FanGraphs Power Rankings – 8/29/11

I was Hurricane Irene’d yesterday, which killed any chance I had to write up the cool intro I had planned. On the plus side, it gives me another week to test my theory. What is it? Well, you’ll just have to check back next week to find out.

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

1. New York Yankees: Last week – 1, WAR% – .696 (1), FAN% – .580 (2), TOTAL% – .674
While his aberrant UZR this season may be driving up his WAR just a touch, there’s no denying how good of an investment Nick Swisher has been for the Yankees. It would be shocking if his 2012 option wasn’t picked up.

2. Boston: Last week – 2, WAR% – .675 (2), FAN% – .605 (1), TOTAL% – .662
The sample isn’t even small — it’s more like a miniscule sample — but so far in his Red Sox tenure Franklin Morales has not exhibited the control problems that plagued him in Colorado, and he could be an important weapon for Terry Francona come October.

3. Philadelphia: Last week – 3, WAR% – .619 (3), FAN% – .556 (3), TOTAL% – .606
Seriously, who wouldn’t want to see Jamie Moyer make it back to the Majors, be it with the Phillies or someone else?

4. Texas: Last week – 4, WAR% – .609 (4), FAN% – .525 (7), TOTAL% – .595
Is there a more frustratingly good hitter than Nelson Cruz? If he ever stayed healthy for a full season, 40 homers would definitely be on the table, but the title of this article really says it all.

5. Milwaukee: Last week – 5, WAR% – .591 (5), FAN% – .519 (9), TOTAL% – .579
Yunieksy Betancourt has played in 38 different months during his Major League career. He has managed a wRC+ of 100 or better in just seven of them.

6. Tampa Bay: Last week – 9, WAR% – .567 (8), FAN% – .537 (5), TOTAL% – .562
With David Price’s 14-strikeout game yesterday — which set a Rays’ single-game record — I naturally found myself looking at their single-season record. While Price is sure to eclipse his personal best strikeout total, Scott Kazmir has set the bar so high (239 K’s in 2007) that Price may need another couple of 14 K games if he is to set the Rays’ single-season record.

7. St. Louis: Last week – 6, WAR% – .571 (7), FAN% – .512 (12), TOTAL% – .560
Say what you will about Lance Berkman’s defense — and I have — but the fact that he is on pace to set his career-best in EqA at age 35 makes him cooler than Homer Simpson was when he climbed the Murderhorn.

8. Arizona: Last week – 8, WAR% – .574 (6), FAN% – .463 (25), TOTAL% – .554
Never an asset for him in previous seasons, Ian Kennedy’s fastball has paid big dividends this season — his wFB of 26.6 trails only Justin Verlander and Jered Weaver.

9. Cincinnati: Last week – 10, WAR% – .564 (9), FAN% – .494 (17), TOTAL% – .551
Johnny Cueto, who is currently leading the Majors in ERA-, has allowed three or less runs in 19 of his 21 starts this season. And as a bonus, hearing his name always reminds me of Kuato (yes I know, they’re not pronounced the same, but, come on, open your mmmiiiiinnnddd).

10. Atlanta: Last week – 7, WAR% – .553 (11), FAN% – .506 (14), TOTAL% – .545
While it’s still too early to tell how the Braves will configure their playoff rotation, when you couple Tommy Hanson’s continued injury struggles with the fact that the Braves have lined up Derek Lowe, Tim Hudson and Brandon Beachy to start against the Phillies next week, it seems unlikely that they will drop Lowe from the playoff rotation.

11. Los Angeles of Anaheim: Last week – 11, WAR% – .555 (10), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .543
For all the negativity heaped on Vernon Wells this season, it is worth noting that his 131 wRC+ is tied for 57th-best against left-handed pitchers this year (min. 100 PA). That’s worth $23 million, right?

12. Detroit: Last week – 13, WAR% – .538 (13), FAN% – .512 (12), TOTAL% – .533
Justin Verlander is drawing so much attention these days that Miguel Cabrera is somehow flying completely under the radar. While his defense almost always knocks him down a peg, his offense is still sterling — his .415 wOBA and 164 wRC+ are both fifth-best in the Majors.

13. Chicago White Sox: Last week – 15, WAR% – .542 (12), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .532
In rising his Triple-A BB/K from 0.14 last season to 0.54 this season, Dayan Viciedo now looks like a much more sustainable quantity. If “The Tank” can pair that newfound disciple with rocket-like homers such as the one he smashed yesterday, it will go a long way to taking the sting out of the Adam Dunn deal.

14. Colorado: Last week – 12, WAR% – .525 (15), FAN% – .556 (3), TOTAL% – .530
With a WPA of -.172 against the Astros, Alex White didn’t have the most spectacular Rockies’ debut, but he kept his walk total low and his groundball count high, and that is something he can build on tonight.

15. San Francisco: Last week – 14, WAR% – .527 (14), FAN% – .519 (9), TOTAL% – .526
Usually, the first word that comes to mind when I think of Jason Schmidt — who had his visage added to the Giants Wall of Fame this weekend — is “injury,” but he was the best pitcher on the Giants’ 2002 World Series team, and along with Barry Bonds, carried the Giants in the two seasons subsequent.

16. Los Angeles Dodgers: Last week – 18, WAR% – .522 (16), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .516
Everyone who that the two of the three worst relievers in the Dodgers’ bullpen this season would be Jonathan Broxton and Hong-Chih Kuo, raise their hand. Anyone? Bueller?

17. New York Mets: Last week – 17, WAR% – .4986 (18), FAN% – .519 (9), TOTAL% – .503
Chris Capuano’s complete-game shutout, 13 K performance over the Braves on Friday made him the second-best pitcher by WAR last week, trailing only Price. But interestingly enough, it wasn’t his best start of the season by WPA — that honor goes to his performance on June 12 in Pittsburgh.

18. Florida: Last week – 19, WAR% – .494 (19), FAN% – .525 (7), TOTAL% – .500
With his .192/.262/.308 second-half line, Gaby Sanchez is yet another data point for those who would argue that it is silly to name players to the All-Star team simply because they got hot for the first two months of the season.

19. Toronto: Last week – 16, WAR% – .4990 (17), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .497
Is Brandon Morrow tiring as he approaches his Major League career high in innings pitched? His velocity chart shows a drop in velocity his last two starts, and anecdotally, he talked about leaving pitches up in the zone yesterday, which can be a sign of fatigue. Whether he is getting tired or just in a bad stretch, his performance in August is not likely to silence his critics any time soon.

20. San Diego: Last week – 20, WAR% – .490 (21), FAN% – .494 (17), TOTAL% – .491
Though his superficial stats weren’t very shiny in the first half, Mat Latos hasn’t had an xFIP above 4.00 in any month this season, and he has only performed better as the season has progressed. He heads into tonight’s pitcher’s duel with Clayton Kershaw sporting a 3.39 xFIP for the month of August, his best monthly mark of 2011.

21. Chicago Cubs: Last week – 21, WAR% – .48470 (24), FAN% – .506 (14), TOTAL% – .488
Geovany Soto put up a 78 wRC+ in April of this season, but given his 0.85 BB/K at the time, it was easy to hand-waive it, and Soto picked up the slack in May. But here we are in August, and Soto is once again posting a 78 wRC+, only this time it’s paired with a 0.25 BB/K that is driven by a K% that is out-sucked in August only by Mark Reynolds, a much more troublesome development.

22. Washington: Last week – 22, WAR% – .485 (22), FAN% – .457 (26), TOTAL% – .480
As Jeff Passan astutely noted in his excellent “25 Things” column last week, Nationals reliever Henry Rodriguez is leading the Majors in fastball velocity. Unfortunately, Rodriguez is also “leading” the Majors (min. 50 IP) with a 7.05 BB/9. Despite the hard-hitting velocity, it would be hard to picture him having another full season in the Majors if he can’t get that walk rate under control.

23. Kansas City: Last week – 25, WAR% – .491 (20), FAN% – .420 (29), TOTAL% – .4784
This past week’s BABIP’er of the Week was an Alex for the second week in a row. Last week it was Alex Avila, this week it is Alex Gordon, who clocked in with a .667 BABIP.

24. Cleveland: Last week – 23, WAR% – .48472 (23), FAN% – .451 (27), TOTAL% – .4780
While the Indians continue their fade to black, it was at least encouraging that they received their first dominant start from Ubaldo Jimenez, who posted his first positive-WPA start for the Tribe in his fifth attempt.

25. Oakland: Last week – 24, WAR% – .466 (25), FAN% – .481 (23), TOTAL% – .469
Scott Sizemore has been a nice acquisition for the A’s, as the green and gold have not missed David Purcey one bit. One reason for that is Sizemore’s BB%, which is third-best in the Majors among third basemen (min. 300 PA).

26. Seattle: Last week – 26, WAR% – .435 (26), FAN% – .469 (24), TOTAL% – .441
Recently, Bradley Woodrum wrote that the Mariners should be hitting better. With at least two hits in four of his last six games, it seems that Franklin Gutierrez agrees.

27. Baltimore: Last week – 29, WAR% – .421 (28), FAN% – .500 (16), TOTAL% – .436
J.J. Hardy is arguably having the best offensive season of his career, and the dramatic jump in his ISO from last year has a lot to do with it.

28. Pittsburgh: Last week – 27, WAR% – .433 (27), FAN% – .438 (28), TOTAL% – .434
We so frequently hear about players being asked to shut down and rest over the winter, so it is refreshing that the Pirates are going out of their way to encourage their players to suit up this winter.

29. Minnesota: Last week – 28, WAR% – .406 (30), FAN% – .537 (5), TOTAL% – .429
In a small sample (583 innings) Ben Revere has compiled a 20.8 UZR/150 this season, third-best among center fielders with at least 500 innings in the field. On the strength of that defense alone Revere can be a productive player, but aside from a very low SwStr%, Revere is completely miscast as a leadoff hitter.

30. Houston: Last week – 30, WAR% – .418 (29), FAN% – .370 (30), TOTAL% – .410
The Astros have played 13 teams more than three times this season. Of the 13, they have an above-.500 record against only one — the Giants.

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Paul Swydan is the managing editor of The Hardball Times, a writer and editor for FanGraphs and a writer for 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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