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BTB Power 30

The next one of these will be the last one... it's only about 10 days until the end of the season, and I figure that I'll save the last one for some sort of end-of-the-year wrap-up.

But there's still quite a few meaningful games on the schedule, so we'll talk about the teams. All of them.

And, without further ado:

  1. Cardinals (1) - Clinched, in, done, whatever you want... it's time to set themselves up for the postseason. They're the undisputed class of the NL and if Rolen were healthy, it'd be even more evident. They're not a lock in the playoffs, but this is a very successful season for the Cards.
  2. Indians (2) - Their 8th place finish in RPI is killing their chances at the #1 rank, because they've ranked at 1 or 2 in each of the other 3 determinants...
  3. Yankees (4) - Tied for second overall and they leapt past the Red Sox here and in the standings. We'll see how long that lasts, but it's looking more and more like that last series at Fenway will be critical. The Yanks have pitched very well this month, limiting opponents to a .268/.329/.399 line. Not bad.
  4. Red Sox (3) - The root of the Red Sox' decline, in this month, is their offensive slump. They're hitting .261/.331/.427 in September, and, from the league's best lineup, that's just not acceptable. Edgar Renteria's .167/.198/.192 on the month isn't helping.
  5. A's (6) - They've outscored opponents this month 91-88 in spite of trailing them by 50 points in OPS. That's not sustainable, and if the offense doesn't pick it up soon, they'll have punched Anaheim's playoff ticket.
  6. White Sox (5) - It's outstanding how fast this has gone, but don't blame the fact that this race is close entirely on the White Sox collapsing. It's not that they've "fallen apart," per se, as much as played more to their level. And yet, somehow, the Indians have gone 37-13 over their last 50 games. .500 ball for that stretch costs the ChiSox 12 games in the standings. It's really not their fault...
  7. Angels (8) - It's false representation to say that Vladimir Guerrero "understands the strike zone very well," even though, for 3 of the last 4 years, he's walked more than he strikes out. Guerrero's just a freak who can hit anything, anywhere, and it just so happens that he's had an above average BB/PA for the last few years. And, in terms of consistency, Guerrero's isolated power has been between .254 and .261 every season since 2001. He's on his way to the Hall.
  8. Astros (11) - When guys like Bill James criticize the value of the stolen base, what they really mean to say is "don't give Adam Everett 600 plate appearances just because he steals 20 bases in a season." He's good defensively, but seriously, if it weren't for Ensberg, this team would be historically bad at scoring runs.
  9. Phillies (10) - Moving on up, the Phils are taking games in all sorts of ways... Wednesday night's win was fueled by Ryan Howard's mammoth opposite field grand slam. Ryan Howard's a legit ROY candidate with 300 PAs and a .292/.358/.557 line. And yes, the Phillies did just pass the Braves in the power rankings.
  10. Braves (7) - As I said a couple of times in conversations this week, the Braves will make the playoffs with just enough of a team to surpass the rest of the league. But they're hobbling into the playoffs and haven't played too well of late. I'm as shocked as anyone that they haven't pulled away, but I think I picked the Marlins to win this division anyway. Shows what I know...
  11. Mets (9) - After an abysmal stretch that knocked them out of the playoff picture, the Mets have crushed most of the Marlins' playoff hopes with two straight wins. Someone should alert the world of the job that Aaron Heilman has done in relief this year... the embattled former starter has put up a 2.47 ERA in 58.1 IP. He's also walked only 17, given up only 1 homer, and struck out 67. Heilman's been devastating in relief; he appears to have found his niche.
  12. Rangers (13) - It's been this way for a while, but the Rangers aren't going to do too much winning if they can't straighten out their starting pitching... their starting pitchers average less than 5 2/3 innings per start and have a 5.06 ERA. Over a span of 35 starts, the average Ranger starter would have 194 IP, 220 H, 109 ER, 22 H, 63 BB, and 117 K. Well, the control's not bad.
  13. Twins (14) - The Twins are kind of the opposites of the Rangers, in terms of starting pitching. Their average start goes over 6.3 IP, and their 35-game line: 223 IP, 233 H, 96 ER, 28 HR, 38 BB, 134 K. They just can't hit, though. Those teams really ARE opposites... funny that they're both formerly the Senators.
Note: I swiped that methodology from here.
  1. Cubs (15) - Mark Prior's caught a case of gopheritis (he's surrendered 24 longballs in 161 innings, and, while that's not bad, it's holding him back)... that's two straight years of increases, though. It was at .64 HR/9 back in '03, but 1.05 last year and 1.33 this year. I think he'll rebound next year, provided he's healthy.
  2. Marlins (12) - These last couple of losses just haven't been very kind... playoff dreams, like F. Scott Fitzgerald's Winter Dreams, die hard, don't they? Rumour has it that they'll have to dump a lot of payroll because of the shortfall from not reaching the playoffs. That fanbase was so alienated back in 1998 that I almost can't blame them for not showing up in droves for this club, but the Marlins need some real attendance if they're going to survive in South Florida.
  3. Brewers (17) - The news is good from Milwaukee... that positive run differential is the first one they've achieved since all they back in 1992. So baby steps, I guess. This team could take another BIG one forward, though, with the right combo of moves this offseason.
  4. Blue Jays (16) - One of my favorite sabermetricians is a guy named Stephen Tomlinson, whose work I used as research for a project I did back in high school on baseball stats. A prophetic prediction, indeed, from that website: "But that's why I think there could be a paradigm shift soon, where suddenly ordinary baseball broadcasters, writers, and players and managers, refer more to these findings. The reason I think so is the Internet and the World Wide Web. Because of the web, millions of "ordinary" fans are going to be exposed to sabermetric findings in the near future, and once enough of them see the obvious, that there are tools of real value here, they will pressure real baseball people to answer for their decisions that go against these findings..." Good call, Mr. Tomlinson.
  5. Nationals (18) - Cristian Guzman's been horrendous all season, but we have to give credit where credit is due... He's hitting .327/.382/.531 in the month of September. I think it's a good bet that he'll revert to something between this season's .211/.254/.308 and last season's .274/.309/.384.
  6. Orioles (19) - The once mighty Oriole offense has fallen on hard times, hitting just .261/.320/.385 as a team in the seconjd half. There was a point in this season, remember, when the Orioles were considered one of the top teams. Hard to believe, isn't it?
  7. Padres (20) - Cruising to that division title. I think that if they get swept in the NLDS, they shouldn't even bother to fly the division title flag, because, quite frankly, that's all you need... I mean, quite frankly, they've scored 54 fewer runs than they've allowed, and there are at least 7 teams in the NL better than they are, and you could make a case for 8 or even 9.
  8. Reds (21) - Gut feeling is that, during this offseason, Adam Dunn and his .247/.386/.541 line are moving. And seriously, that's not an elite-player season.
  9. Tigers (22) - A major problem in Detroit is the lack of a big-time bat. The team leader in VORP is Placido Polanco, and he wasn't even there at the beginning of the season. And can I-Rod please take a freaking walk? His stat line of .280/.293/.454 would be so much better with, like 20 more walks. Seriously. The slugging would go up, too.
  10. Mariners (23) - The M's sort of suffer from the opposite problem of the Tigers - they lack offensive depth. They have 3 players with a VORP higher than 40, but the rest of the guys are just awful. Ichiro's got the batting average over .300, and Adrian Beltre's got his line up to .255/.300/.417, which is pretty much where he was pre-2004. Baseball's a funny game.
  11. Giants (25) - Barry Bonds, so far, has a .318/.429/.909 line. Yeah, that's right in line with the projections. And Barry Bonds is unbelievable.
  12. Dodgers (24) - Credit where credit's due: I wouldn't have signed Jeff Kent at his age, but his .295/.381/.591 has kept the Dodgers' offense respectable.
  13. Devil Rays (25) - Jonny Gomes has been exceptional in the vein of Jason Bay's rookie season... he's got a .286/.382/.543 line. This team can hit a lot. Maybe a trade for some more young pitchers is in order...?
  14. Pirates (28) - Speaking of Jay-Bay, the Canadian Crusher is now 4th in the bigs in VORP. Expect a bit of regression next year, but it's tough to go against a Gonzaga grad.
  15. Diamondbacks (27) - Yeah, THAT Tony Clark has a .309/.364/.654 line. That's as flukish as they come, you'd think. The D'Backs, for some reason that I will not dare try and explain, gave him a two-year extension, even with all those corner-guys coming up. The value was good, though, so this could be an NBA-esque sign and trade. We'll see.
  16. Rockies (29) - Helton's raging hot in the second half, propelling his season's totals to a slightly more Helton-esque .317/.441/.524. I'm certainly worried, though; his 17 homers represent a huge drop-off. Has a big red tag on him, saying "Damaged Goods," for anyone looking to make a trade for him and his huge contract.
  17. Royals (30) - Angel Berroa's plate discipline has deteriorated to... well, virtually non-existant. He's seeing only 3.37 pitches per plate appearance, and he's managed to somehow strike out 6 times more than he's walked. Here's to accomplishments.