By Ted Keith
September 24, 2009
MLB Power Rankings
21 Toronto Blue Jays
Last Week: 20
The Blue Jays' season has been over for some time, so in light of the fact that they haven't been within 10 games of first place since the All-Star break, it makes sense that their four most recent home games have drawn the four smallest crowds in the history of Rogers Centre, each of which failed to crack 12,000 total. A few weeks ago, manager Cito Gaston said the team needed its fans out there to help them win. Now he says they need to win and the fans will come back. He's right. On both counts. Those fans haven't missed much, but they have missed the stunning power display this year of Adam Lind and Aaron Hill, perhaps the most unlikely pair of 30-home run, 100-RBI teammates in baseball history (non-Steroids Era, at least).
22 San Diego Padres
Last Week: 21
Since Jake Peavy was traded, the Padres have been looking for a new ace. They're probably still looking, but Kevin Correia has been more than adequate lately. In his past 11 starts, he's 5-2 with a 2.84 ERA. That's not going to make anyone forget a Cy Young winner like Peavy, but it's not bad for a guy who was given a minor league contract and no guarantees he'd even make the team this spring. Correia's improvement is not nearly as intriguing though as the fact that Fort Wayne TinCaps, né Wizards, the Padres' low Class A team, won the Midwest League last week. OK, that's not that intriguing, either, but you've got to love the logo, and any team that names itself after a 19th-century planter.
23 Houston Astros
Last Week: 23
The Dave Clark Five followed the Beatles in the British Invasion and had several hits in the mid-1960s, but were never thought of as highly as their predecessors, despite some pretty good songs. The Dave Clark Nine, in honor of the man who took over for Cecil Cooper as Astros manager this week, has a much easier act to follow, as Cooper was canned with the team in the midst of what has become a nine-game losing streak. (How is this the same team that just three weeks ago swept a four-game series from the Phillies?) Houston fans aren't exactly "glad all over" about the move, or with the team's regression. Star closer Jose Valverde said this week that he would test the free-agent market, meaning the Astros could well lose one of their few reliable pieces.
24 Kansas City Royals
Last Week: 26
It's too bad there are no magic numbers for individual awards the way there are for teams looking to clinch playoff spots. If there were, Albert Pujols would have locked up NL MVP in mid-June, and Zack Greinke would have clinched the AL Cy Young Award after allowing just two hits in six shutout innings against the playoff-bound Red Sox. Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that Greinke has been able to bolster his resume at the same time the Royals seem to be throttling him down for the rest of the season to protect his increasingly valuable arm. He hasn't gone over 100 pitches in either of his past two starts, and made his second-lowest two-game total of the season. He's even got TV comedy writers making his Cy Young case for him on Twitter. Ken Tremendous, aka Michael Schur, a writer for Parks and Recreation and formerly The Office, pointed out that the opponent OPS against Greinke is .608 this year, or almost exactly the same as teammate Yuniesky Betancourt's major league-low .607. In other words, Greinke makes every batter he faces look like Yuniesky Betancourt. Wow.
25 Arizona Diamondbacks
Last Week: 24
When Mark Reynolds was asked about breaking his own major league record for strikeouts in a season, he said, "So what? So what?" Um, how about because in almost one-third of your at-bats this season you have failed to even put the ball in play. That is difficult to believe, especially for a player of Reynolds' ability. A 40-home run, 100-RBI season is impressive (Reynolds is one of only four players in the majors to do this year), but it looks a lot more flukish when so much of the time you're not even making contact with the ball. For some perspective: Reynolds has struck out more times in the past two seasons (410 entering Wednesday night) than Joe DiMaggio did in his entire 13-year career, and almost exactly the same number of times that Yogi Berra did in his 19 seasons (414). So, that's what.
26 Baltimore Orioles
Last Week: 27
What was worse for the Orioles this week? Not winning a single game or having one of their most promising young players, Nolan Reimold, undergo surgery to fix his Achilles tendon, which may keep him rehabbing right up until spring training starts? As usual, about the only good news is Brian Roberts, who tied Lance Berkman's record for most doubles by a switch-hitter and now will attempt to become the single-season record-holder for doubles by a second baseman, and perhaps, the first player since 1936 to record 60 doubles in a season. Not exactly Maris chasing Ruth, but still interesting.
27 New York Mets
Last Week: 28
The Mets' season has been quite depressing, and perhaps nothing captures that mood better than a New York Daily News poll asking fans whether Jose Reyes, who is still trying to return this season from the hamstring injury that has kept him out since May, will ever be an elite player again. Fifty-four percent of respondents answered "No, his best years are behind him." Even by the understandably pessimistic tone of Mets fans -- the last four seasons alone should be enough to make any Met fan consider breaking up with the team -- that was a little surprising. Reyes is still just 26 years old and far from done, but if he needs offseason surgery to fix his hamstring, it will be interesting to see how he responds next year.
28 Cleveland Indians
Last Week: 25
Things have gotten so bad for the Indians of late that some in Cleveland are actively trying to pass off their awful finish with the "good news" that they will get a top-five draft pick out of it. Unfortunately, this isn't basketball and one top-five pick won't fix what ails the Tribe. The Indians are now 3-19 in the month of September. Somewhere Jake Taylor is furious, Ricky Vaughn is probably pitching in the California penal league and Roger Dorn is not caring at all.
29 Washington Nationals
Last Week: 29
On Tuesday night, the Nationals had more errors than runs scored in a loss to the Dodgers (their 99th of the season), leaving them one loss away from becoming the first team this year to reach that dubious milestone and the second straight season they've had triple-digit defeats. There are still two people at Nationals Park looking for important wins this year: John Lannan, who needs one more victory for his tenth of the season (the last time the Nats failed to have any pitcher reach double-digits in wins was two years ago, when Matt Chico led them with a mere seven) and, of course, Teddy Roosevelt, who had an injury this week and remains 0-for-forever in the President's Race.
30 Pittsburgh Pirates
Last Week: 30
Another lesson in the lack of worldliness of some major league baseball players, courtesy of the Padres' David Eckstein: "When we were home last week and it was mentioned that there'd be the G-20 in Pittsburgh, some of the guys thought it was the new Gatorade," he told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "I went to church here this weekend and (the minister) was even talking about it, saying this was a great opportunity for the people of Pittsburgh to look at what's happening in the world and contemplate something beyond the Steelers." You mean nobody is contemplating the Pirates? If any sports team in Pittsburgh needs prayers these days, it's the Bucs, who have dropped five straight.
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