The Power Rankings are taking a beating today so I wanted to circle back with some open-minded commentary. You guys can tell me the logic sucks but at least the logic exists. I can stand behind that. We're actively trying no matter what Braves and Yankees fans tell you:
I'll start with the biggest complaints and work backwards.
The Braves Should Be Much Better. But they're not right now and that's for a number of reasons. Tough schedule, sure. But elite teams don't go 9-13 then complain about a schedule.
Max Fried should be a bigger question mark than the positive updates from sources suggest. Bryce Elder *probably* isn't a sub-2.00 ERA guy over his first full season. Charlie Morton is older than Klemmer. Michael Soroka is back for the first time in almost 3 years and he's instantly depended upon. The bullpen's been taxed more than you'd like.
And all the while, the Braves have elite talent at 6 of 8 every day positions. All-Star caliber at a minimum, MVP potential at several. Super experienced team that has only performed worse and become more injured in the last couple weeks.
Does that mean the Braves suck?
Not at all.
They arguably have the best core of talent across baseball.
Right now though, they have a huge issue:
Michael Harris has been explicitly named as the most important player in that clubhouse by almost anyone that's been asked. He's 64% worse than Mark Canha right now (36 OPS+). Shave that down to 30% and the Braves are in a notably better position.
If Fried can get back and be himself. If Elder really is this good. If Austin Riley plays to his actual potential and Acuna keeps rolling and the bullpen can get a modicum of support and Soroka is Soroka. Then the Braves are the class of the National League. It's not far away and my take on this the first week of June shouldn't ruin an otherwise pleasant part of the calendar.
I Could Be Wrong About The Yankees. Hubbs got engaged this weekeend. Anthony Volpe was the photographer. It was a beautiful moment but Hubbs wasn't on set last night to adjust the perils of our group think.
The crux of the argument for the Yankees being at 8 and not higher is a number of factors. Maybe I didn't measure them appropriately in hindsight. They've survived a ton of injuries. They've played a brutal schedule. They don't have off days right now. Stanton just came back. The supporting cast has clenched its butt cheeks and battled through some crazy adversity. Michael King's on an All Star pace. Cole is a bonafide #1 and pitching like it. The Yankees keep winning despite a bunch of reasons to regress.
All fair points that have been repeatedly rammed down my fucking throat this morning. Thank you guys, sincerely.
The last 6 west coast games could have been much worse. Instead they went 4-2 and now they're in the broader NYC metro area with limited travel for 3 full weeks. The Yankees could very much be waking up into the best stretch of baseball following some much needed rest.
I overlooked all of this when recording.
What we focused on was the pitching depth and the rest of the division. The Yankees kill bad teams. They're 4-6 against the Rays and Orioles in the last 4 weeks. They're 14-18 this year against the 1st place AL teams and the rest of the East. I concede I missed some great points about the 2023 Yankees this week, but you have to simultaneously admit that 12-3 against the A's, Reds, Guardians and Giants has an unjust (even if fractional) impact on the overall perception of the Yankees' quality.
For now I'm still trying to make sense of them. They drop 3 in a row then win 4 in a row. The Orioles and Rays have played better in the same division. They lose a heartbreaker then get their doors blown off. Then they win 2 straight against an NL powerhouse with such a limited lineup.
If anything they're extremely interesting. A dead on balls coin flip between them and the Braves right now after writing this out. But definitely not worse than the 8th team in baseball so that's nice.
Eddie Rosario hit his grandslam mid recording.
We have to record late enough for the results but not too late because we're trying to publish with sunrise. There's a lot of considerations. Point is the Dbacks could be seen as too high this week, but we don't want the late Sunday results to dictate too much.
They've been red hot and that includes two separate 3-game losing streaks in May. They won 6 in a row last week with a big home series against the Braves. Zac Gallen puts up a quality start in a rubber match with a 96% chance of victory in the 9th inning with 2 outs.
Eddie Rosario then hit that grandslam.
Am I throwing out the Diamondbacks emergence because of this? In favor of Michael Soroka's 2nd bad start since spending 1,000+ days on the IL?
These are the questions we wrestle with on a weekly basis.
If it's any consolation (I'm sure it's not), we consciously moved the Dbacks down to 5 after Klemmer presented his argument for Astros at 4.
That's called Progress.
The Rangers Should Be 1st Overall but we're not there yet. That's next week. That's how hot the Texas Rangers are. So hot that we could pivot to a full blown Rangers show and I think we'd grow at the same rate. The entire state of Texas is waking up to the party in Arlington and there's no sign of it slowing down. Semien, Lowe, Jung, Garcia have all been outstanding. Corey Seager is probably the best player in baseball that people won't talk about this year. The rotation keeps improving and Jon Gray might make an All Star game. Meanwhile deGrom strengthens forearm muscles you never knew existed until he injured them. Bruce Bochy has the boys going hard and everything is pointing up.
So much that their run differential is the highest through 58 games since the 1939 Yankees. That was a relatively unremarkable Yankees group in the broader context of their individual career accolades. But they still won 111 games and the World Series with a 24 year old CF named Joe Dimmagio and a prime Bill Dickey catching Lefty Gomez and a 41-year old Red Ruffing.
Btw Ruffing should not be in the HOF. Remind me to bring that up to Klemmer on Wednesday.
The Early June reality is that every team on this list could win the World Series.
These are good clubs. Some are better. But all these teams are very talented. And then there's a whole list of extremely talented, yet underperforming clubs. The Padres, Phillies, Mariners, Mets and Cardinals should all be better. The Angels and Marlins and Brewers are dangerous teams that can win 8 of 10 without surprising anyone.
There's so many different degrees of Good Baseball right now. You can't say the same about Shitty Baseball. That's gradually becoming a dying concept and I think we're all better for it. Stay positive and focus on that.
As for the Yankees, we'll get that sorted out next week I promise.
Follow along here. Shows are out every Monday-Wednesday-Friday.