MLB Power Rankings: Week 7

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MLB Power Rankings: Week 7

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 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6

Tony
JJ Comments 1
Tony: Keep right on rolling wo Kemp with sweep of STL.
JJ: Still better than anybody, but...
2
Tony: Swept by Royals early last week -- that hurt ranking.
JJ: ...Los Angeles really narrowing that gap.
3
Tony: Just keep on rolling on Hotlanta.
JJ: Haven't got the attention they deserve for great play.
4
Tony: Every game they play is close, but they're winning 'em.
JJ: Slipping, although I think they'll survive sans Berkman.
5

Tony: Their phenom starter needs to find 'Moore' consistency.
JJ: 4.02 staff FIP probably not a good sign for future.
6
Tony: Didn't win a series vs. Baltimore, Pittsburgh, San Diego.
JJ: A little more offense and they're a juggernaut.
7
Tony: Joey Bats starting to swing it, will be players at deadline.
JJ: Shipping Lind out was a bold move, starting to buy them.
8
Tony: Berkman injury hurts, season may be on downswing.
JJ: Matt Joyce is the truth.
9
Tony: They're better than they've played, but how much better?
JJ: Not only is Austin Kearns still around, he's slugging .605.
10
Tony: Still holding on to first. Sweep of MIN, SEA helps.
JJ: Enter week on 8-2 run. Like them more than New York.
11
Tony: Chapman closing, Marshall setting up makes pen dominant.
JJ: Will they repeat 2011's season arc and struggle soon?
12
Tony: If only SanchezBell got off to better starts...
JJ: Sabathia walked in a run this weekend. Yep.
13
Tony: Would they really dare to send Ike Davis down?
JJ: Cards' fall has mediocre team in striking distance.
14
Tony: As Lou Brown said, "Startin' to come together..."
JJ: We'll see if series vs. Pittsburgh springboards them.
15
Tony: Amazing that 7-3 stretch has them only at .500.
JJ: Playing better, but enter week 7 games behind LA.
16
Tony: Need Scherzer to have more dominant outings like last one.
JJ: News on Howard's recovery now limited to Subway ads.
17
Tony: Sweep of Cubs has them at .500, competing in division.
JJ: Have a big chance to move up this week.
18
Tony: Don't look now, but they've won eight of 10.
JJ: Inevitable fall out of contention underway.
19
Tony: Even if Manny struggles in return, he'll be a good show.
JJ: McCarthy'll have plenty of time to blog from mom's basement.
20
Tony: Pujols has homered, so why aren't they winning?
JJ: Somehow, enter the week with a positive run differential.
21
Tony: Have injuries derailed their season?
JJ: Disappointment level much higher than "All In" Sox.
22
Tony: McCutcheon proving to be only reliable hitter.
JJ: Pitching remains great, offense remains horrific.
23
Tony: Young back, Hudson back soon will be another boost.
JJ: Playing above .500 since 12-game losing streak.
24
Tony: Certainly had enough O to sweep Rockies, didn't they?
JJ: Upton slowly coming around, need him to really get going.
25
Tony: Bad, but definitely not terrible like everyone expected.
JJ: Got beat twice by the Twins. They're not a good team. 26
Tony: Hosmer will start hitting, Butler looks like a star.
JJ: Kyle Seager's walk-up song better be by Bob Seger, you guys.
27
Tony: Things not good in Denver right now.
JJ: On injury away from pulling Jake Taylor out of Mexico. 28
Tony: Six-game losing streak to close out the week. Ouch.
JJ: One of two teams with staff ERA above 5.
29

Tony: They actually took a series from the Angels.
JJ: Dale Thayer should be on your fantasy team.
30

Tony: Won 45, but still have baseball's worst record.
JJ: Took first two from Milwaukee...then lost by about 50 Sunday.

Lighter Avisail Garcia wants to show White Sox his best

Lighter Avisail Garcia wants to show White Sox his best

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Avisail Garcia said he worked all but two weeks this offseason in an effort to prove he can play the outfield. 

Whether it was winter ball in Venezuela or working out, the White Sox right fielder said he has lost nearly 15 pounds from the end of last season. He hopes to lose even more before the start of the season and thinks the lighter weight should help him in the field. Garcia — who was acquired in a three-team trade from Detroit in July 2013 — appears to have the inside track to be the team's starting right fielder. 

"I feel better like this," Garcia said. "I can run better like this. I can play better defense like this. I can hit better like this. I just have to keep working and lose a little bit more."

Garcia said he reported to camp at 254 pounds and wants to get down to 248. He's hopeful that lighter playing weight and more consistent playing time help him improve in the outfield, where he's been below average for his career. While defensive metrics show he was OK in limited play last season, Garcia had a miserable 2015 campaign in the field when he produced a minus-11 Defensive Runs Saved and minus-6.2 Ultimate Zone Rating. That came on the heels of a minus-8 DRS and minus-6.2 UZR showing in 2014.

Still, Garcia is hopeful he can make progress and prove to the rebuilding White Sox he's the man for the job.

"That's my regular position, and I know can do my job there, a really good job," Garcia said. "I'm just trying to prepare myself to get ready for the season and try to get in better shape, try to do my best to help my team win."

[RELATED: Under-the-radar Reynaldo Lopez impressing White Sox]

The field isn't the only area the White Sox and Garcia are hoping for improvement. Garcia hit .245/.307/.385 with 12 home runs and 59 RBIs in 453 plate appearances last season. For his career, Garcia has a OPS-plus of 93, which is seven points below league average. 

But based on his .355/.421/.538 slash line with runners in scoring position, the White Sox still think Garcia can become a very good hitter. They just need to help him translate the focus he puts into those 107 plate appearances into the majority of his trips to the plate.

"In those situations for us where he was a key person in terms of RBI situations, he didn't try to do too much," manager Rick Renteria said. "If he ended up hitting, getting an extra base hit in those situations, great. But if he didn't it wasn't anything he concerned himself with. I think we are just trying to make sure he focuses on honing in and simplifying what he wants to do in terms of approaches. Hopefully that can lead to him being more effective without runners on base."

Though there was some thought he wouldn't return this season, Garcia — who signed a one-year deal worth $3 million in December — tried not to think about it. He instead focused on his offseason program to have himself ready for what is likely his last chance to prove to the White Sox he belongs.

"I have a lot of responsibility coming," Garcia said. "I just want to be ready. I want to be my best. I want to have a good year for me, but for the team also. I have to get ready and play baseball."

Under-the-radar Reynaldo Lopez impressing White Sox: 'He's got some stuff'

Under-the-radar Reynaldo Lopez impressing White Sox: 'He's got some stuff'

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- He maybe doesn't receive the same hype as some of his peers, but the White Sox think Reynaldo Lopez deserves plenty of attention.

A highly-touted prospect for two seasons now, Lopez took a big leap forward in a 2016 season that resulted in two promotions, including a trip to the big leagues.

While Michael Kopech and Lucas Giolito have garnered much of the attention, Lopez, who was acquired with Giolito in the Adam Eaton trade, is right on their heels if not equal. Lopez -- who produced a 3.21 ERA in 19 minor-league starts last season and struck out 42 batters in 44 innings in the majors -- is rated the No. 31 prospect in baseball by Baseball America and 38th by MLB.com.

"He's looked good from the get-go," pitching coach Don Cooper said. "The bottom line is we like all three of them. I didn't hear a lot (about him). When people are asking me questions it's usually about Giolito and Kopech. I'm not sure why because he's a gifted kid. He's got some stuff."

Lopez, 23, already has pitched in 11 regular season games (six starts) and made a playoff appearance. He earned those outings by excelling in a season that began at Double-A Harrisburg. Two seasons after he put up outstanding numbers at Single-A, Lopez dominated the Eastern League with 100 strikeouts in 76 1/3 innings and 3.18 ERA. He attributes his success to calming himself down in game situations.

"I just kept my focus in the game," Lopez said through an interpreter. "Before, I thought a lot about things and I couldn't think. And then I realized to keep my focus on the game. Sometimes if someone hit me or something, my mind got stuck in that moment. But then I understood you have to have a short memory and just let the things that are happening (be) in the past and focus on what's happening."

Lopez, 23, said he has taken the same approach to handling his trade to the White Sox. The right-hander admits he was shocked at first when he heard he was traded by the Washington Nationals, who signed him for $17,000 in 2012 out of the Dominican Republic.

But the more he thought about it, Lopez realized how good of an opportunity he has in front of him with the rebuilding White Sox. The club intends to try Lopez out as a starter --- there's debate among scouting analysts whether he's meant for the bullpen or rotation --- at Triple-A Charlotte this season. Asked what he prefers, Lopez said he's a starter.

And rather than try to impress the club by overthrowing a fastball that MLB.com graded 70 on the 20-80 scale, Lopez has worked on location early in camp. Those efforts haven't gone unnoticed by Cooper and manager Rick Renteria.

"Lopez is a guy who maybe goes under the radar a little bit, but when you see his bullpen work, he's pretty clean, pretty efficient," Renteria said. "He hits his spots."

Through four throwing sessions, Cooper said he likes how Lopez has located his fastball and curveball. Cooper thinks the changeup, which is the lowest graded of his three pitches (45 out of 80), is where the most work is needed. But Cooper is pleased with how Lopez has worked in the bullpen and batting practice and looks forward to seeing how it carries over once the exhibition season begins.

Lopez likes how he has fit in with the White Sox through the first week and a half. An aggressive pitcher by nature --- "I like to get ahead in the count," he said --- Lopez has tried to work down in the zone in the early part of camp. He said that was one of his main takeaways from pitching in the majors.

"I learned a lot from that experience," Lopez said. "I learned how to pitch. It's not just throw hard. You have to locate your pitches and be smart. I think that was the most important thing for me, from that experience."