Monday, February 19, 2007

Week 1 Power Rankings

Okay, so it's 50 games into the season, so it's not really week 1. But the early season rankings seem to be inflated by easy early season schedules and blatant luck, so I waited until the Cubs were really on fire to get the first rankings out there (I kid...of course...). Numbers 1 and 2 are right where they left off, but #3 is where things start to get interesting...


1. Oakland Athletics (36-14)
Who would have ever dreamed of the A’s atop the rankings? Unlike last season, where Oakland had to rise from the depths (a whole couple games under .500), they have dominated from the start in Season 3. What is really amazing here is how they have continued to reign despite the devastating injury to star DH Oscar Nunnally. The A’s are proving they’re loaded and ready for anything that might and will happen.

2. San Francisco Giants (33-17) The reigning World Series Champs started right where they left off, and it all begins with Ivan Bechler. At 32, Bechler is like a fine wine, continuing to improve as he ages, hitting .349 with 20 HR and 60 RBI in only 50 early season games. As much as Arizona and Los Angeles have improved, San Francisco is proving they are the class of the West, and are aiming at a return trip to the Series.

3. Chicago Cubs (31-19)
The surprise of the league so far, this “rebuilding” project has been anything but. The “lovable losers” did just that, they lost 3 starting pitchers to trades and free agency over the offseason, then lost career wins leader Edgardo Pena to a season ending injury this week. Add all this to the loss of previous closer Cooper Hoffman in a trade and current closer Lee Winn to shoulder surgery, this team was not supposed to win 15 of 19 and 31 of 50 games to start the season. But the resurgence of Larry Charlton and Brady Hall along with the superb pitching of Louie Foster and Rich Allen have really brought the Cubs together to prove a formidable force in the NL North.

4. New York Mets (30-20) They would be up a ranking if not for a recent sweep at the hands of the Cubs, but don’t let that fool you. The Mets consider a 30-20 record to be a “slow start” and to have only the league’s 4th best ERA seems to be a point of concern. The loss of reigning Cy-Young winner Bosco Jefferson in the offseason hurt the rotation, but the Metropolitans should be fine, especially with the continued dominance from Ralph Ryan, David Ayala and Cliff Simms. This is still the best pitching team in baseball, and I’m sure they’re eager to prove it.

5. Kansas City Royals (31-19)
One of the other big surprises so far, the Royals have run out to an impressive 4 game lead in the AL’s most competitive division. They have always been a high-scoring experiment, but it seems this is the year they have really put it all together. The key to their success lies in all-everything Theodore Haney, who is still on 21, but leads the majors in Runs Scored and is up there in HRs and RBI. If he can bring up his average, we could have another one for the record book, this time as the youngest player to take MVP honors in the short history of the GAP.

6. Seattle Mariners (30-20) The Mariner’s season seems the same as always, as they continue to play very impressive baseball, but also continue to reside in the AL West, where 100 wins insures nothing more than a Wild Card berth. Wes White continues his dominance over everyone, saving 10 of 10 with a non-existent ERA of 0.00. All they need is to start hitting, and this team could climb up the rankings and into…second.

7. Houston Astros (30-20)
If the first 50 games is any forecast, it’s going to be a dogfight in the NL South in Season 3. The Astros and Dukes (and to a lesser extent the Marlins and Cardinals) all agree that this is anyone’s game. The Astros might have the advantage due to the best team ERA in the GAP. Leading the charge is journeyman Kerry Sinclair, who holds a microscopic ERA of 0.57 in 9 starts, and Closer Chuck Rigdon, who is 5 for 5 in save chances with an ERA of only 1.31.

8. Charlotte Dukes (30-20)
Charlotte seems to finally be putting it all together this year, as they challenge the Astros and the rest of the NL South for superiority in Season 3. Second year man Wallace Lowe has simply dominated thus far, with a 6-2 record and a 2.14 ERA in 10 starts. There is reason to watch this year in Charlotte, as the lineup hasn’t even come close to reaching it’s potential, hitting only .267 so far. If the Dukes’ bats warm up a bit, this could be a sleeper team in the playoff race.

9. Minnesota Twins (29-21) Another surprising team in the rankings, the Twins have taken control of the once Tribe-dominated AL East. This is a solid team from top to bottom, ranking near the middle in hitting and near the top in team ERA. They are led by 25 year old Charles Kim (5-3 2.52 ERA) and 27 year old Vincenzo Cunningham (13-15 saves 2.16 ERA), and could end the 2 year reign the Indians have held in the division.

10. Atlanta Braves (28-22)
They may be #10 right now, but it is a common assumption that the Braves will be more than contending come the playoff race. It’s only a third of the way through the Season, and a 28-22 record is no reason for Braves fans to panic. The key would be getting Rookie Joaquin Cairo started. His 2-4 record and 7.29 ERA will have to come back to Earth sometime, and that will probably be the day the Braves really get started.

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