By Joe Lemire
September 09, 2010
MLB Power Rankings
11 Boston Red Sox
Last Week: 11
It's rare that the Red Sox so far out of contention that they can play their prospects in September, but on Monday Boston started three players ? center fielder Ryan Kalish, first baseman Lars Anderson and shortstop Yamaico Navarro -- who were in the starting lineup for Double-A Portland on Opening Day and a fourth, left fielder Daniel Nava, was in Triple-A Pawtucket. Incidentally, the Sox beat the Rays 12-5 in that game, with Kalish hitting his second grand slam of the season. That tied him for the club rookie record with Bob Zupcic, who did it in 1992 and whose only claim to fame is having the fifth name from the end of the alltime baseball player register.
12 Texas Rangers
Last Week: 7
Before the season the Rangers shifted Josh Hamilton from center field to left field in order to preserve his body, which suffered a medley of maladies in 2009. But every so often Hamilton was returned to center, where his uninhibited defensive style won't allow himself not to chase every ball and on Saturday he collided so hard into Target Field's center field wall that he likened it to a "car crash." He hasn't played since, leaving his MVP season on the bench as the Rangers -- who now must also contend without injured starter Cliff Lee -- stumble to a recent five-game losing streak in September's first week.
13 St. Louis Cardinals
Last Week: 14
Here's a prediction: Colby Rasmus gets traded this offseason. He's a solid player who no longer has much of a future in St. Louis. While seeing very sporadic playing time of late, it has come to light that he requested a trade two months ago over a difficult relationship with manager Tony La Russa. It drew a harsh rebuke from Albert Pujols, who told reporters, "For a young kid to come up and say that, that he wants to be somewhere else, I don't know why. I guess he said it two months ago. Two months ago we were in first place. Who doesn't want to be on a team that's in first place, battling for a spot in the playoffs?" All of this has, presumably, disappointed "Rasmus Girl".
14 Toronto Blue Jays
Last Week: 13
How prolific has the Blue Jays' home-run hitting been this season? The Mariners have only homered in 63 games, the same number of games Toronto has with multiple home runs, including 33 games with at least three homers and one game with as many as eight. Overall, the Jays have hit 216 home runs, 29 more than anyone else in baseball. They've hit more home runs on the first pitch of an at bat (46) than any other count, more home runs in the third inning (30) than any other, more in May (54) than any other month and way more against right-handed pitchers (182) than lefties (34).
15 Florida Marlins
Last Week: 15
It did not escape notice that the Marlins are the lone team not to honor retiring Braves manager Bobby Cox on his last visit through town. Cox was critical of Florida owner Jeffrey Loria after he fired manager Fredi Gonzalez -- a Cox protégé -- which is the likely reason for the Marlins' classless indifference.
16 Houston Astros
Last Week: 17
Right fielder Hunter Pence has seemed on the verge of breaking into the ranks of the stars after his first three seasons in the majors, but that development -- like much of the Astros' offense in the first half -- stalled most of the year. As of July 4, for instance, Pence was batting .254 with 11 home runs and 37 RBIs in 79 games. Since then, however, he's hit 12 homers while batting .336 with 45 RBIs in 55 games, including earning NL Player of Week honors last week while batting 11-for-22 with nine RBIs.
17 Detroit Tigers
Last Week: 19
Ryan Raburn is the Tigers' Swiss Army knife, having played six positions this season (seven, if you count designated hitter), but his bat had been inconsistent. After a dreadful May (.115 average and .115 OBP as he batted 3-for-26 with no runs and no RBIs), he showed mild improvement in June and July before taking off in August and September. In his past 35 games, Raburn has batted .325 with a .375 OBP, 10 home runs and 25 RBIs.
18 Oakland Athletics
Last Week: 18
A recent AP story indicated that longtime Oakland third baseman Eric Chavez reflected on the possibility of retiring after this season begging the obvious question: Does this mean he wasn't already retired? Chavez's fleeting brilliance seems like a long time ago when he had six straight seasons of at least 26 home runs and won six Gold Gloves, before playing just 154 games over the past four injury-plagued seasons. One of his common ailments was the recurrence of back problems, which new A's third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff has unfortunately inherited, as he was recently sidelined with back spasms.
19 Los Angeles Dodgers
Last Week: 16
It's said that longtime pet owners often resemble their dogs or cats, and perhaps the same is true of baseball owners and their teams. While Frank and Jamie McCourt duke it out in divorce court -- where so often the ruling calls for a 50-50 split -- so too is their baseball team as even as it gets. After Monday night's game, for instance, the Dodgers had a 69-69 record, having scored 589 runs and having allowed 589 runs.
20 New York Mets
Last Week: 21
Jose Reyes has quickly become another injury-plagued superstar. His recent oblique injury has forced him on the sideline for a third time this year -- he has missed 12 straight games but should return Friday -- and he has played only 148 games the past two seasons after averaging 158 games from 2005 to 2008. The Mets had faint hope of a longshot playoff run at the time of his latest injury, but now Reyes is returning to a team whose season is long since over.
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