Your Monday Morning Power Rankings

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Some people didn’t like my little tour of the cities thing last week and said that you’d prefer it if I just stuck to the “Team X has won Y of Z games, so look out for Team X!” blather.  I can’t tell if those people are merely trolls or if there is a genuine thirst for said blather. I was going to test it this week by doing something loony, but loony takes a lot of time, so we’re leaning more toward the blather

But know this: last week wasn’t the last time I’ll get loony with the rankings. I can feel a “most famous ‘Love Boat’ guest star from each team’s city” Power Rankings working its way into creation soon, so be on the lookout.

As usual, last week’s ranking is in parenthesis.

1. Phillies (2): Passing Boston for the top spot. Now they get to play a series against those Red Sox. This shall be good from both a baseball perspective and from a Power-Rankings-Clarification perspective.

2. Yankees (3): Every day it seems like they’re losing someone else to an injury or at least have someone suffering from an ache or a pain. Yet they just keep racking up victories.

3. Red Sox (1): I don’t care if the Pirates are better and the Padres are playing decent baseball lately. Losing back-to-back series to those guys is not something the number one team in the Power Rankings does. Of course, if they beat the hell out of Philly this week, all is forgiven.

4. Brewers (5): Dropped two of three to the Rays, but came back strong by sweeping the Twins.  Braun and Fielder are pulling an Aaron-Matthews act.

5. Rays (8): Hanging tough, but is B.J. Upton on the block?

6. Giants (10): Bumgarner and Lincecum bounce back. Sanchez to the DL. That’s a net gain.

7. Braves (7): If you had no idea what their record was and just watched some random games, you’d conclude that they were in last place. As a fan, those two-hit games are so damn frustrating. And unlike previous Braves teams that were all pitching — which there were many — I’m just not getting the satisfaction out of those good outings from Jurrjens and Beachy and whoever.  Easily the biggest detachment I’ve felt between team quality and game enjoyment since I’ve been watching the Braves.

8. Tigers (8): Back in sole possession of first place. In Verlander We Trust.

9. Diamondbacks (12)Kirk Gibson says this bunch reminds him of the ’84 Tigers.  Which one is Rusty Kuntz?

10. Indians (4):  I think I rank them too high when they have a good week and too low when they have a bad one. I think it’s a smaller battle in the overall war pitting optimism against pessimism.

11. Rangers (13): Texas’ schedule leading up to the All-Star break: Astros, Marlins, Orioles and Athletics.  Time to create some space or else be stuck in a dogfight all season, no?

12. Cardinals (6): They’ve scored 21 runs in the six post-Pujols-injury games, but 12 of those runs came in one game.

13. Nationals (16): I’m torn: I love Davey Johnson and want him to excel, but the Nats are only 3.5 behind my rooting interest for the Wild Card in a division in which it looks like the Wild Card is the only option for the non-Philly teams. Hurm.

14. Reds (11): After series against Tampa Bay and Cleveland, their last seven games before the break are against St. Louis and Milwaukee. Moving time for Cincy, too.

15. Blue Jays (17): I think it has less serious implications than the schedules of the Reds and Rangers — ya think the Jays are contending in the East? — but it is worth noting that they are in the middle of an outrageously brutal stretch of the schedule. Series against the Reds, Braves and Cardinals — a makeup game against Detroit tonight on what should have been an off day — and then series against the better-than-we-thought Pirates, the Phillies, the Red Sox and then the better-than-we-thought Indians.

WARNING: CLUSTERF*** AHEAD. The next six teams are all roughly at around the same record. They’re all in the same general ballpark in terms of run differential. Seattle had the worst week among them so I dropped them the most from last week, but it wasn’t horror-show bad. All of the others were respectable enough on the week. It was hard to rank them, because I’ve been hot and cold on each of them at times and still don’t really know what kind of team they really are. So what I’m saying is, don’t complain about the specific order of the next six, because I could go in any direction, really.

16. Rockies (15): Colorado has a makeup game today too, on what should have been their last offday before the All-Star break. In this case, however, the rainout that is being made up had no rain.

17. Mets (18): I guess you don’t want to see your old manager succeed with a division rival, but really folks, Davey Johnson hasn’t worked for the Mets since a couple of months before the song “Ice Ice Baby” was released as a single. Time to let it go, ya know?

18. Pirates (20): Tied with the Reds in the standings, 48 runs behind them in run differential.

19. White Sox (19): The race in the Central would be more interesting if Adam Dunn hadn’t been a complete bust so far. I still figure that he has to turn it around, right? The Sox are only 4.5 out, so if he does, it could make things interesting.

20. Angels (23): Winners of five of seven and only two back. Someone’s gotta win the AL West, right?

21. Mariners (14): Still the best pitching in the American League, and series against a bunch of offensively-challenged teams between now and the break.

22. Orioles (24): Signs of life from Derrek Lee. For whatever that’s worth.

23. Padres (28): I still don’t think they’re any good, but two of three from both Boston and Atlanta is a damn fine week, and is deserving of a few-notch bump.

24. Dodgers (25): All comments on this team are pending approval of the bankruptcy trustee.

25. Athletics (22): They went 2-4 on the road trip against the Mets and Phillies, but they were close games. I dunno, it’s something.

26. Marlins (27): Small bright spot in an otherwise dismal month? Hanley Ramirez seems to be waking up a bit in the past few games, going 6 for his last 17. Small, but maybe something to cling to.

27. Royals (26): Mike Moustakas (12 for 50, 1 HR) is not quite taking the bigs as well as Eric Hosmer has. And Hosmer has cooled down a bit.

28. Twins (21): Reports of their resurgence were apparently exaggerated.

29. Cubs (29): I get this sense that people aren’t appreciating how bad they are by virtue of the fact that Houston is even worse. But really, they’re terrible.

30. Astros (30): The thing about the Astros is that they can lose any number of ways. They can lose the high scoring games, they can lose the low scoring games. Just a really, really versatile crappy team.

Kris Bryant exits game with sprained right ankle

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The Cubs had a scare on Wednesday night when third baseman Kris Bryant left with an apparent ankle injury. In the bottom of the fifth inning, Nationals catcher Matt Wieters hit a pop up that veered just into foul territory near the third base bag. Bryant caught it but his momentum took him back into fair territory. In doing so, he stepped awkwardly on the third base bag and appeared to twist his ankle. Bryant needed the assistance of manager Joe Maddon and the team trainer to get off the field.

Bryant was diagnosed with a mild ankle sprain, CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports.

Bryant was 2-for-3 on the night before departing and being replaced by Jeimer Candelario. He’s now hitting .264/.395/.520 with 16 home runs and 32 RBI in 329 plate appearances. Needless to say, the 39-39 Cubs would see their playoff odds hurt immensely if Bryant were to miss a significant amount of time.

Miguel Sano will participate in the 2017 Home Run Derby

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Hector Gomez reports Twins third baseman Miguel Sano will participate in the 2017 Home Run Derby, to be held in two weeks at Marlins Park in Miami. So far, Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton is the only other confirmed participant.

Sano, 24, is having an outstanding season, batting .274/.375/.548 with 18 home runs and 53 RBI in 293 plate appearances. According to MLB’s Statcast, only Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge (96.7 MPH) has a higher average exit velocity than Sano (96.4 MPH).

Brian Dozier was the last member of the Twins to participate in the Home Run Derby. In 2014 at Target Field, Dozier failed to make it into the second round after hitting only two home runs. Justin Morneau is the only Twin to have ever won the Home Run Derby, as he beat Josh Hamilton 5-3 in the finals of the 2008 Derby at Yankee Stadium — although Hamilton out-homered him in total 35 to 22.