Gennaro Filice
Thursday September 25th, 2008

Well, folks, we've come to the end of the road. By this time next week, we'll be knee deep in playoff baseball and you'll no longer yearn for the arbitrary pecking order of one over-caffeinated baseball junkie. So we're going out with a bang in the final Power Rankings of 2008. In lieu of my customary, scatter-brained musings, I provide each team's Most Valuable Player and Least Valuable Player.
Let the dissenting hate mail begin!

MLB Power Rankings
1Los Angeles Angels
Last Week: 1
MVP: Francisco Rodriguez. K-Rod has made it exciting every night -- seemingly allowing a baserunner or two just for the sport of it -- but he still has more saves (62) than the Mariners, Nationals and Padres have wins.
LVP: Gary Matthews Jr. In the second year of a five-year, $50 million contract, Matthews Jr. has been reduced to fourth-outfielder duties, hitting .240 with 8 home runs for the season. There's plenty of information on coping with buyer's remorse in real estate, but what about human investments? Arte Moreno would like to know ...
 
2Chicago Cubs
Last Week: 2
MVP: Aramis Ramirez. In an offense that features five players with at least 20 homers (Jim Edmonds has 19) and four with at least 80 RBIs, Ramirez stands out from the rest because of his unparalleled "clutchness." Ram-Ram's late-game savvy is so commonplace that fans have no trouble calling his game-winning shots.
LVP: Felix Pie. This was supposed to be Pie's breakout season, but he got off to an ominous start in spring training, twisting a part of the body that should not be twisted. The poor soul still started Opening Day in center field, but it didn't take long for him to play himself out of the lineup with his ineptitude in the batter's box.
 
3Tampa Bay Rays
Last Week: 3
MVP: Carlos Pena. No single player jumps out on the Rays -- this amazing '08 campaign was undoubtedly a team effort. Forced to choose one, I'll go with Pena. When Evan Longoria and Carl Crawford went down, Pena put this offense on his back, as evidenced by his 46 RBIs since August 1.
LVP: Jonny Gomes. Gomes pulled his weight in brawls against the Yankees (in spring training) and the Red Sox, but he didn't contribute much to the actual game of baseball. Thanks to his sub-.200 batting average, Gomes spent much of the stretch run in Triple-A Durham.
 
4Boston Red Sox
Last Week: 4
MVP: Dustin Pedroia. At 5-foot-9 (in high heels) and 180 pounds (drenched in liquid mercury), Pedroia doesn't strike fear in opponents upon first sight. But Pedroia has become a serious offensive threat in his sophomore campaign. Kevin Youkilis is also deserving, but I'm giving the nod to the "g--damn jockey," as dubbed by Ozzie Guillen.
LVP: Clay Buchholz. With a no-hitter under his belt and a Penthouse Pet at his side, the baby-faced hurler entered this season with plenty of hype. But Buchholz certainly hasn't enjoyed the year Sox fans envisioned, going 2-9 with a 6.75 ERA.
 
5Philadelphia Phillies
Last Week: 5
MVP: Ryan Howard. Sure, Howard's hitting .248 with 196 strikeouts, but the Phillies don't need him to be Tony Gwynn; they need him to produce runs. And he's done that better than anyone in the game, easily leading the majors in home runs (47) and RBIs (142).
LVP: Kyle Kendrick. Don't let his 11 wins fool you, Kendrick was a bullpen killer who got worse as the season went on. Talk about a sophomore slump -- Kendrick's ERA ballooned from 3.87 in his rookie season to 5.46 in 2008.
 
6Los Angeles Dodgers
Last Week: 7
MVP: Manny Ramirez. Los Angeles hasn't seen a No. 99 this dominant since The Great One. With 53 RBIs in 50 games as a Dodger, Ramirez has simultaneously enraged Red Sox Nation and brought L.A. a division title (barring a monumental collapse).
LVP: Andruw Jones. Jones earned $14,726,910 this season and he may not be worth a single penny. Simply put, Jones had one of the worst offensive seasons ever, hitting .158 with a .505 OPS over 209 at-bats.
 
7Minnesota Twins
Last Week: 11
MVP: Justin Morneau. Joe Mauer has the edge in batting average (.327 to .308), but Morneau blows him away in the power categories and leads the Junior Circuit in RBIs with 129. And at the end of the day, it's all about run production.
LVP: Mike Lamb. The Twins ate $3.8 million by cutting the third baseman in August. Lamb was publicly ashamed by his performance, basically apologizing after being designated for assignment. "I'm embarrassed for having gotten fired," Lamb told the Star Tribune. "Bill [Smith] and Rob [Antony] stuck their necks out for me. I hope it's not held against them."
 
8Chicago White Sox
Last Week: 9
MVP: Carlos Quentin. If not for a self-inflicted broken wrist, Quentin would probably be on the verge of winning the American League MVP. Q-uperman easily exceeded all expectations in his first season with Chicago. Think the Diamondbacks could find him a place to play nowadays?
LVP: Boone Logan. Logan actually enjoyed a productive first half, but the lefty reliever completely fell apart in July and hasn't recovered since. Logan is back with the big club after a stint in the minors, but he's still throwing meatballs. Truth be told, the ChiSox are just scrambling for bullpen support.
 
9New York Mets
Last Week: 6
MVP: Johan Santana. This was the toughest choice of the column. The viable candidates include Santana, David Wright, Carlos Delgado, Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes. Santana takes the cake for his consistency. Though the southpaw took some heat early on in New York, he leads the majors in quality starts (27) and the NL in ERA (2.64).
LVP: Aaron Heilman. It obviously has to be someone from the despicable 'pen, and Heilman is the worst of the bunch. The bloom is definitely off this former first-round rose.
 
10Milwaukee Brewers
Last Week: 10
MVP: Ryan Braun. My heart says CC Sabathia, but my brain says Braun. He's hit 35 home runs and driven in 100 runs, to go with a 126 OPS+.
LVP: Eric Gagne. Twenty-eight earned runs in 45.1 innings; it doesn't take a math wiz to deduce that these numbers do not add up to $10 million. Just like NFL running backs, MLB closers have an extremely short shelf life. And at this point, Gagne is Shaun Alexander.
 
11New York Yankees
Last Week: 15
MVP: Mike Mussina. The Moose still has one more shot to reach 20 wins for the first time in his illustrious career, but he'll need to do it in hostile Fenway Park on Sunday. New York's starting pitching was a nightmare in 2008, but Mussina proved reliable every fifth day.
LVP: Robinson Cano. After a monster second half in 2007, the Bombers expected big things from Cano this season. But the second baseman sputtered to his worst year yet. Cano's benching for lack of hustle was the final insult. Once considered a huge part of the Yankees' future, Cano is now being mentioned as possible trade bait.
 
12Cleveland Indians
Last Week: 12
MVP: Cliff Lee. It's impossible to run out of different ways to analyze Lee's un-friggin-believable bounceback season. Here's today's effort: Lee has 22 wins; the Indians' 11 other starters this season have combined for 33.
LVP: Travis Hafner. A lingering shoulder strain landed Hafner on the DL for most of the season, but Pronk has looked exceptionally poor in his small sample size of 55 games (see: .204 batting average). Pretty disheartening considering that his massive, four-year contract extension begins next season.
 
13Toronto Blue Jays
Last Week: 8
MVP: Roy Halladay. The Blue Jays boast the best bullpen in the American League, but it's hardly necessary when Halladay's on the hill. Halladay (19-11, 2.81) made it through at least seven innings in 22 of his 32 starts. This ironman would have won 25 games with a bit of offensive support.
LVP: Brad Wilkerson. After signing a one-year, $3 million contract with Seattle in the offseason, Wilkerson didn't even make it through one month before getting cut by the Mariners. Inexplicably, Blue Jays brass saw the M's garbage as their saving grace. In 205 ABs with Toronto, Wilkerson hit a grand total of three homers.
 
14Florida Marlins
Last Week: 13
MVP: Hanley Ramirez. Jorge Cantu merits consideration, but Hanley is the player opposing teams fear most. Ramirez lost some steam after the All-Star break, but the 33-33 man still leads the majors with 122 runs scored.
LVP: Jeremy Hermida. Hermida has been injury-free since missing the first week of the season with a strained hammy, but the production just isn't there. With Hermida's arbitration coming up, the Fish may part ways with their former top prospect.
 
15Houston Astros
Last Week: 14
MVP: Lance Berkman. Berkman leveled out in the second half of the season, but he still ended up with exceptional numbers across the board: .314, 29 HR, 104 RBIs, 114 R. And he still has one of baseball's most dedicated fan clubs, The Little Pumas.
LVP: Michael Bourn. Speed can only take you so far in baseball. Bourn has the lowest on-base percentage (.279) of all leadoff hitters with at least 300 plate appearances.
 
16St. Louis Cardinals
Last Week: 16
MVP: Albert Pujols. For all of the media coverage Pujols receives, I still don't think people realize just how astonishing his career has been thus far. He is the only player in major league history with 30 homers and 100 RBIs in his first eight seasons. This dude's easily the biggest offensive juggernaut in baseball (sorry, A-Rod) and he plays a Gold Glove-caliber first base, to boot.
LVP: Jason Isringhausen. Having logged 30 saves in seven of the past eight seasons, Izzy actually asked to be taken out of the closer role in May following a horrendous stretch of blowups. Isringhausen had elbow surgery earlier this month. Hopefully this isn't our last impression of the Cardinals' all-time leader in saves.
 
17Arizona Diamondbacks
Last Week: 17
MVP: Brandon Webb. Good lord, that's a heavy sinker. Robert S., who sponsors Webb's page on baseball-reference.com, sums up the devastating pitch with caveman simplicity: "It good make bat swing man sad." It looks like Arizona will fall short of the playoffs, but don't blame Webb, who shattered his career high with 22 wins.
LVP: Chris Burke. The Jose Valverde trade netted Arizona a versatile reliever in Chad Qualls. Unfortunately, it also brought Burke to the D-backs. Burke can play almost every position on the diamond, but that surely didn't help him at the plate.
 
18Cincinnati Reds
Last Week: 19
MVP: Edinson Volquez. Volquez returned to Earth after the All-Star break, but he still owns 3.16 ERA, 17 wins and the fifth-highest strikeout total (206) in baseball. Not bad for a 25-year-old in his first full season.
LVP: Corey Patterson. Patterson's always been a Dusty Baker favorite for no apparent reason. Dusty's continued loyalty to Patterson this season -- despite his Mendoza-Line average -- has given rise to a conspiracy theory that Patterson is receiving playing time because he is dating Baker's daughter, Natosha. Baker wholeheartedly refutes the rumor, telling MLB.com his daughter "hasn't even been to Cincinnati."
 
19Texas Rangers
Last Week: 18
MVP: Josh Hamilton. Hamilton escaped from the grips of crack cocaine to post one of the most improbable 30-120 seasons in baseball history -- and somehow he found time to co-author a book. Hamilton's biography, Beyond Belief, will be released on October 14. Pre-order your very own copy today and save $7.68!
LVP: Luis Mendoza. Mendoza is the worst pitcher on major league baseball's worst staff, as evidenced by his 8.66 ERA.
 
20Oakland Athletics
Last Week: 20
MVP: Brad Ziegler. Yeah, it's slim pickings in Oakland. But let's not discount Ziegler's fabulous rookie campaign. The submarine-style reliever set an MLB record with 39.1 consecutive scoreless innings to begin his career and successfully took over as Oakland's closer in August.
LVP: Daric Barton. For the first time in years, the A's roster is littered with underachievers, and Barton heads up the pack. The preseason Rookie of the Year candidate is hitting .218.
 
21Kansas City Royals
Last Week: 24
MVP: Joakim Soria. Working in relative anonymity in Kansas City, all Soria has done is convert 41-of-44 save opportunities while posting a 1.63 ERA and 0.84 WHIP. So, no, last season certainly wasn't a fluke.
LVP: Tony Pena. It's hard to say which batting statistic is most jarring, Pena's on-base percentage (.185) or his slugging percentage (.205).
 
22Colorado Rockies
Last Week: 23
MVP: Matt Holliday. Now he steals bases, too?!? On top of his .321 average, 25 homers, 87 RBI and 107 runs, Holliday is 28-for-30 in stolen-base attempts. Quite the well-rounded offensive force.
LVP: Greg Reynolds. I still don't understand why the Rockies felt the need to completely toss Reynolds, a 23-year-old who was a first-round pick in '06, into the fire. Will this season's pitiful performance (2-8, 8.13) stunt his development?
 
23Atlanta Braves
Last Week: 25
MVP: Chipper Jones. Even though Chipper had to battle through injuries much of the season -- what else is new? -- he still leads the majors in batting average (.365) and ranks second in OPS (1.044). You're watching a future Hall of Famer, folks.
LVP: Jeff Francoeur. What in the world happened to our beloved Frenchy this season? All we heard about in spring training was Francoeur's increased muscle mass and the massive home-run total that would come with it. But here we are with less than a week remaining and Frenchy's sitting on 11 jacks. No wonder he hasn't updated his personal blog in over three months ...
 
24Detroit Tigers
Last Week: 21
MVP: Miguel Cabrera. Miggy C serves as the silver lining to an otherwise disastrous season in "The D." Cabrera, who the Tigers locked up through the 2015 season, already has career highs in homers (36) and RBIs (125).
LVP: Justin Verlander. Kenny Rogers has worse numbers, but he wasn't expected to be the Tigers' ace. A rock in his first two seasons, Verlander came undone in 2008, allowing at least four earned runs in over half of his starts.
 
25San Francisco Giants
Last Week: 22
MVP: Tim Lincecum. With his blistering fastball and snap-dragon curveball, Tiny Tim made hitters look foolish all season long. Lincecum may be the most watchable pitcher in the game today, and he definitely should be the NL Cy Young winner.
LVP: Barry Zito. Omar Vizquel made a push for this designation with his .215 batting average, but the anti-award goes to The 126-Million-Dollar-Man. Although he should be in the prime of his career, the 30-year-old spent most of this season throwing as hard as Jamie Moyer and as accurately as Daniel Cabrera.
 
26Pittsburgh Pirates
Last Week: 27
MVP: Nate McLouth. It took 148 games, but Nate McLouth finally committed his first error with a wild throw on Tuesday. Regardless, McLouth is still a serious Gold Glove candidate. Not to mention he leads the Pirates in pretty much every offensive category, including batting average (.280), home runs (26), RBIs (94), runs (111), doubles (46), steals (21) and walks (64).
LVP: Tom Gorzelanny. Before the outfield firesale, the Pirates actually had a pretty good offense. Unfortunately, the pitching has been atrocious all season long. And nobody's more accountable than Tom Gorzelanny, who possesses the Number of the Beast as his ERA (6.66). Satanist!
 
27Baltimore Orioles
Last Week: 26
MVP: Aubrey Huff. Huff has quietly put together one of the most complete offensive seasons in baseball. Truly a career year for the 31-year-old. Eight million dollars well spent by the O's.
LVP: The six-headed monster at shortstop. After trading Miguel Tejada in the offseason, Baltimore attempted to fill the shortstop position with six different players. Currently, the Orioles have a .218 batting average at the position -- easily the lowest mark among all major league teams.
 
28San Diego Padres
Last Week: 29
MVP: Adrian Gonzalez. Anyone who can conjure up 35 homers, 117 RBIs and 101 runs with this supporting cast in this stadium deserves a lot more than some props at the bottom of a Power Rankings column.
LVP: Khalil Greene. Remember the days when Greene and Oakland's Bobby Crosby were the game's future stars at shortstop? Boy, sure seems like a distant memory.
 
29Washington Nationals
Last Week: 28
MVP: Cristian Guzman. Not the sexiest team MVP in this column, but Guzman does have the 10th-best batting average in baseball (.312). He also recorded the first hit in Nationals Park and became the second National to hit for the cycle. (Work with me here, people.)
LVP: Wily Mo Pena. Although he played just 65 games before season-ending surgery, I can't get over that .267 slugging percentage. Where's the beef, Wily Mo?
 
30Seattle Mariners
Last Week: 30
MVP: Raul Ibanez. Don't ask me how this quality left-handed bat made it through the trade deadline -- I'm just as baffled as you. Playing in one of baseball's worst offenses, Ibanez has knocked in 107 runs and is flirting with a .300 average (something he has only accomplished once before).
LVP: Jose Vidro. For anyone wondering how the Mariners finished 26th in runs scored, look no further than Mr. Vidro. For a large portion of the season, he was their designated hitter. He of the .612 OPS.

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