FanGraphs Power Rankings – 7/25/11

This past week may have represented the eye of the cyclone. No team moved more than nine percentage points in TOTAL% from where they were last week or more than two spots in the rankings. It was nice that nothing too major happened in the Majors this past week, as we here at FanGraphs all had the wind knocked out of us when we learned that Dave Cameron was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. We are all very hopeful that Dave is going to beat this, but if you wouldn’t mind taking a minute out of your day to say a prayer for him or wish him luck as he embarks on this new journey, we here at FanGraphs would all greatly appreciate it.

(As always click here to check out the methodology behind the Power Rankings.)

1. Boston: Last week – 1, WAR% – .673 (1), FAN% – .605 (1), TOTAL% – .646
Depending on what type of player you feel qualifies for the award, Jacoby Ellsbury may or may not be the American League Comeback Player of the Year, but he definitely does embody the spirit of Massachusetts.

2. New York Yankees: Last week – 2, WAR% – .661 (2), FAN% – .580 (2), TOTAL% – .629
The Yankees level of needs are on a different plain than most teams, but despite the fact that their rotation is ninth overall in WAR, much of that either comes from CC Sabathia or potentially unreliable veterans. As such, it would behoove the Yanks to make a move this week to bolster their staff.

3. Philadelphia: Last week – 3, WAR% – .606 (4), FAN% – .556 (3), TOTAL% – .587
Don’t look now, but Chase Utley is really starting to heat up. His 0.7 WAR last week was tied for fourth-best among position players, he has a 155 wRC+ in July, and his 142 wRC+ for the season would be his third-highest single-season total if he can maintain it.

4. Texas: Last week – 4, WAR% – .611 (3), FAN% – .525 (7), TOTAL% – .579
I like walk-offs, especially when they’re preceded by suicide squeeze bunts that score lumbering catchers to tie the game. Kind of like this one.

5. St. Louis: Last week – 7, WAR% – .5760 (6), FAN% – .512 (12), TOTAL% – .552
The Cardinals seem to be linked in trades that would net them pitching, but perhaps they should also feel the need for speed as well — this season the Cards haven’t run often (27th in stolen base attempts with 61) or well (28th in stolen base percentage at 59.02%).

6. San Francisco: Last week – 6, WAR% – .566 (8), FAN% – .519 (9), TOTAL% – .549
The Giants are one of just six teams — the A’s, Braves, Phillies, Mariners and White Sox being the others — that has a higher pitching WAR than position player WAR.

7. Milwaukee: Last week – 5, WAR% – .565 (9), FAN% – .519 (9), TOTAL% – .548
His 4.82 ERA paints the picture of a pitcher who is struggling, but Zack Greinke’s 2.16 xFIP is the best of anyone with at least 80 innings pitched this season. And it’s not close.

8. Los Angeles of Anaheim: Last week – 8, WAR% – .5761 (5), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .543
One of the many discoveries in Matt Swartz’s excellent five-part series on New SIERA last week was that high-strikeout pitchers like Jered Weaver end up with lower BABIP’s than their low-strikeout brethren.

9. Colorado: Last week – 9, WAR% – .534 (14), FAN% – .556 (3), TOTAL% – .542
I thought that this week I’d save you some time. Feel free to copy/paste this into the comments below — “Man, I can’t believe the _______ Rockies are ranked so high in these rankings. How in the world are they better than ______? Especially now that Carlos Gonzalez is on the disabled list! FanGraphs is turning into ________!”

10. Tampa Bay: Last week – 11, WAR% – .538 (12), FAN% – .537 (5), TOTAL% – .538
Finally! Desmond Jennings, hurrah!!!

11. Atlanta: Last week – 10, WAR% – .552 (11), FAN% – .506 (14), TOTAL% – .535
It’s scary to think that the Braves’ farm system is so loaded that a guy like Craig Kimbrel was only their fifth-best prospect heading into the season, and a guy like Brandon Beachy didn’t even crack the top 10.

12. Arizona: Last week – 13, WAR% – .573 (7), FAN% – .463 (25), TOTAL% – .5323
After allowing one run to the Indians in his first game after J.J. Putz went on the disabled list, David Hernandez has rattled off nine scoreless appearances, in which he has struck out 10 batters and walked just one. David, sit tight, the Official Closer Welcoming Committee will be paying you a visit shortly to bestow you with a gift basket that includes a capital “C” to sew on your jersey and a two-month supply of “closer shine” cream.

13. Cincinnati: Last week – 12, WAR% – .555 (10), FAN% – .494 (17), TOTAL% – .5321
Over the past 30 days, Bronson Arroyo has “accumulated” -0.7 WAR, the worst of any pitcher in the Majors. Bronson, please get to the bathroom and use a little bit of soap to wash off that stank.

14. Detroit: Last week – 16, WAR% – .535 (13), FAN% – .512 (12), TOTAL% – .527
No one hits changeups like the Detroit Tigers, as their wCH/C of 1.55 leads the league by a country mile — the next best team is the Rockies at 1.08. Wasn’t hitting the changeup listed on the Ron Swanson Pyramid of Greatness?

15. Florida: Last week – 15, WAR% – .522 (18), FAN% – .525 (7), TOTAL% – .523
The great thing about Emilio Bonifacio’s hitting streak is that his plate discipline has been better during it. During the streak, he has walked 15 times and only struck out 18 times, compared with 23 walks and 52 strike outs before it began.

16. New York Mets: Last week – 14, WAR% – .523 (17), FAN% – .519 (9), TOTAL% – .521
David Wright was back in action over the weekend, and got back to the business of churning out hits, going 6-for-14 with three doubles with a very nice .824 WPA in his first three games back, including a game-high .493 yesterday.

17. Toronto: Last week – 18, WAR% – .531 (15), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .515
Ricky Romero has lowered his SIERA in each of the two seasons following his rookie season. It is currently a healthy 3.60, a mark that is tied for 39th best in the game among qualified pitchers. If the 26-year old keeps improving, it will soon be imperative to mention him when discussing the game’s elite pitchers.

18. Chicago White Sox: Last week – 17, WAR% – .524 (16), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .510
If the White Sox acquire Colby Rasmus as has been rumored, would that make Alex Rios and Juan Pierre platoon partners? And if it did, would they form the most expensive platoon in Major League history?

19. Los Angeles Dodgers: Last week – 19, WAR% – .511 (19), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .502
In National League games, pitchers are called on to run the bases much more frequently, be it as hitters or as pinch-runners. No teams really do it all that well however. Across the past three seasons, the Dodgers have the best baserunning pitchers in the NL, yet they their cumulative Bsr is negative (-1.5).

20. Chicago Cubs: Last week – 20, WAR% – .48199 (22), FAN% – .506 (14), TOTAL% – .491
Not too many pitchers can start throwing their fastball 18-20 percent less than normal and still manage to turn in a career year, but that is exactly what Matt Garza is doing.

21. San Diego: Last week – 21, WAR% – .480 (24), FAN% – .494 (17), TOTAL% – .485
Congrats are in order for Cameron Maybin, who at a healthy .619, was this past week’s BABIP’er of the Week. Not one to rest on his laurels, Maybin also swiped eight bags once on base, a mark that was also tops for the week.

22. Washington: Last week – 23, WAR% – .492 (21), FAN% – .457 (26), TOTAL% – .479
The Kimbrel-Jonny Venters duo in Atlanta and Mike Adams-Heath Bell duo have been generally accepted as the two best bullpen duos this season, but Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen deserve to be mentioned with them, as the pair has more 2011 shutdowns combined than do Adams and Bell.

23. Cleveland: Last week – 22, WAR% – .495 (20), FAN% – .451 (27), TOTAL% – .478
If I am sure of anything, it’s that the Indians need a better ISO from their right fielder than the .099 they’re getting from Austin Kearns, so either Shin-Soo Choo needs to come back post-haste or the Indians need to trade for a right fielder, like pronto.

24. Minnesota: Last week – 24, WAR% – .426 (29), FAN% – .537 (5), TOTAL% – .468
A day that seemed like it would never come finally did on Sunday. Congratulations to Bert Blyleven (as well as Roberto Alomar and Pat Gillick) on his induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

25. Oakland: Last week – 25, WAR% – .453 (26), FAN% – .481 (23), TOTAL% – .464
Along with the Reds, Red Sox and Royals, the A’s are one of four teams who only have two pitchers who have thrown more than 100 innings so far this season.

26. Kansas City: Last week – 28, WAR% – .48197 (23), FAN% – .420 (29), TOTAL% – .459
Joakim Soria’s effort on Saturday night, where he wiggled out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam, was his highest WPA for a single outing since August 13, 2009, and the ninth-highest WPA in a single outing in his career.

27. Pittsburgh: Last week – 26, WAR% – .462 (25), FAN% – .438 (28), TOTAL% – .453
A while back, I noted that Lyle Overbay has been having a less than stellar season. This past week, Jack Moore presented a solution to that problem — Pedro Alvarez.

28. Seattle: Last week – 29, WAR% – .437 (27), FAN% – .469 (24), TOTAL% – .449
Kind of like Justin Timberlake, it’s hard to find something that Dustin Ackley isn’t doing well right now. But unlike Timberlake, Ackley didn’t get to do this.

29. Baltimore: Last week – 27, WAR% – .415 (30), FAN% – .500 (16), TOTAL% – .448
Three of the Orioles prized pitchers — Zach Britton, Brian Matusz and Chris Tillman — have all been demoted this season. While Matusz pitched poorly, it was only a 25-inning sample, and Britton (99 FIP-) and Tillman (90 FIP-) pitched well enough that their demotions weren’t really warranted. Britton and Tillman are expected back for a doubleheader at the end of the week, and hopefully the Orioles show a bit more patience with them this time around.

30. Houston: Last week – 30, WAR% – .431 (28), FAN% – .370 (30), TOTAL% – .408
Hopefully, I wasn’t the only one who got giddy when Eno compared Jose Altuve to Bip Roberts.

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Paul Swydan is the managing editor of The Hardball Times, a writer and editor for FanGraphs and a writer for the Boston Globe. Follow him on Twitter @Swydan.

27 Responses to “FanGraphs Power Rankings – 7/25/11”

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  1. CircleChange11 says:

    Zack Greinke is an interesting situation this year. You mention Weaver and the high K’s and lower BABIP … but ZG doesn’t fit that pattern. His career BABIP is higher than average.

    This year he’s given up home runs like crazy, to the tune of 1.34 per 9. In 2009, when sabermetrics fell in love with Greinke his rate was 0.43. ERA follows home runs allowed rather well (unless you’re Curt Schilling and only give up solo home runs).

    His HRA rate and LOB% are likely related. He’s striking out a TON of batters and walking VERY few. Makes me wonder if he tunes in and out of the game, or gets into patterns where he just goes through the motions or something.

    It’s also possible that it’s just poor luck on the HR/FB rate.

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    • MGD says:

      It’s quite a small sample, but I watched a couple innings when Greinke pitched against Minnesota on July 3. One inning, he struck out Joe Mauer with some nasty stuff, including, I think, a slider painting the outside lower corner for strike 3, looking. Impressive. Then he proceeded to give up a few baserunners and threw a terrible pitch up in the zone that Tosoni (!) jacked for a home run.

      So, maybe he does zone out a little. I hate to conjecture too much, but he’s had some anxiety issues in the past, no? Maybe attention is a problem too.

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    • Steve C says:

      That could have something to do with the terrible defense behind him.

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  2. Mark says:

    Man, I can’t believe the dod-derned Rockies are ranked so high in these rankings. How in the world are they better than anyone? Especially now that Carlos Gonzalez is on the disabled list! FanGraphs is turning into Mad-Libs!

    +8 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • TheGrandSlamwich says:

      I’m confused about this as well. A team with a negative run differential this late in the season, and that far behind in the standings shouldn’t be rated so high this late in the season.

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      • jim says:

        just for you, from the original post:

        “In an effort to make this quantitative (that’s what we do around here, after all), we’re combining objective measures of 2011 performance with some subjective wisdom from our FanGraphs crowd. To this end, we’ve created a weighted system based on three factors — a WAR-based 2011 winning percentage (essentially, WAR/G shown as a winning percentage, or WAR% for short); the preseason Fan’s Standings determined from readership input ( which we’ll call FAN% for short); and the number of games each team has played. The two winning percentages are combined to create TOTAL%, on which the Power Rankings are based.”

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      • TheGrandSlamwich says:

        Thanks Jim, but in previous rankings’ comments I believe it was noted to also supposed to weight WAR% higher as the season goes on, and FAN% lower. Even if it is an impartial metric, I have difficulty justifying the Rockies being better than the Braves (and a few others) in any manner.

        The commentary on the rockies hit it on the nose though!

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      • Romodonkulous says:

        If the Rockies STILL being ranked top-10, is in any way indicative of the effectiveness of the “weighted” systems that dominate most advanced statistics…I think it’s fair to say, it might be time to re-evaluate the merit of specific “weighted” factors.

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  3. Joshsaysgomo says:

    No BABIPer of the week?

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  4. Resolution says:

    Man, I can’t believe the stupidface Rockies are ranked so high in these rankings. How in the world are they better than no one at all despite having a roster that perpetually makes me and many others believe otherwise? Especially now that Carlos Gonzalez is on the disabled list! FanGraphs is turning into HeltonGraphs!”

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  5. Yirmiyahu says:

    How are the Indians not #1????

    Oh, wait. Turns out the FanGraphs Power Rankings may have gotten it right.

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  6. Chris Iannetta says:

    “Man, I can’t believe the _______ Rockies are ranked so high in these rankings. How in the world are they better than ______? Especially now that Jose Morales is on the disabled list! FanGraphs is turning into ________!”

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  7. statliners says:

    Did Sony pay you to bring up Justin Timberlake? Not sure what he has to do with anything. Ackley has been doing alright (for a lowly Mariner).

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  8. J-Hey says:

    I think the rankings would be better if the FAN% was totally eliminated by now.

    The Rockies would then be 14, the Indians 20, and the Pirates 25.

    Those are a little less extreme, and would still be very different than most Power Rankings.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  9. Eminor3rd says:

    Man, I can’t believe the astounding Rockies are ranked so high in these rankings. How in the world are they better than chicken soup? Especially now that Carlos Gonzalez is on the disabled list! FanGraphs is turning into church!

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  10. Aaron says:

    Man, I can’t believe the Colorado Rockies are ranked so high in these rankings. How in the world are they better than the Sierra Nevada? Especially now that Carlos Gonzalez is on the disabled list! FanGraphs is turning into GeologyGraphs!

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  11. Fat Spiderman says:

    Man, I can’t believe the stinky Rockies are ranked so high in these rankings. How in the world are they better than poop? Especially now that Carlos Gonzalez is on the disabled list! FanGraphs is turning into wieners!

    It was supposed to be a Mad Lib, right?

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  12. Justin time says:

    Man, I can’t believe the blasted Rockies are ranked so high in these rankings. How in the world are they better than anyone? Especially now that Carlos Gonzalez is on the disabled list! FanGraphs is turning into crap!

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  13. Mitch says:

    Zach Britton was sent down for the sole purpose of managing his service time and innings pitched. This probably should have been done in April, but that’s the Orioles.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  14. MikeS says:

    I think the plan is to platoon Rios and Dunn which would certainly be the most expensive -2.7 WAR platoon in history.

    After all, can’t take PA away from Pierre.

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  15. everdiso says:

    I’m going to out on a limb and say that the FANS will once again predict Baltimore to finish ahead of Toronto next year, like they do every single year.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  16. Dan Hudson says:

    Man, I can’t believe the flamboyant Rockies are ranked so high in these rankings. How in the world are they better than N’Sync? Especially now that Carlos Gonzalez is on the disabled list! FanGraphs is turning into Bye Bye Bye!”

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  17. Jason says:

    I don’t understand the Yankees hate. Sure they have problems, but its not like any of the other top two teams are complete. The Yankees have led baseball in run differential for most of the year. How much better do they need to be to compete with those teams that outscore their opponents by less than them?

    Their unreliable veteran pitching staff has given up the third fewest runs in the league (and are essentially tied for second with an apparently reliable corp of young Tampa arms).

    They’ve scored the third most runs in baseball despite their old and injury riddled lineup.

    By the numbers, and despite being old and unreliable, the Yankees have been the best combination of pitching and hitting in baseball.

    For the record, I would rank Philadelphia and Boston ahead of the Yankees right now, however the difference between Boston and New York is pretty much negligible. So why do we pretend that the Yankees are so much worse? Because we expected Colon and Garcia to suck? Well, guess what, they don’t. They are not even close to sucking. In fact Colon looks downright dominant almost every time out. At some point we will have to accept that the Yankees do not have a big pitching problem.

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  18. Bucfan says:

    Thank heavens for the Fangraphs rating system to decide which teams are better than others. Now, to determine how well a team is doing, I can look at their weighted WAR-based winning percentage combined with fan ratings, rather than wasting time with other stats and polls.

    This BCS system is designed to work, I tell ‘ya. It’s just too bad that the game cannot find some way to keep track of who – oh, I don’t know – wins games, and then compare their respective wins and losses. A pipe dream, I know.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

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