A familiar face has found themselves back on top of baseball’s premier division, and atop the Power Poll’s 10th incarnation as well. This was aided by so-so weeks by nearly every other elite club in last week’s poll, and the great West Coast swing by the Yankees in route to passing up the Red Sox and holding back the Rays as well.
In the National League, the Phillies couldn’t win anything that didn’t involve Doc Halladay somehow, and the Giants slowed the Cardinals potential rise to the top of the charts as well. Overall, it was a very competitive week, that featured a return to form by the Rangers, who enter the top 5 for the first time in over a month and also the waking up of sleeping giant…or more appropriately, Cardinal over the weekend.
That and more in the CHEAP.SEATS’ weekly rundown of all 30 in big league baseball.
1. Yankees (5): The Yanks return to the top of the list due to mix of rounding back into form at the plate from the heart of the order; Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira are starting their annual mid-summer assaults now. But Bartolo Colon’s resurgence has given them a much needed extra boost on the hill which has alluded them all year.
2. Phillies (1): The Phils hit their first real rough stretch of the year, dropping four consecutive road shows against the Nationals and Pirates. They picked up the bookends of the week which (no surprise) Roy Halladay started.
3. Cardinals (3): With two-walk off homers under his belt this weekend to beat the rival Cubs, and five in the last week, Albert Pujols looks as if he’s starting to come back into his usual other worldly form. Right on time too with Matt Holliday joining the Disabled List for the next two weeks
4. Rangers (8): The revival in Texas is full “swing” ahead, however this time it’s not lead by their bats alone. C.J. Wilson, Colby Lewis, Matt Holland and Alexi Ugando gave up just one run over 32.2 innings last week while building a 5-game winning streak over the Rays and Indians.
5. Red Sox (4): They opened the week in bad shape dropping three to the White Sox, but Carl Crawford becoming an RBI machine over the last week (8 in the last six games, 3 game winners) sparked a turnaround that keeps them one game behind the Yanks.
6. Indians (2): Dropping all four games of a set in Texas, the Indians have finally hit their first snag of the year. With Shin Soo-Choo battling the after effects of a DUI arrest and Travis Hafner still weeks from returning from the D.L., they will have to be on the defensive in the protecting their steadily decreasing lead in the A.L. Central.
7. Giants (10): GM Brian Sabean’s comments concerning revenge over Buster Posey’s injury have gotten the most headlines, but the Giants themselves made some encouraging news as well. In the course of winning three of four in St. Louis they moved back into first place in the West and showed signs of life after Posey.
8. Brewers (12): They keep climbing up the rankings, thanks in no small part to Ryan Braun. Despite sitting most the game with a sore shoulder, he homered to win the game as a pinch hitter and subsequently pull the Brewers into control of the early Wild Card watch as well.
9. D’Backs (9): They cooled down last week, but still are a game out from retaking first place in the West. Most encouraging is that some of the bats that hadn’t thawed out all year are starting to come around, such as Kelly Johnson (.366 average, six home runs and 13 RBI over his last 10 games).
10. Rays (7): In a star-studded rotation, the youngster of the batch has stepped to the forefront. Jeremy Hellickson notched his staff leading seventh win in Seattle and stopped their four game losing skid in the process.
11. Marlins (6): Mike Stanton (13 home runs) and Gaby Sanchez (.321 average) have held this club together, but they have taken it as far as it can go without a productive Hanley Ramirez (.210 avg and 4 homers). Whether it is health or slump fighting, they have to get something from their perennial All-Star soon if they are to not repeat last weeks horrid performance (5 losses to) soon.
12. Tigers (16): The streaky Tigers turned it on again at the right time with the Indians taking a dip, and now are within striking range at taking control of the A.L. Central this week. The potential return of Magglio Ordonez from an ankle injury could be the final piece they need in arming up to overtake the Tribe.
13. Braves (11): Last week they couldn’t make up ground on Philly or Florida because neither would lose? Well this week they did, and the Braves lost right along with them and missed a prime opportunity to get into the mix in the East.
14. Reds (14): Jay Bruce is leading the N.L. in home runs with 17 and Joey Votto is it’s leading hitter at .338, but they’ll only go as far as their starters will allow them still and that’s a major question mark as they continue to play musical chairs with the rotation.
15. Mariners (17): The march of the Mariners continues, and they continue to be one of the hottest teams in either league (haven’t lost a series since the second week of May), despite being one of its most lopsided (2nd in Quality Starts with 30, but last in batting average at .230).
16. Angels (13): Mark Trumbo (11 home runs) has supplied a solid power threat in a lineup that needs one, but they are still struggling to find consistency and have dropped below .500 despite having a rotation in the top 10 in the Majors in team ERA, quality starts and batting average against.
17. Blue Jays (16): The unlikely support from Corey Patterson (.292 average) and Adam Lind (.326 average) have made the Jays far more than just a one man highlight act via Jose Bautista. They are in the top 5 in all of baseball in batting average and runs scored.
18. Dodgers (21): Despite all of their team struggles, Matt Kemp continues to put in an MVP-caliber effort. His 48 RBI lead the N.L. and 16 homers come in at second best.
19. White Sox (26): The Sox are slowly pulling it together and could be a player in an A.L. Central that is beginning to balance itself out, but they’ll need was more from the their biggest offseason signing in Adam Dunn (.179 average, 5 homers) if they are going to crash the party for very long.
20. Pirates (20): Kevin Correia isn’t winning in the same style that his other contemporaries in the wins column are (3.40 ERA, 40 strikeouts in 76.2 innings), but he still is tied atop the N.L. in the stat along with Roy Halladay and Yovani Gallardo at eight. Could he hang around and make a play to be the first Pirate to lead the league for a full year since John Smiley in 1991?
21. Mets (23): Jose Reyes has been a one-man show for much of the year, but Angel Pagan has returned from the D.L. a different man than he was before it, hitting in all eight games since returning at a .394 clip, and giving an often flat Mets offense another spark at the top of it.
22. Rockies (18): An interestingly mundane stat: since taking two of two from the Giants on May 16-17, they have dropped each series they have been a part of, but have only been swept once in the process.
23. Padres (27): Chase Headley is on a 15-game hitting streak currently and is the latest Padre to begin to wake up at the plate, and now they are on the verge of being able to pull out of last place in the West for the first time in a while.
24. A’s (19): The scheduling Gods did not smile upon Oakland last week, first sending them to visit the Yanks and then back home to meet the Red Sox. Their East Coast fling with two of baseball’s best netted them the current six-game losing streak they’re riding.
25. Orioles (22): In a bit of rare potentially long-term good news in Baltimore, Brian Matsuz will make his season debut this week and it couldn’t come at a better time: no Orioles starter has been able to net back-t0-back wins in the last month.
26. Nationals (28): Party crashers: something fired up the Nats as they took the fight to two division leading clubs last week in the Phillies and D’Backs, taking 2 of 3 from Philly, followed by splitting a four game set in Arizona after scoring 5-runs in the top of 11th inning on Sunday afternoon.
27. Royals (25): They single-handedly gave the Twins more victories last weekend than they were able to muster in nearly the entire month beforehand. That was the second of their recent string of bad news following the demotion of their formerly All-Star caliber closer Joakim Soria after blowing his third save within a week.
28. Astros (29): They are on the verge of pulling themselves out of the bottom of the Central standings for the first time in a while, with it being a mixture of their brief brush with success (4-game win streak), albeit against the Cubs who could be replacing them in the division’s cellar.
29. Twins (30): They are currently riding their longest win streak of the season, and get Francisco Liriano back from the D.L. this week. Unfortunately their only consistent hitter on the year, Jason Kubel, had to replace him there.
30. Cubs (24): Not only are they in the midst of a week-long losing streak, but Carlos Zambrano is back to his usual tricks. After losing his start on Sunday in St. Louis he not only criticized closer Carlos Marmol, but the entire franchise as well. Clearly there is a lot wrong here, but not sure if that’s the right place (or person) to go pointing them out.
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