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With the next SoB power rankings here, it’s been fairly easy to pick teams. The White Sox have widened their division lead, the Cardinals have taken one again, and the Giants have quietly punched their ticket to the Wild Card race. The Rays are back in form, the Braves, Padres, and Rangers are all still sticking up for themselves, but two teams have dropped past the event horizon and off the rankings.
While the Yankees (and Rays) are still in command, three teams are now tied for the next spots (again), though the next teams have seen a drop-off in points from there. As usual, teams get 10 points for a first place vote, then nine points for a second, and so on. Ties are broken based on who received the most first place votes, then the most second, and so on. The second tiebreaker is position in the previous rankings.
And in addition, you get our picks for the most and least influential Red Sox players in the second half.
|John||KC||SoB Composite||Last Time||Comments|
|#1||New York Yankees||New York Yankees||(2) New York Yankees (20)||#1, even||KC – Mourning the loss of the Voice and the Boss, the Yanks took two of three from Tampa.|
|#2||Tampa Bay Rays||Tampa Bay Rays||Tampa Bay Rays (18)||#4, up 2||John – They’re the second-best team in the majors, and one of two over .600, but they’re still the Wildcard. Thank you, Yankees.|
|#3||San Diego Padres||Atlanta Braves||San Diego Padres (14)||#3, even||John – All of a sudden, the Padres have a four-game lead in their division.|
|#4||Texas Rangers||Texas Rangers||Atlanta Braves (14)||#5, up 1||KC – The Braves have lost just one series since May 10.|
|#5||Atlanta Braves||San Diego Padres||Texas Rangers (14)||#6, up 1||KC – Give a top-notch lineup and bullpen some beef with Cliff Lee, and you’ve got a damn good team.|
|#6||St. Louis Cardinals||Boston Red Sox||St. Louis Cardinals (9)||NR||John – The Redbirds are back on top. Pujols, Carpenter, and Wainwright will be huge for them in the playoffs, and for purposes of holding off Cincinnati.|
|#7||Chicago White Sox||St. Louis Cardinals||Chicago White Sox (6)||#10, up 3||John – The other Sox are beginning to open up a nice lead in the AL Central.|
|#8||Cincinnati Reds||Cincinnati Reds||Cincinnati Reds (6)||#7, down 1||John – The Reds are 4-6 in their last 10, something that needs to turn around if they want to compete with the Cards.|
|#9||San Francisco Giants||Chicago White Sox||Boston Red Sox (5)||#2, down 7||KC – The Sox have lost eight of twelve, but are still in good position in the Wild Card hunt.|
|#10||Minnesota Twins||Colorado Rockies||San Francisco Giants (3)||NR||KC – When Lincecum, Cain, and Sanchez are going good, it’s tough to stop them.|
|Others earning votes:||Colorado Rockies (1)|
With all the bats taking a seat with injuries, the core of Boston’s pitching staff will be back in action soon enough. They’ll need their two (by far) best pitchers in order to claw their way back into the race, though even these two may not provide enough of a spark.
Pedroia was tearing the cover off the ball when he got hurt before the All-Star Break, and you have to assume the time off will only motivate him even more. Assuming he’s not hampered too much by the foot injury, Pedroia should break out for as strong a second half as he had in his MVP season in 2008.
Beckett is being way too over-hyped. To reiterate something I’ve said many times, Beckett is the Tim Thomas of the Red Sox; he thinks a lucrative extension is an excuse to not try, minor injuries aside. I believe Beckett will neutralize the success that Buchholz and Lester can muster.
Nava has been a Godsend for the Red Sox, and perhaps helped save the team’s season by filling in. With Jacoby Ellsbury not due to be back for a while and Mike Cameron still hampered by injuries, Nava will be called on again and again. There’s just no way we can expect him to keep it up, however.
Nava is hitting .400 on balls he puts in play so far this year, which means he’s been a very lucky hitter. When his BABIP creeps down toward the major league norm of .300, then his season batting average may plunge into the .200′s.
Tags: Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Colorado Rockies, MLB Power Rankings, New York Yankees, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, St. Louis Cardinals, Tampa Bay Rays, Texas Rangers