MLB POWER POLL: Week 6

Posted: May 9, 2011 by The Cheap Seat Fan in MLB
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What a week that was. Two no-hitters, and at least 3 more attempts at no-no’s that ended in the 7th inning or later. On the flip side, a hitting streak in LA reached 30 games, and in yet another extreme, a 16 strikeout night wasn’t good enough for the win.

Evan Longoria's return gives one of the hottest clubs in baseball their top talent back in the mix at the perfect time.

Between all of these accomplishments, the top 10 doesn’t show much change, but some of the top teams from last week went head to head in the previous 7 years, so there was some shake up. Let’s get into it and see what’s shaken out, especially to see where a streaking club that’s rising up the board, and just got their best player back last week in the process.

1. Phillies (1): For the third consecutive week the Phils hold down pole position on the list. However with the constant injury plague that has followed them around like a black cloud all season now taking down Roy Oswalt and Carlos Ruiz, how much longer can they hold back the hard charging Marlins and Braves out East?
2. Indians (2): The Tribe went out to face off against the top two pitching staffs in the AL in Oakland and LA, yet still came away with 3 wins and the same 4.5 game lead in the AL Central.
3. Rays (8): After that horrible start, the Rays have become the best clutch team in baseball, and behind James Shields and David Price they have become the first team in the East to win 20 games and now are tied for first place. All this with Evan Longoria having just made his season debut this past week.
4. Yankees (5): The Tigers took 3 of 4 from them to start the week out, and now they’ve been caught by the Rays. However, once again Derek Jeter is coming through right on time, and is finally showing some signs of life right when the Yanks need him.
5. Cardinals (6): The Cardinals haven’t lost a series since the first week of April, and their potent lineup scored more runs in one afternoon against Josh Johnson this week than nearly the entire league did this month, while splitting the bill with the Marlins in St. Louis last week.
6. Angels (7): Jared Weaver finally was proven to be mortal this week, but the Halos rallied up as a club and managed a split with the Red Sox before winning a weekend tilt hosting the Indians.
7. Marlins (4): The Fish had a rough patch this week, losing two late inning games vs. St. Louis, before dropping a weekend set versus the Nationals. For them to keep up in a division that is becoming rapidly uber-competitive, they’ll need Hanley Ramirez to turn the corner from an April performance that left his batting average sub .200.
8. Reds (11): Around this time last year the Reds started making their push that lasted the entire summer, and right now could be the start of the same thing, as they took 4 wins against the Central’s bottom feeders headed into a second showdown with a Cardinal team they are chasing down, this time in Cincy.
9. Rockies (9): The Rocks confidence had to take a beating this last week, as they dropped four games in a row and three of them on walk off hits after bullpen implosions. The Giants swept them in the process at home and now the Rockies are in real position to be caught atop the West.
10. Braves (16): Finally the Braves were able to string together some wins, as they swept a four game set at home vs. the Brewers, then took two of three from the Phillies. Their pitching staff is showing it can be just as big of a strength as the more highly touted ones in the East. Watch out.
11. Giants (15): After a mostly up and down showing so far this season, the Giants made a statement this weekend while sweeping the Rockies on the road. Overall they’ve won 5 of their last 6, and are in position to take control of the West this week.
12. Royals (10): The first piece of the touted Royals youth movement made his debut this week in Eric Homser, and hopefully can provide a boost for a Royals club that has been unable to close the gap between themselves and the first place Indians in the last few weeks.
13. Rangers (9): Bad week for the Rangers, as they continue to slide out West and are now tied for second place with the A’s and have the Mariners quick on their heels. To make matters worse they lost Nelson Cruz to the disabled list as well.
14. A’s (12): The A’s keep on throwing the ball better than anybody else in the game, and split six game versus both the Indians and Royals this week. But the story is the same here, if their bats don’t wake up, they’ll never be able to capitalize on the slide of the injury prone Rangers or resurgent Angels.
15. Tigers (22): Either it’s all great or all bad in Detroit, as they took a major turn up this past week, winning 5 games (highlighted by Justin Verlander’s second career no-hitter) after bringing a seven game losing streak into the week.
16. Red Sox (21): It seems like it’s taking forever, but the Red Sox are coming around steadily, and split a four game set with the Angels last week, and followed it by winning a weekend set versus the Twins. More importantly, they are getting signs of life from the guys they built around, especially Carl Crawford, who hit .370 last week on 10 hits.
17. Pirates (23): Kevin Correia (league leading 5 wins) and James McDonald (2-0, 1.00 ERA in his last four starts) are giving the Bucs a strong basis of pitching to build around, as they continue to flirt with .500 into the season’s second month.
18. Mariners (20): The M’s are in last place by 2 games in the West, but with the potential for a dominant outing from either Felix Hernandez or Michael Pineda every time out, they are in position to close that gap very quickly.
19. Nationals (17): They split six games against the top two teams in the East last week, but will be hard pressed to sustain any long term impact with five more weeks of being without Ryan Zimmerman in front of them. Tom Gorzelanny and Jason Marquis have to continue their surprising outputs for this to happen.
20. Dodgers (18): Despite getting much airplay for Andre Either’s former 30 game hitting streak, the Dodgers can’t get any sort of consistency started, but scoring runs for Clayton Kershaw to work with would be a start.
21. Blue Jays (14): They were without Jose Bautista for much of the week, and their outcome (2-4 vs. the Rays and Tigers) shows it. Getting their MVP candidate back this week should remedy this futility some.
22. D’Backs (25): It was opposites week for the Diamondbacks. Kirk Gibson’s club capitalized on the first place Rockies struggles to start the week out, but followed it up by dropping two of three to the last place Padres.
23. Mets (24): Jose Reyes is being floated as trade bait, but his 49 hits are tied for the best in baseball. However, with Chris Young (and his 1.88 ERA) back on the disabled list, they’ll need much more from the rest of the lineup if the Mets are to pull themselves out of the East’s cellar.
24. Cubs (26): They played the Reds tough this past weekend, but are still failing to capitalize on enough scoring opportunities, as they are 2nd in the NL in hitting, but 12th in runs scored.
25. Padres (28): Even after taking 2 of 3 from the Diamondbacks at home this weekend, they have lost seven more home games than they have won. This is what happens when you club is in the bottom two of the Majors in every major offensive marker.
26. Twins (30): Francisco Liriano’s no-hitter on Tuesday against the White Sox was a brief motivator, as was the sweep of the White Sox that surrounded it. However, they still have just 12 wins on the season, and are quickly allowing for a third straight division title to have a insurmountable gap in-between it.
27. Brewers (19): The Brewers have won 2 of their last 10 games, including dropping six games last week. Even Zack Greinke’s debut wasn’t enough to propel them out of this rut, as they were one hit by Tim Hudson that night in Atlanta and lost it 8-0.
28. Astros (27): Closer Brandon Lyon’s move to the DL may be a merciful turn for an Astros club that has blown 9 of it’s 14 save opportunities.
29. Orioles (13): Another team that is either completely great or completely nothing, the Orioles will probably be back up again from this level of struggling, but are showing the ability to play with any of their much tougher divisional mates (dropped 5 of 6 vs the Blue Jays and Rays last week).
30. White Sox (29): A change has to come somewhere in Chicago, whether it’s Ozzie Guillen or a positive boost made by the return of  Jake Peavy on Wednesday. Either way, this club is too talented to be at the bottom of any division. There will have to be some decisions made in a hurry in Chicago about where this is all headed.

M-V-ME: My picks for the best of the best

NL-Lance Berkman: Berkman keeps killing the ball in his rebirth in St. Louis, where he is now the biggest threat nightly in a lineup that has Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday hitting in front of him. He hit another two homers last week, along with 9 more RBI, which take his total to a MLB-leading 32. His .374 average is second in the NL to Holliday, who hits just before him in the non-stop Cardinal attack. With his Cardinal-debut against the rival Cubs coming this week in Wrigley, he’ll have a chance to pile on more numbers in the windy bandbox in the Chi. (Runners Up: Matt Holliday, Joey Votto)

Berkman's hot bat and flair for the clutch have seen to it that the Cards haven't lost a series in a month.

AL-Jose Bautista: It seems strange the Bautista is still atop the MVP race after a week that he only played in 2 games after being gone with neck spasms. Espesically for a fourth place team that is chasing two of the strongest teams in the game. But that is exactly why I still go for him over anybody else in the AL right now. Without him the Jays have no hope, but when he is there, they have a shot. Proof? They won four of their last six games before he left the lineup, then dropped three out of five as soon as he left. With the AL’s leading hitter and second most prolific home run hitter back this week, I predict they’ll be in much better shape by the end of the week.

KINGS of the HILL

NL-Roy Halladay: This is repeat part one of the Cy Young nods here. Despite even more injuries finding the Phils, including in their rotation now, they basically have a guaranteed win every fifth day still in Doc. His five wins are tied for the league lead, and he has managed 57 strikeouts in just over 53 innings as well. The NL is hitting .226 against him and he has still only allowed one ball to be hit over the fence against him this year. These are more than just Cy Young numbers…an MVP nod could be in the works here as he keeps the Phillies up to their lofty expectations despite them being one of the most battered teams in baseball. (Runners Up: Jaime Garcia, Josh Johnson)

AL-Jared Weaver: The Angels ace finally lost a game this week in his return from a brief illness, but his impact still keeps him atop the Cy Young race in the AL, and has the only six game winner in either league. The West is full of dominant pitching performances thus far this season, with Trevor Cahill leading the league in ERA in Oakland, Dan Haren leading the league in strikeouts, and just a notch behind Weaver in nearly every other stat. However, Weaver legitimate looks gives them a shot at a complete game shutout nearly every time out so far, so it’s going to take more than just one L to knock him off this list. (Runners Up: Trevor Cahill, Dan Haren).

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