The latest round of MLB Power Rankings have come out of the main offices of Sports Illustrated, and this week the A’s have moved from fourth to third in the 30-team rankings.
The Los Angeles Dodgers, who have the best record in baseball at 24-9 and Tampa Bay, which stands at 21-11, are the only teams ranked ahead of the 22-10 A’s, whose record is the best in the American League.
You could make a case that the A’s should be ranked ahead of the Rays, but at least Oakland is now ranked ahead of the Yankees. It’s not just the five-game losing streak that the Yankees bring into the weekend that make their placement (fourth this week) problematic, it’s the fact that the Yankees are 7-0 against the truly wretched Red Sox and 9-11 against everybody else.
Along the way to compiling the latest power rankings, the SI seers assigned a Most Valuable Player to each team, and their choice for Oakland is an interesting one – Mark Canha. He leads the team in batting average, .278, and is second in on-base percentage at .404 and he is one of four players in green-and-gold with 20 or more RBI (21). He has produced a couple of game-winning sacrifice flies.
If I was given a vote – and I wasn’t – it would seem to make more sense, if one was to single out an Oakland hitter, to go with Stephen Piscotty. He has 26 RBI in August alone and has five homers. But it’s the ability to hit in the clutch that singles Piscotty out.
On Aug. 4, the right fielder hit a walkoff grand slam to beat the Rangers. It was his three-run, ninth-inning homer in San Francisco tied the game, force extra innings, allowing the A’s to win it in the 10th, on, we should point out, a Canha sacrifice fly. Piscotty came back with six RBI in the Sunday series finale in Oracle Park, hitting a grand slam and a two-run double.
For all of that, I’m not sure the MVP to this point shouldn’t be handed over to Liam Hendriks. The closer blew his first save opportunity on opening night, but the A’s came back to win the game. Since then, he’s allowed just one more run. He’s thrown in 16 games, has a Major League-best 10 saves and, perhaps most significantly, he’s pitched in exactly half of the A’s 32 games, and in those 16 games, Oakland is 16-0.
Now that’s value.
Have another candidate for the A’s MVP at the (more or less) halfway point of 2020? Matt Chapman? Jake Diekman? Robbie Grossman? Ramon Laureano? Let me know in the comments below.
Follow Athletics insider John Hickey on Twitter: @JHickey3
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