The Designated 15: AL Power Rankings – Week 1.

Throughout the year, I’ll be separately assessing the fortunes of teams in the NL and AL, and ranking them accordingly. Standings won’t be dependent on record alone and will factor in such aspects as injuries, strength of competition, and acquisitions, amongst other things. Last week, in The Designated 15 – Week 1I gave every team a comment in light of it being Opening Week. Week 2 sees a revert to my normal writing plan – 3-5 brief recaps for the most interesting teams of the week. After yesterday running down the NL then, today I present The Designated 15 – Week 2! (All records correct as of Sunday morning). 

  1. Detroit Tigers (4-0 last week)  It wasn’t pretty at times, or especially pretty either, but after one week, the Detroit Tigers are the only unbeaten team remaining in the majors. Requiring consecutive walk-offs against the feisty Royals to begin the season, new manager Brad Ausmas has seen his squad initially slug their way to success; seven of his everyday regulars currently boast an OPS above .895, with Austin Jackson leading the pack so far (1.158). That Miguel Cabrera guy – if you were wondering – hasn’t been bad either, crushing a home run for the 2000th hit of his career. On the pitching side of things, neither Anibal Sanchez nor Justin Verlander looked their normal dominant selves, not that it really mattered; Max Scherzer however, continued his 2013 Cy Young form with eight scoreless innings (allowing only four hits too), while Rick Porcello similarly turned in an encouraging outing yesterday against the Orioles. A two-game jaunt to Chavez Ravine to face the Dodgers this week should be an early treat of powerhouses facing off.
  2. Tampa Bay Rays (4-2) 
  3. Boston Red Sox (2-3) 
  4. Kansas City Royals (2-2) ↑ 
  5. Seattle Mariners (4-1)  If I had told you last week that this Sunday the Seattle Mariners would be tied for the AL lead in runs scored (31, with Tampa Bay) and atop the Junior Circuit in run differential (+19), you’d have scoffed and closed your browser. But after sweeping the Angels in Anaheim and splitting two games with Oakland (and even then, only losing on a Coco Crisp walk-off home run), here we are; the M’s are your early AL West leaders. Much heralded off-season addition Robinson Cano has transitioned seamlessly to his new team, hitting .421/.542/.474 so far, but – not to take anything away from the impressive first weeks for Justin Smoak, Dustin Ackley, and the Mariners offense in general – it’s been the pitching which has propelled Seattle to the lofty perch they currently occupy. Felix Hernandez has been predictably brilliant, striking out 19 in his 14.1 innings of three run ball, while the club have also gotten valuable starts from Erasmo Ramirez, Roenis Elias, and James Paxton (Paxton looking particularly dominant in his seven shutout innings – an outing in which he spotted his fastball immaculately). They’ve currently a streak of five games holding their opponents to three runs or less; with more games against the Athletics and Angels on the slate this week, it will be worth watching whether the M’s can continue to keep their divisional opponents’ normally-capable offenses in check.
  6. Cleveland Indians (3-2) 
  7. Oakland Athletics (2-3)  Does anyone ever have a true handle on Oakland? They seem impossible to predict – at least to me. In dropping three of their first five, the Athletics have gotten four quality starts and posted a 2.44 ERA (good for 6th in the ML), but have been scuppered by a lack of offensive contributions (star of 2013, Josh Donaldson, has only 2 hits) and a poor start from newly acquired ‘proven closer’ Jim Johnson (who is currently rocking a 22.50 ERA having allowed five hits and walked three in his first two innings of work in an Oakland uniform). Even more oddly though, the Athletics – y’know, a team which plays it’s home games in California – had two games postponed this week as their stadium woes continued; in addition to the ongoing sewage issues, they now have soggy infield problems too. Hopefully a trip to Minnesota this week will give the ground staff time to remedy things, and Oakland a chance to get their season on track on the road. 
  8. Toronto Blue Jays (3-3) 
  9. Los Angeles Angels (2-3) 
  10. Texas Rangers (2-3)  The ‘Tanner Scheppers: Opening Day Starter’ experiment went rather as many expected – badly.
  11. Baltimore Orioles (1-4) 
  12. New York Yankees (2-3)  Ooft – not a great first week for The Evil Empire. On Opening Day, C.C. Sabathia was immediately roughed up by the Houston (!) offense, and Derek Jeter was hit on the wrist in the bottom of the first – the Yanks would fall 6-2. The very next day, the ‘upgraded’ offense was held to just one run by Jarred Cosart. New York bounced back to .500 behind steady showings from Ivan Nova and Masahiro Tanaka the next couple of days (avoiding the ignominy of being swept by the Astros), but lost Mark Teixeira – who missed all of fifteen games in 2013 – to the DL with a hamstring strain along the way. On the bright side of things, aside from C.C. the starting pitching looked more than simply solid, Michael Pineda looking especially good in his debut in pinstripes, but whether the rotation can carry a lineup that at one point trotted out Kelly Johnson, Brian Roberts, Dean Anna, and rookie Yangervis Solarte around the infield this week, will be a steep test indeed. A primetime series beginning Thursday against Boston will be a nice early measuring stick to judge just how far the Yankees have fallen behind their AL East rivals.
  13. Chicago White Sox (2-3) 
  14. Minnesota Twins (2-3) 
  15. Houston Astros (2-3) 
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