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MLB Power Rankings (Last Updated: 04/22)
Why the Cubs didn't go out and get an elite closer?
The answer is simple: They already have one. Hector Rondon had a 1.67 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 69 strikeouts against 13 unintentional walks last
season in 70 innings. So far this year? Four innings, one hit -- a grounder with eyes, by the way -- zero runs, zero walks and eight strikeouts.
I'm sorry his name isn't Kimbrel or Chapman, but he's elite.
2. Kansas City:
Cubs losing a series to the Rockies, but the Royals lost a series to the A's. Still, as noted last week,
consider this spot more 1b than 2. Over three seasons, Terrance Gore has nine steals, six plate appearances - and still no hits.
Yu Darvish: Coming to a mound near you very soon., Keep an eye on this group. Nomar Mazara, 20, hits .444 in first seven games of career.
So far, so good for Stephen Strasburg (3-0, 1,25 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 21 K, 21.2 IP) in his contract year. In fact, in his last 16 starts,
he's 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA and 131 strikeouts against only 19 walks. The free agent starting pitching class is pretty thin, too, so he's gonna get a huge deal.
5. NY Mets:
It's been a real odd start, from the Jacob deGrom injury, deGrom's infant's issues (which thankfully seem to have subsided), Matt Harvey's struggles,
the offense looking pitiful through the first week and a half and Noah Syndergaard having the best raw stuff on the planet. And through all of that,
they have a winning record. They're fine.
2016 NBA Power Rankings: Top 5 Heading into Playoffs (Last Updated: 04/15)
1. Golden State Warriors (72-9):
Are we good? We’re good, right?
Seriously, what else needs to be said? No collection of shooters had ever hit more than 1,000 threes in a year until the Warriors buried 1,077. No MVP had ever taken a leap after winning the award a first time until Curry torched the path between great and historically transcendent. No 6’7” (he’s not even 6’6”, and we all know it) forward had ever been the best center in the league until Draymond Green did it.
No team has ever had a season as successful as the Warriors. And given the obscene amounts of luck and skill it took to do it, no team ever will.
2. San Antonio Spurs (65-15):
The seventh-best scoring margin in NBA history would normally be enough to rank first in any list like this. But the Warriors made this season decidedly abnormal, so San Antonio is stuck in the same place it’s been for almost the entire year: second.
The Dubs’ April 8 win over the Spurs made it three out of four, and it also added an air of finality to the postseason ahead.
If San Antonio can’t push the Warriors, nobody can.
The defense remains phenomenal, but the Spurs proved they couldn’t consistently score against the Warriors. And we know Golden State only needs to catch fire for a few minutes to win any game.
Anything’s possible, but the Western Conference finals appear to be the Spurs’ final destination.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder (54-26):
This is where the numbers get pushed aside in favor of gut feeling.
The Thunder won two fewer games than the Cavs this year, and they posted a startlingly meager 15-13 record after the All-Star break. Toss in a 5-5 finish to the season, and it's hard to see how OKC deserves to rate higher than Cleveland.
That’s not to say all the numbers favor Cleveland. Oklahoma City beat opponents by a larger average margin on the season, and Basketball Reference pegged the Cavs’ schedule as the easiest in the league.
Mainly, the Thunder maintain No. 3 because they have two of the best five players in the league, fewer easily exploitable weaknesses than Cleveland and (it feels like) less potential for unrest and/or collapse.
Maybe all that seems crazy, especially with the Cavs winning both head-to-head meetings against OKC. I guess if you’re among the Cavs fans really upset by this, you can take solace in the satiny-smooth path to the Finals ahead.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers (56-24):
Credit the Cleveland Cavaliers for pushing through a season under a microscope in which every tweet, postgame comment and sideways glance was scrutinized for signs of locker-room unrest. Oddly, the singular focus of the postseason should ease some of that pressure.
It may also dredge up some familiar basketball issues, per Brett Koremenos of RealGM.com: "Kevin Love’s defensive limitations could be severely exposed by a team that starts two combo forwards and employs one of the league’s most dynamic pick-and-roll attacks."
The preferred excuse for last season's Finals loss was the absence of Love and Kyrie Irving. Now, with a matchup that could test both of their defensive weaknesses right away, we're going to get some valuable information.
And if we see Irving or Love pushed into smaller roles, maybe things really boil over.
Or...maybe the Cavs cruise through the East without incident like we all expect and get run over by whoever they see in the Finals.
Come to think of it, that second thing seems most likely.
5. Los Angeles Clippers (52-28):
The Clips finished the season with a 53-29 record, winners of eight out of their last 10 games. And they mailed in that April 13 loss to the Suns, so that one hardly counts.
Point being: L.A. is in a good place these days.
Blake Griffin eased himself back into the swing of things with five games in April, and he hit double figures in each of the last three he played. It's hard to expect him to be in perfect shape for the postseason, but he's got value even if he's limited. And the longer the Clippers last, the better Griffin's rhythm should be.
Barring a wild triumph of youth over experience, Los Angeles shouldn't have trouble with the Blazers in the first round.
Per Joe Freeman of the Oregonian, the Clippers have a combined 554 games of playoff seasoning. Portland has 92.
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