The Call to the Pen: August 30th, 2016

Welcome back to The Call to the Pen! Pushed the rankings back to today because Matty D and myself had to prepare for our fantasy draft. Feeling fairly confident in my team, but we’ll have to see how the season unfolds. More Football stuff coming to the THUNDERBLOG soon but back to the sport you came here for: baseball. I really discounted the Royals’ streak last week and KC must have heard as they’ve remained red hot. Some teams are clawing their ways back into pennant races like KC and some are falling out. Others just want to prove they’re not that awful. Let’s get to it…

Power Rankings

The Bottom:

30) Minnesota Twins (49-82): Down 1 
29) Atlanta Braves (48-83): Up 1
28) Arizona Diamondbacks (55-76): Even
27) Tampa Bay Rays (55-75): Down 2  

26) San Diego Padres (55-75): Even 
25) Cincinnati Reds (55-75): Down 2
24) Milwaukee Brewers (56-75): Down 1
23) Oakland Athletics (57-74): Up 1 
22) LA Angels of Anaheim (57-74): Up 5
21) Philadelphia Phillies (60-71): Even

The Angels made the largest move this week after taking two-of-three from both the Blue Jays and Tigers on the road. The Twins didn’t win a single game last week and with their loss in Cleveland last, MIN’s losing streak now sits at 11-straight. Really aside from streaks being put together and shaking up this order, I can’t imagine any team climbing out of the Bottom, especially when you consider the gap between the Phillies and Rockies/White Sox.

The Middle:

20) Chicago White Sox (63-67): Even
19) Colorado Rockies (63-68): Even 
18) New York Yankees(67-63): Even
17) Seattle Mariners (68-63): Down 6   
16) Miami Marlins (67-64): Down 3
15) Pittsburgh Pirates (62-59): Up 2
14) New York Mets (67-64): Up 2 
13) Houston Astros (69-62): Up 1
12) Kansas City Royals (69-62): Up 5 
11) St. Louis Cardinals (69-61): Down 1

Once again, I really wish I could split the NL and AL teams in the Middle. Despite dropping six spots this week, Seattle isn’t totally out of it–they just have to play Texas a bunch down the stretch, including this week. The Yankees have been relatively level in the standings since the start of the month thanks to Gary Sanchez. The Marlins are the team to worry about. As both the Pirate and Mets have been getting better and better, Miami has started to cool off. Frankly not surprising given the Marlins’ lineup against the other teams in the NL Wild Card Hunt. As I alluded to in the open, I undervalued the Royals’ streak but the defending champs have played their way back into contention. The one concerning factor about KC for me is their atrocious road record (28-41). KC will likely need to win the 1st Wild Card seed and earn a home game to have a realistic shot at making the ALDS.

The Top:

10) Detroit Tigers (70-61): Up 2 
9) Baltimore Orioles (71-60): Down 4  
8) San Francisco Giants (71-59): Down 2 
7) Boston Red Sox (73-58): Up 2
6) LA Dodgers (73-58): Up 2
5) Cleveland Indians (74-56): Down 2 

4) Washington Nationals (76-55): Down 2 
3) Toronto Blue Jays (75-56): Up 2
2) Texas Rangers (78-54): Up 2
1) Chicago Cubs (83-47): Even 

Similarly to the Bottom, the Top seems to always be shaking itself up, but the teams never really exit. Sure, we’ve seen St. Louis and Detroit play hop-scotch with the threshold to the Top, but the rest have been main-stays for the season. The real excitement comes from watching the teams shuffle around; well aside from the Cubbies. Chicago is cruising at this point and their 14 game lead over the Cards is reminiscent of St. Louis’ massive NL Central leads in the early-to-mid ’00s.

Phillies Update:

A strange week with the rare Monday/Thursday days off but the split with the White Sox and losing two-of-three in Queens are par for the course for these 2016 Phillies. AJ Ellis seems to fit in right away but has massive shoes to fill. Carlos Ruiz was the unsung hero of the Phillies five-year run from 2007 to 2011 and even in the years following. Catchers are a tricky position to really evaluate on the surface. Most baseball fans don’t think about defense when they compare players but defense is paramount in a catcher comparison. Half of why Yadier Molina has had a stranglehold on the “best catcher” title is the fact that he’s a phenomenal fielding catcher who can hit. The latter is why he’s constantly brought up and voted for on All Star ballots (or people may still remember “Name that Molina”–couldn’t find a clip on YouTube) but the former is more important. Chooch could certainly hit and came up BIG many times, but he managed one of the greatest rotations in 2011 and caught two no-hitters the season before–that doesn’t just happen. He may be been soft spoken to us fans comparatively to the rest of the core players, but Carlos left a giant impact on our city. Just like Roy Halladay, I hope that the boys from those glory days return to Philadelphia to the hero’s welcome Chase got.

 The Phils return home this week as they fell to the Nats last night 4-0. That series continues through Wednesday and after getting Thursday off, the Phillies will host the Braves over Labor Day weekend.

Disagree with the Rankings? Let me know in the comments

(cover photo via)

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