This week saw the most movement to date, as all but eight teams slid up or down the rankings. There was still no movement at the top or the bottom, but while teams on the bottom are threatening to uncongeal, the Red Sox and Yankees are moving further and further from the pack. The two have been first or second in each iteration of the Power Rankings (you can see the first week, and methodology here), but where in previous versions the margins were narrow due to each team’s slow start, they have widened considerably as they have picked up the pace. Last week, Boston’s position players were more valuable as a unit than anyone else’s entire team. These differences are showing up in the rankings. The difference between second and third has expanded from 17-18 percentage points, to the 30-point range, to 40 points last week and 51 points this week. In third once again, the Phillies are sort of floating by themselves in what we’ll call tier 1A. Below Philly, we have roughly four more tiers of teams, with lines drawn in faint pencil after the Rays, White Sox and Padres. But just as in the past few weeks, teams are jumping a lot from week to week in both WAR% and rank, be it positively (Atlanta, Baltimore) or negatively (Toronto, Chicago Cubs), and we will likely see those lines redrawn each week for the forseeable future.
1. Boston: Last week – 1, WAR% – .639 (2), FAN% – .605 (1), TOTAL% – .619
Last week, I noted that the Red Sox were pretty much running on all cylinders. They haven’t lost since, putting together a perfect week that included their second sweep in the Bronx, and are now most definitely running on all cylinders.
2. New York Yankees: Last week – 2, WAR% – .652 (1), FAN% – .580 (2), TOTAL% – .608
This week’s BABIP’er of the Week goes to Jorge Posada, who perhaps not a moment too soon, clocked in at .647 for the week.
3. Philadelphia: Last week – 4, WAR% – .560 (t-8), FAN% – .556 (3), TOTAL% – .557
Cole Hamels is getting far more ground balls on three of his pitches than he did last year, and as a result he has put himself in the discussion as one of the best lefties in the National League. Over the past 30 days, he was not just one of the top lefties, but rather the best pitcher in baseball overall.
4. St. Louis: Last week – 3, WAR% – .591 (3), FAN% – .512 (12), TOTAL% – .545
Cardinals’ starters haven’t been as good lately, and talk about them struggling as a unit may surface after they took the loss in all three games this past weekend, but with every starter except Jake Westbrook compiling an xFIP between 3.17 and 3.73 over the past 30 days, it may be a little early to sound the doomsday whistle.
5. Milwaukee: Last week – 7, WAR% – .579 (4), FAN% – .519 (9), TOTAL% – .543
Prince Fielder seems to be awesome every other year, and he is on track for that this year, as his 3.2 WAR is already within 0.2 of his 2010 total. He is succeeding this year in an un-Fielder-like way, which may make him more attractive to strikeout-averse teams this offseason.
6. Texas: Last week – 5, WAR% – .563 (t-6), FAN% – .525 (7), TOTAL% – .541
The Rangers have kept up their good baserunning ways, as their 10.3 runs of Bsr are nearly four runs higher than the next best team this season.
7. Colorado: Last week – 6, WAR% – .518 (17), FAN% – .556 (3), TOTAL% – .540
Can someone do me a favor and let me know when they figure out if Ubaldo Jimenez is still good or not?
8. Tampa Bay: Last week – 8, WAR% – .541 (10), FAN% – .537 (5), TOTAL% – .539
While Wade Davis’ season has definitely taken a turn for the worse since the end of April, optimists could paint his velocity increase as a harbinger of good things to come.
9. Atlanta: Last week – 12, WAR% – .560 (t-8), FAN% – .506 (14), TOTAL% – .528
A sweep of the Marlins, and then of the lowly Astros, has vaulted the Braves ahead of the Fish in the rankings for the first time this season. Tommy Hanson striking out 20 batters and allowing just one run in 13 innings this past week certainly helped the cause a great deal.
10. Florida: Last week – 9, WAR% – .526 (15), FAN% – .525 (7), TOTAL% – .525
Perhaps Omar Infante has taken the hint, as he has reached base in seven of his 19 plate appearances since the Marlins signed Jose Lopez. Or then again, maybe it’s just 19 plate appearances…
11. San Francisco: Last week – 10, WAR% – .531 (13), FAN% – .519 (9), TOTAL% – .524
The Giants haven’t started him yet, but when they do, the newly signed 31-year-old-going-on-41-year-old Bill Hall and 37-year-old Miguel Tejada may just form the most craptastic double play combo for a contender in Major League history (if you have a better — or rather worse — combo, let me know in the comments!).
12. Detroit: Last week – 14, WAR% – .535 (12), FAN% – .512 (12), TOTAL% – .521
This just in: Brennan Boesch likes hitting during June.
13. Los Angeles of Anaheim: Last week – 11, WAR% – .563 (t-6), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .519
Though his catcher and manager didn’t see it, Jordan Walden thought he found little things that were wrong with his delivery when he went awry in May. It could have just as easily have been BABIP-fueled regression however, as Walden’s BABIP went from .188 in April to .410 in May. You say poe-tay-to, I say poe-tat-o.
14. Cincinnati: Last week – 13, WAR% – .539 (11), FAN% – .494 (17), TOTAL% – .513
Mike Leake may or may not be the best Reds’ starter, but he has pitched like it so far. He leads all Reds pitchers in WAR, and has thrown two of his three best outings of the season by WPA since his recall on May 27.
15. Arizona: Last week – 16, WAR% – .567 (5), FAN% – .463 (25), TOTAL% – .5055
Four weeks ago, the D-backs ranked 25th in the rankings, and it looked as if they were getting worse. Since, they have climbed each week, rising ten spots total. That may continue now that Stephen Drew, after hitting a bump in the road in May when the resurgence started, has resumed his fantastic play.
16. Chicago White Sox: Last week – 17, WAR% – .530 (14), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .5052
Though the White Sox have had to deal with another injury-plagued season from Jake Peavy, they have still featured an awesome rotation. Their rotation WAR is currently second-highest in the game, and John Danks has been their fifth-best starter. With him now heating up, White Sox foes could have even fewer opportunities to score.
17. New York Mets: Last week – 18, WAR% – .464 (21), FAN% – .519 (9), TOTAL% – .497
Just when you thought all hope was lost for the Mets rotation, Dillon Gee turned into David Cone. He has allowed just eight runs in his last 35 2/3 innings, piling up five straight wins in the process. At 7-0, he’s just the second rookie since 2000 to have a season-opening winning streak of seven or more games (the other being Jered Weaver in 2006), which would be a lot more awesome if wins were in any way meaningful.
18. Toronto: Last week – 15, WAR% – .505 (18), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .495
Jose Bautista is mired in a horrible slump. Over the past 30 days, he has only been the tenth-most valuable player in baseball. What a slacker.
19. Minnesota: Last week – 20, WAR% – .410 (29), FAN% – .537 (5), TOTAL% – .486
The Twinkies are really coming on as of late, winning nine of their last 11 games, and scoring five or more runs in eight of them. And if that wasn’t enough good news, Mr. Cistulli has now unequivocally proven that they have the most underrated player in baseball.
20. Los Angeles Dodgers: Last week – 21, WAR% – .475 (19), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .482
Every now and then, Chad Billingsley will put up a stinker, like he did Friday in Denver. When he does, it’s important to remember that since 2008, he’s been the 15th-most valuable pitcher in the game.
21. Cleveland: Last week – 22, WAR% – .524 (16), FAN% – .451 (27), TOTAL% – .479
It’s time to start mentioning Michael Brantley on the list of elite contact hitters. His career SwStr% is a lowly 2.8%, and his 2011 mark of 2.9% is currently the third-lowest in the Majors, and would be in the top 10 across the last three seasons if he maintains it.
22. Baltimore: Last week – 25, WAR% – .440 (26), FAN% – .500 (16), TOTAL% – .476
Though he has missed a bunch of time this season, J.J. Hardy has played well when in the lineup, with an offensive surge that makes his wRC+ the fourth-highest among shortstops (minimum 100 plate appearances) in 2011.
23. Chicago Cubs: Last week – 19, WAR% – .428 (28), FAN% – .506 (14), TOTAL% – .475
The Cubs have been the anti-D-backs. Four weeks ago, they were ranked 12th here, but have dropped every week since. Their pitching ranks 21st, their hitting is tied for 20th, their fielding is 28th and their baserunning is dead last. Other than that though, they’re doing great!
24. San Diego: Last week – 23, WAR% – .442 (25), FAN% – .494 (17), TOTAL% – .472
Someone should tell Anthony Rizzo that it’s hard to hit at PETCO Park. The rookie must not yet have noticed, as he racked up an extra-base hit in each of his first three Major League games before running into Jordan Zimmermann yesterday.
25. Oakland: Last week – 24, WAR% – .438 (27), FAN% – .481 (23), TOTAL% – .463
Call me crazy, but I don’t think changing managers is going to turn things around in Oakland. As a team, they compiled a negative WAR on both the position player and pitcher side of the ledger last week.
26. Seattle: Last week – 26, WAR% – .451 (23), FAN% – .469 (24), TOTAL% – .462
Usually you find Ichiro Suzuki near the top of leaderboards, not the bottom. But after a dreadful week that included being left out of the starting lineup for the first time since August 31, 2009, the bottom of the WAR leaderboard — at -0.2, he was tied for 18th worst position player this week — is exactly where he was.
27. Washington: Last week – 27, WAR% – .455 (22), FAN% – .457 (26), TOTAL% – .456
The Nationals have been doing a lot of things right lately, particularly when it comes to the Draft, but even with good play, Jayson Werth was going to be the elephant in the room. And his play to this point could hardly be described as “good.”
28. Pittsburgh: Last week – 28, WAR% – .450 (24), FAN% – .438 (28), TOTAL% – .443
Andrew McCutchen may have lasted until the 15th pick in the FanGraphs Franchise Player Draft, but he has been the fifth-best player in baseball this season, and it is high time to put the 24-year-old on the short list of NL MVP candidates.
29. Kansas City: Last week – 29, WAR% – .470 (20), FAN% – .420 (29), TOTAL% – .440
Michael Moustakas might not have heard any “Moose Calls” during his Major League debut, but you can bet that he will hear plenty when the Royals return home on the 21st, and for many years to come.
30. Houston: Last week – 30, WAR% – .390 (30), FAN% – .370 (30), TOTAL% – .378
With hits in 26 of 35 games since the start of May, and multiple hits in 15 of them, perhaps we dug Carlos Lee’s grave prematurely. Or maybe we didn’t, and this is really zombie Carlos Lee, out to eat everything in his path — which, coincidentally, is a trait he shares with human Carlos Lee.