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What the 2014 MLB draft order would be if season ended today

As the month of September has started, the teams competing for a playoff spot or division race have made their last adjustments before going for it. Justin Morneau was traded from the Minnesota Twins to the Pittsburgh Pirates and Michael Young was moved from the Philadelphia Phillies to the Los Angeles Dodgers at the last minute of August 31st. The Phillies also moved SS John McDonald to the Red Sox, giving the 14 year veteran to play for 4 MLB teams this season. Teams not competing for playoff spots are playing out the stretch run and likely looking at particular players to see how they may fit into the team’s plans going forward.
The 2014 MLB draft is something that should at the bottom of the list for most struggling teams to think about at this point, but this is the 1-30 draft order if the season ended today. Playoff teams are re-ordered based on where they finish their postseason season. In addition, games that have not ended yet are not included. However, there is a decent idea of what the top ten would look like with some spots to be determined this month.
1. Houston Astros 45-91 (won today 2-0 vs Seattle): The Astros are almost a lock to gain the top pick in the draft for the 3rd consecutive season.
2. Miami Marlins 49-85 (game in progress at Atlanta): The Marlins were expected to challenge the Astros for the worst team in baseball, but at the moment, are 5 games ahead.
3. Chicago White Sox 56-79 (lost today 7-6 at Boston): The White Sox struggles are a bit of a surprise. The White Sox having the 3rd overall pick in next year’s draft is a huge surprise.
4. Chicago Cubs 58-78 (won 7-1 vs Philadelphia): The Cubs probably expected a top 5 pick and could finish as low as 3. This north vs south battle is much less intriguing than a pennant race for either team.
5. Milwaukee Brewers 59-77 (lost vs LA Angels): The Brewers have been doomed this season with injuries and Ryan Braun’s steroid abuse. Still a chance that some good play can get them out of the top 10.
6. Minnesota Twins 59-76 (won at Texas): The Twins, on paper, seem to have the 3rd or 4th worst team in all of MLB. Manager Ron Gardenhire has this team playing slightly above their heads, but not enough to be close to contending at any point this season.
7. (tie) San Diego Padres 60-75 (GIP vs LA Dodgers): It is not a surprise that the Padres are not contending, though some people (myself included) thought this team could surprise. If they finish as high as 3rd (still quite possible), they will be well out of the top ten.
7. (tie) San Francisco Giants 60-75 (GIP at Arizona): The defending World Series Champions have a legit chance of getting a top ten pick.
9. (tie) Philadelphia Phillies 62-75 (lost at Chicago Cubs): One possible silver lining of an absolutely disastrous 2013 season for the Phillies is a top free agent protected 1st round draft pick.
10. (tie) Toronto Blue Jays 62-75 (lost vs Royals): The Blue Jays made some aggressive moves this past offseason. If the season were to end today, the Jays would have the last of the protected 1st round picks.
11. Seattle Mariners 62-74 (lost at Houston): The Mariners are still very much in the race to gain a top ten pick. Only a half of game out as we speak.
12. New York Mets 62-72 (game tonight at Washington): The Mets saw their number 10 overall pick last year drop out of the top ten due to the Pittsburgh Pirates inability to sign 2012 number 7 overall pick Mark Appel. A typical Mets September could move them back into top ten status.
13. Los Angeles Angels 63-72 (won at Milwaukee): The Angels continue their unbelievable plunge from grace.
14. Colorado Rockies 64-73 (GIP vs Reds): The Rockies had the number 3 overall pick in 2013 and got off to a very good start this season. They will be battling with the Padres and Giants for 3rd place in the NL West. The finish will obviously affect the draft positions.
15. Washington Nationals 68-67 (game tonight vs New York Mets): While this season has been an epic failure, the Nationals should know they will not have a lower pick than 15 due to the amount of games they are ahead of the next worse team.
16. Kansas City Royals 70-66 (won at Toronto): The Royals were one of the hottest teams in all of baseball for a stretch last month. They have plateaued as they look for a strong finish.
17. Arizona Diamondbacks 69-65 (GIP vs San Francisco): The Diamondbacks are the only NL team not in playoff position that has a chance to make a move. After making some bold trades of some key players, they have done respectable this season.
18. New York Yankees 72-64 (lost vs Baltimore): The Yankees lost a chance to sweep the Orioles this weekend and are currently on the outside looking in.
19. Cleveland Indians 72-64 (won at Detroit): The Indians tied themselves back with the Yankees with their win in their last at bat in Detroit.
20. Baltimore Orioles 72-63 (won at New York Yankees): In addition to the Orioles, Yankees and Indians race to be in AL Wild Card position, all three teams are jockeying for the 18-20 picks in next year’s draft.
The following ten teams are in position to get into the postseason. Once in, the draft order will determined by how each team performs in October.
21. Cincinnati Reds 76-60 (GIP at Colorado)
22. Tampa Bay Rays 75-59 (GIP at Oakland)
23. Oakland Athletics 77-58 (GIP vs Tampa Bay)
24. (tie) St Louis Cardinals 79-57 (won at Pittsburgh)
24. (tie) Pittsburgh Pirates 79-57 (lost vs St Louis)
26. Texas Rangers 79-57 (lost vs Minnesota)
27. Detroit Tigers 80-57 (lost vs Cleveland)
28. Los Angeles Dodgers 80-55 (GIP vs San Diego)
29. Boston Red Sox 82-56 (won vs Chicago White Sox)
30. Atlanta Braves 83-52 (GIP at Miami)

8/27/2013 Glenn Wilson interview (Passed Ball Show)

Glenn Wilson interview

glenn wilson

The 1981 postseason, if there was no split-division titles

1981 ws

Because of the baseball player’s strike, the 1981 season was interrupted, and in doing so, resulted in a postseason which was different than any other in the history of MLB. In fact, since 1968, it was the first time where the postseason did not exist in the same format. Fans of baseball now could relate to the postseason of 1981, as for the first time ever, there were divisional rounds in each league. Once the strike was concluded, it was agreed that there would be a split season, with the four teams who led their division being allowed into the postseason as first half champions. The second half put all teams at 0-0 and whoever was ahead at the end of the season would be crowned second half champions. The first half division winner would play the second half division winner in the AL and NLDS. The AL and NLCS would consist of the winners of the division series with the World Series starting after the completion.
One of the biggest issues of this format was the fact that the first half winners were going to the postseason and needed not to play the second half games. The Yankees, Athletics, Phillies and Dodgers were guaranteed spots in the division series and it didn’t matter how they did in the second half. Of course, had any of the before mentioned teams won the division title in the second half as well, they would have gotten a bye in the first round of the 1981 postseason. That did not happen, as the Athletics finished 2nd, the Phillies 3rd, Dodgers 4th and the Yankees 6th. This cleared way for the Brewers, Royals, Expos and Astros to make it into the postseason as well. The Yankees would beat the Brewers, the Athletics swept the Royals, setting up an ALCS of Yankees-Athletics, where the Yankees won the AL Pennant. In the NL, the Expos beat the Phillies with the Dodgers finishing off the Astros, setting up a Expos-Dodgers NLCS where the Dodgers won the NL Pennant. In fact the only 1st half division winner not to make the LCS was the Phillies.
The MLBPA and MLB agreed to the split season. However, for the exception of the Expos going to the NLCS, the rest of the LCS competitors were determined by the 1st half winners. Another suggestion would have been to the have the teams with the best overall record make the postseason. This would have severely affected the standings and the teams in the LCS. In fact, neither of the World Series teams, the Yankees or Dodgers, would have qualified for the playoffs with this format. Only the Athletics, who won the AL West in the first half of the season, and the Brewers who won the AL East in the 2nd half of the season, would have made the playoffs.
Two teams in the National League had the privilege of finishing with the best records in their respective divisions. In a combined season, the Cardinals (59-43) and the Reds (66-42) would have been division champions. In fact, the Reds finished with the best record in all of baseball but did not make the playoffs. The Cardinals were in the first season with Whitey Herzog as manager and GM. Garry Templeton was the starting SS and for the most part, this was a veteran team that to that point, was not Herzog’s team with his stamp on it.
The Reds, still led by John McNamara, had won the NL West in 1979, losing to the Pirates in the 1979 NLCS. Tom Seaver was 14-2, leading the NL in wins and finished 2nd in the Cy Young voting to Fernando Valenzuela of the Dodgers. Though many of the key contributors of the big Red machine were gone, Johnny Bench, George Foster and Dave Concepcion were still around. Overall, they finished 4 games ahead of the Dodgers in the standings. The Cardinals finished ahead of the Expos by 4 games as well, but the Expos played 6 more games. I thought the Reds had a little bit more pitching, so I would give them an edge in a NLCS matchup against St Louis. Perhaps six games with Seaver closing it out.
On the AL side, there did not seem to be a stronger team during the duration of the season than the Oakland Athletics. Led by Billy Martin and a rookie named Rickey Henderson, this team seemed to be the best all around team in the league. The Brewers, still managed by Buck Rodgers, were an offensive heavy teams who had many of the same top offensive players that led them to the World Series in 1982. Pete Vukovich led the team with a 14-4 record and newly acquired closer Rollie Fingers only finished with a 1.04 ERA, a league leading 28 saves and won the AL Cy Young and MVP. Though the Athletics got passed the Royals, I would have favored the Brewers to win the series. The Brewers could hit and a couple of the Athletics top pitchers Steve McCatty and Rick Langford, were starting to wear down. I’d pick a 7 game series, with the understanding that the series could go either way.
If the 1981 World Series was Reds-Brewers, the Brewers would have gotten to 2 straight World Series. The Reds would have had one more postseason appearance under the big Red machine team. But there would have been no Fernando-mania. A lot of what made that season so special was the performance of Fernando Valenzuela. The Dodgers had the reigning NL Rookie of the Year in Steve Howe. Valenzuela won both the ROY and NY Cy Young and was exciting to watch, especially in the postseason. I am glad the season turned out how it did, especially with the Dodgers getting their revenge on the NY Yankees, who had beat them in the 1977 and 1978 fall classics.

With just a few deals completed this July 31st, a recap of some prior deals on this date in MLB

Another July 31st MLB trade deadline has come and gone. A couple of moves were made with the San Diego Padres acquiring RHP Ian Kennedy from the Arizona Diamondbacks for LHP Joe Thatcher, Baltimore adding RHP Bud Norris, the Royals adding OF Justin Maxwell. Yesterday, the Boston Red Sox added RHP Jake Peavy in a deal that sent SS Jose Iglesias to the Tigers and OF Avasial Garcia to the White Sox and the Oakland Athletics got infielder Alberto Callaspo in a separate deal with the Angels. Over the past several seasons, the trade deadline has been a busy affair, since more teams consider themselves in a race for a potential playoff berth. In spite of three top starting pitchers being moved, it was has to be a deadline that has to be considered slow in regards to trades.
Perhaps a bigger issue could be the deals that were not made. The Phillies still have 3B Michael Young, the Giants still have OF Hunter Pence, the White Sox still have OF Alex Rios and 2B Gordon Beckham and the Mets still have OF Marlon Byrd. And, as expected pitchers Cliff Lee and Tim Lincecum are exacty where they expected to be: in Philadelphia and San Francisco, respectively. Potential moves regarding these players did not happen for a number of reasons. While we look ahead to the month of August, where players can be traded once they clear waivers, here is a little excerpt from a post I made at last year’s trading deadline.
July 31st has only been a landmark day since really 1989; prior to that, many deals were completed before that. The trading deadline was started by Kenesaw Landis after a late season 1922 trade brought Joe Dugan to the Yankees which allowed them to win the AL Pennant. The deadline was originally June 15th and it stayed that way from 1923-1985. It became July 31st for the 1986 season.
The first major July 31st trade was when the New York Mets acquired LHP Frank Viola from the Minnesota Twins for five players, including RHP Rick Aguilera and Kevin Tapani. While the Mets were making a push to return to the postseason, it was the Twins who reaped the benefits of this trade, winning the World Series just two years later.
Just five years ago, one of the more significant trades was made with time winding down. The Atlanta Braves added 1B Mark Teixeira from the Texas Rangers, giving up SS Elvis Andrus, LHP Matt Harrison, RHP Neftali Feliz and C Jarrod Saltalamacchia in a 5 for 1 trade. The Rangers owe part of the credit for their consecutive World Series appearances to that trade. In 1997, the Boston Red Sox acquired RHP Heathcliff Slocomb from the Mariners for C Jason Varitek and RHP Derek Lowe. It is possible the Red Sox do not have their success for the next 10 + seasons without that trade, among other things.
While the last trade gave the Red Sox two important pieces for their championship runs, it was the 2004 trade of star SS Nomar Garciaparra to the Cubs; the four team deal that brought the Red Sox SS Orlando Cabrera and 1B Doug Mientkiewicz, that may have been the turning point of the Red Sox fortune.
Several sluggers have been moved on July 31st. The Yankees acquired Cecil Fielder from the Tigers in 1996, and Greg Vaughn was moved from the Brewers to the Padres on the same day. Mark McGwire was moved from Oakland to St Louis exactly one year later. 2008 saw Ken Griffey, Jr move from the Reds to the White Sox and Manny Ramirez move from the Red Sox to the Dodgers. And for good measure, Seattle traded future HOF LHP Randy Johnson to the Astros for INF Carlos Guillen, RHP Freddy Garcia and LHP John Halama on July 31st of 1998.
Another interesting trade was made in 1997, when the Chicago White Sox threw up the white flag when they traded LHP Wilson Alvarez, RHP Roberto Hernandez and RHP Danny Darwin to the San Francisco Giants for six players, including Bob Howry and Keith Foulke. This resulted in 3B and current White Sox manager Robin Ventura to say, “I didn’t know the season ended August 1st!”
Many teams have made minor tweaks on the last day before players have to clear waivers before they can be traded. This works until August 31, afterwards no player added can be part of a team’s postseason roster. As the time runs down today, it will be interesting to see what deals, if any will be made today.

7/25/2013 Chris Donnels interview (Passed Ball Show)

Chris Donnels interview

chris donnels

7/9/2013 Bob Watson interview (Passed Ball Show)

Bob Watson interview

Bob Watson

Breaking down the catagories of pitchers with 2 or more no hitters

bailey

Homer Bailey became the 31th pitcher in the history of major league baseball to throw a second no hitter as the Reds beat the Giants 3-0 on Tuesday 7/2/2013. In the history of the Reds franchise, he joins Jim Maloney (8/19/65, 4/30/69) and Johnny Vander Meer (6/11/38, 6/15/38) as the only Cincinnati Reds pitchers to throw multiple no hitters. Bailey’s last no hitter came on 9/28/12 and was the last no hitter thrown in MLB. The last pitcher to throw the last two no hitters in baseball was Nolan Ryan with the Angels on 9/28/74 and 5/1/75. Ryan, of course, threw 4 no hitters for the Angels (also on 5/15 and 7/15/73). Later on, Ryan would throw one for the Houston Astros on 9/26/1981 and two for the Rangers (6/11/90 and 5/1/91). Among active pitchers, Bailey joins Roy Halliday (5/29/10, 10/06/10), Justin Verlander (6/12/07, 5/7/11) and Mark Buehrle (4/18/07, 7/23/09) as the only ones to have more two no hitters.
The first well known pitcher in MLB history to throw more than one no hitter was Cy Young, who threw his first on 9/18/1897, pitching in the National League for the Cleveland Spiders. However, he was not the first to throw two, or even three. He would throw two more: on 5/5/1904 and 6/30/1908, both pitching for the early Boston franchise of the American League. Christi Mathewson of the New York Giants was next, throwing his two in 7/15/1901 and 6/13/1905. White Sox RHP Frank Smith, a known spitballer, threw his two no hitters on 9/6/1905 and 9/20/1908. Next would be the positive part of what would be a sad story, and that was Cleveland’s RHP Addie Joss. Within a year of his second no hitter, he was dead of typhoid fever. Joss threw his two no hitters on 10/2/1908 and 4/20/1910.
Dutch Leonard was one of a series of talented pitchers the early Red Sox teams had. He threw his two on 8/30/1916 and 6/3/1918; both years the Red Sox would win the World Series. It would be nearly 20 years until a pitcher would throw his second career no hitter. It would happen in historic fashion. The legendary Vander Meer would throw his back to back no hitters for the Cincinnati Reds on 6/11 and 6/15/1938; something that has never been matched.
In the history of MLB, there have been five pitchers (including Vander Meer) who have thrown two no hitters in the same season. After Vander Meer, the next was Allie Reynolds of the Yankees, who threw his two on 7/12 and 9/28/1951. The next year, the same feat was accomplished by Detroit’s Virgil Trucks, who threw his on 5/5 and 8/25/1952. Nolan Ryan threw two no hitters for the California Angels in 1973 (5/15 and 7/15) and Roy Halliday threw his two for the Phillies in 2010 (on 5/29 and in the postseason on 10/6).
Next is the pitchers who pitched two no hitters, but combined with relievers to finish one of them. Of course, the rules changed over the past ten years, making an official no hitter being 9 complete innings of no hit baseball. Many pitchers previously credited with no hitters had theirs taken out of the record books. The first pitcher who threw a no hitter with some help was Athletics LHP Vida Blue on 9/21/1970. He pitched 5 innings and with the help of 3 relievers gave up no hits. A little over 5 years later, on 9/28/1975, Blue finished his own no hitter, giving him credit for 2 in his career. The same happened for Kent Mercker of the Atlanta Braves. His first no hitter was on 9/11/1991, when he combined with 2 relievers after pitching 6 no hit innings. On 4/8/1994, he did it himself, throwing the 2nd one of his career. Kevin Millwood threw a no hitter for the Phillies on 4/27/2003. Just last season, while pitching for the Seattle Mariners, he combined with 4 relievers to throw a no hitter on 6/8/2012.
Then there are the pitchers who threw no hitters for two different teams. Cy Young was the first to do that, throwing one for the Cleveland Spiders of the National League and two for the Boston team of the American League. Ryan, of course, threw no hitters for 3 different teams. Millwood threw his two pitching for two different teams. Hideo Nomo threw his first one for the Los Angeles Dodgers on 9/17/1996 and his second for the Boston Red Sox on 4/4/2001. Randy Johnson threw his first for the Seattle Mariners on 6/2/1990, then his perfect game for the Arizona Diamondbacks on 5/18/2004. Jim Bunning threw his first on 7/20/1958 pitching for the Detroit Tigers, then his second (also a perfect game) came for the Phillies on 6/21/1964.
And now on to those who have thrown more than two. We all know about Ryan and his seven (5/15/73, 7/15/73, 9/28/74, 5/1/75, 9/26/81, 6/11/90, 5/1/91). I mentioned Young’s three (9/18/1897, 5/5/1904, 6/30/08). It is amazing that I have spoken about no hitters and not mentioned Sandy Koufax, who threw four: on 6/30/62, 5/11/63, 6/4/64 and 9/9/65. He is the only pitcher in MLB history to throw a no hitter in four consecutive seasons. Larry Corcoran pitched for the Chicago National League club in the 1800s and threw three (8/19/1880, 9/20/1882 and 6/27/1884). Corcoran became the first MLB pitcher to throw two, then three no hitters. Bob Feller threw his three for the Indians on 4/16/40, 4/30/46 and 7/1/51.
Interestingly enough while touching on pitchers who pitched no hitters for more than one team, there is the other aspect in regards to those who have pitched one in both the American and National Leagues. Young was the first to do that, and has been joined by Randy Johnson, Hideo Nomo, Kevin Millwood and Jim Bunning.
Those who have pitched more than one no hitter, that I have not mentioned, include Hall of Famers Warren Spahn (Milwaukee Braves 9/16/60, 4/28/61) and Pud Galvin (Buffalo Bisons 8/20/1880, 8/4/1884). Others include Carl Erskine of Brooklyn on 6/19/1952 amd 5/12/1956, the Cubs Ken Holtzman on 8/19/69 and 6/3/1971, Bill Stoneman of the Montreal Expos on 4/17/69 and 10/2/72, Don Wilson of the Houston Astros on 6/18/67 and 5/1/69, Steve Busby of the Kansas City Royals on 4/27/73 and 6/19/74 and Bob Forsch of the Cardinals on 4/16/78 and 9/26/83. Oddly enough pitchers with the same names, Sam Jones threw no hitters. “Sad” Sam Jones threw one for the New York Yankees on 9/4/22 and Sam “Toothpick” Jones pitched one for the Chicago Cubs on 5/12/1955. In the history of major league baseball, only the San Diego Padres remain as the only team to not have a no hitter thrown for them.

6/25/2013 Rusty Meacham interview (Passed Ball Show)

Rusty Meacham interview

meacham

baseball’s All-Scrubs Stars

Closing in on the All-Star Game, everyone knows about Cabrera, Cano, Chris Davis, Posey and Votto. But there have been plenty of surprises by guys you’ve never heard of or never expected it from that have busted through and could snag their first Midsummer Classic selection.

Here are All-Star lineups from guys that either weren’t on the map a year ago or have been quiet for much of their careers but are now making a splash: the All-Scrub Stars.

National League

Catcher: Evan Gattis, Braves. Gattis took an opportunity provided by Brian McCann’s injury to break into the scene and earn NL Rookie of the Month for both April and May and leads NL catchers with 14 home runs, many in clutch situations. Not bad for a guy that left a college baseball scholarship for drug rehab and then worked as agattis freeman parking valet and at a pizza parlor.

First base: Freddie Freeman, Braves. Freeman missed 13 games with an injury but is still on pace for 100 RBI (third among NL first basemen) and is hitting .304.

Second base: Matt Carpenter, Cardinals. A big and surprising reason the Cardinals have the league’s best record, Carpenter leads NL second basemen with 56 runs scored, 21 doubles, and .403 on-base percentage.

Third base: Pedro Alvarez, Pirates. Pedro is really heating up, hitting .305 in June with 9 homers and 22 RBI, helping the Pirates stay among the best and most surprising teams in baseball. Overall, he has a significant lead among NL third basemen with 19 homers and 51 RBI.

Shortstop: Jean Segura, Brewers. The 23 year-old Brewers rookie is probably the best player nobody has heard of. Segura is one hit away from being the first in the NL to get 100 (batting .336), is second in steals, and has 11 home runs.

Center field: Carlos Gomez, Brewers. Like Segura, he’s doing it all: .313 average, 12 homers, 15 steals, 85 hits, 18 doubles, and plays Gold Glove calibur center field. It may surprise you that Gomez is the league-leader in wins above replacement (WAR).

Right field: Gerardo Parra, Diamondbacks. The leadoff man in Arizona has been a major contributor for the first place D-Backs. He’s now hitting .315 with 94 hits and 49 extra bases. He should be smarter on the basepaths though; he leads the league by getting caught stealing nine times.

Left field: Domonic Brown, Phillies. Finally getting regular time as a starter, Brown has displayed legitimate power. After a terrible beginning to the season where he got booed at home, from April 23 to June 8 (six weeks) Brown hit 17 home runs and raised his average from .206 to .293.

Pitcher: Jeff Locke, Pirates. Locke, who leads the NL in ERA (2.01), has not lost since his first start on April 7. He has given up 27 less hits than innings pitched.

American League

Catcher:  Jason Castro, Astros. People in Houston haven’t even heard of this guy. But the backstop fore the Astros leads all AL catchers in extra bases (10 homers, 22 doubles, 2 stolen bases).

First base: Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays. He’s hardly a scrub, but EE is following up his breakout in 2012 with another monster season (21 homers, 63 RBI). It’s also extraordinary to note that this slugger has struck out just 39 times in 75 games.

Second base: Howie Kendrick, Angels. On a team with Trout, Pujols, Hamilton and Trumbo, it’s Kendrick that leads the team with a .323 batting average (fifth in the AL) and is tied with Trout for the team lead with 94 hits.

Third base: Josh Donaldson, Athletics. In a loaded group of AL third basemen (Cabrera, Longoria, and Beltre) everyone knows about the 20 year-old phenom New Manny in Baltimore, but not so much the man at the hot corner in Oakland. Donaldson is leading the way for the A’s with .305/.373/.488 (AVG/OBP/SLG), 10 home runs and 46 RBI.

lowrie donaldsonShortstop: Jed Lowrie, Athletics. Lowrie spent his first four seasons on the bench in Boston, then was shuttled to Houston before being traded to Oakland last winter. Now at age 29 he is a big reason the A’s are battling the Rangers for the division, batting .304 with 21 doubles.

Center field: Brett Gardner, Yankees. The most consistent Yankee in 2013, the speedy Gardner has taken over the leadoff spot in Jeter’s absence, hitting for average (.287) and even showing some power (6 home runs). He also plays outstanding defense.

Right field: Daniel Nava, Red Sox. A career fourth or fifth outfielder, Nava earned his place as a regular starter for the Red Sox and has stayed a remarkably consistent producer in the middle of the first place Red Sox lineup. He has 10 homers, 45 RBI, 42 runs, and an on-base percentage of .372 as a switch hitter.

Left field: Nate McLouth, Orioles. After being an All-Star five years ago McLouth has been largely forgettable until now. He is producing once again as the leadoff man for the strong Baltimore club, getting on base (.366) and getting himself into scoring position (24 stolen bases). McLouth walks a lot and doesn’t strike out.

Pitcher: Hisashi Iwakuma, Mariners. Seattle has two stud pitchers, including the breakout Iwakuma. The Japanese pitcher leads the AL with a .238 opponents’ on-base percentage and is second in ERA at 2.26.

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Baseball Power Report: Month 2 (Week 9)

A third of the way through the season, it’s time for the early June Power Report. For each team I have a ranking and a few interesting stats/observations for not just last week, but also the last month and the season to date. I tried to keep everything consistent, but some stats are based on Saturday, some on Sunday. Enjoy!

30. Marlins. If April wasn’t bad enough, the Marlins scored just 79 runs in 28 games in the month of May, running their season total to 152 runs in 55 games. They rank last in runs, doubles, homers, average, on-base percentage, slugging, and hit into the third most double plays. When your team leader in batting average is at .228, that explains a lot. Their pitching yields the highest opponents’ on-base percentage in the NL. Miami is actually 6-3 against the Mets, but 10-39 versus everyone else. On the bright side, slugger Giancarlo Stanton should come back sometime this month, and Miami plays the Mets again this week!

29. Astros. Just like the Marlins can’t hit, the Lastros can’t pitch. They rank last in earned runs, unearned runs, walks, hits, doubles, triples, home runs, batting average against, on-base percentage, and run differential.  Astros batters have struck out an amazing 523 times, a record pace of 9.5 whiffs a game, while their opponents have struck out just 353 times. Houston does have a 13-6 record against the Angels, Mariners and Rockies, but are 7-31 against the rest of the league.

(Just like last month, the Marlins and Astros are so bad that for the rest of the league, if I say worst/lowest/fewest/most/highest, it means among everyone else.)

 Matt-Harvey 

28. Mets. So much for the excitement of sweeping the cross-town rivals. Matt Harvey is still 5-0 and a reason to watch the Mets, but the rest of the Amazin’s are 17-32. And as noted, New York is 3-6 against the miserable Marlins. Poor starting pitching, poor bullpen, poor hitting, poor fielding…

 

 27. Brewers. Milwaukee had a month to forget. Even with their win over the Phillies on Friday, the Brewers were only 6-22 in May and went from half game back of the Cardinals to 15 back. Milwaukee’s pitching has significantly underperformed, especially starters Yovani Gallardo, Wily Peralta, Marco Estrada and Kyle Lohse. They do have one of the league’s most productive outfields with Ryan Braun, Carlos Gomez and Norichika Aoki, and shortstop Jean Segura leads the league with a .354 batting average.

26. Padres. Figuring out the Padres All-Star rep will be a real challenge. Isn’t much to say about this team.

25. Cubs. Chicago has a nice foundation of starting pitchers. Jeff Samardzija, Travis Wood and Scott Feldman all have an ERA under 3 and the staff’s batting average against is league-best .231. Anthony Rizzo leads the team with 10 homers and 36 RBI but he should have a lot more; he’s hitting .175 with runners in scoring position. Cubs have NL-best .805 OPS at home, and NL-worst .619 OPS on the road.

24. Twins. To show how bad the Twins pitching has been, they have registered a quality start (6 innings, 3 earned runs or less) just one-third of the time. None of the Twins starting pitchers have recorded even 30 strikeouts yet this season.

23. Royals.  A month ago they were at #14 but I expected they would have a rough month. Yes they sure did, going on a 4-19 skid. James Shields went 0-4 in five starts, despite giving up two or fewer runs four times. Mike Moustakas is batting .081 (3 for 37) with runners in scoring position. The Royals have 29 home runs; their pitchers have allowed 66.

22. Mariners. M’s have two pitchers with ERA’s under 2.40 and three pitchers with ERA’s over 5.50. Michael Morse has just 12 RBI since April 11.

21. Dodgers. It is really strange to see that the Dodgers can’t get any higher than this with all the talent  (or at least money) on their roster. One of the biggest problems is that they can’t get hits when it counts. Dodgers hit .265 with bases empty (5th in baseball), but .233 with runners in scoring position (5th worst) and just .146 with the bases loaded. Before landing on the disabled list, Matt Kemp had just 2 home runs in 51 games. That’s not the end of the trouble, as fellow outfielder Carl Crawford also joined Kemp on the DL Monday.

20. Blue Jays. Toronto’s rotation stability was supposed to be their biggest strength; instead it has been their biggest weakness. Due to injury and ineffectiveness, the Blue Jays have already used eleven different starting pitchers, and just as Josh Johnson is ready to return, Brandon Morrow and Ramon Ortiz get hurt. Things are getting better overall, especially on offense where in May the team OBP was .337, up from .294 in April. The biggest problem is nobody else in the division is losing.

19. White Sox. It’s hard to describe just how bad the Sox offense is, especially in the AL with a designated hitter. They have scored 186 runs in 54 games, .289 OBP, and have 428:128 K:BB ratio. Yet a week ago they reached .500 at 24-24, a testament of some really good pitching (Chris Sale, Jake Peavy).

18. Angels. Just when things were starting to turn around the Angels lost three in a row at home to the Astros. Josh Hamilton should have stayed in Texas; he’s hitting a woeful .216 as an Angel. At least Mike Trout is exciting, and Jered Weaver is finally healthy again.

17. Rockies. Still have the best offense in the National League, and even on the road they have the best slugging percentage and OPS. Carlos Gonzalez is a big reason why, leading the NL with 42 extra bases. Jorge De La Rosa is 5-0 with an ERA of 2.45 at Coors Field.

Domonic Brown16. Phillies. Read about Domonic Brown below. As someone who owns Cole Hamels on multiple fantasy teams, I am painfully aware that the Phillies are 1-11 in Hamels’ games. At least Cliff Lee is making sure that one of the four Phillies making $20 million this year is playing like it.

15. Nationals. Bryce Harper is on the DL, Stephen Strasburg has a back strain, Nats have lowest OBP in baseball, batting just .212 on the road, 8-14 since May 10… I am much less optimistic about the Nats than I was one or two months ago.

14. Giants. Pitching has been surprisingly poor in San Francisco, where the staff has only 23 quality starts in 57 games. On April 28, Marco Scutaro was hitting just .215; since then he’s hitting a sizzling.418.

13. Indians. Mark Reynolds and Carlos Santana followed up their .389 and .301 April with .200 and .208 May, yet the team played well anyway, going 18-12 during the month and is right up there with Detroit in the Central.

12. Rays. Those Rays that we all figured wouldn’t be able to score actually led all of baseball in runs in May. Since starting 14-18, Tampa Bay is 17-7, even without David Price.

11. Yankees. The Bronx “Bombers” have scored fewer runs than the Astros and Twins. Teixeira and Youkilis are back (and Tex finally started producing Monday night) but more often than not it seems the Yankees just can’t score runs with their lineup. Fortunately, the pitching overall has really been outstanding; especially in May when they had the lowest ERA in the AL (3.25).

10. Diamondbacks. Paul Goldschmidt is your NL MVP through the first 56 games, batting .337 with 13 homers and 73 runs produced. Not only is Patrick Corbin 9-0, but the D-Backs have won all 11 games he pitched.

9. Orioles. As AL Beast Notebook writer, I watch a lot of Orioles games. They are really one of the more entertaining teams in baseball. Chris Davis (yeah, I write about him every week) is hitting .357 with MLB-most 20 home runs. But everybody contributes: Manny Machado, Adam Jones, Nick Markakis, Matt Wieters, J.J. Hardy and Nate McLouth are all doing great things. The Orioles have hit 81 home runs (most in MLB), but their pitchers have given up 78.

8. Athletics. No team is hotter right now than the Oakland A’s, who have won 14 of their last 16 games, and their next 13 games are against pitching-deficient Brewers, and hitting-deficient White Sox, Yankees and Mariners. Bartolo Colon has issued just 4 walks in 70 innings. A’s have the best bullpen ERA and OBP in the American League. A’s batters have the league’s most walks (and hit-by-pitches).

7. Pirates. They don’t do much hitting (shutout for first nine innings in four of last five games), and their starting rotation isn’t very scary but the bullpen is practically unhittable. While the Pirates bullpen has thrown more innings than just about everyone the batting average against them is just .210. In his first year as a full-time closer Jason Grilli is 22/22 in saves, has given up just 12 hits and struck out 41 batters in 25 innings. Pirates, Reds and Cardinals each won at least 19 games in May; no other team did.

6. Braves. Despite the expectations otherwise, Atlanta’s pitching is back near the top while the offense has been just average. Justin Upton hit 12 home runs in April and just two in May. Dan Uggla, B.J. Upton and Jason Heyward are hitting .161 after 448 at-bats. Kris Medlen has just one win in his last nine starts despite a respectable 3.48 ERA. Mike Minor is having an All-Star year, currently 7-2 with 2.48 ERA and holding opposing hitters to a .203 batting average. Freddie Freeman batting 20/40 with runners in scoring position.

5. Red Sox. Boston had a tough stretch earlier in the month losing 9 of 11, but other than that the season has been smooth sailing for the Red Sox. A favorable May schedule makes way for a much, much tougher June, starting off with the Rangers again. As demonstrated last night, David Ortiz is killing righties, hitting .386 with nearly as many home runs (7) as strikeouts (9). Clay Buchholz continues to impress, leading the AL in wins, ERA, and opponents’ OPS. It’s nothing new, but there’s probably no big league player I’d rather have my son emulate than Dustin Pedroia.

4. Reds. Second best offense and second best pitching in the NL is a great combination. I’ve written a lot about Votto and Choo but there’s a reason: the duo are both getting on base in over 49% of their plate appearances against righties. There is no weak link in the rotation; everyone has an ERA under 3.9. And Aroldis Chapman has racked up 43 Ks in 25 innings.

3. Rangers. Weird to see, but even with a bunch of rookies and second year guys the Rangers have a better rated pitching staff than offense. In fact, Texas has the lowest team ERA in the American League, including a 2.83 ERA at the hitter-friendly Ballpark in Arlington. Adrian Beltre is having another monster year, but he may get lost in an overloaded third base All-Star group.

2. Tigers. Two months into the season and here’s what we have: four top of the rotation arms (Verlander, Scherzer, Fister and Anibal Sanchez), the reigning MVP Miguel Cabrera (the favorite for another one), a shortstop and right fielder both hitting over .310, Prince Fielder, and World Series experience. They are a pedestrian 29-24 right now, but that’s still about five games better than one year ago. The Tigers have one of the best offenses in baseball and a pitching staff good enough to again go deep in the postseason.

1. Cardinals. The one thing they lacked was a closer and they have certainly found a good one. Edward Mujica has been lights out, allowing just 14 baserunners in 24 innings for a 0.58 WHIP and 1.88 ERA. He has not walked a batter since April 3, and is 17/17 in save chances since taking over the job.

The starting pitching has been perhaps the best group in baseball, led by Adam Wainwright and Lance Lynn, but also rookie Shelby Miller (6-3, 1.82 ERA), who retired 27 straight batters in a game earlier this month. And top prospect Michael Wacha has also burst into the majors, providing even more quality depth.

And of course, it’s not only about pitching in St. Louis. The hitting has also been perhaps the best (and certainly the deepest) group in the National League. They are certainly on fire right now; four players had a May OBP over .410, and four hitters (Yadier Molina, Matt Carpenter, Allen Craig, and Carlos Beltran) are legitimate All-Stars. The most impressive feature of the 2013 Cards is clutch = .324 average and .427 on-base percentage with runners in scoring position and two outs. Tack on a 20-9 road record as the cherry on top.

Pitching, hitting, relief, and fielding (league’s lowest 19 errors) are why the St. Louis Cardinals are an easy pick for the best team in baseball.

Biggest Leap: White Sox (+6), Cardinals (+5)

Biggest Tumble: Nationals (-11), Royals (-9)

Players of the Week

AL: Chris Davis, Orioles. Four more home runs this week as he collected 13 hits in 27 at-bats, but what may be more amazing is that pitchers didn’t walk him six games in a row.

 NL: Domonic Brown, Phillies. Brown has taken over by storm. Last week he hit .444 with 7 home runs and 13 RBI. 13 teams failed to hit 7 home runs. Brown now leads the NL with 16 bombs.

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