MLB Power Rankings: Week 18

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MLB Power Rankings: Week 18

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 Week 7 Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12 Week 13 First Half Week 15 Week 16 Week 17

Tony
JJ Comments 1
Tony: Still the top dawgs, and 'bout to get Joey V. back.
JJ: 16-4 since Votto hit DL July 15. Incredible.
2
Tony: Morse has helped solidify this lineup.
JJ: Forget Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann could win the Cy Young.
3
Tony: Avoided a serious scare with Big Tex's wrist injury.
JJ: Great to see Eric Chavez holding his own: .264.327.478, 10 HR.
4
Tony: Josh Hamilton is not a happy man lately. JJ: Chipper Jones may be retiring, but hopefully his twitter lives on.
5
Tony: Paul Maholm will get his first taste of the playoffs.
JJ: Very talented, will be there in the end, but playing some rough ball.
6
Tony: Not even a 101 mph fastball can take The Cutch off his game.
JJ: Burnett on pace for lowest BB9 & ERA of career.
7
Tony: Lead majors in run differential, Craig is big reason why.
JJ: Youkilis since switching Sox: .260.387.512, 9 HR.
8
Tony: Survived the alien invasion by Trout and Co. this weekend.
JJ: Finally making their run. Gonna be a fun last two months in NL.
9
Tony: Angel Pagan's awakening will be key at top of order.
JJ: Plenty of small mistakes cost them series vs. White Sox.
10
Tony: Fister, Scherzer are key down the stretch.
JJ: An Oakland-Pittsburgh World Series would be awesome.
11
Tony: Think we'll see good ole Karl Welzein at a playoff game?
JJ: Buried Cleveland, but get New York & Texas this week.
12
Tony: Mike Trout can't pitch...or can he?
JJ: Lincecum finally looking better. After AS break: 2.48 ERA.
13
Tony: They're a playoff team right now. For serious.
JJ: Hanley since trade: .238.347.405. Not bad, but not vintage HR.
14
Tony: Could they complete a playoff push? Upton could lead charge.
JJ: Still lurking in AL Wild Card chase, and when Longoria returns...
15
Tony: They need an August trade or something. Need a roster boost.
JJ: Will be tough to compete with SFLA, but not out of it yet.
16
Tony: If Carl Crawford keeps smiling, this is a brand new team.
JJ: After taking care of CLE, is Pythagoras coming for Baltimore next?
17
Tony: Edwin Encarnacion is a bonafide star now, right?
JJ: Dustin Pedroia: .262.318.397. Needs to turn it around.
18
Tony: Seriously don't see how their record is still this good.
JJ: Darren Oliver, 41, is only getting better: 1.34 ERA in 40.1 IP.
19
Tony: Harvey creating some excitement for the future.
JJ: Santana's coming back, but much too late.
20
Tony: Felix likes the concrete jungle where dreams are made of.
JJ: At 55-55, no AL West team has an xW-L of below .500.
21
Tony: Utley looks rejuvenated...but Howard does not. At all.
JJ: Too bad they're in 4th, otherwise Chooch is a legit MVP candidate.
22
Tony: Brewers bullpen has more drama than a Jersey Shore marathon.
JJ: Quietly, Aramis Ramirez has picked things up: .291.353.500.
23
Tony: Worst. Road. Trip. In. Franchise. History.
JJ: Totally agree with Ozzie's rant on coconut water from The Franchise.
24
Tony: Yeah...Zambrano will totally be cool staying in bullpen.
JJ: Entering week, only MIN & KC have worse winning percentages in AL.
25
Tony: Think Mauer's regretting signing that long-term deal?
JJ: Mauer's homer the other night in Boston was pretty cool.
26
Tony: Headley, Quentin, Alonso could be pretty good 3-4-5 punch.
JJ: Quentin at Petco: .728 OPS. Away from SD: .999.
27
Tony: Jeff Francouer is the least valuable player in baseball.
JJ: Making Francouer's situation worse is that he's blocking Wil Myers.
28
Tony: The kids will be fun to watch rest of the way.
JJ: After ERA went over 5, Samardzija has a 2.82 ERA in last 6 starts.
29
Tony: Dexter Fowler quietly putting together a very good season.
JJ: Tyler Colvin: .280.318.556, 13 HR.
30
Tony: Headed toward one of worst road records of all time.
JJ: Lucas Harrell hasn't been a bad pickup: 3.98 ERA in 22 starts.

Nick Delmonico takes advantage of fresh start with White Sox

Nick Delmonico takes advantage of fresh start with White Sox

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Given he was almost out of baseball just two years ago, White Sox farmhand Nick Delmonico never imagined he’d be where he is now.

But the former Baltimore Orioles/Milwaukee Brewers prospect feels like he has rid himself of the off-the-field issues that stunted development early in his career.

In 2014, Delmonico served a suspension for unauthorized use of Adderall and later asked for and was granted his release by Milwaukee. Now with a fresh start with the White Sox, he heads into the final week of camp with an outside shot at the roster. Though he’s likely to start the season at Triple-A Charlotte, Delmonico knows he has made tremendous progress both on and off the field the past two years.

“I definitely did not see this,” Delmonico said. “I’m very blessed to be here.

“It feels awesome. It feels like I’ve accomplished a lot just in my life to get here. Just being around my teammates is one of the biggest things I enjoy every day, just coming to the ballpark. I’m very happy and honored to be able to come here everyday.”

The White Sox weren’t sure what to expect when they signed Delmonico, 24, to a minor league deal on Feb. 11, 2015. A sixth-round pick by the Orioles in 2011, Delmonico received a $1.525 million signing bonus. He was traded to Milwaukee in July 2013 in exchange for closer Francisco Rodriguez.

Delmonico received a 50-game suspension for Adderall in 2014, which he told the Charlotte News Observer he’d used since high school for attention deficit disorder (ADD). Delmonico told the Observer he informed Milwaukee that he no longer wanted to play baseball, changed his phone number and asked for his release. He was placed on the restricted list on July 28 and never played in the Brewers farm system again.

The White Sox signed Delmonico seven months after his final game with Milwaukee and he returned to the field that June.

Delmonico requested privacy when asked about switching teams but acknowledged, “I had some past issues with some stuff that I’d like to keep to myself,” he said.

Delmonico started the 2015 season at Single-A Kannapolis and was promoted a week later to Double-A Birmingham. He finished the season with a .733 OPS and made an additional 76 plate appearances at the Arizona Fall League.

[WHITE SOX TICKETS: Get your seats right here]

Last season, Delmonico combined to hit .279/.347/.490 with 17 homers between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte in 110 games. That earned him an invite to big league camp, where Delmonico has displayed a swing refined the past two seasons.

Current third-base coach and former director of player development Nick Capra said Delmonico has worked hard to go from a pull hitter to one who uses the entire field. He entered Sunday hitting .268/.328/.589 with nine extra-base hits this spring in a team-high 61 plate appearance this spring.

“This kid has made a complete turnaround from when we first got him in camp,” Capra said. “He’s done everything. He’s done probably more than we expected him to do. He’s in a really great place. He has a personality that people kind of gravitate to and it’s been a blessing to have him around and see the smile on his face when he comes to work every day.”

Originally a third baseman, the White Sox have moved Delmonico around this spring. He’s logged time at first base and also in the outfield as they try to improve his versatility. If Delmonico performs well at Charlotte, there’s no reason he couldn’t eventually find his way to Chicago and succeed in the big leagues.

“We’re continuing to try to explore his ability to play third base,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He can obviously play first. We’ve started using him in left field. He’s a young man that has a bat to carry. Can hit the ball out of the ballpark. Gives you good at-bats. There’s something to him about his personality and the way he carries himself, which is infectious, which we like.”

Delmonico praised the family-feel that has been prominent in the White Sox clubhouse this spring. He had some jitters coming into his first big league camp but hasn’t allowed them to hinder anything.

He likes how Renteria and his staff have brought a young group of players together. And best of all, he’s happy to be in the right place to enjoy the experience.

“It definitely gives you confidence what you do here,” Delmonico said. “You’ve got to keep moving forward. The biggest thing for big league camp for me is learning as much as I can from everybody. And learning from myself, I’ve been able to handle things and try to pick up as much as I can.”

Nikola Mirotic, Bulls show some moxie in road win over Bucks

Nikola Mirotic, Bulls show some moxie in road win over Bucks

Whacked on his ailing left hand by Khris Middleton, Jimmy Butler shook off the pain to hit a rare triple in transition while Middleton was complaining for a foul a couple possessions later.

Butler then darted into the passing lane for a pass intended for Jason Terry like a linebacker jumping into the flat for an interception, then trotted down for an uncontested dunk to give the Bulls an unlikely 17-point lead.

For the man who claims he’s the best football player in the NBA, playing through the pain and doing so with his team’s playoff hopes dwindling, Butler may finally have some believers to his boasts.

Not only did the Bulls avoid a season sweep to the Milwaukee Bucks with a resounding 109-94 win at the BMO Bradley Center Sunday afternoon, they restored a slight sense of pride after looking like they had none of it Friday night in their loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.

Butler scored 20 with a career-high 13 assists in a grinding 39 minutes, but he could play the role of a semi-closer, making those big plays in the fourth when the Bulls pulled away.

Instead, it was March Madness as Nikola Mirotic played up to his career numbers in his favorite month on the calendar, drilling five triples on his way to 28 points and eight rebounds in 35 minutes.

Mirotic and Rajon Rondo helped the Bulls to a decisive double-digit lead in the third quarter with Rondo scoring 14 of his 18 points in the period, hitting a triple, getting into the lane for layups and dishing out a few of his eight assists.

It was an offensive masterpiece for the Bulls, a prospect that seemed highly unlikely given the opponent and the way they played coming into Sunday’s contest. And with the Bucks getting Giannis Antetokounmpo going early along with Middleton, it looked like a nightmare of a different kind was in store for the Bulls.

But Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg wasn’t about to let an instant replay occur, having seen his own version of a “Nightmare on Madison Street” Friday night against the woeful 76ers when his backups let time stand still for minutes at a time, squandering a double-digit lead.

Hoiberg decided not to mess around with the second unit as the Bucks began pulling away in the same manner the 76ers did Friday night. He brought the starters right back in when the lead ballooned to 45-33 at the 8:29 mark.

Then the Bulls went to work to finish the half, with a 23-10 run, along with starting off the third as efficient as they had been in awhile against a worthwhile opponent, shooting 14 of 21 in the period to take a 91-79 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

Mirotic was seven of eight from the field before halftime and his first miss of the third—a 30-foot triple that went wide right, wound up in a 3-point opportunity for Rondo, who scooped the ball and scored on a layup while being fouled.

It was that kind of afternoon for the Bulls, a team that can’t seem to decide who they want to be on a nightly basis—making it that much harder for an opponent to predict, that much more difficult to eliminate from the playoff conversation.