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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

MLB Power Rankings - RIP Coach Stewart

RIP Coach Stewart West Virginia announced on Monday that former coach Bill Stewart died of an apparent heart attack. Stewart was 59 years old. According to the West Virginia Metro News, Stewart was golfing with former West Virginia athletic director Eddie Pastilong on Monday when he collapsed. He was taken to Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital. Stewart's Record at West Virginia Year Rec. Bowl 2010 9-4 Lost Champs Sports 2009 9-4 Lost Gator 2008 9-4 Won Meinke Car Care 2007 1-0 Won Fiesta “Mountaineer nation is truly saddened today to learn of the untimely passing of Coach Bill Stewart," said West Virginia president Jim Clements in a statement. "Our hearts go out to the Stewart family and Bill's many friends. He was a compassionate, energetic, and kind person. He loved his family dearly and was extremely community-oriented and very giving of his time. He will be greatly missed.” “I'm very saddened. I hired Bill in my last year when I was close to retiring," said former West Virginia coach Don Nehlen. "Bill was such a great Mountaineer and a great addition to our staff. It was a terrific hire -- he did a great job not only for me, but for Rich and as a head coach. Bill was such a great husband and a great father. Bill Stewart was a great Mountaineer. My heart goes out to [his wife] Karen and [son] Blaine.” Stewart resigned as coach last June after the school had hired Dana Holgorsen to be offensive coordinator and coach-in-waiting. He took the job over from Rich Rodriguez after Rodriguez left the school to take over at Michigan in 2007. He led the Mountaineers to a 48-28 win over Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl as the interim head coach. His position was made permanent afterward. As a coach at West Virginia, Stewart compiled a record of 28-12, and was 36-37 in his coaching career having spent three seasons at VMI as well.
MLB Power Rankings May 21, 2012 si.com 1 Last Week: 2 Texas Rangers WAR Winning Percentage: .728; Current Winning Percentage: .619; WAR Wins: 31; Current Wins: 26 The Rangers' offense boasts the second most home runs in baseball, a stat that's somewhat stunning given their second-best position player has just one homer all season. But Elvis Andrus has been tremendous. He has a .400 on base percentage with eight steals in nine chances, and no shortstop in baseball has a higher WAR. He -- by a significant margin -- has been the best all-around shortstop in the American League to this point. 2 Last Week: 6 Washington Nationals WAR Winning Percentage: .667; Current Winning Percentage: .585; WAR Wins: 27; Current Wins: 24 New acquisitions Gio Gonzalez and Edwin Jackson have been integral parts of the Nationals' rotation, which has been the best in the league in nearly every pitching category. Gonzalez has the highest strikeout rate of any qualified starter in the majors (11.10), and Jackson's 4.60 K/BB rate ranks 10th in the league. The latter is a reflection of Jackson's ongoing progression. He has managed to cut his walk rate to half of his career average. 3 Last Week: 1 St. Louis Cardinals WAR Winning Percentage: .657; Current Winning Percentage: .537; WAR Wins: 27; Current Wins: 22 The injuries are really starting to pile up in St. Louis, as Allen Craig, Lance Berkman, and John Jay were all placed on the disabled list this week. Along with those three, Carlos Beltran missed a few games with an ailing knee. The Cardinals have a good amount of depth in the corner spots, but with David Freese struggling of late (.170/.231/.340 in the past 14 games), the offense has not been as nearly as effective as it was earlier in the year. 4 Last Week: 3 Los Angeles Dodgers WAR Winning Percentage: .642; Current Winning Percentage: .683; WAR Wins: 26; Current Wins: 28 The Dodgers just completed a sweep of the Cardinals without Matt Kemp, so why are they still ranked behind St. Louis? It's simple: though they've played well, their record is inflated by a 12-6 mark in one-run games, while the Cardinals are just 1-7 in such contests. Winning games by one run is nice, but such victories are often one bounce or call away from going the other direction; they don't have much predictive value. While the Dodgers are a quality team and a legitimate contender in the NL West, their luck is likely to run out. They aren't likely to keep winning 67 percent of one-run games. 5 Last Week: 8 Philadelphia Phillies WAR Winning Percentage: .554; Current Winning Percentage: .500; WAR Wins: 23; Current Wins: 21 Carlos Ruiz has been one of the best catchers in the game so far, with seven home runs and a .407 on-base percentage. Ruiz and Hunter Pence (10 home runs) have carried a struggling Philadelphia lineup that has gotten extremely little production from its infield. Vance Worley's elbow injury puts Kyle Kendrick back into the rotation, which is bad news for the Phillies. Kendrick's 5.03 FIP and -0.1 WAR are considerable drop-offs from Worley's 3.07 ERA and 0.4 WAR. 6 Last Week: 9 Baltimore Orioles WAR Winning Percentage: .552; Current Winning Percentage: .643; WAR Wins: 23; Current Wins: 27 Only two players have been better than Baltimore's Adam Jones this season: David Wright and Josh Hamilton. Jones is on pace to smash his career highs in home runs and stolen bases, and his 2.8 WAR is only slightly behind last year's 2.9 mark. The fact that he has been as productive as in any other previous season just 41 games into the year is astonishing, particularly considering that he hit 19 home runs every year since 2009 as a centerfielder. 7 Last Week: 13 San Francisco Giants WAR Winning Percentage: .552; Current Winning Percentage: .512; WAR Wins: 23; Current Wins: 21 New outfielders Melky Cabrera, Angel Pagan and Gregor Blanco have paced an otherwise very poor Giant offense. Each of the three has a wRC+ above 130, and though the group has not collectively hit for much power -- they've smacked just seven home runs between them -- they've gotten on base at a high rate and stolen 18 bags in 23 chances. While they're unlikely to sustain that pace, their base-stealing success has managed to keep the team afloat while Pablo Sandoval is on the DL. His eventual return will take much of the pressure off the overachieving outfielders. 8 Last Week: 5 Atlanta Braves WAR Winning Percentage: .551; Current Winning Percentage: .619; WAR Wins: 23; Current Wins: 26 Martin Prado's bounce back year has helped the Braves score more runs than any other NL team. Prado has a line of .323/.395/.490 after posting a .260/.302/.385 line last year, and he has the best walk-to-strikeout ratio of his career, averaging nearly one walk for every strikeout. Add in very good outfield defense and baserunning, and Prado has been very effective at every facet of the game -- and one of the keys to the Braves' strong start to the season. 9 Last Week: 11 Tampa Bay Rays WAR Winning Percentage: .550; Current Winning Percentage: .595; WAR Wins: 23; Current Wins: 25 Though his .214 batting average would make him appear ineffective, Tampa's Ben Zobrist has arguably been the team's top position player this year. With a 17.5 percent walk rate, he still maintains a .352 on-base percentage, and his 18 extra base hits give him an impressive .231 Isolated Slugging. Don't let the numbers deceive you: Zobrist is getting on base at a solid rate, is hitting for good power and is playing great defense at both second base and right field. 10 Last Week: 7 Boston Red Sox WAR Winning Percentage: .542; Current Winning Percentage: .488; WAR Wins: 22; Current Wins: 20 Mike Aviles has not gotten on base at a high rate to date (he has just a .303 OBP), but he has nine home runs and five stolen bases in addition to serving as one of the top defensive shortstops in the game. Aviles posted a 4.4 win season for the Royals in 2008. If he could replicate that type of production for the rest of the season, the Red Sox will have one of the game's most surprisingly productive shortstops for the second year in a row. 11 Last Week: 4 New York Yankees WAR Winning Percentage: .531; Current Winning Percentage: .523; WAR Wins: 21; Current Wins: 21 Mark Teixeira's struggles are beginning to become a concern. After posting the second lowest walk rate and wRC+ of his career in 2011, Teixeira has seen those numbers drop even further this year (6.9% walk rate and 78 wRC+). And that's not all. Teixeira's power seems to have evaporated, with an ISO of just .159 compared to his career mark of .248. The fact that the Yankees have been able to stay afloat without any contributions from their first baseman speak volumes to their depth, but it likely can't continue. New York will need him before the year is over. 12 Last Week: 24 Detroit Tigers WAR Winning Percentage: .521; Current Winning Percentage: .488; WAR Wins: 21; Current Wins: 20 You know your No. 3 and No. 4 hitters are great when they maintain a matching 130 wRC+, and are both considered to be underperforming. Last year, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder posted 177 and 162 marks, respectively, and the Tigers will need both to get closer to their career averages to improve an offense that has displayed some significant shortcomings. Outfielder Andy Dirks has been a revelation, but as he cools down, the onus will be on Fielder and Cabrera to pick up the slack. 13 Last Week: 23 Cleveland Indians WAR Winning Percentage: .508; Current Winning Percentage: .561; WAR Wins: 21; Current Wins: 23 Asdrubal Cabrera's game really seems to have improved. His .404 on-base percentage seems sustainable given his AL-leading 1.50 BB/K ratio. He may not hit 25 home runs as he did last season, but his batting average and on-base percentage have increased and his strikeout rate has dipped below 8.0 percent, less than half the rate he posted a year ago. Cabrera's emergence has solidified a lineup in dire need of a boost. The Indians will have to hope that his breakout campaign continues. 14 Last Week: 15 Chicago White Sox WAR Winning Percentage: .519; Current Winning Percentage: .500; WAR Wins: 22; Current Wins: 21 The White Sox are the third straight AL Central team on this list, as the top of the division seems completely evenly matched. Adam Dunn's resurgence has a lot to do with Chicago's success, as he has belted 13 home runs and has seen his on-base percentage jump up to .390. Last year, he finished with a lackluster .292 rate. 15 Last Week: 14 Miami Marlins WAR Winning Percentage: .506; Current Winning Percentage: .537; WAR Wins: 21; Current Wins: 22 It's actually a bit surprising that the Marlins have played as well as they have. Gaby Sanchez and Logan Morrison have combined for -0.7 WAR. Sanchez was recently demoted to Triple-A, and although Morrison's on-base percentage of .346 is adequate, his power seems to have gone by the wayside: his ISO is just .102. Omar Infante and Austin Kearns have compensated so far, but as career role players, their production likely won't remain as solid as it has been.

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