings.)
1. Boston: Last week – 1, WAR% – .673 (1), FAN% – .605 (1), TOTAL% – .644
The AL Most Valuable Player talk that we distracted ourselves with over the All-Star break proved to be a bit premature when Adrian Gonzalez slumped coming out of the break. Gonzalez would not be the AL MVP right now, because at the moment he’s not even the most valuable player on his own team, according to WAR.
3. Philadelphia: Last week – 3, WAR% – .602 (4), FAN% – .556 (3), TOTAL% – .583
In looking at the new K% and BB% for pitchers leaderboard, you can see that both Roy Halladay and Clayton Kershaw have struck out more than 21% more batters than they have walked. No other qualified starter reaches 20 percent.
4. Texas: Last week – 4, WAR% – .608 (3), FAN% – .525 (7), TOTAL% – .574
With Dave Cameron’s 2011 Trade Value series in the books, one thing that jumped out at me is that the Rangers are the only team who has both members of its double play combo on the list — Elvis Andrus ranks 47th and Ian Kinsler 30th.
5. Milwaukee: Last week – 5, WAR% – .571 (7), FAN% – .519 (9), TOTAL% – .550
While one of the two reasons to keep Francisco Rodriguez as the Brewers’ set-up man vanished when he agreed to eliminate his vesting option on Friday, the Brewers seem to be sticking with John Axford as closer, as he saved both of the Crew’s wins over the weekend.
6. San Francisco: Last week – 7, WAR% – .568 (9), FAN% – .519 (9), TOTAL% – .548
Whether on or off the field, Brian Wilson makes some very interesting, yet calculated choices — choices that should keep him in our lives well past the expiration date of your average closer.
7. St. Louis: Last week – 6, WAR% – .569 (8), FAN% – .512 (12), TOTAL% – .546
Who hits their respective ball harder — Albert Pujols with his bat, or Abby Wambach with her head? I don’t know, but I do know I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of either.
8. Los Angeles of Anaheim: Last week – 9, WAR% – .584 (5), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .545
Scott Downs came out of the gate slow, but since he has been among the best of the group of relievers who signed multi-year deals this past winter.
9. Colorado: Last week – 11, WAR% – .534 (13), FAN% – .556 (3), TOTAL% – .543
First base is so crowded with stars these days that it’s easy to overlook the 37-year old Todd Helton, but the Rockies’ elder statesmen has defied logic with yet another comeback season. His UZR of 4.4 ranks third among first baseman and his .387 wOBA ranks sixth best among first baseman, ahead of more visible stars like Albert Pujols, Mark Teixeira and Ryan Howard.
10. Atlanta: Last week – 10, WAR% – .561 (t-10), FAN% – .506 (14), TOTAL% – .538
Martin Prado has dropped his strikeout percentage to a full-season career low, which makes his return to the free-swinging Braves — who rank 28th in strikeout percentage — that much more pivotal.
11. Tampa Bay: Last week – 8, WAR% – .537 (12), FAN% – .537 (5), TOTAL% – .537
The Rays are certainly not going away, but during last night’s offensive effort — the Rays became the first team to be held to three or fewer hits in a game of 16 innings or more (dating back to 1919) — the Rays displayed “warning track” power more times than Bart Simpson has excuses not to take tests, and that’s not getting it done.
12. Cincinnati: Last week – 12, WAR% – .561 (t-10), FAN% – .494 (17), TOTAL% – .533
This past week’s BABIP’er of the Week was Drew Stubbs, who clocked in with a .833 BABIP during the shortened week of play.
13. Arizona: Last week – 14, WAR% – .576 (6), FAN% – .463 (25), TOTAL% – .529
It’s great that Brandon Allen is getting his shot, but now instead of getting to see Wily Mo Pena play the Jason Giambi pinch-hitter extraordinaire role, D-backs fans will have to watch the amazing quartet of Willie Bloomquist, Xavier Nady, Sean Burroughs and Geoff Blum in those situations. The quartet collectively has totaled as many homers this season in 406 plate appearances as Pena did in 46.
14. New York Mets: Last week – 15, WAR% – .5286 (16), FAN% – .519 (9), TOTAL% – .524
The Mets — who have to date outplayed their seemingly-high-at-the-start-of-the-season FAN% — seem to have alligator blood, and it is partially thanks to the quiet work of Jonathan Niese, whose 3.32 xFIP ranks 18th in the Majors among qualified starters.
15. Florida: Last week – 17, WAR% – .521 (18), FAN% – .525 (7), TOTAL% – .522
David G. was all over Javier Vazquez’s return to form earlier this week, and then Vazquez went out and struck out a season-high 10 this weekend to drive the point home that he still has a lil’ somethin’ somethin’ left in the tank.
16. Detroit: Last week – 13, WAR% – .523 (17), FAN% – .512 (12), TOTAL% – .519
A 26-year old, 15th-round draft pick that puts up above average numbers at the plate and at all three outfield positions, Casper Wells exemplifies the kind of unheralded but solid player that can save a team from wasting time and money on retreads like Bill Hall or Ryan Langerhans.
17. Chicago White Sox: Last week – 16, WAR% – .530 (14), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .513
Will Ohman has been great for the White Sox this year. He has the best K/BB marks of any reliever with more than five innings pitched on the team, and he has been death against lefties.
18. Toronto: Last week – 18, WAR% – .5287 (15), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .512
Though he could stand to draw a couple more walks, Travis Snider has been relevatory since his recall to the Jays. His 192 wRC+ in July is second on the team only to you know who.
19. Los Angeles Dodgers: Last week – 19, WAR% – .512 (19), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .502
Matt Kemp is among a handful within hailing distance of a 30-30 season, but with 24 homers and 27 steals already, a 40-40 season is also in play for Kemp. If he gets it, will Jay-Z build a 40/40 club in LA? If not, Kemp at least gets a free 40/40 Club Flight Jacket, right?
20. Chicago Cubs: Last week – 20, WAR% – .474 (21), FAN% – .506 (14), TOTAL% – .487
The Cubs say they take pride in their outfield defense, but while their outfield ranks a healthy 11th in ARM, it also ranks 23rd in RngR, 18th in ErrR, 22nd in overall UZR and 26th in DRS. Maybe they should take a little more pride in it.
21. San Diego: Last week – 22, WAR% – .471 (25), FAN% – .494 (17), TOTAL% – .481
Since his disastrous outing on May 14 in Colorado, Aaron Harang has allowed just 8 runs in 46 2/3 innings. In fact, if you subtract that start and his April 26 outing against Atlanta, Harang has a miniscule 2.20 RA, and though Harang would probably prefer to stay in his native San Diego, he could be an intriguing get for a contender as the trade deadline approaches.
22. Cleveland: Last week – 21, WAR% – .501 (20), FAN% – .451 (27), TOTAL% – .480
Michael Brantley has gotten back to his slightly above-average ways at the dish in July, which is a welcome sight for the Tribe given Grady Sizemore’s latest injury.
23. Washington: Last week – 24, WAR% – .488 (21), FAN% – .457 (26), TOTAL% – .475
The Nationals’ bright future was on display in the Trade Value list, as the Nats tied the Red Sox and Rays for most players on the list with four.
24. Minnesota: Last week – 23, WAR% – .428 (29), FAN% – .537 (5), TOTAL% – .474
A Twins fan might have initially panicked upon seeing the words “Scott Baker” and “disabled list” in the same sentence, but with the move retroactive to before the All-Star break it could be a minor stroke of genius — Baker may only skip one more start, but the Twins also got to call up a pitcher for their doubleheader today without sending anyone down.
25. Oakland: Last week – 29, WAR% – .450 (26), FAN% – .481 (23), TOTAL% – .463
Any day that MC Hammer takes time to make a stirring case stumping for Charlie Finley to be inducted into the Hall of Fame is a day that…can’t be touched.
26. Pittsburgh: Last week – 25, WAR% – .4796 (23), FAN% – .438 (28), TOTAL% – .462
With series to close out the month against the 12th, seventh, 10th and third best teams in the rankings, we are about to find out if the Pirates are contenders or pretenders.
27. Baltimore: Last week – 27, WAR% – .423 (30), FAN% – .500 (16), TOTAL% – .456
Nick Markakis is still on fire. He was the tied for the third-best position player this past week, a week in which he surpassed 1,000 career hits and homered in back-to-back games, helping the O’s break temporarily out of the doldrums.
28. Kansas City: Last week – 28, WAR% – .4797 (22), FAN% – .420 (29), TOTAL% – .455
Doesn’t “Return of the Melk-Man” sound like some cheesy 90’s action movie starring Wesley Snipes as the hero, William Hurt as the brainy villain and Nick Nolte as the down on his luck friend that comes through with a key piece of wisdom that helps Snipes save the day? Ok, maybe not, but either way, Melky Cabrera has turned things around significantly in his age-26 season.
29. Seattle: Last week – 26, WAR% – .433 (27), FAN% – .469 (24), TOTAL% – .448
If you’re like me, you noticed how bad the Mariners’ offense has been lately, and started Derek Holland, C.J. Wilson and Matt Harrison in their matchups with the M’s this past week in Pick Six. What? Don’t tell me you’re still not playing Pick Six!
30. Houston: Last week – 30, WAR% – .432 (28), FAN% – .370 (30), TOTAL% – .407
The Astros were one of five teams — the others being the Mets, Padres, Royals and Twins — without a representative on the Trade Value list.
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