How they rank: Sept. 1

How they rank with last rankings in parentheses; stats through Thursday’s games:

  • 1. L.A. Dodgers (1): Dodgers lose five in a row. 2001 Mariners, who won record 116 games, can soon break out the champagne, a la the 1972 Dolphins. Dodgers, now a paltry 91-41, would have to go 26-4 over final 30 games to top those Mariners.
  • 2. Houston (2): Remember when Dallas Keuchel was upset the Astros didn’t make a significant move at the July 31 trade deadline? Sometimes pitchers should pitch and general managers generally manage.
  • 3. Washington (3): Manager Dusty Baker says Bryce Harper “is a long ways from running,” which means the Nationals are a long ways from winning in October.
  • 4. Cleveland (7): Chief Wahoo not going anywhere if the Indians have anything to say about it, and they do. Owner Paul Dolan, playing the role of Redskins owner Dan Snyder: “(The Indians and MLB are) not exactly aligned on its future. … There’s a lot of pressure on the national scene. We may live in a little bit of a bubble in terms of how we see Chief Wahoo and if you didn’t grow up here with it and you don’t have that emotional attachment and you look at it more objectively, you can see reason why some might be offended by it. And the commissioner is feeling that pressure.” Translation: Grin and bear it this October, MLB.
  • 5. Arizona (4): Closer Fernando Rodney says the Diamondbacks want to face the Dodgers in the playoffs.  Rodney:  “That’s the team I want to face. They’re talking about them as the best team in baseball. So when you beat the best, you are the best.” No matter how much Rodney wants to face the Dodgers, it’s not as much as the Dodgers want to face him.
  • 6. Chicago Cubs (6): Cubs get “one-time” waiver from the city to play a Friday night game at Wrigley Field next week so they don’t follow a Thursday night game with a Friday day game. “… we’re going to make sure the Cubs can focus on doing what they need to do, winning ballgames and bringing another World Series back to Chicago,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. There’s a guy who knows where the votes are.
  • 7. Boston (5): These aren’t Ted Williams’ Red Sox; they steal five bases in one game vs. Blue Jays and 11 in the series without being caught (it didn’t hurt that catcher Miguel Montero, now 4-for-58 in throwing out runners, took the 0-for-5). Red Sox are sixth in MLB with 90 steals and eighth in stolen base percentage (76.3%).
  • 8. N.Y. Yankees (9): CC Sabathia, upset that former teammate Eduardo Nunez bunted against him in the first inning, said, “It’s just kind of weak to me.’’ (Which also might aptly describe how he fielded Nunez’s bunt.) Too bad the late Lou Brissie, who had to field Yankee Phil Rizzuto’s bunts 70 years ago on a leg that was nearly amputated because of World War II injuries, isn’t around to tell CC he doth protest too much.
  • 9. Colorado (8): Nolan Arenado hits 30th home run, third straight year of 30 or more. He won’t lead NL in homers for a third straight season, thanks to Giancarlo Stanton, but his 111 RBIs lead Stanton by one, which would be a third straight RBI title. Last NL player to lead the league in RBIs three straight years was Reds’ George Foster (1976-78). And for the record, 228 of Arenado’s 374 RBIs in the last three years have come at Coors Field.
  • 10. Milwaukee (10): Your MLB co-leader in wins is Brewer Zach Davies, who won his 16th, as did Diamondback Zack Greinke, on Thursday.  It hasn’t hurt that the Brewers have scored 106 runs in those 16 wins, or 6.6 per victory for a pitcher with an ordinary .745 OPS against. (Clayton Kershaw, who hasn’t pitched since July 23, is tied for third at 15.)
  • 11. L.A. Angels (15): says Albert Pujols,  “is the worst player in baseball. Pujols has flat-out stunk up Angel Stadium. He’s hitting .230 (79 points below his previous career average) with an (OPS) 26 percent worse than league average. Even in an age of ineffective designated hitters, Pujols has easily been the worst hitter at the position that provides the least defensive value (i.e., zero value). As a result, no player has been less valuable than Pujols this year: His -1.99 WAR ranks dead last among all players (including pitchers).” Only four more years to go on that contract Angels fans.
  • 12. Minnesota (20): It’s cute that Bartolo Colon is 44 years old, has won four games and the Twins are in position to win a wild card. It’s also hyped nonsense. Ageless Bartolo leading Twins playoff push, headlined a Fox Sports North story this week. Let’s be honest: if Colon’s pitching is leadership, it’s Custer’s. Colon has thrown 11 homers in 55 innings and opponents are hitting .313 against him as a Twin. Custer’s men wondered where all the Indians came from. Twins fans should know where all the base runners come from.
  • 13. St. Louis (13): Pitcher Carlos Martinez loses consecutive starts when he a.) throws a potential 1-2-3 DP over catcher Yadier Molina’s head and b.) throws a potential 1-6-3 DP into center field. It’s always mystifying how a pitcher can control where he throws when on the rubber and not when he steps off it.
  • 14. Texas (18): Rangers refuse to switch home series with Astros after Hurricane Harvey, and disgruntled Astros fan starts an online petition to get the state flag of Texas removed from the Rangers’ uniforms. “With everything going on in Texas and the spirit of unity, how can a team represent the great State of Texas by wearing the state flag, when they do not share in our state’s helping spirit?” asks the petition. “The Texas Rangers do not represent the State of Texas and therefore should not be allowed to wear our state’s flag.” Surprised only that the petition didn’t mention Nelson Cruz, the 2011 World Series and Game 6.
  • 15. Tampa Bay (11): MLB save leader Alex Colome first to 40 saves, becomes sixth Ray closer to get there. First five were Fernando Rodney (48 in 2012), Rafael Soriano (45 in 2010), Roberto Hernandez (43 in 1999), Danys Baez (41 in 2005) and Brad Boxberger ( 41 in 2015). Only Boxberger and Soriano led the AL.
  • 16. Baltimore (19): Orioles hit 57 home runs in August, one shy of MLB record (1999 Mariners and 1987 Orioles, both in May). Even better, their pitchers only threw 43, which ranked 23rd for the month. Orioles pitchers have thrown 200 home runs this year, more than any team except Cincinnati (215) and Seattle (204), and just five less than the MLB-high 205 their offense has hit. Have to wonder what would happen if Orioles hitters faced Orioles pitchers.
  • 17. Miami (16): Marlins’ four-game losing streak after winning 13 of 16 knocks them under .500, where they were from April 28-Aug. 22. There may not be enough Giancarlo Stanton home runs in 2017 to keep them in contention.
  • 18. Seattle (14): Mariners rotation before season was supposed to be Felix Hernandez, James Paxton, Hisashi Iwakuma, Drew Smyly and Yovani Gallardo. They’ve started 60 of Mariners’ 134 games, and they’re chasing a playoff berth in the first week of September with a rotation of Mike Leake, Gallardo, Andrew Albers, Marco Gonzales and Ariel Miranda.
  • 19. Kansas City (12): Danny Duffy charged with DUI after Royals fail to score for 45 innings. Tweeted Joe Sheehan: The only Royal to score above 0.00 in some time.
  • 20. Pittsburgh (17): Pirates lose their second-best reliever Juan Nicasio to Phillies on irrevocable waivers after a fellow NL contender blocked the team’s attempts to trade him via revocable waivers. Pirates GM Neal Huntington: “We acknowledge the minimal amount of money saved by making this move, however, as a result of our decision and Juan’s pending free agency at the end of the season, we felt it appropriate to attempt to move Juan to a better situation for him.” If so, they failed. Last-place Phillies aren’t a better situation for anyone.
  • 21. Toronto (21): Troy Tulowitzki answers social media calls for him to be moved off shortstop, saying: “I’ll start this thing as a shortstop and I’ll finish it as a shortstop.” What’s more important is not where Tulowitzki is on the field, but that he’s there at all. The unfortunate Tulo has played just 589 games over the last six seasons, or 98 per season, and only 66 this year.
  • 22. Atlanta (24): Brandon Phillips approves trade to Angels, saying “my family made this decision for me.” It didn’t hurt that he got half a million dollars for a clause in his contract that denoted payment if he was dealt during the season. It’s the second time in six-and-a-half months Phillips has been traded: Of the $14.5 million Phillips is making this season, the Reds, who dealt him in February, are paying $13 million, the Braves $1 million and the Angels the $500,000 bonus.
  • 23. N.Y. Mets (23): Minor-league outfielder Tim Tebow says he plans to return to the Mets organization next season. Maybe someone should talk to the Mets, who already have their fill of bad players. Tebow: “In looking back, there’s a lot of ups and downs …” Considering his .223 average and .651 OPS, the downs are Florida and the ups are Vanderbilt.
  • 24. Detroit (22): Tigers send a letter to ticket holders on the dreary state of the team one day, closing with a pitch for ticket sales for 2018. The next day they traded away Justin Upton and Justin Verlander. Bet that closed the deal.
  • 25. Cincinnati (25): Joey Votto homers, then high-fives a 6-year-old cancer patient and gives him the bat. “These are the days you remember when you have the bad days,” says boy’s dad. What was that Tom Hanks was saying?
  • 26. San Diego (26): Padres canceled batting practice Tuesday for a viewing of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Good thing movie night selection wasn’t a horror show — like the Padres’ 2017 season highlights.
  • 27. Oakland (27): A’s score eight runs in fourth inning, but lose to Angels 10-8. “That’s the positive part of it and we have to keep our spirits up,” said manager Bob Melvin. In the interest of doing so, let it be noted the A’s won the fourth inning, even if the Angels won all the rest.
  • 28 San Francisco (29): Giants pitcher Johnny Cueto on the possibility of opting out of the $80+ million left on his contract: “My whole mentality has been for me to stay here.” Funny, but that’s what his 4.59 ERA says as well.
  • 29 Chicago White Sox (28): White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson’s jersey on Players Weekend had an unusual nickname: B. Moss,  which wasn’t a tribute to the Royals’ .201-hitting DH but for an Alabama childhood friend who was killed in a shooting. Anderson planned to give the jersey to his friend’s family.
  • 30. Philadelphia (30): Rhys Hoskins hits 11 homers in first 18 games, now sixth on team, tied with Freddy Galvis. His next home run will tie him with Odubel Herrera, three more will tie him with Cameron Rupp.
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2 Responses to How they rank: Sept. 1

  1. Troy says:

    Well, Dave, I came across this waiting out a great Florida thunderstorm and read (most) of it. Though you know my baseball affinity is severely lacking, I found your analysis cogent and interesting. You could have a future in this kind of thing. Oh, wait ….

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