By Joe Lemire
June 03, 2010
MLB Power Rankings
21 Chicago Cubs
Last Week: 20
A list of the most recognizable distances in sports would include the 100-yard length of a football field, the 10-foot height of a basketball rim and the 60 feet, six inches a pitcher must throw the ball from the rubber to home plate. Only for Cubs starter Ted Lilly, that distance might not be quite so long. Last Thursday Dodgers third baseman Casey Blake accused Lilly of throwing from in front of the rubber, shortening the distance he needs to throw and effectively speeding up his pitches. On Friday the commissioner's office said it has instructed umpires to be aware of the complaint whenever Lilly pitches.
22 Chicago White Sox
Last Week: 22
Since requesting this offseason to be referred to by his full name Alexis rather than the shorthand Alex, Alexis Rios has regained his power and speed. He had a disappointing 2009 in which he hit only 17 home runs and stole just 24 bases, but in 52 team games in 2010, Alexis has already hit 11 homers and swiped 16 bags, which projects to 34 home runs and 50 steals for the full season.
23 Milwaukee Brewers
Last Week: 26
Everyone knows how arduous rehab can be following Tommy John surgery, but Brewers lefty Chris Capuano has upped the ante, having undergone the procedure twice. On Thursday he will make his first major-league start since Sept. 2007.
24 Pittsburgh Pirates
Last Week: 23
Garrett Jones must wish he could play the Cubs or Dodgers every day. Against those two clubs he's batted .385 (20-for-52) with six home runs in 14 games; against everybody else, he's hit .221 with one homer in 38 games.
25 Kansas City Royals
Last Week: 24
Many laughed when the Royals handed Gil Meche a five-year, $55 million contract before the 2007 season, but the starter seemed to back up the large contract in his first two seasons, going 23-24 with a 3.82 ERA over 426.1 innings. (In considering his winning percentage of .489, keep in mind that K.C. had a team winning percentage of just .444 in those years.) While making $22 million in '07 and '08, Meche had a true worth of $40.6 million, according to But last year Meche went just 6-10 with a 5.09 ERA, and this season he had an 0-4 record and 6.66 ERA before going on the disabled list with bursitis in his right shoulder.
26 Seattle Mariners
Last Week: 27
The Mariners finished April with an 11-12 record, sitting just a half-game behind co-division leaders Los Angeles and Oakland. Then they went 8-19 in May and fell to last place, eight games out of first. It was the franchise's worst month since Aug. 1977, when Seattle was an expansion team.
27 Cleveland Indians
Last Week: 28
Less than 24 hours after Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez smacked a vicious line drive off his head, Indians starter David Huff sat calmly in the Yankee Stadium dugout and spoke to reporters about the experience, which looked scary but barely left Huff worse for the wear. Trainer Lonnie Soloff said his pitcher "dodged a bullet," as Huff never lost consciousness and was not even diagnosed with a concussion. Soloff grimly noted that the great distance the ball traveled after hitting Huff's head was a good thing, as it indicated that his skull withstood the impact.
28 Houston Astros
Last Week: 29
If only the Astros could start with extra innings. While Houston is floundering with a 19-34 overall record, it's actually 3-1 in extra-inning games. In fact, going to extras is the only way the Astros have beaten the Padres and Reds, going 2-0 against those teams in extras, but 0-7 in nine-inning games.
29 Arizona Diamondbacks
Last Week: 25
The Diamondbacks' bullpen -- already baseball's worst with a 7.51 ERA -- stooped further on Monday night, when reliever Esmerling Vasquez flinched in response to Casey Blake's bluff down the third-base line and balked in the winning run. In brighter news, the event contributed to the baseball lexicon, as's Hardball Talk dubbed the walkoff balk a "balkoff." And as Arizona lost its 10th straight game Wednesday afternoon, failing to score for 31 straight innings, Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully quipped that the Diamondbacks had less a lineup of hitters than a lineup of swingers.
30 Baltimore Orioles
Last Week: 30
Even more troubling for the Orioles than centerfielder Adam Jones getting erroneously detained at the Canadian border has been the play of their first basemen. Though it's traditionally a power position in the lineup -- across the majors, there have been more homers hit by first basemen (237) than any other position -- Baltimore's first basemen have yet to homer and are batting just .219 with a paltry .276 slugging percentage.
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