FanGraphs Power Rankings – 5/16/11

This past week, we saw some great research introduced on when the standings actually start to matter. It showed that the really great and really bad teams don’t really shake out until June, so despite the fact that the bottom five teams have been identical in each of the power rankings’ first three weeks, there is still time for one of those teams to escape the bottom of the pack. In our third week, teams are starting to make bigger jumps in the standings. In week two, only two teams moved three or more places from week one. This week that number was seven, with three teams (the Angels, Rangers and Twins) dropping at least five spots.


1. Boston: Last week – 2, WAR% – .541 (12), FAN% – .605 (1), TOTAL% – .5893
Josh Beckett has already surpassed his WAR total from last season, and while his BABIP is low, his SwStr% is the highest it’s ever been during his six seasons with the Red Sox. Also, just noticing that it’s Beckett’s sixth year with the Olde Towne Team makes me feel old. I need a nap.

2. New York Yankees: Last week – 1, WAR% – .618 (3), FAN% – .580 (2), TOTAL% – .5891
Since JoePawl looked at Jorge Posada towards the end of April, his BABIP, SwStr%, K% and O-Contact% have stabilized somewhat, and he is seeing more pitches per plate appearance as well. He still isn’t having a good season, but perhaps we should give it a few more weeks before we set up his retirement presser.

3. Philadelphia: Last week – 3, WAR% – .620 (2), FAN% – .556 (3), TOTAL% – .571
Roy Halladay is so good that even when he loses, he looks fabulous anyway. Halladay was 0-2 last week, but his 0.5 WAR still tied for the third-best mark among pitchers.

4. St. Louis: Last week – 4, WAR% – .657 (1), FAN% – .512 (12), TOTAL% – .549
Anyone who thought that Albert Pujols‘ and Yadier Molina’s wOBA’s would be within 11 points of each other this far into the season must have had a pretty high opinion of Yadier Molina. Seriously though, the fact that the Cards have the Majors’ best offense so far and Pujols is no better than their fifth-best hitter is nothing short of amazing.

5. Colorado: Last week – 6, WAR% – .492 (19), FAN% – .556 (3), TOTAL% – .541
Todd Helton is once again leading the Rockies in wOBA, but unlike 2005 (the last time he was team wOBA leader) those around him are a bit better.

6. Tampa Bay: Last week – 5, WAR% – .549 (11), FAN% – .537 (5), TOTAL% – .540
Matt Joyce has already equaled his 2010 season WAR in half the plate appearances. Between him, Ben Zobrist and Evan Longoria, the Rays don’t seem to be missing Manny Ramirez at all.

7. Florida: Last week – 7, WAR% – .569 (7), FAN% – .525 (7), TOTAL% – .535
Fun fact: There have been seven players named “Gabe” in Major League history, but Gaby Sanchez is the first to go by “Gaby.”

8. Milwaukee: Last week – 11, WAR% – .564 (8), FAN% – .519 (9), TOTAL% – .530
On Sunday, Zack Greinke threw a no-hitter for four innings and then gave up six hits and five runs in the fifth. Which makes about as much sense as According To Jim being on the air for nine years.

9. Atlanta: Last week – 9, WAR% – .558 (9), FAN% – .506 (14), TOTAL% – .51955
Whether or not his latest knee injury ends Chipper Jones’ career, he is truly one of the greatest third basemen ever. Did you know that, for his career, Jones has a better wRC+ than Harmon Killebrew, George Brett, Wade Boggs and Paul Molitor?.

10. San Francisco: Last week – 12, WAR% – .522 (14), FAN% – .519 (9), TOTAL% – .51946
It is not the same old Ryan Vogelsong and dance by the Bay (thank you, I’ll be here all week!).

11. Cincinnati: Last week – 13, WAR% – .596 (5), FAN% – .494 (17), TOTAL% – .5192
Just as no one talks about Matt Holliday, it seems like no one talks about National League OBP leader Joey Votto either. Is Bill Simmons right? Would we talk about him more if he was Joe Votto?

12. Chicago Cubs: Last week – 15, WAR% – .531 (13), FAN% – .506 (14), TOTAL% – .5121
We’re going streaking! Starlin Castro started the season 35-for-89 (.393), then went 7-for-51 (.137) and is now hot again, going 12-for-20 in his five games since May 10, with multiple hits in four of them. Which is pretty good production considering it’s been a little cold out there.

13. Los Angeles of Anaheim: Last week – 8, WAR% – .584 (6), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .5120
While debating whether or not Howie Kendrick is for real, one thing that probably isn’t debatable is that if Kendrick really is the Halos best hitter, their offense is going to be on shaky ground all season.

14. Detroit: Last week – 14, WAR% – .509 (16), FAN% – .512 (12), TOTAL% – .5115
Victor Martinez — so hot right now.

15. Texas: Last week – 10, WAR% – .469 (23), FAN% – .525 (7), TOTAL% – .511
Adrian Beltre isn’t exactly having a terrible season — he’s hit 10 dingers, and has a .252/.304/.503 line with a .347 wOBA. But when his .216 BABIP (tied for sixth lowest in the Majors) regresses back to the mean, it’s going to be like he threw some D’s on that $%^&*.

16. Toronto: Last week – 19, WAR% – .551 (10), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .503
Fact: Jose Bautista rulz. Paired with Yunel Escobar, they beat out Victor Martinez and Jhonny Peralta for the most valuable teammates of the week award.

17. San Diego: Last week – 18, WAR% – .509 (15), FAN% – .494 (17), TOTAL% – .4976
The BABIP’er of the Week Award goes to Bradley Bonte Hawpe, who tipped the scales at .727 for the week. Hawpe was one of three Padres to single twice during their eight-run inning in Milwaukee, and he enjoyed his first return to Coors Field as well, where he reached six times in ten trips and hit a game-winning homer.

18. New York Mets: Last week – 16, WAR% – .431 (25), FAN% – .519 (9), TOTAL% – .4970
Carlos Beltran may have increased his trade value this past week, but all is not rosy in Queens. To wit, Jeff Francis has accumulated the same WAR (0.7) this season as have all Mets starting pitchers combined.

19. Chicago White Sox: Last week – 23, WAR% – .484 (20), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .487
Back in December when Paul Konerko signed, he looked like a tough guy to project. He’s still putting up near identical numbers to 2010 though (his OBP and wRC+ are identical) and if this continues, the White Sox will have scored a major bargain in ole’ Paulie.

20. Cleveland: Last week – 20, WAR% – .603 (4), FAN% – .451 (27), TOTAL% – .485
One thing to keep in mind with the Indians: Thanks to three rain outs so far, including two this weekend, the Indians woke up this morning having played the fewest games in the Majors. Therefore, Cleveland’s WAR% got the lowest weight of any team in this week’s rankings.

21. Los Angeles Dodgers: Last week – 22, WAR% – .472 (22), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .484
Scary thought for Dodgers opponents: Clayton Kershaw is still just 23 years old, and he is still getting better.

22. Oakland: Last week – 21, WAR% – .481 (21), FAN% – .481 (23), TOTAL% – .481
As the one team with identical WAR and FAN percentages, at least for right now, we can say that Oakland is who we thought they were.

23. Minnesota: Last week – 17, WAR% – .297 (30), FAN% – .537 (5), TOTAL% – .480
The Twins were the big movers of the week, and not in a good way, as they dropped six spots. Cut to every member of the Twins at home, brewing up concoctions to cure bilateral leg weakness.

24. Baltimore: Last week – 25, WAR% – .410 (29), FAN% – .500 (16), TOTAL% – .478
Led by Zach Britton and Brad Bergesen, the Orioles only allowed nine runs in their last five games. Unfortunately, they allowed 34 in the five games preceding them.

25. Arizona: Last week – 24, WAR% – .504 (17), FAN% – .463 (25), TOTAL% – .473
I can’t decide what’s crazier, the fact that Ian Kennedy is tied for the seventh-best pitcher in the Majors this season (by WAR) or that one of the pitchers he’s tied with is Brandon McCarthy.

26. Seattle: Last week – 26, WAR% – .422 (27), FAN% – .469 (24), TOTAL% – .458
“I don’t try to strike out people, but sometimes they swing and miss.” Understatement of the year, or the century?

27. Washington: Last week – 27, WAR% – .434 (24), FAN% – .457 (26), TOTAL% – .451
Facts that won’t be facts for long: Laynce Nix has a 135 wRC+ despite having just a 1.2 BB% and a 29.8 K%.

28. Kansas City: Last week – 28, WAR% – .499 (18), FAN% – .420 (29), TOTAL% – .439
Of the 193 qualified hitters on the FanGraphs leaderboards, only 14 have walked more than they have struck out this season. Would you believe that one of them is Chris Getz?

29. Pittsburgh: Last week – 29, WAR% – .426 (26), FAN% – .438 (28), TOTAL% – .435
So, how did you celebrate Pittsburgh Pirates Week? If you’re like me, you totally didn’t discourage your wife when she almost tried on that puffy shirt at Ann Taylor. I know, I went crazy!

30. Houston: Last week – 30, WAR% – .421 (28), FAN% – .370 (30), TOTAL% – .383
Dear Jim Crane: congrats on buying the Astros. I humbly recommend reading The Extra 2% by Jonah Keri, like, immediately.




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


59 Responses to “FanGraphs Power Rankings – 5/16/11”

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  1. yes of course I'm a Giants fan says:

    If your gonna painfully undersell the Giants, why oh why must you overrate the shit outta of the Rox and Friars? We’ll just see who’s laughing in October (again)

    -17 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Louis says:

      Shut up. The Giants have a shitty lineup. Deal with it.

      -5 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Ratto's Pants says:

      Rockies will run away with the NL West title. Might as well them now.

      -6 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Ratto's Pants says:

        crown them

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      • lol says:

        the giants are currently playing better using linear weights (check bpro’s third order wins) instead of runs scored/runs allowed and projected better at the beginning of the season using oliver, zips and pecota.

        don’t let the facts get in the way of the narrative you’ve created in your head though.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • lol says:

        oh yeah their war is currently higher than the rockies too. and check out that sweet 4.7 xfip on the rockies ace.

        they’re totally way better than the giants though because some fangraphs commenter said so.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • chuckb says:

        To this whole line of posts:

        “my team is better than your team and my dad can beat up your dad so nanny-nanny-boo-boo!”

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      • johngomes says:

        rockies will need to find a SP by deadline if u want to play out this fantasy. ubaldo has a few loose screws, running two miles inbetween starts will only loosen the screws more.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • brendan says:

      I like the giants there at 10, but I think the rockies are too high at 5. I see that as a pretty tight NL west race this year (I’m an SF fan as well). I think it’s hard to argue the giants are an elite team, even if posey and huff were hitting well, which they are not.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • lexi says:

        Obviously you havent been watching the Giants as Posey is hitting and huff isnt so get your facts straight thanks

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. MikeS says:

    How could you rank (my team) so low and (my rival) so high? You’re an idiot!

    +42 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • mike wants wins says:

      Great post.

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      • BillWallace says:

        These rankings really need a version of the zlionsfan disclaimer from the footballoutsiders rankings.

        To save people some time, we remind everyone to put their angry troll hatred into the official zlionsfan angry troll hatred Mad Libs form:

        is clearly ranked because . is way better than this.

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      • BillWallace says:

        (team) is clearly ranked (too high/too low) because (reason unrelated to DVOA). (subjective ranking system) is way better than this. (unrelated team-supporting or -denigrating comment, preferably with poor spelling and/or chat-acceptable spelling)

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    • Nick says:

      These comments aren’t really funny anymore.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • chuckb says:

        Every week half the posts on this thread are the same version of “my team has been cheated by your ridiculous system so you’re an idiot!”.

        It’s those comments that are tiresome. I don’t even understand why people feel the need to state them.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • CooperNB says:

        And every week, someone regurgitates the same exact way of making fun of those comments with the “(insert my team here)” thing. It’s not witty anymore.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. mike wants wins says:

    There are not 7 teams worse than my Twins right now. This is like the NCAA polls, movement is too hard once you start someplace….

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. Streams of Whiskey says:

    Let the whining begin.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. Ryan says:

    How did the ESPN power rankings end up here?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  6. Bronnt says:

    Hey, just for accuracy’s sake, this latest knee injury to Chipper Jones is not career threatening, or even close to it, really. Worst case scenario is arthroscopic surgery and about 3 weeks recovery time. Granted, at his age, recovery might be slower, but he could potentially just rest the knee and miss a week or less.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Bo says:

      People see “injury” and “Chipper Jones” in the same sentence and assume it may end his career. What people forget is that he’s still a hoss, and fights back after every wear and tear he faces. He’ll retire when he feels like it, not when he slightly tears something in his knee.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  7. Sam says:

    HA! I’m a Red Sox fan. I have no complaints with this post. :)

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  8. bender says:

    I feel like these should take into account banked wins somehow

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  9. Everett says:

    I love the complaints about how Paul ranked teams, which completely misses the point that the rankings are computer generated, based on a formula. If you don’t like the formula, that’s fine, but its not like Paul is sitting around throwing darts here.

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  10. jordan says:

    the concept is a good one, but arbitrarily trusting the fan preseason rankings instead of something based on fact proves a devastating blow to an ambitious idea

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  11. AdamLaz says:

    Sorry folks, team WAR or WAR% have no correlation to how well a team actually finishes a season. Just look at the division winners from last season and their WAR ranking: Yankees (2), Twins (3), Rangers (9), Giants (10), Reds (1), Phillies (13). Not exactly 1-6. I love Sabermetrics in order to measure individual performances and to predict what to expect from individuals in the future, but using it to determine team performance is silly and inaccurate.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Adam says:

      Using your definition of no correlation:
      Sorry folks, team winning percentage has no correlation to how well a team actually finishes a season. Just look at the division winners from last season and their winning percentage ranking: Rays (2), Twins (4), Rangers (8), Giants (5), Reds (7), Phillies (1). Not exactly 1-6. (The Rays won their division, not the Yankees)

      If you add in their pitchers’ WAR and don’t compare the National League with the American League (the Phillies total WAR was 42, which would have tied for 8th in the AL, but they were 5th in the NL) it looks just fine. In both leagues, the playoff teams were all in the top 5 in their league. The Red Sox and Rockies were unlucky, since they were in the top 5 in their respective leagues and didn’t get the corresponding number of actual wins. That hardly shows that there is “no correlation,” though. There is not a perfect correlation, but it isn’t too far off.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Friedman says:

      Sorry Adam, if you’re gonna bash the article, get your facts straight. Your argument is silly and inaccurate. Hell, the Yankees didn’t even win the division.

      You only looked at offensive WAR…completely ignored pitching WAR. So division winners are Rays (6), Twins (1), Rangers (8), Giants (5), Reds (2), Phillies (12). Of these 6 teams, the Rays were only 4.5 WAR behind the Red Sox and the Phillies were 0.5 WAR behind the Braves. All other division leaders had the most WAR in their division.

      Also, be careful saying “no correlation” on here. WAR%/Team WAR correlates very strongly with win totals, which is why it is a good descriptive statistic.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  12. Jake says:

    I just don’t care for the fan component of the rankings. Fans are stupid.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  13. futant462 says:

    To be clear, I’m generally a fan of this ranking method. I like how it adjusts the %’s throughout the season, and doesn’t overreact. However I do feel like there was something missing, and a comment above illuminated that I think. The missing element is “banked wins”. I know I know, WAR% covers that right?

    Almost, but if WAR % is out of whack with actual win total to date, that team IS more likely to make the playoffs than these rankings give them credit for. Something like: (% of Season Played*Current Real Winning %) + (% Remaining * [Existing Calculation]). That would weight games that have already happened appropriately and use your existing calculation to estimate winning % going forwards, thus arriving(and eventually converging) to an estimated end of year W-L record.

    Perhaps I’m wrong, but I believe this calculation would better embody the spirit of this exercise.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  14. BO says:

    Long time listener, first time caller.
    Let me guess which side of the Mississippi this guy grew up on or constantly gets his news from.
    Well lets just cite where the teams are from. East, East, East, Mid W, West (which really stands out because thats where he’s at), East, East, Mid W, East, West (World Series Champs which everyone said the same thing about last year), Mid W, Mid W.
    Wow, things really do happen out here on the west coast but then again people who usually report about sports from the Denver area tend to be myopic in nature and usually just follow the crowd. These are the same guys that think Kobe Bryant plays for all of the west coast NBA teams. Go figure that he treats his power rankings in the same way.
    Well said Futant ’embody the spirt of’

    -12 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • TFINY says:

      I have no idea what you are trying to say.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Everett says:

      You do know that this ranking uses a formula, right?

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Oscar says:

      BO’s post is maybe the greatest thing ever? What is that last sentence?

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • BO says:

      http://www.sportmapworld.com/map/baseball/north-america/mlb/
      If the Giants played as many road games in their own time zone and in a ball park where the right field porch was almost on top of the first baseman, would they rank higher on the power rankings? didn’t they have some guy named Barry once who launched balls into the water?
      Seattle may be crappy but if they only had to travel the distance to Spokane or Salt Lake every two weeks to play the Angels or Oakland? Boston only has to travel a lesser distance than that to play the Yankees four times a year, I’m sure their power rankings would be quite different if they had to travel nearly as much as the west coast teams do or actually played in a stadium that doesn’t showcase cheap home runs.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • futant462 says:

      Now that you’ve endorsed my argument above, I have begun to fear that perhaps it is horribly flawed in some unanticipated way. I think I will just hope/assume that you didn’t actually understand the calculation I attempted to explain above.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  15. The Nicker says:

    I’ve been following the power rankings and methodology for the last few weeks so I apologize for just noticing that the Mets were projected 9th by the fans. Is that really true?

    I have no problem with the methodology, but that seems to be the one outlier with the preseason rankings that doesn’t make any sense. Maybe Zips would have been the better choice.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  16. Brian says:

    It’s kind of adorable that the formula would put a .500 team at 28 and a one-game-from-.500 team at 27. The 27th-place Nationals are distinguished from the 8th-place Brewers by having … the same record?

    Meh, wins are overrated and don’t really matter that much.

    Okay, in all seriousness and without snark, is this an attempt to project end-of-season results? It makes sense to say that the 27th place Royals are unable to sustain .500, or the Nationals will not = the Brewers all year. I’m down with that. I guess my problem is that these are labeled “Power Rankings,” which traditionally tell you what the hierarchy is right now, but they’re really “Projection Rankings” which would tell you who’s on track to progress or regress based on how good they SHOULD be.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  17. Ender says:

    The eight best teams aren’t usually all in the playoffs, trying to use wins and losses to rank teams is a terrible idea and power rankings that use win % as the core of the rankings are more or less completely useless. I have no issues at all with how you are doing things.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  18. Justin says:

    Your rankings suck…its about the equivalent of Brandon Funston’s Big Board in Yahoo! Fantasy. St. Louis and Milwaukee ahead of Cincinnati. I am boycotting all your future articles because you obviously don’t know anything about baseball.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Paul Swydan says:
      FanGraphs Supporting Member

      Justin, first I would refer you to Everett’s comment above, or to the first week of the rankings, where I explain the methodology, which is not done at random. Second, I would refer you to the door on the left. Your negativity will not be missed.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Jason says:

        Yes, a link to that article explaining the methodology at the head of each new ranking would be nice for those of us who missed it.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • chuckb says:

      Yeah, ’cause that 1.5 game lead in the division in mid-May is insurmountable! What a juggernaut! Read the methodology before you offer a critique.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  19. Nate says:

    Its an interesting concept for rankings, but it isn’t surprising that the Red Sox/Yankees are still living off preseason hype by the public and the Reds still haven’t overcome the lack of preseason attention. I think you can have a preseason constant without using the fans predictions that include all sorts of variables such as which teams have more home fans that make projections. How would these numbers change if you used one of the statistically based win projection methods as the constant?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  20. Mark says:

    Must have read the standings incorrectly this morning…I thought Cleveland had the best record. My bad.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Chris says:

      Good one.

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    • Matt says:

      Why have power rankings at all? Lets just line up the standings from best win% to worst win%!!

      You’re an idiot.

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      • Jeff says:

        Or let’s have a power rankings where a team with a -25 run differential and .484 WAR% is ahead of a team with a +63 run differential and a .603 WAR%. Because that makes more sense, right?

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