Posted: May 16, 2011 by The Cheap Seat Fan in MLB
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Tough week at the top for the top 5 from last week’s poll, as none of them could carry a winning record and the Yankees in particular stuck in a major rut that featured only one win. Two clubs were knocked from the top of their divisions in the National League, and the one Cy Young leader took two losses in one week for the only club that retained their division lead.

Lincecum's hot hand has the Giants looking like champs again...and rising up the Poll.

There was a lot of movement in the middle of the pack, however, so if there happens to be another week like this one, there could be a completely different look to this poll very soon. But for now, here’s how it goes and it looks somewhat familar….for now.

1. Phillies (1): The Phils hold down number one again, on the basis of they split a ridiculously tough week against their top division foes in Florida and Atlanta, but ace Roy Halladay took 2 L’s in the process (both coming in complete games), which kept it from being a big statement week.

2. Indians (2): They had their home winning streak ended at 14 games, but the Tribe’s amazing early season run continues atop the AL Central. They only got one game in during a nearly completely rained out weekend series against the Mariners, which could have propelled them to the top of this poll.

3. Rays (3): They continued to prove they are legit, after opening up the week ending the Indians home invincibility. Matt Joyce has kept his hot bat and is now tied for the AL lead in hitting at .368 coming into the week.

4. Reds (8): They may have made another statement this week, by knocking off the bottom of the Central in Houston, before taking the fight to Cardinals by sweeping them….and taking first place in the process.

5. Giants (11): They continued to take advantage of the slumping Rockies, and took over first place for the first time this season out west. Tim Lincecum is riding a 17 inning scoreless streak currently, and overall they have won eight of nine games.

6. Angels (6): The Halos dropped two series last week, and Jared Weaver has now lost 3 starts in a row after opening up 6-0. In dropping two during a weekend series to the Rangers, their lead in the West is down to half a game.

7. Cardinals (5): After having not lost a series since the first week of April, the Cardinals were brought back to reality in an aggressive way over the weekend, being swept by their divisional rivals in Cincinnati and slipping into second place behind them as well.

8. Marlins (7): Although they lost their week-opening series against the Phillies, they did defeat Roy Halladay for the one win in the series with ace Josh Johnson starting, 2-1. Their biggest task now is a balancing act between holding off the charging Braves and still being able to narrow the gap between them and Philly as well.

9. Braves (10): Dan Uggla’s 8th inning solo homer was the second of the year that the Phil’s Halladay has surrendered, and pushed his average over .200 finally. It also gave the Braves their second series win over the division leading Phillies in the young season.

10. Yankees (4): The Yanks are mired in an all-around bad situation right now, being in their longest losing streak (5 games) in 2 years, dropping their fifth out of six matchups against the Red Sox this season and topping it off with veteran Jorge Posada opting out of the lineup and adding yet another element to the struggle in the Bronx.

11. Tigers (15): Justin Verlander almost went back to back with his no-hit bids last week, and didn’t allow a hit over a span of 50 batters at one point over three starts. In the process the Tigers are having a season-high 7 game win streak as well.

12. Royals (12): The Royals have continued to play solid baseball, as evidenced by their first series win in New York since 1999. However after dropping 2 games to them over the weekend, they were overtaken for second place in the AL Central by the surging Tigers.

13. Rangers (13): Even with their multiple injury issues, the Rangers are still plugging along, and made a move to regain control in the AL West after winning 2 of 3 from the Angels over the weekend. Josh Hamilton is already taking batting practice in his recovery from a broken wrist, and if he can rejoin the club soon, they could be in position to make another big statement like their early April impact.

14. Red Sox (16): For the first time in the season, the Red Sox are at .500, with 20 wins and losses. This weekend capped what has been the one surefire bright spot for the team this season: they are handling the Yankees with ease. In 14 innings against the Yanks this year, Josh Beckett has only allowed 6 hits, has 19 strikeouts and 0.00 ERA.

15. Rockies (9): The hard times continue in Colorado, as they dropped two series this week against the lowly Mets and Padres, and finally saw what was a 4.5 game lead in the West be overtaken in the process.

16. Blue Jays (21): Jose Bautista got a full week back in the lineup, and the Jays turned the corner. His three home run game on Sunday pulled them into a tie for third place in the East, and if they can stay at it, they’ll be able to benefit big time from the inconsistencies that have plagued New York and Boston recently.

17. A’s (14): Trevor Cahill finally showed himself to be beatable, giving up 10 hits over seven innings and dropping the deciding game of a weekend series versus the White Sox. He only allowed two earned runs however in the process, and his ERA raised to 1.82 in the process…still good for second in the AL.

18. Dodgers (20): The guys in LA seem to refuse to NOT define what a .500 club is all about. After taking two from a hot Pirates club to start the week out, they lost a chance to get into the picture atop the West by losing 2 of 3 to the D’Backs…at home.

19. Orioles (28): The streakiest club in the game turned their fortunes around this past week, winning five of six versus the Mariners and Rays. But for a squad that has had both an 8-game losing streak along with multiple stretches such as the one they are currently riding this year, tomorrow never knows.

20. Brewers (27): After being roughed up in his debut (4 innings, 4 runs and a loss), Zack Greinke has answered with wins his last two starts, and is providing some real confidence on the mound for a team that had none while he was out.

21. Mets (23): The Mets won two series in one week for the first time all season, but had a rough road along the way to doing it. They lost Chris Young for the season to a shoulder muscle tear and their leading RBI man Ike Davis landed on the DL as well.

22. Nationals (19): The Nats hit a rough spot last week, as the Marlins and Braves handled them in short order last week. On the bright side, Jason Marquis picked up both of their wins last week, and his tied for the NL lead in wins with 5.

23. Pirates (17): The Bucs have been playing solid ball, but they are currently in the middle of their longest losing streak of the season, at five games. For a club that is not used to really any level of success, how they react to either ending this stretch, or giving into it, will tell a lot about who they are.

24. Mariners (18): For the last few weeks they were looking like they were ready to make an earnest push to be in the AL West mix, but they have now dropped six straight games, and perhaps mercifully had their last two games of the weekend in Cleveland rained out.

25. Cubs (24): Since the beginning of May, they have only been able to put together back-to-back wins once, and considering they are in middle of a brutal stretch of scheduling fate (Cardinals, Giants, Marlins, Red Sox and Reds…twice), something will have to give in a hurry if they want to change this trend and get in the mix in the wide open NL Central.

26. D’Backs (22): Tim Lincecum held them without a hit through seven innings during what became a 1-0 loss on Thursday, that also completed a Giant sweep. If they can get more games to their big offseason signing J.J. Putz (9 saves in 9 chances), they’d probably be in a better place.

27. White Sox (30): They got back Jake Peavy on Wednesday, and got six innings of encouraging performance from him. What should be most encouraging is what they put the finishing touches on this weekend, a winning week. This was the first time they had won four games in a week since early April.

28. Padres (25): Mat Latos finally got his first win of the season yesterday, as the Pads finally gave him some real run support this year. Overall, they had their best offensive week of the year, scoring over six runs five times, and winning three of the five games.

29. Astros (28): Not much to get excited about here (as you can see by their rank), but they did stop a four game slide with a win over Cincinnati….but followed it by dropping two of three against the Mets.

30. Twins (26): Francisco Liriano’s no-hitter a week ago failed to spark anything in the Twins, or even in their talented lefty. He followed that historic start-up by surrending four runs in three innings before being yanked. Overall, they are in their longest losing streak of the year currently, at eight games and have a total of 12 wins on the year, a mark they reached by April 23rd a year ago.

M-V-ME: My Picks for the League’s Best

NL-Joey Votto: For a while now, last year’s MVP has been putting up numbers that haven’t been able to be capitalized on by his teammates. However, now the Reds are surging again, similar to last year, and their slugging first baseman is getting the support he needs to drive his team to the top, just like last year. Votto’s Reds faced off against their main rivals in the Cardinals over the weekend, and he responded by out playing all three of the Cardinals MVP candidates, and propelled the Reds back into first place. Overall, he’s at .345, with 5 home runs and 22 RBI on the year, and has the Reds in roughly the same position today as they were a year ago. And that worked out pretty good for them for the rest of the summer. (Runners Up: Lance Berkman, Matt Holliday)

Votto keeps hitting and hitting...and hitting. And now the Reds' wins are following suit as well.

AL-Jose Bautista: This won’t take too long to do. It’s basically just a simple compare and contrast. Last week, I said this about Bautista’s presence in the Jays lineup. And now a week later, that has become 1000% true, as the Jays took home 5 victories after his return and he blasted his way atop the Major League home run leaders as well now, with 16 after his three shot performance in Minnesota on Sunday.



NL-Tim Lincecum: For the first time in a while, there’s a new name on top of the best arms in the National League listing. Behind his 17 consecutive scoreless innings, and usual mix of confusing and overpower stuff, the San Francisco Giants have climbed back to the top of the N.L. West. Lincecum has struggled to get many decisions, and his record is only 3-3 on the year, but it’s not because he’s not putting them the Giants in a place to win. Batters are hitting .197 against him, his 66 strikeouts are 2nd in the N.L. and his 2.11 ERA is fourth. Most importantly, his efforts have contributed to the Giants overcoming a four game deficit in the West to now be its leaders. And forget his numbers, that stat is what it’s all about.

AL-Justin Verlander: Verlander didn’t allow a hit over 3 starts and 50 batters in what was nearly back-to-back no hit bids over the last two weeks. There are a lot of guys who have better overall numbers, but his efforts have played a part in inspiring a rebirth of the Tigers, who were quickly becoming mid of the road grinders in the Central. His 62 strikeouts lead the American League, and his 0.94 WHIP number shows just how hard it has become to make any type of impact versus the Tigers big ace. (Runners Up: Trevor Cahill, Dan Haren)

Verlander's un-hittable nature has the Tigers as the fastest rising club in baseball right now.

  1. Oates says:

    So, GMDM (Royals General Manager Dayton Moore) says that the 40-game mark is a good point to assess your team & get a good idea of what you are going to be that season. 40 games is a quarter of season and in his opinion, and most baseball experts, a large enough sample size to figure it out. So, these are my 1st quarter grades for the Royals…

    Starting Pitching: D

    With Chen on the DL now, the Royals rotation doesnt have a single guy that I feel will go out there and win a ball game. Hoch continues his mediocre pitching which would suffice if he was a #5 but since he’s a #1 and matchup against the opponents #1 thats going to be trouble. Davies is still statistically the worst starting pitcher in MLB history (according to Royals Authority). Francis averages 3 runs a game in run support, not enough to help his cause as he is still winless this season. O’Sullivan has been pretty solid. He has a problem giving up the walks (as do most of the Royals rotation) but he seems to get out of trouble too.

    Bullpen: B+

    They are all doing pretty well. Coleman, Wood, Adcock, Crow and Collins have all met expectations or exceeded them. I continued to be concerned about Soria as I just dont seem to see him have “easy” outings. It seems he is always allowing a baserunner & getting into jams.

    Defense: B-

    The Royals have been very solid around the diamond w/ Francoeur leading the charge from the Outfield & sparkling defender Escobar leading the charge in the infield. Both have made crucial plays and they both make it look easy out there. The only place of concern for me is the 2nd/3rd base platoons. Betemit is a solid 3rd baseman just have to wonder if he can do that every day. Aviles’ defense at 3rd and 2nd leave a lot to be desired and while you get an incremental upgrade at defense w/ Getz at 2nd, you lose a ton of offense w/ him in the lineup.

    Offense: A

    The Royals are at the top of just about every offensive category in the Junior circuit. Still not much of a power team but w/ the way they hit, they take advantage of spacious outfield at Kauffman Stadium. Going forward, the Royals are going to need Gordon & Butler to find those swings again & afford the rookie, Hosmer, some protection in the lineup.

    Prediction for next quarter of season:

    The Royals will have to address the lineup and it wont be easy decisions for GMDM. The 2 prospects on fire down at AAA-Omaha, Duffy & Montgomery, neither are on the Royals 40-man roster which means someone on the roster will have to either get cut, traded or designated for assignment before the call up. I think Cabrera is a prime candidate for trade bait as Lorenzo Cain has been tearing it up in AAA. Davies days might be numbered w/ the Royals and is a candidate for the DFA. The Royals wont have many off days coming up so Yost will have to balance how much he uses the bullpen & we’ll the starters to get deep into games. I see the Royals going 20-20 in our next 40 games. Taking us through the end of June

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