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MLB Power Rankings: AL West race heating up

Sep 11, 2015, 11:00 AM EST

USA Today

Here is a look at Major League Baseball with analysis from Nationals Insider Mark Zuckerman and Nationals writer Chase Hughes:

LAUNCH PHOTO GALLERY

30. Phillies – Zuckerman: (LW: 29) Rotation’s ERA since the All-Star break: 5.55.

29. Braves – Zuckerman: (LW: 30) Currently featuring nine pitchers with ERAs over 5.00. Good lord.

28. Rockies – Zuckerman: (LW: 26) If nothing else, the Arenado/CarGo home run race will be fun to watch down the stretch.

27. Reds – Zuckerman: (LW: 28) Current rotation features four rookies and one second-year pitcher. And it shows.

26. Athletics – Hughes: (LW: 25) The A’s extended manager Bob Melvin’s contract despite their last-place record and with GM Billy Beane admitting their roster is not good. Will Matt Williams get the same sympathy?

25. Marlins – Zuckerman: (LW: 27) Ichiro’s at 2,927 career MLB hits. Will he get opportunity to reach 3,000 next year?

24. Brewers – Zuckerman: (LW: 24) Lucroy was an MVP candidate last year, but injuries and decreased production have dropped him off map this year.

23. Tigers – Hughes: (LW: 23) Magglio Ordonez was linked to steroids when he played and now his son, prospect Magglio Ordonez, Jr., has been suspended for PEDs.

22. Red Sox – Hughes: (LW: 22) GM Dave Dombrowski has created two new positions in Boston’s front office in hopes of improving their development of pitchers. Interesting approach.

21. White Sox – Hughes: (LW: 20) With his team vastly underachieving this season, owner Jerry Reinsdorf looks ready to make big changes. Can’t blame him.

20. Mariners – Hughes: (LW: 21) It has been another maddening year for Mariners fans. Well, at least they have the Seahawks.

19. Padres – Zuckerman: (LW: 18) Move to Petco should’ve made Kimbrel even better, but ERA, WHIP, FIP, HR/9 all up while K/9 down.

18. Diamondbacks – Zuckerman: (LW: 17) Goldschmidt hitting just .205/.314/.398 over last 23 games, diminishing his MVP hopes.

17. Orioles – Hughes: (LW: 19) This offseason will be fascinating for the O’s, who have taken a step back and have both Matt Wieters and Chris Davis entering free agency.

16. Rays – Hughes: (LW: 15) I gave an update on Xavier Cedeño recently, but he now has a 1.86 ERA through 54 games with the Rays. Yeah, I think the Nats could use that.

15. Indians – Hughes: (LW: 16) Cleveland has to be encouraged by former 8th overall pick Francisco Lindor’s rookie season. He could be a star.

14. Angels – Hughes: (LW: 14) The Angels are only 3 1/2 games out of a playoff spot, but I’m not confident at all in my World Series pick.

13. Nationals – Zuckerman: (LW: 12) Run differentials by innings … 1-5: +45, 6-8: -4, 9-12: +8.

12. Giants – Zuckerman: (LW: 11) Just when you thought they might buck the trend, they remembered it’s an odd-numbered year.

11. Twins – Hughes: (LW: 13) Hard to believe the Twins are second in the AL Central and only 1 1/2 games out of the playoffs. What a story.

10. Rangers – Hughes: (LW: 10) Texas has surprised everybody this season and they’re doing it without Yu Darvish.

9. Astros – Hughes: (LW: 9) Houston held on for so long, but now the Rangers look poised to overtake them.

8. Mets – Zuckerman: (LW: 8) Cespedes in 36 games with NY: .312/.357/.675, 14 homers, 36 RBI. Has had amazing impact.

7. Yankees – Hughes: (LW: 7) The Yankees look well on their way to their 23rd straight winning season and their first playoff appearance since 2012.

6. Dodgers – Zuckerman: (LW: 5) Starting to put it all together: They’ve turned a 1.5-game lead into an 8.5-game lead in 2.5 weeks.

5. Cubs – Zuckerman: (LW: 6) Keeping pressure on the Pirates for home field in the wild card game.

4. Blue Jays – Hughes: (LW: 4) I have a feeling the playoff crowd in Toronto will be incredible, assuming they get there, of course. Could it help Montreal’s cause?

3. Royals – Hughes: (LW: 2) Johnny Cueto has a 4.68 ERA with the Royals and failed to show up to a fan event this week. His Kansas City tenure has not gone well so far.

2. Pirates – Zuckerman: (LW: 3) They’ve gone 12-19 vs. Milwaukee and Cincinnati this year. That makes no sense whatsoever.

1. Cardinals – Zuckerman: (LW: 1) Is MLB’s best pitching staff starting to fade just a bit? ERA over last 10 games: 5.20.

LAUNCH PHOTO GALLERY

  1. unkyd59 - Sep 11, 2015 at 11:55 AM

    “13. Nationals – Zuckerman: (LW: 12) Run differentials by innings … 1-5: +45, 6-8: -4, 9-12: +8”

    Wow. Just wow. Starters not going strong through the 6th & 7th, and one lousy inning of relief is the whole story, as it turns out…

    • jfmii - Sep 11, 2015 at 2:15 PM

      Yup, unkyd59, pitching, all pitching. Even through the injuries, and up through the all star break, there was Bryce and enough of the others that kept the Nationals above the middle in runs scored. And there were two pitchers who were money in the bank virtually every time they appeared: Max and Drew. They went south at about the same time. They were the two individuals who did the most damage during the Nationals’ post-all star game collapse because they had been relied on so heavily for the first half of the season.

  2. Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 11, 2015 at 12:44 PM

    Wham! One shut-down reliever, that’s what we need! Honest to God, I’d sell my soul for one shut-down reliever!

    • edgs3rd1978 - Sep 11, 2015 at 1:05 PM

      Maybe there’s some truth in what everyone’s saying about the NL East. Its about to have four teams below .500

    • Candide - Sep 11, 2015 at 3:31 PM

      Mr. Sofa, pick up the red phone; Mr. Applegate is on line 666…

      • Eugene in Oregon - Sep 11, 2015 at 3:34 PM

        Don’t do it Sofa — at least for this year it’s too late. But if you get an offer for next season, well…

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 11, 2015 at 4:25 PM

        Hey, if they win out they still have a shot. Never give in, never surrender!

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 11, 2015 at 4:27 PM

        So here’s an only peripherally related question: Who’s the most impressive physical specimen among closers (all time)?

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