Dirty Dozen: 12 Hottest MLB Teams
by Robert Ferringo - 04/10/2007
We've got one week in the books and between snow outs, Dice-K, errant first pitches from public officials and Johnny Estrada's soul patch, I'd say that things have gone pretty well. We've had a few surprises - like how well Arizona is playing - and a few things go as planned - a slow start by the Yankees and expected awfulness from the Nationals - and if the first week is any indication we're going to be in for a another fun and profitable summer.
Every week I'm going to provide you with my Dirty Dozen Baseball Report. It's like a power ranking, only different. And to spare you the time of emailing me something to the effect of, "Hey (write expletive here), how could you rank (random team here) ahead of (e-mailer's favorite team here)? Are you an idiot or something?" let me just say that the rankings are in no way a statement on who I think is going to win the World Series or be the first to cure cancer. Instead, it's just my thoughts about how teams had played during that prior week as well as where I think they're headed in the upcoming week.
Without further ado, here are the Dirty Dozen:
1. Atlanta Braves (5-1, +470) - A road sweep of the Phailing Phils was backed up by a gritty series win at home over the Mets, leaving the Braves as the top moneymaker (+470) in the league. Watch out for Tim Hudson - the guy is a legit ace and the books are undervaluing him at the moment. Oh yeah, and they've been getting it done with Larry and Andruw Jones hitting a combined .177.
2. Minnesota Twins (4-2, +200) - No one is playing better in the Majors right now. They hit a lot harder than the Vikings do and that potato gun offense that they've relied on over the past five years has been upgraded to a gat. What? Joe Mauer has a little thug in him. After the Yankees the Twins get to beat up on the Devil Rays.
3. Los Angeles Angels (5-2, +211) - Vladdy Daddy has been spanking foes for the first week of the season, posting an astronomical OPS of 1.363. They would have been No. 1 if they hadn't dropped that 2-1 decision in the finale of that four-game set with Oakland. It will be interesting to see how they handle the neutral site situation against the Indians.
4. Cleveland Indians (2-1, +89) - They were one strike and a bush league play by Mike Hargrove (a fan favorite in Cleveland) away from being 3-1. I want to see how this weather-delay stunts their hot bats. And you know that the snow and cold was more than enough reason for C.C. Sabathia to hammer his fridge over the long weekend.
5. New York Mets (5-2, +297) - So much for the Mets having pitching questions. They have a team ERA under 2.00 and have outscored their opponents 47 to 16. Also, Jose Valentin's mustache is in midseason form. Twelve of New York's next 16 games are at Shea so look for the Amazin's to get hot.
6. Arizona Diamondbacks (6-2, +400) - Yeah, I know they beat up on a couple of lightweights in Washington and Colorado. And I know they actually lost that series to the Rockies. But I like their mojo and their starting rotation so they get to enjoy a stint at the top of the division for a little bit longer. Winners of six straight, the D-Backs are getting it done with smoke and mirrors.
7. Toronto Blue Jays (4-2, +187) - Despite the involvement of A.J. Burnett, the Blue Jays season has started out about as well as could be expected. They took a tough split in Detroit before taking care of business in Tampa Bay. Unfortunately, they're just biding their time until the Yankees and Sox wake up, but we'll let them have their moment.
8. San Diego Padres (5-2, +238) - The Dads have spanked two division rivals and with Jake Peavy and Chris Young at the top of the rotation and a semi-sober Boomer Wells at the bottom, this has the makings of a playoff-caliber staff. However, they're currently No. 6 in home runs (7) and we all know that's not going to hold up.
9. Florida Marlins (5-2, +254) - The baby fish have been biting early in April. The Marlins have the No. 1 hitting team in the majors with a .311 average. And they've even worked their way up to No. 15 in attendance! Well, 10 teams hadn't played an official home game as of Monday, but let's not burst their bubble.
10. Cincinnati Reds (4-3, +107) - Another one of my sleeper teams is coming through for me in the opening games of '07. The Reds seem to have addressed their biggest weakness from last year: the bullpen. They've given up just two runs in 16.1 innings to this point. Things are looking good, but Ken Griffey Jr. should be tearing something any day now.
11. Boston Red Sox (4-3, +37) - They had a shaky start, but the Sox get the nod here mainly because raging Boston fans didn't burn down Fenway after their boys got hammered in their home opener against the Royals. But their sticks better wake up soon because four of their next five series are against teams with a winning record. The other is against the Yankees.
12. Pittsburgh Pirates (4-3, +279) - The Bucs make an appearance not because I think they could sweep the Yankees right now but because they're one of the Top 5 earners in this young season. The NL Central is going to be a wreck for most of year so, call me crazy, but I think the Pirates can be a profitable venture all summer.
Baker's Dozen Team: Colorado Rockies (4-3, +171).
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