2011 Power Rankings In Graphs

The inaugural edition of the FanGraphs Power Rankings was a bit of a labor of love for me. So, I thought it fitting that we take a look back at how they all played out in graphical view to put the finishing touches on the season.

Let’s start with the timeline of the Rankings for all 30 teams:

Click to embiggen.

In this, a couple of things stick out. First, we can see that there were very few outliers — which I suppose, is the nature of outliers. Bud Selig wants a game where any team can earn a playoff bid, and if you take a look at that thick concentration of lines around the trade deadline, you can see that he is about as close to that goal as he possibly can be. Second, if you mouse over the Cardinals line and then the Braves line, you will notice that the Cardinals were better than the Braves for nearly the entire Rankings season. Perhaps the bigger mystery isn’t why the Braves collapsed down the stretch, but why it took the clearly superior Cardinals so long to grab the conch?

That chart gives us a nice global view, but what about how each team did week to week? Have no fear, I have a fun multi-colored bar-graph for you:

If you don’t need to click to embiggen this one, chances are you’re an ant.

I will leave most of the observations on this team-by-team chart to you, fair reader, but I do have a few of my own. First, the Blue Jays had a bad final month. I’m sure Toronto is cooking up all sorts of goodness to contend in 2012, but it is interesting to note that they didn’t have the best September. Their season took a sharp downturn at the end of August, and they never really recovered. Elsewhere, the Brewers, Diamondbacks and Rangers all had sharp upturns with few downturns as the season progressed, but the Royals weren’t far behind. They got better and better as the season progressed, and finished on a really positive note. Finally, colors are pretty.

If you’re like me though, you find yourself scrolling from team to team trying to compare them to each other all over again. If so, I have one more chart for you:

Once again, click to embiggen. And thanks to Tableau for such awesome software.

In this chart, we can once again see all 30 teams side by side, but in a much cleaner format. Here, we can see the entire range of each team, and if you mouse over, you can see at which dates they hit their highs and lows (and everything in between). A couple things to note here:

Some teams never reached .500, and some teams never fell below .500. In a chart that I wasn’t quite able to pin down, I noticed that there were only four teams that were in the top 10 all season — the Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies…and Cardinals. That might be a bit of a surprise in looking at this chart, as they never hit .600, but the Cardinals were lurking all season.

Also of note is that the teams that were the most consistent were fairly average. Teams like the Athletics, Blue Jays, Indians and Padres that had a very small data range were either straddling the .500 line or drowning beneath it. The one team that was good and had a fairly small cluster of points was the Rays. On the other side of the coin, the Twins collapse is still pretty stunning. Forecasted to be a .500 team, they had one of the largest variances, but unfortunately, it was all downhill from the start.

How about you? What sticks out to you in these graphs?

I will conclude the Power Rankings next week by compiling some of the more cromulent suggestions so that we can crowdsource potential changes to next year’s edition.




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Paul Swydan is the managing editor of The Hardball Times and a writer and editor for FanGraphs. He has written for the Boston Globe, ESPN MLB Insider and ESPN the Magazine, among others. Follow him on Twitter @Swydan.


18 Responses to “2011 Power Rankings In Graphs”

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  1. MikeS says:

    I’m just gonna sit here and wait for someone to comment that you have their team ranked to low. That should be enlightening.

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  2. sc2gg says:

    The first graph should definitely have some sort of legend or way to tell what team is what without mousing over.
    It should also have some sort of instruction booklet that tells you how to properly zoom in and focus and stuff, haha. If you accidentally screw something up while trying to find everyone’s names, you might make it go all wonky, and the solution to this is to go back to the beginning and start over.

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  3. phoenix2042 says:

    this is really cool. i liked seeing the ranges in the final graph, and seeing which teams were “streaky.” the most interesting thing to me is how good the cardinals were all season long, not just at the end when they stormed back into relevancy. it seems the narrative of the cards being the unworthy winner (like in 2006) is a bit overblown. really cool stuff!

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  4. Shmelvin says:

    Thanks for all your work! I particularly liked last one: the rest were pretty crowded. Super cool.

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  5. bookbook says:

    If you hadn’t underrated the Indians for the first 2-3 months of the season, they would have won the world series, instead of playing down to your negative expectations. You owe us a flag.

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  6. Travis says:

    Love the graphs. Just have to say that the final graph reminds me a lot of DNA sequencing. Pretty cool stuff.

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  7. Woodman says:

    The Blue Jays were playing most of September without Brett Lawrie and Yunel Escobar. I think Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion were out injured for some of it too.

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  8. Aaron (UK) says:

    That final graph (and maybe the week-by-week ones) would be even more awesome as a candlestick graph (as per stocks): http://www.online-stock-trading-guide.com/candlestick-chart.html

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  9. John Franco says:

    This would be a lot more helpful with a link to the article explaining how these numbers are calculated. It’s clearly not winning percentage. I’m guessing it was in the first article on the subject.

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  10. Alex M says:

    This is an awesome analysis. I tweaked the final graph so that color changed by date.

    http://public.tableausoftware.com/views/2011PowerRankings_2/Dashboard1?:embed=yes&:toolbar=yes&:tabs=no

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  11. Jacob says:

    The Rangers have a pretty spectacular spread

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