Thursday May 13th, 2010

MLB Power Rankings
11Oakland Athletics
Last Week: 9
There was little doubt that, armed with David Letterman's staff of writers, Dallas Braden would take a few more shots at Alex Rodriguez while delivering Tuesday night's Late Show Top Ten list, including No. 1, "Maybe I can give Kate Hudson a call."
 
12Washington Nationals
Last Week: 13
Tyler Clippard is having a statistically charmed season despite blowing a lead for Nationals against the Mets Tuesday night. Through 33 games, he already has seven wins -- no full-time reliever has had more than 12 in a season since 1985. He leads major-league qualifiers with 34.6 percent of the swings against him resulting in misses and, similarly, leads the majors in lowest percentage of swings putting the ball in play (13.6 percent). Against the Mets, however, hardly anyone could miss, as he was pounded for four hits and three runs in one-third of an inning. The fine folks at Fangraphs.com saw it coming, noting in a post the day before his bad outing that his then-0.76 ERA was deceiving in part because he had allowed 10 inherited runners to score, most in the NL.
 
13Cincinnati Reds
Last Week: 16
One seemingly innocuous third-inning groundball single is all that stood between Johnny Cueto and a no-hitter against the Pirates Tuesday night, as the young right-hander allowed one hit and no walks to go along with eight strikeouts. Not that every pitcher doesn't enjoy working against Pittsburgh, but Cueto especially does: Seven of his 22 career wins have come against the Pirates.
 
14New York Mets
Last Week: 11
Soon after it was detailed in this space how the Mets couldn't come back in games, they did just that in grand fashion against the Nationals on Tuesday, scoring six runs in the bottom of the eighth to turn a 6-2 deficit into an eventual 8-6 win. Needless to say, with all that excitement it was not the same one in which Mets' broadcaster Keith Hernandez fell asleep in the booth.
 
15Boston Red Sox
Last Week: 19
Daisuke Matsuzaka remains as unpredictable as ever. After two decidedly subpar starts, he threw a gem in this third, allowing one run on three hits in seven innings. Most remarkably for a pitcher who has averaged 4.2 walks per nine innings in his career, he didn't issue any free passes for the first time in an outing of at least six innings since April 1, 2008, 770 days prior. It comes at an important time, as the Red Sox need better starting pitching and just lost Josh Beckett with back spasms.
 
16Los Angeles Dodgers
Last Week: 25
Of the Dodgers' young core, center fielder Matt Kemp gets the most attention; the man owns a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger, not to mention the acclaim of fantasy baseball magazines and a music star girlfriend in Rihanna. But it's Andre Ethier who has been L.A.'s best player, and he is finally getting some attention for it. Ethier is hitting .385 with 11 home runs and 37 RBIs and his 1.182 OPS leads the majors.
 
17Colorado Rockies
Last Week: 12
Every year since breaking into the Rockies' rotation in 2007, Ubaldo Jimenez has led all major-league starters in average fastball velocity, and this year is no exception. He paces all hurlers, clocking in at 96.8 miles per hour, 1.1 faster than second place (Houston's Felipe Paulino). Worse yet for opponents: this year's speed is the fastest of his career. He's 26 and throwing harder than ever.
 
18Florida Marlins
Last Week: 14
Not to harp on a guy's struggles, but Chris Coghlan has as many extra-base hits (one) in 112 at-bats as Marlins starter Nate Robertson -- who spent the last seven years of his career in the AL with Detroit -- has in 11 at-bats. And yes, Coghlan is the reigning NL Rookie of the Year.
 
19Milwaukee Brewers
Last Week: 22
Miller Park hasn't been such a sweet home to the Brewers thus far. They are just 4-11 in games played in Milwaukee but 11-8 on the road. When playing at home, Brewers pitchers have an ERA that's 1.44 higher and a batting average that's 38 points lower. Another oddity: The Brewers have hit 11 triples on the road but none at home.
 
20Chicago Cubs
Last Week: 17
No matter one's opinion of moving ace Carlos Zambrano to a setup role, the move can be defended as a noble attempt to shore up the bullpen in the late innings. Too bad it hasn't mattered. Since the announcement that Big Z would become a reliever, the Cubs have won only three close games -- one on a walk-off hit and only two with a save. The club as a whole has only five holds since the move, two of them on Wednesday in a win against the Marlins. In other words, Zambrano has had nothing to set up.
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