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Your Monday Morning Power Rankings

Aug 29, 2011, 10:00 AM EST

Chase Utley, Emilio Bonifacio

We’re to the point of the season where so many games have been played that actual record and power ranking are at the closest they’ve been all year. No one who is better than their record is considerably better than their record. No one who is worse than their record is considerably worse. I mean, 130 games or so, dudes.

As always, the number in parenthesis was where they were the last time they were ranked. But remember: I skipped last week, so the last ranking was two weeks ago. So please, none of that “Really? [Team X] won five games last week and went down in the rankings?!!” stuff.  Maybe they’re way up from where they would have been last week. We’ll never know!

1. Phillies (1): Did you know that Vance Worley has “swagger?” Either that or multiple personality disorder. I’m not quite sure.

2. Red Sox (2): I’m pretty sure that they’re still playing the A’s in the first game of Saturday’s double header.

3. Yankees (3): Did you know that there’s a bill working its way through the New York legislature that would decriminalize non-lethal beatings of A.J. Burnett?

4. Brewers (4): They’ve now swept two straight series from the Cubs. I feel like driving to Kenosha to see if I can sense the loyalties shifting. Or did that happen a long time ago?

5. Braves (5): Frankly I have no idea where to rank them seeing as though they haven’t played a game in several weeks. Or perhaps it just feels that way.

6. Rangers (6): They skidded but then they righted themselves to take two of three from the Angels.

7. Tigers (11): They’re ranked a little high. Do you think I ranked them too high? I kinda feel like I ranked ‘em too high, but I just can’t shake the thought that they’re going to be more dangerous than most people think come playoff time.

8. Rays (9): They’d be in the thick of the playoff hunt if they played in the AL Central, AL West or NL West. Too bad they don’t.

9. Angels (8): Was that post-Rangers-series run a fluke? I guess we’ll see now that they’ve dropped another series to Texas.

10. Diamondbacks (7): Sure, they’re winning, but can it’s not like they’re intimidating anyone.  Check out this Padres fan givin’ Justin Upton what-for. In Phoenix.

11. Giants (10): There ain’t no runs to be had for these dudes. They’re dead last in runs, in fact. And, as Buster Olney tweeted this morning, they have posted 0, 1, or 2 runs in 22 of 42 games since the All-Star break. If that wasn’t ugly enough, in seven games against the Astros in the past week and a half, they went 3-4. Yuck.

12. Cardinals (12): Lance Berkman complained on Saturday about how a weird national-TV-driven start time led to a game played in long shadows that made it hard to see. Afterwards, Tony La Russa protested the sun.

13. Reds (13): With the win yesterday it’s the Reds’ first time over .500 since July 3rd.

14. Blue Jays (15): At night I sometimes lie awake and wonder things like “will DeWayne Wise have more stints with the Blue Jays than Ric Flair had stints as NWA/WCW champion?” And yes, I only went for the Ric Flair reference so I can link to this pic I took of a guy I saw yesterday who was not Ric Flar but who looked enough like him to where I almost felt like asking him if he was just to see what he said.

15. White Sox (16): In second place now, but six back. I’m not feelin’ ‘em, but I still can’t shake the idea of what could have been had they gotten an iota of production from Dunn and Rios.

16. Indians (14): Jim Thome is back! Woulda been nice if he was back a couple of weeks before, but hey, they got a couple of really nice crowds out of it. The Tribe is now in third place.

17. Dodgers (21): A pretty spiffy week for them, running through the Cardinals and the Rockies quite nicely.

18. Rockies (20): Carlos Gonzalez has had a hell of an August.

19. Mets (17): Post-Hurricane Tweet of the Day yesterday came from Mets fan Baseballcrank: “Next storm up: Jose. Fortunately it’s expected to pull a hamstring on its way north.” Burn.

20. Nationals (18): Davey Johnson must be gettin’ bored. He had Jayson Werth in center and Mike Morse in left on Saturday.  Overheard between him and bench coach Pat Corrallesy: “Pat, I ain’t kiddin’. I put in, like, five catchers and four pitchers in a lineup next weekend. See if anyone notices. No one says I thing, I betcha.”

21. Pirates (19): Twelve of their next 13 games come against teams that, theoretically anyway, they’re better than.  Last year’s Orioles team showed us that we can’t really read too much into late-season mean-nothing series, but I am rather interested to see if the Pirates’ midseason mini-surge is suggestive of anything or if it was just a fluke.

22. Padres (25): A big three-game series in Los Angeles this week. Can the Padres make up the three games they need to in order to lose the battle for last place in the NL West?

23. Athletics (24): Poor Jerry Blevins.

24. Marlins (22):  They’re gonna bring Josh Johnson back for a start or two? Why?

25. Mariners (26): They beat up on the Indians on the road and then got beat up by the White Sox at home. I imagine this fact contains some deep insight into the AL Central, but I just can’t make myself care.

26. Royals (28): Dayton Moore is willing to give up prospects for pitching. I’m gonna call him and ask if he’d take Derek Lowe for Eric Hosmer.

27. Cubs (23): In the future, everyone will be rumored to be the Cubs’ next GM for 15 minutes.

28. Twins (27): A stellar 6-19 month for the Twins. But hey, at least they traded away a fan favorite for nothin’.

29. Orioles (29): A pretty damn fine week, actually, trouncing the Twins and then taking the aborted series against the Yankees. Maybe not technically — I suppose you gotta wait for the makeup games for the final series outcome — but wins are wins.

30. Astros (30): Carlos Lee got hurt while making a hard slide while legging out a double yesterday. See, he was right not to try all along.

  1. halladaysbiceps - Aug 29, 2011 at 10:07 AM

    Vance Worley has moxie and big stones, to go along with his swagger, with is a byproduct of his moxie and huge stones. That’s why Philly loves him.

    • drmonkeyarmy - Aug 29, 2011 at 10:12 AM

      A follow up on the Vance Worley story for those interested:

      http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/phillies_zone/More-on-Vanimal.html

  2. bravesman1983 - Aug 29, 2011 at 10:15 AM

    The sun has always had it in for Tony La Russa.

  3. Chris Fiorentino - Aug 29, 2011 at 10:23 AM

    “Next storm up: Jose. Fortunately it’s expected to pull a hamstring on its way north.”

    That’s simply awesome…unless you are a fan of the Mets. In that case, it’s depressing.

    I guess the Brewers are OK being ahead of the Braves…but ask yourself this question…in the NLDS, who makes you more nervous:

    Hudson
    Jurrjens
    Beachy

    or

    Gallardo
    Greinke
    Wolf/Marcum

    I’ll take the Braves in 4.

    • halladaysbiceps - Aug 29, 2011 at 10:25 AM

      And the Braves bullpen. See, my entry below, Chris. The Braves big three relievers could be the first in baseball history to each finish with an ERA under 1.5. That’s sick.

    • FC - Aug 29, 2011 at 10:30 AM

      I’ll take the Braves in 4.

      As long as Lowe isn’t pitching I lean in the same direction.

    • Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Aug 29, 2011 at 10:39 AM

      I’d complain about this ranking, but I don’t care about these enough to complain. Also, the Brew Crew managed to top the Braves in record b/c the Braves didn’t play for the last six months. All that said, I’ll take the Braves SPs over the Brewers’ SPs, but Gallardo is no joke, he’s been pretty damn impressive all season. He’s their best pitcher this year, thus I shall note him to be underrated.

      • brewcrewchamps - Aug 29, 2011 at 2:30 PM

        I don’t think so. Maybe record-wise, but Marcum has been the most consistent and shut down this year. Yo will randomly get lit up for whatever reason but it seems Marcum will never give up more than 2-3 runs a game. I feel good about the Crew’s chances against the Braves. Pitching is close, Crew’s lineup is way beyond what the Braves is.

    • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 29, 2011 at 10:40 AM

      Agreed on Lowe, although he has been a money pitcher in the playoffs for the most part. And the Braves bullpen is absolutely sick. It’s a 6 inning game with them so don’t be behind a run or even tied going into the 7th or it may be lights out.

      The Brewers knot the cover off the ball, but their pitching is just OK…and come playoff time, they really don’t have anybody with the experience needed. And that lack of experience is usually exposed in the playoffs.

      Brewers fans…don’t just thumb down…tell me why I am wrong…

      • Alex K - Aug 29, 2011 at 11:17 AM

        I’m not a Brewers fan, and I’m not sure your wrong, but I don’t like the reasoning. How much does playoff experience help? How much experience did the 2008 Phillies rotation have? Cole Hamels was awesome, had he even pitched in the playoffs before that? Also, besides Hudson of the three Brave pitchers you named how much playoff experience is there? Maybe one or two series for Jurrjens? Gallardo has been to the playoffs before, and Greinke is the best pitcher of the six you named.

      • uberfatty - Aug 29, 2011 at 11:32 AM

        Hi Chris, I think it would be easier to ask you to cite any research that can back up your assertion that lack of playoff experience is detrimental to a pitcher. I know you like to bring up CC from 2008 in Philly, but then I would just counter with Halladay’s No-No last year and we would be talking in circles based on one game examples.

        Pitching is pretty even between the two teams in a 5 game series, based on FIP (a better predictor of future ERA than current YTD ERA)

        FIP:

        Hudson 3.44
        Jurrjens 3.75
        Beachy 3.42

        Greinke 2.95
        Gallardo 3.45
        Marcum 3.59

        Will be a heck of a series.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 29, 2011 at 12:52 PM

        uber, while I am not as anti-stat as I have been in the past, you can take those #’s and forget about them when the playoffs start.

        A simple question…You have your choice of starting pitchers to start game 1 for you in the NLCS…What’s your list…here’s mine in no particular order…

        Halladay
        Hamels
        Lee
        Oswalt(if healthy)
        Hudson
        Jurrjens
        Hanson(if healthy)
        Beachy
        Lincecum
        Cain
        Vogelsong
        Bumgarner

        If you want to replace any of those for anyone from the Brewers or the D-Backs, then you aren’t being honest with yourself.

      • uberfatty - Aug 29, 2011 at 2:28 PM

        I honestly can’t tell if you are trolling right now, but I’ll respond anyways.

        Could you run through your criteria for choosing Vogelsong, Jurrjens, Beachy, and Bumgarner over each of Greinke and Gallardo? I am curious as to your reasoning as you seem a little all over the place re: experience (Beachy & Vogelsong). You do know Greinke is a former Cy Young winner pitching pretty well at the moment, right?

      • Alex K - Aug 29, 2011 at 2:34 PM

        Chris, I would take them in this order:

        Halladay
        Hamels
        Lee
        Lincecum
        Greinke
        Hudson
        Hanson
        Cain
        Oswalt
        Gallardo
        Marcum
        Bumgarner
        Beachy
        Vogelsong

        And I’m not even being dishonest with myself!

      • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 29, 2011 at 3:02 PM

        Alex, you are crazy if you would take Greinke in game 1 of the NLDS over guys who have experience..like Hudson, Cain, Hanson, Oswalt, Gallardo, Jurrgens, who you didn’t even give the respect of putting on your list

        I guess having an ERA+ of UNDER 100 doesn’t really matter much.

        You want to talk about Ryan Howard being the 7th best player on the Phillies…

        Greinke is ranked 6th on the pitching staff of the Brewers in WAR(b-ref)…13th on the entire team.

        Greinke is the 5th starter in WPA.

        He strikes out guys and he has a great K/BB ratio. But his ERA is 4.05 and his ERA+ is still a whopping 97.

        You guys are living in 2009 with the guy…and this is all REGULAR SEASON we are talking about. He of the anxiety disorder has never sniffed postseason baseball. Let’s see what he does in whatever game he starts of the NLDS against the Braves.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 29, 2011 at 3:04 PM

        uber, those guys are having better years than Greinke or Gallardo. That’s my criteria. Guys like Hamels and Doc are elite pitchers, so they have one of my two criteria.

        Elite Pitcher
        or
        Playoff Experience.

        Greinke had one great year and that’s it. His freaking ERA+ is 97 and his WAR, which everybody loves, is 0.9!!!!! He is the 5th best pitcher of the Brewers starting 5 right? Isn’t Ryan Howard the 7th best player on the Phillies because of WAR? Yet when I apply it to Greinke, you want to quote 2009? LOL.

      • uberfatty - Aug 29, 2011 at 4:17 PM

        C’mon, this is getting to be too predictable. You applied WAR to Greinke AFTER I mentioned his prior Cy Young, not before. That Cy Young, which would place him into your criteria of being an “Elite Pitcher”, right? Also, still waiting on that research which shows playoff experience is necessary for playoff success.

        It is true that Greinke’s bWAR is not great compared to fWAR, due to the different methods that fWAR andbWAR use to get to the result. fWAR rates Greinke much better and is based more on things the pitcher can control (FIP) than bWAR. The point I want to make here is one stat isn’t the end-all in these debates and it is best to look at many of them.

        I also don’t know why you continually bring up ERA+ and ERA at the same time, since both are based on ERA, yet you ignore better measures of true talent like FIP, xFIP, or many others.

        I am getting the feeling you sort a list of pitchers by ERA, apply some of your “Elite Pitcher” and “Postseason Experience” pixie-dust, and BOOM there’s your best pitchers in the league. Why don’t you actually quantify for us what makes an “Elite Pitcher”? And again, can’t we just agree that you are inventing this “Postseason Experience” gauge and applying it only when it suits your point and ignoring postseason experience when it doesn’t (Beachy, Vogelsong, Jurrjens spring to mind)?

        My gut says you just like to form your opinion, then you find stats that support you and ignore the rest. This allows you to invent things like “Elite Pitcher” and never be wrong because there is nothing anyone can say to change your mind about who is and isn’t “Elite.”

      • uberfatty - Aug 29, 2011 at 4:22 PM

        Also, still waiting on your reasoning for putting those specific pitchers I list above ahead of both Greinke AND Gallardo. Statistical reasoning for each pitcher, not a generic and subjective “they are having better years” which is basically admitting you are only doing this for the sake of getting into a debate and are not interested in actually having one.

      • Alex K - Aug 29, 2011 at 4:33 PM

        I’m not crazy. Greinke is a really good pitcher. I don’t think playoff experience has any factor at all in how a guy will do in the playoffs. I think how good of a player a guy is is the biggest factor of how they will do in the playoffs.

        Jurrjens was a miss by me, I forgot to put him on my list. That’s hardly disrespect, it’s an oversight. I would put him below Marcum.

        What does Ryan Howard have to do with anything? All I say about him is that he is a really good player, not great. He gets a lot of RBI as a function of his spot in the lineup. I think RBI is a very, very overrated stat. So I’m not sure why you brought him up.

        The flaw with ERA+ is that it doesn’t account for defense. The Brewers are an awful defensive team and he gets ground balls about 45% of the time. So you’re basically McGhee and Betencourt for his ERA+. A better indicator of how Greinke has been is FIP or xFIP, which rate him as a really good pitcher.

        Fangraphs has his WAR at 3.2 and B-R has the .9 I’m not sure why the big difference, but I trust fWAR more than rWAR.

      • melzyp - Aug 29, 2011 at 5:32 PM

        In 11′, Greinke is unbeaten at Miller Park and I can guarantee Roenicke will not have him start on the road during playoffs. He won’t have to face the scary bright lights somewhere unfamiliar and holds 2.96 home ERA. Gallardo is 9-1 at home, 2.51 home ERA. Marcum spent years in Toronto facing AL east lineups and managed to hold his own on the road, 2.5 away ERA (1.5 better than his home ERA).

        In 08′, Gallardo gave up 3 runs to the Phillies in game 1 NLDS @ Citizens. Last year, Kimbrel gave up 2 to the Giants in game 3 of NLDS @ Turner, I believe. Are you sure you really want to be arguing playoff experience?

        I’d look more at season stats & I’m sure we’d both prefer to forget playoff performance the last time around for both the clubs. I think it will be a close series based on pitching, With all respect for Hudson, Beachy, Jurrjens & Kimbrel, Atlanta holds the disadvantage with their batters.

      • Alex K - Aug 29, 2011 at 6:55 PM

        Also, it’s pretty offensive to bring up Greinke’s medical condition when talking about how he might pitch in the playoffs. I don’t care that it is a social anxiety disorder, it is a personal thing and you know very little about his symptoms or lack there of.

  4. halladaysbiceps - Aug 29, 2011 at 10:23 AM

    I just heard an interesting thing. The Braves big (3) relievers could be the first to ever to each finish with an era below 1.5 in the history of baseball. That’s unbelievable. Braves obviously have the best bullpen in baseball.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 29, 2011 at 10:47 AM

      With the addition of the third, probably, although right now i’d take Mariano + Robertson over Kimbrel and Venters.

    • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 29, 2011 at 11:01 AM

      Also, Kimbrel and Venters were pretty lights out in the playoffs last year. Kimbrel was the “Conrad-ized” while Venters avoided the wrath of Brooks. Mo is Mo, but Robertson got absolutely destroyed against the Rangers. For the playoffs, I would take the big 3 of the Braves over Mo and Robertson until we see if Robertson can bring his regular season success into the playoffs.

      • cur68 - Aug 29, 2011 at 11:23 AM

        Chris; By and large we agree: Kimbrel/Venters > Robertson /Mo as far as I can tell this season. I’ve seen both sets of guys several times this season and there’s virtually no question IMO. Either Kimbrel or Venters is lights out on their own and could be a legit, stand alone closer on any team. Thats probably not a statement one could make about Robertson/Mo.

  5. churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 29, 2011 at 11:27 AM

    I would take the big 3 of the Braves over Mo and Robertson until we see if Robertson can bring his regular season success into the playoffs.

    Robertson pre Texas series:
    7 Games – 6IP – 4H – 2(u)BB – 4K – 0 ER

    Texas Series:
    G2 – 1.1IP – 0ER – 1H – 0BB – 2K
    G3 – .1IP – 5ER – 5H – 1BB – 1K
    G4 – .2IP – 0ER – 0H – 0BB – 1K
    G6 – .1IP – 1ER – 2H – 0BB – 0K

    He got hammered in one outing. I wouldn’t say he hasn’t been successful in the playoffs.

  6. cur68 - Aug 29, 2011 at 11:45 AM

    I’m frankly amazed to see the Jays slightly up from last 2 weeks. They were pretty woeful against the Rays and lost 2 of 3 to the Royals. Admittedly, the Royals had the singular talents of Jeff Francoeur and Bruce Chen to prop them up, but WTF? It’s not like the don’t Jays have a couple of All-Stars and an MVP-type on their team . . . or something.

    I don’t get it with the BeaverMen, frankly. That club has some talent. No way in HELL they should lose 2 of 3 to the Royals and they should at least have a chance at the split with the Rays but instead they do an Astros impression and play like dogs. Maybe its Farrell’s pneumonia? The bats have caught it.

  7. 12strikes - Aug 29, 2011 at 12:23 PM

    Little surprised that Craig still had the Phillies at #1, I figured he would have penalized them for not winning Saturday and Sunday against the Marlins.

    • FC - Aug 29, 2011 at 2:31 PM

      That would have meant penalizing the Braves for similarly not winning Saturday and Sunday against the Mets so…

  8. natstowngreg - Aug 29, 2011 at 1:34 PM

    While I was off doing work-type travel in Washington State, two things happened: The 2011 Nats reverted to playing like the 2010 Nats, which is disappointing; and Chris Marrero was called up for a tryout at 1B.

    Davey’s moves aren’t as much a function of boredon as you might think. With Marrero up, Adam LaRoche returning and Bryce Harper on the horizon, the team is facing a glut at 1B and corner OF, and still doesn’t have a regular CF. In spring training, there was talk that Werth could be used in CF, so having him play there isn’t exactly a shock.

  9. El Jefe - Aug 29, 2011 at 2:21 PM

    I have to say I’m pretty disappointed in the Diamondbacks falling in the rankings. They’re behind a third place team and a second place team? Both of which have a worse record? And the Giants are right behind them? They’re 4 games behind the Diamondbacks!

    • FC - Aug 29, 2011 at 2:32 PM

      That’s the spirit!!! Not like El Bravo over there who fails to complain about the rankings because he can’t care enough. Come on!!!! Show the passion!!!! GRRRR!!!! :D

    • FC - Aug 29, 2011 at 2:34 PM

      On a serious note, I think Craig tossed the Diamondbacks a couple of rungs lower because in between stints of great baseball they ran into the buzz-aw of the Phillies and Braves and came out losing a series and being swept. Since these are your potential playoff opponents…

  10. sportsdrenched.com - Aug 29, 2011 at 2:34 PM

    I would just like to say the Cubs and my agent have not had any contact regarding the GM position.

    ” I’m gonna call him and ask if he’d take Derek Lowe for Eric Hosmer.”

    I think I just threw-up a little.

  11. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Aug 29, 2011 at 2:48 PM

    Red Sox aren’t #1 after that drubbing they laid on the AL West leading Rangers?

  12. patsandsox - Aug 29, 2011 at 5:33 PM

    Got my daily chuckle out of that one. Is he really that big of an A Hole? I know he is having a bad year but the Yankee fans seem to truly hate him

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