Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer): Follow @chuckbooth3024 To say that this year has been a good year for baseball is an humongous understatement. I thought after last years finish, that nothing was going to duplicate the experience. Everyone forgets (or maybe not) that there should not even have been many races last year with Atlanta and Boston having such substantial leads on playoff spots. The Red Sox and Braves collapsed like a couple of bowling pins with King Kong Bundy splashing down on them!
This year, there are 15 teams still vying for 10 playoff spots. So far the only probable locks are Washington for a playoff spot-and Cincinnati to probably win their division The player races for all of the categories is almost as fascinating. Will Andrew McCutcheon catch Melky Cabrera for the Batting title? Or will 2012 be forever cemented in baseball folklore by a stained player like Cabrera? He could still end up determining who wins the World Series in the Fall Classic by his Testosterone filled antics in his MVP ALL-Star Game. The big question is, will the San Francisco Giants fans cheer for him if he comes back in the playoffs? They cheered for another league leader before when it was obvious he was guilty. Right now if you are the Giants, you will take an opportunity to boo or cheer for Cabrera because that means you would be in the playoffs.
Will the spending happy Dodgers have to wait another year to capitalize on their new plan to make the playoffs? If they ultimately miss the playoffs outright, are they going to buy every player they can in the off-season? I sure hope Magic knows that there are Luxury Tax penalties for spending over 178 Million Next Year. 1st year fine is 22.5%, 2nd year is 30%, 3rd year and beyond is 40%. So if they plan on having a 250 Million Dollar Payroll in 2013 (by adding 2 or 3 more top Free Agents) will the Dodgers just forego the worry of any financial penalties on a yearly basis– just to dominate the whole National League (plus baseball for that matter.) Every other team has to consider the urgency in cashing out a World Series right now while the Dodgers have not had a full off season with the new management yet. Can Oakland and their ‘New Money Ball philosophy’ make it to the playoffs for the first time since 2006?
The Best Players over the last month were: Buster Posey, Prince Fielder, Giancarlo Stanton, Adrian Beltre, Josh Hamilton, Yovani Gallardo, Kris Medlen, Adam Wainwright, Aroldis Chapman and Felix Hernandez. The best teams have been Oakland, Washington, San Francisco, San Diego, Baltimore and Texas. The worst teams have been Houston (at least its better to go down hard and stockpile #1 Draft Picks guys.) I have a feeling you will be there for a while with the division you are heading into and may even challenge the 120 Loss Single Season Record. At least you are not going into the NL West to compete with the LA Dodgers! The Cleveland Indians have fallen to an epic drop-off as well. Toronto misses their top sluggers. What has happened to the Minnesota Twins? The Mets have ownership and payroll problems, so at least they have an excuse. Plus they lead the world in guys being hurt. When David Wright has been your healthiest player, you know the season has been backwards! So sit back, get your notebook and popcorn ready for this Month’s Rankings! Read the rest of this entry
Wednesday July.4, 2012
Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer and @chuckbooth3024 on twitter)-We are going to bring you monthly power rankings every month of the season. There will be a few notes written for each team. Please feel free to let us know your thoughts. The Texas Rangers are the top ranked team yet once again, although teams are certainly gaining on the them in the last month. If this report was being done last week I might have put the New York Yankees in 1st and Texas in 2nd. A 7 game winning streak help preserve another month for Texas on the leader-board. There were superior months by Aaron Hill, Jose Bautista, Joey Votto , Jason Heyward and a new phenomenon was born with Jose Altuve. It was a great month for the MLB. With 20 teams within 5.5 games or less for the playoff races, we are sure to see some serious movements in the Power Rankings in the 2nd half of the season.
Standings taken before play Tuesday July.03/2012
July Power Rankings-Last Month Rank in Parenthesis
1. Texas-50-30 (1) The Rangers rode a 7 game winning streak to end up 18-8 for the last month. David Murphy, Adrian Beltre and Elvis Andrus all hit over .300 in the last 30 days. The Rangers were able to weather a slow spurt from Josh Hamilton, in which he hit .222 with only 4 HRs for the month. Matt Harrison has asserted himself as an ace on the staff with a 5-0 month with a 1.29 ERA, while leading the American League with 11 wins on the year. The Rangers have 6 players going to the ALL-Star Game including 3 starters. Yu Darvish can make a 7th if he is voted into the final roster spot with his rookie campaign of 10-5 so far.
2. NY Yankees 48-31(5) The Yankees have ridden good pitching and a hot bat from Robinson Cano to a 19-7 record over the last month, with a 5 games lead over their competition in the AL East. Cano hit .370 with 12 HRs and 24 RBI in the last month. Derek Jeter is hitting .298 overall but saw his average go from .389 in April, to .283 in May to .232 in June. He still tops a list of 4 Yankees heading to the ALL-Star Game including 23 HR homer man Curtis Granderson. Phil Hughes went 5-1 in the month with a 2.59 ERA and Ivan Nova won his 3 decisions with a miniscule 1.32 ERA. Rafael Soriano has converted 18 out of 19 save opportunities since taking over as team closer.
3. San Francisco 45-30 (9) The Giants went 16-11 in the month and saw a perfect game from Matt Cain, with a few other 1 hitters. The team shutout the Dodgers 3 games in a row in a series last week. The Giants have Pablo Sandoval, Buster Posey and Melky Cabrera starting in KC next week. The Melkman continues to show that last year was no fluke with his .352 Average and he is leading the Major Leagues with 111 base hits. The Giants pitching staff has coped with the loss of Brian Wilson and the ineffectiveness of starter Tim Lincecum, by the rest of the staff having career years.
4. LA Angels 45-35 (12) The Angels have been really steady since the end of May. They just finished going 17-8 in the last 25 days on the backs of ALL-Stars Mike Trout, Mark Trumbo and resurgent Albert Pujols. Trout might be the most exciting player on the planet these days and is a lock for AL Rookie of the Year if he keeps this up. Trout hit .367 over the last month and has taken over the AL batting lead with a .342 AVG. Trumbo hit 10 HRs and drove in 28 RBI for the month and Pujols hit .337. to raise his average 40 points. C.J Wilson was good enough in June to be named as CC Sabathia‘s replacement at the ALL-Star game.
5. Washington 45-32(9) Mike Morse has returned to the lineup with a vengeance during the last week with a .484 average. Super Sub Tyler Moore has also hit .415 in the last 14 games with 4 HRs and 12 RBI. Ian Desmond had 16 Extra base hits for the month to go along with 20 RBI, while he made the ALL-Star game as a reserve. Ryan Zimmerman awoke from a season long slump to plate 17 RBI. Adam LaRoche still contributed 7 HRs and 15 RBI despite a paltry .191 average in June. Stephen Strasburg is 9-3 on the year with a 2.81 ERA and a league leading 122 SO. Gio Gonzalez is 11-3 with a 3.01 ERA. Both Gonzalez and Strasburg made the ALL-Star squad. Read the rest of this entry