FanGraphs Power Rankings – 5/9/11

Before we begin, all Indians fans reading this need to watch this clip. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Thank you. The major critics of our newly unveiled, and generally well received Power Rankings last week were Indians fans, who were up in arms about them being ranked so low, and specifically wanted the Fan Standings replaced with a different system. Unfortunately, the Indians actually fare better in the Fan Standings, which had the Tribe at 73 wins, than if we used ZiPS forecasted standings, which had them at 71. In general, I do understand the criticism of a subjective measure like the Fan Standings, but as Dave Cameron noted in last week’s comments, the Fan Standings actually have held up just as well as any other projection system. So while Indians fans aren’t going to be any happier this week, I think you all should all give yourselves some credit — the fans that have voted for our Fan Standings, i.e. you, are smarter than the average bear.

1. New York Yankees: Last week – 1, WAR% – .675 (1), FAN% – .580 (2), TOTAL% – .599
Did you hear that Derek Jeter homered? He was never likely to finish the year as bad as he started it, and he also comes home to this. In other words, you can stop pitying Jeter.

2. Boston: Last week – 2, WAR% – .537 (10), FAN% – .605 (1), TOTAL% – .591
Lost in the shuffle of the Olde Towne Team’s big ticket acquisitions this winter was Jacoby Ellsbury, who suffered through a lost season. With a 132 wRC+ so far, which places him 18th among outfielders, he is reminding folks that his return was a pretty big deal too.

3. Philadelphia: Last week – 3, WAR% – .645 (3), FAN% – .556 (3), TOTAL% – .574
Cliff Lee’s 16-strikeout performance against the Braves on Friday was so good that he actually ended up with a negative FIP and xFIP for the week. That’s, um, good and stuff.

4. St. Louis: Last week – 5, WAR% – .670 (2), FAN% – .512 (12), TOTAL% – .546
With Adam Wainwright sidelined, the Cardinals were going to need someone in their rotation to step up. So far, that person has been Jaime Garcia, whose K/BB mark of 4.0 is 12th in the Majors.

5. Tampa Bay: Last week – 6, WAR% – .575 (6), FAN% – .537 (5), TOTAL% – .545
Much of the Rays’ pitching praise thus far has focused on James Shields, and rightly so. But despite a BABIP more than sixty points higher, David Price’s has an advanced statistical profile nearly identical to that of Shields. There’s another name for such quality pitching — an embarrassment of riches.

6. Colorado: Last week – 4, WAR% – .487 (18), FAN% – .556 (3), TOTAL% – .542
Ian Stewart was summoned back to the Majors this week, and in his first five games back with the Rockies he reached base four times in 15 plate appearances, not dramatically better or worse than his teammates have fared lately. But looking for a scapegoat, Jim Tracy said Sunday morning, “With Ian, it’s time to fish or cut bait,” which might set the record for small-sample size craziness.

7. Florida: Last week – 7, WAR% – .575 (7), FAN% – .525 (7), TOTAL% – .535
Anibal Sanchez’s ups and downs torment fantasy owners more than most, with his seven inning, 11 strikeout performance yesterday the latest example. But even though I know that eventually, that 4 2/3 innings, six runs allowed performance is going to happen, I still picked him up yesterday afternoon.

8. Los Angeles of Anaheim: Last week – 13, WAR% – .633 (4), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .519
No one had a better week than the Angels, as they jumped five spots up to eighth place. That they did so in the face of the first two negative WPA starts of the season from Jered Weaver is all the more encouraging for Angels backers.

9. Atlanta: Last week – 11, WAR% – .559 (8), FAN% – .506 (14), TOTAL% – .518
Seriously, how smart did Eric Hinske make Bobby Valentine look last night? All that glowing praise and then Hinske jacks a two-run bomb, which immediately looked real important when the Phils brought the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the inning.

10. Texas: Last week – 8, WAR% – .490 (17), FAN% – .525 (7), TOTAL% – .517
The Rangers may not have kept Lee, but they do still have C.J. Wilson, whose 0.6 WAR for the week was just a whisker under Lee’s for second place on the pitcher leader board, so at least they’ve got that going for them…which is nice.

11. Milwaukee: Last week – 9, WAR% – .502 (15), FAN% – .519 (9), TOTAL% – .515
Ryan Braun has logged a negative WPA in nine straight games, and in 12 of 16 games since his extension was announced. Is it too late for the Brewers to yell ‘psyche?’ I kid, I kid…sort of.

12. San Francisco: Last week – 10, WAR% – .499 (16), FAN% – .519 (9), TOTAL% – .514
In this week’s episode of “Managers Do The Darndest Things,” Bruce Bochy batted Mike Fontenot third for six straight games. What’s more incredible, this wasn’t the first time this had happened, as Lou Piniella actually batted him third three times in 2007.

13. Cincinnati: Last week – 12, WAR% – .557 (9), FAN% – .494 (17), TOTAL% – .507
After reaching base in nearly half of his plate appearances last week, including knocking two round-trippers, Jay Bruce’s season line looks a lot more like what was expected of him before the season. Now if the Reds can get Edinson Volquez and his 5.60 FIP under control, everything will be hunky dory in the Queen City.

14. Detroit: Last week – 17, WAR% – .487 (20), FAN% – .512 (12), TOTAL% – .507
On Saturday afternoon, Justin Verlander decided that he didn’t want to get into any odd pickoff situations, so he just decided to stop letting runners reach base.

15. Chicago Cubs: Last week – 15, WAR% – .502 (13), FAN% – .506 (14), TOTAL% – .505
Carlos Pena had a horrible April, but two home runs in power dampening Dodger Stadium, as well as one this weekend back at 1060 West Addison against the Reds may have temporarily staved off his execution.

16. New York Mets: Last week – 14, WAR% – .440 (25), FAN% – .519 (9), TOTAL% – .502
When Troy Tulowitzki got off to a hot start, everyone sort of proclaimed him the unanimous shortstop king, which he may still be. But Jose Reyes has been dynamite so far, and his 1.8 WAR, 150 wRC+ and .394 wOBA top the shortstop leader boards and have sparked rumors across the land.

17. Minnesota: Last week – 16, WAR% – .318 (30), FAN% – .537 (5), TOTAL% – .494
The Twins only dropped one spot in the rankings this week, but no team has a bigger gulf between their Fan Standings rank and their current rank than do the Twins. Perhaps the return of Kevin Slowey can help stabilize a pitching staff that has been the worst in the Majors thus far.

18. San Diego: Last week – 19, WAR% – .484 (21), FAN% – .494 (17), TOTAL% – .492
Chase Headley’s increased patience — he currently ranks seventh in the Majors in BB% — has been a real bright spot for a Padres offense that suddenly isn’t struggling as bad as you might think.

19. Toronto: Last week – 18, WAR% – .502 (14), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .491
Speaking of BB%, Jose Bautista is the only player in the Majors right now who is walking in more than 20 percent of his plate appearances. At 25.3%, Bautista’s walk rate is currently double his career walk rate of 12.3%.

20. Cleveland: Last week – 20, WAR% – .632 (5), FAN% – .451 (27), TOTAL% – .488
The latest Indian to step up is Fausto Carmona, who has logged three straight quality starts, including his second best start of the year (.317 WPA) last Tuesday.

21. Oakland: Last week – 22, WAR% – .487 (19), FAN% – .481 (23), TOTAL% – .483
The A’s have a top-notch pitching staff, as expected strong contributors Brett Anderson, Gio Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill have been ably flanked by Brandon McCarthy and Tyson Ross. This past week, Anderson, McCarthy and Ross all logged 0.4 WAR.

22. Los Angeles Dodgers: Last week – 21, WAR% – .461 (22), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .482
Andre Ethier’s hitting streak was a nice story and all, but last week his WAR was only 0.2, which tied him for 50th among hitters, so it’s not exactly like he was truly on fire.

23. Chicago White Sox: Last week – 24, WAR% – .461 (23), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .482
We didn’t write a “what’s wrong” piece last week on Alex Rios, since much of his problems stemmed from a .181 April BABIP. May has been kinder to Rios, who has started the month with a .430 wOBA.

24. Arizona: Last week – 25, WAR% – .523 (12), FAN% – .463 (25), TOTAL% – .475
For this week’s head scratching stat, I humbly submit Ryan Roberts and his .403 wOBA, which ranks tied for 13th among players with at least 100 plate appearances. Talk amongst yourselves.

25. Baltimore: Last week – 23, WAR% – .369 (29), FAN% – .500 (16), TOTAL% – .473
Heard this: Tickets on the Matt Wieters bandwagon are still cheap, and there’s a discount for former members. Get on quick before seats fill up.

26. Seattle: Last week – 26, WAR% – .435 (26), FAN% – .469 (24), TOTAL% – .462
A nice week from Erik Bedard (tied for 9th in pitcher WAR at 0.4) got his season WAR back to 0, but his 4.93 FIP is proof that he still has a long ways to go.

27. Washington: Last week – 27, WAR% – .434 (27), FAN% – .457 (26), TOTAL% – .452
Can you make an MVP case from the disabled list? Probably not, but Ryan Zimmerman — who is still second on the Nats in hitter WAR despite being out since April 9th — is certainly trying.

28. Kansas City: Last week – 28, WAR% – .534 (11), FAN% – .420 (29), TOTAL% – .444
Howie Kendrick and Jose Reyes had a higher BABIP last week than did Mike Aviles, but I didn’t realize that until I had already typed up the Angels’ and Mets’ comments, and since I’m lazy and didn’t want to rewrite their comments, I’m making Aviles (.545 BABIP in 21 plate appearances) this week’s BABIP’er of the week. Hey, the Royals have to win something, right?

29. Pittsburgh: Last week – 29, WAR% – .443 (24), FAN% – .438 (28), TOTAL% – .439
Joel Hanrahan, who is currently tied for 6th in WAR among relievers, has been a revelation for the Pirates this season. If only there was something else nice to say about the Pirates, maybe they wouldn’t be ranked 29th.

30. Houston: Last week – 30, WAR% – .410 (28), FAN% – .370 (30), TOTAL% – .379
The Astros’ best player last week, in terms of WAR, was J.A. Happ. When I clicked on his player page, the first article listed was “NL SP: The Overvalued Club,” a club which he was the CEO of. It’s been that kind of year for the Astros.



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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.


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