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The Gomer Pyle Rankings
2004-04-26 06:01
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

What with back-to-back triples on Friday and home runs in the same day/week/month/solar system by Alex Cora and Cesar Izturis happening to come Sunday, the unexpected has gripped me like a taffy-dipped Kung Fu hand of G.I. Joe.

So please enjoy the following ranking of not the best teams, nor the worst teams, but the most surprising teams. Many of these anomalies will self-correct, but they have made for an April that would no doubt bring Gomer Pyle to exclaim, "Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!"

Yes, the Dodgers are one of the surprises - but not the biggest.

Dogs and Cats, Living Together
Detroit (11-8) - No, no, no - don't try to say you saw this start coming.
Toronto (6-12) - Before wins over the weekend, Blue Jays' 4-12 start was particularly appalling.
New York Yankees (8-11) - Amid 1-6 collapse against the Red Sox, overall team OPS is .692. The more things change for Kevin Brown, the more they stay the same.
Texas (11-8) - Good record in a tough division. Finally, the Rangers' hitting is too good and their pitching isn't too bad.

Seeing Is Believing
Seattle (6-13) - Two five-game losing streaks can't have been expected.
Los Angeles (12-6) - Dodgerkid predicted first place, but he'd predict snow in August 'cause he's that darn ornery!
Florida (12-6) - Marlins proving themselves anew in strange fashion: 6-0 vs. Phillies, 1-5 vs. Atlanta.
Cincinnati (11-7) - The big injuries haven't come yet, and/but they're winning despite being outscored on the year.
Boston (12-6) - Red Sox' record isn't a surprise, but how they got it is: 6-1 vs. Yankees, 6-5 vs. others.
San Francisco (7-12) - The year everyone decided that they'd always win, they stopped.
Arizona (7-11) - If Diamondbacks were going to struggle, didn't expect it to happen until they got outside the division.
Baltimore (10-7) - Competitive against Boston (3-2), but hardly brilliant against Toronto and Tampa Bay (7-5).
Milwaukee (10-10) - A 5-2 record against St. Louis is pleasant news in Wisconsin.

Second-Glance Surprises
Chicago Cubs (12-6) - The surprise is that they're winning without Mark Prior, and they're winning in consecutive seasons.
Montreal (5-14) - In March, looked like a last-place team, but not the worst team in the NL.
Colorado (8-10) - That the Rockies are competitive at all is unexpected.
Anaheim (11-8) - Better against A's than Rangers.

Less Shocking Than They Appear
Philadelphia (7-10) - A talented team with troubled leadership starting just the way you'd expect.
San Diego (10-9) - Many saw them improving, but Padres still had to prove it on the field.
Oakland (10-9) - Record drops toward .500 after sweep by Angels, but A's will recover.

Par for the Course
Houston (11-8) - Record isn't surprising, though early dominance of Roger Clemens is a little bit.
Chicago White Sox (11-7) - Contending in the AL Central.
Kansas City (6-11) - Many thought last year's success was a fluke, explaining why some improvements aren't helping.
Minnesota (12-6) - After slow start, back where they belong in AL Central
Cleveland (7-12) - In February, there was hope for the Indians, but that faded by the end of March.
Atlanta (10-8) - Unlike the Giants, fulfilling non-collapse expectations.

Hank, Dale, Bill and Boomhauer
St. Louis (10-9) - Yep
New York Mets (7-12) - Uh-huh.
Pittsburgh (8-9) - Mm-hmm
Tampa Bay (7-10) - Sure.

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