BOSTON - MAY 12: Manager Terry Francona #47 of the Boston Red Sox argues a strik call made by home plate umpire Dale Scott in the ninth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays on May 12, 2010 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. The Blue Jays defeated the Red Sox 3-2. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

MLB Power Rankings: On The Verge Of Eruption

The seventh edition of our MLB power rankings, as voted on by SB Nation MLB bloggers Jim McLennan, Will McDonald, Sam Page, Kyle Lobner, Jeff Sullivan, and Randy Booth. Herein you will find no mention of Dallas Braden's perfect game or Ken Griffey Jr.'s having fallen asleep. Except for right there.

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MLB Power Rankings: Blowing Up

30 years ago today - after several weeks of activity - Mount St. Helens erupted. What was arguably the most serenely beautiful volcano in the whole of the Cascade Range at once became the ugliest, and also the most famous. Here we recognize the anniversary of that cataclysmic outburst by making note of some unstable situations around the league that may be on the verge of blowing up.

Nationals Fever

Explosion risk: moderate

The Nats are only 20-19 and losers of four in a row. However, 20-19 is still very much in the race, and with Drew Storen already up, it's only a matter of time before Stephen Strasburg makes his debut. With some actual pitching on the way, this team has legitimate potential.

Population impact: moderate

Nobody cares about the Nationals. Nobody I've ever met, anyway. The thing about a team like the Nats, though, is that they've been so bad for so long that, if and when they find success, they catch on as the lovable bandwagon. Give this team a pinch of Strasburg and everyone and their mother will be pulling for Washington to give Philly a run for its money.

Red Sox Nation

Explosion risk: high

The Red Sox were six games out of first by April 19th, and while they've managed to go 15-11 since, they've still only lost more ground to the Rays and the Yankees. Now 6.5 back of the Wild Card, Boston's in a bad, bad place, and fans are beginning to lash out at anything and everything as the source of the team's disappointment. When Boston fails, Boston doesn't take it so well.

Population impact: high

Having gone to school in Connecticut, I've met a lot of Sox fans in my life. I've also met a lot of non-Sox fans. Each of the latter would take delight in the former's misery.

The Mets

Explosion risk: moderate

The Mets' journey from last to first to last (to fourth) has been well documented, and it seems no manager is under a bigger microscope than Jerry Manuel. The team may have a lousy offense and an average run prevention unit, but Manuel finds a way to get a lot of the blame. As a fan of the Mariners, the Mets don't get a lot of my attention, but my impression of the organization is that it's closing its eyes and trying to see how far it can walk, and my impression of the fan base is that it's watching the organization stumble slowly and awkwardly forward while wondering what in the hell it's trying to accomplish.

Population impact: moderate

A lot of people like the Mets. A lot of emotional people like the Mets. If the Mets go down, they're taking a lot of people with them.


Explosion risk: moderate

Not the team. The city. Ken Griffey Jr.'s batting .182/.247/.205. .182/.247/.205. As the regular DH. He's dead. There's no life left. He's gotta go.

Population impact: low

No matter how and when Griffey finally goes away, most people won't pay it a second thought. "It's about time" will be the most common response. But there's a certain segment of the population - a certain dedicated segment - that won't know what to do. They'll be lost. They became fans because of Griffey, and they won't know what to do with themselves after Griffey's gone. Nobody has told these people that the Griffey they fell in love with perished years ago.


So there are four unstable situations for you to spend the morning mulling over. Are they the only unstable situations? Of course they aren't. But they're the first four that came to mind, and while one may choose to critique my lack of preparedness, what's really uh HEY EVERYBODY POWER RANKINGS!

30. Pittsburgh Pirates

SBN Blog: Bucs Dugout

2010 record: 16-22

Last week's rank: 28

Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 29

Where would the Pirates be without the Cubs? They're 5-1 against the Northsiders and have outscored them 35-18. Against the rest of baseball, they're 11-21 and have been outscored 218-98. Sometimes it takes a long time to recover from a tough start: Charlie Morton allowed five earned runs in 12 innings over his last two starts, but only lowered his ERA to 9.19 before allowing six runs in four innings Monday to go back up to 9.68. He'd need to pitch 47 shutout innings to bring his ERA down to the NL average 4.18.

29. Houston Astros

SBN Blog: The Crawfish Boxes

2010 record: 13-25

Last week's rank: 30

Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 30

Last week's road trip was a tale of two cities: The Astros swept three in St. Louis, then returned to reality and were swept in San Francisco, scoring just six runs in three games. Here's an odd statistical quirk for you: The Astros are 2-0 in extra inning games, and 11-25 in all others.

28. Kansas City Royals

SBN Blog: Royals Review

2010 record: 15-24

Last week's rank: 29

Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 26

The Royals have shown a little life under new manager Ned Yost, though it was going to be almost impossible for them to have kept playing so poorly. There's a 70 win team here just dying to emerge.

27. Baltimore Orioles

SBN Blog: Camden Chat

2010 record: 12-27

Last week's rank: 27

Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 28

While the O's still sit at the bottom of the baseball basement, Kevin Millwood, Brian Matusz and Jeremy Guthrie have actually been a reliable trio for the Birds. But it takes more than that. The offense isn't hitting as much as it possibly could (thank you, Adam Jones) and the defense -- with its -9.4 UZR -- is the eighth-worst in baseball.

26. Arizona Diamondbacks

SBN Blog: AZ Snakepit

2010 record: 16-23

Last week's rank: 25

Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 13

Got swept at home by the Brewers and Astros, and have now lost seven of the last nine. Bullpen continues to struggle badly, with a monstrous 7.68 ERA - Bobby Howry and his six homers in 14.1 innings was let go on Monday, which can do nothing but help. If only games ended after six innings, as Arizona actually has a winning record (19-17, with three contests level) at that point.

25. Cleveland Indians

SBN Blog: Let's Go Tribe!

2010 record: 15-21

Last week's rank: 26

Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 22

The Tribe put together a nice little 5-2 run after a 10-18 start announced that their season was over. The lineup, which always had potential, has started to score runs, thanks in large part to Austin Kearns and his .932 OPS. Grady Sizemore, meanwhile, continues to have a nightmare season. There continues to be speculation that Sizemore is still battling injuries, but if he's injured, why is he playing? Sizemore is hitting .211/.271/.289, killing many a fantasy team in the process.

24. Seattle Mariners

SBN Blog: Lookout Landing

2010 record: 14-24

Last week's rank: 24

Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 25

People keep waiting for this team to wake up, but the only reason they haven't yet been completely written off is the fact that they play in the AL West. In pretty much any other division, they'd already be toast. The Opening Day lineup had a 2-through-6 of Chone Figgins, Casey Kotchman, Milton Bradley, Ken Griffey Jr., and Jose Lopez. The best OPS of the group - .684 - belongs to Bradley, and he's currently seeing a therapist. Griffey has become a disgrace. It is unfathomable that this team has a worse record than the Royals.  

23. Chicago Cubs

SBN Blog: Bleed Cubbie Blue

2010 record: 17-22

Last week's rank: 20

Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 12

After taking 3 of 4 from the Diamondbacks at the end of April, the Cubs went 4-9 over their next 12, and were held to two runs or fewer in six of those losses. Ryan Theriot is a great example of how a batting average can be deceiving: He's hitting .316 on the season, but his OBP and slugging are only .348 and .355, respectively. Meanwhile, Marlon Byrd enters Tuesday's game among the NL leaders in batting average (.340), hits (51), total bases (88) and doubles (16).

22. Milwaukee Brewers

SBN Blog: Brew Crew Ball

2010 record: 15-23

Last week's rank: 15

Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 11

After getting swept by the Braves and Phillies, the Brewers are just 4-14 at home. They won two of their first three home games against the Rockies, and have gone 2-13 since. With a seven game losing streak, the Brewers have fallen seven games back of the surprising Reds in the Central, and are behind the Pirates in the standings. As bad as the Brewers have been at times, you can't blame Yovani Gallardo, who has posted a 1.76 ERA in his last seven starts.

21. Chicago White Sox

SBN Blog: South Side Sox

2010 record: 15-22

Last week's rank: 23

Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 17

The White Sox went 1-2 against the Royals over the weekend, and haven't won consecutive games since April 24-25th. The roster is a mess, and Friday's decision to DH Omar Vizquel ranks as one of the weirdest lineup moves of the 2010 season by any team. It doesn't take much to contend in the AL Central, but it looks like the White Sox aren't going to measure up. Really though, with Ozzie and Kenny around, this means the fun is only getting started.

20. Oakland Athletics

SBN Blog: Athletics Nation

2010 record: 19-20

Last week's rank: 12

Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 14

The A's continue to tread water, and sit at two behind Texas even after absorbing a five-game losing streak against the closest divisional opponents. They're just sitting there, waiting for a boost. It could come from the return of Brett Anderson, who - barring a setback - is a few weeks away. It could come from Jack Cust, who's 4-10 since getting recalled from Sacramento. It likely will not come from Justin Duchscherer, who seems to be facing another lost season after experiencing continued problems in his hip. The A's were a deep team from day one, but that depth has certainly been tested.  

19. New York Mets

SBN Blog: Amazin' Avenue

2010 record: 19-20

Last week's rank: 14

Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 20

After going from last to first in the span of a month, the Mets have touched the cellar again. June has come early for Jeff Francoeur, who's already completely broken as a hitter. In his place, the Mets have promoted AAAA-masher Chris Carter, a piece from last season's Billy Wagner deal, who continues to mysteriously hit fourth in front of franchise-player David Wright. Jon Niese (hamstring) and Oliver Perez (incompetence) are out of the rotation, so it's up to knuckleballer R.A. Dickey and screwballer Hisanori Takahashi to prove that pitchers with odd repertoires, like wine, get better with poor defense. 

18. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

SBN Blog: Halos Heaven

2010 record: 18-22

Last week's rank: 19

Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 27

A pair of shutouts during a weekend sweep of the A's lifted spirits, but a Monday loss to Texas dropped them back down. This team needs to figure out how it's going to win. The Angels were expected to light up the scoreboard and slug opponents into submission, but the offense only has a combined OPS of .706, and the success has come from riding the top trio of Joel Pineiro, Ervin Santana, and Jered Weaver. While the back of the rotation has been a disaster, it is encouraging that the front three has a combined K/BB of 138/39. Not everything has gone to hell.

17. Washington Nationals

SBN Blog: Federal Baseball

2010 record: 20-19

Last week's rank: 18

Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 23

Mark the date: June 1st. With fellow first-rounder from '09 and closer-of-the-future, Drew Storen, already promoted, the stage is set for Mr. Strasburg. Whether or not the Nationals can keep up the good work in his absence, however, is doubtful. Baseball Prospectus' third-order wins ranks the Nats as a close fourth in the division. The resurrection of Scott Olsen's career from seemingly done to promising young #2 certainly helps. 

16. Atlanta Braves

SBN Blog: Talking Chop

2010 record: 18-20

Last week's rank: 22

Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 24

The Braves have played well of late, but not well enough to get out of the N.L. East cellar. Martin Prado, the National League player of the week, Troy Glaus, and Eric Hinske (?!) have fueled an offense still waiting for Chipper Jones and Brian McCann to come around. Tim Hudson has been the ace, even though he doesn't have to be, and likely won't continue to be, with such a poor strikeout rate. Atlanta's not out of it yet, and a good start to climbing back in contention would be a win over the Mets to leapfrog them in the standings. 

15. Florida Marlins

SBN Blog: Fish Stripes

2010 record: 20-19

Last week's rank: 17

Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 21

A sweep on the Mets has the Marlins tied with the Nationals for second in the East, 5 games out from the Phillies. Behind their winning are signs of life from the bats of Cameron Maybin and Chris Coghlan, although neither's overall line (.242/.305/.305 and .223/.279.285, respectively) looks major-league ready. If those two can live up to their offensive (and defensive) billings, though, the Marlins have the pitching to compete. Their top four starters' FIP: 2.73-3.28-3.95-4.01. 

14. Boston Red Sox

SBN Blog: Over The Monster

2010 record: 19-20

Last week's rank: 11

Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 4

The Red Sox -- still -- haven't turned it around quite yet. While the pitching falters behind a not-so-great season so far from John Lackey and an injured Josh Beckett, the offense is keeping pace as the No. 2 home run-hitting team in baseball. David Ortiz is starting to light up for the Red Sox while they are also seeing Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Cameron come back from the disabled list soon, so things might be turning around. Maybe.

13. Los Angeles Dodgers

SBN Blog: True Blue LA

2010 record: 21-17

Last week's rank: 21

Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 16

Have won eight of nine since Manny Ramirez came back off the disabled list, including a sweep over the weekend of the division-leading Padres. But it has been the Los Angeles pitching that has gotten it done, averaging less than two runs per game allowed over the past eight. If this keeps up, they may not miss Andre Ethier and his broken pinky finger all that much.

12. Colorado Rockies

SBN Blog: Purple Row

2010 record: 19-19

Last week's rank: 13

Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 18

Finally got back above .500 by taking three of four from Washington, but then hit the road, where Colorado are only 8-12 to date. However, they play the Cubs, Royals and Astros, who own a combined record of 45-71, so the Rockies need to take advantage. Ubaldo Jimenez is 7-1 with a 1.12 ERA; he and Brad Hawpe (1.052 OPS) are two of the only things between Colorado and also-ran status. Not sure which is more interesting: Carlos Gonzalez's productive batting line, or his four walks.

11. Cincinnati Reds

SBN Blog: Red Reporter

2010 record: 22-16

Last week's rank: 16

Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 19

Despite having just one hitter with an OPS over .900 (Joey Votto) and two starting pitchers with an ERA under 4 (Mike Leake, Johnny Cueto), the Reds have managed to win 15 of 20 games and work their way into first in the NL Central. Aaron Harang has been better lately (4.01 ERA in his last four starts), but his 6.02 ERA is still the second worst in the NL among pitchers who have thrown at least 45 innings (Edwin Jackson of Arizona is last at 7.43).

10. Texas Rangers

SBN Blog: Lone Star Ball

2010 record: 21-18

Last week's rank: 7

Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 15

The least impressive division leader in baseball. Just when you think the Rangers are going to separate themselves from the pack, they go and do something like get swept by the Blue Jays, getting outscored 27-12 in the process. They did make up for the weekend with a win over the Angels on Monday, and their next eight games are against teams with a combined record of 62-95, so Texas has another opportunity to get its motor going. The return of Nelson Cruz is one of the bigger shots in the arm any team could ask for. In the bullpen, Darren O'Day, Neftali Feliz, and Darren Oliver have allowed 15 runs in 54.2 innings, with ten walks and 50 strikeouts.

9. Detroit Tigers

SBN Blog: Bless You Boys

2010 record: 22-16

Last week's rank: 9

Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 6

The Tigers have a better record than their aggregate run differential would suggest, but that tends to happen for teams with very good bullpens. The Tigers now stand alone as the lone AL Central challenge to Minnesota, though it seems like they've been on the edge of crisis all season. Early on, Max Scherzer looked like one of the rotation's bright spots, but now he's in AAA.

8. Toronto Blue Jays

SBN Blog: Bluebird Banter

2010 record: 23-17

Last week's rank: 10

Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 10

To most people's surprise, the Blue Jays continue to be a competitive baseball team in the AL East. The Jays are leading baseball in home runs. Unlike the Yankees, the Jays are actually struggling at home, going 10-11 so far in the season. If they can turn around their struggles at home, Toronto could keep fighting as one of the best in baseball.

7. San Diego Padres

SBN Blog: Gaslamp Ball

2010 record: 23-15

Last week's rank: 8

Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 5

Are the cracks beginning to show? Swept by the Dodgers and scoring only four runs in the series, even after a big win on Monday they are just 1.5 games up on SF, two on LA, and face both teams again this week. With Jon Garland and Mat Latos sporting BABIPs 64 and 87 points below league-average respectively (see here for why that's bad), I wouldn't be too terribly surprised if next week sees them no longer atop the West. However, if they stick, they will have passed a big test.

6. St. Louis Cardinals

SBN Blog: Viva El Birdos

2010 record: 22-17

Last week's rank: 4

Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 9

Maybe they won't walk away with the NL Central after all: a 3-9 stretch (including a 3-6 run against division opponents) allowed the Reds to sneak up and take sole possession of the division lead. It's hard to get much colder than Brendan Ryan has been lately: Entering play Tuesday, he is 1-for his last 28, hitting .036/.100/.036 over nine games.

5. Minnesota Twins

SBN Blog: Twinkie Town

2010 record: 24-14

Last week's rank: 3

Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 2

Minnesota's Sunday victory over the Yankees allowed them to salvage a game in the weekend series and ended a nine-game losing streak to New York. Minnesota went just 10-22 against the AL East last season, so avoiding a sweep in the Bronx must have felt especially good. Competition against teams outside the AL Central will offer a nice barometer of whether this year's Twins team is any better than previous versions. Since returning from injury, Joe Mauer hasn't missed a beat, hitting .408 with as many walks as strikeouts.

4. San Francisco Giants

SBN Blog: McCovey Chronicles

2010 record: 21-16

Last week's rank: 6

Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 7

Bit of a mixed bag for San Francisco on their home-stand. They got swept by the Padres, then turned around and swept Houston (ok, mild thrill, I know). Offense still scuffling, scoring an average of three runs in the past week; not that it matters when Zito and Lincecum are a combined 11-1 with a sub-two ERA. The best Pythagorean Record in the division, but only 3-10 against their NL West rivals.

3. Philadelphia Phillies

SBN Blog: The Good Phight

2010 record: 24-13

Last week's rank: 5

Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 8

The Phightin's are happy to welcome back Jimmy Rollins after nearly a month of inactivity, relieving the not-so-intimidating platoon of Wilson Valdez and Juan Castro. The Phils are not without their problems, however. Kyle Kendrick is still getting starts. It seems like no amount of cortisone shots to the elbow will make Brad Lidge good again. And their bench has been mostly useless, to date. Just things to muse about, however, as the rest of the division implodes behind them.

2. New York Yankees

SBN Blog: Pinstripe Alley

2010 record: 25-13

Last week's rank: 2

Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 1

The Yankees have been great this season, but they have had their fair share of "road woes." The club, while 13-3 at home, is just 12-10 on the road. One good piece of news for the Yanks is that Mark Teixeira is starting to hit again. So far in May, Teixeira is hitting .333 with five home runs. Less good is the news that Nick Johnson's going to be out a while following surgery, but with Randy Winn and Marcus Thames hanging around, the Yankees have enough depth to cover for his absence. Of course. By the way, how good has Brett Gardner been?

1. Tampa Bay Rays

SBN Blog: DRays Bay

2010 record: 27-11

Last week's rank: 1

Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 3

It's no surprise to see the Rays at the top of baseball when their starting rotation is a combined 20-6 with a 2.59 ERA. Those are video game numbers. The offense is only hitting .249, but it's been plenty good enough to support the great pitching staff. If the pitching falters, however, will the offense be able to hold up and keep the Rays winning? There is reason to believe it may not - while they're #5 in runs scored, they're actually #18 in OPS.

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