Well, the cement isn’t quite set yet. But in a couple more weeks — and not much more than that — teams won’t have significant room to move in my power rankings.
This week, the top four remain exactly as they were last week with the Oakland Athletics, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees and Chicago Cubs in the top four spots. Only one team — the San Diego Padres — dropped out of a position in the top 10. The Friars started the week with back-to-back victories against the Dodgers, only to lose the last two games of that series and then all three in Arizona. Suddenly, the Padres are sitting at 11-12 and are on the outside looking in with respect to the top 10.
One of the biggest surprises through four weeks is the fact that the Red Sox look like the old man in the cable commercial who has fallen and can’t get up. Not sure what general manager Chaim Bloom did during his first couple of months, and in his defense, he couldn’t have known Chris Sale would be facing Tommy John surgery when he traded David Price. But they have the look of just an awful team, and the conjecture will begin as to whether Ron Roenicke’s replacement for the 2021 season could in fact be the man he replaced — Alex Cora.
It really looks like the Pirates, Mariners, Giants and Red Sox will be battling for premium position in next year’s MLB Draft the rest of the way.
About the Orioles, they have really done a terrific job at the plate and on the mound. While I am not ready to pronounce Brandon Hyde a Manager of the Year candidate, it’s looking more and more like his hiring by GM Mike Elias was a top-tier personnel move.
Hyde won’t say it, so I’ll say it on his behalf. I have often felt a team takes on the personality of its head coach or manager. This year for Hyde and the Orioles, that’s reflected between the lines and with how his players have handled the protocols laid out by MLB and the players’ association to keep the game safe. His players act professionally.
Let’s be clear — Terry Francona may very well be a Hall of Fame manager with a couple of World Series wins and three total trips to the Fall Classic. Still, he had not one but two important members of his team — Mike Clevinger and Zach Plesac — ignore the protocols, and ultimately, both have been dropped from the Indians’ active major-league roster.
Both will make it back up to the bigs, but not before they embarrassed themselves and their teammates. This is a team that is a perennial playoff contender with a manager who you’d think would have commanded more respect given his bona fides.
On to the rankings as we enter the second third of the season.
1. Oakland Athletics (16-6, No. 1 last week)
A lot to like about this team, so this week we’ll focus on the bullpen. Jake Diekman (0.96 WHIP), Liam Hendriks (0.88), T.J. McFarland (0.92), Yusmeiro Petit (1.04), Burch Smith (0.67) and Joakim Soria (1.03) are getting it done in relief.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers (16-7, No. 2)
Can Mookie Betts go back and renegotiate his monster deal? Because he has been beyond monstrous.
3. New York Yankees (15-6, No. 3)
By going 5-0, the past week was perfect for the Yankees – sort of. The starting pitching concerns are still there, and in the past 10 days injuries have robbed them of Aaron Judge, DJ LeMahieu and Giancarlo Stanton. Still, this club is part of strong top three.
4. Chicago Cubs (13-6, No. 4)
The Cubs’ rotation has been superb. By the sound of manager David Ross’ comments, Jose Quintana probably won’t back in the bigs for another 10-14 days. The offense has been pretty much a dud this season. Kris Bryant has just four RBIs.
5. Tampa Bay Rays (14-9, No. 7)
We all know Kevin Cash is one of the smartest managers in the game, but doesn’t it seem like he overthinks lots of things. Brandon Lowe (Maryland) has turned into a monster.
6. Minnesota Twins (14-8, No. 5)
With Josh Donaldson still down and out, Nelson Cruz has exploded. Six homers and 21 RBIs are one thing, but .342/.412/.632? Not many 40-year-olds put up those kinds of numbers.
7. Cleveland Indians (13-9, No. 9)
The duo of Zach Plesac and Mike Clevinger disrespected the game and their teammates by thumbing their nose at the protocols MLB and the players’ association put into place. They were like two wayward frat boys. It remains to be seen if they singlehandedly dealt a death blow to their team’s chances.
8. Atlanta Braves (13-10, No. 6)
The Braves are looking a bit sluggish on offense and I’m guessing that in the next 10 days, GM Alex Anthopoulos does pull the trigger to upgrade the rotation. His brilliant one-year pact with Cole Hamels now appears to be a dud.
9. Colorado Rockies (13-8, No. 8)
Just when we wanted to buy in, the Rockies go 2-4 against the Diamondbacks and Rangers. Not exactly getting my full support now.
10. Houston Astros (11-10, No. 14)
The Astros move up four places and back into the top 10, but they did what any fair team would have against the Giants and Mariners — they went 5-1. No Gerrit Cole, no Justin Verlander and clearly no trash can banging out what pitches are coming.
11. San Diego Padres (11-12, No. 10)
12. Philadelphia Phillies (8-9, No. 17)
13. Washington Nationals (8-11, No. 13)
14. St. Louis Cardinals (4-4, No. 15)
15. Milwaukee Brewers (10-10, No. 16)
16. Chicago White Sox (11-11, No. 12)
17. Arizona Diamondbacks (11-11, No. 22)
18. Texas Rangers (10-10, No. 18)
19. Miami Marlins (9-6, No. 23)
20. Baltimore Orioles (12-9, No. 25)
21. Cincinnati Reds (9-11, No. 19)
22. New York Mets (9-14, No. 11)
23. Toronto Blue Jays (7-11, No. 21)
24. Kansas City Royals (9-13, No. 26)
25. Los Angeles Angels (7-15, No. 28)
26. Detroit Tigers (9-10, No. 24)
27. Boston Red Sox (6-16, No. 20)
28. San Francisco Giants (8-15, No. 27)
29. Seattle Mariners (7-16, No. 29)
30. Pittsburgh Pirates (4-14, No. 30)