About 23% of the 2013 MLB regular season is complete. It's been almost a month since our last power rankings, and the list has changed quite a bit.
1. Robinson Cano. The spokeswoman for Cano's foundation, Sonia Cruz, was connected to Biogenesis late last month. While MLB will investigate the connection, Cano's long-term value seems unaffected at present. There's nothing new to report on the idea of the Yankees extending Cano midseason.
2. Shin-Soo Choo. Choo ascends to second on the list, as his .451 OBP leads all of baseball. He has a decent chance of topping his career high of 22 home runs, set in 2010, and the Reds' leadoff hitter could also score 120 runs. A qualifying offer is looking very likely for Choo after the season.
3. Jacoby Ellsbury. Ellsbury was amazing in 2011, and good in 2008-09. He's healthy now, and he won't turn 30 until September. He even leads the American League with 12 steals. Still, I had to drop him a spot on the list, because he's still not hitting much. WAR rewards him for his baserunning and for playing center field, but if he finishes anywhere near .257/.311/.365 offensively, a megacontract is not in the offing even with Scott Boras making the pitch.
4. Chase Utley. Utley has played in every game this year, and may be able to reach 150 for the first time since 2009. He may also return to his 30 home run, 100 RBI days, and his timing is excellent.
5. Hunter Pence. Pence holds steady on the list, despite his worst walk rate since '07. OBP-centric teams won't be drawn to him, but the 30-year-old should finish with solid numbers and earn a respectable contract.
6. Brian McCann. McCann made his season debut on May 6th, returning from shoulder surgery, and he jumps two spots on this list. His first six games have gone well, and if he remains healthy and hits at his pre-2012 level for the remainder of the season, he'll be a hot commodity in free agency.
7. Tim Lincecum. Lincecum also jumps up two spots, despite erratic work this year. He's healthy and striking guys out. The skills demonstrated in his first eight starts, walks and all, suggest a 3.72 ERA moving forward. If he ends up with a 3.80 ERA on the season and 200+ strikeouts, Lincecum will be a solid 29-year-old free agent starter. Given Lincecum's superstar past, however, it's difficult to predict what kind of contract is appropriate.
8. Matt Garza. Garza's fourth minor league rehab outing will take place Thursday, as he recovers from a lat strain. In theory, he could make his season debut May 21st in Pittsburgh. If that happens, he could make 13 starts prior to the July 31st trade deadline before the Cubs have to decide whether to make a deal. If they do, the removal of a potential qualifying offer would boost his free agent value.
9. Mark Reynolds. Reynolds is a new addition to the list, with his blazing .279/.368/.598 start. He's tied for the AL lead with 11 home runs. He's looked more like the Reynolds of old in May, but the second 40 home run season of his career remains possible. Age is on his side as well, as he turns 30 in August.
10. A.J. Burnett. I was initially going to give the #10 spot to Josh Johnson, who at one point was ranked as high as #3. But even though he'll turn 37 in January, I can't ignore the fact that Burnett has a 3.34 ERA, 8.8 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, and 0.73 HR/9 in 258 1/3 innings for the Pirates since the beginning of the 2012 season. He still averages a healthy 92.3 miles per hour on his fastball, and he's basically everything we hope Johnson can be, except seven years older.
Johnson lost his spot on the list, as he's currently on the DL because of soreness in his right triceps muscle. The injury will keep him out of commission for over a month. Roy Halladay has been removed as well, as he'll undergo surgery tomorrow to remove a bone spur and clean up fraying in the labrum and rotator cuff. Neither pitcher should be written off, but they've lost their top ten spots to healthy players. Among those vying to break into the top ten at some point this year: Nelson Cruz, Nate McLouth, Mike Napoli, Curtis Granderson, the resurgent James Loney, Paul Maholm, Ervin Santana, and Hiroki Kuroda.