When last we left our fearless ranking hero, he was trying to rhyme Lewis and Holland with Spahn and Sain, and he was marveling at how normally docile Atlantonians could be so creatively vile towards Ryan Braun.
Our good friend Len Kasper read that subhead and launched into a 15 minute dissertation of Boys and Girls in America.
Statistics through Sunday (last week’s ranking)
1. Rangers (1): Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli, Ian Kinsler and Michael Young all rank in the top 17 in OPS among American League hitters. The pitching and defense held opponents to 2.7 runs per game on a trip to Minnesota, Boston and Detroit.
Would you believe that the Rangers have the only four white guys among the top 17 AL OPS leaders? You probably would, but it’s not true. Also good on Phildo for giving Texas’ defense some love. People always talk about how pitching holds down offenses, when really, the defense holds them down while pitching curb stomps them.
2. Tigers (3): The lineup hasn’t really produced since the first weekend, but only the Rangers and White Sox have taken series from them.
You just try to take a series from the Tigers! You can’t do it! I mean, they’ve played five and they’ve only lost 40 percent of them.
3. Dodgers (2): Pounded by the Astros? Chad Billingsley remains an enigma.
Yes indeed. Chad Billingsley is a mystery that no man can solve. Why, here’s a guy who has pitched five full seasons in the big leagues and has won either 11 or 12 games in four of them. No pattern there. Get me Nic Cage and a Windtalker, and maybe we could crack this code! No way is he just a 300 pound mediocrity. No sir!
4. Cardinals (4): Carlos Beltran is sixth in the National League with a .964 OPS; Albert Pujols is 70th in the AL at .654. Didn’t see that coming.
The Grand Canyon couldn’t fit a list of all the things you don’t see coming. Everybody knows Carlos Beltran can still hit. What he can’t do is stay ambulatory. And as for Pujols…it’s been 16 games! He changed teams, leagues, time zones, and HGH regimens. Give the man a month!
5. Yankees (5): Sunday’s rainout let them get a head start flying to Texas. The series against the Rangers is an early test for two powers.
Who exactly were they racing to Texas? Don’t give Nick Swisher any ideas, or he’ll turn every getaway day into a Cannonball Run sequel. If I see him and Dom Deluise in an ambulance, I’m moving to Latvia.
6. Rays (7): James Shields has gained velocity on his fastball, which has helped him give up only three runs in 241/3 innings in his last three starts. He’s the true ace of baseball’s deepest rotation.
Phil is, as always amazing. He attributes some mystery MPH that Shields apparently found in the cushions of his couch to his 2.76 ERA this year in three starts. Clearly these miles per hour you speak of have transformed this man into a completely different and better pitcher! You know what Shields’ ERA was last year, without the imaginary missing velocity? 2.82. So his great start is almost exactly what he did for an entire season last year.
7. Blue Jays (8): Closer Sergio Santos goes on the disabled list with a sore shoulder. Did the White Sox see problems coming?
Obviously no. Kenny Williams doesn’t trade guys with bad shoulders away. He trades for them. Hey, now that Santos is on the DL, the Jays should try to get Kenny to sign that special Peavy-waiver and trade him back.
8. Nationals (12): Bryce Harper knows he’s stuck at Triple-A Syracuse until the end of May, when he won’t have the service time to be a Super-2 arbitration player after 2014. Don’t read too much into his .234 batting average. He will get hot in a few weeks and make Davey Johnson’s team even more interesting this summer.
Quite a pattern developing here for Phil. He advocated the Cubs call up Brett Jackson even though Jackson wasn’t hitting well at Iowa. And now, he pooh-poohs the chosen one, Bryce Harper’s shitty performance at Syracuse. One of the things good teams prefer to do is wait until their young players are actually playing well to promote them. You know who gets promoted for being shitty at AAA? Corey Patterson.
9. Braves (13): Building a big head of steam to take into next week’s series against the Phillies.
Look out Yankees! The Braves want to race you to Texas! Then to Philly!
10. Angels (9): Here’s the bad news about the bad start: With the exception of a series against the Yankees, they’ve been losing to weak teams. You don’t want to spot the Rangers a seven-game advantage. The suspect bullpen has been a problem (1-for-4 in save situations), and the rotation and lineup have been disappointing. The only category they’re dominating is long-term contracts, with shortstop Erick Aybar the latest to cash in on $471 million in deals with five players (Jered Weaver, Pujols, C.J. Wilson, Howie Kendrick and Aybar) since August.
They’re doomed! They’re seven games out and they only have 146 games left to make them up! Oh, and they’re four games out of either one of of the wild cards. Don’t hang the dreaded standings x-eliminated on them just yet. (But still, how can a legit playoff contender think it’s a good idea to let Vernon Wells anywhere near a bat rack?)
11. Phillies (10): Once-feared lineup produced two home runs in a nine-game stretch through Sunday.
Hey, this lineup is still feared. Since last week when Juan-for-five-Pierre had the same batting average, on base average and slugging average (all were .292) he’s gone crazy, with a triple and TWO walks! Fear on that, losers!
12. Diamondbacks (6): They’ve been a different team since Chris Young was hurt.
Did anybody notice that Chris Young was hitting .410 with a 1.397 OPS through 11 games? Doesn’t it feel like the D’backs don’t really exist? Anyway, they’ve been lousy in the seven games since Young got hurt. But they’re also playing Willie Fucking Bloomquist at shorstop, and that shit’s gonna catch up with you eventually.
13. White Sox (17): Which is less likely? Philip Humber throwing a perfect game or A.J. Pierzynski ranking third in the AL in slugging? Lot of magic going on for Robin Ventura.
I don’t know, Phil, which is more likely? A skinny dope who’s been released twice throwing the 21st perfect game in 143 years of baseball, or some random catcher hitting well for two and a half weeks? I can’t decide, either.
And nobody knows magic like the White Sox. Remember when Jerry Dybzynski used to go on Carson all the time?
14. Giants (16): Matt Cain has gone nine innings in his last two starts, allowing three hits. He starts Tuesday in Cincinnati.
Uh…do you think maybe Matt Cain’s gone 18 innings in his last two starts? Nine innings in two isn’t that impressive. Hell, even Paul Maholm can pull that off.
15. Marlins (18): Mark Buehrle is 3-for-3 in quality starts.
No other news going on with the Marlins. Just that the chubby, furry guy they signed has given up 21 hits in 20 innings. Good job of summing the last week up, Phil!
16. Reds (14): Since hitting five homers in the first series, they’ve hit four in 13 games. Scott Rolen is the biggest question mark. He needs to raise his .170 average soon to stop whispers about losing it at 37.
Clearly, Scott Rolen is just now losing “it.” I hope he can rebound to put up the huge numbers he did last year when he hit .242 with a .676 OPS, five homers and 36 RBI in 65 games. The Reds can’t win without star-like production like that. Who could have seen his 2012 struggles coming?
17. Mets (15): One of April’s nice surprises.
Phil wrote basically the same thing about them last week, and demoted them two spots. They’re 8-8, and they can’t hit a lick. They’re adorable!
18. Rockies (22): The late-blooming Rafael Betancourt looks comfortable as the closer.
I’m stunned that Phil isn’t going on about the great start that Tyler Colvin is off to (.323/.344/.516) and how the Rockies should bench that overrated hack Carlos Gonzalez (.240/.296/.360). Colorado’s not going anywhere until Chiclets is given a bigger role! (Ignore the fact that Colvin has struck out 10 times in 31 at bats and walked once.)
19. Orioles (23): Matt Wieters is unquestionably the best all-around catcher in the majors. He’s hitting like Buster Posey, which has him headed toward a breakout season. Backup Ronny Paulino can hit, but don’t look for him to get much playing time.
Come on, Showalter! Get Ronny Paulino some at bats! Ignore the fact that the only time he was close to league average at catcher was in 80 games with the Marlins four seasons ago. This is no way to win a pennant! You need to deploy the Paulino!
20. Indians (24): Three winning series in a row. Could easily be ranked five spots higher.
Phil would like to rank the Indians higher, but his hands are tied. Hey, it’s not like he’s just one man arbitrarily throwing ranking feces at the ranking wall. Sorry, Cleveland. This is science!
21. Brewers (21): Nyjer Morgan’s “Plushdamentals” added up to a slash line of .119/.119/.119 in the first 16 games. Few players blow as hot and cold.
There’s a reason Nyjer’s act wears thin so quickly on each new team. He sucks, and he’s crazy. You can be crazy, but you have to be good. The only place you get rewarded for being terrible is when they promote you to national baseball writer for the Tribune.
22. Red Sox (11): Only the Twins had a worse run differential than Boston’s minus-25 through Sunday. Leadership in the clubhouse is badly missing.
Dr. Phildo has diagnosed the problem! The Red Sox got the wrong Cub. This team is in need of a Ryan Dempster clubhouse hilarity injection! You know what would turn around a team missing its left fielder, center fielder and closer? Some expertly placed yuks! No team can be shitty with a prop comic Canadian skipping around the clubhouse in a Captain America costume! That’s worth 27 runs right there. Get on it, Cherrington!
Truth is the Red Sox have leaders. They have Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz. The reason they suck is because they’ve got a lot of good players who are hurt, and their new GM didn’t bother to find a shortstop or replace the two thirds of his bullpen that he let walk in the offseason. The problem isn’t leadership or Bobby Valentine. The problem is that Clay Buchholz still isn’t healthy, neither is Josh Beckett and they took the one part of their bullpen from last year that worked (the end with Papelbon and Bard) and let one leave and made a starter out of the other one.
23. Athletics (26): Treading water nicely given the AL-low 3.1 runs per game. Yoenis Cespedes needs the hitters in front of and behind him to step it up.
The A’s are like the Mets of the west! Which, for some reason is worth six less spots on the list.
24. Mariners (19): The Chone Figgins era remains grim. Not a single .300 hitter on the team that Humber threw his perfect game against.
Here were the batting averages of the hitters Seattke ran out there for Humber’s perfect game:
Chone Figgins – .226
Dustin Ackley – .246
Ichiro Suzuki – .266
Justin Smoak – .203
Kyle Seager – .275
Jesus Montero – .245
Michael Saunders – .209
Miguel Olivo – .125
John Jaso – .250
Munenori Kawaski – .133
Brendan Ryan – .200
I’m amazed anytime anybody throws a perfect game. But I’m also amazed anytime anybody in that lineup actually gets a hit.
25. Pirates (25): A.J. Burnett could be a very good addition. His seven shutout innings against the Cardinals in his delayed debut were impressive.
Also impressive, he went a whole start without bunting a ball off of his own face. Atta boy, AJ!
26. Royals (20): Danny Duffy reportedly has gained 4 mph on his fastball this season, but on Sunday he became the fifth Kansas City starter in a nine-game stretch to last less than five innings.
Lost MPH rediscovered in couch cushions goes both ways in Phildoland. In the case of James Shields it makes you a negligible amount better than you were last year. In Danny Duffy’s case, it makes you just as bad as you were as a rookie.
27. Padres (30): Strong starts by Cory Luebke and Anthony Bass let Bud Black’s team split a four-game series with the Phillies. That’s progress.
Good job, Fathers! You split a home series with the Phillies and their non-representative injury-riddled lineup. The Josh Byrnes magic continues unabated!
28. Twins (29): Hello, Justin Morneau. Good to have you back.
Fool proof concussion test, if a player takes a Phil Rogers compliment to heart, you send their brain to Chris Nowinski immediately.
29. Astros (27): Left fielder J.D. Martinez and second baseman Jose Altuve are taking advantage of their opportunities. Center fielder Jordan Schafer isn’t far behind them.
Last week, Phildo kudoed Martinez and Altuve. This week he adds former Braves top-prospect-turned-’roid-bust Jordan Schaefer to his lofty list. Next up, could it be Cubs Rule 5 hostage Marwin Gonzalez? Well, Marwin sucks. So…probably.
30. Cubs (28): Michael Bowden should get a long look in a bullpen that badly needs arms. It’s a great situation for him as he could survive long-term when Kerry Wood returns from the DL.
Little known fact that Phildo unearthed, the Cubs bullpen needs arms! Hell, most of those guys are just torsos! How is Theo to know without his beloved Carmine computer system? The old TRS-80 that the Cubs have been using doesn’t have the standard Bats-Throws-Right-Left-Both-Neither field.