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FanGraphs Power Rankings – 8/22/11

Last week’s Power Rankings stagnation did not hold, as there was movement up and down the Rankings this week. The two biggest movers, in terms of percentage points, were the two New York teams — with the Yankees moving up and the Mets moving down. For the better part of the first 16 weeks of the Rankings, the Mets slotted in a comfortable 100 points below the Yankees, but with this past week’s separation, the gap between the two teams is now 153. Still, while the Mets have endured second-rate status in New York for the better part of the past decade, they haven’t fared all that poorly in Sandy Alderson’s first year in charge. While the pitching and defense have left much to be desired, the Metropolitans wRC+ of 104 has been sixth-best in the game. Still, Alderson will face some tough decisions this offseason, as he must both resign Jose Reyes and find some quality pitching, and may not have the budget for both. One possible solution could be trading one of their corner guys for pitching, but those types of deals are becoming harder and harder to pull off. Either way, with the trial against the Mets owners not set to begin until March 5th, there is a decent chance that Alderson will have the entire hot stove season to focus on making the Mets better on the field. If he can continue to make things better, it might not be long before the playoffs return to Flushing.

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

1. New York Yankees: Last week – 2, WAR% – .685 (1), FAN% – .580 (2), TOTAL% – .661
In his last 25 2/3 innings pitched, Phil Hughes has allowed just five runs (1.75 ERA), and his last three starts clocked in with WPA’s north of .200. So much for him losing his spot in the Yankees’ rotation.

2. Boston: Last week – 1, WAR% – .667 (1), FAN% – .605 (1), TOTAL% – .653
It may seem strange that the Sawx rank 29th in Bsr, since they employ both Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford. However, they also employ the mosey-ingest duo in the bigs in Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz, so perhaps it shouldn’t be that surprising.

3. Philadelphia: Last week – 3, WAR% – .622 (4), FAN% – .556 (3), TOTAL% – .607
At the moment, Vance Worley and Roy Oswalt have strikingly similar 2011 stats, but if Oswalt keeps turning in performances like he did on Saturday, that could change quickly.

4. Texas: Last week – 4, WAR% – .624 (3), FAN% – .525 (7), TOTAL% – .603
Not only is Mike Napoli on track to set several career highs offensively, but he is having his best year behind the dish as well, and his 4 DRS even bests Jeff Mathis. Funny what happens when a player goes to a team where the manager focuses on his strengths instead of harping on his weaknesses.

5. Milwaukee: Last week – 5, WAR% – .590 (5), FAN% – .519 (9), TOTAL% – .575
While the Brewers have won eight of their past nine on the road, it’s difficult to know if that is real improvement, or simply taking advantage of three teams that don’t exactly tear it up at home — the Cardinals are 14th in home winning percentage, while the Mets (28th) and Astros (30th) have been less than stellar within their own confines.

6. St. Louis: Last week – 6, WAR% – .579 (6), FAN% – .512 (12), TOTAL% – .565
Albert Pujols has been back in his familiar beast-mode territory these past three months, and it will be interesting to see is if he can manage to cross the .400 wOBA threshold for the 11th straight season.

7. Atlanta: Last week – 9, WAR% – .562 (8), FAN% – .506 (14), TOTAL% – .550
Granted, it came against the Giants’ “offense,” but Mike Minor’s outing on Thursday — by WPA — was the best start of his young career.

8. Arizona: Last week – 7, WAR% – .571 (8), FAN% – .463 (25), TOTAL% – .547
Chris Young has struggled mightily this month, but let’s keep things in perspective. At the start of 2010, Young was coming off a 0.4 WAR season, and looked like he could be a major bust for the D-backs. Since then, he’s been the second-best defensive center fielder in the game, and the seventh-most valuable center fielder overall.

9. Tampa Bay: Last week – 12, WAR% – .547 (11), FAN% – .537 (5), TOTAL% – .545
On Wednesday against the Red Sox, James Shields and Jeff Niemann became the first duo to throw a pair of complete games on the same day since Angel Miranda and Ricky Bones turned the trick on Aug. 13, 1993. Too bad the Rays’ bullpen didn’t make a trip to the Hammock District before heading to Fenway.

10. Cincinnati: Last week – 8, WAR% – .556 (9), FAN% – .494 (17), TOTAL% – .543
The Reds definitely get points for being willing to think outside the box when it comes to their leadoff hitter, but the real inspired choice would be Jay Bruce and his .360 wOBA. Brandon Phillips’ .332 wOBA is so close to the Reds’ most common other leadoff hitters — Drew Stubbs (.322) and Chris Heisey (.330) — that it will likely negate any long-term gain. Plus, Phillips didn’t exactly do well in the leadoff spot last year (plus plus, batting Bruce first would eliminate the tactical disadvantage of having left-handed hitters in the three and four spots).

11. Los Angeles of Anaheim: Last week – 14, WAR% – .551 (10), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .538
New deal — you admit that Mike Trout is the greatest thing to happen to baseball since the radar gun, and Carson Cistulli will refrain from locking you in his attic.

12. Colorado: Last week – 11, WAR% – .532 (15), FAN% – .556 (3), TOTAL% – .537
I can’t decide what was the bigger accomplishment this weekend, a movie that wasn’t a reboot, remake, centered on a comic book character or in 3D winning the box office, or the Rockies winning a game on a Sunday.

13. Detroit: Last week – 13, WAR% – .539 (13), FAN% – .512 (12), TOTAL% – .5329
Congrats to this past week’s BABIP’er of the Week, Alex Avila, who clocked in with a semi-gargantuan .692 mark.

14. San Francisco: Last week – 10, WAR% – .536 (14), FAN% – .519 (9), TOTAL% – .5326
Matt Cain, who tied for fourth in pitcher WAR this past week, has already blown past his single-season high in WAR. A big part of the improvement has been his third straight season of better K/BB efficiency. Cain is never going to remind anyone of Roy Halladay, but his career-best 3.18 K/BB ranks 22nd in the Majors.

15. Chicago White Sox: Last week – 16, WAR% – .542 (12), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .530
Brent Morel’s 1.6 BB% is the lowest of any qualified rookie hitter in the past decade.

16. Toronto: Last week – 18, WAR% – .519 (16), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .513
Aaron Hill struggled at the plate last season, but at least his defense was solid — his UZR was 10th among second basemen with more than 100 innings at the keystone. This season however, he has struggled on defense, and struggled even more at the dish, making him one of the worst everyday players in the Majors.

17. New York Mets: Last week – 15, WAR% – .505 (18), FAN% – .519 (9), TOTAL% – .508
Angel Pagan is now tied for 13th in stolen bases in the Majors, despite missing more than 30 games, and as his .454 wOBA the past two weeks shows, he’s no slouch with the stick. If he’s still on your waiver wire, be sure to snag him.

18. Los Angeles Dodgers: Last week – 19, WAR% – .512 (17), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .5064
The only first baseman with a lower wRC+ than James Loney this season is Adam Dunn, and he has spent most of his team at designated hitter. That leaves Loney and Lyle Overbay, both owners of 80 wRC+ marks, in the running for worst offensive first baseman in the Majors. The prize for “winning” is an advance copy of the Kim Kardashian wedding special!

19. Florida: Last week – 17, WAR% – .501 (19), FAN% – .525 (7), TOTAL% – .5063
He was dropped from FanGraphs’ Top 10 Marlins prospects this year, but the early returns on Bryan Petersen have been quite impressive. His .366 wOBA — though in a small sample — ranks second on the Fish behind only Mike Stanton, and on defense he scores positive marks for both his range and his arm.

20. San Diego: Last week – 20, WAR% – .495 (20), FAN% – .494 (17), TOTAL% – .495
After a disastrous April, the Padres turned things around — their +23 run differential is the best in the National League West since the start of May — and it may not be long before the wins start to come in bunches.

21. Chicago Cubs: Last week – 21, WAR% – .489 (24), FAN% – .506 (14), TOTAL% – .492
It’s fun to pile on Jim Hendry, especially now that he’s gone, but one recent move that did work out very well for the Cubs was the Marlon Byrd signing. Byrd will earn $15 million by the time his contract is up, but has already provided more than $25 million in value.

22. Washington: Last week – 23, WAR% – .490 (21), FAN% – .457 (26), TOTAL% – .483
Remember that time people thought Rick Ankiel would become a 30-homer guy?

23. Cleveland: Last week – 22, WAR% – .485 (23), FAN% – .451 (27), TOTAL% – .477
Heading into the weekend, Cool Standings had the Indians’ playoff odds at 38.3%, the highest they had been since July 21st. After being swept by the Tigers, that percentage has dropped to 15.7, their lowest since April 6th.

24. Oakland: Last week – 24, WAR% – .471 (25), FAN% – .481 (23), TOTAL% – .474
Looking at the A’s 0.72 HR/9 mark, which ranks fourth in the Majors, it would be tempting to say that it all stems from their cavernous home ballpark, but their 0.78 HR/9 on the road also ranks fourth in the Majors.

25. Kansas City: Last week – 25, WAR% – .481 (24), FAN% – .420 (29), TOTAL% – .468
So, with Jeff Francoeur’s contract extension in place, it’s time to ask the hard-hitting question: Is Dayton Moore and Francoeur the biggest bromance since Judd Apatow and Seth Rogen?

26. Seattle: Last week – 27, WAR% – .431 (27), FAN% – .469 (24), TOTAL% – .440
Once Justin Smoak is healthy, the Mariners will have Mike Carp, Trayvon Robinson and Casper Wells (and perhaps Wily Mo Pena and Michael Saunders if you want to count them) to split time between left field and designated hitter. Combine that newfound depth with the fact that the Mariners probably aren’t going anywhere next season, and it’s fair to wonder if Seattle should try to shop Ichiro Suzuki this offseason.

27. Pittsburgh: Last week – 28, WAR% – .435 (26), FAN% – .438 (28), TOTAL% – .436
He has been an above-average offensive player in his two seasons in the Majors, has made a marked improvement in his plate discipline and is only in his age-22 season. Some of his numbers may be a little rough around the edges, but Jose Tabata is exactly the type of player the Pirates should be committing to long-term — especially at the dollars they signed him for.

28. Minnesota: Last week – 26, WAR% – .406 (30), FAN% – .537 (5), TOTAL% – .435
Congrats to Jim Thome, the career leader among designated hitters in ISO, on his 600th career home run. If Thome comes back for a 22nd Major League season, he could very well finish his career sixth on the all-time home runs list.

29. Baltimore: Last week – 29, WAR% – .409 (29), FAN% – .500 (16), TOTAL% – .430
From 2006-2008, Adam Jones compiled a -14 wRAA. From 2009-2010, he improved, putting together a combined 12.1 wRAA. This year, he’s already at 18.3, and there’s still more than a month of baseball season left. I’d call that progress.

30. Houston: Last week – 30, WAR% – .414 (28), FAN% – .370 (30), TOTAL% – .404
It’s always nice to see immediate results from a trade, and that is what the Astros are getting now that Henry Sosa — who they netted in the Jeff Keppinger deal — is in the ‘Stros starting rotation. The results haven’t been great, but they haven’t been awful (2:1 K/BB in three starts) and if nothing else, Houston gets to take an extended look to see if he can contribute next year.