Last week, I talked about the wave of young talent that's beginning to arrive in the National League. Jason Heyward. Stephen Strasburg. Mike Stanton. Pedro Alvarez. And on, and on. It's an impressive crop of standout youth, as impressive a crop of rookies as we've seen in a long while, and it's a talent pool that promises to pull the NL up by the bootstraps.
But, oh, to be equals. For all of the gains the NL has made, interleague play has thusfar revealed the same discrepancy as always. Through 171 games:
- The American League is 92-79
- AL batters have hit .273/.338/.416
- NL batters have hit .248/.311/.407
Through the first seven years of interleague play, the NL claimed four season series. Since then, though, the AL has gone 932-750, and is currently threatening to win more games for the seventh year in a row. It's a gap that many have begun to take for granted, and while the gap is currently a little smaller than it was at its most extreme, it's still there, and it's still significant.
The AL, at least for the time being, remains the superior of the two leagues. The NL can be encouraged that the interleague OPS difference has dropped from 65 points to 43 to 36 since 2008, but 36 is still a substantial chasm to be bridged.
SBN Blog: Camden Chat
2010 record: 19-50
Last week's rank: 30
Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 28
Juan Samuel hasn't been able to turn around the O's quite yet. Under Samuel's reign, the O's are just 4-11. Ty Wigginton and Nick Markakis continue to be strong bats in the lineup, but nothing else is clicking. Jeremy Guthrie is doing his best to pitch well (and he is with a 3.97 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP), but he's probably hoping he'll get traded before he sees August arrive. The O's are on pace to finish 55 games out of first. More incredibly, they're on pace to finish 43 games out of fourth.
SBN Blog: Bucs Dugout
2010 record: 25-44
Last week's rank: 28
Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 29
The Pirates lost five one-run games and eight games decided by three runs or less during their recent 12-game losing streak, which they snapped out of by taking the final two games against the Indians over the weekend. The Pirates will spend the rest of the season looking to the future, but early results haven't been all that great: Pedro Alvarez is 1-for his first 16 as a major leaguer, Jose Tabata has a .295 OBP and Brad Lincoln has allowed 13 earned runs in his first 18 innings.
28. Houston Astros
SBN Blog: The Crawfish Boxes
2010 record: 26-44
Last week's rank: 29
Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 30
The Astros have climbed out of last place, but at 26-44 and 12.5 games back they've decided to start the youth movement, calling up catcher Jason Castro and third baseman Chris Johnson. Castro is 23 and was the team's #1 pick in 2008, while Johnson was hitting .329/.360/.570 in 38 games since being returned to AAA.
SBN Blog: Let's Go Tribe!
2010 record: 26-42
Last week's rank: 24
Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 25
Dropping two of three to the Pirates is shameful, but then, who really cares? It's not like the Indians are playing for anything. If nothing else, they have to be pleased that the Russell Branyan gamble has kind of worked out, at least so far, as he's provided his usual assortment of beefy skills from first base. Fausto Carmona has pitched better, too. He hasn't pitched very well, but he's pitched well enough to get some trade consideration, which might be the best thing any Indian can hear about himself these days.
SBN Blog: AZ Snakepit
2010 record: 28-43
Last week's rank: 25
Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 18
Arizona went 1-5 in interleague play against Detroit and Boston before maiming the Yankees on Monday. However, they did finally win their first game on the road in more than a month, pipping the Tigers 6-5 to end a 14-game losing streak away from Chase. In that contest, Aaron Heilman successfully converted his first save since taking over for Chad Qualls. Conor Jackson got traded to the A's for bullpen help, and is unlikely to be the last to depart, as Arizona shifts into rebuilding for 2011 and beyond.
25. Seattle Mariners
SBN Blog: Lookout Landing
2010 record: 28-41
Last week's rank: 27
Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 27
The Mariners have won four in a row and lost a half game in the standings. Just in case you needed any more proof that the dream is dead. Rather impressively, they've allowed just two runs over those four, and the sweep of Cincinnati felt good, but it's too little, too late, and right now reporter speculation is that Cliff Lee could be gone within a week. The Mariners have the Lee trade return and Erik Bedard's comeback to look forward to. Other than that, it's going to be a long summer.
SBN Blog: Royals Review
2010 record: 29-42
Last week's rank: 26
Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 24
Trips to NL ballparks have given the Royals an opportunity to play David DeJesus in center field again, which is never a bad idea when it comes to a player you're thinking about trading. Outside of that, it's rather remarkable how little has changed for this team from the start of the year, given that its record is 29-42. A point of concern: after a Cy Young 2009, Zack Greinke's contact rate has dropped from 77.7% to 84.7%. The league average is 81.0%. Despite little change in his repertoire, Greinke has allowed far more contact than he did just a season ago, with his numbers paying the price. That's not the kind of thing you want to see from your ace. That's not the kind of thing you want to see from anyone.
SBN Blog: Brew Crew Ball
2010 record: 29-40
Last week's rank: 23
Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 17
The Brewers went 3-3 on last week's road trip to Anaheim and Colorado and remain surprisingly solid on the road, where they're 18-21. The trouble has been at home, where they're tied for last in the majors with just 11 wins. They'll get a chance to fix that over the next few weeks: Five of their next six series are at home, including three games each against the Mariners, Astros and Pirates.
SBN Blog: Federal Baseball
2010 record: 32-39
Last week's rank: 21
Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 26
John Lannan - whose stuff hasn't matched his stellar results the past few years - and the Nationals as a whole may be finally coming down to Earth. For Lannan, it means a demotion to AA, where he'll try to regroup and work his way back to the major league rotation. For the Nationals, it means another season outside of the playoff race, but a box office success nonetheless, with the Strasburg show in town.
21. Chicago Cubs
SBN Blog: Bleed Cubbie Blue
2010 record: 31-38
Last week's rank: 22
Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 19
Saturday's 12-0 loss to the Angels might have been the low point to the Cubs' season, dropping them eight games back of the division lead at a season-high eight games below .500. They bounced back with a 12-1 win Sunday, and will spend this week on the road facing the Mariners and White Sox. Thursday marks Carlos Silva's return to Seattle, where he'll face Felix Hernandez. There aren't a lot of fun games left on the Chicago schedule. That'll be one of them.
SBN Blog: Athletics Nation
2010 record: 34-38
Last week's rank: 18
Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 13
The A's, like the Mariners, can now be tabbed as being out of it, as a 2-5 week dropped them all the way to 8.5 back in third place. Unlike the Mariners, the A's don't have a Cliff Lee-type trade in their future. I suppose that could make it a longer summer or a shorter one, depending on how you look at it. The run prevention, for the most part, has been there, but the injuries to Brett Anderson and Justin Duchscherer were killers, and the highest OPS on the offensive side of things is Daric Barton's .788. Note: if the A's continue their current pace, they'll win 77 games, which would be their highest total since 2006.
19. Florida Marlins
SBN Blog: Fish Stripes
2010 record: 33-36
Last week's rank: 19
Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 14
The Marlins have nearly played themselves out of the race, but the fans are still buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzing at Sun Life Stadium. Maybe it's because reigning rookie-of-the-year Chris Coghlan is finally hitting, allowing Cody Ross to relieve the struggling Cameron Maybin in center. Late June might be a little late to finally find a working outfield alignment, though. It's a shame too, as Josh Johnson is having arguably the best season from a Marlins pitcher, ever.
SBN Blog: The Good Phight
2010 record: 35-32
Last week's rank: 17
Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 23
The Phils finally took a series, two out of three from the Yankees, which is nice payback for last year's World Series, but maybe not enough to get them on the path back to this year's championship. Their biggest source of pennant-run hope, Jimmy Rollins, is set to come back this week, a welcome sight for the Phillies, with the possible exception of shortstop Wilson Valdez. The journeyman shortstop has hit two of his career's three homeruns in the past two days - tragically both Philadelphia losses.
17. Cincinnati Reds
SBN Blog: Red Reporter
2010 record: 38-33
Last week's rank: 8
Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 11
Who would've guessed that the Reds would come out ahead in the Scott Rolen-Edwin Encarnacion deal? Since coming to the Reds last July, Rolen has hit .288/.362/.509 while Encarnacion has hit .223/.303/.453 and was designated for assignment by the Blue Jays yesterday. The Reds' front office was widely mocked for making that move last summer, but Rolen has been one of the key reasons why they're contending.
SBN Blog: South Side Sox
2010 record: 34-34
Last week's rank: 20
Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 15
The White Sox still aren't very good, but they're not very good and riding the second-longest winning streak in baseball, pulling them as close to first as they've been since the beginning of May. Say it with me, everyone: Pirates and Nationals. That's how you get a team hot. The Sox have actually won ten of 11 over a greater span, scoring just 57 runs with a .743 OPS but allowing a paltry 24. Jake Peavy's turnaround has been huge - especially the way he put that shoulder issue behind him - and JJ Putz and Bobby Jenks have combined for 23 strikeouts and two walks this month. Don't write them off just yet.
SBN Blog: True Blue LA
2010 record: 38-31
Last week's rank: 7
Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 16
The return of Manny Ramirez to his old stomping-grounds in Boston was the big story of the week. He went 5-for-12 to get his season average back above .300, but the last laugh was by the Red Sox, as they swept LA. As a result, the Dodgers fell back to third in the NL West for the first time since May 19. The schedule doesn't get any easier for them, as their next three series are all against teams currently in first or second, with the Angels and Yankees this week.
14. Colorado Rockies
SBN Blog: Purple Row
2010 record: 36-33
Last week's rank: 16
Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 21
The loss of Troy Tulowitzki for a month or more with a broken wrist led Andrew Martin of Purple Row to write, "We are featuring the leftiest bunch of remaining "starters" out of roughly everyone ever." Still, Colorado has held up, taking three of four, including the one in which Troy was plunked. Fill-in closer Manny Corpas allowed eight earned runs in 0.2 innings of work on Saturday and Sunday. Fortunately, Huston Street should be activated Tuesday, though he may not close immediately.
SBN Blog: Bluebird Banter
2010 record: 38-32
Last week's rank: 10
Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 28
After a tough stretch against the Rays and Rockies, the Jays have turned it around lately against the Padres and Giants, going 4-2. The Jays sit five games back in the AL East, but they continue to fight in the tough division. Jose Bautista continues to slide despite leading the team in home runs (18) and OBP (.354). Bautista is hitting just .145 in June with three of his eight hits in the month coming in one game against the Yankees. To make things even more interesting, the Jays designated Edwin Encarnacion for assignment, who was hitting .200 in 37 games on the season. They're not boring.
SBN Blog: Halos Heaven
2010 record: 39-33
Last week's rank: 12
Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 20
It's not necessarily that the Angels have cooled off that much. They've still won three of four and stand at a season-best six over .500. But they've dropped four games while going 7-5 since June 7th because the Rangers won't stop winning. That three-game set with Texas next week looms all kinds of large as a potential season-decider. Fun fact: while the pitching staff as a whole has been pretty disappointing, I wonder how many people realize that Jered Weaver leads the league in strikeouts, with 107. The righty actually has a better K/BB against lefties than he does against righties.
SBN Blog: McCovey Chronicles
2010 record: 38-30
Last week's rank: 9
Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 12
Went 3-3 against the American League, taking two of three at home against Baltimore, but then dropping two of three in Toronto. Still, it was enough to move them up into second in the NL West, just 1.5 games back of the Padres. A series at Houston opening this week might give them the chance to pull closer before the Red Sox come to AT&T Park. Eleven of their last twelve losses have seen the team score three runs or less, so it's clear where the Giants' weakness still lies.
10. New York Mets
SBN Blog: Amazin' Avenue
2010 record: 39-30
Last week's rank: 10
Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 21
Unlike Troy Glaus in Atlanta, it's hard to pin down one player as fueling the Mets recent success. Everyone has performed more or less to expectation and stayed healthy, two major improvements over the last few disappointing seasons. If anyone deserves the credit outside of the usual stars, David Wright and Jose Reyes, it's 35-year old surprises R.A. Dickey and Hisanori Takahashi, whose collective ERA ranks below only Mike Pelfrey on the Mets staff, a pitcher nine years their junior.
SBN Blog: Viva El Birdos
2010 record: 38-31
Last week's rank: 13
Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 6
The Cardinals took two of three in both of last week's interleague series (against the Mariners and A's) to overtake the Reds for the NL Central lead. Their next 13 games are against the Blue Jays, Royals, D-Backs and Brewers, so they could be in a good position to make a run. Matt Holliday entered the A's series with just ten hits and one home run in his last 50 ABs, then went 8-for-12 against his former team, going deep four times.
SBN Blog: Gaslamp Ball
2010 record: 40-29
Last week's rank: 6
Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 5
The San Diego bullpen continues to be a major factor in the team's ongoing success. Not only do they have a 2.68 ERA, the best in the majors, but they have also allowed only 15% of inherited runners to score, less than half the league average. The category is led by Joe Thatcher, who is 0-for-14 there, though as a LOOGY, you'd expect him to be low. The Padres held their own in interleague play this week, though they were helped by facing the fourth- and fifth-placed outfits in the NL East.
SBN Blog: Bless You Boys
2010 record: 38-30
Last week's rank: 15
Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 8
The Tigers have won eight of their last nine. You know how? Pirates, Nationals, and Diamondbacks. Just another American League team to feed on the National League's soft underbelly. That the Tigers get it so easy while the Twins don't is kind of unfair, but baseball isn't particularly interested in being fair, and the Tigers get to benefit. Remember when Max Scherzer was bad? Seems all he needed was a little confidence boost in AAA. After dominating over two starts in Toledo, Scherzer has come back to make five starts in the bigs, allowing 13 runs in 31 innings with a 3.7 K/BB. He hasn't faced a good offense over that stretch, but the stuff is clearly there, which helps alleviate the mourning over Rick Porcello.
SBN Blog: Twinkie Town
2010 record: 40-29
Last week's rank: 5
Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 3
The Twins have been in first place every day since April 12th. Their lead has widened, and it has narrowed, but it has yet to be surrendered, and winning four of six against Colorado and Philadelphia has helped them keep off the upstart Tigers and White Sox. With Detroit and Chicago suddenly feeling good about themselves, though, it might be time for Minnesota to go out and swing that Cliff Lee trade they're rumored to be pursuing. That would be deflating. "Oh, Max Scherzer is better? Oh, Jake Peavy is back? That's great. We just traded for arguably the best pitcher in baseball."
SBN Blog: DRays Bay
2010 record: 42-27
Last week's rank: 3
Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 2
The Rays continue their freefall, going 2-4 last week. They also lost their AL East lead, which they had held since April 19. The rotation has come down to Earth, with only Jeff Niemann and David Price still pitching lights-out baseball (Niemann has a 1.06 WHIP in 92 IP; Price is 10-3 with a 2.45 ERA). Carl Crawford has provided the offense as of late, getting on base at a .476 clip in his last nine games. It's important not to overreact to this slump, but the Rays have now completely frittered away what was once a sizeable advantage.
SBN Blog: Lone Star Ball
2010 record: 41-28
Last week's rank: 11
Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 9
With eight wins in a row, the Rangers have pulled themselves up to having the fifth-best record in baseball, and they're almost all the way caught up to the Yankees and Rays. And with their next six coming against the Pirates and Astros, this little run of theirs could turn historic. It's always difficult to separate the credit when a team catches fire against inferior competition, but the Rangers have been playing good baseball, and no one can take these wins away from them. Against consecutive NL opponents in NL ballparks, Colby Lewis has 19 strikeouts and one walk over 17 innings. That's how you shake off the stench of a rough May.
SBN Blog: Talking Chop
2010 record: 42-28
Last week's rank: 2
Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 7
Nearly everything's going right. Riding a five-game winning streak, Atlanta has the best record in baseball, non-AL East division. If there's any area of concern with this Braves team, and a possible target position at the trade-deadline, it's centerfield. Still hitting just .176, in a slump that stretches back to the beginning of Spring Training, Nate McLouth is sidelined indefinitely with a concussion, suffered in a collision with Jason Heyward in the field. Concussions are tricky, unpredictable injuries and hopefully the Braves aren't tempted to rush him back with Melky Cabrera not doing much in his stead.
SBN Blog: Over The Monster
2010 record: 43-28
Last week's rank: 4
Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 4
Perhaps the hottest team in baseball is coming off back-to-back sweeps of the Dodgers and Diamondbacks, putting them in the thick of the AL East race. Boston is now tied for second with Tampa Bay at 15 over .500. The Sox have been aided by a rebounding Dustin Pedroia, who is batting .500 over his last 10 games with a 1.258 OPS. How many people have noticed that the pitching-and-defense Red Sox have the #2 OBP and the #1 OPS in baseball?
SBN Blog: Pinstripe Alley
2010 record: 43-27
Last week's rank: 1
Last week's Beyond The Box Score rank: 1
The best record in baseball belongs to the New York Yankees. Don't be too surprised. The Yankees are 25-10 at Yankee Stadium, but get them on the road and they are a near .500 team at 18-16. They have done well against their East opponents though, going 18-10, which bodes well for them down the road. The Yankees having the best run differential in the American League is a nice plus, too. There's just not a whole lot to complain about. Except the bench, I guess, but then the Yankees can always complain about their bench.