FanGraphs Power Rankings – 7/4/11

You have to love that we live in a time where thanks to the impossibly convoluted All-Star selection rules, we will see an All-Star Game next week that will be without — by 2011 WAR — the third-best pitcher and position player in the game. In any other country, we’d have starved to death long ago for deploying such Homer-ish logic, but not here. God bless America!

1. New York Yankees: Last week – 2, WAR% – .678 (1), FAN% – .580 (2), TOTAL% – .630
With his K rate up and his walk rate down, June was Ivan Nova’s best month, but with the revival band known as Big Bartolo and Sweaty Freddy still slaying the world (or the Mets), there’s no room at the inn for Nova.

2. Boston: Last week – 1, WAR% – .648 (2), FAN% – .605 (1), TOTAL% – .627
Apparently Josh Reddick really, really, really doesn’t want to go back to Pawtucket.

3. Philadelphia: Last week – 3, WAR% – .597 (3), FAN% – .556 (3), TOTAL% – .577
If I had one wish for this offseason, it would be for Antonio Bastardo to become a cult figure and end up on some sort of Food Network show that involves sushi, which would lead to the promo “Bastardo likes it raw.” Now that he’s the Phillies’ closer, I feel like I’m one step closer to this becoming a reality.

4. Colorado: Last week – 5, WAR% – .551 (13), FAN% – .556 (3), TOTAL% – .553
The fallacy of wins, chapter 734 — Greg Reynolds and Ubaldo Jimenez each have three wins this season.

5. Milwaukee: Last week – 4, WAR% – .582 (5), FAN% – .519 (9), TOTAL% – .5516
The BABIP’er of the Week award goes to Ryan Braun, who clocked in for the week at .600.

6. Texas: Last week – 6, WAR% – .576 (7), FAN% – .525 (7), TOTAL% – .5515
It feels like little has gone right for the Rangers this season (aside from Alexi Ogando that is), but they are tied for first place and one percentage point from the top five in the rankings. There are worse places to be, and the Rangers are still set up for a strong finishing kick and another run at the pennant.

7. St. Louis: Last week – 8, WAR% – .577 (6), FAN% – .512 (12), TOTAL% – .546
After posting a positive WPA in his first four starts, Kyle McClellan has posted a negative WPA in eight of his last 11 starts, including five of his last six. Combine that with the fact that McClellan is already over his Major League career high in innings pitched, and one wonders how much longer he can be an effective part of the Cardinals rotation.

8. San Francisco: Last week – 9, WAR% – .567 (8), FAN% – .519 (9), TOTAL% – .544
Despite the fact that Madison Bumgarner has been literally twice as valuable as Ryan Vogelsong this season, Bruce Bochy selected Vogelsong for the National League All-Star team. Never let the facts get in the way of a good story.

9. Tampa Bay: Last week – 7, WAR% – .547 (14), FAN% – .537 (5), TOTAL% – .542
Ben Zobrist is once again a stealth MVP candidate, but that probably won’t be enough to win him the American League Final Vote.

10. Detroit: Last week – 11, WAR% – .556 (t-11), FAN% – .512 (12), TOTAL% – .5351
In a perfect world, three bad days from your employees wouldn’t get you fired. But as Rick Knapp surely knows, that world does not exist, and anytime Jim Leyland has nearly three hours to just sit and think about something, you can bet that someone will feel his death grip.

11. Atlanta: Last week – 10, WAR% – .560 (9), FAN% – .506 (14), TOTAL% – .5346
With a potentially dominant front four in the rotation that no longer includes Derek Lowe, it would be interesting to see how much of the $27 million or so of his remaining salary Liberty Media would be willing to eat in order to use him to get a decent bat for the stretch run.

12. Arizona: Last week – 12, WAR% – .590 (4), FAN% – .463 (25), TOTAL% – .530
Unlike the Braves, the D-backs don’t have oodles of starter depth. This makes the D-backs one of the more intriguing teams come trade deadline, as they may be a year early, and the future might not be worth mortgaging for a team that won’t be able to tango with the big boys even if they do reach the playoffs.

13. Cincinnati: Last week – 14, WAR% – .556 (t-11), FAN% – .494 (17), TOTAL% – .526
Jay Bruce’s batting average by month — .237 in April, .342 in May, .217 in June. In which month do you think players cast their All-Star ballots?

14. Los Angeles of Anaheim: Last week – 13, WAR% – .557 (10), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .524
Bobby Abreu is once again working towards a .400 OBP season. If he does so, it will be his ninth such season, which would be nine more seasons than the rest of his Angels’ teammates combined.

15. New York Mets: Last week – 16, WAR% – .517 (18), FAN% – .519 (9), TOTAL% – .518
The Mets have made plenty of mistakes this season, but they deserve credit for the way they have treated Taylor Buchholz, who they easily could have kicked to the curb. Hopefully Buchholz will be back in the Majors soon, where in an admittedly small sample, he has compiled the best K/BB mark of anyone in the Mets ‘pen this season.

16. Chicago White Sox: Last week – 17, WAR% – .520 (15), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .505
If hitters are supposed to fear Brian Wilson’s beard, how are they supposed to react to Brian Bruney’s?

t-17. Toronto: Last week – 19, WAR% – .519 (t-16), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .504
Travis Snider is set to return to the Blue Jays today, after the Jays designated Juan Rivera for assignment. The recipe for the move seems to have three ingredients — it’s one part .399 wOBA for Snider at Las Vegas, one part .440 BABIP for Eric Thames and one part Juan Rivera being Juan Rivera.

t-17. Los Angeles Dodgers: Last week – 18, WAR% – .519 (t-16), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .504
Since his two-game flare up last month, Chad Billingsley has only allowed four runs in his last three starts. What else would you expect from a guy born in a town called Defiance?

19. Florida: Last week – 15, WAR% – .482 (24), FAN% – .525 (7), TOTAL% – .502
Even though Jack McKeon has instilled his brand of “tough love,” the Marlins keep sinking in the rankings and the standings. It’s almost like he’s had no effect whatsoever, which frankly, is shocking. I could have sworn the Marlins would have been crowned World Series champs by now.

20. Chicago Cubs: Last week – 20, WAR% – .486 (22), FAN% – .506 (14), TOTAL% – .496
Aramis Ramirez’s power was back in a big way this week, with six homers, including a game-tying shot off of Brian Wilson.

21. San Diego: Last week – 21, WAR% – .485 (23), FAN% – .494 (17), TOTAL% – .489
Next year, a Padres rotation featuring Tim Stauffer, Mat Latos, Cory Luebke and Casey Kelly could be pretty tantalizing.

22. Cleveland: Last week – 23, WAR% – .511 (19), FAN% – .451 (27), TOTAL% – .481
Lonnie Chisenhall broke on to the scene with a five-game hitting streak, and while expectations should be tempered, that’s a pretty decent start.

23. Minnesota: Last week – 22, WAR% – .422 (30), FAN% – .537 (5), TOTAL% – .479
The Twins were hopeful that the return of some of their injured stars would help fuel a turnaround, but while Jim Thome and Joe Mauer are slowly returning to form, Tsuyoshi Nishioka has been a disappointment. He has accrued a negative WPA in 14 of his 16 games since returning, and his -0.3 WAR tied for the low among position players this past week.

24. Washington: Last week – 24, WAR% – .493 (20), FAN% – .457 (26), TOTAL% – .476
Livan Hernandez has been quite the phoenix these past few years. Since posting a hideous 5.77 FIP with the D-backs in 2007, the now 36-year old hurler’s FIP has improved in each subsequent year, and is down to 3.56 this season.

25. Seattle: Last week – 27, WAR% – .470 (25), FAN% – .469 (24), TOTAL% – .4694
Not to be outdone by The Chiz Kid in the great debut department, Blake Beaven twirled seven innings of one-run, three-hit ball in his Major League debut yesterday, helping the Mariners to break free of the bottom five for the first time.

26. Baltimore: Last week – 25, WAR% – .438 (28), FAN% – .500 (16), TOTAL% – .4691
If one of the benefits to installing Home Run Derby captains, is that players are going to start campaigning for spots, then this move could end up being a huge win for MLB.

27. Oakland: Last week – 26, WAR% – .456 (27), FAN% – .481 (23), TOTAL% – .468
With Brandon McCarthy and Rich Harden back, the A’s have sent down Josh Outman. Outman has been a bit homer lucky and doesn’t strike out a ton of guys, but he probably still deserves a spot in a Major League rotation, which exemplifies the kind of quality pitching depth that Oakland has.

28. Kansas City: Last week – 29, WAR% – .489 (21), FAN% – .420 (29), TOTAL% – .456
Any good Royals fan knows it’s not safe to get their hopes up, but days like yesterday, when a rookie gets named to the All-Star team and two others go a combined 7-for-12 at the dish, it’s probably hard not to get a little giddy.

29. Pittsburgh: Last week – 28, WAR% – .460 (26), FAN% – .438 (28), TOTAL% – .450
Really, Bruce Bochy, no Andrew McCutchen? You go to the box and you feel shame.

30. Houston: Last week – 30, WAR% – .433 (29), FAN% – .370 (30), TOTAL% – .403
Carlos Lee is so bad, he can’t even win at being the worst.

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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. He has also written extensively for ESPN MLB Insider. Follow him on Twitter @Swydan.

19 Responses to “FanGraphs Power Rankings – 7/4/11”

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  1. GrtSm says:

    Hold up. The Pirates, 1 game back of 1st place, are ranked 29th? I didn’t think they were getting THAT lucky.

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  2. Matt says:

    Ummmmmm, how are these power rankings devised? Because any measure that has Colorado 4th and Pittsburgh 29th does not pass the sniff test.

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  3. Duke Silver says:

    inb4 OMFG Colorado

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  4. jim says:

    the “fake troll posts” bitching about this were funny for a while but now you people are just annoying…

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  5. Zack says:

    Colorado in the top 5 with a sub-500 record is really sapping the credibility of these rankings.

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  6. matt w says:

    I’m not going to complain about any specific rankings anymore (and I’m definitely not going to argue that my particular team hasn’t been somewhat lucky), but aren’t the WAR winning percentages rather Lake Wobegonish? I haven’t run the math, but I’m pretty sure that they average out to something well above .500.

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  7. cs3 says:

    I agree that having Colorado ranked so consistently high causes the entire ranking system to lose all credibility. Nobody is going to take it seriously.

    By the way, shouldnt there be an explanation (or at least a link to one) telling the readers how the rankings are calculated?
    I dont see one anywhere, and neither WAR% nor FAN% really mean anything to me.

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  8. Justin says:

    “Despite the fact that Madison Bumgarner has been literally twice as valuable as Ryan Vogelsong this season, Bruce Bochy selected Vogelsong for the National League All-Star team. Never let the facts get in the way of a good story.”

    Vogelsong has been more than twice as valuable as Bumgarner according to bWAR. Bochy obviously hasn’t looked at either stat, but calling fWAR “the facts” is a bit much.

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    • Ari Collins says:

      Yes, but bWAR’s pitching measurement gives credit to the defense behind the pitcher instead of to the pitcher himself. It’s not a good measurement of pitching performance.

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      • noseeum says:

        I disagree. bWAR Is a great measure of pitching performance but perhaps a worse predictor of future performance than fWAR.

        Any measure that says Greinke has delivered 1.6 WAR for the Brewers this season is problematic. I’ll never understand why Fangraphs chose FIP for a stat that’s not meant to be predictive. It’s meant to be descriptive.

        bWAR has -0.5 WAR for Greinke this year. That sounds about right.

        Of course Greinke has had a spectacularly strange season to date, and the underlying skills are lights out. If I’m drafting a midseason fantasy squad, I’m bidding confidently in Greinke. But the Brewers are still losing games because he’s given up over 5 earned runs a game, so there are no wins being added to the Brewers for Greinke’s performance so far this year.

        How can a guy have a -0.48 WPA and a +1.6 WAR? That makes no sense.

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      • Joe says:

        Last season, Roy Halladay pitched 250 innings and gave up 74 runs.
        Cliff lee pitched 212 innings and gave up 84 runs. So, he gave up 10 more runs in 38 fewer innings. Yet fangraphs WAR has him above Halladay. Who would you rather have had in 2010? WAR for pitchers is a predictive stat, plain and simple.

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      • noseeum says:

        @Joe, by saying “WAR for pitchers is a predictive stat, plain and simple,” are you saying that “it’s predictive, and it should be”, or are you saying, “it’s predictive, and it shouldn’t be.”

        Just wondering what your stance is. From my reading of the WAR entry in the glossary ( I believe fWAR is intended to be descriptive of a players’ total contribution to his team. My contention is it fails in that regard for pitchers because it just leaves way too much on the table.

        I posted in today’s chat too about this. A good example is BABIP. We don’t give hitters WAR credit because their BABIP is unusually low, so why should we give pitchers WAR credit because their strand rates are exceedingly low? The runs still scored!

        It just seems so strange to me to use FIP for this purpose.

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    • Neuter_Your_Dogma says:

      I agree – f WAR.

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  9. Michael Bourne says:

    Rick Knapp was not just fired for 3 bad days. He had several years of ups and downs and general inconsistent pitching. How can Scherzer look bad with 9 wins, Porcello and Penny arent doing enough. Then the bull pen is all over the place. Verlander is a stud but Knapp isn’t getting credit for that when he can’t do it for the rest of the talent.

    What? Several years with little result capped by 3 very bad days does get you fired? Yes that is the real world. Gibson is knocking at the door and everyone in Detroit wants to answer. That is what is really going on.

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  10. Dude says:

    “Apparently Josh Reddick really, really, really doesn’t want to go back to Pawtucket.”

    I lived in Pawtucket for two years, can’t say that I blame him.

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