Thursday September 23rd, 2010

MLB Power Rankings
21Baltimore Orioles
Last Week: 21
Nick Markakis joined some Hall of Fame company on Monday, as he joined Joe Medwick and Tris Speaker -- both are Cooperstown enshrinees -- as the only players with at least 43 doubles in four straight seasons. Using 43 as the cut-off is fairly arbitrary, of course, as someone like Wade Boggs had seven straight seasons of 40 or more doubles, including four straight years with at least 42. But Boggs is another Hall of Famer, so the point remains that Markakis is in rarefied company with his doubles production.
22Milwaukee Brewers
Last Week: 23
Sometimes a day off is all a player needs. Second baseman Rickie Weeks was in the middle of an 0-for-17 slump when manager Ken Macha sat him for only the second time all season. Afterwards, Weeks began a six-game hitting streak during which he went 10-for 24 with his 27th home run of the season, third most among major league second basemen. Weeks leads the NL in at bats (607), plate appearances (699) and times hit by pitch (23).
23New York Mets
Last Week: 18
The Mets' managerial job appears to be such a certainty to be vacant after the season that the New York media openly asks prospective candidates about it and occasionally the candidate freely answers the question. That was the case with Dodgers manager Joe Torre, who told that there was "no question" that he'd listen if Mets ownership called him about the job. Current -- though presumably lame-duck -- Mets manager Jerry Manuel felt disrespected by the discussion, leading to an apology from Torre.
24Los Angeles Dodgers
Last Week: 22
In one of his final acts as Dodgers' skipper, Torre will be introducing "Take Your Player to Work Day" as he plans to let two of his players do his job and manage a game. Torre has done this in the past with veteran players, and veteran catcher Brad Ausmus is an obvious choice for his cerebral approach to the game. But Torre also wants to let one his young players, perhaps first baseman James Loney, get a crack at the job. Explained Torre to, "It's like, you think this is so easy? . . . One time I had [Roger] Clemens take David Wells out of the game. It was fun. It's nice to give a young player a feel for the game."
25Arizona Diamondbacks
Last Week: 28
The Diamondbacks hired Kevin Towers as their new general manager this week, and one of his first tasks might be to find bigger-barreled bats -- anything that might help his new team make more contact. On Tuesday Adam LaRoche's sixth-inning strikeout was Arizona's major-league record 1,400th of the season. They reached that number in their 151st game of the season for an average of 9.3 per game. Given the 27 outs each team gets per game, the Diamondbacks essentially spent more than 51 games doing nothing but striking out.
26Washington Nationals
Last Week: 25
So much for the midseason optimism: The Nationals flirted with a .500 record into June, debuted the incomparable Stephen Strasburg, signed No. 1 pick Bryce Harper and seemed headed in the right direction as an organization. Now, however, they are 24 games under .500, sent Strasburg to the doctor for Tommy John surgery and saw a fraudulent past prospect, Esmailyn Gonzalez, return to haunt them again. As detailed by's Melissa Segura, the international prospect scandal from last year  
27Kansas City Royals
Last Week: 26
Wilson Betemit can now reasonably be mentioned in the same breath as George Brett and Bo Jackson. That's because Betemit, the 28-year-old Royals infielder, had four RBIs in consecutive games last week -- as noted in Kansas City Star sports writer Martin Manley's blog, he became only the fifth player in franchise history to do that, joining Brett, Jackson, Joe Randa and Ryan Shealy. Of players with at least 285 plate appearances since May 25, Betemit's OPS of .938 is 11th-best in the majors, better than that of Adrian Gonzalez, Robinson Cano, Prince Fielder and Mark Teixeira.
28Cleveland Indians
Last Week: 27
Outfielder Michael Brantley had one of the most unusual hitting streaks in baseball history recently. From Aug. 30 to Sept. 19, he had a 19-game hitting streak in which he had only one RBI and only two extra-base hits (one double and one triple). The last time a player had a hitting streak that long with fewer extra-base hits was in 1991 when Otis Nixon had a 20-game streak with only one -- in the interim there had been 213 hitting streaks of at least 19 games. And according to Baseball-Reference's Play Index search tool, which dates back to 1920, there have been 727 other hitting streaks of at least 19 games since then, and Brantley's is the first with as few as one RBI.
29Seattle Mariners
Last Week: 29
First baseman Russell Branyan, who previously this season hurt himself opening the curtains in his hotel room, found another creative way to fall injured: reaching for his son's flip-flop at a pizza parlor. As Branyan explained to the Seattle media, "They had plastic chairs, and after we'd eaten, my little guy had kicked one of his flip flops off. I was sitting on the edge of the chair, leaning down to pick it up, and the chair slid out from under me on the cement floor. I landed right on my tail bone." A perfect metaphor for the Mariners' season.
30Pittsburgh Pirates
Last Week: 30
Center fielder Andrew McCutchen, who won't turn 24 until after the season, continues to fill out a well-balanced stat sheet. Thanks to a mini-HR binge -- he hit three last week -- he has joined two Rays, Carl Crawford and B.J. Upton, as the only players in the majors with at least 30 doubles, 15 home runs and 30 stolen bases. McCutchen and Upton both have scored exactly 82 runs and walked exactly 63 times, but McCutchen is having the far better season, as he has 30 more hits in 32 more at bats, accounting for a 43-point lead in batting average, .277 to .234. Yet Upton is more likely to be mentioned among the game's up-and-coming players.
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