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2007 MLBreakdown #1 (Weeks 1-3)
by James Deaux (MLB)
Posted on April 23, 2007, 7:18 PM

Welcome to the first of (what will hopefully be) my weekly "power rankings" for Major League Baseball. I base my rankings on record, runs scored as opposed to runs allowed, and current streaks the teams in question are on (among other things off the top of my head). The top five or six teams this week are fairly obvious, but after that it gets really ambiguous really quickly. Thirteen teams in MLB are above .500 right now, while the other seventeen are treading water or sinking further an further into their ruts. Unlike last year, however, the mediocrity is pretty evenly dispersed in both leagues as opposed to just the NL.

1. Boston Red Sox
Season Record: 12-5
High/Low Ranking 1/1
Last Week: N/A
Story: Boston's ridiculously talented rotation had done their part just about the whole season, but the bats were unusually dormant. Even though a lot of Boston's lineup is still hitting below the Mendoza line, they seem to be waking up out of the massive funk they were in (see: this past weekend at Fenway). The AL should start sweating very soon.

2. Los Angeles Dodgers
Season Record: 13-6
High/Low Ranking 2/2
Last Week: N/A
Story: Russell Martin is quickly becoming one of the elite offensive catchers in all of baseball. Only Brian McCann and Joe Mauer have better BA's than he does among catchers with at least 60 AB, and Martin can even steal bases for your fantasy team.

3. Atlanta Braves
Season Record: 12-6
High/Low Ranking 3/3
Last Week: N/A
Story: Atlanta has to be feeling good about themselves at this point. They've won four of their first six against the Mets, and they have yet to lose a series so far this season. Tim Hudson is looking more and more like Oakland A's Tim Hudson every time he starts. And if Kelly Johnson (13-25 (.520)/2/6 for the week) isn't NL Player of the Week, who is?

4. New York Mets
Season Record: 11-6
High/Low Ranking 4/4
Last Week: N/A
Story: Their hiccup in Sunday's game notwithstanding, the Mets bullpen is still very good. I think Aaron Heilman would be a better starter for them at this point, though. Oliver Perez can't pitch against Atlanta every time it's his turn in the rotation. One question--how is it Carlos Delgado and David Wright have combined for zero home runs so far?

5. Baltimore Orioles
Season Record: 11-7
High/Low Ranking 5/5
Last Week: N/A
Story: Maybe I underrated their pitching staff? Their bullpen has been nothing short of spectacular, but there has to be some concern of overutilizing them (62.1 IP already). Guys like Adam Loewen (19.1 IP) have to go deeper into games. If they do, the Orioles will hang around the top of the pack all year.

6. Milwaukee Brewers
Season Record: 11-7
High/Low Ranking 6/6
Last Week: N/A
Story: The feel-good story of 2007 is right here. The Brewers really believe they can win the NL Central (truthfully, anyone in that division can) and with their offense cranking out runs like they have so far, there's good reason to believe it, too.

7. San Diego Padres
Season Record: 11-8
High/Low Ranking 7/7
Last Week: N/A
Story: Only Atlanta's bullpen has allowed fewer home run's than San Diego's. Trevor Hoffman shows no signs of his age, and he, along with four other Padres relievers have yet to surrender an earned run this season.

8. Minnesota Twins
Season Record: 11-7
High/Low Ranking 8/8
Last Week: N/A
Story: Minnesota perennially has one of the best bullpens in the game. This season, however, they have a rather high .261 BAA and a 4.04 ERA.

9. Detroit Tigers
Season Record: 11-8
High/Low Ranking 9/9
Last Week: N/A
Story: But speaking of bullpen trouble, Detroit seems to have a winning record in spite of their bullpen. They are a collective 5-6 with an ERA approaching 5.00. Thankfully for them, their front three starters have been superb and the offense has been potent enough to get the job done.

10. Chicago White Sox
Season Record: 9-8
High/Low Ranking 10/10
Last Week: N/A
Story: I actually had them ranked lower in my first version of this, but Mark Buehrle threw a no-hitter that was one batter away from a perfect game. I'd punch myself in the face if I didn't put them in the top 10 just for that alone.

11. Houston Astros
Season Record: 9-8
High/Low Ranking 11/11
Last Week: N/A
Story: Brad Lidge had to have broken some kind of ML record for quickness in losing his closer's job. The thing is, the guys who have replaced him haven't exactly been lights-out, either.

12. Cleveland Indians
Season Record: 8-7
High/Low Ranking 12/12
Last Week: N/A
Story: C.C. Sabathia (3-0/2.25 ERA) is already showing more of what will make him one of the game's elite pitchers for years to come.

13. San Francisco Giants
Season Record: 9-8
High/Low Ranking 13/13
Last Week: N/A
Story: Barry Bonds is thumping home run after home run and hardly anyone outside of San Francisco cares. To quote Batman Returns, "Tragic irony or poetic justice? You decide."

14. Arizona Diamondbacks
Season Record: 10-10
High/Low Ranking 14/14
Last Week: N/A
Story: This team can't seem to make up its mind what it wants to do. They had the second best record in baseball for about six days in a row. Now, they've lost four in a row and have fallen into 4th place in the very tough NL West. Randy Johnson is scheduled to start Tuesday, though, and that could (and should) be a humongous boost to their club.

15. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Season Record: 9-9
High/Low Ranking 15/15
Last Week: N/A
Story: If the Angels get into the playoffs this year (and they probably will because the AL West is so hapless), they better find a way to score more than 3.6 runs a game or they will be swept handily.

16. Oakland Athletics
Season Record: 9-9
High/Low Ranking 16/16
Last Week: N/A
Story: How does a team with three starters in the top 5 in ERA in the American League have a .500 record? Probably because they have scored a paltry 67 runs in 18 games (3.72 runs/game).

17. Cincinnati Reds
Season Record: 9-10
High/Low Ranking 17/17
Last Week: N/A
Story: They were cruising right along until Philadelphia came to town. And considering how Philly was playing up until that series, that is saying a lot. Kyle Lohse has opened more than a few eyes, though (1.91 ERA and only three walks in four starts).

18. Florida Marlins
Season Record: 8-10
High/Low Ranking 18/18
Last Week: N/A
Story: They have the third best offense in baseball at the moment (99 runs scored), but their pitching staff has given up 97 runs. Much of that can be attributed to Jorge Julio's disastrous run as the closer.

19. Pittsburgh Pirates
Season Record: 7-10
High/Low Ranking 19/19
Last Week: N/A
Story: They may have the youngest starting pitching staff in baseball, but they all belong in the big leagues. Ian Snell is a Cy Young-in-waiting if he could ever get some run support. Along those lines, Adam Laroche has been nothing short of dreadful (.105 BA).

20. St. Louis Cardinals
Season Record: 8-10
High/Low Ranking 20/20
Last Week: N/A
Story: The reigning World Champions are an abysmal 1-6 at Busch Stadium so far. And what in the world has happened to Albert Pujols?

21. Chicago Cubs
Season Record: 7-11
High/Low Ranking 21/21
Last Week: N/A
Story: Rich Hill is the real deal. He leads the majors with a miniscule 0.41 ERA. Carlos Zambrano, on the other hand, who was supposed to be the ace of the Cubs' staff, has 7.77 ERA and has as many walks as he does K's (16).

22. Colorado Rockies
Season Record: 8-11
High/Low Ranking 22/22
Last Week: N/A
Story: How does a team with Todd Helton, Matt Holliday, Garrett Atkins, and Brad Hawpe playing every day have only seven home runs as a team 19 games into the season? Especially when you consider where they play half their games.

23. New York Yankees
Season Record: 8-10
High/Low Ranking 23/23
Last Week: N/A
Story: Talk about a disaster. There's reason for hope, though, because Chien-Ming Wang is scheduled to start Tuesday in his first game of the year and Mike Mussina won't be on the DL too much longer. How about their third baseman, huh? Pretty good player.

24. Toronto Blue Jays
Season Record: 8-10
High/Low Ranking 24/24
Last Week: N/A
Story: Losers of five in a row, the Blue Jays seem to be in a mini-freefall right now. Losing B.J. Ryan to the DL for a couple months is a horrible stroke of bad luck considering whom they have in their bullpen to replace him.

25. Texas Rangers
Season Record: 8-10
High/Low Ranking 25/25
Last Week: N/A
Story: Eric Gagne is injured again. In other news, the sky is blue. Why was he just handed the closer's job in spring training, again?

26. Seattle Mariners
Season Record: 5-9
High/Low Ranking 26/26
Last Week: N/A
Story: Losing Felix Hernandez for any length of time is just about the worst possible thing that could have happened to this club. What's amazing, though, is that even with their poor record, they are still going to be in the AL West race all year because of the overall mediocrity of that entire division.

27. Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Season Record: 7-11
High/Low Ranking 27/27
Last Week: N/A
Story: The potential offense that this club harnesses (especially their outfielders) is downright scary. Unfortunately, their pitching staff has allowed 114 runs already (6.3 runs/gameŚworst in baseball) and that is also downright scary.

28. Philadelphia Phillies
Season Record: 6-11
High/Low Ranking 28/28
Last Week: N/A
Story: When you have the ace of your pitching staff setting up your shaky 39-year-old closer (2.21 WHIP!!!) and the reigning MVP batting .220 with 2 HR, you get a very ugly situation.

29. Kansas City Royals
Season Record: 6-12
High/Low Ranking 29/29
Last Week: N/A
Story: Alex Gordon can look remarkable at times. But more often than not the guy just plain looks overmatched (21 K's in 59 AB's; .136 BA).

30. Washington Nationals
Season Record: 6-13
High/Low Ranking 30/30
Last Week: N/A
Story: As horrible as this team is, you have to admire Dmitri Young's work ethic. He clearly gives 100% every night.

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