Thursday August 19th, 2010

MLB Power Rankings
11San Francisco Giants
Last Week: 9
Pablo Sandoval has often been called the Panda -- his teammates joke he resembles the lead in the movie Kung-Fu Panda -- but now even his manager says Sandoval is "two different guys." Bruce Bochy was, however, referring to his third baseman's drastic home/road splits and not some alter-ego. Sandoval is hitting .327 with six home runs and a .903 OPS at home this year, while hitting only .212 with two homers and a .554 OPS on the road.
12Chicago White Sox
Last Week: 11
After losing the first two games of a three-game set to the Twins, the White Sox are now just 4-10 against their AL Central rival this season. In fact, the White Sox, who went 15-3 in interleague play, have a losing record (50-52) against the rest of the AL. Chicago is 20-11 against the AL West and just 30-41 against the East and Central. Of their 42 remaining games, the White Sox play 36 of them against the East and Central, and the six against the West are all on the road.
13Colorado Rockies
Last Week: 13
With the Rockies realistically having fallen out of the playoff picture and preferring to play their younger players, they were set to release veteran outfielder Brad Hawpe before the weekend. Hawpe will be a free agent his offseason, and now he has the chance to latch onto a contending club for the stretch run of this season, as a fourth outfielder or pinch hitter. It's been a rapid fall from grace for Hawpe, who was an All-Star last season but is batting just .255 with seven homers in 300 plate appearances this year.
14Toronto Blue Jays
Last Week: 14
Despite my efforts from earlier this month, shockingly little has been made of Jose Bautista's home-run binge this season. He's now up to 37 through 120 team games, leaving him on pace for 50 home runs this season. There have been only 41 individual seasons in which a player has hit 50 homers, but this would have to rank as the most unlikely of alltime, narrowly besting Luis Gonzalez's 57 in 2001 and Brady Anderson's 50 in 1996. At least those players had once hit 20 or more homers in a season before they reached 50.
15Los Angeles Dodgers
Last Week: 15
Maybe the McCourts' divorce hasn't wreaked such financial havoc on the Dodgers after all. The team signed first-round pick Zach Lee to a team record $5.25 million bonus in order to pry him away from LSU, where he would have pitched and played quarterback on the football team. Many thought the Dodgers, reportedly cash-strapped because of the uncertain ownership situation, had drafted Lee because they knew they couldn't sign him and would thus be given a compensatory pick next year. Then again, maybe Los Angeles tipped its hand about Manny Ramirez's fate with the team. If another team were to take Ramirez, who began a Class-A rehab assignment on Wednesday, off waivers, the Dodgers would save nearly $5 million -- or roughly the bonus just given to Lee.
16Oakland Athletics
Last Week: 17
The A's too have suffered some bad luck out West. They are the only team in the league for whom having a positive or negative run differential doesn't equate to a winning or losing record, respectively. Oakland has scored 479 runs and allowed only 461 runs, yet is 59-60. The expected win/loss record for their run differential is 62-57 -- a three-game improvement -- which would leave them only five behind the Rangers in the AL West (though 11 1/2 behind the wild-card leader).
17Los Angeles Angels
Last Week: 16
The Red Sox had won 11 straight playoff games and four straight series against the Angels, until last year's ALDS when the Angels finally knocked them off. Now this year, Boston is the reason Los Angeles won't be getting another crack at the postseason. The Red Sox are 9-0 against the Angels in 2010, and even if the Angels had won five of those games they'd only trail the Rangers by three games in the division rather than eight.
18Detroit Tigers
Last Week: 18
At least the Tigers had their answers rehearsed. Starter Jeremy Bonderman plunked Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner with the first pitch of Wednesday's game, a day after Gardner's hard slide into second baseman Carlos Guillen sent the Tiger to the disabled list. In the eighth inning New York's Chad Gaudin plunked Detroit's Miguel Cabrera, further angering the Tigers, especially manager Jim Leyland who was ejected for arguing that Gaudin should have been tossed for the seemingly intentional pitch. After the game, both Bonderman and Leyland repeatedly answered "next question" when asked whether the pitch was intentional.
19Florida Marlins
Last Week: 20
As the Marlins build, so too, they hope, will Haiti. According to the Miami Herald, the Marlins are offering an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of their new ballpark to the first 10 donors who give at least $1,000 to Food for the Poor, an international nonprofit. The club hopes to raise enough money to build 25 two-room houses in Haiti, as it continues to try and rebuild from a devastating earthquake.
20New York Mets
Last Week: 19
This was among the worst weeks off the field -- but not out of the stadium -- in Mets franchise history. Closer Francisco Rodriguez was arrested for allegedly assaulting the 53-year-old father of his girlfriend in the Citi Field family lounge, briefly returned to offer a very quick apology and was then sideline with a torn ligament in the thumb of his throwing hand that he sustained during the fight. Through it all, Mets ownership has been much too quiet. And when it tried moving K-Rod to the disqualified list, the players' union filed a grievance. This issue isn't over.
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