Waffle House in hand, Braves surge to the top [MLB Power Rankings]
The rankings will be mine (Pat), and the comments will be coming from myself and Eric.
Without further ado, here are your MLB Power Rankings for week 19:
1. Atlanta Braves (72-46) [Last week: 4]
Eric: The Braves have lost a grand total of once since a Waffle House opened in Turner Field. All hail Waffle House.
Pat: I'm not sure if it's the Waffle House, the mediocre competition in the NL West, or just that the Braves have a damn good team, but they look great right now.
3. Pittsburgh Pirates (70-47) [LW: 3]
Eric: I would probably be more on board with the Pirates story if I didn’t have such antipathy for Pittsburgh, the Steelers, and the Penguins. Oh well.
Pat: Andrew McCutchen has been a great player for a few years now, but it seems like Starling Marte is doing his best to be a mini-McCutchen, which is paying dividends for the Bucs.
3. Boston Red Sox (71-49) [LW: 2]
Eric: David Ortiz is actually appealing the $5,000 fine he received for destroying the bullpen phone in Baltimore. What a putz. That’s the lowest punishment he could’ve received.
Pat: Will Middlebrooks is back in the bigs, and the Red Sox are hoping that he looks more like the 2012 version of himself, rather than what we saw earlier this year.
4. Detroit Tigers (69-47) [LW: 6]
Eric: Jose Iglesias has not hit at all since coming to the Tigers, but they’ll do with that because his defense is sorely needed in that infield.
Pat: Miguel Cabrera owns Mariano Rivera. But that statement might not be fair to Rivera, since Cabrera does really well against almost everyone.
5. Texas Rangers (68-50) [LW: 10]
Eric: They’ve won 12 of their last 13 and in that time have given up more than five runs once.
Pat: Just when you thought the summer heat might be getting to the Rangers, they turn it around. Maybe they'll be fine without Nelson Cruz.
6. St. Louis Cardinals (67-50) [LW: 5]
Eric: The St. Louis train has been a little leaky lately, but they’re still 7.5 up in the wild card, so they have time to right things.
Pat: The Cardinals aren't looking as hot right now as they were a month ago, but they still have a very complete team and a talented roster from top to bottom.
7. Los Angeles Dodgers (67-50) [LW: 8]
Eric: The Dodgers have lost just three times since the All-Star Break, and two of those losses came with Kershaw starting. The other was with Greinke on the hill. Baseball is weird.
Pat: The Dodgers' past 45 games have been historically great. This team is going to be scary in the postseason.
8. Tampa Bay Rays (66-50) [LW: 1]
Eric: Jeremy Hellickson hasn’t thrown more than 6 innings in his last six starts.
Pat: Finally the Rays are coming back down to earth, riding a 5-game losing streak at the moment.
9. Oakland Athletics (66-50) [LW: 7]
Eric: Josh Reddick hit five homers in two days on Friday and Saturday, the first time that’s happened since 2004.
Pat: Sonny Gray made his first MLB start, and looked pretty solid. The A's still got the L, thanks to some shoddy defense and a mediocre bullpen showing.
10. Cincinnati Reds (65-52) [LW: 11]
Eric: Joey Votto is leading the NL in walks and is 2nd in hits (behind a cooling off Jean Segura), which almost seems like a contradiction. Why isn’t he getting more MVP talk again?
Pat: Keep an eye on Tony Cingrani. He has quietly been outstanding for the Reds as a young starter, and could be an exciting ace for years to come.
11. Baltimore Orioles (65-52) [LW: 12]
Eric: The Orioles have hit the most home runs of any team, and until recently, have also given up the most home runs of any team.
Pat: The acquisition of Bud Norris helped their mediocre rotation a bit, but will it matter come playoff time? Can their lineup hit enough to win against elite pitching teams?
12. Cleveland Indians (63-55) [LW: 9]
Eric: Seriously, is this team ever not on a streak? From enough wins to get into the second wild card spot, they then lost six in a row.
Pat: Two words: Danny Salazar. Keep an eye on that kid.
13. Kansas City Royals (61-54) [LW: 13]
Eric: It took two years it seems, but Eric Hosmer finally doesn’t suck again. His slugging percentages in June, July, and August? .541, .495, and .523.
Pat: Last week, there was questioning regarding me dropping the Royals one spot while they were on a huge winning streak. After further review, I have come to the conclusion that they were ranked too high the week before. Now, they're just right.
14. New York Yankees (59-57) [LW: 14]
Eric: It seems like once a year Mariano Rivera hits a rough patch and blows a few saves, then picks up like nothing happened. That’s probably what will happen now after blowing three in a row.
Pat: I thought I won ERA in my fantasy league, but then Mariano Rivera screwed it up. That doesn't happen often.
15. Arizona Diamondbacks (59-57) [LW: 15]
Eric: If any team is going to prevent 3 NL Central teams from making the playoffs, it’s the D’Backs, but at 5.5 games back, they’re quickly running out of time to make a run.
Pat: The Diamondbacks looked like they were in good shape in the NL West until the Dodgers turned on the afterburners. I almost feel bad for them at this point.
16. Washington Nationals (57-60) [LW: 16]
Eric: Given everything that’s happened, it seems like people sometimes forget how good Stephen Strasburg. Yesterday he showed how good by pitching a rare Maddux (complete game shutout with less than 100 pitches) with double digit strikeouts.
Pat: The Nats are still struggling this year, but they should bounce back nicely next year. There's still a lot of talent on that roster.
17. Colorado Rockies (55-64) [LW: 18]
Eric: Nolan Arenado’s rookie season so far: .259/.297/.404. He is providing excellent defensive value though.
Pat: The Rockies are on a 3-game mini winning streak, but it doesn't even matter at this point.
18. Seattle Mariners (54-63) [LW: 17]
Eric: Tom Wilhelmsen has gone from big league closer to AAA starter. I can’t decide if that’s worth a try or just desperation.
Pat: I'm going to spare Jess and hold off from commenting on the Mariners this week. There's always next year.
19. New York Mets (54-61) [LW: 23]
Eric: After a shaky start, Zach Wheeler has been putting together some solid starts. In many ways, that’s the main goal of the remainder of the Mets season.
Pat: Marlon Byrd currently leads the Mets in home runs. That's a bad sign.
20. Los Angeles Angels (53-63) [LW: 19]
Eric: Each of Mike Trout’s rate stats this year (.328/.423/.572) are better than what they were last year (.326/.399/.564). That’s mind boggling.
Pat: As Eric noted, we're seeing a very special player in Mike Trout. Enjoy it while it lasts... which will hopefully be another 15+ years.
21. Toronto Blue Jays (54-63) [LW: 20]
Eric: Remember my comment about the Orioles formerly giving up the most homers? Toronto (and Houston) is the team that passed them, another reason why the Blue Jays fell on their face.
Pat: The Blue Jays showed signs of promise midseason, but it might be time to shake things up one more time in Toronto. Perhaps the loss of John Farrell, who is now managing the AL-best Red Sox, meant more than they anticipated.
22. San Diego Padres (53-64) [LW: 21]
Eric: No pitching staff in the National League has issued more walks than the Padres.
Pat: Credit Jason Marquis and Edinson Volquez for that walks stat, since they're 2nd and 6th in all of baseball, respectively, in most walks issued.
23. Minnesota Twins (52-63) [LW: 25]
Eric: In their four game series against the White Sox this weekend, the Twins scored 19 runs. All of them came by the home run.
Pat: The Twins are actually 7-3 in their last 10, but that might just be thanks to mediocre opponents on the schedule.
24. Philadelphia Phillies (52-65) [LW: 22]
Eric: Those that like seeing great players spend their entire careers with one team will like Chase Utley’s extension, but it’s not going to help the Phillies get back to contention.
Pat: I also scratched my head a bit when I saw Utley's extension. Was anyone else going to make a serious run at acquiring his services? What was the point of that?
25. San Francisco Giants (52-65) [LW: 24]
Eric: Many predicted doom for Tim Lincecum after he threw so many pitches in his no-hitter, which looked correct after he got blasted his next start. The three starts after that though have all been very good.
Pat: What's the problem in San Fran? How are the Giants THIS bad? Someone come up with an answer, quickly.
26. Chicago Cubs (52-65) [LW: 26]
Eric: The Cubs still have a .1 percent chance of making the playoffs according to Baseball Prospectus. So you’re saying there’s a chance?
Pat: As bad as the Cubs have been, they're still stacking prospects and quality young players for the next few years. This won't last too much longer.
27. Milwaukee Brewers (51-67) [LW: 27]
Eric: With Gomez, Segura, Aoki, and yes, Ryan Braun, the Brewers still have a decent core lineup in their prime or just off it. It makes the rebuild or try to reload decision a little more interesting.
Pat: The problem with the Brewers is that they have literally no pitching. You can't win that way.
28. Chicago White Sox (44-72) [LW: 29]
Eric: Free Chris Sale!
Pat: The White Sox sneak back in front of the Marlins, only because the Marlins are slightly worse in their past 10 games. That is all.
29. Miami Marlins (44-72) [LW: 28]
Eric: The Marlins are the only team that has yet to score 400 runs this season, and at 368, they’re not that particularly close.
Pat: The Marlins settle back in the 29th spot, where they've spent most of the season.
30. Houston Astros (37-79) [LW: 30]
Eric: Only one win in the last 10. Only four wins period since the All-Star Break. It has officially gotten ugly for the Astros.
Pat: I might even say it has been ugly for the Astros since day one, but it's really just semantics. Ask me about this team in 2016 or so. That's when we'll know if their plan works. Maybe.
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