After the break, who needs to do some work? [MLB Power Rankings]
In case you're wondering, Eric's theme this week was under-the-radar surprises and disappointments. We all know about Chris Davis and Josh Hamilton, but he'll look a little deeper than that.
My comments probably won't have a theme, but if you happen to recognize one that I subconsciously run with, feel free to point it out.
Without further ado, here are your MLB Power Rankings for week 15:
1. St. Louis Cardinals (59-37) [Last week: 1]
Pat: The Cardinals keep rolling along, and ace Adam Wainwright just picked up his 13th win. His 2.44 ERA is good for 5th in the NL.
Eric: Matt Carpenter was recognized as an All-Star, but it’s truly amazing how well he’s hitting (.323/.398/.501). 27 year olds in their second season don’t usually hit like that.
2. Boston Red Sox (60-40) [LW: 3]
Pat: Mike Napoli hit a couple HR last night, including a walk-off in the 11th inning to help the Sox win the rubber game against the Yankees. Not a bad way to start the 2nd half.
Eric: Will Middlebrooks was never as good as he was last year, but no one thought he’d be this disappointing, hitting .192 and demoted a month ago.
3. Pittsburgh Pirates (57-39) [LW: 2]
Pat: I'm still having trouble believing that these Pirates are for real, but they're leaving very little doubt that they're a playoff team.
Eric: The bullpen is full of no names, but they’ve gone gangbusters this year with a 2.73 ERA, second best in baseball.
4. Oakland Athletics (57-41) [LW: 4]
Pat: Josh Donaldson runs, hits, RBI, walks, average, OBP, slugging, and OPS. He won't get much AL MVP consideration, but he's by far the most valuable player on the A's.
Eric: Due to his past and present issues with PEDs, no one really believes the year Bartolo Colon is having, but he throws almost exclusively fastball that rarely top 92. Can PEDs really explain how effective he is?
5. Tampa Bay Rays (58-41) [LW: 7]
Pat: The Rays have continued the 2nd half where they left off in the first half, sweeping the Blue Jays to extend their winning streak to 5. They've also won 9 of their last 10.
Eric: Chris Archer, acquired in the Matt Garza trade two years ago, has been excellent the last few weeks, giving up three earned runs or less every start but one this year.
6. Atlanta Braves (55-43) [LW: 6]
Pat: Kris Medlen was outstanding last year, going 10-1 with a 1.57 ERA and 0.91 WHIP. This year, his first full season as a starter, he hasn't found that same groove.
Eric: Would you believe that the Braves starter with the best ERA, strikeout ratio, and walk ratio is Mike Minor? Well, it is.
7. Cincinnati Reds (55-43) [LW: 8]
Pat: Shin-Soo Choo has quietly been one of the more valuable hitters in baseball, with a 4.0 oWAR to lead the Reds. Unfortunately, his dWAR is -1.9, far less impressive.
Eric: The traditionalists that make up most of the Cincinnati media love Brandon Phillips’s 78 RBIs (hitting behind Votto helps with that), but his OPS+ is a below average 98.
8. Baltimore Orioles (56-43) [LW: 10]
Pat: The Orioles have won 4 straight, and are enjoying another outstanding season. Could this be a sign of long-term success ahead, after 15 years of mediocrity before 2012?
Eric: Wei-Yin Chen (2.67) and Miguel Gonzalez (3.34) both have very good ERAs even though their peripherals don’t support them. For me, this is both encouraging and terrifying.
9. Detroit Tigers (53-44) [LW: 9]
Pat: There are three players in all of baseball with an OPS above 1, and Miguel Cabrera is the best of the three, with an absurd 1.120 OPS.
Eric: Justin Verlander hasn’t been himself this year, but when healthy, Anibal Sanchez has been very good. He sports the lowest ERA of the Detroit rotation at 2.85 and is striking out more than 10 per 9.
10. Texas Rangers (54-44) [LW: 5]
Eric: Elvis Andrus was given a contract extension primarily on the basis of his glove, but no matter how good the glove is, they were expecting more than a .284 slugging.
Pat: The Rangers are struggling now, with 4 straight losses and a disturbingly low run differential of only +19. That might be ok for some teams, but not when you're 10 games over .500.
11. Cleveland Indians (52-46) [LW: 11]
Pat: The Indians are among the top 5 scoring teams in baseball, but their collective ERA is among the bottom 6 teams. Might be fun to watch, but it's hard to win like that.
Eric: The Indians can score runs and are still in it, but their two big power acquisitions, Nick Swisher and Mark Reynolds, are both slugging below .400.
12. New York Yankees (52-46) [LW: 12]
Eric: How Hiroki Kuroda (2.65 ERA) wasn’t an All-Star is beyond me? He represents a rare bargain, even at $15 million, for the Yankees.
Pat: C.C. Sabathia is having quite a rough season, and it might be a sign that all the innings he's pitched over the past few years are catching up to him. He's 5th among active pitchers in IP, and much younger than most of the guys who are on that list.
13. Arizona Diamondbacks (51-47) [LW: 13]
Pat: Paul Goldschmidt is having a stellar season, but the rest of their offense just isn't all that great. He can't carry the load by himself.
Eric: The rotation was considered a strength for Arizona going into the season, but it’s mostly fallen apart aside from Patrick Corbin. That just makes them more vulnerable to the streaking Dodgers.
14. Los Angeles Dodgers (50-47) [LW: 15]
Pat: Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez have injected some life in the Dodgers' lineup, but beyond those two and Adrian Gonzalez, they're generally struggling at the plate.
Eric: Matt Kemp’s struggles really haven’t gotten enough attention. He’s been hurt and came into today hitting .254/.309/.357. He came back Sunday and hit a homer, but injured himself again running the bases in the 9th inning of a 9-2 game. The Dodgers will need him healthy at some point.
15. Philadelphia Phillies (49-50) [LW: 16]
Eric: Jimmy Rollins: .259/.318/.352, 84 OPS+, owed $11 million this year and next with a 2015 vesting option. Ouch.
Pat: Rollins seems to embody the Phillies right now. Aging, declining, overpaid, and simply not that good.
16. Washington Nationals (48-50) [LW: 14]
Pat: Ian Desmond is putting together a solid season for the Nationals, and helping to provide some of the offense that they missed when Bryce Harper was injured.
Eric: Who hasn’t disappointed for the Nationals? For now, I’ll point out that Drew Storen has been terrible this year, with an ERA approaching 5. There’s no way of knowing if it has to do with blowing Game 5 last year, but you wonder.
17. Colorado Rockies (48-51) [LW: 17]
Pat: I think the humidor is still in action at Coors Field to deaden the ball a bit, but there's really no explanation for Michael Cuddyer's breakout season at age 34.
Eric: Jorge de la Rosa has made 20 starts this year and has a 3.12 ERA. Thanks to Coors Field, that’s good for a 143 ERA+. The peripherals don’t support it long term, but it’s still impressive given where he primarily plies his trade.
18. Los Angeles Angels (46-50) [LW: 19]
Eric: CJ Wilson has a 1.85 ERA and is striking out almost a man an inning in his last 5 starts. Probably too late this year for the Angels, but Wilson starting to earn his contract would really help in the future.
Pat: Mark Trumbo, Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols are batting a combined .239, showing exactly what the problem might be. The Angels just aren't getting much from their sluggers.
19. Kansas City Royals (45-50) [LW: 20]
Pat: Alex Gordon is hitting .224 in the month of July, but his 11 walks mean he still has a .387 OBP, which isn't half bad. Still, he needs to start hitting again.
Eric: Eric Hosmer slugged .541 in June, and .500 so far in July. Is he finally breaking out of that year plus slump of his?
20. Seattle Mariners (46-52) [LW: 22]
Pat: The Mariners have the best active winning streak in baseball right now, with 6 straight victories. In the interest of not jinxing them, I won't say anything else.
Eric: Take a bow Kyle Seager, as the one Mariners hitting prospect made good. Of course, he was the one with the least expectations compared to guys like Ackley, Smoak, and Montero. Although, Smoak out of nowhere is hitting a very solid .268/.371/.435.
21. San Francisco Giants (45-52) [LW: 21]
Eric: Why is Matt Cain struggling? His walk rate is up and his home run rate went up quite a bit, but otherwise it’s a mystery. His Pitch F/X data doesn’t indicate any really wrong. His strand rate is awful, so in the end it could mostly be bad luck.
Pat: Much has been made of the struggles of Cain and Lincecum, but Madison Bumgarner has still been excellent for the Giants, despite the collapse of others around him.
22. Toronto Blue Jays (45-52) [LW: 18]
Eric: Just like Washington, who hasn’t disappointed for Toronto? For one, they don’t have a single starter with an above average ERA+ except fill-in Esmil Rogers. For another, JP Arencibia has a .253 OBP and gets more headlines for sniping with Blue Jays studio analysts.
Pat: One of the most important things for the Blue Jays is keeping Jose Reyes in the lineup. He's injury prone, but when he's on the field, he's one of the best players in the game.
23. New York Mets (43-51) [LW: 24]
Eric: I got nothing. Wright and Harvey are awesome, and most everyone else sucks. Marlon Byrd is making himself good trade bait with a .509 slugging, but that’s about it.
Pat: The Mets are actually 7-3 in their last 10 games, so they're doing slightly better than most of these bad teams down here in the rankings. For whatever that's worth.
24. Chicago Cubs (43-53) [LW: 23]
Pat: Travis Wood is only 6-6, but on any other team he'd have a much better record, thanks to his 2.79 ERA and 1.04 WHIP. He's quietly pitching very well.
Eric: Alfonso Soriano has an OBP of .290 this year, but is slugging .480. That isn’t really a surprise or a disappointment, that’s just normal Soriano. Will that entice someone to trade for him?
25. San Diego Padres (43-56) [LW: 25]
Pat: The Padres are still struggling, but they have a few exciting young players in guys like Jedd Gyorko and Andrew Cashner.
Eric: Chase Headley has followed up his 2012 breakout…with a .699 OPS. Thanks to Petco, that’s actually a 102 OPS+. Still not what the Padres were looking for.
26. Minnesota Twins (41-54) [LW: 26]
Pat: At this point, Twins fans just want to see uber-prospect Miguel Sano. There's not too much to be excited about in Minny this year.
Eric: Rookie Oswaldo Arcia was having a nice season, but has slumped in July, with all three slash lines under .200.
27. Milwaukee Brewers (41-56) [LW: 27]
Pat: Here's something nice about the Brewers: They're leading all of baseball so far with 80 stolen bases. Unfortunately, they need a lot more than that.
Eric: Many players peak around age 27 (see: Davis, Chris), but for whatever reason, that hasn’t happened for Yovani Gallardo (4.58 ERA). It’s yet another reason Milwaukee’s season has gone terribly wrong.
28. Chicago White Sox (39-56) [LW: 28]
Eric: I don’t want to pile on, so I’ll note that Jose Quintana has backed up his solid rookie season and gives Chicago another young left hander to pair with Chris Sale.
Pat: There are rumors that Jake Peavy could get traded soon, and honestly I wouldn't mind seeing him in a Red Sox uniform. Change Sox, Jake.
29. Miami Marlins (35-61) [LW: 29]
Pat: The Marlins are currently in the midst of a scoreless streak that spans 37+ innings. Their last run scored was in the 4th inning on July 14. Wow.
Eric: Some props to Ed Lucas, a 10 year minor league veteran who finally got a call up and sports a respectable .342 OBP in 152 PAs this season.
30. Houston Astros (33-64) [LW: 30]
Pat: The Astros have an embarrassingly bad pitching staff. Their 4.92 staff ERA is the worst in all of baseball by over half a run. Ouch.
Eric: With a .209/.324/.350 line, it doesn’t look like the “sign Carlos Pena and hope he does well enough he can be flipped for prospects” plan is going to work.
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