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Posted: Thursday August 27, 2009 4:03PM; Updated: Thursday August 27, 2009 4:03PM
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MLB POWER RANKINGS

National League contenders make surprising autumn run (cont.)

MLB Power Rankings
21Arizona Diamondbacks
Last Week: 22
Moneyball enthusiasts, avert your eyes. The Diamondbacks went a franchise-record 153 plate appearances recently without drawing a single walk, a streak that was snapped last Saturday. They activated Justin Upton from the disabled list, but also lost Stephen Drew for two games so he could deal with a family matter, lost Mark Reynolds to flu-like symptoms (in Arizona. In August. Talk about bad luck.) and had to play Rusty Ryal at first base, a position he had never played before as a professional. That last problem has been solved, temporarily at least, with the promotion of Brandon Allen, the club's top prospect and first baseman of the future. Next year has already begun.
 
22Oakland Athletics
Last Week: 23
Justin Duchscherer is just the latest big leaguer to be suffering from depression, joining Dontrelle Willis, Khalil Greene and Joey Votto. Duchscherer, a two-time All-Star, has decided to skip the rest of the season to get treatment for what his agent called a "very treatable form" or depression. What makes Duchscherer's decision especially impressive is not just that he's willing to publically admit struggling with something most athletes don't mention, but that he was enjoying another impressive season (10-8 with a 2.54 ERA) and he's going to be a free agent after the season and is missing the chance to audition for the first big contract of his career. Here's hoping he gets healthy and gets that contract anyway, and that Major League Baseball decides to do something, anything, to help players deal with what seems to be a growing problem in the sport.
 
23Cleveland Indians
Last Week: 24
When Cleveland manager Eric Wedge said Kansas City was a tough town, he wasn't referring to the opposition, especially not after the Indians took two of three from the Royals. Instead, he meant the fact that for the second time in six seasons, the Indians team bus was involved in an incident in KC. This time, a car hydroplaned and struck the bus, which was carrying eight players. No one was hurt, which was especially important considering there were no go-go boots to save the players this time like there were back in 2004. That year, an Indians pitcher named Kyle Denney was shot in the leg while riding on the team bus through K.C., but the boots he was wearing as part of a team prank helped stop the bullet from doing major damage. Of this year's incident, coach Joel Skinner joked to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, "Better a car than a bullet." It's easy to joke when no one gets hurt and you go 5-2 for the week.
 
24New York Mets
Last Week: 21
In a week where they celebrated the 40th anniversary of their Miracle Mets championship team from 1969, the Mets are bringing a whole new meaning to the term Amazin' this season. Another week, and not one, not two, but three high-priced veterans deemed out for the season, and a fourth traded away. Billy Wagner was dealt to the Red Sox, and Oliver Perez (knee), JJ Putz (elbow) and, most frighteningly for Mets fans, Johan Santana (elbow) have been shut down for the rest of the year. And that list doesn't even include the already injured Carlos Delgado, Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, or David Wright, or Gary Sheffield, who walked off the field with back problems on Tuesday. The best hitter in the Mets lineup now is probably Angel Pagan, who hit a traditional home run, an inside-the-park home run and a Little League home run this week. Where have you gone, Donn Clendenon?
 
25Pittsburgh Pirates
Last Week: 28
Speaking of reunions, the Pirates held a reunion in Pittsburgh last weekend for the We Are Family world championship team of 1979. (Great team, terrible uniforms. Thirty years later: terrible team, great uniforms.) KC and the Sunshine Band performed as part of the post-game festivities, which is just unfortunate. Where was Sister Sledge? According to the website of Kathy Sledge, the group still performs around the world. Are they too big for the likes of John Candeleria and Kent Tekulve these days? Despite that let down, the '09 Bucs provided their share of thrills this week, including a walk-off home run from Andrew McCutchen to cap a ninth-inning rally and beat the defending champs and in-state rivals Tuesday.
 
26Cincinnati Reds
Last Week: 25
The 20th anniversary of Pete Rose's lifetime ban came amid new talk that Rose should be reinstated and allowed into the Hall of Fame. Mike Schmidt, a Hall member and contemporary of Rose's, wrote this week that Rose should be reinstated. A USA Today poll found that 75 percent of respondents felt that steroid use is a bigger offense to the game than what Rose did, and an equal number of voters in an SI.com poll said Rose should be allowed into Cooperstown. Even if Commissioner Bud Selig shows no signs of lifting Rose's ban, at least this managed to deflect attention away from the current Reds, whose biggest accomplishment the rest of the year will be staying out of the NL Central basement.
 
27San Diego Padres
Last Week: 26
Since 2009 is pretty much done -- aside from the occasional on-field skirmish with the opposition, there's nothing to see here -- the news this week was all about 2010, and depending on your level of appreciation for grittiness and gutsiness, it wasn't that good. The club announced that first-round draft pick Donovan Tate will not play professional ball until next year because of an injury, and that they had re-signed second baseman David Eckstein. That may stabilize at least part of the infield and give further hope to those who still choke up on the bat, but it won't exactly solve an offense that ranks last in the National League in runs scored, batting average and slugging percentage and next-to-last in OPS.
 
28Washington Nationals
Last Week: 27
28. Nationals (LW: 27) The season-high 15-run outburst against the Cubs was nice, and so has been the under-the-radar effectiveness of Josh Willingham (.301/.406/.580 with 21 home runs and 56 RBIs) but the big buzz in the nation's capital was the introduction of Stephen Strasburg. The No. 1 pick in the draft will head to the Florida Instructional League and then the Arizona Fall League before, perhaps, coming to Washington next year. The rest of the rotation remains unsettled, and the team is looking for a veteran to sign for the long-term over the winter.
 
29Baltimore Orioles
Last Week: 29
Overshadowed by the arrival of Matt Wieters, the emergence of Adam Jones and the losing, losing and more losing has been the fact that Brian Roberts is having another very solid season. Roberts has already topped his '08 totals for home runs and RBIs while improving his slugging percentage by 25 points. Before going 0-for-5 on Tuesday, he had hit in 13 of 14 games, including seven multi-hit games in that time. Roberts is the starting second baseman on baseball's all under-appreciated team.
 
30Kansas 

City Royals
Last Week: 30
Zack Greinke struck out a franchise-record 15 batters on Tuesday night against the Indians. It was only Greinke's second win since the start of July, but if he's looking for someone to blame, he shouldn't be looking in the mirror. As awkward as it might be, he should point the finger at guys in his own clubhouse, who have given him just 4.2 runs per game of support, the sixth-lowest total this year in the American League. Greinke's brilliant outing this week should be enough to put him back in the AL Cy Young lead and get the clock for Greinke Day working again.
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