The Call to the Pen: May 2nd, 2016

Welcome back to The Call to the Pen! Great week across the board for baseball. Let’s get to the Power Rankings…

Power Rankings

The Bottom:

30) Atlanta Braves (6-18): Even
29) Minnesota Twins (7-18): Even
28) San Diego Padres (9-16): Down 1
27) Milwaukee Brewers (9-15): Down 1

26) Cincinnati Reds (10-15): Down 1
25) New York Yankees (8-15): Down 4

24) Houston Astros (8-17): Down 1
23) Maimi Marlins (12-12): Up 5
22) Arizona Diamondbacks (12-15): Down 4
21) Tampa Bay Rays (11-13): Down 1

The Astros and Yankees both remain in the bottom after rough weeks, again. The ‘Stros went 2-4 and the Yanks went 1-5 over the course of the week. Houston gets the edge because the AL West is still fairly open and the fact that they have scored 11 more runs than the Yankees. The Marlins had the biggest jump this week but maybe the biggest loss overall. Miami’s 6-1 week (including a four-game road sweep of the Dodgers) pushes them to five games out of the Nationals. This is a positive because it may be the closest they get to catching Washington. Miami’s loss emerges from the news the Dee Gordon was caught and suspended 80 games for PEDs. The reigning NL Batting Champ claimed he unknowing took a banned substance.

The Middle:

20) LA Angels of Anaheim (12-13): Up 4
19) Colorado Rockies (12-12): Down 4
18) Oakland Athletics (13-13): Down 1
17) Cleveland Indians (10-12): Down 8
16) Philadelphia Phillies (15-10): Up 6
15) Toronto Blue Jays (12-14): Down 3
14) Seattle Mariners (13-11): Up 5
13) Detroit Tigers (14-10): Up 3
12) LA Dodgers (13-13): Down 9
11) Kansas City Royals (13-11): Down 7

I debated how high I would bring the Phillies. I’ll go into their 6-0 week (!!!) later, but ultimately I landed with them at 16 due to sweeps of two of the better teams in the majors (Washington and Cleveland). One of those teams, Cleveland, plummeted here after a 1-5 week. Their pitching looks sharp but the bats aren’t fully there. The other teams to drop into the Middle after bad weeks were the Royals and Dodgers. KC’s spectacular defense is still there from last year, but a 1-5 week when others did better will knock you down. LAD is the same boat, especially after going 1-6 this week.

The Top:

10) San Francisco Giants (13-13): Up 4
9) St. Louis Cardinals (12-13): Down 4
8) Baltimore Orioles (14-10): Down 1
7) Texas Rangers (14-11): Up 4
6) Pittsburgh Pirates (15-10): Up 4 
5) Boston Red Sox (15-10): Up 8

4) Washington Nationals (17-7): Down 2
3) Chicago White Sox (18-8): Up 3
2) New York Mets (15-8): Up 6
1) Chicago Cubs (17-6): Even

The Cubs have a +78 run differential, that is over double Washington’s second-placed +38. The Mets move into the #2 spot after the going 5-1 during the week with dominant pitching and the bats further coming alive (3rd-ranked RD at +36). The Nats move to 4th because of being swept by the Phillies but bouncing back and sweeping the Cardinals. The big move came from the Red Sox who went 6-1 this including a crucial sweep of the Yankees over the weekend. The Sox have the 3rd-best offense in the majors and one of the best RDs at +22. The Pirates also had a great week going 5-1 but will have a tough stretch this week hosting the Cubs and then traveling to St. Louis over the weekend.

All Star Votes:

May2 ASG Picks

 

As I referenced last week, Neil Walker would probably move into my NL second base vote, and he played outstanding this week. Walker and Cespedes have helped move the Mets move up in the standings and in my power rankings. Despite the Rockies tumble, Trevor Story and Nolan Arenando still lead the NL in home runs and have pretty good averages. David Ortiz takes over my DH vote mainly because of return to clutch play. If you haven’t seen this story yet, Big Papi promised a young Red Sox fan he’d hit a home run for him on Friday night and he slammed the go-ahead HR in the 8th inning.

Phillies Update:

WHAT A WEEK! SIX AND FREAKING ZERO! The Phillies undefeated week came from spectacular pitching. The young guns they’ve acquired in the last year have carried the team this season. The pitching staff ranks 11th in ERA, 8th in Quality Starts, 6th in WHIP, and 5th opposing batting average. The offense is in the bottom five for most major categories but the veterans have been surprising clutch. I went to the game on Friday against Corey Kluber and the Indians. Ryan Howard led the charge going 3-for-5 including starting the three-run rally in the 5th inning (Cooch would drive him in the next at-bat after Howard doubled) and Howard later slammed the walk-off home run in the 11th inning. While the team is five games over .500 (the first time they’re two games over .500 since 2012), the pitching probably won’t continue this great run especially when you consider their run support. The month of April certainly affirms my bullish opinion on the Phillies and I’ll continue to watch the team as an interesting 2016 season goes on.

Disagree with the Rankings? How about my All Star votes? Let me know in the comments

(cover photo via)

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