FanGraphs Power Rankings – 7/18/11

In the Power Rankings’ third week, the Texas Rangers’ TOTAL % had dipped to .511, and their rank was a middle-of-the-pack 15th. In other words, they were starting to look like a one-and-doner, a team that might get branded for being lucky that Joe Girardi forgot how to manage his bullpen for a few days last October. Since then, they have turned it around in a big way, particularly in the past four weeks. They have currently logged 11 straight wins, and after a pivotal three-game set this week with the Angels, the schedule gets awfully easy for the Rangers. For nearly a month — July 22 to August 14 — they don’t play one team currently residing in the top half of the rankings. Aside from a series with the Yankees, the Angels path doesn’t appear to be much more difficult in terms of where teams are in the rankings, but the Rangers — who own the best home record in the American League — will play 14 of the 22 games at home. The Angels meanwhile, will have to play 16 of their 22 on the road, and all 16 will be played in the eastern time zone. The Rangers, with a .608 WAR% and a .574 TOTAL%, have pulled away from the AL West competition in the rankings, and during this upcoming stretch, they have an opportunity to run away and hide from the Angels and the rest of the west in the standings as well. (As always click here to check out the methodology behind the rankings.)

1. Boston: Last week – 1, WAR% – .673 (1), FAN% – .605 (1), TOTAL% – .644
The AL Most Valuable Player talk that we distracted ourselves with over the All-Star break proved to be a bit premature when Adrian Gonzalez slumped coming out of the break. Gonzalez would not be the AL MVP right now, because at the moment he’s not even the most valuable player on his own team, according to WAR.

2. New York Yankees: Last week – 2, WAR% – .658 (2), FAN% – .580 (2), TOTAL% – .624
Bradley Woodrum said it as succinctly as possible: Russell Martin needs a parachute.

3. Philadelphia: Last week – 3, WAR% – .602 (4), FAN% – .556 (3), TOTAL% – .583
In looking at the new K% and BB% for pitchers leaderboard, you can see that both Roy Halladay and Clayton Kershaw have struck out more than 21% more batters than they have walked. No other qualified starter reaches 20 percent.

4. Texas: Last week – 4, WAR% – .608 (3), FAN% – .525 (7), TOTAL% – .574
With Dave Cameron’s 2011 Trade Value series in the books, one thing that jumped out at me is that the Rangers are the only team who has both members of its double play combo on the list — Elvis Andrus ranks 47th and Ian Kinsler 30th.

5. Milwaukee: Last week – 5, WAR% – .571 (7), FAN% – .519 (9), TOTAL% – .550
While one of the two reasons to keep Francisco Rodriguez as the Brewers’ set-up man vanished when he agreed to eliminate his vesting option on Friday, the Brewers seem to be sticking with John Axford as closer, as he saved both of the Crew’s wins over the weekend.

6. San Francisco: Last week – 7, WAR% – .568 (9), FAN% – .519 (9), TOTAL% – .548
Whether on or off the field, Brian Wilson makes some very interesting, yet calculated choices — choices that should keep him in our lives well past the expiration date of your average closer.

7. St. Louis: Last week – 6, WAR% – .569 (8), FAN% – .512 (12), TOTAL% – .546
Who hits their respective ball harder — Albert Pujols with his bat, or Abby Wambach with her head? I don’t know, but I do know I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of either.

8. Los Angeles of Anaheim: Last week – 9, WAR% – .584 (5), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .545
Scott Downs came out of the gate slow, but since he has been among the best of the group of relievers who signed multi-year deals this past winter.

9. Colorado: Last week – 11, WAR% – .534 (13), FAN% – .556 (3), TOTAL% – .543
First base is so crowded with stars these days that it’s easy to overlook the 37-year old Todd Helton, but the Rockies’ elder statesmen has defied logic with yet another comeback season. His UZR of 4.4 ranks third among first baseman and his .387 wOBA ranks sixth best among first baseman, ahead of more visible stars like Albert Pujols, Mark Teixeira and Ryan Howard.

10. Atlanta: Last week – 10, WAR% – .561 (t-10), FAN% – .506 (14), TOTAL% – .538
Martin Prado has dropped his strikeout percentage to a full-season career low, which makes his return to the free-swinging Braves — who rank 28th in strikeout percentage — that much more pivotal.

11. Tampa Bay: Last week – 8, WAR% – .537 (12), FAN% – .537 (5), TOTAL% – .537
The Rays are certainly not going away, but during last night’s offensive effort — the Rays became the first team to be held to three or fewer hits in a game of 16 innings or more (dating back to 1919) — the Rays displayed “warning track” power more times than Bart Simpson has excuses not to take tests, and that’s not getting it done.

12. Cincinnati: Last week – 12, WAR% – .561 (t-10), FAN% – .494 (17), TOTAL% – .533
This past week’s BABIP’er of the Week was Drew Stubbs, who clocked in with a .833 BABIP during the shortened week of play.

13. Arizona: Last week – 14, WAR% – .576 (6), FAN% – .463 (25), TOTAL% – .529
It’s great that Brandon Allen is getting his shot, but now instead of getting to see Wily Mo Pena play the Jason Giambi pinch-hitter extraordinaire role, D-backs fans will have to watch the amazing quartet of Willie Bloomquist, Xavier Nady, Sean Burroughs and Geoff Blum in those situations. The quartet collectively has totaled as many homers this season in 406 plate appearances as Pena did in 46.

14. New York Mets: Last week – 15, WAR% – .5286 (16), FAN% – .519 (9), TOTAL% – .524
The Mets — who have to date outplayed their seemingly-high-at-the-start-of-the-season FAN% — seem to have alligator blood, and it is partially thanks to the quiet work of Jonathan Niese, whose 3.32 xFIP ranks 18th in the Majors among qualified starters.

15. Florida: Last week – 17, WAR% – .521 (18), FAN% – .525 (7), TOTAL% – .522
David G. was all over Javier Vazquez’s return to form earlier this week, and then Vazquez went out and struck out a season-high 10 this weekend to drive the point home that he still has a lil’ somethin’ somethin’ left in the tank.

16. Detroit: Last week – 13, WAR% – .523 (17), FAN% – .512 (12), TOTAL% – .519
A 26-year old, 15th-round draft pick that puts up above average numbers at the plate and at all three outfield positions, Casper Wells exemplifies the kind of unheralded but solid player that can save a team from wasting time and money on retreads like Bill Hall or Ryan Langerhans.

17. Chicago White Sox: Last week – 16, WAR% – .530 (14), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .513
Will Ohman has been great for the White Sox this year. He has the best K/BB marks of any reliever with more than five innings pitched on the team, and he has been death against lefties.

18. Toronto: Last week – 18, WAR% – .5287 (15), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .512
Though he could stand to draw a couple more walks, Travis Snider has been relevatory since his recall to the Jays. His 192 wRC+ in July is second on the team only to you know who.

19. Los Angeles Dodgers: Last week – 19, WAR% – .512 (19), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .502
Matt Kemp is among a handful within hailing distance of a 30-30 season, but with 24 homers and 27 steals already, a 40-40 season is also in play for Kemp. If he gets it, will Jay-Z build a 40/40 club in LA? If not, Kemp at least gets a free 40/40 Club Flight Jacket, right?

20. Chicago Cubs: Last week – 20, WAR% – .474 (21), FAN% – .506 (14), TOTAL% – .487
The Cubs say they take pride in their outfield defense, but while their outfield ranks a healthy 11th in ARM, it also ranks 23rd in RngR, 18th in ErrR, 22nd in overall UZR and 26th in DRS. Maybe they should take a little more pride in it.

21. San Diego: Last week – 22, WAR% – .471 (25), FAN% – .494 (17), TOTAL% – .481
Since his disastrous outing on May 14 in Colorado, Aaron Harang has allowed just 8 runs in 46 2/3 innings. In fact, if you subtract that start and his April 26 outing against Atlanta, Harang has a miniscule 2.20 RA, and though Harang would probably prefer to stay in his native San Diego, he could be an intriguing get for a contender as the trade deadline approaches.

22. Cleveland: Last week – 21, WAR% – .501 (20), FAN% – .451 (27), TOTAL% – .480
Michael Brantley has gotten back to his slightly above-average ways at the dish in July, which is a welcome sight for the Tribe given Grady Sizemore’s latest injury.

23. Washington: Last week – 24, WAR% – .488 (21), FAN% – .457 (26), TOTAL% – .475
The Nationals’ bright future was on display in the Trade Value list, as the Nats tied the Red Sox and Rays for most players on the list with four.

24. Minnesota: Last week – 23, WAR% – .428 (29), FAN% – .537 (5), TOTAL% – .474
A Twins fan might have initially panicked upon seeing the words “Scott Baker” and “disabled list” in the same sentence, but with the move retroactive to before the All-Star break it could be a minor stroke of genius — Baker may only skip one more start, but the Twins also got to call up a pitcher for their doubleheader today without sending anyone down.

25. Oakland: Last week – 29, WAR% – .450 (26), FAN% – .481 (23), TOTAL% – .463
Any day that MC Hammer takes time to make a stirring case stumping for Charlie Finley to be inducted into the Hall of Fame is a day that…can’t be touched.

26. Pittsburgh: Last week – 25, WAR% – .4796 (23), FAN% – .438 (28), TOTAL% – .462
With series to close out the month against the 12th, seventh, 10th and third best teams in the rankings, we are about to find out if the Pirates are contenders or pretenders.

27. Baltimore: Last week – 27, WAR% – .423 (30), FAN% – .500 (16), TOTAL% – .456
Nick Markakis is still on fire. He was the tied for the third-best position player this past week, a week in which he surpassed 1,000 career hits and homered in back-to-back games, helping the O’s break temporarily out of the doldrums.

28. Kansas City: Last week – 28, WAR% – .4797 (22), FAN% – .420 (29), TOTAL% – .455
Doesn’t “Return of the Melk-Man” sound like some cheesy 90’s action movie starring Wesley Snipes as the hero, William Hurt as the brainy villain and Nick Nolte as the down on his luck friend that comes through with a key piece of wisdom that helps Snipes save the day? Ok, maybe not, but either way, Melky Cabrera has turned things around significantly in his age-26 season.

29. Seattle: Last week – 26, WAR% – .433 (27), FAN% – .469 (24), TOTAL% – .448
If you’re like me, you noticed how bad the Mariners’ offense has been lately, and started Derek Holland, C.J. Wilson and Matt Harrison in their matchups with the M’s this past week in Pick Six. What? Don’t tell me you’re still not playing Pick Six!

30. Houston: Last week – 30, WAR% – .432 (28), FAN% – .370 (30), TOTAL% – .407
The Astros were one of five teams — the others being the Mets, Padres, Royals and Twins — without a representative on the Trade Value list.

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Paul Swydan is the managing editor of The Hardball Times and a writer and editor for FanGraphs. He has written for the Boston Globe, ESPN MLB Insider and ESPN the Magazine, among others. Follow him on Twitter @Swydan.

36 Responses to “FanGraphs Power Rankings – 7/18/11”

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  1. Anon21 says:

    I still think it’s hilarious that the fans’ pre-season faith in the Rox has kept them treading water ahead of the Braves. By any objective measure, Atlanta has not just the superior, but the vastly superior team.

    At some point, don’t you need to go ahead and say, “Ok, so when the fans pegged the Cubs and the Braves for the same record, they were really far off the mark?” Maybe do a second set of fan rankings based on over half a season’s worth of information?

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    • GiantHusker says:

      You are consistently more wrong than any other commenter on this site. The Red Sox are first in WAR, the Braves tied for 10th.
      The Braves are inferior, not superior, by any objective measure, not just fan rankings.

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  2. Tom B says:

    This is the first rankings post so far this season that has Boston’s WAR% higher than the Yankees.

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  3. Thomas says:

    I did some power rankings by ranking teams on WAR%, winning percentage against teams above .500, an average of SOS and expected winning percentage, and winning percentage and averaged them all out in one stat, i gave each of the stat’s weights, like since WAR% is the most important, it’s worth 40%, average of SOS and expected winning percentage is worth 30%, winning percentage against teams >.500 is 20%, and winning percentage is 10%, these are the rankings

    1 Boston Red Sox
    2 New York Yankees
    3 Texas Rangers
    4 Philadelphia Phillies
    5 Atlanta Braves
    6 Los Angeles Angels
    7 San Francisco Giants
    8 Arizona Diamondbacks
    9 Milwaukee Brewers
    10 St. Louis Cardinals
    11 Cincinnati Reds
    12 New York Mets
    13 Chicago White Sox
    14 Tampa Bay Rays
    15 Toronto Blue Jays
    16 Colorado Rockies
    17 Cleveland Indians
    18 Detroit Tigers
    19 Pittsburgh Pirates
    20 Florida Marlins
    21 Washington Nationals
    22 Los Angeles Dodgers
    23 San Diego Padres
    24 Oakland Athletics
    25 Kansas City Royals
    26 Chicago Cubs
    27 Seattle Mariners
    28 Minnesota Twins
    29 Baltimore Orioles
    30 Houston Astros

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    • Jerome S. says:

      That seems pretty fair. Surprised Texas has joined Philly, NY, Boston and Atl at the clear top of the pack considering how much those four has separated themselves from the rest, but I can’t complain. They’ve been on a tear.

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    • Thomas says:

      actually, minor change, the Giants are 5th the braves are 6th, the Angels are 7th, just a copying error

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    • Paul Swydan says:

      thanks for this. i think it is worth exploring adding strength of schedule in next season. it will at the very least be up for discussion. or maybe we’ll get lucky and the schedule will magically be balanced next year! (ha)

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  4. Person says:

    Can’t I get through one baseball post or thread without a mention of women’s soccer? One?!

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  5. DavidB says:

    “Roy Halladay and Clayton Kershaw have struck out more than 21% more batters than they have walked”

    I know where you got 21% from, but your wording made it sound like they have K/BB ratios around 1.21 (in other words they pitch about as well as Wade Davis).

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    • Max says:

      Yes, this confused me as well. I think that is what the words that you wrote mean, but clearly that is not what you meant to say.

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    • MikeS says:

      Yeah, that isn’t worded well at all. You’d kinda expect stats guys to know the difference betweenn relative and absolute changes.

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    • Paul Swydan says:

      agreed. i went back and forth on the wording three or four times, and couldn’t get it the way i wanted it, so i threw up my hands and moved on. thanks for discerning the point from my garbled jargon anyway!

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    • Jason B says:

      I was about to point out the same – their K% is not 21% higher than their BB%. (When i read that I thought, “gee that doesn’t sound very impressive!”) Kershaw’s K% is 416% higher than his BB% (28.3% to 6.8%), and Doc’s is a remarkable 765% higher (23.7% vs. 3.1%).

      But we can cut you some slack – it gets hard to come up with something to say in passing about every damn team, every damn week. :)

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  6. Steven Snell says:

    How in the HECK are the Yanks not number one? I mean in what universe could any team ever be better than the yankees?! They got enough WS rings to put on all their fingers and toes and yous put the SOX ahead of em!

    Apparently baseball history and gamesmanship mean nothing to you and you make me sick man! And how dare you insult Russ Martin. He’s better than you’ll ever be because everyday he suits up in the pinstripes and gives it 110% just like a true yankee!

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    • Thomas says:

      because the Sox are better this season, maybe that’s why. and it’s totally statistical, so they don’t just say oh I think the Yankees should be #1 because they won a lot of world series’ a bunch of years ago. Thy put it how the numbers say it

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    • Kevin S. says:

      Obvious troll is obvious.

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    • Richard says:

      Because herp, and derp, and durrrrrrr.

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    • jim says:

      this isn’t even a sitcom character name (or if it is, it’s not a well-enough known one to be effective.)

      not even a good troll post, you suck

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  7. elooie says:

    What if I came here to see Colorado to overrated?

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  8. Brian says:

    Atlanta always seems low in these.

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    • Anon21 says:

      Yeah, because the fans pegged them as a .506 club before the season. Can’t call ’em all.

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  9. Durp-A-Durrrrrrrrrrrrrr says:

    ZOMG Cleveland Indians #22 for reals??? They are the bestest!!!!!!!!!!!!! you all will see and pay dearly after you see and pay, dearly!¡!¡!¡!¡!¡!

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  10. Candlestick Parker says:

    If the output is that the Rockies are one of the 10 best teams in MLB, don’t you think it might be time to check the quality of your input?

    Seriously, I’m glad you don’t have them at number 5 anymore, but this is still WAY too high.

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    • Ari Collins says:

      The combination of WAR% and FAN% says that the Rockies are, respectively, better than their straight W-L record and more talented than they’ve shown so far. It would not be surprising at all to see them go on a pretty good run, though it might be too late to catch the Giants.

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      • Jason says:

        It is easier to say the Rockies are underperforming or unlucky than to admit to being wrong.

        Keith Law has observed this – but I think FG’s, the fans, and a lot of national media fell in love with the Rox becuase 1-5 they are as talented as any team in baseball. 6-25 is pretty weak.

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  11. Kirkwood says:

    I would gladly be on the receiving end of anything Abby Wambach would give to me.

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  12. Michael says:

    The fifth worst team in all of baseball is leading its division–that’s so awesome. You gotta love baseball. You gotta root for the Bucs.

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  13. matt w says:

    Fun Willie Bloomquist fact: He’s been in the league 10 years, and his entire career value came in 38 PAs as a September callup in 2002.

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