Monday, November 10, 2008

AL Power Rankings, Week 2

The balance of power in Ryan World has taken a dramatic shift toward the AL this season. One could easily argue that at least four or five of the top six teams in the world play their ball in DH Land.

With returning powerhouses in Wichita, Oklahoma City and Madison coupled with a Bombers team that looks like it's going to live up to its potential this season and Kansas City looking like it may bounce back strong after a disappointing year... it looks like we can look forward to a very, very competitive season.

1 Wichita Sizzlers

Record (This week): 27-9 (18-7)
Expected Record: 26-10
Last Week's Ranking: 1
Notes: How do you dominate a league like the Sizzlers have so far? Pitching, pitching, pitching. Timothy Garcia, Mark Cox, Ray Wright and Wilfredo Ordonez have all put up WHIPs of 1.26 or less, including Garcia's ridiculous 0.82. Those four starters have a combined record of 17-1 this year. What's really scary is how the Sizzlers are steamrolling people with their fifth starter (Trenidad Durham) struggling as much as he has. His 8.07 ERA will likely drop by four runs or more in the coming weeks... meaning that even if one or two of the other guys comes back to earth, the Sizzlers are still likely going to win an awful lot of games.

2 Oklahoma City Chickens

Record (This week): 24-12 (18-7)
Expected Record: 25-11
Last Week's Ranking: 8
Notes: The Chickens managed to keep pace with the surging Sizzlers this week thanks in large part to lights-out closer Mitch Matthews. He's still sporting a perfect triple-0 ERA with 10 saves in 11 tries. Their 83 HRs are 17 more than any other AL team.

3 New York Bombers

Record (This week): 22-14 (16-9)
Expected Record: 27-9
Last Week's Ranking: 9
Notes: The Bombers have allowed the third-fewest runs of any AL team and scored the most. If they can keep that up, they're going to be a major, major powerhouse this season. The addition of Tony Kelly will only make this team better.

4 Madison Massas

Record (This week): 23-13 (16-9)
Expected Record: 23-13
Last Week's Ranking: 5
Notes: A team OPS of. 951 is bolstered by three regulars (Roosevelt Hanson, Casey Kaline and Alejandro Perez) with OPS numbers over 1.000 and another (Carter Lowe) over .990.

5 Kansas City McCoys

Record (This week): 23-13 (15-10)
Expected Record: 22-14
Last Week's Ranking: 2
Notes: Al Astacio has at least one hit in 35 of the McCoys' first 36 games... including a 34-game hitting streak to start the season. Not surprisingly, his batting average is a robust .390 at the moment.

6 Las Vegas Gamble

Record (This week): 19-17 (12-13)
Expected Record: 22-14
Last Week's Ranking: 4
Notes: Their recent struggles seem to be the result of bad luck more than anything else. Their runs scored and runs allowed totals are virtually identical to Kansas City, but the Gamble sit four games back of the McCoys in the standings at the moment. That's normally a sign of one of two things. 1) A lousy bullpen or 2) Bad luck. The Gamble have four relievers with sub-4 ERAs, so it seems likely that... like many in Vegas... the Gamble are simply on a cold streak at the moment.

7 Charlotte Winstons

Record (This week): 21-15 (15-10)
Expected Record: 18-18
Last Week's Ranking: 11
Notes: Not to rain on anyone's parade, but it would be surprising to see the Winstons keep up their current winning percentage for more than a week or two. Their expected (Pythagorean) record indicates that their run has been bolstered by a generous smattering of luck. The pitching has been pretty good, but the hitting (11th in the AL in runs) has been lackluster. History indicates that they won't likely be able to maintain their 8-2 record in one-run games over the course of the season.

8 Hartford Ascension

Record (This week): 17-19 (10-15)
Expected Record: 20-16
Last Week's Ranking: 3
Notes: The Ascension are the best of a bad bunch in the East division at the moment. They've had a bit of bad luck, posting a losing record despite a +22 run differential. Someone has to win the East, and while Boston is starting to turn itself around under its new owner, the Ascension have a seven-game head start on the Badasses at the moment.

9 Monterrey Acero

Record (This week): 17-19 (13-12)
Expected Record: 18-18
Last Week's Ranking: 12
Notes: Acero catchers have thrown out an AL-best 41.9% of would-be basestealers this year. The Atlanta Braves have the best throw-out percentage in all of the majors with 48.1%.

10 Toledo Holy

Record (This week): 18-18 (12-13)
Expected Record: 16-20
Last Week's Ranking: 7
Notes: How can Jung Martin possibly be this bad? His ratings are solid across the board, and yet he's given up 10 HR in just 21.1 IP this season. He got shelled last year as well (13 HR in just 26.1 IP). With two-plus years and about $14M left on his contract, Toledo needs Martin to pull it together in a big hurry.

11 St. Louis Knights

Record (This week): 15-21 (9-16)
Expected Record: 16-20
Last Week's Ranking: 10
Notes: Knights have 33 SB... and 25 CS this season. Alex Lopez and Mike Phillips are a combined 0-for-9 on stolen base attempts.

12 Washington DC Old School Warriors

Record (This week): 14-22 (8-17)
Expected Record: 16-20
Last Week's Ranking: 6
Notes: They've got two things going for them-- they're not as bad as their record might indicate and 83 wins could net them a division title in the AL East. They're the only team in Ryan World that has not recorded a "plus" play (think Web Gem) yet this season. They do have nine "minus" plays and a Ryan World-worst seven passed balls.

13 Durham Bulls

Record (This week): 14-22 (11-14)
Expected Record: 15-21
Last Week's Ranking: 15
Notes: C.J. Ross has posted a 10-game hitting streak... and his OPS is still just .557.

14 Fargo Fevola's

Record (This week): 13-23 (10-15)
Expected Record: 16-20
Last Week's Ranking: 14
Notes: The Fevolas have the exact same expected winning percentage as Toledo... only the Holy are five games up in the standings. They're not going to catch Madison or the Bombers this year, but if Marty Hooper keeps throwing well, they're going to be a good team in a couple years.

15 Anaheim Hitch Hikers

Record (This week): 11-25 (11-14)
Expected Record: 1-10
Last Week's Ranking: 16
Notes: Two pieces of good news here. 1) After an 0-11 start, they've rebounded nicely to put up a record close to .500 over the last week. 2) They're out of the cellar in the Power Rankings, thanks to Boston's post-abandonment struggles. The well-traveled Banana Kashmir appears to be making himself at home in Orange County with a respectable .828 OPS. On the other end of the spectrum, there is absolutely no way to make sense of Pedro Rodriguez's struggles this year. His ratings suggest he should be an above-average slugger. His .543 OPS in more than 110 ABs doesn't make sense.

16* Boston Badasses

Record (This week): 10-26 (6-19)
Expected Record: 6-30
Last Week's Ranking: 13
Notes: Boston sits in last place in this week's rankings with a major asterisk next to their number. After struggling mightily without an owner for the first 30 games or so, look for the Badasses to turn things around quickly now. They will end up challenging for their division before the season's over.

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