Pepper Power ~ Week 2 rankings and speculationPosted 11 April 2011 by Pony Boy
I am the one writer here who does not *love* The Wire. Does that make me a bad person? I don’t care what you think. The West Wing all the way, baby. Aaron Sorkin could write a mediocre sitcom about late-night TV and I woul … oh. Uh. Well, my love of The West Wing remains untouched. Also, screw that ABC presidential show with Geena Davis. Gotta love that she tried to make the U.S. Olympic archery team. That takes brass balls. Huge.
1. Phillies (7-2): Indestructible? Never. Things can happen. But they continue to look like a wins machine. Just ask the Braves, who lost two of three to the Phils this weekend. Cliff Lee got his bad outing for the month of April out of the way (he’s good for one a month). Early season statistical quirk: Philadelphia’s not-vaunted offense finished Sunday ranked No. 1 in the majors. The pitching staff had the 11th-best ERA.
2. Reds (6-3): It always helps when your lineup is hitting .315. Here is where a lot of analysts will say something moronic, like, “It’s setting up as a Phillies-Reds NLCS.” No. We’re not there yet. Both teams look great. It’s mid-April. Finish your taxes and we’ll talk.
3. Rangers (8-1): Texas players are already starting with it. They sound like Rodney Dangerfield, God bless his hilarious soul. No respect, I’m tellin’ ya. No respect. Well, here’s your respect. Everybody’s hitting in the lineup, though Josh Hamilton has no home runs and a scant 6 RBIs. That’s actually a good thing. He’ll pick it up when the others fall off.
4. Rockies (5-2): Esmil Rogers looks like the real deal. He retired 18 straight … oh, it was the Pirates? That’s kind of like retiring 9 straight real baseball players. But that’s still kind of impressive.
5. Yankees (5-4): Dropped a series to the Red Sox. P.S. Nick Swisher is a cock.
6. White Sox (5-3): It’s possible I am biased against Chicago, as a city, entirely because of Ken Harrelson. That would be the announcer for televised White Sox games and an all-around prick. I honestly don’t know how fans of the White Sox can tolerate him, much less any neutral parties. Terrible. Still, they took 3 of 4 from the Rays.
7. Orioles (6-3): This week’s big riser, all the way up from 18th. I realize it’s a long way to the finish line, but with Boston and Tampa both sucking it up in the first 10 games, somebody in the AL East has to move up. I still think they’ll be 20th in a few weeks, but respect the six-win start.
8. Blue Jays (5-4): The second straight loss to the Angels — thanks to a big start from the Anaheim’s Jered Weaver — drops the Blue Jays. I like them, though I have little basis for that.
9. Dodgers (5-4): Beatings are always a sign of strength. I am always tempted to make fun of how little West Coast fans care about their teams. And then somebody goes to the hospital. Kudos to you, vigilante Dodgers fans. Kudos.
10. Brewers (5-5): Winners of four of their last five, the Brewers pulled up in our rankings late in the week. But, I feel like we can be honest here. We all know the Brewers aren’t getting out of the playoffs, if they make it that far. Their pitching and hitting are middle of the pack. And nobody cares about baseball in Wisconsin in the slightest bit.
11. Indians (7-2): Faced with a choice between bumping up the Royals or the Indians, I went with The Tribe. Still, you can’t really be sure what to make of Cleveland. It pounded Boston, but that’s not tough to do. Then it took care of Seattle. Yawn. We’ll see in a week.
12. Braves (4-5): Look, every analyst has their weakness. Here’s mine: I have a habit of thinking the Braves are better than they really are. Sure, they lost four of their last five, but it was to Philadelphia and Milwaukee. It’s important to turn it around quickly, though, with their young lineup. Otherwise I will fall out of love very, very quickly.
13. Red Sox (2-7): Crisis averted by taking two of three from the Yankees. Nick Swisher is still a chode monkey.
14. Angels (5-4): Won four of five to make a run up these standings. Because you know Mike Scioscia is reading this.
15. Cardinals (3-6): I stubbornly refuse to believe they are as bad as their record indicates. Pujols has to improve on his .143 average. I mean, really. The law of averages kicks in, eventually.
16. Giants ( 4-5): The pitching staff is ranked No. 4 in the majors. Three of their starters have an ERA under 2.60. And the team batting average is all right. I’d be surprised if they aren’t above .500 and in the top 10 within a few weeks. Of course, I can move them up even if they aren’t over .500. Rankings are like butterflies, subject to the breezes of my mind.
17. Royals (6-3): I’m sorry. Really, I am. But I do not respect the Royals. At all. At least over the course of 162 games.
18. Twins (3-6): Somebody please slap the Twins offense around. They’re almost below the Mendoza Line as a team. The Twins were hitting .203 entering Sunday. God knows they’ll come around, but until they do, you have to bump them down. Five players, including Danny Valencia, Jim Thome and Delmon Young, are under .200. Michael Cuddyer is at .107, for the love of God. I like to think I could hit .107. I like to think that.
19. Mets (4-5): Middling hitting, terrible pitching. Losers of four of their last five. Time to start punching walls and Gatorade jugs.
20. Rays (1-8): Distractions are overrated in baseball, as is teamwork. Most of these guys are concerned with their average, power numbers and their next contract. And yet. You can’t start 1-8. Especially in the AL East. But people have been writing the Rays’ obituary in the East for five years, so fuck me.
21. Athletics (4-5): Oh my. I’m writing this review of Oakland as ESPN debuts its live K Zone on Sunday Night Baseball. Why haven’t they done this before? Is it the umpires’ union? I love unions, really, but come on. Can’t we go to a laser-sighted strike zone and get it over with? It wouldn’t be that hard.
22. Diamondbacks (4-4): Arizona is .500? And they took two out of three from the Reds? They can thank that offense, hitting a cumulative .290. Do you think Willie Bloomquist can continue to hit .394? You might be alone in that.
23. Tigers (3-6): I still hate Dodges. And Lee Iacocca. He can lick me.
24. Nationals (4-5): God help me, I like the Nationals. Not to win the division, but to come close to .500. Like I said, God help me.
25. Marlins (5-4): It’s possible I’m just punishing them for their indifferent fan base. But it’s also possible their schedule has been pillow soft and they still have middling results. Also, Florida’s current stadium gets no love. I’ve been to many worse professional stadiums. But those include Fulton County and The Metrodome, so that might be unfair.
26. Cubs (4-5): You knew Carlos Zambrano would be a staff leader. And among the starters with two starts, he does have the best ERA: 5.25. You can see that as a good thing — it’s gotta improve, right? — or a sign of the apocalypse. This is the Cubs. Bet the latter. Hope for the former.
27. Padres (4-4): Losing three straight helps bring the Pads back to the ground. The pitching has been excellent — four of the five starters have ERAs under 4.00 — but the bats have been bad. Look for the arms to fall off and San Diego will dive below .500 sooner than later.
28. Pirates (5-4): I refuse to even analyze this. One more week above .500 and it’s all-Pirates, all the time.
29. Mariners (2-7): Remember when they started the season 2-0? And then lost seven straight. It took some serious self-restraint to keep from dropping them to 30th.
30. Astros (2-7): Tough to overcome atrocious pitching.
No change from last week
AL Division winners: New York, Chicago and Texas
AL Wild Card: Boston
Playoffs: New York def. Texas; Chicago def. Boston; ALCS: Chicago def. New York
NL Division winners: Philly, Cincinnati and Colorado
NL Wild Card: Milwaukee. I feel like overreacting.
Playoffs: Philly over Milwaukee; Cincy over Colorado; NLCS: Philly over Cincy
World Series: Philly over Chicago. I’m still shocked by this choice.