By Joe Lemire
May 20, 2010
MLB Power Rankings
11 Toronto Blue Jays
Last Week: 9
Since Sept. 7, 2009 no one in baseball has hit more home runs than . . . Jose Bautista? Sure enough, the Blue Jays' third baseman and outfielder has hit 21 homers in that time span, and no one else has more than 16, the number Paul Konerko and Dan Uggla have hit. Bautista didn't hit his first career roundtripper until his 80th game and he has never hit more than 16 in a season but he already has 11 in 2010.
12 Texas Rangers
Last Week: 10
There is nothing worse than seeing a finely tuned professional athlete develop a severe mental block that prevents him from completing even the most basic fundamentals (see Ankiel, Rick; Knoblauch, Chuck; Wohlers, Mark), so all the best wishes to Rangers catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who has employed a sports psychologist to help him re-learn the ability to throw the ball back to the pitcher. Salty will remain in Triple A until he gets past this. At least he's hitting well down there: .338, three HRs and nine RBIs in 20 games.
13 Boston Red Sox
Last Week: 15
Reports on the death of David Ortiz's career have been greatly exaggerated. In May he's hitting .367 with a .407 on-base percentage, six home runs and 15 RBIs. The homers are tied for second-most in the majors, the RBIs are tied for 12th and the average is 13th. In other words, he's just as hot as his beloved Celtics, for whom he wore a green sweater to the ballpark on Tuesday, in advance of that evening's Eastern Conference finals Game 2.
14 Florida Marlins
Last Week: 18
So much ink has already been spent discussing Hanley Ramirez's recent benching for lack of hustle -- including here and here on this site. I'll opt not to add my own take and instead direct you to the video itself, an excruciating six seconds in which you'll probably find yourself willing him to move even just a little faster.
15 Oakland Athletics
Last Week: 11
Their home is a vast football stadium in which sparse crowds feel nonexistent, but the A's just relish playing at Oakland-Alameda Coliseum. They are 15-8 there and 5-13 on the road, and that 10-win differential is the biggest in baseball. Oakland's latest home heroics came on catcher Kurt Suzuki's 10th-inning game-winning RBI single to beat the Mariners, in which Suzuki also answered the age-old question of how to use "walk-off" in a verb form: "To walk a team off is awesome," he said.
16 Washington Nationals
Last Week: 12
Reliever Tyler Clippard already has seven wins (and 10 decisions), tied for the most in the majors, and last week received the ultimate compliment: a threat from the single-season record holder, Old Hoss Radbourn, who had 73 decisions in 1883 (going 48-25). Clippard's pace won't last, but the Nationals' early success might.
17 Atlanta Braves
Last Week: 22
If nothing else, the Braves can stake claim to the seemingly implausible boast, "At least we can beat Johan Santana." As noted by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's David O'Brien, the Mets' Santana has just a 1-5 record in nine starts against the Braves despite his 2.25 ERA. Further investigation shows that Santana has received only 1.5 runs per game of support in those starts.
18 Colorado Rockies
Last Week: 17
The Blue Jays aren't the only Canadians playing well. Rockies starter Jeff Francis dazzled in his first start in 15 months on Sunday after having major shoulder surgery, allowing just one run in seven innings. That good news was offset, however, by the prior day's announcement that Huston Street injured his groin after just five pitches of a rehab appearance.
19 New York Mets
Last Week: 14
The Mets have taken a remarkable journey already this season, going from last to first and back to last in just 23 days, but at least they've had good luck with their prospects, a rarity in Queens of late. Ike Davis' arrival keyed the Mets' original surge, and now Chris Carter delivered a clutch RBI double in his first game. Carter, nicknamed "The Animal," has already started in the third and fourth spots of New York's lineup.
20 Chicago Cubs
Last Week: 20
The Cubs continue to struggle, and manager Lou Piniella is fed up, judging by his pointed comments over the weekend: "Don't let names fool you," he said. "Production wins." With three of the club's four highest-paid players -- Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Zambrano -- struggling mightily, Piniella retorted, "They've had great seasons, and they're rewarded for that financially. But at the same time, you've got to continue to do it if you want to win. You can't stop the production."
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