FanGraphs Power Rankings – 8/15/11

This week, the Power Rankings were more stagnant than ever before. A total of 18 teams remained in the same spot that they were a week ago. One of those teams was the 10th ranked San Francisco Giants. As the season progresses and first-half media darlings like the Indians and Pirates fade from the spotlight, the Arizona Diamondbacks have captured the baseball world’s attention, and rightfully so — they play not only a good brand of baseball, but also an entertaining one. But it would be folly to sleep on the Giants. Since (arbitrary endpoint alert!) running off five wins in their first six games after the All-Star break, they are just 9-14. Carlos Beltran has done little to help the offense, which recently set a Major League record with 21 consecutive solo home runs. Despite all of this though, they still are just two games behind Arizona. With three of the 14 best pitchers in the game, a shut down bullpen and the hope that Brandon Belt gets more playing time in his fourth stint in the Majors this year, it’s not all doom and gloom for the Giants. They may not be the “it” team at the moment, but we shouldn’t forget about them either.

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

1. Boston: Last week – 1, WAR% – .674 (1), FAN% – .605 (1), TOTAL% – .656
John Lackey was the sultan of suck over his first 14 starts this season, allowing 61 runs in 78 innings for a RA of 7.04. Since, he has allowed “just” 21 runs in 43 2/3 innings, for a less-sucky-but-still-kind-of-sucky-considering-his-salary 4.33 RA.

2. New York Yankees: Last week – 2, WAR% – .670 (2), FAN% – .580 (2), TOTAL% – .645
It just doesn’t seem fair to Kanye West to make a baseball-themed “Watch The Throne” reference, since the White Sox kind of suck this year. Oh wait, did I just make one anyway? Sorry, Kanye.

3. Philadelphia: Last week – 3, WAR% – .618 (4), FAN% – .556 (3), TOTAL% – .602
Hunter Pence has been everything the Phillies had hoped he would be when they acquired him. His 0.5 WAR since his arrival has been — by my unofficial tally — the highest of any player traded in the week leading up to the trade deadline.

4. Texas: Last week – 4, WAR% – .623 (3), FAN% – .525 (7), TOTAL% – .598
This week’s four-game series with the Angels may determine whether Texas breezes to the American League West title or whether the Angels can engage them in a dogfight for the crown.

5. Milwaukee: Last week – 6, WAR% – .585 (t-5), FAN% – .519 (9), TOTAL% – .568
Over the past 30 days, Yuniesky Betancourt has the highest batting average on the Brewers, a higher on-base percentage than Ryan Braun and a higher slugging percentage than Prince Fielder. Savor that for a minute, because it will probably never happen again.

6. St. Louis: Last week – 5, WAR% – .585 (t-5), FAN% – .512 (12), TOTAL% – .566
Despite going more than a month without drawing a walk, Yadier Molina’s 2011 campaign may very well top his 2009 season for the best offensive season of his career.

7. Arizona: Last week – 7, WAR% – .584 (7), FAN% – .463 (25), TOTAL% – .553
Justin Upton is hotter than M-320’s from the Li’l Valu-Mart.

8. Cincinnati: Last week – 8, WAR% – .563 (8), FAN% – .494 (17), TOTAL% – .546
At the beginning of the year, it did not seem as though the Reds were counting on Miguel Cairo to be one of their seven best players, but here we are in mid-August, and that’s exactly what he’s been.

9. Atlanta: Last week – 12, WAR% – .557 (9), FAN% – .506 (14), TOTAL% – .544
Dan Uggla’s 33-game hit streak ended up tying for 19th best all-time, which is remarkable enough, but when you factor in that of the other 22 players to reach the milestone, Uggla’s career strikeout percentage was more than five percent higher than anyone else’s — the next closest was Benito Santiago at 16.9% — it might be an even more remarkable feat.

10. San Francisco: Last week – 10, WAR% – .546 (10), FAN% – .519 (9), TOTAL% – .539
Yesterday, the Giants scored all of their runs via the home run. It was the first time they had scored five or more runs all via the homer since September 4 of last year, when they did so against Ted Lilly and the Dodgers.

11. Colorado: Last week – 9, WAR% – .531 (t-14), FAN% – .556 (3), TOTAL% – .537
While Troy Tulowitzki may be the best player in baseball, the Rockies’ signing of Kevin Millwood last week was either an indictment of their player development system, or it showed that — even though the Rockies are closer to the bottom of the National League standings than they are to the top — they still believe they are in the mix for a playoff spot and needed a veteran in the rotation. Either way, it’s not good.

12. Tampa Bay: Last week – 13, WAR% – .5335 (13), FAN% – .537 (5), TOTAL% – .534
This week, in the premature, hilarious splits department, we have Robinson Chirinos’ home-road wRC+ splits — 149 at home, -16 on the road.

13. Detroit: Last week – 14, WAR% – .531 (t-14), FAN% – .512 (12), TOTAL% – .526
So did we ever officially grant Wilson Betemit a pardon or something for not being the failed prospect that it appeared he was going to be lo those many years ago? If not, can we? Also, what other “failed” prospects turned pretty decent big leaguers do we need to pardon?

14. Los Angeles of Anaheim: Last week – 11, WAR% – .536 (11), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .524
According to Carson Cistulli, because of his many catches, Peter Bourjos is an aphrodisiac. So, uh, that’s good to know…right?

15. New York Mets: Last week – 15, WAR% – .525 (16), FAN% – .519 (9), TOTAL% – .523
The Mets have quietly had a good offense throughout the season. The latest to step up has been Lucas Duda, who over the past 30 days has compiled wOBA (.418) and wRC+ (169) marks that rank in the top 15 in the game.

16. Chicago White Sox: Last week – 17, WAR% – .534 (12), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .522
Now making terrific defensive plays at first base — a position he had never played in the Majors before July 31stBrent Lillibridge is edging ever closer to adding the “Super” prefix to his name, ala “Super” Joe McEwing.

17. Florida: Last week – 16, WAR% – .508 (17), FAN% – .525 (7), TOTAL% – .512
From the start of the season through June 8, the day the organization callously fired hitting coach John Mallee — who had been with them for 10 years and was less than three months into his first season as Major League hitting coach — the Marlins hit .248/.321/.383. From June 9th through yesterday, they hit .243/.315/.380. Oops. But that’s okay, they have their scapegoat.

18. Toronto: Last week – 18, WAR% – .516 (17), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .5084
Edwin Encarnacion has been on fire throughout the second half, and among Blue Jays with more 150 plate appearances or more, his wRC+ of 125 — which if he holds it would be his career-high — ranks third on the team.

19. Los Angeles Dodgers: Last week – 19, WAR% – .515 (18), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .5078
If Nathan Eovaldi impresses in the final two months, the Dodgers could sport a rotation next season of Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Rubby De La Rosa, Eovaldi and Ted Lilly. This would free them from having to pony up the $8 million that Jon Garland would cost them, or the $10-15 million that Hiroki Kuroda might cost, and instead use that money to plug their holes on offense…or plug the holes in Frank McCourt’s sinking ship, either one.

20. San Diego: Last week – 20, WAR% – .487 (22), FAN% – .494 (17), TOTAL% – .489
After spending most of the season at Triple-A Portland, Wade LeBlanc has thrown three straight quality starts for the Fathers, striking out 17 in 18 frames.

21. Chicago Cubs: Last week – 21, WAR% – .479 (24), FAN% – .506 (14), TOTAL% – .486
Darwin Barney has the ninth-best RngR among second basemen this season, and he put that range on full display yesterday, when he robbed Dan Uggla yesterday.

22. Cleveland: Last week – 24, WAR% – .498 (20), FAN% – .451 (27), TOTAL% – .485
The Indians are the lone remaining “little engine that could,” and their standing here does not reflect the fact that they now have Ubaldo Jimenez and just got Shin-Soo Choo back from injury. But, having played the fewest games in the Majors thus far, the Tribe already faced a tough road the rest of the way, and yesterday’s rainout will only make it tougher.

23. Washington: Last week – 22, WAR% – .486 (23), FAN% – .457 (26), TOTAL% – .478
We generally think of speedy hitters as the type of guys who can best sustain high BABIP’s, but more than 1,000 plate appearances into his career, the decidedly un-speedy Michael Morse has a BABIP of .358.

24. Oakland: Last week – 23, WAR% – .476 (25), FAN% – .481 (23), TOTAL% – .477
The only qualified Oakland A’s position player to rank in the top 75 in position player WAR is Coco Crisp…who ranks 75th.

25. Kansas City: Last week – 25, WAR% – .490 (20), FAN% – .420 (29), TOTAL% – .472
The Royals’ 21st-ranked prospect, Johnny Giavotella has had a nice introduction to big-league ball. He has a very respectable .372 wOBA, and his 8.7 Speed Score last week was tied for fourth in the Majors.

26. Minnesota: Last week – 26, WAR% – .416 (28), FAN% – .537 (5), TOTAL% – .448
The Twins finally got back Justin Morneau this weekend. Friday and Saturday marked just the ninth and tenth times all season that Morneau and Joe Mauer were in the lineup simultaneously.

27. Seattle: Last week – 27, WAR% – .432 (27), FAN% – .469 (24), TOTAL% – .442
Congrats to this past week’s BABIP’er of the Week, Franklin Gutierrez, who clocked in with a .611 mark.

28. Pittsburgh: Last week – 28, WAR% – .436 (26), FAN% – .438 (28), TOTAL% – .437
Because they drafted a lot of prep players in 2010, the Bucs may not see the results immediately, but as Rays fans know all too well, you have to trust the process.

29. Baltimore: Last week – 29, WAR% – .408 (29), FAN% – .500 (16), TOTAL% – .433
Several players have led their respective league in strikeouts in four consecutive seasons — in the NL, Juan Samuel led from 1984-1987 (though Dale Murphy did tie him in ’85), Vince DiMaggio led from 1942-1945 and Hack Wilson led from 1927-1930, and Reggie Jackson led the AL from 1968-1971. But this season, Mark Reynolds has the chance to become the first player ever to lead the Majors in strikeouts in four consecutive seasons. I hope he gets the chance.

30. Houston: Last week – 30, WAR% – .405 (30), FAN% – .370 (30), TOTAL% – .397
Waiver deals are always tricky to pull off, and they can become even trickier when a player with a substantial financial commitment to a 32-year old pitcher like Wandy Rodriguez is involved.



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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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Matt
Guest
Matt

FInally these rankings seem to have some sort of semblance of normalcy. 11 is still probably a bit too high for the Rockies, but it puts them about where they are in real life – and that is out of the playoffs. But otherwise I really don’t have any new complaints on the power rankings. For next season though it’d be nice to see incrementally less weight given to the FAN% as the season goes along.

Los
Guest
Los

“For next season though it’d be nice to see incrementally less weight given to the FAN% as the season goes along”

That is how this works in the first place…

Matt
Guest
Matt

Sort of? Except it’s clearly still influencing the rankings, and by the ASB, the pre-season predictions don’t matter at all.

Chris
Guest
Chris

Did you not notice that the TOTAL% is now much closer to WAR% instead of fan predictions?

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