Patterson’s Week 11 MLB Rankings

The baseball season is fast approaching the All Star Break.  This means teams are starting to figure out whether they will be buyers or sellers when the trade deadline rolls around.  At some point this week, I will tell you who the All Stars should be and I will also introduce you to who the buyers and sellers will be come late July.  Until then, enjoy the Week 11 Rankings:

1) Philadelphia Phillies (1)

With all the hype around bringing in Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Roy Oswalt it has been the home-grown Cole Hamels that has been the most impressive this season.  Hamels is 9-2 with a 2.49 ERA and a 0.92 WHIP.  If I had to make the decision, Hamels would be the starter for the National League in the All Star Game.

2) Boston Red Sox (2)

Even with all the wins over the past week, the Red Sox have been stung by the injury bug this week losing Jed Lowrie, Carl Crawford, and Clay Buchholz to the 15 day disabled list.  Marco Scutaro is hitting over .400 in Lowrie’s absence.  JD Drew has had a knack for getting hot in June in years past when someone has gone on the DL. With Crawford out, there is no better time than now for JD to get hot.

3) New York Yankees (6)

Derek Jeter landed on the disabled list being just 6 hits shy of 3,000. Even as a Red Sox fan I will most definitely be cheering him on when he gets that coveted hit.  I have long said the steroid scandal of the late nineties and early 2000’s wouldn’t bother me unless Jeter or Griffey were named as users.  Jeter is clearly on the back nine of his career, and I think people should start to recognize how awesome he was during the course of his career.

4) Milwaukee Brewers (5)

The Brewers are finally showing the potential that I had seen in them in the preseason when I predicted they would win the NL Central.  They already have an awesome offense and now their pitching staff has rounded into shape with Yovanni Gallardo, Shaun Marcum, and Zack Grienke.  John Axford is 19-21 in save opportunities as well.  The Brewers have close to zero weaknesses.

5) Cleveland Indians (8)

The Indians fired hitting coach Jon Nunnally on Sunday.  The Indians are in first place by one game and their offense has been underperforming.  Shin Soo Choo and Carlos Santana have been especially disappointing but help is on the way as Travis Hafner is off the disabled list.  Players aren’t happy with the Nunnally firing saying they don’t understand why he is fired when the team surprised everyone to this point by being in first place.  I side with the players here.

6) San Francisco Giants (7)

The Giants have lost four in a row (three to the lowly A’s) and are now only a half game up on the Diamondbacks in the NL West.  The Giants are the only first place team with a negative run differential in all of baseball.  With Buster Posey and Freddy Sanchez out, Pablo Sandoval has very little protection in the order.  The Giants will not be in first place for very long.

7) Arizona Diamondbacks (11)

Earlier in the season I remember bashing Justin Upton and the Diamondbacks front office because GM Kevin Towers said that if the Red Sox wanted Upton they would have to give up Jacoby Ellsbury, Clay Buchholz, and Daniel Bard.  (I wrote this in my Week 3 rankings).  I would not move any of those guys 1 for 1 for Upton let alone all three.  But an update on Upton:  He is hitting .302 with 12 home runs and 38 runs batted in with 13 steals.

8) Atlanta Braves (4)

Jason Heyward came back from the disabled list this week and it looked as if the Braves were starting to get healthy again.  But to say that Heyward is in a sophomore slump would be putting it mildly.  He is hitting just .215 with 17 runs batted in through 50 games.  At least he has 7 home runs.  The Braves desperately need to get him going.

9) St. Louis Cardinals (3)

The Cardinals are in a bit of a funk for the first time this season after getting swept by the Nationals.  They have lost their vice grip on first place as the Brewers have leaped frogged over them.  Of the 72 games they have played this season, the Birds have gotten only 36 quality starts.  Jaime Garcia and Kyle Lohse account for 17 of those.

10) Tampa Bay Rays (12)

James Shields now has 5 complete games this season and we are still 3 weeks away from the All Star Break.  Last year Roy Halladay led the majors in that category with 9.  The next closest pitcher was Adam Wainwright with 5.  Shields truly has been remarkable this first half of the season and is deserving of a spot on the All Star team.

11) Detroit Tigers (9)

All year I have been on the Tigers because I felt Miguel Cabrera was shouldering the offense on his own.  Well Victor Martinez is hitting .329, Alex Avila is hitting .305 with 41 runs batted in, Jhonny Peralta is hitting .303 with 11 home runs and 43 runs batted in, and Brennan Boesch is at .295 with 10 home runs and 38 runs batted in.  Finally it looks like Miggy has support in the batting order!

12) Texas Rangers (10)

After starting the season 7-0, Alexi Ogando has fallen on hard times in his last two starts getting absolutely rocked.  Earlier in the week he lasted 1.2 innings giving up 6 runs on 6 hits in a losing effort against the Yankees.  Today against the Braves he lasted just 5 innings in a losing effort.  Are the wheels coming off already for the 27-year-old converted reliever?

13) Cincinnati Reds (13)

Last season MVP Joey Votto hit 37 home runs.  To this point in the season he has just 9.  He is still hitting .327 and has 43 runs batted in but the lack of power has to be a concern for the Reds.  If he can find the home run stroke again, he and Jay Bruce (17 home runs so far this year) would be a mini murderer’s row.

14) Toronto Blue Jays (17)

The Blue Jays announced that they have re-signed shortstop Yunel Escobar to a 2 year $10 million deal with club options for 2014 and 2015.  Escobar has been consistent for the Blue Jays so far this season hitting .281 with 8 home runs, 26 runs batted in, and 42 runs scored.

15) Seattle Mariners (14)

Bill Simmons tweeted it best yesterday when he pleaded with the Mariners GM to make a trade for some offense.  Their top 3 pitchers are pitching lights out (Hernandez, Pineda, and Bedard), they have called up their top prospect who is also a top prospect in all of baseball (Dustin Ackley), and Ackley has already homered in just his second big league game.  They are just 1.5 games out of first place and should definitely be buyers at the deadline.

16) Colorado Rockies (18)

Last week I argued with myself about whether Paul Konerko deserves a plaque in Cooperstown.  This week’s edition of “An Argument with Myself”? Does Todd Helton deserve a plaque in Cooperstown.  In 15 seasons, Helton has 2300 hits, 342 home runs, and 1269 runs batted in and is a lifetime .324 hitter. His best season was in 2000 when he led the league in batting average (.372) RBIS (147) and hits (216). He also led the league in on base percentage, slugging, total bases, and OPS.  Helton would get my vote over Konerko even though Konerko has a ring.  And yes, Helton is in.

17) Pittsburgh Pirates (16)

The Pirates continue to get solid starting pitching from Charlie Morton (7-3 3.21), Kevin Correia (8-6 3.60) and Jeff Karstens (4-4 2.54).  With each week that passes, I become more and more surprised that the Pirates are still around the .500 mark.

18) Washington Nationals (24)

Going into Sunday the Nationals have won 8 games in a row which includes a sweep of one of the best team in baseball, the St. Louis Cardinals.  Second baseman Danny Espinosa hit a walk off home run earlier this week.  Espinosa is hitting .233 with 12 home runs and 41 runs batted in on the season.  If he can work on that average, he has the potential to be one of the top second basemen in the game.

19) New York Mets (19)

While all the talk has been centered on Jose Reyes, I completely forgot that the Red Sox let Jason Bay walk as a free agent after the 2009 season only to have the Mets sign him to an $80 million deal over 5 years.  Bay is currently hitting .222 with 2 home runs and 13 runs batted in.  I don’t know if this is a curse of the Mets type of situation or “I’m sure glad the Red Sox didn’t resign that guy” type of situation.

20) Chicago White Sox (21)

Speaking of busts.  Adam Dunn signed a 4 year $56 million deal with the White Sox this offseason.  Dunn has not been able to figure out American League pitching to this point however.  Dunn is hitting .182 with 7 home runs and 29 runs batted in.  Paul Konerko has been just the opposite hitting .327 with 19 home runs and 56 runs batted in.  Remember that Hall of Fame discussion?  If Konerko can keep these numbers up he will be joining Helton.

21) Los Angeles Angels (22)

The Angels released Scott Kazmir this week eating $14 million in salary.  Kazmir was getting rocked in the minors and it was evident that he was not going to factor into the Angels plans this season.  I remember when Kazmir was a stud on the then Devil Rays.  My how times have changed.

22) Baltimore Orioles (20)

What happened to Nick Markakis?  I remember a time when I longed for him to patrol right field at Fenway Park.  This year he is hitting just .256 with 5 home runs and 26 runs batted in.  Markakis was once a player Orioles fans saw as the future of the franchise.  It now looks like that future has come and gone and the Orioles still haven’t made up any ground in the American League East.

23) Florida Marlins (15)

With the Marlins in an absolute freefall losing 17 of their last 18, manager Edwin Gonzalez called the staff and team into a private meeting in the clubhouse letting them all know he was quitting.  It wasn’t that long ago that the Marlins were a top 5 team in baseball this season.  Count me as shocked that they have been as awful as they have been lately. He is the second manager to lose his job this year.

24) Oakland Athletics (27)

The Athletics called up Rickie’s little brother, Jemile Weeks late last week.  I had been calling for this move for quite some time seeing that the Athletics have zero offensive fire power and are especially lacking from the infield positions.  Through 11 games Weeks, is hitting .325 with 3 doubles, 3 triples, and 6 runs batted in.  Since the AL West is wide open, the Athletics have a shot of getting back into the race.  If they do, Weeks will be a large part as to why.

25) Kansas City Royals (26)

While the Royals have some of the best young prospects in baseball, they are all offensive players.  Hosmer, Moustakas, Butler, and Gordon will all help put runs on the board.  But the problem with the Royals is the lack of pitching.  Their best starter is Jeff Francis and his ERA is 4.83.

26) Minnesota Twins (29)

The Twins are slowly starting their ascent up the rankings.  After spending the first 2 months of the season teetering between the 29 and 30 spots, they are 8 games back of the Indians in the AL Central, have won 6 in a row, 8 of their last 10, and are 13-3 in June.

27) Los Angeles Dodgers (23)

Dee Gordon was called up by the Dodgers earlier this week.  He is the top prospect in the organization and is the son of ex-Red Sox Tom “Flash” Gordon.  With how fast the young Gordon runs, it won’t be long before he will be called Flash as well.  Through 11 games, Dee is hitting .326 with 4 stolen bases and a triple.  Gordon has game changing speed that will add an element of excitement to the Dodgers, an organization that could use all the excitement it can get.

28) San Diego Padres (29)

Anthony Rizzo has been unable to bring his hot bat to the major league level.  After tearing the cover off of the ball in the minors, Rizzo is hitting .148 through 9 games.  But in his 4 hits, he has a single, double, triple, and a home run.

29) Chicago Cubs (28)

The Cubs will clearly be sellers when the trade deadline comes around.  The problem is Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Zambrano’s contracts are albatrosses and the Cubs are tied into them for at least 2 more years.  The Cubs have the potential to be very bad for a very long period of time.  As if they haven’t been like that already, seeing that they haven’t made it to the World Series since 1945.

30) Houston Astros (30)

Hunter Pence is scheduled for an MRI on his hyperextended elbow Sunday.  If the Astros lose him for any extended period of time, I am going to have to start ranking them with the Triple A teams.

I can be followed on Twitter at ScottieNTCF

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Patterson’s Week 10 MLB Rankings

Ten weeks into the season and I have surprised myself with having a power rankings column for every week.  In regard’s to my preseason predictions, an update: My AL preseason Manager of the Year has been fired.  My AL Rookie of the Year pick was finally called up this week.  My AL Central prediction is pretty much the opposite of the current standings, the same with the AL West.  My NL Rookie of the Year was demoted, promoted, and then broke his wrist.  As you can see, my crystal ball was malfunctioning back in March.  On to the present…

1) Philadelphia Phillies (1)

While the Phillies are loaded with the big names, Howard, Rollins, Utley and the 4 aces, it has been Placido Polanco that has impressed me most this season.  He has played in 65 of the Phillies 66 games hitting .309 with 4 home runs and 37 runs batted in.  He is what every championship needs.  He is the glue.

2) Boston Red Sox (9)

The Red Sox received good news this week when they learned that Dustin Pedroia’s knee issue was simply just a bruise.  After missing a game because of his consultation, The Laser Show has returned with a vengeance going 6-9  with 4 runs batted in since returning from the knee exam going into Sunday’s game with the Blue Jays.  I will also point out the Red Sox personify fire at the current time as they have won 9 in a row.  In those nine games the lowest run total they have put up is 5.  That is sick and wrong.

3) St. Louis Cardinals (3)

There isn’t a day that goes by that I have not regretted picking up Lance Berkman off the waiver wire in my fantasy baseball league.  I, like many others I’m sure, thought Berkman was all done after his stint with the Yankees last season.  He is proving all those doubters wrong to the tune of leading the Cardinals in most offensive categories.  The Cardinals.  The team with the best offensive in baseball.  The Cardinals.  With players named Pujols, Holliday, and Rasmus.  The leader? Berkman.

4) Atlanta Braves (11)

I have no idea how they are doing it, but the Braves are shooting right up these rankings over the past few weeks.  Their whole starting outfield (Heyward, Prado, and McLouth) are all on the disabled list.  Dan Uggla is still slumping hitting just .183.  I understand the Braves have the best pitching in all of baseball to this point in the season, but you need at least some offense to win games.  How are they doing it?

5) Milwaukee Brewers (8)

Carlos Gomez has been playing a sensational center field for the Brew Crew.  Earlier in the week he had two eye opening catches against the Mets including robbing Carlos Beltran of a home run.  Today he made a game saving catch on a ball hit by Colby Rasmus.  It won’t be long before he has his own personal high light reel.

6) New York Yankees (4)

The Yankees are understanding what it was like to be the 2010 Red Sox in regards to being afflicted with the injury bug.  They have been without Phil Hughes the majority of the season.  They lost Rafael Soriano for awhile.  Joba Chamberlain is now out for the season with Tommy John surgery pending. Just yesterday, Bartolo Colon went on the disabled list with a strained hamstring.  All of this really makes me marvel at the durability of Mariano Rivera.

7) San Francisco Giants (10)

The Giants continue to be stung by the injury bug.  This week they lost Freddy Sanchez to a dislocated shoulder.  They are now without Pablo Sandoval (although he is expected back soon), Buster Posey, and now Sanchez.  Where the Giants will get their offense is anyone’s guess.

8) Cleveland Indians (2)

The Indians have started their slide as they are 2-9 in the month of June.  They are now tied with the Tigers for first place in the AL Central.  Josh Tomlin has come back down to earth as his ERA is now 4.01.  The Indians really need Travis Hafner to come back from the DL and they need Carlos Santana to start hitting the baseball.

9) Detroit Tigers (12)

The play of catcher Alex Avila has made Victor Martinez the most expensive designated hitter in baseball.  Avila is hitting .296 with 9 home runs and 34 runs batted in.  Avila is just 24 years old and is clearly the catcher of the present and future.  Martinez has been producing as well, hitting .310 with 6 home runs and 34 runs batted in.  But I don’t think those numbers are worthy of the 4 year $50 million deal he signed, especially if he is going to be used as the team’s designated hitter/backup catcher.

10) Texas Rangers (6)

The Texas Rangers organization selected former University of Georgia outfielder Jonathan Taylor in the 33rd round of the MLB Draft earlier this week.  Taylor was paralyzed from the waist down after a collision in a game this season.  What a classy move by a classy organization.

11) Arizona Diamondbacks (5)

After a scorching second half of May, the Diamondbacks have cooled a bit.  They are 6-5 in June and are a half game back of the Giants in the NL West.  The young corps of Justin Upton, Chris Young, and Stephen Drew have led the offense and with the NL West looking weaker in weaker by the day, the division is there for the taking.

12) Tampa Bay Rays (14)

Matt Joyce has 3 years of major league experience.  He has never played in more than 92 games and has never had more than 262 at bats.  So far this year he is enjoying a break out year hitting .330 with 10 home runs and 34 runs batted in through 60 games and 200 at bats.  The obvious question is: Can he keep it up?

13) Cincinnati Reds (15)

In my research for this post, I came across a rumor that I really like. Jose Reyes to the Reds.  Could you imagine the double play combo of Reyes and Brandon Phillips?  Could you imagine Reyes setting the table for Phillips, Votto, and Bruce?  While I think that the Reds more pressing need is starting pitching, this Reyes rumor is very intriguing.

14) Seattle Mariners (13)

Ichiro’s consecutive games played streak of 255 was snapped this week, as he was given a day off because of his prolonged slump. The streak was the second active longest behind Matt Kemp (268). Just seeing those numbers makes me laugh when I think of Cal Ripken’s 2,632 straight games played.  Talk about streaks that will NEVER be broken.

15) Florida Marlins (7)

You know its been a rough week for the Marlins when a sportscaster on Friday night was quoted as saying, “And for the first time all week, the Florida Marlins have a lead.”  Yikes.  In the interest of fairness, their two best players, Hanley Ramirez and Josh Johnson are on the disabled list.

16) Pittsburgh Pirates (18)

Believe it or not the Pirates are just 2 games under .500.  Usually around this time the Pirates are well out of the pennant race and are about 10 games under .500.  This has to be encouraging for whatever Pirates fans there are in this world.  Their star player, Andrew McCutchen is just 24 years old.  Jose Tabata is 22.  Reason for optimism in Pittsburgh.

17) Toronto Blue Jays (16)

After watching Kyle Drabek’s start against the Red Sox on Sunday, I couldn’t help but agree with Sox radio commentator Dave O’ Brien that Drabek might be best served pitching in the minors right now.  There is no doubt Drabek has a great arm.  But he is trying to hard to strike out the ball park instead of letting his fielders play behind him.  The result? He leads the majors in walks.  Let him go to Triple A where he can learn how to pitch and not just throw.

18) Colorado Rockies(19)

A year after being nearly unhittable, Ubaldo Jimenez is just terrible this year.  On Sunday Jimenez went 5.1 innings giving up 11 hits and 7 runs (only 2 earned), and three home runs.  On the season, Jimenez is 1-7 with an ERA of 4.63.  His ineffectiveness paired with the loss of Jorge De La Rosa is the reason the Rockies have fallen out of contention as quickly as they have.

19) New York Mets (21)

The Mets have to be crazy if they don’t want to re-sign Jose Reyes.  He is just 28 years old and is leading the majors in hits and batting average.  He is doing it all at a position where there isn’t much offense anymore.  The argument could be made that he is the best shortstop in baseball with all due respect to Hanley Ramirez and Troy Tulowitzki.  The Mets would be best served to trade David Wright and to hold onto Reyes.

20) Baltimore Orioles (22)

The Orioles have announced that they intend to cut Zach Britton’s workload in an effort to get him pitch deeper into September.  Over 13 starts he is 6-4 with an ERA of 3.18.  The 23 year old has thrown 82 innings so far this season and has never thrown more than 154 in any year.  This is a smart move by the Orioles because Britton is a building block that the Orioles can start a franchise around and some day be competitive in the ultra-competitive AL East.

21) Chicago White Sox (20)

Ozzie Guillen recently said that Paul Konerko will walk into the Hall of Fame “the right way.”  While there is no doubt in my mind that Konerko is clean, is he a Hall of Famer?  At this point in his career, he is a .282 hitter with 381 home runs and 1,207 runs batted in.  If a decision had to be made right now, I would say he wouldn’t be getting into Cooperstown as he compares to Tino Martinez right now. Konerko needs 2-3 seasons of 30 home runs and 100 runs batted in for me to say with any certainty that he would be a Hall of Famer.

22) Los Angeles Angels (17)

The Angels are about to embark on a 12 game road trip starting in Seattle, then to New York to face the Mets, followed by a trip to Florida, and then back across the country to face the Dodgers.  This news isn’t awful for the Angels since they are 16-16 on the road this season and 15-20 at home.

23) Los Angeles Dodgers (23)

Another week and its more of the same for the Dodgers.  Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier continue to mash the ball with little to no help from anyone else in the lineup.  Kemp is hitting .331 with 20 home runs and 56 runs batted in and Ethier is hitting .321 with 5 home runs and 32 runs batted in.

24) Washington Nationals (26)

Other than Bryce Harper showing he is a Class A deusch this week by blowing a kiss to a pitcher he just hit a bomb off of in the minors, the Nationals did receive good news this week.  Their best player, Ryan Zimmerman, is expected back Tuesday.  He is 8-16 on his current rehab stint.

25) San Diego Padres (25)

The Padres called up Anthony Rizzo this week, one of the pieces of the Adrian Gonzalez deal.  He has helped alleviate the pain of losing one of the games best hitters by producing himself.  The 21-year old is 3-7 with a home run this week.  He is the future of San Diego.

26) Kansas City Royals (27)

This week the Royals called up my pre-season Rookie of the Year, Mike Moustakas.  He had a very slow start in Triple A, and quite frankly I was surprised the Royals called him up as he isn’t much of an upgrade over Wilson Betemit at this point.   He wasn’t mashing the Triple A pitching like teammate Eric Hosmer was either. Through 2 games so far he is 2-6 with a home run and 2 runs scored.

27) Oakland Athletics (24)

Bob Geren was my preseason pick to be the American League Manager of the Year.  Instead he is the first manager relieved of his duties in 2011.  It is hard to blame Geren for the Athletics’ woes when their offensive personnel is terrible and their closer had an ERA near 5.  Let this be a lesson to all readers: Take my predictions with a grain of salt and laugh at them.

28) Chicago Cubs(28)

There isn’t much good news in Wrigley Land as the Cubs are pretty awful this year.  But they are expecting to get Alfonso Soriano, Reed Johnson, and Jeff Baker all back this week from the disabled list.  Aramis Ramirez is showing signs of getting his power turned back on as he homered twice this week.

29) Minnesota Twins (30)

The Twins are 8-3 in the month of June.  They have finally got out of the cellar in these rankings and I doubt they will get to the #30 spot again.  Joe Mauer and Tsuyoshi Nishiokia are expected back within the next two weeks.  They should be getting Jason Kubel back soon as well.  If only Justin Morneau could return his former self, the Twins could make a push in the AL Central.

30) Houston Astros (29)

Mark Melancon does not have to worry about losing his closing job with the return of Brandon Lyon.  On Saturday, Lyon came on in the tenth inning against the Braves and promptly gave up 4 runs on 3 hits and a walk without getting an out.

I can be followed on Twitter @ ScottieNTCF