Posted: April 11, 2011 by The Cheap Seat Fan in MLB
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Things shifted everywhere around the MLB during it’s first full week, as expected. A few favorites showing that they are who and what we thought they would be, while some upstarts have decided that the cellar either isn’t for them, or are just delaying the inevitable for a while longer. At any rate, this weeks poll continues to showcase huge leaps and bounds up the rankings from some quick starters, while a few teams are yet to kick into gear completely yet.

Kinsler and the Rangers are looking arguably better than they did at any point last year already.

Top looks basically the same and the back end has some usual suspects as well, however a few clubs (especially in the AL Central) are crashing the party in the high end parts of the polls. A few MVP candidates are keeping their teams in the drivers seat as expected, a brand new “Shame of the Nation” has dealt yet another blow to reeling expected contender and a even last week’s Cy Young pick couldn’t keep his guys from beginning to imitate last year already in all the worst ways possible.

Here’s the countdown, followed by MVP and Cy updates. As always, feel free to comment, rant and throw appropriate and salad-ready vegetables if you disagree…or agree. Basically, all contributions are welcomed.

1. Rangers (2): Nolan Ryan’s boys head to the top of the poll this week with a MLB-best 8 wins, and coming off a week featuring a sweep of the Mariners and a dominant weekend in Baltimore against the AL East leaders that featured a shutout and 13-run outburst.

2. Phillies (1): The Phils drop down a notch this week, but its due more to the Rangers efforts than a lack of results on their end. Their pitching continued to overwhelm as expected (2 shutouts) and Shane Victorino went off to a .464 clip versus the Mets and Braves.

3. White Sox (5): A split against a tough Royals club, followed by taking three of four against the reeling Rays move the Sox up the polls. Paul Konerko (.417 week)  joined Carlos Quentin in the Southside power surge that is still awaiting Adam Dunn to rejoin it.

4. Yankees (3): The Yanks offense became a bit inconsistent, showing a Saturday outburst to drop the Red Sox, but then followed it up by being limited to a two-hit shutout a night later as they dropped two of their first three showdowns with their arch nemesis’ in Boston.

5. Rockies (12): The Rockies break into the the drivers seat in the NL West and into the top five of this poll after a three win weekend series over the Pirates after slowing the Dodgers’ momentum to kick off the week for a 5-1 showing.

6. Reds (4): An up and down week for the NL Central leaders, outscoring the Astros 20-6 in the first two games of their week opening series, but then being outdone by the D’Backs to the tone of 29-11 in the weekend series. Joey Votto (.455 avg) is doing his part as defending-MVP however.

7. Indians (28): The surprise of all of baseball so far, they swept both the Red Sox and Mariners last week, in route a having a current seven-game winning streak and control of the AL Central. They have a challenging week on deck however, with a trip to the Angels and hosting the Orioles over the weekend. Time to show and prove.

8. Royals (11): The Royals “World’s Of Fun” start to 2011 continued this week, taking two more games to extra innings with the White Sox (winning one and losing another), followed by taking two of three from the Tigers over the weekend. Has Alex Gordon FINALLY shown up the party for good? His .357 average and 15 hits are a prime reason for the Royals early boom.

9. Orioles (9): The O’s stay at the top of the AL East despite having a unenviable weekend versus the Rangers, where they were outscored 16-1 during two losses, but managed to shutout their powerful lineup behind a great Derek Holland start on Saturday.

10. Blue Jays (10): The Jays played tight match ups in Anaheim and Oakland on the first leg of their west coast swing this weekend, but with Jose Bautista back for good now from a brief personal absence, they’ll be in better shape for the Mariners and Red Sox this week.

11. Dodgers (7): A sweep in Colorado knocked the Dodgers off of their opening weekend high versus the Giants, but they rebounded to take two of three from the Padres, cued by a strong outburst from Matt Kemp, who looks primed for a great post-Rihanna season (if that’s possible).

12. Angels (24): There will be more on Jared Weaver a little later, but two outstanding starts from him erased any possible hangover from their tough start in KC last week, and Dan Haren added in two wins of his own, as the Angels top starters were as good as advertised versus two tough AL East opponents.

13. Brewers (19): The Brewers jump back into the fray behind huge weekends from Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun, taking four of six last week, including a sweep of the Braves.

14. Giants (15): The Giants got their World Series rings over the weekend and two tight late inning victories over the Cardinals as well, notching two walk-off victories during their homecoming.

15. D’Backs (21): They took the fight to a tough Reds club and showed that their lineup may be turning the corner from it’s swinging-and-miss ways of the past already. Miguel Montero’s .500 start to the year (13 for 26) is paving the way for this effort.

16. Red Sox (6): Hard to say if their early slide is over after last week’s showings, which were an impressive series win at home versus the Yankees, but an ugly 3-0 sweep at the hands of the Indians. I’m betting this will be as low as they are on this poll all year though.

17. A’s (14): As expected, their pitching is ready to win now (3 or less runs in five of six games), but their offense isn’t giving them anything to win with so far (3 games of one or less runs).

18. Marlins (26): The Fish didn’t play the strongest slate last week (the Nationals and Astros), but they took two of three in both series, and won the gimme games that you need headed into a week versus the Phillies and Braves.

19. Padres (13): Rough week in the division for the Pads, splitting a series with the Giants and losing another to the Dodgers. They had trouble scoring runs against their tough pitching staffs, and since this will be the case for every division match up they have all summer, they better find a way to make more contact or else…

20. Braves (8): At the end of an awful week against some tough opponents in Milwaukee and Philly, the Braves find themselves at the bottom of the East. For some teams, losing to this calibur of opponent would be acceptable, but not for a team expect to contend with both of these clubs for the Wild Card and Division championships, respectively.

21. Pirates (20): Good start to the week, surprisingly taking a series in St. Louis, but probably got a reality check while losing three of four to the Rockies over the weekend. Enjoy it while it lasts Buccos.

22. Cubs (same): They lost three games by one run, but also got shutout a the hands of the Brewers #4 starter Chris Narveson as well. They have to find a way to get the big hit when needed if they want to make an impact in a wide open NL Central.

23. Nationals (27): Both Jordan & Ryan Zimmerman (no relation) cued a surprisingly strong week on the mound and at the plate for the Nats, as they won three contests, including two in extra innings.

24. Tigers (16): The Tigers are playing basically every hot club in the AL right now, but still have a to find a way to beat teams they are more talented than. They didn’t do that last week against the Orioles or Royals.

25. Mets (18): Dropping two against the Phillies is alright. Losing two against the Nationals at home isn’t.

26. Cardinals (23): The offense isn’t scoring and the bullpen isn’t supporting. When those things don’t happen you don’t win too often. And those two elements are the two biggest features of the Cardinals’ young season. Perhaps the return of Matt Holliday this week can fix part of that equation.

27. Twins (28): The two-time defending AL Central champs still can’t get into the swing of it all yet this year, literally. Their pitchers held the Yanks in check, but still dropped two of three by one run. That tendency followed them into the weekend, where they dropped another two games by one run to the A’s, by scores of 2-1 and 1-0.

28. Astros (30): They rise out of the cellar due to taking wins against the Reds and Marlins, but are greatly assisted in this effort by the next club’s futility…

29. Mariners (17): The M’s have dropped a week of consecutive games now, with the Indians and Rangers picking up some quick gimme games. This weeks showdowns with the Blue Jays and Royals don’t look to alleviate these issues anytime soon. But there’s always Felix…if they score for him.

30. Rays (25): The bad times keep getting worse for the Rays. After already losing Evan Longoria, this week they lost Manny Ramirez, permanently. The controversial slugger retired midweek after being popped for steroids for a second time. In the process they dropped five games the Angels and White Sox. You gotta pray Tampa, that’s about all I can offer about now.


N.L.: Ryan Howard-Phillies: For the second week in a row Howard holds the pole position here. He’s yet to have that huge two or three homer game you just know he’s gonna have, but so far he’s carrying the Phils offense w/o Chase Utley to support him & is tied for the NL lead in RBI, along with a .361 average. Not bad for a guy known has the biggest all or nothing hitter in the game. (Runners up: Joey Votto & Prince Fielder)

Ryan Howard

A.L.: Nelson Cruz-Rangers: Any number of bats could be cued as the catalyst to the Texas outburst to start the season, but Cruz has been the most devastating of them all thus far. He leads the Majors with 5 homers thus far, including 4 in the first four games of the season. With the tablesetters in front of him, he could run away with the RBI title this year & is one short of the AL lead already. (Runners Up: Paul Konerko, Miguel Cabrera)


N.L.: Roy Halladay-Phillies: What a surprise here. There’s a lot of guys having excellent starts in the N.L., but Doc is basically cruising along still & gives off the idea he hasn’t even kicked it into gear all the way yet. With one walk & 13 strikeouts in his first 13 innings, and a 0.69 ERA (4th in the league), he’s primed for yet another lights out year.

A.L.: Jared Weaver-Angels: Last year, he pitched into a lot of hard luck & notched only 13 wins for his efforts, despite leading the Majors in strikeouts. After Sunday’s 15-strikeout effort he’s back a top that category again, but has 3 wins in 3 starts to show for it, proving that sometimes it’s just easier to handle it yourself. After giving up only 2 runs in his first 20.2 innings this year, Weaver is proving the “I in win” theory quite true. (Runners Up: Felix Hernandez, Dan Haren)

Jared Weaver

  1. Oates says:

    Gotta say, I love where the Royals are right now. We’ve been in every game. We are 7-4 at the time of me writing this but every game we’ve lost has been close & we’ve been it to the end. I cant hide my excitement for how we are hitting, taking pitches (FINALLY!!!!!!!), fielding & our bullpen. Lots of kudos go out to Gordon & the kids in the bullpen. They are doing work! Melky & Frenchy have been performing above my expectations & Frenchy’s bat & glove have been crucial to the succes thus far. My big point of concern is…The starting rotation. Outside of Francis & one start by Chen we havent got a quality start out of them. Hoch & Davies still cannot avoid the big inning & I’m really starting lose faith in Davies as a starter. He might be more suited for a bullpen role or maybe another team. Hoch is not a number 1 starter & probably not even a #4. i still think he shows enough flashes to still work with though.

    Go Royals!

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