By Joe Lemire
July 08, 2010
MLB Power Rankings
21 Kansas City Royals
Last Week: 24 defines the phrase "jump the shark" as the moment "when something that was once great has reached a point where it will now decline in quality and popularity." For 2010's Year of the Pitcher, that was Bruce Chen's outing on Saturday. After six perfect innings, the Angels' Erick Aybar eventually broke it up with a single to lead off the seventh. This is the same Bruce Chen who, as recently as 2006, had a season in which he went 0-7 with a 6.93 ERA and whose most famous for the regularly recurring "Bruce Chen Joke of the Day."
22 Chicago Cubs
Last Week: 25
The Cubs have two regular catchers. Catcher A leads the team with a .408 OBP and also bats .278 with eight home runs in 238 plate appearances. Catcher B has a horrific .264 OBP, batting .221 with zero homers in 94 plate appearances on the season. Yet, until last week, Catcher B, Koyie Hill, was receiving nearly as much playing time as Catcher A, Geovany Soto. In a stretch of 41 games, Soto started 24 times while Hill started 17.
23 Washington Nationals
Last Week: 21
The politics of the All-Star Game's final-man ballot can be as complicated as a presidential race. A recent fad in the voting is for teams to pair candidacies of AL and NL players. The Reds' Votto and the Red Sox' Youkilis, a Cincinnati native, were grouped together and so were Ryan Zimmerman and the Rangers' Michael Young on the Third-Base Ticket. Zimmerman has certainly been doing his part of late to earn the vote, batting .615 with three home runs and seven RBIs in three games since being put on the final-man ballot.
24 Milwaukee Brewers
Last Week: 22
Earlier in the week reports out of Milwaukee were that the Brewers had convened a scouting meeting that would help determine whether the club would be a trade deadline buyer or seller. If they were watching the Brewers play this week, the answer was clear: sell. Milwaukee has lost four in a row by a combined score of 34-5, including a 15-2 shellacking to the Giants Wednesday night. Corey Hart ought to look for short-term leases in other major-league cities.
25 Seattle Mariners
Last Week: 23 touts that James will announce his free-agent destination on an hour-long national television broadcast "due to the unprecedented attention and interest surrounding LeBron's decision." Shouldn't Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik replicate the idea to announce where he's trading Cliff Lee? As far as baseball deadline deals go, his trade of Lee ought to qualify for "unprecedented attention."
26 Houston Astros
Last Week: 26
Help might be on the way -- in, oh, about six or seven years. On Wednesday the Astros signed 16-year-old Ariel Ovando, a 6'4", 180-pound left-handed outfielder from the Dominican Republic, to a franchise-record signing bonus of just less than $3 million. The club's scouting director, Bobby Heck, likened Ovando to "Jason Heyward, Fred McGriff and Carlos Delgado." No pressure, kid.
27 Cleveland Indians
Last Week: 27
Poor Cleveland. Several reports indicate they will be losing LeBron James to the Miami Heat, spelling the end of the city's best hope at ending its 46-year championship drought. And if you've looked at these Indians recently, well, they make the Browns look good.
28 Arizona Diamondbacks
Last Week: 28
One of baseball's best new trends is the growing number of oversized mid-inning racers. Started by the Brewers who race giant sausages between innings, the fad has expanded to presidents in Washington, pierogis in Pittsburgh and now Diamondbacks' legends in Arizona. As voted by fans, Luis Gonzalez, Mark Grace, Randy Johnson and Matt Williams received the honor of having an overgrown mascot likeness of themselves created and race at the end of the fifth inning. Johnson, the Now Even Bigger Unit, won the first race. At least that gives Arizona fans a race worth watching now that the D-backs have lost five straight and fallen a season-worst 17 ½ games out in the NL West.
29 Pittsburgh Pirates
Last Week: 30
Delwyn Young's two-run homer on June 8 had all the makings of an answer to a great trivia question: Who was the first player to hit a home run off Stephen Strasburg? Turns out it's also the answer to another depressing question, too: When was the last Pirates homer with a man on base? As noted by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Pirates have gone a full month in which their only home runs have been solo shots -- and even then they've only hit 10 in a span of 26 games and 872 at bats. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last streak of that length belonged to the 1991 Astros, who went 28 games in-between multi-run homers. The average major-league homer nets 1.6 runs.
30 Baltimore Orioles
Last Week: 29
If one needs support for the flukiness of one-run and extra-inning games -- statistics show most teams, good or bad, gravitate toward a .500 record in such contests -- then look no further than Baltimore. Though the Orioles are just 25-59 overall, they have winning records in extra-inning games (5-3) and one-run games (13-12).
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