miguel cabrera

Baseball Power Report: Week 5 (Month 1)

A month is in the books so here is my early May Power Report. For each team I have a ranking and a few interesting stats/observations for not just the last week, but the season to date. Enjoy it because it took a lot of work!

30. Astros. Lost 10 out of 11 and outscored by 24 runs the last two. The 198 runs they’ve allowed is 34 more than the next team. On pace for 41-121 record. They’ve also racked up an impressive 323 strikeouts, which will shatter the all time record. Philip Humber not only has the highest ERA but also the lowest run support; that’s how you go 0-7. There’s no question that second baseman Jose Altuve (NL-most 43 hits, .331 average) will be the team’s All-Star rep.

29. Marlins. Even with their 14 run outburst against Roy Halladay on Sunday, Marlins are the only team yet to score 100 runs (in 32 games), and with the only real legitimate player (Giancarlo Stanton) out another month, runs will continue to be hard to come by.

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

28. Cubs. Believe it or not, the Cubs starting pitchers have given up the lowest batting average of any rotation (.218) and they have the most strikeouts in the NL. Unfortunately, the bullpen has dragged down the staff with a .356 on-base percentage allowed and 8 blown saves.

27. Padres. They have no hitters you’ve ever heard of but it is the pitching that has been bad. League’s worst ERA for starting pitchers. But since San Diego’s 5-15 start they are a respectable 8-3.

26. Mets already have 14 losses to the Marlins, Phillies, Rockies, Dodgers and Padres. All starters not named Matt Harvey have combined for a 5.63 ERA.

25. White Sox. The Sox have gotten some great starting pitching and bullpen work but the offense is anemic. They have scored the fewest runs and at .281 have the lowest on-base percentage in all of MLB. They have three regulars (Adam Dunn, Jeff Keppinger, and Tyler Flowers) batting under .200. Right now they have less than half as many walks as the A’s and yet more strikeouts.

24. Mariners. Michael Morse has an impressive 9 home runs, but he’s hitting .091 with runners in scoring position, giving him 14 RBI. King Felix and Hisashi Iwakuma have been an outstanding duo at the top of the rotation, yielding just 17 earned runs in 95.1 innings (1.60 ERA), but starters for the rest of the games have been atrocious (100 IP, 76 ER = 6.84 ERA).

23. Blue Jays. Yes, I picked them to win the East and I still think they can get back into the race. But at this point Toronto has had one of the worst offenses (.232 average), worst fielding (16 unearned runs), and worst pitching (.776 on-base plus slugging percentage allowed) and worst run differential. Jays hit a lot of home runs but that’s it. I’m not writing them off yet but there is definitely room for improvement. J.P. Arencibia doesn’t watch many pitches: 42 strikeouts, 2 walks.

22. Twins. Off to a good start but it’s not sustainable. They have very little power, the pitching staff doesn’t strike anyone out, and they have given up 43 more hits than they’ve produced.

21. Phillies. You know there’s trouble when Kyle Kendrick is leading the staff. Phillies are a shocking 5-15 in starts by Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, and Roy Halladay.

20. Angels. A team that was supposed to be much improved is the biggest disappointment. Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo are starting to pick up but Josh Hamilton (.208) and Albert Pujols (.237) are not. Chris Iannetta has had a base stolen off him 21 times in 24 games and caught only two runners. But the biggest problem has been the pitching, which has been the league’s worst. Angels are 9 games behind the Rangers.

carlos gomez

19. Brewers. Already this season Milwaukee has a losing streak of 5 games, winning streak of 9 games, and another losing streak of 5 games. Ryan Braun, Carlos Gomez, Jean Segura and Yuniesky Betancourt have been great but the pitching has been very inconsistent.

18. Rockies. After an amazing start the Rockies haven’t won back-to-back games since April 19-20. Hitting has reigned both home at Coors Field and on the road and the Rockies have the best offense in baseball led by Michael Cuddyer, Carlos Gonzalez, Dexter Fowler, Troy Tulowitzki and Wilin Rosario. The pitching is better than last year, but we don’t know how much better.

17. Dodgers. There is a lot of great with Clayton Kershaw, Adrian Gonzalez (.337 average, .398 OBP), Carl Crawford (.383 OBP), Nick Punto (.441 OBP), A.J. Ellis (.390 OBP), and Mark Ellis (.342 average), but the Dodgers still sit four games under .500. Josh Beckett is still winless in six starts and Matt Kemp has just one homer. One other interesting stat: Dodgers have a .305 batting average against lefties, best in the majors.

16. Rays. Didn’t see this coming: since April 17, James Loney is hitting 28/53 (.528) and providing Evan Longoria and Ben Zobrist with some much-needed support. Matt Joyce has 6 home runs and 9 RBI (in 26 games!). Tampa hitters homered in 17 straight games, a streak that ended surprisingly in Colorado Saturday. Rays starters are now one of six teams since 1916 to have starters pitch at least five innings in each of the team’s first 31 games. Matt Moore has been great, which is a good thing because David Price has not (1 win in 7 starts, 6.25 ERA).

15. Indians. Here’s a stat you probably couldn’t guess: Indians pitchers have the lowest opponents batting average. Catcher Carlos Santana doesn’t offer much defensively, but with the bat he is crushing, leading the league with a .379 average and adding power (6 homers). Mark Reynolds is hitting an un-Mark-Reynolds-like .296. The pitching is erratic, but the hitting should be good enough to keep them around the middle of the pack.

14. Royals. Jeremy Guthrie is 9-0 since August 3. The new additions in the rotation (James Shields and Ervin Santana) have lifted the Royals to one of the most productive rotations in the AL. At 17-10 KC is off to a hot start but I’m not a believer. There is no power in the lineup (just 16 total homers) and their .393 OBP with runners in scoring position will drop. Things get tougher as 23 of their next 26 games are against the Orioles, Yankees, Angels, Athletics, Cardinals, and Rangers. We’ll see where they are at in a month, but my guess is on the other side of .500.

13. Diamondbacks have done a good job fighting through injuries but have one glaring weakness: the bullpen. Arizona relievers have blown 10 saves in 18 chances. Funny thing is the peripheral numbers aren’t bad: 3.12 ERA, .229 average against. Starter Ian Kennedy hasn’t won a game since Opening Day. Didi Gregorius is batting .433 in 8 games with 7 extra-base hits.

12. Pirates. Hitting has improved and pitching has slipped as Pittsburgh floats closer to the .500 mark. Jason Grilli has been lights out: 12/12 in saves, 21/4 K/BB, 0.69 ERA and 0.85 WHIP. One early cause for concern: Pirates relievers have thrown the most innings of any bullpen. Pedro Alvarez has had 39 at bats with runners in scoring position and just 6 hits (.154).

11. Yankees. Watching them every day I feel like they should be lower, but they keep winning. Looking at their record I feel like I should put them higher, but they keep losing players to injury. Right now Jeter, A-Rod, Teixeira, Granderson, Youkilis, Cervelli, Nova, Pineda and Chamberlain are all on the disabled list, and Eduardo Nunez and David Robertson are also hurt. There is no doubt that a 18-12 start is much better than anyone could have anticipated, but can it continue with Jayson Nix, Chris Nelson, Lyle Overbay, Ichiro and Chris Stewart playing every day? Robinson Cano has serious legitimacy as the MVP so far.

10. Giants. Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval haven’t disappointed, and Madison Bumgarner (1.55 ERA, 0.84 WHIP) has leapfrogged Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum as the dominant ace of the staff. Giants have allowed ten more home runs and doubles then their offense has provided, but they’ve still outscored their opponent by ten. Giants starters have 10 wins, relievers have 9.

9. Braves. 6-11 record since their 12-1 start. Evan Gattis and Chris Johnson have been good surprises, but overall Justin Upton hasn’t gotten much support in the lineup. Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman and Brian McCann have all been hurt, but B.J. Upton, Dan Uggla and Heyward (when he’s played) have been totally awful, combining for a .158 average. And while their starting pitching overall has been great, the Braves have lost nine of the last ten starts by Kris Medlen, Mike Minor and Paul Maholm. Justin Upton’s 12 home runs is worth mentioning again.

8. Athletics. Traditionally a pitching team, things have changed dramatically in Oakland, and without any true slugger. I don’t know what’s so scary about the Athletics lineup but they have tallied the most (by far) base-on-balls in the league, extra-base hits, and runs. (Sounds like Moneyball to me.) They are also near the top in stolen bases. 39 year-old Bartolo Colon has issued one walk in six starts.

7. Orioles. Speaking of extra-base hits, Chris Davis, Manny Machado and Adam Jones have 53 of them, most of any teammate trios, and if you add Nate McLouth’s nine stolen bases, that makes four O’s that get themselves around the bases into scoring position. Matt Wieters isn’t doing anything with the bat but he’s been great defensively, throwing out eight would-be-basestealers (57%).

6. Cardinals have 23 quality starts in 31 games and the lowest starters ERA. In fact, all five starting pitchers have an ERA under 2.80. That’s good because their relievers have been the worst group in all of baseball. With Beltran, Holliday, Yadier Molina and Allen Craig, the St Louis lineup is very balanced and has been the best with runners in scoring position, hitting .328 with a .405 on-base percentage. Cardinals are MLB-best 13-6 on the road.

5. Reds. Shin-Soo Choo has been the most impactful new addition to any team this year, with his .463 on-base percentage in the leadoff spot. He has a .615 on-base percentage with runners in scoring position, and thanks to 8 walks in those situations actually has more runs scored than at-bats. Joey Votto’s overall OBP is higher, at .464. Jay Bruce hit 66 home runs the last two seasons but has just one so far in 2013 (with 46 strikeouts).

4. Nationals. I said they had the most complete (and best) team and even with their poorish start I still believe. The strange things are Strasburg’s struggles, the offense’s inability to score runs, and the most errors in baseball. Nats only hitting .203 against lefties. Jordan Zimmerman has been outstanding (5-1, 1.64) but Gio Gonzalez (4.97) and Dan Haren (5.01) have a long way to go. If I had to make my season predictions again I would still pick the Nats to make the World Series.

3. Red Sox. The Sox still are tied for the best record in baseball despite getting swept in Texas. David Ortiz has a 25-game hitting streak, going back to last July and through a couple stints on the DL. Mike Napoli is enjoying the Green Monster as he leads the league with 22 extra-base hits. Clay Buchholz has won all 6 of his starts, with a 1.01 ERA and 0.96 ERA. I’m still not picking them to win the division, but with their soft schedule the next four weeks Boston should stay around the top for another month.

2. Rangers. Yu Darvish has emerged as one of the top pitchers in all of baseball, but the key to the Rangers success has been the rookies: Nick Tepesch, Justin Grimm, Robbie Ross and Tanner Scheppers. Even with their hitter-friendly home of the Ballpark in Arlington, the Rangers have the league-lowest ERA and WHIP. They are also the only team without a blown save.

1. Tigers. Miguel Cabrera has picked up right where he left off. He leads baseball in hits and has walked 17 times and has knocked in 36 runs already. He is definitely enjoying lots of protection in the Tigers lineup with Prince (8 HR, .429 OBP, 32 RBI), and Torii Hunter (.361 average). Being on the unemployment market and then in the minors has gotten Jose Valverde’s attention; he has only allowed one baserunner in four innings and put the back of the Tigers bullpen under control. And then there’s Verlander, Sanchez and Scherzer. Any question why the Tigers are in the #1 spot?

Players of the Week

AL: Ryan Raburn, Indians. (I could have gone with Miguel Cabrera here, but he did all his damage in one game against the Astros.) Raburn had two multi-homer games followed by a 4-hit game, and another multi-hit game on Sunday.

NL: Carlos Gomez, Brewers. Milwaukee lost 5 in a row, but you can’t blame Gomez. He went 12-26 with 6 extra-base hits and 5 stolen bases. The centerfielder is now hitting .368 on the season, with 6 HR and 7 SBs.