Nearly six years ago, the Tampa Bay Rays and Philadelphia Phillies were on top of the baseball world, playing for a World Series title. The Phillies, led by Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Series MVP Cole Hamels, would eventually win the 2008 World Series in five games.
Today, these two franchises have hit rock bottom, with the Rays (24-41) having the worst record in baseball and the Phillies (25-36) being tied with the Cubs for the worst record in the National League.
The Rays – picked by many to win the American League East – are easily baseball’s biggest disappointment, mostly due to injuries and inconsistent performances from its young pitching. Matt Moore was shelved with Tommy John surgery after just two starts and staff ace David Price (4-6, 3.97 ERA) has been good, but not great.
Tampa Bay’s offense has been its weakest link in recent seasons, and that hasn’t changed this year. The Rays are currently ranked 25th in Major League Baseball in runs, 22nd in batting average, 17th in on base percentage and 26th in slugging percentage. None of the offensive regulars are batting over .300 and the star of the group, Evan Longoria, is batting just .265, with 7 HR and 26 RBI. Not bad numbers, but not the norm for him. Young star Wil Myers has yet to blossom and is also on the disabled list.
Basically, nothing has gone right for the Rays, and to try and reverse the team’s misfortunes, manager Joe Maddon recently called upon a Seminole medicine man to visit the club.
But instead of healing, it may be time for Tampa Bay to take a bite out of a reality sandwich, that this small budget club may need to reload. There’s plenty of young talent in the organization, and plenty more can be had if David Price is dealt at the July trading deadline. It’s hard to move a guy like Price, but if this trend continues, Tampa Bay will need to make it happen.
On the other side of the fence is the Phillies, a team that didn’t carry the same expectations, mostly due to its age. Veteran leadership is present, sure, but few critics expected Philadelphia to be able to hang with the likes of the Braves and Nationals.
Last place is still a bit of a surprise, what with the Mets and Marlins playing in the same division. Miami’s young talent is playing well, and while the Mets haven’t played great baseball – New York isn’t as bad as the Phillies. Philadelphia is struggling across the board: 24th in team ERA (4.20), 28th in WHIP (1.39), 25th in runs scored, 23rd in batting average and 24th in on base percentage.
A.J. Burnett (4.41 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, 41 BB’s) has struggled with his command, Cliff Lee (4-4, 3.18 ERA) is injured and Cole Hamels (2-3, 3.49 ERA) is once again getting little run support. Ryan Howard (11 HR, 41 RBI) is healthy again, but he’s struck out 80 times in 232 AB’s. Domonic Brown is batting just .218, with an abysmal .268 on base percentage in 59 games.
Still, the Phillies have talent that could help out a team in a pennant race. It’s becoming quite clear that this is a team that needs to get younger. Sell off the veterans that you can, and reel in some quality prospects to build for the future. If Cliff Lee gets healthy, he would be a great option, although the team may need to eat some of his salary. Chase Utley is another piece, and he’s having a great year.
All in all, the current struggles of these two teams are quite apparent – and since last week’s Power Rankings, both the Rays and Phillies are among the five teams that fell the furthest.
Boston Red Sox: -37 points
Philadelphia Phillies: -33 points
New York Yankees: -30 points
Tampa Bay Rays: -28 points
Colorado Rockies: -27 points
Elsewhere, a trio of teams – the Nationals, Mariners and Indians – had huge weeks.
Washington Nationals: +50 points
Seattle Mariners: +42 points
Cleveland Indians: +41 points
Arizona Diamondbacks: +26 points
Kansas City Royals: +21 points
In the latest Power Rankings at TWHS, the A’s, Giants and Jays stand tall as the top three teams. The latest poll is as follows, highlighting the clubs that had positive or negative jumps since the last week:
KP’s MLB Power Rankings: June 10, 2014
Note: Statistics and point totals as of Tuesday morning (6/10/14) and do not include night games
1. Oakland Athletics (154 points) – Previously: #1 (+10)
2. San Francisco Giants (124 points) – Previously: #2 (+2)
3. Toronto Blue Jays (106 points) – Previously: #4 (+10)
4. Milwaukee Brewers (94 points) – Previously: #3 (-2)
5. Washington Nationals (88 points) – Previously: #12 (+50)
6. Seattle Mariners (75 points) – Previously: #14 (+42)
7. Los Angeles Dodgers (74 points) – Previously: #6 (+5)
8. Los Angeles Angels (72 points) – Previously: #7 (+10)
9. Detroit Tigers (62 points) – Previously: #5 (-19)
10. Atlanta Braves (55 points) – Previously: #8 (-5)
11. Miami Marlins (51 points) – Previously: #11 (+12)
12. St. Louis Cardinals (51 points) – Previously: #9 (-5)
13. Cleveland Indians (43 points) – Previously: #22 (+41)
14. Baltimore Orioles (41 points) – Previously: #13 (+7)
15. Kansas City Royals (24 points) – Previously: #21 (+21)
16. Pittsburgh Pirates (15 points) – Previously: #24 (+18)
17. New York Yankees (11 points) – Previously: #10 (-30)
18. Cincinnati Reds (8 points) – Previously: #20 (-8)
19. Chicago White Sox (6 points) – Previously: #19 (-13)
20. Colorado Rockies (2 points) – Previously: #16 (-27)
21. Texas Rangers (0 points) – Previously: #17 (-26)
22. New York Mets (-1 point) – Previously: #18 (-25)
23. Boston Red Sox (-6 points) – Previously: #15 (-37)
24. Minnesota Twins (-10 points) – Previously: #26 (+1)
25. Arizona Diamondbacks (-10 points) – Previously: #30 (+26)
26. Chicago Cubs (-13 points) – Previously: #28 (+14)
27. Houston Astros (-16 points) – Previously: #27 (+11)
28. San Diego Padres (-18 points) – Previously: #23 (-20)
29. Philadelphia Phillies (-41 points) – Previously: #25 (-33)
30. Tampa Bay Rays (-60 points) – Previously: #29 (-28)
* All stats per MLB.com
Note: RED = Falling 3+ spots from last week, GREEN = Rising 3+ spots from last week
The Wife Hates Sports’ MLB Power Rankings system has a method to its madness, attempting to be different and not just rank by popularity and record. It mixes a secret formula of six completely different categories, meshed into a points system. The categories don’t just include team results regarding record, but how each team has performed recently, as well as incorporating some statistics on both a team’s offense and pitching staff, too.