The Call to the Pen: May 23rd, 2016

Welcome back to The Call to the Pen! The Giants and Cubs faced off this weekend in a potential NLCS Preview, the Royals are starting to return to form, and Hunter Pence eats spaghetti with a spoon. Let’s get to the Power Rankings…

Power Rankings

The Bottom:

30) Cincinnati Reds (15-29): Down 2
29) Minnesota Twins (11-32): Even 
28) Atlanta Braves (12-31): Up 2
27) Milwaukee Brewers (18-26): Even

26) Houston Astros (17-28): Even
25) San Diego Padres (19-26): Down 4

24) Oakland Athletics (19-26): Up 1
23) Arizona Diamondbacks (21-25): Down 1
22) Detroit Tigers (21-22): Up 2
21) LA Angels of Anaheim (20-24): Up 2

I originally had Detroit at 21st thanks to their 5-1 week but then I looked at the Angels’ week: winning three of four against the Dodgers and managing to take one from a great Oriole team. Despite a poor team start (and lineup around him), Mike Trout continues to be the best player in baseball. His power numbers are there and he showed that he is still a defensive stud this weekend. (Couldn’t find the video on YouTube but his arm is unbelievably strong.) The Reds fall all the to the bottom thanks to an 0-7 week while the Braves’ 3-4 week helps them leapfrog the Twins.

The Middle:

20) Toronto Blue Jays (22-24): Down 2
19) Colorado Rockies (21-21): Down 2
18) Tampa Bay Rays (20-21): Up 2
17) Miami Marlins (22-21): Down 2
16) New York Yankees (21-22): Up 3
15) Philadelphia Phillies (25-19): Down 1
14) LA Dodgers (22-23): Down 5
13) St. Louis Cardinals (23-21): Down 2
12) Cleveland Indians (22-19): Up 1
11) Pittsburgh Pirates (23-19): Up 1

The Yankees had one of the better weeks in the Bigs as they took a trip to the West last week and finished up 5-2; they only move up three spots as they lost two of three in Arizona but did complete the four-game sweep in Oakland. The Cards drop two spots after a 3-3 week against the Rockies and D-Backs at home. The drop is mainly due to last year’s best team at home performing terribly at Busch Stadium (12-13, lost only 26 games at home in all of 2015). The Dodgers drop five spots after a rough 2-5 weeks after series against the Angels and Padres. Aside from Clayton Kershaw’s gem last Tuesday, the Dodgers allowed 37 runs in the other six games, including yesterday’s 17-inning marathon in San Diego.

The Top:

10) Kansas City Royals (22-21): Up 6
9) Texas Rangers (25-19): Down 2
8) New York Mets (25-18): Down 2
7) Seattle Mariners (26-17): Up 1
6) Chicago White Sox (26-18): Down 3
5) Baltimore Orioles (
26-16): Even
4) Washington Nationals (27-17): Even
3) San Francisco Giants (27-19): Up 7
2) Boston Red Sox (27-17): Even
1) Chicago Cubs (29-13): Even

The Royals jump six spots thanks to 4-2 week against two of baseball’s better teams (2-1 vs. BOS and 2-1 AT CWS). The White Sox series was especially impressive as the Royals seemed to return to last year’s World Series-quality pitching and defense allowing only five runs this past weekend. Picking the Top Nine was very, very, tough. The Mariners had a 5-1 week and only moved up one spot. The biggest move of all came from the Giants and their 5-1 week. This was no ordinary 5-1 week my friends, two of the wins came against the Cubs including a SHUTOUT. MadBum! Three hits and six K’s over 7 2/3 shutout innings against the best lineup in baseball and the game’s only RBI. If you didn’t think the Even Year trend was real (and don’t live on the North Side of Chicago), you may want to increase your stake in San Francisco. The series made a serious case to be the 2016 NLCS.

All Star Votes:

American League:
1st Basemen: Hanley Ramirez (BOS)
2nd Basemen: Robinson Cano (SEA)
Shortstop: Carlos Correa (HOU)
3rd Basemen: Manny Muchado (BAL)
Catcher: Salvador Perez (KC)
DH: David Ortiz (BOS)
Outfielders: Mark Trumbo (BAL), Mike Trout (LAA), Jackie Bradley, Jr (BOS)
For those paying attention, no changes here.

National League:
1st Basemen: Chris Carter (MIL) – Now has more homers and a better average than Rizzo
2nd Basemen: Daniel Murphy (WSH)
Shortstop: Trevor Story (COL)
3rd Basemen: Nolan Arenado (COL) – Rivals Manny Muchado for the best third-basemen in the game right now
Catcher: Yadier Molina (STL)
Outfielders: Yoenis Cespedes (NYM), Bryce Harper (WSH), Hunter Pence (SF)
Pence is a big reason for the Giants recent run. He did a segment on Baseball Tonight with a bunch of young Giants fans and the infamous Hunter Pence signs–love to see that he has taken the joke and ran with it at a full sprint.

Phillies Update:

A 3-3 week from the Phightin’s that had its ups and down. The 2-1 series win over the Marlins was great to see, especially because the team continues to fight back from early deficits. The Braves series was tough to watch as the Phils were shelled Friday night 7-1 and then were shutout for only the second time in 2016 Saturday afternoon. You can try to blame this past weekend’s rain on the lack-of-batting, but the team put together a nice showing in yesterday’s 5-0 victory as Jared Eickhoff did improve his record by picking up his second win. We’re at a weird point in the timeline of the rebuild as prospects are coming up and platooning with the well-established veterans, most recently with the calling-up of Tommy Joseph. Thankfully, Howard and Carlos Ruiz have accepted their new roles and maybe even moving on from the team. As sad as that would be, it is certainly exciting to see the prospects starting to bloom in the Bigs. As much as I’m loving Franco, Tyler Goeddel is quickly becoming one of my favorite new guys. Goeddel can bat and is a quick edition to the lineup. He picked up his second triple yesterday in nearly half the at bats as it took Herrera, Hernandez, and Galvis to do the same. The Phillies travel to the Midwest this week to take on the Tigers and then to Wrigley to face the Cubs. Vince Velasquez will take the bump twice tonight and on Sunday.

Interesting stat: The Phillies are 5-9 in series openers and 9-5 in series finales. The Phils know how to finish a series on a high note, that is for sure

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

(cover photo via)

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