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.

The Kyle Schwarber reboot begins Monday in Iowa

The Kyle Schwarber reboot begins Monday in Iowa

MIAMI – This isn’t a Tommy La Stella situation. The Cubs purposely told Kyle Schwarber to take a few days off to decompress before reporting to Triple-A Iowa. The reboot will begin Monday in Des Moines.

“We’re doing it to hopefully reset him, get him back up with a fresh start,” manager Joe Maddon said. “As you would expect, he was very professional about it, understood it entirely.

“There’s no actual timetable. I don’t anticipate it to be long. But we’ll see how it plays out, give him a little bit of room to get things right and then move it forward from there.”

The Cubs broke the news to Schwarber after Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to the San Diego Padres at Wrigley Field, where the entire lineup went 1-for-27 outside of rookie Ian Happ’s two-run homer. It left Schwarber hitting .171 with a .673 OPS, not enough to justify his 12 home runs and suspect outfield defense. The Iowa Cubs are in the middle of a four-game series this weekend in Round Rock, Texas.

The Cubs hope Schwarber can regain his confidence and almost become a trade-deadline addition, reenergizing the team the way he did in 2015, when he blasted 16 homers in 69 games and five more in the playoffs.

Under entirely different circumstances in 2012, future All-Star first baseman Anthony Rizzo used 70 games with Iowa to rework his swing and make adjustments after bombing his audition with the Padres.

“He’s going to go down and be able to exhale a little bit,” Rizzo said. “Hopefully, he can smooth things out. We’re all confident he will. Just do the best down there to get back up here and to be the Kyle Schwarber that we all know and love.”

Niklas Hjalmarsson reflects on time with Blackhawks: 'I had the best time in Chicago'

Niklas Hjalmarsson reflects on time with Blackhawks: 'I had the best time in Chicago'

Niklas Hjalmarsson heard some of the rumors, but not to a large degree. The former Blackhawks defenseman wasn’t spending a lot of time on the internet reading up on his potential fate. He figured he’d still stay put in Chicago.

“But when my agent called me about the 10-team list, I understood it was serious. Stan [Bowman] wouldn’t ask for that unless they made up their mind already,” Hjalmarsson said via conference call on Saturday. “That’s when it hit me that I’m probably not going to put the Hawks jersey on anymore.”

Indeed, Hjalmarsson’s next jersey will be that of the Arizona Coyotes, who acquired him in exchange for defenseman Connor Murphy on Friday. Hjalmarsson’s departure marks the end of the line for another Blackhawks core player, and this one is jarring in how it will change the team’s defense.

Speaking of change, Hjalmarsson faces a lot of it himself now. Sure, there’s the obvious change for a guy who’s played his entire career in one place. It’s new surroundings and a new team, on which he knows former Blackhawks teammate Antti Raanta and fellow countryman Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

But the Coyotes have dealt with a lot of upheaval lately. Goaltender Mike Smith is gone. So is veteran Shane Doan. On Thursday, head coach Dave Tippett and the Coyotes parted ways.

“They’re on a rebuild, a lot of new faces, lot of changes,” Hjalmarsson said. “It’s tough to know what to expect but I think they’re a hungry organization that wants to win like other teams. I’m looking forward to try to contribute with playing my game, just try to get the organization back in the playoffs.”

Hjalmarsson should find chemistry with Ekman-Larsson – the two were teammates in the Winter Olympics in Sochi – and Hjalmarsson will likely play a bigger role with the Coyotes. Arizona will probably look to Hjalmarsson a lot during its rebuild, given his Cup-winning history.

The first 24 hours were full of mixed emotions of Hjalmarsson. With his limited no-move clause, he was always a likely candidate to be moved from a Blackhawks team laden will full no-move clauses. He’s turning a page, but he won’t forget his time in Chicago anytime soon.

“I’m trying to always be a positive guy,” Hjalmarsson said. “I spent my whole 20s in Chicago, 10 unbelievable years. I didn’t think I’d win three Cups. Hopefully I can get one more before my career is over. I had the best time in Chicago, enjoyed every single year, playing in front of the best fans in the league. I’ve been spoiled. Now it’s time for me and my family to move on and seize the opportunity in Arizona and create some new fond memories.”