1. Cheyenne Duck Snorts [36-13, Run Differential (RD): +107]
Its classically bad form for the author to rank his team #1, but the defending champs sport Griffey’s best record, boast the fewest runs allowed, 2nd best run differential, and recently topped Matt Ross and the Ponies in a three game set. It’s a long season, and given the choice, most AL playoff opponents would probably pick facing Cheyenne over Pittsburgh, but based strictly on S8 performance, there is no strong argument for another #1. However, it should be noted that Cheyenne has enjoyed a 12-4 record in one-run games. Even the best teams hover typically around .500 in this category, and Cheyenne may not be able to expect such a performance for the remainder of the season.
2. Cincinnati centipedes (35-13, RD: +82)
For fans of Griffey World, the centipedes success does not come as much of a surprise. The NL upstarts were a non-factor for the first 2/3 of S7, but kicked their performance up a few notches for the stretch run, narrowly missing a playoff berth. Thanks to a 1.000+ OPS from rookie Pep Zentmeyer, the ‘pedes haven’t looked back in S8 and lead Griffey’s toughest division as a result. While clearly a top team in the NL, their 3rd ranked run differential and a large gap between actual (.729) and expected (.659) winning percentage suggest they may not be as good as their record indicates. Don’t get the wrong idea – Cincinnati should have major input in shaping the NL this season, but given the above plus the strength of their division, they have a way to go before locking up that first round bye.
3. San Antonio fighters (31-17, RD: +110)
The S6 NL Champs are looking strong again in S8, led by LF Art Sauerbeck who, with a 1.071 OPS, is on pace for a career best total…and of course, there is always Dwight Meyers, who is currently on a 21-game hitting streak. A strong bullpen performances from Vin Rosario, Alex Lee, and Danny Mullins have shortened games considerably for fighters’ opponents.
4. Fargo Fuzznuts (34-14, RD: +87)
Where most teams would love to have a cleanup man with a 1.000+ OPS, the defending NL Champs feature four such sluggers in their lineup, including recently acquired Alan Green. That the Fuzznuts are ranked here in the Power Rankings, but are currently 11th in the NL in runs allowed, speaks to the dominance of their top-ranked offense.
5. Pittsburgh Ponies (31-17, RD: +80)
Few would expect to see the four-time champs ranked down this far, but that’s more a tribute to the success of the NL teams above than any sort of decline in Pony Prowess. While Matt Ross has already claimed Pitcher of the Week honors and leads all major individual pitching categories, travisg’s boys are more than one-trick Ponies – Juan Tejada is tied for 8th in the AL in RBIs (45) to pace the offense.
6. Atlanta Ripettoes (30-19, RD: +71)
The Ripettoes represent the last of the 30-win teams in Griffey to date, but are currently the class of the NL East, which is a perennial dogfight. With the Yank-mes already conceding the division, Atlanta’s true S8 rivals are the other divisional leaders. As in seasons past, jabronidan has turned to all-World talent Michael Snow –Griffey’s RBI leader with 69 – to pace the offense. However, the Ripettoes boast a balanced attack, as Denny Yamamoto has already garnered Week 2 Pitcher of the Week honors.
7. Montreal Valiants (27-22, RD: +45)
The Valiants are the last of the Griffey’s “sure things” for the playoffs. Montreal again finds itself in the top tier of AL pitching, ranking 3rd in WHIP behind AL frontrunners Cheyenne and Pittsburgh. The offense has lagged somewhat as S7 rookie phenom Russell Brow languished on the DL. Brow is back, so look for the Valiants to put some distance between themselves and other AL contenders here in the next few games.
8. New York Yank-mes (27-21, RD: +64)
The Yank-mes are ranked here largely on the strength of their performance to-date, but it is difficult to tell what that means going forward. New York is openly in firesale mode, but gerald007 has wisely done so maybe a season too early than a season too late. As a result, the Yank-mes have already acquired a bounty of quality ML-ready talent in their trades. They may yet compete for the last NL Wild Card spot, but given the strength of hungry NL contenders, the future is unclear.
9. Philadelphia Revolution (29-19, RD: +39)
The Revolution are out to a solid lead in the AL East; however, recall Philly came back to the pack in S7, which resulted in a dramatic end-of-the-year battle with the Cyclones. Matt Waters and Kiki Astacio, both in the AL’s top 10 for RBIs, pace the offense.
10. Chicago Cubs (29-20, RD: +37)
The Cubs boast a much better record than would be expected based on their run differential, but their success appears consistent with the talent on paper. Unfortunately for Wrigleyville’s heroes, they share a division with 2 other top NL teams. Nonetheless, longtime Griffey observers saw the Cubs’ success coming, as the franchise is finally reaping the fruits of many seasons of high draft picks.
Bubble Teams: Washington DC Foo Fighters, Anaheim Jack A$$es