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Bias MLBreakdown #3
by Raine Daniels (MLB)
Posted on May 20, 2006, 11:54 PM

This is Raine here through the power of e-mail with James, to bring about the third installment of the 'Bias MLBreakdown.' You can stop salivating now after a one-week delay.

Raine is back posting this week since James was given the honor of staying up until 3:00 in the morning last time. So what does that mean?? Well, I’ll try and fit in all the American League teams I can in the top ten (since it is the superior league and all), but it’s awfully tough considering only a handful of teams are playing what can be considered professional baseball. At least we’ll have a lock on the bottom spot for the rest of the season.

I’d also like to point out that I fully admit to being wrong about the top team this week. I wrote a column about it. John C. highly recommends it.

1. Detroit Tigers
Season Record: 28-14
High/Low Ranking: 1/12
Previous Rank: 4
Story: The number one nod goes to the Tigers for a brilliant 16-7 road record, a +60 runs scored/allowed differential, and Jim Leyland’s moustache. Even with the ninth-inning nail-biter that is Todd Jones, the Tigers have converted 18 of their 20 save opportunities for the highest percentage in baseball.

2. St. Louis Cardinals
Season Record: 28-15
High/Low Ranking 2/16
Previous Rank: 5
Story: I think the entire Cardinals nation had a collective cardiac arrest when Pujols slipped on that on-deck circle. The man already has 21 homers and 52 RBI (!!!) and we're still in May. I ask again—why do pitchers still pitch to this man?

3. Chicago White Sox
Season Record: 28-14
High/Low Ranking: 3/18
Previous Rank: 6
Story: Only two teams in baseball have more home wins than Chicago’s 16 (Houston and the Cards), but nobody has done it less games (21). Jim Thome’s average is starting to come back down to Earth, but you can’t argue with him leading the AL in homeruns and RBI’s. We’d also like to congratulate Jon Garland for having a winning record (3-2) with an ERA over 6.00.

4. New York Mets
Season Record: 25-17
High/Low Ranking 1/4
Previous Rank: 1
Story: The Mets have had an absolutely brutal schedule of late with a road trip that started in Philly and went through Milwaukee, St. Louis and now back home against the Yankees. Yet, they've still clung to their ever-shrinking lead in the NL East. Their one glaring weakness is a desperate need of pitching after Trachsel in the rotation.

5. Boston Red Sox
Season Record: 25-15
High/Low Ranking: 2/11
Previous Rank: 11
Story: It would’ve been a tougher decision between Boston and the Yank’s if the latter had bothered to play half-decent baseball against the Red Sox this week. Both Curt Schilling and Josh Beckett have been lit up recently (now sporting ERA’s over 4.00 each), but are a combined 11-3. How?? They both receive at least six runs of support per game. Sort of makes you feel for Tim Wakefield, who owns the same ERA as Schilling but carries five losses. How?? Only three runs of support. Three Boston pitcher’s in the top 30 for RS, one in the bottom ten. Did the knuckle-baller slap Manny??

6. Arizona Diamondbacks
Season Record: 24-18
High/Low Ranking 6/24
Previous Rank: 22
Story: If Brandon Webb's career numbers after the month of May are any indication of how he'll pitch this year, the D-Backs better start praying that their offense continues putting up over 6 runs a game. Jose Valverde has been nearly unhittable all season, though, with a .140 BAA and only one blown save in thirteen chances.

7. San Diego Padres
Season Record: 23-20
High/Low Ranking 7/28
Previous Rank: 28
Story: Okay, so I was dead wrong in the last column about the Fathers. Reeling off a 9-game win streak, the Padres are right back into the pennant hunt. Oh, and kudos to Brian Giles for walking five times in one game. That, my friends, is plate discipline.

8. Cincinnati Reds
Season Record: 25-18
High/Low Ranking 1/10
Last Week: 1
Story: Adam Dunn breaking that bat with a check swing was outright scary. I pity the fool who tries to start a fight with him. (Or an unfortunate catcher who has to block him off the plate.)

9. New York Yankees
Season Record: 24-17
High/Low Ranking: 9/19
Previous Rank: 15
Story: Only two teams in the AL place in the top five for both team batting average and ERA. One of them (Chicago) is 14 games over .500. The other (New York) is seven. An inconsistent offense that will blow out a team one night and then score twice the next is most likely to blame. As is A-Rod batting .250 with runners on base, but that’s only because we like taking shots at Rodriguez.

10. Colorado Rockies
Season Record: 24-19
High/Low Ranking 4/10
Previous Rank: 10
Story: Though they have struggling slightly of late, they have held their own and remain firmly in the NL West race. They also get Toronto in their debut interleague series; and the Jays generally do not play well in NL ballparks. This team should stay hot for a while longer at least.

11. Toronto Blue Jays
Season Record: 23-19
High/Low Ranking: 7/11
Previous Rank: 8
Story: The Jays generally do not play well in NL ballparks. Sigh.

12. Oakland Athletics
Season Record: 22-20
High/Low Ranking: 12/18
Previous Rank: 18
Story: Their offense is woeful, Frank Thomas has been a complete bust, and Esteban Loaiza hasn’t pitched since April (although that’s probably a good thing), but they’ve remained above .500. Dan Haren turned it around as soon as I picked him up on my fantasy team, while Nick Swisher has emerged as another Athletic slugger who will bolt the club once they hit free agency. Good times for A’s fans everywhere.

13. Cleveland Indians
Season Record: 21-22
High/Low Ranking: 3/13
Previous Rank: 12
Story: Don’t ask me how a club can sweep and be swept by the KC Royals in just over a week. They’re arguably the second-best hitting team in the American League, and if their pitching was even adequate, they’d be five games over .500. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been. I think I underestimated the loss of Kevin Millwood.

14. Milwaukee Brewers
Season Record: 22-20
High/Low Ranking 9/19
Previous Rank: 19
Story: After sweeping the then-red hot Phillies, the Brewers are back over .500 in an NL Central that is definitely cooling off overall. It's looking like it's going to be a 3-way race between them, Arizona and Atlanta as to who will be the champions of the comeback win this year.

15. Texas Rangers
Season Record: 22-10
High/Low Ranking: 15/23
Previous Rank: 16
Story: You have to love their offense, like always, but a pitching rotation that doesn’t feature a single pitcher with an ERA under 4.00 isn’t acceptable, even if you play at Coors Field Lite. Also, only one homerun by Michael Young through 41 games?? And four by Teixeira?? These two combined for 67 last year.

16. Philadelphia Phillies
Season Record: 22-20
High/Low Ranking 16/23
Previous Rank: 22nd
Story: Another team with a horrid schedule of late, the Phillies played the Mets at home and then went to Cincy and swept them, but then got swept by Milwaukee at Miller Park. After this, they returned home to host, you got it, the Boston Red Sox. They are currently in a 5-game losing skid mostly thanks to bad starting pitching.

17. Houston Astros
Season Record: 23-20
High/Low Ranking 3/17
Previous Rank: 3
Story: The Giants made the Astros look like scared children outscoring them 32-5 in a three-game sweep. Taylor Buchholz's ERA alone jumped over 3 runs in one of those outings. However, the Astros can at least take comfort knowing that Brad Lidge might be getting back into form.

18. Los Angeles Dodgers
Season Record: 23-20
High/Low Ranking 17/19
Previous Rank: 17
Story: The Dodgers have certainly broken out of their offensive drought and are now the 2nd best offensive club in the NL. Leading the charge has been a favorite player of mine, Nomar Garciaparra, who is playing like a man possessed lately. And amazingly, all of his gaudy numbers are enhanced by the fact that he has only struck out 5 times in 94 AB's.

19. Baltimore Orioles
Season Record: 20-23
High/Low Ranking: 8/19
Previous Rank: 9
Story: On one hand, Miguel Tejada has been a beast and Brian Roberts is proving last season wasn’t a fluke (aside from the whole power thing). On the other, much more disappointing hand, Javy Lopez has performed just as badly as their pitching staff (once again ranked last in the American League). I wasn’t expecting miracles from Leo Mazzone, but two starters with an ERA over or near 8.00 probably wasn’t on the agenda.

20. Atlanta Braves
Season Record: 21-21
High/Low Ranking 21/21
Previous Rank: 21st
Story: They are back to .500 thanks in large part to a home stand against the NL East punching bags, the Nationals and Marlins. However, they have played fewer home games than any team in baseball, which will play into their favor later on. They desperately need to figure out their closer situation, though. Much as I like the guy, Chris Reitsma simply is not getting the job done. Ken Ray (1.35 ERA/1.15 WHIP/.191 BAA) might be the best alternative if they wish to go with someone inside the team. He hasn't allowed a run to score off of him since April 16th. Losing Brian McCann for a significant amount of time could be a deathblow to this team, however.

21. San Francisco Giants
Season Record: 22-21
High/Low Ranking 13/21
Previous Rank: 13
Story: Randy Winn is one homerun behind Barry Bonds this year. Where’s his parade??

22. Seattle Mariners
Season Record: 19-25
High/Low Ranking: 20/26
Previous Rank: 26
Story: Not only is Seattle not the worst pitching team in the American League, they have the sixth best ERA. Amazing. Also amazing: Richie Sexson and Adrian Beltre are a combined .210/7/30 with 83 (!!) strikeouts in 42 games. Neither of their .OBP’s are above .290. Their combined salary for the 2006 season?? $23 million. At least Alex Rodriguez is doing something for the $25 million he’s receiving.

23. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Season Record: 17-26
High/Low Ranking: 14/15
Previous Rank: 14
Story: Somehow Anaheim has managed to allow the fourth most runs in the American League, but have the sixth-best ERA. That’d be my favourite stat about this team if it wasn’t for the fact Orlando Cabrera has the second-highest batting average among their starting players.

24. Chicago Cubs
Season Record: 17-25
High/Low Ranking 7/24
Previous Rank: 7
Story: Owners of the worst offense in the majors (149 runs scored), the Cubs have looked absolutely helpless for the last 3 weeks. To make matters worse, Kerry Wood had a rather inauspicious start to his short season giving up three homers to the lowly Nationals. Michael Barrett decking AJ Pierzynski is, sadly, the highlight of this team's season.

25. Minnesota Twins
Season Record: 19-24
High/Low Ranking: 6/25
Last Week: 24
Story: How has nobody called me out on putting this team 11th in the preseason ‘Power Rankings’?? Their pitching staff is worse than Baltimore’s and it’s hard to see them competing again anytime soon considering both Cleveland and Chicago can dominate the Central for the next three seasons. Not that I’m forecasting a Johan Santana trade or anything. He’d just look good in Toronto, is all...

26. Tampa Bay
Season Record: 19-24
High/Low Ranking: 20/26
Last Week: 20
Story: Tampa holds a record that could have them placed two or three spots higher, since I can understand the damaging effect an AL East schedule can have. However, when they’re just as bad as Kansas City in pitching and offensive ratings, there’s no way to justify that move. I am enjoying the Jonny Gomes emergence, however.

27. Pittsburgh Pirates
Season Record: 14-29
High/Low Ranking 27/29
Previous Rank: 29th
Story: On a smaller scale, Jeromy Burnitz (.199/7/24) represents everything you can describe about the Pirates' season so far—a huge disappointment.

28. Washington Nationals
Season Record: 15-28
High/Low Ranking 25/30
Previous Rank: 25th
Story: If Alfonso Soriano is still a National on August 1st, I will eat my shoes. For now, though, he at least saved his current team from being no-hit by Sean Marshall.

29. Florida Marlins
Season Record: 11-30
High/Low Ranking 27/29
Previous Rank: 27
Story: If Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera are traded, then the Marlins franchise should be revoked. You can't call yourself a Major League Baseball team, charge Major League ticket prices, and field nothing but minor leaguers out there every day.

30. Kansas City
Season Record: 10-30
High/Low Ranking: 28/30
Last Week: 30
Story: On this date in Detroit’s historic 2003 season, they were 9-34. They were also pitching better. On the bright side, KC has...they...umm...hey, remember George Brett??

Raine Daniels
E-mail: oratoryraine@hotmail.com
AIM: YourGoldfish

James Deaux
E-mail: oratoryjames@gmail.com
AIM: Mad Hatter Jim

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