Thursday July 8th, 2010

MLB Power Rankings
11Minnesota Twins
Last Week: 7
Jim Thome last played the field in 2007 -- and even then it was only eight innings at first base. But the 39-year-old designated hitter still can hit. He's parked 10 home runs in 134 at bats, including the 574th of his career, which vaulted him past Harmon Killebrew for No. 10 on the all-time list. Last week he also hit another homer and his first triple since 2004 and was named AL Player of Week.
12St. Louis Cardinals
Last Week: 10
Despite being overshadowed by teammate Albert Pujols, left fielder Matt Holliday is having his own very good year. Though his .305 average and .380 OBP are both a hair below his career rates of .317 and .387, he has hit 14 home runs with 44 RBIs and is having a spectacular season defensively. He and Cardinals right fielder Ryan Ludwick both have an Ultimate Zone Rating of 9.2, which is tied for fifth among all major-league outfielders. For Holliday, that mark is better than his previous two seasons combined.
13Colorado Rockies
Last Week: 17
A funny thing happened after Troy Tulowitzki broke his wrist: The Rockies started hitting even better, highlighted by a nine-run ninth inning Tuesday night for a 12-9 comeback victory over the Cardinals. It's an admittedly small sample size of 18 games, but Colorado is 12-6 since losing its shortstop, batting .299 with 24 home runs and scoring 5.8 runs per game. Before the injury the Rockies were 34-32 with Tulowitzki, batting .257 with 65 homers and scoring only 4.7 runs per game. For whatever reason Clint Barmes, who has played short in Tulo's absence, is hitting .341 with three homers in 26 games at short but only .218 with four homers in 51 games as the second baseman.
14Los Angeles Dodgers
Last Week: 11
Manager Joe Torre seems to have had little trouble re-adjusting to the NL, where he spent his first 15 years as a big league manager before taking over the Yankees in 1996. In his final two years as manager in New York, the Yankees had just 34 and 41 sacrifice hits all season. So far this year the Dodgers already have 51, seven more than any other team in baseball. The surprise team leader is center fielder Matt Kemp, with five, who is back to his slugging ways after a recent mini-benching by Torre in late June. Over his past eight games, Kemp is batting .343/.378/.714 with four home runs and nine RBIs.
15Los Angeles Angels
Last Week: 12
The All-Star snub not talked about enough (on the East Coast, anyway) is Angels ace Jered Weaver. All he's done is go 8-4 with a 2.97 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and an AL-leading 130 strikeouts for the All-Star hosts. His 4.81 strikeout-to-walk ratio is second in the league. Yet three Yankees starters have reached the game ahead of him, which seems hard to believe. Weaver doesn't seem particularly bothered by it, saying only, "It is what it is."
16San Francisco Giants
Last Week: 13
Giants rookie Madison Bumgarner earned his first major-league win Tuesday night after throwing eight scoreless innings in which he struck out five and allowed only three hits and three walks. Last year he suffered from a curious loss in velocity, most of which he has since gained back. The 20-year-old will improve an already-strong Giants pitching staff in the second half, which is necessary, given the team's middling offense that ranks 11th in the NL in runs scored and on-base percentage.
17Philadelphia Phillies
Last Week: 16
Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. recently joked, "I'm not as good as [former GM] Pat Gillick. I'm just not as good as he is." But one has to wonder when Amaro reportedly has some interest in re-acquiring Cliff Lee before the July 31 trade deadline for the second straight year. Amaro, of course, shipped Lee off to Seattle before the season, receiving in exchange a set of prospects that at least one general manager didn't think came close to the value of Lee.
18Toronto Blue Jays
Last Week: 18
The Blue Jays continue to lead the league in home runs (125) while also ranking last in on-base percentage (.305). They come to the plate hacking, swinging at 33.8 percent of all first pitches, four percent higher than anyone else and nearly double the Red Sox' rate. As second baseman Aaron Hill described manager Cito Gaston, "What's great about Cito is that he says, 'Go swing the bats.' He's never been the 'take your walks' guy. He wants us to swing the bats. If you're looking for a fastball and you get a fastball, take a hack at it. It's a live-by-the-sword, die-by-the-sword type of thing."
19Florida Marlins
Last Week: 19
Stephen who? When it came to the NL Rookie of the Month award, Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez made voters forget all about the Nationals' Strasburg. Sanchez won the award for June after leading NL rookies with 39 hits, 16 runs scored, two triples and a .587 slugging percentage, to go along with a .375 average and four home runs. He had 12 multi-hit games in the month, including five straight games at one point. Could his selection over the wildly more popular Strasburg be an indicator that the Rookie of the Year award is no foregone conclusion?
20Oakland Athletics
Last Week: 20
At the end of this month the A's will go on a six-game road trip, during which their home field will revert back to 2002. That's because the movie version of Moneyball will, at long last, be filming on location. Those in the Oakland area can even register at to be an extra. Given that Oakland draws fewer than 18,000 fans per game, and the movie set will feature Brad Pitt, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Jonah Hill, will demand to be on location to watch fake baseball exceed demand for the real product?
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