We’re nearly in August, and somehow, despite many failed attempts, College Sports Town has never done MLB power rankings! We’re trying to make up for that today. Below is our inaugural 2013 MLB Power Rankings! We know it’s late, so this first edition is a bit of a season ranking/recap along with recent analysis. Enjoy!
Editor’s Note: Stats are current as of Sunday Morning
1. Tampa Bay Rays (62-42)
The Tampa Rays, a team that harvardfan94 predicted would be the best in the AL East before the season and that dbc482 predicted would be an AL Wild Card winner, suddenly appears to be the best in baseball. In spite of a slow start to the season–they lost 18 of their first 32 games–the Rays suddenly occupy first place in the loaded AL East. Their offense has been formidable, and ranks in the top five in baseball in slugging percentage and on base percentage. Evan Longoria is in the midst of another monster season, James Loney has been great in his first season playing in The Trop, and Wil Myers is living up to the hype (so far). The Rays’ pitching has also been solid (even with injuries to the likes of David Price–who is now back–and Alex Cobb), thanks to young guns like Matt Moore (who has a record of 14-3) and Chris Archer (who did this the other day).The Rays have won eight of their last ten games, and no team in baseball is more deserving of a spot atop this ranking than Joe Maddon’s streaking club.
2. St. Louis Cardinals (62-39)
The Cardinals have been stellar again this year, sitting atop one of the best divisions in baseball. Adam Wainwright is back to his dominant ways after a rough two year period, as he is 13-6 with 161.2 innings pitched and a 1.03 WHIP. The rest of the rotation is nearly as good, with a team staff ERA of 3.37, good for 4th in the major leagues. The offense, meanwhile, can outscore nearly every opponent they face. They have scored 496 runs on the season, also good for fourth in the majors. The lowest batting average in their starting 8 belongs to Pete Kozma (.243), and they have received terrific performances from Allen Craig (.331 BA), Matt Carpenter (.898 OPS), and Carlos Beltran (.851 OPS) this year. Yadier Molina is a prime candidate for NL MVP, with a .335 BA, an .871 OPS, and 79 RBI. If the Cardinals continue their winning ways, Molina deserves the MVP, and the rest of the league will have to deal with this dominant team in the postseason.
3. Boston Red Sox (62-43)
The Red Sox weren’t supposed to be good this season. But they are. And they’re not going away. The fighting Wallys boast arguably the best lineup in baseball, one that features the ageless David Ortiz (his .997 OPS is the third best in baseball), Dustin Pedroia, Mike Napoli, and the underrated Daniel Nava. The pitching for the Sox has not been quite as strong, but Clay Buchholz was putting together a Cy Young-type season before injuring his shoulder in June (he is not expected to be back until well into August) and a return to form from John Lackey has been huge for the Sox (and has allowed him to win back SOME Red Sox fans who had come to hate him with great passion). After last year’s disaster of a season, big crowds and fun times have returned to Fenway for the moment, and the Sox have the looks of World Series contenders.
4. Pittsburgh Pirates (61-41)
It’s been twenty years since Pittsburgh last had a winning team, but this year’s Pirates team seems poised to keep winning into the postseason unlike the past two years, where mid-season collapses lost the Pirates .500 marks. Despite having no real stars besides Andrew McCutchen (.300 BA, .859 OPS), the ramshackle Bucs are getting it done with good production from players like Pedro Alvarez (.504 OPS, 26 HR) and Starling Marte (30 SB, .277 BA). The Pirates are scoring enough runs to win games because of their excellent pitching. The rotation is made up of reclamation projects like A.J Burnett and Francisco Liriano, as well as young guns like Jeff Locke and Gerrit Cole, and Pittsburgh has the best staff ERA in the majors. The bullpen has been outstanding with the 2nd best bullpen ERA in the majors thanks to All-Stars Mark Melancon and Jason Grilli. The trouble for the Pirates will be replacing the injured Grilli, who had been lights out at the end of games, and staying hot long enough to ensure a postseason berth, or at least a winning season.
5. Cincinnati Reds (59-45)
The Reds are hot right now, having won six of their last nine since the All Star break, feature one of the best rotations in baseball, and have the third best run differential in baseball. Mike Leake has been pitching gem after gem for the Reds, Mat Latos and Bronson Arroyo have been great too, while Joey Votto (.931 OPS), Shin-Soo Choo (.883), and Jay Bruce (.838) keep the runs pouring in. Somehow, in two decades as a manager, Dusty Baker has never won a World Series. In this year’s edition of the Big Red Machine, Baker has a team with the pitching and the offense to possibly make a run at the Commissioner’s Trophy (yeah…it sooo should have a cooler name than that).
6. Los Angeles Dodgers (54-48)
The Dodgers stunk for the first two months of the season, underachieving despite their glut of talent, and looked poised to miss the playoffs for the fourth straight season. The arrival of rookie Yasiel Puig in June, however, gave them a much needed spark. The Dodgers have been flaming hot since the end of June and have, absurdly, won 24 of their last 30 games. Along with Puig, Hanley Ramirez has been raking since mid-June and he currently holds a .387 batting average and 11 homers in 163 at bats. Adrian Gonzalez has also found his stroke of late and has an OPS of .884 in July. The Dodgers’ strength, though, lies in their pitching. Clayton Kershaw has been spectacular all season, and holds a tidy ERA of 1.96. Hyun-Jin Ryu and Zack Grienke are also having good seasons. The Dodgers may slow down at some point, but right now they’re about as good it gets. They have also been doing most of their recent winning without superstar Matt Kemp, who is expected to return in early August.
7. Baltimore Orioles (58-47)
Thanks to the most powerful lineup in baseball, the Orioles appear to be in the process of shutting up people who felt that their 93-win campaign last summer was a fluke. Baltimore is, of course, home to some of the league’s biggest stars at the moment. Those stars include Chris Davis, who has blasted 37 home runs already this season, the dynamic Adam Jones, and, of course, the super-talented and youthful Manny Machado, who is second in the AL in WAR behind only Miguel Cabrera. The Orioles have been putting runs on the board all season, although their pitching has been less spectacular. Closer Jim Johnson has been erratic and neither the Orioles’ starting five nor their bullpen have been consistent. The good news for the O’s is that Wei-Yin Chen is finally healthy and they have a strong enough lineup to win even when their pitching struggles.
8. Oakland Athletics (61-43)
The A’s are doing their thing, winning games without many big names. Offensively, they are not a particularly imposing team, but they do have enough good offensive players (Josh Donaldson, Jed Lowrie, Brandon Moss, Josh Reddick and, the Home Run Derby winner himself, Yoenis Cespedes) to put up enough runs to support their excellent pitching staff. Bartolo Colon has been amazing with a 2.54 ERA and a 14-3 record (and has managed to avoid any roid suspensions-so far), while overall Oakland has the tenth-best staff ERA in the majors. Meanwhile, Grant Balfour has been good once more in the bullpen, where Oakland has the 7th best ERA. Like the Pirates, they put enough runs up to beat teams because of excellent pitching.
9. Detroit Tigers (58-45)
Having the best (positional) baseball player on the planet goes a long way, and the Tigers star Miguel Cabrera. Cabrera has been even better this season than he was during his Triple Crown campaign in 2012. To date, he is batting .361, has blasted 32 homers, and has driven in 99 runs. Of course, the AL Central-leading Tigers have more going for them than simply Cabrera. Prince Fielder is an RBI machine and Torii Hunter may never stop producing. Pitcher Max Scherzer meanwhile is leading the MLB in wins and started the All Star Game for the AL. He is part of a good pitching staff which also includes Anibal Sanchez (2.68 ERA) and Justin Verlander. Cabrera and the Tigers are cruising at the moment, scoring plenty of runs, and pitching well enough to win more often than not. They’ve won seven of their last ten and have the second best run differential in baseball.
10. Atlanta Braves (59-45)
It isn’t even August and the Braves already appear to be running away with the NL East. ATL has a hella filthy pitching staff, led by young bucks Mike Minor and Julio Teheran. They also have one of the best closers in the game in 25-year-old Craig Kimbrel and LOTS of good hitters, such as Chris Johnson (who is batting .332), Freddie Freeman, Brian McCann, and Justin Upton. The NL East is meh, and with a lineup that scores runs and an extremely strong pitching staff, the Braves appear headed for their first NL East crown since 2005 (which was the last in a run of 11 straight first place finishes).
11. Texas Rangers (56-48)
Despite losing powerful parts of the lineup in Josh Hamilton and Mike Napoli this past offseason, the Rangers still rank in the top ten in HR rankings. Power has won them many games over these past 3 years, and with players like Nelson Cruz (24 HR) and Adrian Beltre (.527 SLG), that trend has continued. The Rangers have good pitching as well, with the 9th best staff ERA in the majors. Yu Darvish is a CY Young candidate (9-5, 2.80 ERA), while Derek Holland (8-6, 3.06 ERA) has been pretty good too. The Rangers are serious about winning this year, and they acquired Matt Garza to help them earn back the 1.5 games they are behind of in the AL Wild Card race. Although they may be able to take over the division from the Athletics in a reverse of what occurred last year, the Rangers face a short but difficult uphill battle to reach the postseason.
12. New York Yankees (54-50)
The Yankees started off this season very well, shocking many by winning with spare pieces like Lyle Overbay (.721 OPS) and Travis Hafner (37 RBI) playing key roles in the lineup. That has not lasted into the heart of the season, as the Yankees’ offense has died. They’re last in slugging, and haven’t had a right handed batter hit a homer in 25+ games. The Yanks acquired Alfonso Soriano in an effort to revitalize their offense. The only thing keeping the Yanks competitive is fairly good pitching, as they have the 10th best staff ERA in the league. Hiroki Kuroda has been the ace of the staff (10-6, 2.51 ERA), but the rest of the staff has been mediocre, especially C.C Sabathia (9-9, 4.65 ERA). If the Yankees, who are 3.5 games back in the wild card race, want to win, they have to start hitting- now.
13. Cleveland Indians (55-48)
College Sports Town predicted that the Indians would be wild card contenders their first year under Terry Francona. That prediction has proven to be pretty accurate so far, as the Indians are 2 games back in the AL Wild Card race. The lineup has scored the 5th most runs in the majors, with excellent production from Jason Kipnis (.881 OPS, 15 HR) and Carlos Santana (.833 OPS, 11 HR), alongside 3 other guys who have also hit 10+ HR (Mark Reynolds, Nick Swisher, Ryan Raburn). Their pitching has been less strong, and they rank 22nd in staff ERA, despite the performance of All-Star Justin Masterson (12-7, 3.42 ERA). Scott Kazmir (6-4, 3.96 ERA) has been a pleasant surprise, but the Indians’ pitching must improve in order for them to get into the postseason.
14. Arizona Diamondbacks (54-50)
The Diamondbacks have been hanging out a few games over .500 most of this season, which was good enough to keep them in first in the NL West until the recent resurgence of the Los Angeles Dodgers. As a team, the D-Backs are pretty average on the mound and in the batter’s box, but they do feature one of the best pitchers in the game in young gun Patrick Corbin (12-1, 2.31 ERA), and an MVP candidate in first baseman Paul Goldschmidt–another young star who leads the NL in RBI. While Goldschmidt and Corbin are both superb, the Diamondbacks don’t have much beyond the pair. Outside of Goldschmidt, Arizona does not have a single player with more than 10 homers or with a batting average over .300, and Corbin is their only starter with an ERA under 3.80. That isn’t to say that guys like Gerardo Parra (.273 BA, 7 HRs) and Wade Miley (7-8, 3.86 ERA) aren’t good, but the Diamondbacks have relied heavily on their two youthful stars. Even if Corbin and Goldschmidt continue their fabulous seasons, it may be hard for Arizona to keep up with the surging Dodgers in the NL West race.
15. Seattle Mariners (49-55)
The Mariners have relied upon unlikely contributors to stay somewhat in the playoff race, and have been particularly good as of late, going 7-3 over their last 10 games. They rank in the lower half of the league in both batting and pitching, and yet they keep playing good baseball. Raul Ibanez (24 HR, .847 OPS) has been fantastic, and Kendrys Morales (.811 OPS, 58 RBI) and Kyle Seager (.845 OPS) have been good as well. Pitching-wise, Felix Hernandez (11-4, 2.34 ERA) has been joined at the top of the rotation by Hisashi Iwakuma (10-4, 2.87 ERA), who has had a breakout season. As the Mariners are 8.5 games back in the AL Wild Card race, it’s unlikely that they will make the postseason. Still, there are many positive signs for the future of Seattle baseball.
16. Los Angeles Angels (48-54)
This one makes me particularly sad. The Angels were College Sports Town’s pick to win the 2013 World Series, and they have played very badly. Despite stellar play from Mike Trout (.963 OPS, .324 BA) and Mark Trumbo (22 HR, 60 RBI), the Angels have only produced slightly better than the average team (they’re 11th in runs scored). Acquisition Josh Hamilton (.223 BA, 15 HR) has been dreadful for the most part, and Albert Pujols (64 RBI, .258 BA) continues to be good but nothing like his Cardinals form. C.J Wilson has been good (11-6, 3.18 ERA) and so has Jered Weaver (5-5, 2.98 ERA), but the Angels’ rotation ERA is 25th in the league. They have the pieces to win clearly, and perhaps they’ll make a Dodger-like run. The AL West is much better than the NL West, however, so it’ll be tough for the Angels to reclaim this lost season.
17. Toronto Blue Jays (47-56)
Despite much hype entering the season, the Blue Jays are where they usually wind up–near the bottom of the AL East. We put the Jays atop our pre-season AL East Preview, expecting off-season acquisitions like R.A. Dickey and Jose Reyes to boost them to the top of division. Instead, Toronto has been, as predicted by harvardfan94, a major disappointment (their playoff chances at this point are basically non-existent). Dickey has been bad (4.86 ERA), although he still leads the Jays’ putrid pitching staff with 8 wins. The Blue Jays do hit a lot of bombs, thanks to Edwin Encarnacion (28 HR), Jose Bautista (24), Colby Rasmus (17), and J.P. Arencibia (17), but that has not been enough to make up for a pedestrian team OBP and their severe pitching problems. It hasn’t helped the Jays that Jose Reyes has been injured much of the year (when healthy he has been extremely good) or that 23 year-old stud Brett Lawrie has been awful (.268 OBP, .380 SLG). The Blue Jays are buried in the loaded AL East and they’re not going to climb back into the division race.
18. Kansas City Royals (50-51)
The record of the Royals reflects what they have been most of the season- slightly below average. Their lineup is not very potent, scoring the 5th fewest runs in the majors despite good performances by Eric Hosmer (11 HR, .286 BA), Billy Butler (51 RBI, .284 BA), and Salvador Perez (.277 BA, .694 OPS). What has kept the Royals 6 games from a wild card spot has been their good pitching, which ranks 7th in staff ERA. James Shields, obtained in the Wil Myers trade (which has been beneficial for both sides) has been good (5-7, 3.09 ERA), and Ervin Santana has been unexpectedly stellar as well (6-6, 3.06 ERA). The Royals have a small shot to reach the postseason, but it’s more likely that this season will be just the early emergence of a respectable team in Kansas City’s future.
19. Washington Nationals (51-54)
Call it their sophomore slump. After winning 98 games and making the playoffs for the first time since moving to Washington in 2005, the Nationals have struggled this season. The pedestrian record is in no way the fault of the Nats’ starting pitching–Stephen Strasburg (2.85 ERA), Gio Gonzalez (2.97 ERA), and Jordan Zimmerman (3.19 ERA) have all been fantastic–but a shaky bullpen, and a lineup that doesn’t get on base nearly enough, DO deserve blame. The Nationals have the third worst team OBP in baseball, even with solid OBP guys in the middle of their order like Bryce Harper (who has been good when healthy) and Jayson Werth (who may finally be shedding the “werthless” moniker he had attached to him by Nats fans after his disappointing debut season in Washington in 2011). Guys like Kurt Suzuki (.281 OBP) have killed them. Ultimately, the Nationals starting pitching has not been good enough to make up for a bad offense and a bullpen which is 18th in the MLB in ERA. Whether or not the Nats can make the run that is necessary for them to fulfill the World Series prediction of many analysts remains to be seen.
20. Colorado Rockies (50-55)
It doesn’t make that much sense- a team with 3 All-Star starters is 5 games under .500. The performances of Troy Tulowitzki (.995 OPS), Carlos Gonzalez (.963 OPS), and Michael Cuddyer (.951 OPS) are all outstanding, but the Rockies don’t score enough runs to win ballgames. The pitching staff’s few positives are Jorge De La Rosa (10-5, 2.97 ERA) and Jhoulys Chacin (9-5, 3.53 ERA). The Rockies have a shot at the NL West, where they are in third place sitting 6 games behind the Dodgers, or a wild card spot, as they are only 9 games out. We can’t see them making it to the postseason this year, but they’ve made some incredible runs before (see: 2007).
21. San Francisco Giants (46-57)
The highlight of last season for the Giants: winning their second World Series in three years. The highlight of this season will probably wind up being the no-hitter Timmy Lincecum tossed against the Padres on July 13th. It has been a rough season for the Giants, who have slipped to the bottom of the NL West. Outside of the no-no, Lincecum has been mediocre (4.73 ERA) as has been Matt Cain (4.79). All the while, Pablo Sandoval is having his worst season as a Major Leaguer (.719 OPS) and closer Sergio Romo has struggled. The bright spots so far for the Giants have been Marco Scutaro (he’s awesome–total ‘ballplayer’), Buster Posey (.900 OPS), and 23-year-old pitcher Madison Bumgarner (what…a…name) who is 10-6 with a 2.76 ERA. The Giants are slumping at the moment, having lost 7 of their last 10 games.
22. New York Mets (46-55)
Ah, our Mets. The recent run of the Metropolitans has been impressive but they are starting to cool down, along with my playoff hopes. The Mets have been playing well due to a pitching staff of impressive young guns like Matt Harvey (8-2, 2.11 ERA) and Zack Wheeler (4-1, 3.72 ERA) keeping opposing teams’ runs to a minimum. David Wright (.306 BA, .899 OPS) has played like an MVP in the first year of his never ending 8 year contract, and Daniel Murphy (.285 BA), Marlon Byrd (.831 OPS), and Juan Lagares (.692 OPS) have been pretty good. The future of this team looks to be among the brightest in the league, if pitching prospects Noah Syndergaard, Rafael Montero, and Jenrry Mejia are the real deal. With strong pitching, the 2014 Mets could (hopefully) be the next 2010/2012 Giants.
23. San Diego Padres (47-58)
The Padres have played well in spurts this season, but, at least for now, they seem to be cooling down. Chase Headley (.716 OPS) has not played up to his standard from past seasons, and the lineup is not very potent apart from him either. The pitching staff has been the 4th worst in the league in staff ERA, which is impressive when you consider they pitch half their games in Petco Park. The word that I would use to describe this team is meh– they unfortunately seem to have little prospect for success in the present or the future.
24. Philadelphia Phillies (49-55)
Despite typically strong seasons from Cliff Lee (10-4, 3.05 ERA), Jonathan Papelbon (who also is still a nut), Chase Utley (.841 OPS), and the breakout season of the prodigiously powerful Domonic Brown, who has hit 24 big flys, the Phillies have been mediocre this season. The Phils are 26th in the MLB in runs and 24th in ERA, and they’re lucky to have as respectable a record as they do. In fact, only two teams in baseball (Houston and Miami) have worse run differentials than Philadelphia. The Phillies are sputtering toward the offseason and many of their best players, such as Ben Revere (.305 BA, 22 stolen bases), Ryan Howard (.465 SLG), and Roy Halladay (who hasn’t played since May and may–hehe–be facing the end of his career) are on the DL. Things are gloomy in Phillie land. On the bright side, they still have one of the best mascots in sports.
25. Minnesota Twins (45-56)
Twins fans are suffering through their third straight awful season, as the Twins have neither the pitching nor the hitting to compete in the fairly-strong AL Central. Outside of Samuel Deduno (3.18 ERA) their rotation is a dreadful mess (only the Blue Jays’ starters have compiled a worse staff ERA) and they lack any sort of power presence in their lineup. On the positive side of things, Joe Mauer is having another beautiful season for the Twins (.881 OPS) and Minnesota is surging at the moment, having won seven of their last ten. But don’t expect the recent surge to push them into playoff contention.
26. Chicago Cubs (47-55)
The Cubs have been bad, but they haven’t been as godawful as some might have expected coming into the season. Their run differential is a relatively respectable -18. The reason they are ranked so low here is that they’ve probably been overachieving this season and they just traded arguably their best player, Alfonso Soriano, to New York. Losing Soriano should serve as a blow to a Cubs lineup that didn’t score particularly well with him. The Cubs’ pitching, however should continue to be solid. To date, the Cubbies have 61 quality starts, the sixth most of any team in baseball. 26-year-old Travis Wood has spearheaded a solid rotation and possesses an excellent 2.95 ERA. The Cubs’ bullpen has been less solid however, and its 4.22 ERA is the fourth worst in baseball. The Cubs’ won’t be contending for a playoff spot, but their starting pitching has kept the team from embarrassing itself.
27. Milwaukee Brewers (43-60)
The Brewers have had a terrible season but have also discovered several great players. Jean Segura (.315 BA, .815 OPS) is only 23 years old and Carlos Gomez (.304 BA, .901 OPS), who was wisely signed to an extension before the season, is only 27. Of course, the excellent play of those two is overshadowed both by the awful overall state of the team and the Ryan Braun scandal. The Brewers have work to do and a hard decision to ponder for next season- how to deal with the former MVP/PED abuser.
28. Chicago White Sox (40-61)
The White Sox occupy the basement of the AL Central, don’t have very good pitching, and don’t hit well. If the season ended today, they would finish with their worst winning percentage since 1970. Let’s face it: they’re a bad, boring team. But there have been a couple of bright spots so far in their catastrophe of a 2013 season. The big one (literally- he’s 6’6”) is Chris Sale, who, despite a 6-10 record, has been tremendous (his ERA is currently 2.69). Others include Jose Quintana (who is only 24 and has a 3.55 ERA in 21 starts) and Alex Rios (12 homers, 22 stolen bases). Sadly, outside of Sale, the bright spots are not blinding and there are too few of them.
29. Miami Marlins (39-63)
They’re incredibly bad. Bright spots: Giancarlo Stanton (.849 OPS), Jose Fernandez–who is only 20 and might be the most the most exciting young pitcher in the game, yet somehow only has 6,000 twitter followers #marlinsarentaREALteam (6-5, 2.74 ERA), and, of course, OZUNA (.265 BA).
30. Houston Astros (35-68)
They’re even worse. Bright spots: Jose Altuve (.280 BA), Jason Castro (.774 OPS), and Jarred Cosart.