FanGraphs Power Rankings – 5/23/11

Note: This was all but finished yesterday, but due to a personal matter I was unable to put the finishing touches on it and post live. Please treat all stats and observations to be as of Monday morning.

We’re doing it like EPMD this week, strictly business.

1. New York Yankees: Last week – 2, WAR% – .640 (2), FAN% – .580 (2), TOTAL% – .5967
If you had to pick one Yankee to be atop the ISO leaderboards, you might pick Mark Teixeira (7th) or Alex Rodriguez (22nd), but you probably wouldn’t pick Russell Martin (21st) or Curtis Granderson (2nd), whose tear has his star rising almost as fast as Rosie Huntington-Whiteley’s

2. Boston: Last week – 1, WAR% – .575 (6), FAN% – .605 (1), TOTAL% – .5965
Winners in 14 of their last 20 and eight of their last 10, few people are still dancing on the Red Sox’s premature grave these days.

3. Philadelphia: Last week – 3, WAR% – .573 (7), FAN% – .556 (3), TOTAL% – .561
The bad news: The Phillies’ wOBA of .304 is currently tied with two other teams for 21st in the Majors. The silver lining: The Braves are one of the two teams. Second silver lining: Chase Utley’s back.

4. St. Louis: Last week – 4, WAR% – .659 (1), FAN% – .512 (12), TOTAL% – .556
This week’s BABIPer of the week award goes to Yadier Molina, who clocked in with a .650 BABIP for the week. The youngest dancing Molina brother had quite the week, as he also topped all hitters with 0.8 WAR.

5. Tampa Bay: Last week – 6, WAR% – .554 (9), FAN% – .537 (5), TOTAL% – .542
James Shields rescued the Rays from a weekend sweep at the hands of their cross-state rivals with a complete-game, three-hit shutout. Just call him Bernard.

6. Colorado: Last week – 5, WAR% – .504 (16), FAN% – .556 (3), TOTAL% – .541
Ubaldo Jimenez is finally starting to look like his old self. He has quality starts in three of his past four outings, and this past week he made an appearance on the pitcher leaderboards, as his 0.4 WAR tied for ninth-best among pitchers this week.

7. Florida: Last week – 7, WAR% – .566 (8), FAN% – .525 (7), TOTAL% – .536
Michael Dunn + Omar Infante = 0.3 WAR. Dan Uggla = -0.2 WAR. Man, I didn’t see that coming.

8. Milwaukee: Last week – 8, WAR% – .548 (10), FAN% – .519 (9), TOTAL% – .527
The Brewers and Indians are the only two teams with a home wOBA higher than .370 and a home wRC+ higher than 130.

9. San Francisco: Last week – 10, WAR% – .532 (13), FAN% – .519 (9), TOTAL% – .522
While justice won’t ultimately be served until there is a conviction, the fact that an arrest has been made is fantastic news. The only better news will be if Mr. Stow goes on to have a full recovery, and let’s hope that will be the case.

10. Cincinnati: Last week – 11, WAR% – .575 (5), FAN% – .494 (17), TOTAL% – .518
Sleeper alert!! Travis Wood has the third largest positive difference between his ERA (5.17) and FIP (3.39), and is just one of two qualified starters with an ERA over five and an FIP under four (the other being Carlos Carrasco).

11. Los Angeles of Anaheim: Last week – 13, WAR% – .586 (4), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .517
Since his breakout 2008 season, Ervin Santana has rarely been consistently dominant, but he has always had flashes of brilliance in him. Friday was his latest flash.

12. Texas: Last week – 15, WAR% – .492 (20), FAN% – .525 (7), TOTAL% – .515
The Rangers have apparently inquired about Joel Hanrahan, and with good reason. Neftali Feliz has started slow, and their bullpen FIP ranks 29th in the Majors, ahead of only Baltimore.

13. Atlanta: Last week – 9, WAR% – .529 (14), FAN% – .506 (14), TOTAL% – .513
Quite the opposite, the Braves — led by Craig Kimbrel and a trio of lefties — have the best bullpen FIP in the Majors at 2.58, and are also the only team whose bullpen xFIP is under 3.00.

14. Detroit: Last week – 14, WAR% – .504 (17), FAN% – .512 (12), TOTAL% – .510
A couple weeks back, I mentioned that last season, Max Scherzer had an even rougher May than he did April, and after he posted a 4.87 FIP this April, I wondered if this May would also be a repeat of last year. It, um…hasn’t been.

15. Chicago Cubs: Last week – 12, WAR% – .502 (18), FAN% – .506 (14), TOTAL% – .505
For the second time this season, the Cubs batted Jeff Baker third in the lineup. The first time, against a righty, he went 0-4. On Friday, against Jon Lester, Baker went 4-for-5. With a 236 wRC+ against lefties this season — which ranks third in the majors — Baker is almost half a superstar.

16. Toronto: Last week – 16, WAR% – .538 (12), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .502
Did you know that there are 24 other players on the Blue Jays active roster besides Jose Bautista? One of them is Juan Rivera, and with a two-homer week he pushed his 2011 WAR into the black.

17. Chicago White Sox: Last week – 19, WAR% – .521 (15), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .4977
The White Sox keep jumping up the rankings, and Alexei Ramirez is a big reason why. Currently, the shortstop has a career-best 123 wRC+, and is well on his way to posting the best offensive season by a Pale Hose shortstop since Jose Valentin in 2001.

18. Cleveland: Last week – 20, WAR% – .620 (3), FAN% – .451 (27), TOTAL% – .4967
After his ridiculous performance yesterday, Asdrubal Cabrera now has as many home runs this season as he did the past two seasons combined.

19. New York Mets: Last week – 18, WAR% – .440 (27), FAN% – .519 (9), TOTAL% – .4964
Fred Wilpon may not think that Jose Reyes is deserving of Carl Crawford-type money, and in a vacuum he might not be. But the free agent market does not exist in a vacuum, and Reyes will clearly be the most desirable shortstop on the market. Never say never.

20. Arizona: Last week – 25, WAR% – .547 (11), FAN% – .463 (25), TOTAL% – .487
The D-backs are this week’s big mover, as they jump five places and edge closer to respectability. Juan Miranda has been a big part of that resurgence, though he will need to hit better than a .266 wOBA away from Chase Field if he is to earn long-term street crud.

21. San Diego: Last week – 17, WAR% – .463 (22), FAN% – .494 (17), TOTAL% – .485
Why you shouldn’t judge by wins example 4,080: Tim Stauffer is 0-3, yet his 2.73 FIP is 17th best in the Majors and his 2.93 xFIP is 13th best.

22. Minnesota: Last week – 23, WAR% – .331 (30), FAN% – .537 (5), TOTAL% – .480
The Twins were beginning to get on a roll before Interleague Play started. They were one of two American League teams to get swept this weekend.

23. Oakland: Last week – 22, WAR% – .473 (21), FAN% – .481 (23), TOTAL% – .479
Oakland was the other AL team to get swept, and if losing in extras isn’t bad enough, the A’s are starting to look a lot like their rival to the north.

24. Los Angeles Dodgers: Last week – 21, WAR% – .451 (25), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .477
Matt Kemp has been really good on most days this season. Just not on the days I pick him for Pick Six (seriously, why aren’t you playing Pick Six, it’s the one-night stand of fantasy baseball!)

25. Baltimore: Last week – 24, WAR% – .402 (28), FAN% – .500 (16), TOTAL% – .473
How frequently do you think Vladimir Guerrero looks at that .295 sitting there on his 2009 stat sheet and think to himself, “two more hits, I only needed two more hits!”

26. Seattle: Last week – 26, WAR% – .460 (23), FAN% – .469 (24), TOTAL% – .467
The Mariners pair of aces, Felix Hernandez and Michael Pineda, were the two best pitchers in terms of WAR this past week, making them the most valuable teammates of the week. Mariners fans hope that that is the case for a long time.

27. Washington: Last week – 27, WAR% – .447 (26), FAN% – .457 (26), TOTAL% – .454
Jordan Zimmermann has been brilliant in short bursts this season, as he has put up a 2.81 FIP and a much improved K/BB ratio, but has only gone more than 6.1 innings in a start once this season.

28. Pittsburgh: Last week – 29, WAR% – .451 (24), FAN% – .438 (28), TOTAL% – .442
Andrew McCutchen has found his power stroke, as he is already halfway to his career-high in home runs, and his .216 ISO is 32nd in the Majors for the season, and fifth among center fielders.

29. Kansas City: Last week – 28, WAR% – .495 (19), FAN% – .420 (29), TOTAL% – .441
The pieces really are there for the Royals. Their wRC+ is eighth best in baseball, and they have several intriguing, albeit raw, arms in the bullpen.

30. Houston: Last week – 30, WAR% – .401 (29), FAN% – .370 (30), TOTAL% – .379
How weird is it that Bud Norris and Bud Bundy have the same birthdays? Ha, they don’t, I know. I just wanted to close with a Bud Bundy reference. Norris is actually kind of a fraud — his real name is David Stefan Norris. What’s up with that?

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Paul Swydan is the managing editor of The Hardball Times, a writer and editor for FanGraphs and a writer for the Boston Globe. Follow him on Twitter @Swydan.

29 Responses to “FanGraphs Power Rankings – 5/23/11”

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  1. Dave says:

    And Cleveland continues to get shafted…

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  2. Spectator says:

    What’s the point of this exercise ? I’d rather look at the standings.

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  3. Blob says:

    You idiot! Rabble rabble rabble
    Bas/moron/fail/useless rabble rabble.

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    • My echo and bunnymen says:

      Standing around here yelling “Rabble! Rabble” won’t get anything done.

      What else are we supposed to do? Rabble!

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  4. Dan says:

    I love the site, but I think the Tribe are continuing to prove that your rankings formula needs some work. To just keep saying that wins and losses, this far into the season, have no bearing on how good teams are is just silly.

    It’s not like they’re getting lucky based on a couple players’ fluky performances, they’re winning based on great performances across the board by starters, bullpen, batters, and fielders. Are the 15 or so players making solid contributions all going to suddenly drop off? That seems to be statistically unlikely.

    And to have them 8 spots behind a team whom they just swept? Come on.

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    • ryanb says:

      “…this far into the season…”

      That’s obviously the question here…at what point do Wins and Losses really count for something and this question was tackled recently in an excellent Community Blog post….

      I’d like to hear what you think of the article…it suggests that even at the end of May, teams are still not anywhere close to being locked into place in the standings.

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      • My echo and bunnymen says:

        It’s interesting to note, though, that the bad teams are legitimately out.

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      • Dan says:

        It’s an interesting article, even if it comes to a bit of an obvious conclusion (the closer you get to the end of the season, the easier it is to see who will make the playoffs). I’d be interested to see similar graphs charting division leads and run differential.

        This sort of leaves me wondering if these shouldn’t be changed from “Power Rankings” to “Playoff Predictions”, which is a different thing entirely. When the title is “Power Rankings 5/23″, to me and many others this should be a ranking of who is the best team right now, not who will be the best at seasons end. That’s what Power Rankings traditionally are, and I think that’s why there’s so much disagreement.

        If you changed this to “Playoff Predictor”, I think you’d find a lot less griping, although you’d still have to give weight to wins/losses as every single one does change the odds, however slightly.

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    • Kyle says:

      The problem with the rankings is that their expected win rate (FAN) at the beginning of the year won’t change despite them proving they are a much better team than second to last in their division.

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  5. Kellin Moore says:

    Lol, I guess the Giants games were on too late this week, leaving the poster with absolutely zero baseball data or anecdotes to relay. Congrats to LAPD for doing their job! These are just another set of rankings, I have no problem with placement, but it’s nice to see why…

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  6. e says:

    HAHA, Cincy gets swept by CLE after losing a couple to PIT..and they gain a spot from 11 to 10…what a week, keep losing might crack the top 8 next week..woohoo

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    • Dustin says:

      I thought the same thing, but remember the rankings have nothing to do with wins and losses. While the WAR side of these rankings does come directly from how well their players are playing, it doesn’t directly translate into wins and losses. Another team could outplay them or something fluky could happen resulting in a loss.

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  7. Dustin says:

    In regards to the Cincy comment, I assume that Greinke doesn’t meet certain standards for innings thrown. His ERA is 6.43 and his xFIP 1.46 so far.

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  8. Sam says:

    Seeing Cleveland consistently ranked so low, I wonder what these Power Rankings would have looked like on the last week of regular play last year. Depending on how well that matches up to how the teams ended up, maybe we can know better how useful this really is.

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    • Danmay says:

      I was curious about the same thing as you at first. But in the last week of play the power rankings will nearly perfectly match the WAR rankings.

      That being said, I was trying to go back to 2010 to see where things may have been at different points in the year, but I’m not sure how to translate a WAR/Games into a winning percentage. Can anybody help me with this?

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  9. TheGrandSlamwich says:

    I’m definitely questioning the algorithm used to determine these rankings. Current standings should hold more weight.

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  10. Jeff says:

    These power rankings have zero credibility. Just another week with the Yankees and Red Sox on top; what does that prove? That the Yankees and Red Sox are liked by the largest amount of people. Congratulations! I could have watched ESPN to find that out. I come here for actual analysis, of which I obviously won’t find here.

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  11. CircleChange11 says:

    Presumably, these rankings are more value/talent based than the “silly” ones elsewhere, like ESPN.

    I’d rather the rankings include more reality than projections.

    As of now, the only reason to check the rankings is to see how many bad/medium teams rank ahead of the Indians.

    This is as goofy as NCAAF pre-season rankings.

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  12. Antonio Bananas says:

    Yankees, Sox, Philly, is this ESPN? Cleveland is 18th? What the hell?

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    • Dustin says:

      Those teams are the most talented and you won’t find many people that would pick Cleveland to win the world series over those 3….yet.

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  13. Antonio Bananas says:

    Not really. The Yankees have pitching problems, sure right now Garcia and some other guys are over performing, but that won’t last. Boston is old as shit and didn’t get that much better over the off season, Philly has hitting issues even if Utley is coming back. I don’t think they’re far and away the most talented teams at all, not so much that you can say “they’re the most talented teams”.

    All of the people who say the Yankees are the best are basing it off past performance, the past is good and all, but you know, things change. If a guy has 400 career home runs and is 34, he probably isn’t going to hit another 400.

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