FanGraphs Power Rankings – 6/20/11

This past week was all about positivity, as more teams than ever — 13 — moved up in the rankings. The most notable of those teams was the Detroit Tigers, who cracked the top ten for the first time. This is a bigger deal than it would seem to be on its face. Before this week, the eighth, ninth and tenth spots in the rankings have been occupied by eight different teams, but they have more or less been the same eight teams each week. The Tigers are the first new team to crack the top 10 since Cincinnati did so back in the fourth week. Alex Avila and Jhonny Peralta are among the top players at their respective positions, Brennan Boesch has played well, and Al Alburquerque and his 1.74 FIP has been a big surprise, making the Tigers more than just a three-man show. And that’s to say nothing of the below-expectations-but-still-positive contribution from Max Scherzer. In other words, it took Detroit eight weeks to crack the top ten, but they may make themselves comfortable.

1. Boston: Last week – 1, WAR% – .656 (2), FAN% – .605 (1), TOTAL% – .627
Josh Beckett may not be better than he was last season, but Jacoby Ellsbury and David Ortiz certainly are, and that’s just fine with the Nation.

2. New York Yankees: Last week – 2, WAR% – .677 (1), FAN% – .580 (2), TOTAL% – .622
Unexpected wOBA star Curtis Granderson has been leading the Yankee offense, and has been a true triple threat, as he leads the team in UBR and is fourth among Yankee regulars in UZR.

3. Philadelphia: Last week – 3, WAR% – .578 (3), FAN% – .556 (3), TOTAL% – .566
Shane Victorino is marvelous, and was on fire last week, with hits in each of his first six games and multiple hits in five. So naturally he went hitless when I selected him in Pick Six yesterday (seriously, I can’t believe you’re not playing Pick Six yet).

4. Colorado: Last week – 7, WAR% – .529 (13), FAN% – .556 (3), TOTAL% – .544
Maybe Carson was right about Charlie Blackmon

5. Milwaukee: Last week – 5, WAR% – .568 (5), FAN% – .519 (9), TOTAL% – .541
Brandon Phillips has been good, but Rickie Weeks has been the best second baseman in the National League, and deserves to start in the game.

6. Tampa Bay: Last week – 8, WAR% – .535 (11), FAN% – .537 (5), TOTAL% – .536
True fact: Casey Kotchman’s 2011 wRC+ is almost equal to his wRC+ in his last two seasons combined.

7. St. Louis: Last week – 4, WAR% – .561 (6), FAN% – .512 (12), TOTAL% – .534
Lance Berkman has been a drag on the Cardinals defense, even with liberal defensive substitutions — he has been removed in the seventh, eighth or ninth in more than one-third of the games he has started. This could lead to some interesting tactical decisions when games and races get tight in the second half, though he now gets a temporary reprieve.

8. Texas: Last week – 6, WAR% – .544 (9), FAN% – .525 (7), TOTAL% – .533
It seems like only yesterday, the Rangers were overflowing with catching prospects. Now, 95% of their innings behind the plate are going to Mike Napoli and Yorvit Torrealba.

9. Detroit: Last week – 12, WAR% – .556 (7), FAN% – .512 (12), TOTAL% – .532
Justin Verlander is so hot right now — his worst WPA in his last five starts was .269 — that even the Human Torch is jealous.

10. San Francisco: Last week – 11, WAR% – .527 (14), FAN% – .519 (9), TOTAL% – .522
Manny Burriss got worried when he saw ‘Manny’ instead of ‘Emmanuel’ on the scoreboard this past weekend. His main concern should really be that it appears on a scoreboard in any form, as while he was once drawing comparisons with Elvis Andrus, he has yet to make good on the promise he showed in 2008.

11. Atlanta: Last week – 9, WAR% – .536 (10), FAN% – .506 (14), TOTAL% – .520
Jordan Schafer isn’t going to make anyone forget about Willie Mays, or even Willie Mays Hayes at the dish, but for a defense-starved Braves squad, he’s been a god-send.

12. Los Angeles of Anaheim: Last week – 13, WAR% – .547 (8), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .514
Tyler Chatwood has been the very definition of boom or bust this season, as he has allowed no more than one run in six starts and five or more runs in four. With Scott Kazmir now gone for good, the Halos will need more of the former.

13. Arizona: Last week – 15, WAR% – .574 (4), FAN% – .463 (25), TOTAL% – .513
Five of the nine most valuable position players in the NL have been outfielders, and that doesn’t even include Matt Holliday, who has missed out on some bulk due to injury. That sets up a scenario similar to last year, where a player could get left off the All-Star team, but end up an MVP candidate. Last year it was Carlos Gonzalez, this year it could be Justin Upton.

14. Cincinnati: Last week – 14, WAR% – .533 (12), FAN% – .494 (17), TOTAL% – .512
If you’re looking for a closer to sell high on, look no further than Francisco Cordero, who is currently sporting a .174 BABIP. Considering Coco’s BABIP has been between .294 and .316 every year since 2003, his regression to the mean could be imminent.

15. Chicago White Sox: Last week – 16, WAR% – .526 (15), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .505
After being the second-worst hitter in the Majors in wSL/C the past two years, Carlos Quentin seems to have figured out how to hit sliders, which could be one of the reasons why he is reprising his banner 2008 campaign.

16. Florida: Last week – 10, WAR% – .474 (t-19), FAN% – .525 (7), TOTAL% – .502
It’s too bad that the Marlins got their new ballpark approved. The Loria-“led” Marlins make me sad, but a Loria-less Santo Domingo Leones or Tigres, now that could be something. I mean, would they really draw less than the Marlins do? I say no.

17. Toronto: Last week – 18, WAR% – .513 (17), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .499
Toronto’s catching tandem of Jose Molina and J.P. Arencibia has quietly been very formidable, as the duo is cumulatively fifth-best at the position in wRC+ and is tied for tenth in WAR.

18. New York Mets: Last week – 17, WAR% – .473 (21), FAN% – .519 (9), TOTAL% – .498
There are currently 14 players who have walked more times than they have struck out this season (minimum 150 plate appearances), and thanks to his recent resurgence, Angel Pagan is now one of them.

19. Minnesota: Last week – 19, WAR% – .435 (28), FAN% – .537 (5), TOTAL% – .493
The Twins needed some sunshine in the worst way. How about Scott Baker recording his third-ever double digit strike out game, Francisco Liriano having a 2.20 ERA since April ended, Joe Mauer returning to action and a seven-game winning streak? Yup, that’ll do.

20. Cleveland: Last week – 21, WAR% – .525 (16), FAN% – .451 (27), TOTAL% – .483
Mama said there’d be days like this: After socking six homers in his first 18 games, Grady Sizemore has launched just one in his past 21.

21. Chicago Cubs: Last week – 23, WAR% – .443 (25), FAN% – .506 (14), TOTAL% – .479
Do you think that Jim Hendry is worried that Carlos Zambrano — as a hitter — has a higher WAR than Kosuke Fukudome? Oh right, Jim Hendry has never heard of WAR. But hey, as long as his job is safe, Cubs fans have nothing to worry about, right? Right?!?

22. Los Angeles Dodgers: Last week – 20, WAR% – .461 (22), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .475
Second base is a deep position these days, but that hasn’t stopped 37-year-old Jamey Carroll from being both a top-10 second baseman and one of the Dodgers’ few bright spots this season.

23. San Diego: Last week – 24, WAR% – .439 (27), FAN% – .494 (17), TOTAL% – .469
This week’s BABIP’er of the Week goes to Chase Headley, who clocks in with an utterly fantasticly ridiculous mark of .800. The same can’t be said for the Pads and their mounting losses, but with so many close losses they are not affected here. In fact, they moved up a spot.

24. Baltimore: Last week – 22, WAR% – .425 (29), FAN% – .500 (16), TOTAL% – .468
Adam Jones, start of Major League career through July 2010 — .24 BB/K. Since, it’s .29. It’s not much, but it’s an improvement.

25. Oakland: Last week – 25, WAR% – .448 (24), FAN% – .481 (23), TOTAL% – .467
I guess Brian Fuentes isn’t allergic to pitching outside of the ninth inning after all…

26. Washington: Last week – 27, WAR% – .476 (18), FAN% – .457 (26), TOTAL% – .465
Danny Espinosa has had “just enough” power, and while the homers might not last, the recently activated Ryan Zimmerman should pick up some of the slack.

27. Seattle: Last week – 26, WAR% – .452 (23), FAN% – .469 (24), TOTAL% – .462
If you combined the Mariners’ pitchers with the Royals’ position players, you would end up with a team whose WAR% of .590 would rank third overall. Conversely, if you combined the Mariners’ position players and the Royals’ pitchers, you would end up with a team whose WAR% of .342 would rank last by about ten (Edward) furlongs.

28. Kansas City: Last week – 29, WAR% – .474 (t-19), FAN% – .420 (29), TOTAL% – .444
Shake and bake, Golebiewski, ‘cause that just happened — last week’s leader in wOBA and wRC+ was none other than Alcides Escobar.

29. Pittsburgh: Last week – 28, WAR% – .440 (26), FAN% – .438 (28), TOTAL% – .439
Can the Pirates really not do better than Lyle Overbay at first base? He’s not even fielding well this year.

30. Houston: Last week – 30, WAR% – .414 (30), FAN% – .370 (30), TOTAL% – .390
Have you noticed all the work the Dave’s are putting in? Appelman just updated the menu bar, and Cameron turned out three articles today! The least you could do to say thank you is to buy a t-shirt. They don’t ask for much. Oh right, Astros…if you missed Maury Brown’s work on Jim Crane last week and its effect, please take a minute and catch up.



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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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Jason
Guest
Jason
5 years 2 months ago

If Upton doesn’t make the All-Star team when it’s in Arizona, where Right Field is named Uptown after him, then screw baseball altogether.
No RFer has close to the talent that he does, and he’s been very productive this year.

Luke
Guest
Luke
5 years 2 months ago

“No RFer has close to the talent that he does, and he’s been very productive this year.”

Ahem … there’s this Heyward guy down in Atlanta … I hear he’s pretty talented.

Jason
Guest
Jason
5 years 2 months ago

Pretty talented, sure. Upton was the 1st pick in arguably the best draft for hitters ever, and he’s proving his worth as a 23 year old stud.

Heyward will be good when he gets healthy, but he’s struggled when he’s played as well. Hopefully when he comes back there will be less pressure on him and he can just let his talent show.

sunking1056
Member
sunking1056
5 years 2 months ago

5.1 WAR last season as a 20 year old.

ddriver80
Guest
ddriver80
5 years 2 months ago

UPTON CANT HIT HOMERS OR WALK LIKE BAUUUUTISTA

prospectslol
Guest
prospectslol
5 years 2 months ago

re: cubs

Obviously something is wrong with WAR if Zambrano has a higher WAR with only 36PAs than a guy hitting 290/402/404/806 with a wRC+ of 124 in 234PAs.

prospectslol
Guest
prospectslol
5 years 2 months ago

while I’m on broken metrics, UZR is also terrible with Fukudome. bWAR and scouts plus my all seeing eye say Fukudome plays a strong defensive RF… yet UZR says he’s one of the worst.

ddriver80
Guest
ddriver80
5 years 2 months ago

About the whole Fukudome and Zambrano…

If you want to say “as a hitter” Go with batting runs… Don’t use WAR which is going to bring someone down.

1.1 Batting Runs for Zambrano
7.4 Batting Runs for Fukudome

FAIL

But as for prospectslol UZR is actually okay for corner OF, but those are about the only 2 positions its worthwhile at.

GrouchoM
Guest
GrouchoM
5 years 2 months ago

LOL

What an epic fail. God forbid Paul tosses a bouquet in the Cubs’ direction after taking 4 of 7 from two of the top five rated teams this past week. Maybe the fact that the Cubs are finally starting to get healthy again after a brutal two months has a little something to do with their record. Name me another team that can lose 3 of their top 4 OF and 3 of their starting pitchers and contend. Plus losing starting a 2B & C for a long period of time.

No no, just pretend that Hendry doesn’t know about a thousand times more about baseball than you will ever know. You’re a complete and utter moron if you don’t think Hendry doesn’t know every single metric you do. You write on a website that maybe 0.000001% of the population knows about so you must be smarter, right?

Llewdor
Member
Llewdor
5 years 2 months ago

It will be entertaining is Seattle somehow manages to lead their division (they’re currently 1/2 game back) while being ranked below #25 on these power rankings.

William
Guest
William
5 years 2 months ago

The gap between the top 2 and everyone else is pretty big.

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
5 years 2 months ago

I would agree if the top 2 were BOS and PHI. Then a dip, then NYY, then a big dip, then everyone else.

Jason
Guest
Jason
5 years 1 month ago

That dip from BOS to NYY has resulted in a 3 game lead in the loss column and the greatest run differential in baseball (by far). I hope the NYY don’t dip any further. BOS won’t have a chance!

gorillagogo
Member
gorillagogo
5 years 2 months ago

The methodology used for these rankings really seems wrongheaded. I understand the desire to try and quantify something, but when a sub-500 team is ranked 4th and the team with the 4th best record in all of baseball is ranked 20th, it should raise some red flags that the system you’re using has some serious flaws.

We’re roughly 40% of the way through the 2011 season, yet, if I understand correctly, reader polls from February or March are still accounting for over half of the team rankings. Don’t you think that 40% is a sizable enough chunk of the schedule to toss out what fans thought months ago, particularly when the polls are greatly at odds with how teams have performed so far on the field? Taking it one step further, doesn’t anyone think it’s useless to still be basing a third or a quarter of your ranking on preseason polls come late July or August?

MBD
Guest
MBD
5 years 2 months ago

If only there were a list of teams’ W-L records in the games played so far so that those teams playing better than expected (so far) could get some credit. We could call that list “Standings” and throw it up on every website and in every newspaper.

But seriously, this list is trying to do something different. If the standings are the only input, it’s not going to tell us anything new. If recent streaks are the only input, then it would be chasing noise and not doing anything different than ESPN.

If W-L records through late June are all we need to know which teams are the best, why should they play games for the next 3 months? Standings will change and will do it faster than these rankings, which are trying to take a season-long perspective instead of being distracted by every bad hop. The FAN% is an attempt to capture true talent; finding a better measure is a worthy goal, but simply dropping all efforts to judge whether a team is playing above its head and relying only on its record through 70 games is not an improvement.

And Cleveland, by the way, doesn’t have a solid grip on the 4th best record. There are 7 teams within a game of them (as of the start of play today), and the Indians have scored only 12 more runs than they have allowed. That’s an unsophisticated analysis, but it’s clear enough that they haven’t been beating the competition into dust and could easily fall back to earth. The Twins (ranked 19th) have made up at least 6 games on them this month.

RC
Guest
RC
5 years 2 months ago

“But seriously, this list is trying to do something different”

And what exactly is that? I’m certainly not seeing anything meaningful.

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
5 years 2 months ago

“The methodology used for these rankings really seems wrongheaded.”

Sincerely,

Everyone who wants to nitpick why their beloved team isn’t three slots higher and feels slighted, disrespected, or otherwise unloved.

Rob
Guest
Rob
5 years 2 months ago

I agree that the methodology needs a change. Good idea, but back to the drawing board, FanGraphs…

Sultan of Schwing
Guest
Sultan of Schwing
5 years 2 months ago

Re: Granderson

“..and is fourth among Yankee regulars in UZR”

Was that a backhanded compliment? I’m guessing it was. The only plus defenders on that team are Gardner and, arguably, Teixeira, so I don’t believe your indicating how Granderson is 4th best is in any way, shape or form a compliment.

WTC, Granderson is an average CFer.

J Hey
Guest
J Hey
5 years 2 months ago

As MBD mentioned, the Indians Pythag. record is 3-4 games below their actual record. They’re tied for 11th in MLB using Pythag. record.

Baseball takes more time than any other sport for luck to even out, which is why I think FG chose to give the projections this weight.

They said they are open for tweaks for next year though, and many have suggested factoring in injuries somehow if a player goes down for the whole year.

cs3
Member
cs3
5 years 2 months ago

if 13 teams moved up then uhhh…. that means either a lot of teams moved down, or several teams suffered some pretty catastrophic collapses.

quit trying to be so positive Mr Happy Pants

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