Biggest gainer – Pittsburgh Pirates (+6)
1. St. Louis Cardinals (LW 4) Week 3 record (5-1)
Let me start by saying that their major work this week was done within the confines of Busch III. With that said, Albert Pujols is absolutely unbelievable. With another grand slam he already has 25 RBI and 7 home runs. Khalil Greene is enjoying a nice rebirth in St. Louis with 12 runs scored despite a paltry average. Next week the redbirds head to Atlanta for a tough 3 games, but will get well against lowly Washington.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers (LW 1) Week 3 record (3-3)
The Dodgers had an inconsistent start to their 9 game road trip, especially from the pitching standpoint. Clayton Kershaw and James McDonald’s performances must be concerning. The offense continues to pound the ball and Clayton Kershaw has emerged as a legitimate Cy Young contender.
3. Pittsburgh Pirates (LW 9) Week 3 record (5-1)
When last week’s #9 ranking seemed out of place for a baseball team out of Pittsburgh, this week feels downright wrong. Look at the facts though, they’ve gone to San Diego and kicked them around, averaging 7 runs a game at the antithesis of Yankee Stadium, Petco Park. In addition, they swept the pants off the red-hot Marlins early in the week. They head to Milwaukee for the start of important series of games against NL Central foes.
4. Philadelphia Phillies (LW 7) Week 3 record (4-2)
Now that the passing of Harry Kalas has sunk in, the Phillies were able to focus on baseball. They finished off an impressive sweep of the Marlins but only managed to take 1 of 3 at home against the Brew Crew. They look to continue their ascent when they take on the Nationals and Mets next week. When Chan Ho Park goes deep, you know you’re getting the breaks. In addition, it’s been years since a Phillies LF has made web gems, naturally Raul Ibanez looks like a good pickup.
5. Cincinnati Reds (LW 8) Week 3 record (4-3)
The pitching was terrific this week outside of Bronson Arroyo’s disaster Saturday. The rotation of Cueto, Harang, Arroyo, Owings, and Volquez doesn’t get enough press. As always the offense in queen city is stellar and with the defense improved with the subtractions of Dunn and Griffey, I like this team to continue to hang around the top of the division. They face the Astros before heading out to Pittsburgh and Miami.
6. Florida Marlins (LW 2) Week 3 record (0-6)
What a difference a week makes! They say in baseball that you’re never as good as you look when you’re winning and you’re not as bad as you are when you’re losing. When you go undefeated the previous week and go winless the following, that’s the definition of inconsistency. The kids will get it together again with a much needed homestand. This team in the 6<sup>th</sup> position might seem a stretch, but they still have 11 wins and lead the NL East.
7. Atlanta Braves (LW 10) Week 3 record (3-3)
A much better week for “America’s Team”. Then again, that is to be expected when you have a 3 game series against the Nationals, unless you do what the Braves did, and drop 2 of 3. I cut them slack, however, for being on the road for the last week and a half. They’ve only spent 6 games at home (though not impressively) but should really have their measurement taken when they have the Cardinals and Astros come into Dixie next week.
8. San Diego Padres (LW 3) Week 3 record (1-3)
Maybe we didn’t think the Pirates were going to be this good, maybe we thought the Padres hot start was more than it was. It’s a tough thing to call when a team travels 3,000 miles and takes series from a revamped Mets squad and the World Champs. The Padres, however, have come back to earth with a shellacking from the Buccos and a 2 game sweep at the hands of the Giants. Next week they hit the road with more NL West action against the Dodgers and Rockies.
9. Milwaukee Brewers (LW 12) Week 3 record (4-2)
It was a nice turn-around week for the Brewers, as they took 2 of 3 from the defending champs and went to oil country and promptly took 2 of 3 from them. Dave Bush is one of the more intriguing pitchers to me. I had him on a fantasy team a few years ago and kept a close eye on him. He pitched very well for my team that year, but was miserable after. He looked great again on Friday night with a 5-2 victory but will be in for a tough time when he faces Paul Maholm on Tuesday against the Pirates.
10. San Francisco Giants (LW 15) Week 3 record (4-1)
An encouraging week for Giants fans, as their team took advantage of two days off and beat the Padres and D’Backs 4 out of 5 games. Randy Johnson is looking better of late (though he only registered a no-decision in Saturday’s 5-3 victory. The only blemish on the Giants record this week came in Sunday’s late cough up loss. They head to the City for a homestand against the hated Dodgers and Colorado before a long road trip.
11. Chicago Cubs (LW 5) Week 3 record (2-4)
Their body of work would predicate a better ranking than 11<sup>th</sup> , but the way they were handled in St. Louis and by Cincinnati was very disappointing. The offense was atrocious save for the 10-3 victory over the Cards on Sunday. They will need to have better showings next week when they head to Arizona for 3 and back to Chi Town for a 4 game set against a reeling Marlins squad.
12. New York Mets (LW 6) Week 3 record (2-4 )
This isn’t an east coast-west coast hate thing, the facts are the facts. They were swept in St. Louis in a rematch of the 2006 NLCS and were beat 8-1 against the Nationals…..at home! The 8-10 record isn’t enough to create mass panic in the big apple, but with series against the Marlins, Phillies, Braves, and Phillies again, this team needs to find another pitcher after Johan Santana, and quickly. Don’t blame the WBC on Oliver Perez’ inconsistency, ask any Padres or Pirates fan, it’s always been this way.
13. Houston Astros (LW 13) Week 3 record (3-3)
Defeated the Dodgers 2 of 3 and barely lost that 3<sup>rd</sup> game 2-0. Would expect more from a team that has spent 13 of it’s first 19 games at home, but alas, a 7-12 mark is where they are. When Russ Ortiz is your team leader in wins, you have problems. Wandy Rodriguez is one of those players who is super under-the-radar and someone to keep an eye on. They finally hit the road next week with trips to Ohio and Georgia.
14. Colorado Rockies (LW 11) Week 3 record (2-4)
They have to be better than this. The National League champions in 2007 are a mere 6-11 so far this season. They’ve given up more runs than anyone besides the Nationals and Phillies while playing only 6 at home. Troy Tulowitzki has been atrocious and might be a big reason this team is struggling. Ubaldo Jimenez and the rest of the staff have looked terrible save for Jason Marquis who has performed admirably.
15. Arizona Diamondbacks (LW 14) Week 3 record (3-3)
You think 15 is a tough spot for a team that went 3-3 last week? Not when you’ve had a homestand consisting of the 14<sup>th</sup> ranked Rockies and 10<sup>th</sup> ranked Giants. This team hasn’t looked the same since about ¾ the way through last year. The kids still strike out way too much and the pitching is still inconsistent. Add Brandon Webb hitting the DL for a long stretch and you’re looking like a fool if you picked this team to come out of the NL West. The road ahead gets tougher with series against the Cubs, Brewers, at the Dodgers and Padres.
16. Washington Nationals (LW 16) Week 3 record (3-3)
Bravo! This team looks like it might have a clue. They’ve locked up Ryan Zimmerman for a couple more years and they’ve decided to give up on their awful bullpen. They have some pieces coming from the minor leagues but have a long way to go. Kudos to Daniel Cabrera for actually getting on base for the first time in his career.