John Sickels said it best today, and it was one of the first things that I thought when I saw it. The Nazis couldn't beat London, and Al Qaeda won't either.
I don't know what else I can say, so I will post my article...
For the power rankings, we have yet another new #1.
If you're new to the site, I do the Power 30 every week, but I don't actually rank the teams myself. I use a fairly simple formula, modeled on the BCS but very, very different from it.
The teams are ranked in a few different categories, including their third-order Pythagenport winning percentage (from Prospectus), ESPN's RPI (notes strength of schedule), and a home-brewed adjustment of the TB*OBP run estimation method. The fourth category is an average of various Power Rankings from around the web - normally, we use rankings from Sportsline, RotoTimes, SI.com, Prospectus' Hit List, and FoxSports. RotoTimes didn't publish this week, so I substituted with rankings from SportsColumn.com.
The ranks in each category are summed and then the teams are ordered from lowest to highest.
So, without further ado:
- Angels (2) - I can't argue with this selection. I hammered the Angels in past weeks because their peripherals weren't computing to a winning season. Well, Guerrero returned and the stats came with him. They've got a strong run differential now, and they've played the league's toughest schedule. Give them a lot of credit; they've proven me wrong.
- Cardinals (4) - The Cards have made their living beating up on the NL Central, but that should get them to the playoffs. Rolen's back and has been exceptional this month.
- White Sox (1) It's tough to argue with a .687 winning percentage. In less important news, as a "stathead," I am legally obligated to criticize the voters for selecting Scott Podsednik over the other candidates and their much gaudier stats. Oh well. Steals sell, and Podsednik steals at a very efficient clip.
- Indians (6) - #1 in Third-Order Pythagenport, and you can thank Travis Hafner for that. He won Player of the Month in June and is quickly proving that he wasn't a one year wonder. Since June 1, he's hitting .380/.460/.806.
- Red Sox (3) - Public opinion on Keith Foulke has dropped faster than public opinion on George W. Bush did after he won reelection. I proclaimed Foulke a "relief deity" a couple months back, and now everyone hates him. Exiled to the DL, he'll be back as a top closer.
- Rangers (9) - Remember when the AL West was bad? That was a long time ago... the West now has 3 teams in the Top 12. Kenny Rogers should be ashamed because his team needs him to make those 4 starts that he'll miss for the suspension. Oh, and he assaulted someone. Speaking of which, suspension-policies need to be harsher on starting pitchers... 4 starts isn't enough.
- Braves (8) - Flipping with the Twins this week. They're still looking up at the Nats right now, but Chipper's coming back, the Nats are coming back to Earth, and the Marlins, Phillies, and Mets are playing themselves out of the race. Prospectus pegs the Braves at about 60% favorites to make the playoffs. I think that's fair.
- Twins (7) - The surging Indians have to be scaring the Twins right now. The Indians fell apart last year, but I'm not so sure that will happen again. Speaking of which, Johan Santana's only problem this year seems to be that he's given up a couple more homers than last. I'm not worried; his K/BFP is virtually identical (.3008 v. .3004).
- Orioles (5) - Sigh. So much for the upset of the century.
- Yankees (14) - Hideki Matsui's back from a pretty bad slump, and he's got the line up to .317/.391/.522. He's going to cost a lot of money for the Yanks... in terms of the playoffs, Pavano's on the DL now, and it's going to be tough. The Twins, Indians, Orioles, Red Sox, White Sox, and A's are all going to be in the running. For a change, the AL will be very, very exciting down the stretch.
- Nationals (12) - Moving up a spot even in hitting a bump in the road. My guess on the Nats is that they play .450 ball the rest of the way and win 86 games. It would take a serious collapse for them to not at least finish over .500...
- A's (19) - Look who's back. Our big riser this week is from Oakland, and, all of a sudden, the A's aren't making quite so many of us look quite as dumb. I still think the playoffs are a very, very big longshot, but if there's any team which you could have expected to improve down the stretch, it's the A's with all of that young and maturing pitching. They're healthy now (for the most part) and won't go away so easily.
- Blue Jays (17) - Still here? If any Blue Jays' fans really dislike me for being so down and pessimistic about the Jays, I'm sorry, but they're surprising me a lot this year. Fans should be proud; this team is holding its own and is 10-5 against the Yanks and Red Sox.
- Marlins (15) - .224/.277/.343, .255/.271/.277. Mike Lowell v. Dontrelle Willis, batting-wise. Just food for thought.
- Mets (13) - 10 starts. 63.2 IP. 2.91 ERA. No, that's not a quality number 2 starter. That's Victor Zambrano, who has quietly put together a very nice stretch. A lot of that is due to a very low BABIP (I estimate that the BABIP is at .235 for that stretch), but his control has been much better, too. His BB/9 over that stretch is 4.5, and it's gotten better (3.3 over last 6 starts). We'll keep watching.
- Cubs (10) - "Questionable Thu. vs Atl. 7/6 (Shoulder)" - from Derrek Lee's ESPN player card. Ugh.
- Phillies (18) - 9 homers in 38.2 innings for Uggy. I'd be worried, too, if I were from Philly.
- Padres (16) - Jake Peavy's DIPS ERA is 2.74 and third in the NL. He leads the NL in K/9, ahead of even Pedro Martinez. This guy is spectacular and is shaping up to be the best pitcher from a 1999 draft class with some real good ones (Beckett, Zito, Sheets).
- Tigers (11) - Bonderman's having a real nice season (11-5, 3.99 ERA), but I'm just a tad worried about the lack of K's. His K/BFP has dropped from 21.2% to 18.4%, and from the 22 year old phenom, that's a bit disconcerting. Then again, most guys at 22 aren't in the majors. Bonderman's almost an ace, so I'll cut him some slack. Cy Young in 2006. Maybe. And then huge, huge arbitration figures. He could be a free agent before he's 26.
- Brewers (20) - Russell Branyan is leading the team in OPS, which isn't an indictment of the team; he's having a very nice season (.264/.376/.519). I'll leave it to everyone else to get up on the TTO horse, but Branyan can hit, and it's really a shame that everyone sees his faults (Ks) instead of his major benefits (homers, walks).
- Astros (23) - They're hot and are managing to stay afloat in the NL; they're currently only 1 game under. I was extremely pessimistic about this team, but they seem to be putting it together. A big reason for it is that Berkman finally started hitting and Ensberg is doing his best Mike Schmidt impression this season. Oh, and Roger Clemens is having another Cy-caliber season. And Oswalt's not bad...
- Dodgers (21) - Now J.D. Drew is hurt, and it's time to put the nail in the coffin. This won't be a long hiatus from winning; their farm and front office is too good for that, but it's not their year. Expect major improvements in 2006.
- Mariners (22) - I'm going to try and say something nice about the Mariners because I've spent much of the first half bertaing Adrian Beltre in these five lines or so. Nice thing: Beltre is hitting .330/.388/.528 since June 1. Other nice thing: Guardado represents a very nice trade chip. So we'll see how it goes for the Mariners the rest of the way...
- Diamondbacks (24) - Considering how poorly they've played, it's amazing to think that they're only 4.5 out of first. If they played an unbalanced schedule against a real division, they're 35-51 and everyone's criticizing the Russ Ortiz signing more than they already are...
- Pirates (25) - You've gotta feel sorry for Pirates fans, what with Oliver Perez going down after he finally looked like he was getting it together... eventually, they'll get better. It'll have to happen...
- Giants (28) - I'm getting antsy waiting for Bonds to return to make the Giants more respectable. Whatever you think of him, he's a great baseball player and is a treat to watch, even with the steroids controversy.
- Reds (26) - The Dunn rumors keep swirling, but I'd be shocked if they moved him. They'll probably dump some salary at the deadline, though; much ado was made about their franchise-record payroll this year.
- Devil Rays (27) - Pinella was desperate and almost opted to implement a strategy of starting a relief pitcher instead of the scheduled starter.... I think it would be great to see someone try something like that. Pinella's probably the most frustrated person in baseball right now.
- Royals (29) - Mike Sweeney's hurt, but luckily, it's only a forearm contusion. He's probably the best bat on the market, and someone might be desperate enough to stick him at first...
- Rockies (30) - We're still waiting for Preston Wilson to be traded... because there's nothing else of interest about the Rockies. Congrats to Brian Fuentes on his All-Star appearance, and we'd like to see the real Todd Helton here.