Mikey’s MLB power rankings

It’s hard to believe July is ending today and the dog days of summer are in full swing. It also means pennant races are heating up, and this year they are more so than ever. You can safely say the Rangers are playoff-bound, but every other division lead is no greater than 3.5 games, and we have three divisions that have the top two teams separated by 1.5 games or less. How awesome is that? I mean, this could be the greatest stretch run as far as the entire league, ever. Here are Mikey’s power rankings (yes, I just referred to myself in the third person, I need to stop that!)……

1. New York Yankees (65-37)—The Rays are inching closer, but the Yanks are still the team to beat. Adding Lance Berkman was a way for them to bully the Rays a little, like “Take that, small market team!” I also keep thinking about how they are going to sign Cliff Lee in the off-season and then they may play .800 ball next year. And really, who wants to see that?

2. Tampa Bay Rays (64-38)—Don’t think the Yankees aren’t sweating, however. Because these Rays just sweat talent.

3. San Diego Padres (60-41)—Seriously, when was the last time the Padres were contemplating trades at the trade deadline to bolster their team for the stretch? It’s such a great story this year.

4. Texas Rangers (60-43)—Speaking of great stories…..the Rangers are up by 8 games in their division and could be the first team to clinch a playoff spot.

5. Atlanta Braves (59-43)—Another great story. I wonder if Greg Maddux could come back and help these guys for a few months.

6. Boston Red Sox (58-45)—Now these guys will definitely be the odd team out, and it almost seems like if they keep winning it won’t matter.

7. San Francisco Giants (59-45)—Don’t look now, but the G-men are 2.5 games back of the Padres. And they have one of the best starting rotations in baseball, so they have the goods to contend down the stretch.

8. Chicago White Sox (58-44)—Another 5-game win streak, but barely hanging on to first place in the AL Central

9. Cincinnati Reds (57-47)—How many great team stories can there be in one year? Forget the year of the pitcher, it’s the year of the Cinderella. Sorry, Cardinals fans, I know you have a half-game lead, but Joey Votto just hit another home run. Wait, there goes another one!

10. Minnesota Twins (57-46)—It’s just a matter of time before the White Sox fade, and the Twins are putting ridiculous pressure on them with their own 6-game winning streak.

In the hunt: St. Louis Cardinals, Philadelphia Phillies, LA Dodgers
Fading fast: New York Mets, LA Angels, Colorado Rockies

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Mikey’s MLB power rankings

The all-star game is behind us now, which means pennant races are about to heat up for real. And there are so many teams in contention this season, it really promises to be a wild rest of the summer. Here is a look at our post-all-star-game power rankings…..

1. New York Yankees (57-32)—Playing with heavy hearts this week after the passing of George Steinbrenner, but nothing else has changed. They just keep winning, and for the Yankees, that’s just what they do.

2. Tampa Bay Rays (54-35)—David Price is the real deal, and one of many reasons this young Rays team is battling the Yankees for AL East supremacy. They’re one of a handful of teams that can compete with the boys from Gotham, but they’d better not get swept this weekend.

3. Atlanta Braves (53-37)—They suddenly have a 5-game lead over the slumping Mets (and 5.5 over the Phils), and have the look of a team that wants to send Bobby Cox out on top.

4. Texas Rangers (52-38)—Cliff Lee and that lineup? The Rangers can start printing playoff tickets now.

5. San Diego Padres (52-37)—At this point, you can’t call it smoke and mirrors. Just like the Rays, this young team plays hard, manufactures runs and keeps games close with solid pitching.

6. Boston Red Sox (51-39)—Someone has awoken the beast that is David Ortiz. Home run derby was just a tease of what’s to come at Fenway this summer.

7. Chicago White Sox (50-39)—A 9-game winning streak was snapped yesterday, but the south side of Chicago is beaming. Too bad Jake Peavy is out for the year, but that doesn’t seem to matter much right now.

8. Cincinnati Reds (50-41)—See Padres, San Diego. Dusty Baker is one heck of a manager, and that is showing again now. Of course, when you have Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips and Scott Rolen in the middle of your lineup, all is right with the world.

9. Colorado Rockies (49-40)—This year, the Rockies won’t wait to make their move until September. They have already started making it, and the Padres had better watch their collective back

10. Detroit Tigers (48-39)—They have quietly kept right up with the White Sox, just one game back and now 2.5 ahead of the Twins. And Jim Leyland is still one of the best managers in the game.

Mikey’s MLB power rankings

Not much has changed at the top of this list, but the Rangers are making a statement. Meanwhile, the Mets, Cardinals and Twins have been playing such mediocre baseball that a few upstarts have knocked them off this list. Here are the pre-All Star game power rankings:

1. New York Yankees (55-31)—It’s on. The Rangers out-bid the Yanks for Cliff Lee, but lookie here—the Bombers have won 7 in a row. They don’t need no stinkin’ Cliff Lee.

2. Texas Rangers (50-36)—Yesterday, Nolan Ryan and company vaulted their team from playoff contender to World Series contender by obtaining Mr. Lee. The middle of their lineup with Vlad, Hamilton and Nelson Cruz just might be the most potent heart of the order in baseball.

3. Tampa Bay Rays (52-34)—Sorry, Boston. Sorry, New York. These pesky Rays are not going away.

4. Atlanta Braves (51-35)—This pains me as a Mets fan, but the Braves made a series-opening statement last night at Citi Field. They are for real and they are trying to pull away from the Mets and Phils.

5. San Diego Padres (50-36)—You think the Mets wish they still had Heath Bell?

6. Boston Red Sox (50-36)—They aren’t giving in either. The next two and a half months are going to be very exciting in the AL East.

7. Cincinnati Reds (45-35)—That team dressed in red leading the NL Central is not the Cardinals. By the way, if Joey Votto didn’t win that online voting, it would have been one of the worst all-star snubs in baseball history.

8. Detroit Tigers (47-37)—Don’t look now, the Tigers have won four in a row and the White Sox six in a row, and they are 1-2 in the AL Central while the Twins are suddenly floundering.

9. Los Angeles Dodgers (48-38)—Will the NL West be like a stock market correction and have the Dodgers and Rockies take over the Padres’ lofty spot? The Dodgers are winning again and making their move.

10. Colorado Rockies (48-38)—Always a late bloomer, the Rockies are also making a move, and their stud ace Ubaldo Jimenez is a positively sick 15-1 at the all-star break.

Just give him the Cy Young now

If you haven’t had the opportunity to watch Rockies’ ace Ublado Jimenez carve up an opponent this year, then consider yourself among the unfortunate.

Jimenez struck out eight batters in seven innings of two-run ball on Sunday to beat the Diamondbacks, 3-2. Of course, that was like an off day for him, as he finally gave up a run after pitching 33 consecutive scoreless innings before Conor Jackson took him deep in the eighth inning.

In 12 starts this season, Jimenez has gone at least six innings in every outing and has allowed two or fewer runs every time. His win on Sunday now gives him a record of 11-1 with an unbelievable 0.93 ERA. For sake of comparison, this time last year, 2009 Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum was 5-1 with a 2.96 ERA. Granted, the Giants are awfully stingy when it comes to run support, but you can see what kind of season Jimenez is having compared to last season’s Cy Young award winner.

Barring injury or a complete mental breakdown, it’s safe to say that Jimenez will be your 2010 NL Cy Young winner. To early too tell? Not for anyone that has actually watched him. His stuff has been so filthy this year that hitters must think he’s throwing tiny stones at them. He’s been by far the most dominant pitcher in either league so far this year – even better than Roy Halladay (8-3, 2.03 ERA, 77 Ks), who is pitching incredibly well himself.

I don’t want to jinx the kid, but Jimenez is on pace to exceed 20 wins this season, which is no small feat. He’s been absolutely brilliant and incredibly fun to watch.


Photo from fOTOGLIF

Top 10 active pitchers who keep it in the yard

Some pitchers give up 1-2 home runs or more per game, while some of them are masters at keeping the ball in the park. We did a gopher ball list last year, so here is the opposite…the pitchers who give up the fewest home runs per nine innings, and therefore the guys you want in the game when the game is on the line:

1. Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees (0.4953)—Amazingly, Rivera gave up 11 home runs his rookie year (1995) and since then, only 50. That’s 50 home runs in like 15 years, or about 3 per season. That’s just sick. No wonder the guy has so many career saves (538).

2. Tim Hudson, Atlanta Braves (0.7141)—If only Hudson was able to stay healthy for any length of time, he’d be a lock for the Hall of Fame.

3. Derek Lowe, Atlanta Braves (0.7221)—When you have a ball that drops like six feet before it reaches home plate, you’re not going to have a lot of hitters get under your pitches. What you’ll get are lots of ground balls.

4. Aaron Cook, Colorado Rockies (0.7384)—If you’re a pitcher in Colorado, it’s sort of like being a meatball sandwich in a pizza joint. You’ll get noticed, but only when they run out of pizza…or in this case, when the Rockies aren’t hitting. Still, when you think about Cook and how he’s spent his entire career in Denver, being fourth on this list is quite an accomplishment.

5. Roy Halladay, Philadelphia Phillies (0.7385)—A perfect game only added to Halladay’s Hall of Fame resume.

6. Carlos Zambrano, Chicago Cubs (0.7445)—He’s always angry but always has nasty stuff, and, like Cook, he pitches in a hitter-friendly park.

7. Andy Pettitte, New York Yankees (0.7671)—Lucky for the Yankees, Pettitte’s career high of 27 home runs allowed was when he was with the Astros in 2006.

8. Roy Oswalt, Houston Astros (0.7729)—He has an impeccable nose for the strike zone, but puts enough on his pitches to keep hitters guessing and in the park.

9. Jake Westbrook, Cleveland Indians (0.7999)—He hasn’t pitched much in the last three years, but when he does, Jake Westbrook is very good at keeping the ball in the yard.

10. AJ Burnett, New York Yankees (0.8213)—As if the Yankees needed another guy like this in their rotation.

Source: Baseball Reference

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