Cubs

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.

What Chicago sports fans should be thankful for

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USA TODAY

What Chicago sports fans should be thankful for

Families gather and people talk about things they are thankful for on Thanksgiving, but what are Chicago sports fans happy for now?

Raised expectations on the North Side

Got to be thankful that a “disappointing” season is winning the division and losing in the NLCS. The expectations have skyrocketed, and that’s thanks to a ridiculous nucleus of bats and a steady front office. Not many clubs can say that. Also, though, it’s important to be appreciative of the Wrigley bar stretch. They may charge $8 for a Miller Lite, but it’s always a damn good party.

Javy tags, too. Don't forget Javy tags.

Rebuild sparking hope in White Sox fans

Where to begin? Obviously, be thankful for the plethora of young talent that will soon take over the South Side. Be thankful for Avi Time (while you still can). Be thankful that taking your friends or family to a game won’t cause you to take out a second mortgage. Be thankful for the 2020 World Series and, of course, 2020 MVP Eloy Jimenez. But most importantly, be thankful that Rick Hahn’s phone stays buzzing.

Eddie O back in the booth for the Blackhawks

The Blackhawks are having a rough start to the season, but at least Eddie Olczyk is back in the booth. The longtime Blackhawks broadcaster returned to the booth on Oct. 18 after missing time while undergoing chemotherapy treatments for colon cancer.

With some of the key names from the Blackhawks’ title runs either leaving or being unable to play this season (in the case of Marian Hossa), Blackhawks fans are probably thankful to see a familiar face and hear a familiar voice during games.

Lauri Markkanen leading the Bulls rebuild

OK, there’s not much to be thankful for about the current Bulls team. At 3-13, the Bulls are tied for the fewest wins in the NBA (maybe in the long-term that’s something to be thankful for as well). However, Zach LaVine’s pending debut after his eventual return from injury should help create some excitement.

The thing Bulls fans really should be thankful for this year is the play of rookie Lauri Markkanen. The 20-year-old leads the team in scoring (14.6 points per game) and rebounds (8.3 per game) while shooting at a high percentage (34.2 percent on threes and 50.6 percent on twos). It’s only the beginning of the Bulls’ rebuild, but Markkanen is a good start.

Mitchapalooza

If a few things broke the Bears’ way, Chicagoans could have been grateful that the team was finally out of the cellar. Instead, we’ll settle for the fact that there seems to be some building blocks already in place. Mitchell Trubisky, Tarik Cohen, Leonard Floyd and Akiem Hicks seem to fit that category. Also, some may be thankful that this is likely John Fox’s last season at the helm.

Fire ending a playoff drought

After finishing dead last in MLS in 2015 and 2016, the Fire were one of the most improved teams in the league in 2017. After posting the third best record in the league, the Fire made a first playoff appearance since 2012.

The playoff run didn’t last long with the Fire losing a play-in game at home, but the arrival of Bastian Schweinsteiger and the league’s leading goal-scorer, Nemanja Nikolic, helped fill the stadium with six sellouts and gave Fire fans something to cheer for.

With Leonard Floyd going on injured reserve, will the Bears have a pressing need at outside linebacker in 2018?

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USA TODAY

With Leonard Floyd going on injured reserve, will the Bears have a pressing need at outside linebacker in 2018?

The Bears placed Leonard Floyd on injured reserve Thursday morning, ending the second-year outside linebacker’s season following a knee injury suffered Sunday against the Detroit Lions. Floyd suffered an MCL and PCL injury and will have surgery in the next week, coach John Fox said, and the Bears do not have a timetable for his recovery yet. But that Floyd didn't suffer damage to his ACL is potentially good news for Floyd's recovery timetable. 

Still, with Floyd on injured reserve and out for the season, the Bears’ current outside linebacker depth chart consists of two veterans (Pernell McPhee and Sam Acho) and two practice squad signees (Isaiah Irving and Howard Jones). These final six games of the 2017 season could serve as auditions for all four players for roles on the 2018 Bears. 

If every team needs at least three good pass rushers, the Bears can count on Akiem Hicks and Floyd for 2018, provided Floyd comes back healthy. But who’s the third?

The Bears could save about $7.5 million in cap space if they release McPhee in 2018; if they were to cut ties with Willie Young, who’s on injured reserve right now as well, it would provide $4.5 million in cap relief. McPhee will be 29 in December, while Young will turn 33 next September. 

The Bears won’t necessarily need the cap relief next year, and could certainly decide to keep both players, who’ve shown they’re still productive when healthy. But even if both players are back, the Bears may need to add another outside linebacker via free agency of the draft — remember, the team could’ve began the season with Floyd, Young, McPhee, Acho and Lamarr Houston as their outside linebackers; an injury Houston suffered in the fourth preseason game ended his time in Chicago. 

Needs at wide receiver and cornerback are pressing, but outside linebacker may need to be in that same conversation. If the Bears have a top-10 pick for the fourth consecutive year, plus some cap space, they perhaps could have the ability to address all three needs in March and April. 

That may be looking a little too far into the future, though. The best-case for the Bears is McPhee finishes the season strong and Irving and/or Jones shows something in the opportunities they receive in these final six games (Jones, for what it’s worth, had five sacks as a rookie with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2015). But the worst-case — and perhaps the most realistic — is that the Bears go into the offseason needing to fill at least one pass-rushing spot.