Dirty Dozen: 12 Hottest MLB Teams
by Robert Ferringo - 04/25/2007
Raise your hand if you are surprised at all that Alex Rodriguez and his monster April just happens to coincide with the Yankees fading into the bottom of the American League East cellar. If you happen to have your hand up right now there are men in suits outside your door ready to sterilize you.
Yup, the "A" in A-Rod may stand for "April" but it also stands for "antagonist," "adverse" and "annihilative". The guy is a spit-polished Eddie Mush. Everywhere he goes he is toxic, but the irony is that you can never really blame him because he puts up monster numbers. It's a dark comedy, and as a card-carrying Yankee Hater it's one I'm enjoying.
But Keith Olberman posited an interesting theory on A-Rod last week: he may be the best thing to happen to baseball right now because his individual success could help distract - and ease the awkwardness - everyone from the Barry Bonds fiasco as he breaks Hank Aaron's record. I don't know if it's true, but it's an interesting theory.
Now we'll move on to the 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 is the Dirty Dozen:
1) Milwaukee Brewers (13-7, +653) - They took two of three from the Astros when they were red hot, earned a great comeback win over Carlos Zambrano on Monday and popped Rich Hill's bubble on Tuesday. The Brewers were tossed around like Katie Price during Spring Training as everyone's sleeper. And like Price's jugs, the Brew Crew have been coming up LARGE.
2) Los Angeles Dodgers (13-7, +593) - L.A. fans have been leaving the park early again. But that's more the result of their Blue Boys being up 10-2 in the seventh inning rather than the Angelenos trying to be blasé. The No. 2 earners have dropped two in a row but still have the best rotation in the NL.
3) Chicago White Sox (11-8, +370) - Even though their bats are still quiet, the Sox have taken six of seven and were an extra inning game away from sweeping Detroit in Motown. Mark Buehrle's no-hitter seemed to get them going and now all of their starters are feeling the flow.
4) Atlanta Braves (13-7, +487) - Atlanta has been quietly putting together a fantastic April. They are a bit over reliant on the long ball (their 24 are tops in the Majors) and their pitchers are giving up too many walks, but the Braves are going to be a solid value play all year.
5) New York Mets (13-6, +494) - I still think that the Mets are the best team in the Majors, despite dropping four of six to the Braves. They are reliable and nearly an automatic play at -115 or lower. With three of the top five hitters in the National League and one of the best bullpens in MLB they aren't going to go through too many losing streaks.
6) Cleveland Indians (10-7, +341) - The Tribe has won four of five while sneaking into first place in the most competitive division in baseball.
7) San Francisco (10-8, +296) - I'm not going to lie; I never thought this band of geriatrics would crack this list this season. But they've changed their Depends and the new, snug fit has helped them score six straight wins and nine victories in their last 11. However, I feel like the Giants will be playing the part of the old lady and the Dodgers will be playing the part of the mugger this week.
8) Boston Red Sox (12-7, +281) - They had a bit of a letdown after their sweep of the Yankees, but all in all things are looking good for the BoSox. All of New England has a Papelboner and if Dice-K can get it together that rotation looks nasty.
9) Baltimore Orioles (11-9, +314) - Are they playing above themselves? Absolutely. But I don't care who you are, if you win eight of 11 you're going to make it on the Dirty Dozen. Their next five come against Boston (who owns them) and Cleveland (will own them) so that sweep by Oakland could be a foreboding sign.
10) San Diego Padres (12-8, +342) - I'm not saying the Dads have small balls, but I am observing that they excel at playing small ball. They've only gone 6-4 over the past 10 days but eight of those games were on the road and it was during a trying, cross-country journey.
11) Tampa Bay Devil Rays (8-11, +268) - Hey, you sweep the Yankees you make the list. OK, so it was only a two-game set. And OK, so a tee-ball team could sweep the Bombers right now. But still, the D-Rays are still pesky at home and were a blown ninth-inning lead away from a four-game winning streak and have cashed six of their last seven games as underdogs.
12) Detroit Tigers (11-9, +79) - One of four teams in the AL Central that have turned a profit, the defending AL champs have been whittling away at the books. Though the offense appears to be neutered and/or declawed, Detroit is grinding out wins. Eight of their past 11 games have been decided by two runs or less.
Baker's Dozen Team - Oakland Athletics (11-9, +211)
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