Power Poll: Cardinals fly back into top 10

Here’s an amazing stat.

Entering the week, the Rays and the Diamondbacks have scored the same number of runs on the season (240); that total is tied for third in the majors. The Diamondbacks, though, have allowed the most runs in the majors (275) and the Rays have allowed the fewest (138). That’s a stunning disparity—almost double the total of runs allowed.

This joint effort has the Rays and Diamondbacks on an epic pace. Even the best and worst pitching staffs in baseball history (post-1900, as defined by fewest and most runs allowed in a season) failed to duplicate that feat.

• The 1972 Orioles allowed just 430 runs during their 154-game season; the Braves were worst that year at 730 runs allowed

• The 1930 Phillies allowed 1,199 runs in 154 games; the Senators were best that year at 687 runs allowed.

• In 1996, the Tigers allowed 1,103 runs in 162 games; the Braves were the best that year at 648 runs allowed.

Amazing. Anyway, on to the poll.

John Jaso is making his case to be in the lineup.
John Jaso is making his case to be in the lineup.

1. Rays (1). Backup catcher John Jaso is making it hard for the Rays to keep him out of the lineup. He’s hitting .349 with a 1.015 OPS this season, with 18 RBIs in just 22 games.

2. Phillies (3). Here’s a strange stat swap: Ryan Howard has a higher batting average than Shane Victorino (.299 to .257) but fewer RBIs (32 to 33).

3. Twins (4). Justin Morneau is crushing the ball. He’s up to a .383 average, 11 homers and 34 RBIs entering the week.

4. Yankees (2). That was a forgettable week for the Yankees; they went just 2-5 in a stretch against the Red Sox, Rays and Mets. A three-game series in Minnesota starting Tuesday doesn’t promise better things on the horizon.

5. Padres (6). After allowing just six earned runs in his first six starts, young lefty Wade LeBlanc gave up eight in three innings against Seattle, the worst offensive team in baseball.

6. Cardinals (13). A 5-2 week pushed the Cardinals back in front of the Reds entering the week; how they perform on a six-game road trip through San Diego and Chicago will determine if they stay there.

7. Dodgers (10). During the Dodgers’ current 12-2 hot streak, Manny Ramirez has more RBIs (nine) than base hits (eight).

8. Tigers (9). Two players—Gerald Laird and Alex Avila—have played catcher for the Tigers this season. Laird is batting .155; Avila is hitting .154. They’ve combined for three homers and seven RBIs. And, yet, Detroit is only a game out of first in the AL Central.

9. Blue Jays (5). The Blue Jays have hit 76 home runs entering the week, which is 16 ahead of any other team in the majors.

Mike Leake is having a stellar rookie year.
Mike Leake is having a stellar rookie year.

10. Reds (7). Poor Mike Leake. Kid’s 4-0 with a 2.91 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in eight starts, and he’s not even getting more than a mention in the Rookie of the Year conversation because of that Heyward kid in Atlanta.

11. Red Sox (16). Could this be the week the Red Sox move ahead of the Blue Jays and into third place in the AL East?

12. Rangers (12). Nelson Cruz is seventh in the AL with 33 RBIs. He’s had just 98 at-bats because of injuries; everyone else in the league with at least 25 RBIs has 141 at-bats or more.

13. Braves (17). The old guys at the back of the bullpen know how to get the strikeouts. Billy Wagner, 38, has 25 strikeouts in 16 innings and Takashi Saito, 40, has 26 in 19 1/3 innings.

14. Giants (8). The recently finished 1-6 road trip was nothing short of an offensive disaster—they were shut out twice and scored only one run three other times.

15. Marlins (11). Ace Josh Johnson is working on an 18-inning scoreless streak; in his past eight starts, he’s posted a 1.70 ERA.

16. A’s (19). Trevor Cahill was, apparently, the slacker of the A’s staff this weekend. He’s the only Oakland pitcher who allowed a run in the three-game sweep of the Giants, though it seems rough to chastise him for giving up just the one run in 6 2/3 innings Friday.

17. Nationals (14). Washington hasn’t been more than one game under .500 since April 9, but the Nats have their work cut out for them. They enter a 10-game road trip against the Giants, Padres and Astros at just one game above.

18. Rockies (15). After a strong bounce-back 2009 season, Todd Helton is struggling again this year. Through 134 at-bats, he has a .736 OPS (the lowest of his career) and just nine RBIs.

19. Mets (20). Taking two of three from the Yankees certainly didn’t hurt Jerry Manuel’s job security; doing the same to the Phillies this week would help, too.

20. Angels (18). Being 4 1/2 games behind first-place Texas isn’t nearly as troubling as being four games under .500 entering the week.

21. Diamondbacks (26). The D-backs averaged 9.3 runs per game during their four-game winning streak last week.

Don't blame Kouske Fukudome for the Cubs' problems.
Don’t blame Kouske Fukudome for the Cubs’ problems.

22. Cubs (23). All three starting outfielders—Marlon Byrd, Alfonso Soriano and Kouske Fukudome—are batting better than .300 and have at least 21 RBIs. So, that’s not the problem in Wrigley.

23. Pirates (21). The Pirates swept the Reds in their first series this year, then were swept in the next one against Cincinnati. So, who knows what’ll happen during their four-game series this week?

24. White Sox (24). The power still isn’t there, but Carlos Quentin has hit .343 in his past nine games, raising his average from .172 to .216.

25. Royals (28). Chris Getz, who opened the season as the Royals’ starting second baseman, has zero extra-base hits and a .197 average in 20 games. Mike Aviles, who has taken over at second, has five extra-base hits and a .347 average in 19 games.

26. Brewers (25). During the Brewers’ current 2-11 stretch, Rickie Weeks (.118 average) and Ryan Braun (.205) are struggling. Casey McGehee (.321) and Prince Fielder (.319) are not.

27. Indians (22). That six-game skid dropped the Indians back into last place in the AL Central to start the week.

28. Mariners (27). Seattle scored 15 runs in a win against San Diego this week. There have been 19 games this year where they failed to score more than two.

29. Astros (29). Ace Roy Oswalt reportedly wants to be traded. That 2.66 ERA is intriguing for potential suitors; the $29 million he’s guaranteed over the next few years isn’t.

30. Orioles (30). A pair of one-run losses to the Nationals this weekend seem to fit right in with the story of the O’s season.

Ryan Fagan is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at rfagan@sportingnews.com, and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/ryan_fagan.

Here’s an amazing stat.

Entering the week, the Rays and the Diamondbacks have scored the same number of runs on the season (240); that total is tied for third in the majors. The Diamondbacks, though, have allowed the most runs in the majors (275) and the Rays have allowed the fewest (138). That’s a stunning disparity—almost double the total of runs allowed.

This joint effort has the Rays and Diamondbacks on an epic pace. Even the best and worst pitching staffs in baseball history (post-1900, as defined by fewest and most runs allowed in a season) failed to duplicate that feat.

• The 1972 Orioles allowed just 430 runs during their 154-game season; the Braves were worst that year at 730 runs allowed

• The 1930 Phillies allowed 1,199 runs in 154 games; the Senators were best that year at 687 runs allowed.

• In 1996, the Tigers allowed 1,103 runs in 162 games; the Braves were the best that year at 648 runs allowed.

Amazing. Anyway, on to the poll.

John Jaso is making his case to be in the lineup.
John Jaso is making his case to be in the lineup.

1. Rays (1). Backup catcher John Jaso is making it hard for the Rays to keep him out of the lineup. He’s hitting .349 with a 1.015 OPS this season, with 18 RBIs in just 22 games.

2. Phillies (3). Here’s a strange stat swap: Ryan Howard has a higher batting average than Shane Victorino (.299 to .257) but fewer RBIs (32 to 33).

3. Twins (4). Justin Morneau is crushing the ball. He’s up to a .383 average, 11 homers and 34 RBIs entering the week.

4. Yankees (2). That was a forgettable week for the Yankees; they went just 2-5 in a stretch against the Red Sox, Rays and Mets. A three-game series in Minnesota starting Tuesday doesn’t promise better things on the horizon.

5. Padres (6). After allowing just six earned runs in his first six starts, young lefty Wade LeBlanc gave up eight in three innings against Seattle, the worst offensive team in baseball.

6. Cardinals (13). A 5-2 week pushed the Cardinals back in front of the Reds entering the week; how they perform on a six-game road trip through San Diego and Chicago will determine if they stay there.

7. Dodgers (10). During the Dodgers’ current 12-2 hot streak, Manny Ramirez has more RBIs (nine) than base hits (eight).

8. Tigers (9). Two players—Gerald Laird and Alex Avila—have played catcher for the Tigers this season. Laird is batting .155; Avila is hitting .154. They’ve combined for three homers and seven RBIs. And, yet, Detroit is only a game out of first in the AL Central.

9. Blue Jays (5). The Blue Jays have hit 76 home runs entering the week, which is 16 ahead of any other team in the majors.

Mike Leake is having a stellar rookie year.
Mike Leake is having a stellar rookie year.

10. Reds (7). Poor Mike Leake. Kid’s 4-0 with a 2.91 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in eight starts, and he’s not even getting more than a mention in the Rookie of the Year conversation because of that Heyward kid in Atlanta.

11. Red Sox (16). Could this be the week the Red Sox move ahead of the Blue Jays and into third place in the AL East?

12. Rangers (12). Nelson Cruz is seventh in the AL with 33 RBIs. He’s had just 98 at-bats because of injuries; everyone else in the league with at least 25 RBIs has 141 at-bats or more.

13. Braves (17). The old guys at the back of the bullpen know how to get the strikeouts. Billy Wagner, 38, has 25 strikeouts in 16 innings and Takashi Saito, 40, has 26 in 19 1/3 innings.

14. Giants (8). The recently finished 1-6 road trip was nothing short of an offensive disaster—they were shut out twice and scored only one run three other times.

15. Marlins (11). Ace Josh Johnson is working on an 18-inning scoreless streak; in his past eight starts, he’s posted a 1.70 ERA.

16. A’s (19). Trevor Cahill was, apparently, the slacker of the A’s staff this weekend. He’s the only Oakland pitcher who allowed a run in the three-game sweep of the Giants, though it seems rough to chastise him for giving up just the one run in 6 2/3 innings Friday.

17. Nationals (14). Washington hasn’t been more than one game under .500 since April 9, but the Nats have their work cut out for them. They enter a 10-game road trip against the Giants, Padres and Astros at just one game above.

18. Rockies (15). After a strong bounce-back 2009 season, Todd Helton is struggling again this year. Through 134 at-bats, he has a .736 OPS (the lowest of his career) and just nine RBIs.

19. Mets (20). Taking two of three from the Yankees certainly didn’t hurt Jerry Manuel’s job security; doing the same to the Phillies this week would help, too.

20. Angels (18). Being 4 1/2 games behind first-place Texas isn’t nearly as troubling as being four games under .500 entering the week.

21. Diamondbacks (26). The D-backs averaged 9.3 runs per game during their four-game winning streak last week.

Don't blame Kouske Fukudome for the Cubs' problems.
Don’t blame Kouske Fukudome for the Cubs’ problems.

22. Cubs (23). All three starting outfielders—Marlon Byrd, Alfonso Soriano and Kouske Fukudome—are batting better than .300 and have at least 21 RBIs. So, that’s not the problem in Wrigley.

23. Pirates (21). The Pirates swept the Reds in their first series this year, then were swept in the next one against Cincinnati. So, who knows what’ll happen during their four-game series this week?

24. White Sox (24). The power still isn’t there, but Carlos Quentin has hit .343 in his past nine games, raising his average from .172 to .216.

25. Royals (28). Chris Getz, who opened the season as the Royals’ starting second baseman, has zero extra-base hits and a .197 average in 20 games. Mike Aviles, who has taken over at second, has five extra-base hits and a .347 average in 19 games.

26. Brewers (25). During the Brewers’ current 2-11 stretch, Rickie Weeks (.118 average) and Ryan Braun (.205) are struggling. Casey McGehee (.321) and Prince Fielder (.319) are not.

27. Indians (22). That six-game skid dropped the Indians back into last place in the AL Central to start the week.

28. Mariners (27). Seattle scored 15 runs in a win against San Diego this week. There have been 19 games this year where they failed to score more than two.

29. Astros (29). Ace Roy Oswalt reportedly wants to be traded. That 2.66 ERA is intriguing for potential suitors; the $29 million he’s guaranteed over the next few years isn’t.

30. Orioles (30). A pair of one-run losses to the Nationals this weekend seem to fit right in with the story of the O’s season.

Ryan Fagan is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at rfagan@sportingnews.com, and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/ryan_fagan.

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