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FanGraphs Power Rankings – 6/6/11

The Indians started the season on fire, winning 20 of their first 28 ballgames. Right at that time, we debuted the FanGraphs Power Rankings, and the first edition had the Indians listed at 20th. People — mainly Indians fans — were outraged. Since that 20-8 start however, the Indians have gone just 13-16, and have been outscored by 26 runs in the process. They are still nine games above .500, but whereas in May it looked like they would run away with a mediocre AL Central, it now appears that they will have to fight for it. The seven-game lead that they had as late as May 23rd is now just 2 ½ games. Throughout this process, the Power Rankings have preached patience when it comes to the Indians. The team has not yet ranked higher than 18th, and this week drops back to 22nd. This is caused by the fact that their WAR% has dropped from 3rd to 15th in the past two weeks.

As the Indians have come back to the pack, their ranking seems less and less egregious. Concerns about their starting rotation remain well founded, as while Justin Masterson continues to pitch well, their starter’s FIP over the past 30 days is 4.45, which ranks 26th out of 30. It’s still possible that our system is underrating the Indians, and commenters that have pointed out that teams like the Twins — who have been decimated by injuries to the point where preseason predictions lose much of their value — may be on to something. But we think that the system has most teams pegged correctly than not. That doesn’t mean we don’t welcome critiques, as we certainly do. Please believe that we will be collecting constructive suggestions for tweaking our system as the season progresses and will reevaluate at season’s end, but for right now we will stay the course.

1. Boston: Last week – 1, WAR% – .603 (3), FAN% – .605 (1), TOTAL% – .604
While Dustin Pedroia’s power has been sapped this year, everything else is pretty much running on all cylinders for the Olde Towne Team, who are 16-6 since their fateful trip to the Bronx last month.

2. New York Yankees: Last week – 2, WAR% – .638 (2), FAN% – .580 (2), TOTAL% – .601
If you follow Mike Axisa on Twitter you end up learning more about the Yankees than you ever thought you could, like how bad the Yankees catchers have been lately. Russell Martin, Francisco Cervelli and Jorge Posada (he used to be a catcher, just go with it) were a combined 5-for-36 last week. Good thing Nick Swisher has flipped his power switch to on.

3. St. Louis: Last week – 4, WAR% – .641 (1), FAN% – .512 (12), TOTAL% – .561
Welcome back Albert Pujols! Sir Albert broke free in a big way this week, as he led the Majors in five homers and did it with a flair for the dramatic. He was the only player to top 1 WAR for the week and while he is still not at the top of the charts overall (t-36th in WAR among position players) it probably won’t be long until he is.

4. Philadelphia: Last week – 3, WAR% – .567 (6), FAN% – .556 (3), TOTAL% – .560
With Shane Victorino and Domonic Brown back and Raul Ibanez still a corpse, the Phillies may soon need to put Ibanez out to pasture and get a Ben Francisco-Victorino-Brown alignment, with John Mayberry — who has been more patient at the plate, faster on the bases, and better in the field than Ibanez — serving as the fourth outfielder.

5. Texas: Last week – 9, WAR% – .5773 (5), FAN% – .525 (7), TOTAL% – .544
Mitch Moreland has been on fire as of late, and is showing that his power stroke from last season may not be a fluke. But if you’re into fluky power, Elvis Andrus (.222 ISO, .667 SLG last week) and Endy Chavez (.286, .810) have you covered.

6. Colorado: Last week – 6, WAR% – .501 (18), FAN% – .556 (3), TOTAL% – .536
If you scan the Bsr/UBR leaderboard, you will see how revealing it can be, as only three of the players in the top 15 are in double digits in steals. One of the other 12 is Dexter Fowler, who ranks seventh at 2.6, despite being just 2-for-8 in stolen base attempts.

7. Milwaukee: Last week – 7, WAR% – .562 (8), FAN% – .519 (9), TOTAL% – .5343
Nyjer Morgan replaced Carlos Gomez in the lineup this week, and the Brewers lost none of the defense and gained a lot of offense, but the Brewers should beware the ides of BABIP — Morgan’s .465 BABIP (.429 last week) coupled with just a 4.5 BB% should temper enthusiasm a bit.

8. Tampa Bay: Last week – 5, WAR% – .528 (14), FAN% – .537 (5), TOTAL% – .5338
With Carson’s big unveiling this past week, we can finally confirm that Evan Longoria has been a top five NERD for the past two years. Which, frankly, is reassuring.

9. Florida: Last week – 8, WAR% – .535 (12), FAN% – .525 (7), TOTAL% – .528
Mike Stanton and Logan Morrison are fast becoming an incredible, young power tandem. Of all players under 25 with at least 100 plate appearances this season, Stanton (1st) and Morrison (6th) are the only teammates who appear in the top 10 in ISO.

10. San Francisco: Last week – 11, WAR% – .531 (13), FAN% – .519 (9), TOTAL% – .523
After a great week in which he ranked third in pitcher WAR, the second-best pitcher on the Giants is no longer the still-improving Matt Cain, but is rather 21-year-old phenom Madison Bumgarner.

11. Los Angeles of Anaheim: Last week – 10, WAR% – .5774 (4), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .521
The BABIP’er of the Week award goes to Bobby Abreu, who clocked in this week with a .786 BABIP, exactly 150 points higher than everyone else.

12. Atlanta: Last week – 13, WAR% – .542 (t-9), FAN% – .506 (14), TOTAL% – .520
Jair Jurrjens isn’t quite as good as his second-best in the Majors 1.75 ERA would have you believe, but his FIP (15th best), xFIP (30th best) and WAR (20th best) marks are all exemplary.

13. Cincinnati: Last week – 12, WAR% – .542 (t-9), FAN% – .494 (17), TOTAL% – .512
Bronson Arroyo has been more homerrific than usual this season, but he did get back on track this weekend, hurling his first homerless game in three weeks.

14. Detroit: Last week – 15, WAR% – .510 (17), FAN% – .512 (12), TOTAL% – .511
Miguel Cabrera may lose points for his defense and baserunning (he’s just one of four players in the top 20 in position player WAR with a negative Bsr/UBR), but his bat — his 173 wRC+ is fifth overall — is still MVP-caliber.

15. Toronto: Last week – 14, WAR% – .540 (11), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .507
Yunel Escobar was slightly better than Alex Gonzalez after their trade last year (1.0 WAR to 0.7), leaving room for the “bad attitude” argument. This year however, the 28-year old Escobar has widened the gap, as his 1.8 WAR easily trumps the 34-year old Gonzalez’s 1.1 mark.

16. Arizona: Last week – 18, WAR% – .566 (7), FAN% – .463 (25), TOTAL% – .501
Justin Upton and Kelly Johnson have not only been leading the D-backs offense (they ranked second and fourth in WAR for the week, respectively) but they have also given us a reason to recall this spectacular flop. That’s what you call a win-win.

17. Chicago White Sox: Last week – 19, WAR% – .515 (16), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .498
Ozzie Guillen is often underrated as a manager, but every now and then examples pop up to remind us that there is more to him than the bluster.

18. New York Mets: Last week – 17, WAR% – .445 (26), FAN% – .519 (9), TOTAL% – .492
The Mets are getting back to their patient ways this year. From 2007-2009, their hitters compiled a 9.0 BB% that tied for 11th in the Majors. Last year, those numbers slipped to 8.2% and tied for 18th, but in 2011 they have jumped to the top at 9.3 BB% and tied for fourth.

19. Chicago Cubs: Last week – 16, WAR% – .452 (25), FAN% – .506 (14), TOTAL% – .4872
On the other hand, you have the Cubs, whose 6.6% BB% is dead last in the Majors. Marlon Byrd, Darwin Barney, Starlin Castro and Alfonso Soriano represent four of the seven worst qualified players in BB%, as all four have a BB% of 3.2% or worse.

20. Minnesota: Last week – 21, WAR% – .396 (30), FAN% – .537 (5), TOTAL% – .4866
Yes, the Twins are still 30th in WAR%, but their WAR% actually jumped from 32 points from last week. If it wasn’t for an even bigger 42 point jump from the Astros, the Twins would have escaped the cellar.

21. Los Angeles Dodgers: Last week – 23, WAR% – .472 (19), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .482
Matt Kemp really, really likes Cincinnati. After going 7-for-11 there this weekend with three homers, Kemp now has a .343/.438/.676 line there, for a 1.114 OPS — all four of those marks represent career highs in a ballpark in which he has at least 100 at-bats.

22. Cleveland: Last week – 20, WAR% – .523 (15), FAN% – .451 (27), TOTAL% – .476
Shin-Soo Choo’s strange season continues. Much of the issue lies in BABIP, which by my calculation is 35 points lower than his xBABIP, but Choo has been much less patient at the plate — his BB/K is near career-low levels.

23. San Diego: Last week – 24, WAR% – .441 (27), FAN% – .494 (17), TOTAL% – .474
The Padres bullpen has accumulated more WAR than Padres starters have, and a result the Padres have two relievers who could be prime trade targets next month.

24. Oakland: Last week – 22, WAR% – .4573 (23), FAN% – .481 (23), TOTAL% – .473
Brett Anderson is a good pitcher, as his 3.49 xFIP clearly demonstrates, but with just three wins in 13 starts and a less-than-standout 1.33 WHIP and 6.59 K/9, he has not been a good traditional-league fantasy pitcher. And if his elbow pain is serious, he won’t be a good starter for anyone.

25. Baltimore: Last week – 25, WAR% – .412 (29), FAN% – .500 (16), TOTAL% – .469
Brian Matusz is back, and though his velocity was down significantly from where it normally is, Matusz acknowledged that and offered the caveat that he got faster as the game progressed. Still bears watching though.

26. Seattle: Last week – 26, WAR% – .462 (20), FAN% – .469 (24), TOTAL% – .467
Erik Bedard has not allowed more than three runs in any of his last eight starts, and while health concerns will always dog him, he could be attractive to a contender come the trade deadline.

27. Washington: Last week – 27, WAR% – .4568 (24), FAN% – .457 (26), TOTAL% – .457
Michael Morse had a May to remember, as his .403 AVG was second-best for the month and his .500 wOBA trailed only Jose Bautista and Matt Joyce. That it came with a 1.6 BB% and .442 BABIP means it is almost certainly a peak month that is not repeatable, but it was fun to watch nonetheless.

28. Pittsburgh: Last week – 28, WAR% – .4598 (22), FAN% – .438 (28), TOTAL% – .446
Buoyed by Charlie Morton’s rise, the Bucs’ pitching staff has accumulated more than half of its 2010 total pitching WAR with less than 40 percent of their season completed.

29. Kansas City: Last week – 29, WAR% – .4602 (21), FAN% – .420 (29), TOTAL% – .434
On the merit of his defense, Alcides Escobar could be the first Royals shortstop to win a Gold Glove. But players usually hit their way to a Gold Glove, and right now, Escobar is having as much trouble hitting as Lindsay Lohan has with sobriety.

30. Houston: Last week – 30, WAR% – .424 (28), FAN% – .370 (30), TOTAL% – .390
Who would have thought that two months into the season, Clint Barmes would have a higher OBP than his former teammate and fellow shortstop Troy Tulowitzki?