By: Chris Larson
Welcome to another MLB Top 15 Power Ranking report! Hard to believe that it's already Week 9 of the season, but things just keep plugging away as teams prepare for what they are going to do prior to the July 31st Trade Deadline. It always seems like once the regular season starts, things just roll along and fly like no tomorrow.
The main storyline from this past week wasn't necessarily about the Colorado Rockies and their resurgence or the sizzling Minnesota Twins and their continued dominance in the American League Central, but rather was based around what the future landscape of the game could look like. Tomorrow night is the MLB Amateur Draft and teams have been spending a lot of time over the past few weeks traveling around the country visiting with prospects they might be interested in, studying and examining scouting reports up and down, and really trying to nail down exactly who they plan to take tomorrow evening. It's a long and extensive process, but there are always impact players that come out of each draft class, so that is going to be fun to see here in 4 or 5 years.
However, while the Amateur Draft is something to look forward to later tomorrow, let's turn the clock back to the present and focus on the Top 5 Moments/Highlights from the past week.
Top 5 Moments/Highlights
1. Minnesota Twins (40-18) [Ranking Last Week: 2]
5. Tampa Bay Rays (35-22) [Ranking Last Week: 6]
12. San Diego Padres (30-28) [Ranking Last Week: 12]
13. Boston Red Sox (30-29) [Ranking Last Week: 9]
14. Texas Rangers (30-27) [Ranking Last Week: N/A]
15. Chicago White Sox (29-30) [Ranking Last Week: N/A]
Summary of Thoughts
Biggest Jump: The biggest jump for this week's report belonged to the Milwaukee Brewers. Milwaukee has done well as of late and currently occupies first place in the National League Central which is a compliment to the talent on their roster. While their pitching staff has been able to make things work so far, it would still be nice if they had that extra piece in the starting rotation or an additional arm or two in the bullpen. However, with that being said, Josh Hader has been very effective over the last 7 days (1.80 ERA over 10.0 IP with 16 strikeouts) and outside of his lasting outing, Brandon Woodruff, has been valuable. Woodruff finished the month of May with a 1.36 ERA over five starts along with a (.155) Opponent Batting Average Against and 37 strikeouts. If Woodruff can continue to perform at that level and with the news that Jimmy Nelson will return to the big league squad this coming Wednesday, the Brew Crew might be able to continue to rely on internal guys. Although, it sure would be nice if they made that additional move or two to bolster their pitching staff because you can never have enough depth down the stretch.
Biggest Fall: Both the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox experience four-spot drops this week compared to last. For Chicago, things haven't been pretty as of late, as the team has a 2-8 record over their last 10 games, and they got uprooted by the aforementioned, Milwaukee Brewers, for first place in the National League Central. The biggest problem outside of the struggles of the starting rotation has been the bullpen which Chicago will likely do something to address in the coming weeks. The Cubs will need to shore up that bullpen with an additional arm or two in an effort to give skipper, Joe Maddon, some more guys that he can trust in those late innings down the stretch.
As for the Boston Red Sox, yes they did win tonight against the New York Yankees, but things have not been good lately. The team is struggling from a pitching standpoint, especially in the bullpen, and now it's almost questionable about why they decided to invest so much money into, Nathan Eovaldi this past winter, instead of someone like Craig Kimbrel or a comparable reliever. However, the team is still good enough to make it to the postseason and is a World Series caliber level team still, but they really need to get going and play like they were 2 weeks ago. At that time, they looked as though they could challenge the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays for the American League East and make this a fascinating three-team race, but that doesn't look to be the case at the moment.
New Entries: This week, there are three new entries into the Top 15 Power Rankings list. The first is the Colorado Rockies who are absolutely on fire right now and seem like they cannot be stopped whatsoever. The Rockies are currently in the midst of an 8-game win streak and have tightened things up to the point where, they now sit a 1/2 game back of the Atlanta Braves, for the second NL Wild Card spot. The biggest thing that has been impressive over this stretch has been the immense amount of offense that Colorado puts out there everyday and as previously mentioned, Jon Gray, has turned into the guy that he used to be.
As for the next new entry, that honor would go to the Texas Rangers who have been surprisingly good this season. Mike Minor has done a very good job of anchoring down the pitching staff for Texas and while he could be an obvious trade candidate as the July 31st Trade Deadline approaches, the Rangers might be wise to hang onto him and look at a possible extension. While Minor has been impressive, the bigger selling point for the Rangers has been their offense and amount of power. At the conclusion of play today, the Rangers have a team batting line of: .255/.333/.457 over 1,951 at bats and the team has received a considerable amount of contributions from various hitters up and down the lineup. Although, the offense did take a hit earlier this morning when it was announced that slugger, Joey Gallo, was headed to the 10-Day Injured List with an oblique injury. Hopefully that doesn't sideline Gallo for an extended period of time because he is a big key cog to the overall success of the Rangers offense.
Rounding out the Top 15 is another new entry, the Chicago White Sox. As mentioned above, the White Sox have found a way to make things interesting in the American League Central and currently have a better record than the Cleveland Indians, which is saying something. Outside of Lucas Giolito finally turning into the ace that the White Sox always thought he could be, the offense has started to find a way to things up as well. Both Jose Abreu and Tim Anderson have been the two big reasons why and both continue to show why the White Sox Front Office has been so big on them over the years. At the moment, Abreu leads the team in home runs (15) and RBI (50), while Tim Anderson leads the squad in batting average (.330), on-base percentage (.362), and hits (65). In addition to Abreu and Anderson, second baseman Yoan Moncada, is having an impactful season as well. Currently, Moncada has 10 home runs and 35 RBI over 226 at bats with a (.337) on-base percentage, but the strikeout rate is high (70 strikeouts) over that span.
Cool Stats of the Week
Top 5 Players Ranked by Sprint Speed (Minimum 75 Occurrences):
1. Adalberto Mondesi (Kansas City Royals) - 30.0 Feet/Per Second
2. Kevin Kiermaier (Tampa Bay Rays) - 29.4 Feet/Per Second
3. Amed Rosario (New York Mets) - 29.3 Feet/Per Second
T-4. Trevor Story (Colorado Rockies) - 29.2 Feet/Per Second
T-4. Cody Bellinger (Colorado Rockies) - 29.2 Feet/Per Second
T-5. Starling Marte (Pittsburgh Pirates) - 29.0 Feet/Per Second
T-5. Ronald Acuna Jr. (Atlanta Braves) - 29.0 Feet/Per Second
Top 5 Pitchers Based on Cutter Velocity (Minimum 250 Pitches):
1. German Marquez (Colorado Rockies) - 96.6 MPH
2. Jacob deGrom (New York Mets) - 95.3 MPH
3. Scott Barlow (Kansas City Royals) - 94.0 MPH
4. Max Fried (Atlanta Braves) - 93.9 MPH
5. Dylan Covey (Chicago White Sox) - 93.8 MPH