By Joe Lemire
July 01, 2010
MLB Power Rankings
11 Los Angeles Dodgers
Last Week: 10
Getting benched was an effective wake-up call for Matt Kemp. Manager Joe Torre kept the Dodgers center fielder, who had batted just .161 with one homer in his previous 18 games, out of the starting lineup on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday -- against the Yankees and twice against the rival Giants, no less. But when Manny Ramirez was injured on the basepaths in the first inning on Tuesday, Kemp pinch ran for him and over the completion of that game and a start the next night Kemp went 5-for-8 with a home run.
12 Los Angeles Angels
Last Week: 12
With first baseman Kendry Morales most likely lost for the season with a broken leg, catcher Mike Napoli has played a lot of first base, where his bat has been good and his defense has been "adequate," according to general manager Tony Reagins. Not a ringing endorsement. But part of the domino effect of Napoli not catching is that Bobby Wilson is behind the plate more, and the Angels' rotation is 11-2 when Wilson starts.
13 San Francisco Giants
Last Week: 13
At long last Buster Posey should now be catching every day. Posey, the No. 5 overall pick of the 2008 draft, has proven that his bat is ready for the majors, and with the Giants' Wednesday night reported trade of Bengie Molina to the Rangers Posey can finally get behind the plate on a daily basis. In his first three years with the Giants, the free-swinging Molina had at least 16 homers and 80 RBIs each season, but his power has fallen off this season. He's slugging just .332 and is on pace to have six homers and just 36 RBIs.
14 Detroit Tigers
Last Week: 14
Miguel Cabrera ought to be among the leading candidates for AL MVP, but the Tigers' second best player -- and a deserving All-Star -- has been rookie left fielder Brennan Boesch, who through the end of June led all first-year American Leaguers in average (.332), home runs (12) and RBIs (45).
15 Chicago White Sox
Last Week: 18
Ones were wild for Carlos Quentin and the White Sox. He led the majors last week with 11 RBIs and a 1.111 slugging percentage as Chicago swept its games en route to an 11-game winning streak. Quentin added four homers and was named AL Player of the Week. Since June 9, when manager Ozzie Guillen moved Quentin into the No. 5 spot of the lineup, the White Sox are 15-3 in games he starts.
16 Philadelphia Phillies
Last Week: 15
On the day the Phillies placed both Placido Polanco and Chase Utley on the disabled list, they received a pair of three-run homers from unlikely sources: backup catcher Brian Schneider and replacement second baseman Wilson Valdez. That production obviously can't be counted on every day, but Philadelphia will need help. The lineup it trotted out on Tuesday with Greg Dobbs (.153/.228/.236) batting second, Jimmy Rollins forced into the No. 3 hole and Schneider and Valdez batting Nos. 7 and 8 is not so formidable.
17 Colorado Rockies
Last Week: 16
Switch-hitting center fielder Dexter Fowler was recalled on Tuesday after playing 27 games in Triple-A to re-learn how to hit left-handed. At the time of his demotion, he was batting .162 as a lefty with 28 strikeouts in 99 at bats but hitting .318 as a righty. He got off to a bad start in his first game back with the Rockies, going 0-for-3 with two strikeouts while hitting right-handed against Padres lefty Clayton Richard.
18 Toronto Blue Jays
Last Week: 17
Last year's World Series was the power series, with the Phillies and Yankees each leading their league in home runs. The Phillies led the majors in 2009 by scoring 45.1 percent of their runs via the homer, but the 2010 Blue Jays have taken home run-dependence to a whole new level. Toronto's 115 homers lead the majors, and the Jays have scored 50.2 percent of their runs via the longball.
19 Florida Marlins
Last Week: 19
By all accounts Edwin Rodriguez, recently named interim manager for the rest of the season, is a lifelong baseball man deserving of this opportunity. That he's of Puerto Rican heritage and got the chance to manage the Marlins in San Juan this week was a "dream come true," he said. But one has to wonder what plan the Marlins may have had in mind when they conducted a series of interviews for a full-time managerial replacement, only to eventually decide to give Rodriguez the vote of confidence when it was apparent he wasn't their first choice. One of Florida's top candidates was Bobby Valentine who described the interview process as "very disturbing, confusing, and it was insulting at times."
20 Oakland Athletics
Last Week: 20
Brett Anderson had the gaudy start before getting injured and Dallas Braden had the headline-grabbing perfect game, but it's Trevor Cahill who has emerged as the best starter in the A's rotation. Through 12 starts the 22-year-old is 7-2 with a 2.88 ERA. He struck out a career-high 10 in Saturday's win over the Pirates despite an unexpected switch of his entrance music. Oakland held a "1970s Turn Back The Clock Night" promotion and Cahill, who usually takes the mound to Jefferson Airplane's 1967 song "White Rabbit," heard Heart's 1977 cut "Barracuda" as he first left the dugout.
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