Thursday April 22nd, 2010

MLB Power Rankings
11San Francisco Giants
Last Week: 4
A sense of humor would seem to be a prerequisite for a player who has broken his face multiple times, so center fielder Aaron Rowand is in luck. His first such fractures came from colliding with an outfield wall (he even made the catch) and now more recently he was beaned by a fastball from the Dodgers' Vicente Padilla. Rowand avoided surgery to repair a few bones this time, as he insisted he'd only do it if it were medically necessary. As he told the San Jose Mercury News, "If I have to have plastic surgery, screw it. I'm not that good-looking anyway."
 
12Los Angeles Dodgers
Last Week: 17
Former Dodgers closer Eric Gagne, who won the 2003 NL Cy Young in that role, picked the right week to retire if he were seeking longing stories of yesteryear, as Los Angeles' bullpen has been the team's undoing this season. Before Wednesday's 3 1/3 innings of scoreless work, the relievers had a 6.07 ERA and had held their opponent scoreless only once in the first 13 games they were called upon. Current closer Jonathan Broxton has thrown 5 2/3 scoreless innings; without his contribution the 'pen had a 6.92 ERA.
 
13Oakland Athletics
Last Week: 11
Oakland's 9-5 start -- against two divisional opponents and the lowly Orioles -- begged for validation against one of the AL's best. The Yankees strode into town at the right time to provide that test and have defeated the A's 7-3 and 3-1 on consecutive nights.
 
14Toronto Blue Jays
Last Week: 12
As well as Vernon Wells is playing, the Blue Jays better lock him up with a big extension. Wait, what's that? Oh. So he's in the fourth year of a seven-year, $126 million contract and finally starting to play like he deserves it. After three decidedly average seasons, he's tied for the American League lead in homers (seven) and leads outright in runs (14) and total bases (47).
 
15Florida Marlins
Last Week: 15
The surest win in baseball is the first game of the series against the Marlins. Florida is 0-5 in such games this season, having lost the opener to the Mets, Dodgers, Reds, Phillies and Astros. It's no new phenomenon, either, as the Marlins lost six of their last seven series openers in 2009. The lesson, clearly, is that the Marlins are highly susceptible to jet lag.
 
16Washington Nationals
Last Week: 26
It's a simple rule: Bat over .300, reach base nearly half your plate appearances and lead your team in home runs and you've earned the right to give postgame interviews while wearing a silver Elvis hairpiece. Josh Willingham's fast start (.327 average, .477 OBP, three homers) certainly qualifies him.
 
17Colorado Rockies
Last Week: 7
Despite Ubaldo Jimenez's no-hitter on Saturday, the Rockies suffered a very difficult week for far more than just their 2-5 record, as team president Keli McGregor died unexpectedly while on business in Utah. Several nice remembrances of him have already been written, including in the Denver Post and USA Today.
 
18Boston Red Sox
Last Week: 14
The solution to all Boston's woes? Darnell McDonald. The minor-league journeyman gave Red Sox fans something to cheer during an otherwise dreary week in which the Sox were swept in a four-game series at home by division rival Tampa Bay. McDonald hit a game-tying home run in the eighth-inning on Tuesday and following it up with a walkoff RBI double in the ninth on Wednesday. His heroics, which he followed up with a second homer on Wednesday, overshadowed what would have been the week's dominant storyline: manager Terry Francona lifting struggling David Ortiz for a pinch-hitter late in the game.
 
19Milwaukee Brewers
Last Week: 21
In the category of unwanted statistical leaders, Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks are tied for first in the majors in getting hit by pitches, with five apiece. While Weeks is off to a strong start, for Fielder, getting plunked has merely been extra punishment from the pitchers who have gotten the best of him thus far. He has yet to homer in 14 games and is batting just .226.
 
20Pittsburgh Pirates
Last Week: 20
The Pirates are currently baseball's great statistical anomaly. They are 7-7 despite being outscored 91-54 this season, which projects to a 4-10 record. Pittsburgh even has a major-league worst staff ERA of 6.44. In other words, don't expect 2010 to be when the Pirates end their 17-year streak of losing seasons. But at least their best player didn't just get suspended for 38 percent of the season, like a certain quarterback across town just did.
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