Monday, November 24, 2008

AL Power Rankings, Week 4

Even after a one-week hiatus (real life intervening at an inopportune moment), the top seven spots remain unchanged this week. However the margin between numbers one and two is razor-thin, as is the margin between numbers three and four. The top three teams all have exactly the same expected record. It's going to be a wild pennant race and an absolute war in the playoffs.

Things are even crazy on the less-desirable end of the spectrum-- the bottom four teams in this week's Power Rankings all hail from the same division... meaning it's a four-way race for the #4 spot in the playoffs.

1 Wichita Sizzlers

Record (This week): 52-23 (25-14)
Expected Record: 53-22
Last Week's Ranking: 1
Notes: The starting rotation is eating up a ton of innings and keeping the bullpen fresh. Only seven AL pitchers have thrown over 100 innings. Four of them pitch for the Sizzlers. I've run out of stuff to say about Timothy Garcia. Just click on "stats" and sigh.

2 Oklahoma City Chickens

Record (This week): 52-23 (28-11)
Expected Record: 53-22
Last Week's Ranking: 2
Notes: The AL's flashiest defensive team. Their 17 "plus" plays and 5 "minus" plays are both the best totals in the league. They're also the flashiest team on offense. Their 176 HRs are 43 more than any other AL team-- and they play their home games in the most extreme pitchers' park in the league. Mitch Matthews continues to be lights-out with an 0.65 ERA in his closer role.

3 New York Bombers

Record (This week): 48-27 (26-13)
Expected Record: 53-22
Last Week's Ranking: 3
Notes: They have bounced into an AL-worst 93 double plays. That's just one symptom of a lead-footed lineup. They have hit a league-low six triples and are 14th in the league in steals with 44. They can score, though... 564 runs scored is the best in the AL.

4 Madison Massas

Record (This week): 48-27 (25-14)
Expected Record: 47-28
Last Week's Ranking: 4
Notes: Ellis Watson is a perfect 22-for-22 on saves this year. The top two OPS guys in the AL play for Oklahoma City. Numbers three and four (Casey Kaline and Roosevelt Hanson) play in Madison.

5 Kansas City McCoys

Record (This week): 43-32 (20-19)
Expected Record: 43-32
Last Week's Ranking: 5
Notes: Dead last in the AL in fielding at the moment with 68 errors and a .976 fielding percentage. Their relievers don't seem to come into too many tight spots. They've only inherited 40 runners. The next-closest AL team has inherited 78.

6 Las Vegas Gamble

Record (This week): 41-34 (22-17)
Expected Record: 43-32
Last Week's Ranking: 6
Notes: Their pinch-hitters have been great weapons this season, going 15-for-30 (.500 BA) off the bench. They also lead the AL with 66 infield hits.

7 Charlotte Winstons

Record (This week): 40-35 (19-20)
Expected Record: 39-36
Last Week's Ranking: 7
Notes: Their pitching staff has an AL-best six complete games and two shutouts. Vladimir Rodriguez has them all.

8 Fargo Fevola's

Record (This week): 38-37 (25-14)
Expected Record: 39-36
Last Week's Ranking: 14
Notes: Fargo is one of the hottest teams in the league right now... despite a leaky bullpen. They've converted just 22 of 40 save opportunities this year.

9 Monterrey Acero

Record (This week): 38-37 (21-18)
Expected Record: 38-37
Last Week's Ranking: 9
Notes: Tied for the best GB/FB ratio in the AL at 1.40. Albert Frazier continues to tear the cover off the ball with an OPS of 1.022... but is something of a defensive liability at SS, with just one "plus" and six "minus" plays on all those ground balls.

10 St. Louis Knights

Record (This week): 36-39 (21-18)
Expected Record: 35-40
Last Week's Ranking: 11
Notes: The bullpen has been a problem, allowing 55 inherited runners to score. That's more than any AL team except Boston. Knights' closer Willie Feliz has been one of the biggest culprits, allowing 10 of 17 inherited runners to score.

11 Toledo Holy

Record (This week): 35-40 (17-22)
Expected Record: 31-44
Last Week's Ranking: 10
Notes: Dead last in the AL in OPS at .699. They have also hit 23 fewer doubles (68) than any other AL team. The Holy is making "Trader Jack" McKeon look like "Stand Pat" Gillick. They've made 22 trades already this season and don't seem to be even remotely done dealing yet.

12 Anaheim Hitch Hikers

Record (This week): 35-40 (19-15)
Expected Record: 26-49
Last Week's Ranking: 15
Notes: A whopping 26 different guys have pitched for the Hitch Hikers this season. Banana Kashmir is a nice hitter with a great name... but he's not a CF. He's got a whopping eight "minus" plays this year.

13 Hartford Ascension

Record (This week): 28-47 (11-28)
Expected Record: 32-43
Last Week's Ranking: 13
Notes: They're the best of a bad lot in the AL East at the moment. The four AL East teams went a combined 4-20 against the NY Burros and Burlington in the recent round of interleague play. Hartford is tied with Boston with an AL-worst 19 quality starts. For comparison's sake, the AL's best team (Wichita) has 47.

14 Durham Bulls

Record (This week): 27-48 (13-26)
Expected Record: 29-46
Last Week's Ranking: 13
Notes: First the good news: Joshua Johnson and Daryle Davis have been great out of the bullpen this year. Now the bad news: no starting pitcher has an ERA under 5.

15 Boston Badasses

Record (This week): 27-48 (17-22)
Expected Record: 18-57
Last Week's Ranking: 16
Notes: Boston has to be considered the favorite to win the wretched East. They've overcome an absolutely dreadful start following their abandonment and have gained a lot of ground in the divisional race. The "expected record" is misleading. They started with a 6-30 mark in that department, and were actually 12-27 since then. They are the only team in the division to post a winning record in inter-league play, sweeping two NL East teams.

16 Washington DC Old School Warriors

Record (This week): 25-50 (11-28)
Expected Record: 27-48
Last Week's Ranking: 12
Notes: The good news is that even sitting DFL in the Power Rankings, they're still only three games out of first at the moment. Excluding Boston (who played without a manager for the first few weeks of the season) their pitching staff has posted the worst WHIP of any AL team.

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