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Your Monday Morning Power Rankings

May 16, 2011, 11:00 AM EDT

Francisco Cordero, Edinson Volquez

I gotta tell ya, no one feels like a number one team right now. Cleveland and Philly have the best records in baseball, but both are flawed teams who played some unexciting baseball last week.  Then you have Florida, but Philly beat them two out of three last week, so how can I put them above Philly?  Screw it: we ignore overall records at the top of the list this week and go with the hot hands.  Oh, and one more thing: there is so much damn compression right now, that you shouldn’t get too hung up on the rankings at the moment.  Five slots between teams could represent almost no difference in my perception of their mojo at the moment. I could have done a bunch of three and four-way ties at some of these rankings and it wouldn’t have made a big difference.

1. Reds (10): Are they the absolute best team in baseball? Eh, maybe not, but that’s not what the Power Rankings measure. I’m not sure exactly what they measure, but I know it when I see it, and the way I see it is that if you sweep your division rival and take over first place despite your ace relief pitcher doing a Steve Blass impression, you gotta be number one, at least for a week, OK? In other news, this is the first time that we’ve had two straight weeks of Ohio dominance at the top of the Rankings.

2. Rays (4): Kind of the same here in terms of what I feel about the Rays. Losing two of three to the O’s doesn’t feel like a number two team, but they’ve had a good run of late otherwise and are on top of their division and, dammit, no one else below them really excites me at the moment.  Really, aside from these top four teams, everyone is playing kind of blah baseball right now.

3. Tigers (16): The hottest team in baseball. Seven in a row and ten of eleven.

4. Giants (12): If you told me that the Giants would have the second to worst offense in baseball, that Pablo Sandoval would be hurt and Aubrey Huff and Buster Posey would be struggling and that, despite this, they’d be in first place in the West, I wouldn’t have really believed you. But I wouldn’t have called you crazy either. Because you can win with pitching.

5. Indians (1): Don’t read too much into the four-spot drop. Two rainouts on the weekend series and a few scorching-hot teams ahead of them will do that.  That said, it just seems like a matter of time before Detroit overtakes them in the real standings too, doesn’t it? Isn’t it time, now that all of the national outlets have gotten on board with their “hey, these Indians are exciting and special!” stories, for a decline? I admit that in this that I’m thinking of them as less of a baseball team and more of a stock, but it just seems to work like that a lot.

6-8. Phillies, Marlins, Braves (2, 5, 7): I guess in that order, because that reflects the standings, but you can make reasonable arguments in any order. They all went 3-3 last week. Braves won two straight series against the Phillies but are kind of getting away with murder as far their offensive holes go and of course they looked bad against the Nats. Phillies beat the Marlins in their mid-week series but in some ways the Marlins have been more consistent than the other two. They’re just all really even at the moment. I continue to believe that the Phillies will be the first to separate themselves, but they haven’t done it yet.

9. Cardinals (6): Remember last year how the Cards and Reds had that brawl, the Cards won the series and everyone said that, boy, this was the spark that was going to allow St. Louis to bury Cincy for good?  Well, life doesn’t work like that. As such, you should just ignore any grand pronouncements made about the impact of this past weekends’ series as well, because it kind of doesn’t matter. Same goes for Boston and New York too, by the way.

10. Angels (8): Lost two of three to Texas and two of three to the White Sox last week. The bullpen is a pretty big problem at the moment.

11. Yankees (3): I don’t hate the Yankees or anything, but I really do enjoy reading the tabloids after a weekend like New York just had. There’s no one who pumps success up to the stratosphere or beats struggles into the ground like the New York press.

12. Rangers (14): Josh Hamilton may start a rehab assignment soon.  They’re treading water well enough without him, but boy could they use him back in the lineup.

13. Rockies (9): Another bad week for Colorado. If you want to be a playoff team you don’t drop consecutive series to the Mets and Padres.

14. Blue Jays (21): Jose Bautista. Like I need to say more?  What’s the earliest anyone has anyone locked up an MVP?  Because this smells like one of those kinds of years.

15. Red Sox (17): It’s always nice to sweep the Yankees, but how big a feat is that at the moment? Ah, who cares: the Sox are at .500.

16. Royals (11): Two of three from New York was nice, but the wins stopped and the bats went cold as soon as they got to Detroit. Their next seven games come against Cleveland, Texas and St. Louis, so they had better find that mojo quickly.

17.  Athletics (13): Scott Ostler, talking about the A’s offensive troubles and their close-but-no-cigar comeback yesterday, had a pretty good line this morning: “If this had happened 5 miles away, it would be called torture.  The A’s don’t do torture. It’s something lighter they offer, more of a sustained frustration.”

18. Mets (23): A 4-2 week on the road with a couple of those wins coming against a pretty good team and the offense clicking nicely. Such a contrast to that dysfunctional team that plays on the other side of town.

19. Brewers (25): Quietly, as the Reds and Cardinals took front stage, Milwaukee had a very good week. Don’t count them out.

20. Nationals (19): Series ahead against Baltimore, Pittsburgh and the Mets. A chance for them to show that they’re more than the ~.500 team they’ve appeared to be?

21. Orioles (27): A 5-1 week for the O’s, who at the very least have shown that no one who expects to win the AL East can expect to do so by feasting on the Orioles anymore.

22. Diamondbacks (20):  The Dodgers series salvages what was an otherwise bad road trip.

23. Dodgers (24): The offense is sleeping. Is there a team more dependent on a couple of guys (Kemp and Ethier) than Los Angeles?

24. Cubs (22): Cubs’ offensive output in their last four games: 11, 1, 11, 0.  If they score 11 tonight, be sure to tune in Tuesday, because we may see something we’ve never seen before.

25. Padres (26): What’s got 50 thumbs and has scored 46 runs in its last six games? These guys, right here!

26. Pirates (15): The Pirates must have gotten tired of that patronizing “oh look! They’re over .500!” chatter from last week.  Dropping five in a row sure showed everyone!

27. White Sox (30): Signs of life: two of three from the Angels and two of three from the A’s.

28. Mariners (18): Sub-headline of Steve Kelley’s story in the Seattle Times about the struggles of the Mariners’ closer: “Should Brandon League remain the Mariners’ closer? Should he be demoted? Does it really matter?” Yep. Pretty much nails it.

29. Astros (28): At least they’ll soon have a new owner and all of the related hubbub that goes along with it to distract everyone from the miserable product on the field.

30. Twins (29): Let’s put it this way: Gleeman’s mom and I have been taking turns calling him every hour to make sure he isn’t harming himself or others.

  1. kopy - May 16, 2011 at 11:05 AM

    Why not just have Joe Mauer babysit Gleeman? It’s not like he has anything better to do!

    *ba-doom cheeeesh*

    I’m not one of those fans who thinks only I can make fun of the Twins because I like them. Everybody is welcome in on this.

    • Jeremiah Graves - May 16, 2011 at 11:41 AM

      I gotta agree. My beloved Twinkies are bad enough right now that they’re legit cannon fodder for anyone and everyone with a punchline in their pocket.

    • wonkypenguin - May 16, 2011 at 11:58 AM

      Always good when you tune in to a game in May and your announcers are already talking about “the climb back to .500″ and “real fans stay with a team” and the fans are already doing the mocking-claps when the third out is finally recorded after 2 errors and 2 Bautista homeruns every inning.

  2. uyf1950 - May 16, 2011 at 11:08 AM

    Craig, as a Yankees fan. Thank you. I can see based on your previous comments how you would rate the Yankees at #11 based on their complete “body of work” to date. But based purely on their last 2 weeks performance you are obviously being generous. Just telling it like it is. Hopefully by next Monday we Yankees fans will see a marked improvement in the Yankees Power Ranking.

  3. bcopus - May 16, 2011 at 11:11 AM

    The MLB Power Rankings and pornography at a Supreme Court level. Two things I would have never guessed could have been related in one fell swoop. Way to go Craig.

  4. Chris Fiorentino - May 16, 2011 at 11:13 AM

    LOL at Phillies/Marlins/Braves write-up. I’m not falling for your Phillies fan-baiting tactics, Craig. I’ll just say that I respectfully disagree with the assessment that the Marlins, at 2 games back and the Braves, at 3 1/2 games back(and FIVE in the loss column) are “all just really even”.

  5. yankeesfanlen - May 16, 2011 at 11:14 AM

    I have no problem with your rating the Universe eleventh because they suck. If they play like this for another week and drop below the Metropolitans, I’m officially a Tigers fan, and will take appropriate measures to indicate such.
    Girardi, fear Great George’s Ghost!

    • TomTom - May 16, 2011 at 11:23 AM

      Welcome to Tiger-Ville! We can’t really have a universe, and nation seems so cliche, so I’ll keep it small town. Anyway, expect your Brandon Inge jersey via USPS in 2-4 weeks when he’s somewhere in the vicinity of a .165 batting average!

      • yankeesfanlen - May 16, 2011 at 11:48 AM

        Thanks, but I’d prefer Brennan Boesch or that guy staggering around first base.

  6. Jonny 5 - May 16, 2011 at 11:27 AM

    BOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

    That’s just because, for some reason, ever since childhood, I’ve despised the Reds. Don’t ask me to explain this, it just is.

    • rebarratige - May 16, 2011 at 12:11 PM

      I have an unjustifiable hatred for their caps, actually. They just look so stupid on top of their stupid heads and stupid, stupid faces.

  7. Jonny 5 - May 16, 2011 at 11:30 AM

    BTW, how much of a big baby is Freddie Freeman anyway? Dude, you will get outs, no need to throw a hissy every time, or so it seemed this weekend anyway.

    http://mobilwi.typepad.com/.a/6a0120a6dde087970b0154324d717f970c-800wi

    • Chris Fiorentino - May 16, 2011 at 11:36 AM

      Yeah, he looks like a big baby. All he needed was a big pacifier and he would have looked like Baby Huey after Bastardo rung him up on Friday night.

  8. megary - May 16, 2011 at 11:50 AM

    Boston will be on top rather soon. Not that I’m proud of writing that or in any way happy about their turnaround, it just seems they are more likely to sustain good play than Detroit/Cin/Phi/TB et. al.

    • fonzo2 - May 16, 2011 at 12:40 PM

      Yeah, ranking the Sox one spot ahead of the Royals doesn’t agree with me. Yeah, they are only at .500, now, but still, sweeping the rival Yankees on the road, after pounding CC, brilliant effort from Becket, and Bucholtz turning things up. The Sox have the best winning percentage in the AL east and 5th best in all MLB for the month of May, so that might qualify as fairly hot. Crawford sure to get going, A-Gone heating up too.

      • normswifevera - May 16, 2011 at 4:46 PM

        “Yeah, ranking the Sox one spot ahead of the Royals doesn’t agree with me.”

        Really. The Royals have the better record, they should be ahead.

        Oh, not what you meant?

      • fonzo2 - May 16, 2011 at 4:54 PM

        normswifevera – May 16, 2011 at 4:46 PM

        “Really. The Royals have the better record, they should be ahead.

        Oh, not what you meant?”

        I should have said ONLY or JUST one spot ahead of the Royals. KC is only 4-6 in their last 10 games, and at some point the inevitable will happen, and it may have started already. They are better for sure, and I like them, especially when Moustakis gets going and is called up, along with some younger arms, but…..

  9. cur68 - May 16, 2011 at 11:58 AM

    I’d forgotten all about the MVP. In fact as soon as I read “MVP” I automatically inserted “Hamilton, Halladay, Lee, Oswalt, Utley, Pujols, Gonzalez, Ortiz, Granderson, or Fielder” into that sentence. It floors me that the notion that JB might in fact be the MVP this year is not only logical, it’s likely. I’m just not used to “MVP” and “Toronto Blue Jays” being in the same sentence unless the words “is not coming from the” are also there.

    Like, wow.

    • kopy - May 16, 2011 at 12:21 PM

      He’s the MVP of the Springfield Isotopes, my fantasy baseball team. That’s for sure.

  10. randomdigits - May 16, 2011 at 12:22 PM

    I shouldn’t be surprised since this is completely typical of you but the AL East is the Rays then everyone else within 1.5 games and you have the other teams rated 11, 14, 15 and 21? Man that extra .5 game the O’s are back really hurt them in the standings!

    You seriously have a 19-20 O’s team behind the Nats and the Mets, I know you are an NL East guy but come on…

    Have you actually watched them play a game this season? I know you admitted watching a rerun of a perfect game last week instead of live action. Oh well come July 1-3 you can watch them.

  11. garlicfriesandbaseball - May 16, 2011 at 1:09 PM

    I’d just like to remind you the Giants were at this exact same spot in the standings last year at this time. I’m just saying …..

    • garlicfriesandbaseball - May 16, 2011 at 1:10 PM

      Regarding wins and losses that is.

  12. baseballisboring - May 16, 2011 at 4:37 PM

    So sweeping the Yanks is “nice”, and not much of a feat, but the Yanks are ranked higher?

    I’m sure you’re obligated to do these but…*man* what a worthless exercise. For the most part, not many teams are substantially better or worse than we thought they were yet. We don’t know *that* much more than we did at the beginning of the season…injuries, clearly declining players, the Indians are actually playing well, yeah, I get that…but come on. You’re gonna put the Tigers in front of the Giants, Yankees, Red Sox, Cardinals, Angels, Rockies…how about from now on we just post the standings, instead of some arbitrary mix of the standings, hot and cold streaks and teams you don’t like?

    • Craig Calcaterra - May 16, 2011 at 4:41 PM

      Yeah they’re ranked higher. Because neither “how they did in their last three games” nor “how good they’re supposed to be based on the awesome offseason they had” is not the controlling metric of the rankings.

      Not that there is just one. Most people understand that this is mostly a fun exercise designed to provide a weekly excuse for some quick “state of the team” comments and a vague approximation of where teams stand relative to one another. The only people who seem to have had a problem with this so far this season are Red Sox fans who seem unable to get their minds around the fact that the team’s performance has not yet matched their preseason expectations.

      • mornelithe - May 16, 2011 at 6:46 PM

        Craig, seriously think about what you’re saying. Who made these assertions? Oh right, you…the media did. Why blame us because you people went ape$hit over an unknown quantity? Sox didn’t even get to the playoffs last year, and somehow 2 non-bullpen players are just going to turn things right around? When most of the Sox issues were bullpen related?

        Personally, I think you and your colleagues should be blaming yourselves. Your power rankings simply reflect your own disappointment, in the team you hyped, to the team you expected to dominate.

  13. baseballisboring - May 16, 2011 at 4:52 PM

    I understand that too. Wasn’t trying to come at you personally…that’s why I said I’m sure you’re obligated to do them but they’re a pointless exercise. It’s not just these power rankings…I roll my eyes when I see them on every site. Clearly this means I take my random baseball site browsing way too seriously. I just…don’t get the exercise. Leaving aside me being a Sox fanboy…I mean, come on. No way they’re only a spot better than the Royals. The Sox ranking really wasn’t what I was offended by…like I said everybody might as well start just posting the standings instead if it’s not strictly based on talent, the whole thing just feels very arbitrary. But I’m a fan of your work and am mildly honored to be personally snarked to.

  14. theshank - May 17, 2011 at 12:53 PM

    While the Phillies and Indians have some flaws , your logic for power ranking teams is puzzling to say the least. Overall record as well as a few other tangible stats tell the true story. Your rankings could be taken seriously if you factored this into your rankings. How a team has done over the last 4 games or so has very little to do with what they have done for the season. Hot and cold teams is a separate measure than a power ranking.

  15. roadwearyaaron - May 17, 2011 at 6:36 PM

    I can’t tell you how much I love seeing the Reds ranked as number one. I’m fully aware that this means absolutely nothing and they are probably not the best team in baseball, but I’ll always take a fake number one any time I can get it.

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