The Call to the Pen: June 13th, 2016

Welcome back to The Call to the Pen! Another brawl this week as the top and bottom of the league began to really separate. The Phillies skid continues after playing two of the NL’s best as the Tommy Joseph era begins. Let’s get to the Power Rankings…

Power Rankings

The Bottom:

30) Atlanta Braves (18-44): Even
29) Minnesota Twins (19-43): Even 
28) Cincinnati Reds (24-39): Even
27) Oakland Athletics (26-36): Down 1

26) San Diego Padres (26-38): Up 1
25) LA Angels of Anaheim (27-36): Down 6  

24) Philadelphia Phillies (29-34): Down 4
23) Arizona Diamondbacks (28-37): Up 2 
22) Milwaukee Brewers (30-33): Up 2  
21) Houston Astros (30-35): Down 3

Aside from the bottom five teams (which are starting to solidify themselves in their respective spots), the 25th-18th spots are beginning to jumble themselves around and these spots may be a revolving door until the trade deadline. The A’s, Angels, and Phillies all walked away with one win this week while the teams towards the top of this range all were RED HOT. We’ll get to the Rockies and Yankees, but the Brewers were 4-2 this week. The ‘Stros drop back into The Bottom after a two-win week including the four-game series loss (1-3) to Texas. Houston played all their games close however, with yesterday’s 5-0 loss in Tampa being the only “blowout” (a final score margin of more than three runs).

The Middle:

20) Tampa Bay Rays (29-32): Up 2
19) Colorado Rockies (30-33): Up 4
18) Chicago White Sox (31-32): Down 2
17) New York Yankees (31-32): Up 4  
16) Miami Marlins (32-31): Down 1
15) Pittsburgh Pirates (32-31): Down 5
14) Kansas City Royals (32-30): Down 1
13) Detroit Tigers (32-30): Up 4
12) LA Dodgers (33-31): Even
11) Toronto Blue Jays (35-30): Up 3  

The Rockies, Yankees, and Rays all had great weeks that propelled them into The Middle and puts the Yankees into the conversation in a tightening AL East, albeit as an outside contender. The AL East has been thought to be extremely close for 2016 and it is very, very possible that any one of the teams could go on a massive winning-streak in September to take the division. The Tigers continue to improve as their run differential goes positive on a 4-2 week while the Royals are moving the opposite way coming off a 2-4 week and a widening negative RD. Interestingly enough about KC, they’re one of the best teams at home 19-7 but awful on the road at 13-23. Quick take on the fight: Ventura picked a fight with the WRONG guy and got rocked for it. For those unaware, Ventura has cause numerous incidents since the start of last year that have led to benches clearing and suspensions. Nine games for Ventura and four for Muchado is just about right.

The Top:

10) Seattle Mariners (34-29): Down 2
9) New York Mets (34-28): Down 2
8) St. Louis Cardinals (35-28): Up 3
7) Baltimore Orioles (36-26): Down 1
6) Cleveland Indians (35-27): Up 3
5) Boston Red Sox (36-26): Down 1

4) San Francisco Giants (38-26): Down 1
3) Washington Nationals (39-24): Up 2
2) Texas Rangers (39-24): Even
1) Chicago Cubs (43-18): Even

The Nationals are red hot despite Bryce Harper’s bat going through a dry spell recently which is actually great for them. Washington has now moved into 3rd in RD at +76, ahead of St. Louis’ +73 as the Cards return to The Top. The Orioles and Red Sox have both slowed down a bit from their stellar runs in the AL East as the two are tied for first with Toronto only 2.5 back further iterating the idea I presented above in The Middle. While the Rangers continue their reign as the hottest team in baseball, the Cubs are still the best in Bigs. Their RD isn’t double the Red Sox at +162, but it’s +162. Cleveland may be focused on the NBA Finals, but the “Windians” are continuing to improve week after week. The Indians RD is now +47 and their pitching is 5th in the majors in WHIP and Opponent’s BA and posting the 7th-best ERA coming into today.

All Star Votes:

American League:
1st Basemen: Eric Hosmer (KC)
2nd Basemen: Robinson Cano (SEA)
Shortstop: Xander Bogaerts (BOS)
3rd Basemen: Manny Muchado (BAL) – Even with the suspension, he’s one of the best in the Bigs.
Catcher: Salvador Perez (KC)
DH: David Ortiz (BOS)
Outfielders: Mark Trumbo (BAL), Mike Trout (LAA), Ian Desmond (TEX)

National League:
1st Basemen: Anthony Rizzo (CHC)
2nd Basemen: Daniel Murphy (WSH)
Shortstop: Corey Seager (LAD)
3rd Basemen: Nolan Arenado (COL)
Catcher: Yadier Molina (STL)
Outfielders: Dexter Fowler (CHC), Carlos Gonzalez (COL), Starling Mart (PIT)

Phillies Update:

The Tommy Joseph era has begun in Philadelphia. The 24-year-old slugged two homers Friday night in Washington and hit three total last week while batting .313. It’s nice to see the future pieces starting to step in, even with the team sliding the way it is. Honestly, it’s not surprising at all that the Phil went 1-5 last week given their opponents; it’s only surprising that they actually won a game off of the Cubs. Jeanmar Gomez is becoming more volatile as a closer which is concerning. He’s blown a few save opportunities recently but had a six-out save last Tuesday against the Cubs. The Phils are still in the upper half for pitching, but continue towards the bottom in hitting. Injuries are starting to affect the Phils as Vince Valasquez moved to the DL and Maikel Franco has missed starts here and there. Hopefully when Valasquez returns, the efficiency he showed early on in 2016 can return as he has thrown a lot of pitches early in his recent starts. The Phillies play their AL home-and-home four-game series against “natural rival” Toronto this week; playing in Toronto tonight and tomorrow before returning to Philadelphia Wednesday and Thursday against the Blue Jays and then hosting the D-Back this weekend for a four-game series through next Monday.

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

(cover photo via)

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