MLB Power Rankings: Week 2

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MLB Power Rankings: Week 2

Every Monday throughout the regular season, we'll be ranking all 30 MLB teams -- take a look and offer up your thoughts in the comments or to us on twitter @CubsTalkCSN or @WhiteSoxTalkCSN.

Previous rankings: Preseason Week 1

Tony
JJ Comments 1

Tony: Hot start overtakes Detroit for No. 1.
JJ: Despite rough start, Rangers are never gonna give Yu up.
2

Tony: Champs look great early.
JJ: Fast start Pujols struggling sounds perfect for Cards fans.
3

Tony: Rough weekend on South Side.
JJ: Delmon Young looks like a corncob in left, you guys.
4

Tony: MLB's best record, Kemp is in beast mode.
JJ: Minnesota the perfect cure for a blah start.
5

Tony: Nothin' doin just yet.
JJ: Bad early record not indicative of their talent.
6

Tony: Success depends on starters.
JJ: Chris Young's on pace for 60 homers. Sustainable!
7

Tony: Four straight losses drops them.
JJ: Runs allowed (57) concerning; still thing pitching is good.
8

Tony: Very solid team playing well.
JJ: gets indigestion thinking about StrasBurger
9

Tony: Need to get things meshed in Hollywood.
JJ: 8 runs Sunday bigger news than Flyers' 8 goals.
10

Tony: Baseball is back north of the border.
JJ: Greinke's like my first car: terrible on the road.
11

Tony: Team is really starting to look good.
JJ: MLB's best record, but haven't been tested. Kemp is a god.
12

Tony: Needs to right the ship.
JJ: 12 run differential is third-best in AL.
13

Tony: Been playing better after slow start.
JJ: Have rebounded nicely after putrid start.
14

Tony: Slow beginning to '12.
JJ: CainBumgarner locked up, not Lincecum. Interesting.
15

Tony: Looked great against Detroit.
JJ: Maybe some beer would loosen up the clubhouse.
16

Tony: Nothin' special right now.
JJ: Could gain some ground wBAL, SEA & OAK on tap.
17

Tony: Ellsbury injury a killer.
JJ: This may be harsh, but haven't done much yet.
18

Tony: Rotation is a bit scary.
JJ: The home run thing is awesome. LoMo's error? Not so much.
19

Tony: Team will struggle to stay at .500.
JJ: 52 runs third-highest output in baseball.
20

Tony: Overall good weekend against Philly.
JJ: Like the Angels, early play not indicative of talent level.
21

Tony: I'm just not sold on this team.
JJ: Giving up a ton of runs like the pre-2007 Rockies.
22

Tony: Neil Walker has had abysmal start.
JJ: Gets early-season over .500 bump.
23

Tony: Some positive signs despite bad record.
JJ: Also gets early-season over .500 bump.
24

Tony: Still need more pitching.
JJ: Averaging 2 runsgame through first 9.
25

Tony: Surprising start.
JJ: Pitching is still a ways off.
26

Tony: MLB-worst record.
JJ: Patience will be a virtue with Jackson, Rizzo.
27

Tony: Who woulda thought they'd be in first ever?
JJ: This is actually a brilliant strategy. 28

Tony: Just can't seem to beat Seattle.
JJ: Good to see someone other than Willingham hit.
29

Tony: Gonna be a rough year for Mauer and Co.
JJ: At least there's Dick Enberg.
30
Tony: Four wins already? That's gotta be a mirage.
JJ: Jordan Schafer looks good, but still Houston until further notice.

Is the White Sox run differential a sign of better things to come?

Is the White Sox run differential a sign of better things to come?

From a record standpoint, the White Sox are maybe slightly above where most expected them to be this season.

From a run differential standpoint, the White Sox are way above any expectation.

After Monday’s 5-4 win against the Red Sox, the White Sox improved to 24-26 on the season. Impressively, the Sox have a plus-28 run differential, which is good for third-best in the American League.

The two AL teams higher than the White Sox in the category are both first-place teams. Houston is 36-16 with a whopping plus-74 differential while the Yankees are 29-19 and come in at plus-57.

The White Sox have the best run differential in the AL Central. The division-leading Twins (26-21) actually have a negative run differential at minus-7. The Twins are one of two teams with a negative run differential and a winning record (Baltimore is 26-23 with a minus-6 differential).

There are 15 teams in Major League Baseball with positive run differentials and the White Sox are the only team in that group more than one game under .500.

So what does that mean? Well, for one it could be a positive sign that the White Sox are actually a better team than their record. More plainly, it means the White Sox are winning games by bigger margins than they are losing them.

Monday’s win improved the White Sox record in one-run games to 5-7. The Sox are also 2-4 in two-run games and 3-5 in three-run games. That's a 10-16 mark in games decided by three runs or less. Meanwhile, in games decided by four runs or more the White Sox are 14-10.

What’s even stranger about the lack of success in close games is that the White Sox have the fourth best ERA among relievers in MLB.

May isn’t quite over yet so things can still even out in one direction or another, but these are certainly some odd numbers.

Finally getting a little luck, Kevan Smith comes up huge in White Sox comeback win

Finally getting a little luck, Kevan Smith comes up huge in White Sox comeback win

Hit ‘em where they ain’t, right?

Kevan Smith hasn’t had an overabundance of luck following that old baseball maxim in his short time up with the White Sox this season. But Monday, Smith came up with one of the game’s biggest hits, tattooing a ball into the right-field corner for a game-tying double in the seventh inning of the White Sox 5-4 comeback win over the visiting Boston Red Sox.

Hitting the ball hard hasn’t been a problem for Smith, but he’s run into some bad luck, hitting balls hard but right at fielders. Move some of those batted balls a little bit in one direction or the other, and Smith’s numbers could be very, very good.

On balls hit with an exit velocity of 95 mph or greater, hitters across the league are hitting .539 (7,068-for-13,108), according to BaseballSavant.com. Entering Monday’s game, Smith was just 4-for-12 on such batted balls, making him significantly unluckier than the average hitter. That seventh-inning double had an exit velocity of 93 mph, coming close to the kind of hard contact Smith’s been making this season.

He’ll take coming through in the clutch Monday, though, contributing big time to the White Sox fourth win in their last five games.

Finally, Smith was able to hit it where they ain’t — or, if for nothing else but grammar's sake — where they weren’t.

“For once, right?” Smith said with a smile after the game. “Been working hard on my swing. It’s frustrating, obviously, whenever you hit it right at people, but that’s the way the game goes and that’s why you’ve got to realize it’s a ‘failing’ sport. You’ve got to get used to failing. But it fell for me today and in a big spot. So it felt good.”

[WHITE SOX TICKETS: Get your seats right here]

Smith’s numbers have been impressive of late. Including his 1-for-2 game Monday, he’s hitting .350 with three doubles in his last six games.

It’s nice for him to finally see some results from what’s been a good swing.

“That’s what’s tough because when you’re not getting hits, you think you have to do more, you think you have to get in the cage more. But you’re going to take hard hits all day long,” Smith said. “It’s just staying confident, trusting the work, just going out each day being consistent. And that’s what I’ve been doing, and hopefully they start falling a little more.”

Smith also made an impact on the base paths, coming around to score from second on Melky Cabrera’s infield single a few batters later. An aggressive two-out send from third-base coach Nick Capra set up the run, one that might not have scored if not for the throw bouncing away from Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez.

Instead, Smith slid in safely for the eventual game-winning run, delivering yet another win for the White Sox, who are feeling much better during a to-this-point 4-1 home stand since returning from a 3-7 road trip at the end of last week.

“I thought the ball got through,” Smith said of the play. “I knew he was playing up the middle a little bit because he was kind of stacked behind me at second. When he hit the ball, I was like I’m either going to hold up at third or he obviously got it. And then when he starts waving me, kind of caught me off guard. I thought it got through, but after I got in (to the dugout) I found out it didn’t. When he says go, I’m going. Fortunately it worked out in our favor.

“Obviously the rough road trip, but we had a lot of good games, we battled hard. And (manager Rick Renteria) got us together a little bit, kind of got us refocused and ready for this home stand. We have a good squad in here. We’re excited. We just have to trust that each of us are going to do our part, just come together and keep having big wins like this and getting this good energy in the clubhouse. Feels good.”