Thursday, January 20, 2011

MLB Power Rankings #21

Before i even get into who the number 21 team is in my power rankings i wanted to make a change in my previous rankings. Due to the Nationals acquiring lefty starter Tom Gorzelanny from the Chicago Cubs the Nationals have been bumped up a spot in the rankings to number 23. So here is a look at the current rankings we have so far.

30. Royals
29. Indians
28. Astros
27. Pirates
26. Mariners
25. D-Backs
24. Blue Jays
23. Nationals
22. Padres

Now we can move on to the number 21 team in my power rankings. This is a team that has greatly improved from being one of the worst teams in the American League to being a competitive team. This team would be the Baltimore Orioles, with a plethora of off season moves they have put themselves in the race in the AL East. But unfortunately they play in one of the toughest if not the toughest divisions in baseball. There is absolutely no way the Orioles will win this division as the both the Yankees and the Red Sox are in the top 10 teams in baseball. But they should be able to give the Rays a run for there money for the 3rd place spot in the AL East. Lets take a deeper look at the Baltimore Orioles.

1. Jeremy Guthrie
2. Brian Matusz
3. Brad Bergesen
4. Chris Tillman
5. Jake Arrieta

This is what is preventing them from truly competing in the AL East, as they have one of the weakest rotations in the division. Jeremy Guthrie is a solid middle of the rotation arm who has been forced to be the ace of this team the past few years. Brian Matusz is the key to the Orioles season, he has the stuff to become an ace. But he is still in the early stages in his development and can not be expected to carry this team. Brad Bergesen is another young arm but does not have the high ceiling that Matusz has. He could become a solid middle of the rotation starter but he this season he is more of a back of the rotation type in terms of his production. Chris Tillman is yet another young arm who is in between Matusz and Bergesen in terms of potential but has had the least success of the group at the major league level. Jake Arrieta is another young arm who in my opinion has equal potential to Chris Tillman and could become a solid major league starter. This staff has a ton of potential but outside of Guthrie they do not have a dependable veteran to mentor these young pitchers. This is really a boom or bust situation, either these young arms will develop and become a good pitching staff or these guys will implode and bring the team down with them.

CL- Kevin Gregg
SU- Koji Uehara
SU- Mike Gonzlaez
MR- Jeremy Accardo
MR- Alfredo Simon

The big addition this off season was the pickup of veteran closer Kevin Gregg. While he may not be the best in the business he has proved over the years to be a consistent and dependable closer. But he will have to battle Koji Uehara for the job, as Uehara was very effective as the teams closer last season. But no matter who wins the job the other will be a useful setup man. Mike Gonzalez was expected to become the closer for the Orioles last season after a successful career in Atlanta but failed to live up to expectations. Jeremy Accardo is an intriguing option as he has not pitched a full season since 2007 when he was the Blue Jays full time closer. But if he can come back healthy he could be a vital middle relief arm for the Orioles. The rest of the Pen after those guys is a jumble of mediocre pitchers who likely wont contribute much. Overall this is a pretty average pen as they have some good pitchers in the late innings but lack depth.

1. Brian Roberts-2B
2. Nick Markakis-RF
3. Derrek Lee-1B
4. Mark Reynolds-3B
5. Luke Scott-DH
6. Adam Jones-CF
7. Matt Wieters-C
8. J.J. Hardy-SS
9. Felix Pie-LF

The Orioles really revamped their offense during the off-season with the additions of Derrek Lee, Mark Reynolds and JJ Hardy.All three of these guys should elevate the offense to one of the best in the league. Roberts is a veteran lead off hitter who may not be the best in the league but has experience. Markakis may not be an elite power hitting outfielder but he is a good OBP and RBI guy who fits perfectly in the 2 hole. Derrek Lee had a disappointing 2010 season and was traded from the Cubs to the Braves and can still hit .280-20-80 with a plus glove. Then they have a big power hitting 3rd baseman in Mark Reynolds, the only downside is that he has the top 3 spots for the single season strikeout record. So with that power comes a low average and a lot of useless at bats. Luke Scott is a consistent DH who can play 1st and corner outfield and he may have to move there as there are rumors that Vlad Guerrero may be coming to the Orioles. Adam Jones continues to develop into a solid center fielder, I'm not sure he will ever become a superstar but he has the talent to become one. Matt Wieters is another young player who we are waiting on to live up to his talent. But even if he maintains his level of play he is still one of the top catchers in the AL. JJ Hardy managed to bounce back from a rough 2009 to post a solid .268/.328/.394 stat line. Hopefully his power will return to its 07' and 08'(26 HR, 24 HR) levels in Camden Yards. Felix Pie is a solid outfielder who plays great defense but he may lose his job if they acquire Guerrero and have to move Scott to LF. This team will hit a lot of home runs and have some players who should get on base, so look for them to be one of the top offenses in the league. If only the Orioles could improve their pitching they would be one of the elite teams in the league. But until they do they will be in the middle of the pack and battle the Rays for 3rd place in the AL East.

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