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Power Rankings: Angels fail, Red Sox flail, Orioles sail at quarter pole

by | CBSSports.com Baseball Blogger

The bewildering Royals won two straight, on the road, against the red-hot Rangers. (AP)  
The bewildering Royals won two straight, on the road, against the red-hot Rangers. (AP)  

We just passed the one-fifth mark of the season and are nearing the quarter pole, so let's reflect on what we've seen and hand out some faux-awards.

Most disappointing: Angels. No reason to elaborate, really, because we've had plenty of elaboration for the past six weeks.

Most surprising (good): The A's, Nationals and Mets get a look, but they don't hold a candle to the shock that is the Orioles sitting atop the AL East (well, tied for first through Tuesday, but you get it).

Most enigmatic: Early on it was the Rockies, who are just plain bad now. At this point, I'm gonna go with the Royals. It makes sense, as they're a young team which hasn't yet tasted success. That losing streak got out of control early, and they ended up dropping 12 straight. But other than that, they're 15-8.

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Millennium Force award: I'm a roller-coaster freak and Cedar Point's Millennium Force is my favorite, hence the name. This one has to be the Red Sox, they of the five-game losing streak ... and six-game winning streak ... and losing eight of nine ... followed by their current five-game winning streak.

Soap opera award: Again, it's the Red Sox. Chicken-n-Beer carryover, Bobby V. calling out Youk and then backpedaling, Golfgate, the boos and on and on and on. The best part is that heading into the season the Marlins would have been the easy prediction here.

Most likely to regress: Mets. Allow me to illustrate why run differential matters, since some Mets fans seemed oblivious to it last week. Let's say you have a 10-game sample. Team A is 7-3, with seven wins of either one or two runs. Their three losses were of the blowout variety. Team B is 5-5, with five blowout wins and five one-run losses.

Now, we can bury our head in the sand and say Team A is better and will continue to be just because they're "clutch" or "better at winning the close games." Or we can realize that over the course of 162 games, those close games tend to even out -- especially when you have a shaky ninth-inning pitcher.

In my above example, history has shown us that Team B has the better chance of sustained success. Now, back to reality: The Mets are four games over .500 with a minus-23 run differential. If you can't understand this is the mark of a completely overachieving team, I can't help you.

Most likely to progress: The Phillies. This pick isn't nearly as much Ryan Howard and Chase Utley returning at some point as it is this stat: The Phillies are 18-19 overall, but just 4-9 when Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee start. That's gonna turn on its head pretty quickly.

Stats, comments and rankings are through Tuesday night.


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