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FanGraphs Power Rankings – 8/8/11

As we enter the meaty part of the dog days of summer, divisional races are beginning to crystallize. Outside of the eastern divisions, where the Phillies are running away and hiding and the Red Sox and Yankees both have iron grips on playoff spots, things should get very interesting. Milwaukee, St. Louis, Arizona, San Francisco, Texas and Anaheim are six of the top 11 teams in this weeks’ Rankings. And in each team, there’s something for every fan. You like hitting? The Rangers, Cards and Brew Crew comprise three of the seven best offenses in the game. If you are drawn more so to pitching, then the top five staffs of the Giants and Angels have you covered — Ervin Santana has allowed just three runs in his last 34 innings, and he’s only the Angels’ third-best pitcher! And let’s not forget about the D-backs, who have a Major League-best 44.6 UZR, thanks in large part to the range of their glovely outfield trio of Gerardo Parra, Chris Young and Justin Upton. If this sounds a bit like a baseball infomercial, it’s because it sort of is. I know I’m likely preaching to the choir with this audience, but this is a really great time for baseball, and I hope we can all step back and appreciate how strong the game is right now.

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

1. Boston: Last week – 1, WAR% – .672 (2), FAN% – .605 (1), TOTAL% – .651
Josh Reddick only started yesterday’s game 0-for-4 because he wanted to make sure the game ended in dramatic fashion. #joshreddickfacts

2. New York Yankees: Last week – 2, WAR% – .677 (1), FAN% – .580 (2), TOTAL% – .648
Jorge Posada may no longer be a regular part of the Yankees’ lineup moving forward, but in looking at the WAR Grid for catchers, we see that Posada is the 16th-best catcher of all-time, and that the man directly preceding him, Buck Ewing, did not play in the modern era. It may seem strange to say, since he was rarely, if ever, the best player on his own team, but Posada may very well end up in the Hall of Fame.

3. Philadelphia: Last week – 3, WAR% – .619 (3), FAN% – .556 (3), TOTAL% – .600
Phillies fans have to hope that Placido Polanco — who has been the team’s second best fielder this year behind Shane Victorino — doesn’t miss much time with his hip injury. The thought of Michael Martinez or Wilson Valdez starting a playoff game or games at the hot corner has to be mildly horrifying.

4. Texas: Last week – 4, WAR% – .610 (4), FAN% – .525 (7), TOTAL% – .585
While it’s easy to pooh-pooh Michael Young reaching his 2,000th hit last night as a meaningless milestone, the fact is that only 265 players have amassed that many hits in the Major Leagues, and it’s more than a little cool that he and Adrian Beltre could reach that round number as teammates and in the same season.

5. St. Louis: Last week – 5, WAR% – .591 (5), FAN% – .512 (12), TOTAL% – .568
At this point, Edwin Jackson has had as many (trade) partners as Edna Krabappel. Well, almost.

6. Milwaukee: Last week – 6, WAR% – .57960 (6), FAN% – .519 (9), TOTAL% – .562
Whether he was out or safe, if Prince Fielder’s slide on Saturday night didn’t make you want to get down on it, then you definitely ain’t got no soul. You gotta love when the big man, who has the 7th lowest Bsr this season among qualified players, does something good on the bases.

7. Arizona: Last week – 8, WAR% – .57956 (7), FAN% – .463 (25), TOTAL% – .5450
If you didn’t see Zach Sanders’ entry today in his new, excellent Roto Riteup series (I know, we should teach him how to spell) you wouldn’t know that J.J. Putz is a great selection in Pick Six today. Because obviously you’re playing Pick Six, right?

8. Cincinnati: Last week – 7, WAR% – .566 (8), FAN% – .494 (17), TOTAL% – .5449
It’s always great when a player gets his first call to the big leagues, but the fact that David Sappelt hit leadoff in his Major League debut, and was followed in the lineup by Edgar Renteria and his 74 wRC+ shows how beat up the Reds are right now, or how clueless Dusty Baker is when it comes to lineup composition … or both.

9. Colorado: Last week – 10, WAR% – .5292 (13), FAN% – .556 (3), TOTAL% – .537
Last week, I mentioned how well Juan Nicasio was doing on the mound. Now I’m just hoping he’ll go on to live a normal life. His doctors and the Rockies’ trainers — who deserve a ton of credit for being so quick to act — seem optimistic, which is encouraging.

10. San Francisco: Last week – 12, WAR% – .541 (11), FAN% – .519 (9), TOTAL% – .535
The Giants won for just the second time in their last 10 games yesterday, thanks to the work of Tim Lincecum, who despite carrying his highest walk rate since his rookie season, has quietly been a top 15 pitcher in baseball again this year.

11. Los Angeles of Anaheim: Last week – 9, WAR% – .553 (9), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .5338
Last week’s BABIP’er of the Week was Torii Hunter, who walked away with the crown after posting a .688 mark.

12. Atlanta: Last week – 11, WAR% – .545 (10), FAN% – .506 (14), TOTAL% – .5336
By WPA, Tommy Hanson’s outing on Saturday was the second-worst performance of his career, with the only outing worse being his Major League debut.

13. Tampa Bay: Last week – 13, WAR% – .5291 (14), FAN% – .537 (5), TOTAL% – .531
It’s pretty easy to say Fielder is better than Ben Zobrist because he hits more home runs, but when you look at it in the frame of the player’s position, we see that that is not necessarily the case.

14. Detroit: Last week – 15, WAR% – .533 (12), FAN% – .512 (12), TOTAL% – .527
Since being activated from the disabled list on June 13, Magglio Ordonez has started 34 of the Tigers’ 49 games in right field. My question is, why?

15. New York Mets: Last week – 14, WAR% – .522 (16), FAN% – .519 (9), TOTAL% – .5209
Since the start of 2010, the only two pitchers in the Majors (min. 300 IP) with a lower K/9 than Mike Pelfrey’s 4.91 mark are Carl Pavano and Mark Buehrle.

16. Florida: Last week – 16, WAR% – .519 (17), FAN% – .525 (7), TOTAL% – .5207
The “Chris Coghlan, center fielder” experiment was a bigger ball of fail than Cowboys & Aliens, but since he went down his three main replacements — Mike Cameron, Bryan Petersen and DeWayne Wise — have performed so well that the Fish have rebounded to rank 11th in center field UZR and 14th in center field DRS.

17. Chicago White Sox: Last week – 18, WAR% – .525 (15), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .513
The key for all pitchers as they get older is to figure out how to remain effective as they lose velocity. By walking fewer guys on a rate basis than he ever has before, Jake Peavy seems to be making that transition as we speak.

18. Toronto: Last week – 17, WAR% – .517 (18), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .509
Brett Lawrie broke out in his first weekend as a Major Leaguer faster than Nicki Minaj broke out of her top on Good Morning America.

19. Los Angeles Dodgers: Last week – 19, WAR% – .509 (19), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .502
Javy Guerra is the epitome of the “saves can from anywhere, so don’t overpay” meme. Before the season, Guerra had not yet pitched in the Majors, and didn’t make the Dodgers’ top 10 prospects for FanGraphs, Baseball Prospectus, Baseball America or ESPN — yet, here he is, rocking a 2.48 FIP and notching 10 saves in his first 27 games in the Show.

20. San Diego: Last week – 20, WAR% – .494 (22), FAN% – .494 (17), TOTAL% – .494
With identical WAR and FAN percentages of .494, the Padres are this week’s They Are Who We Thought They Were winner.

21. Chicago Cubs: Last week – 21, WAR% – .477 (24), FAN% – .506 (14), TOTAL% – .485
It’s just 14 innings, but over the past 30 days Jeff Samardzija has struck out 9.64 batters per nine and, even more importantly, only walked 3.86 batters per nine innings, for a healthy 2.50 K/BB mark. Perhaps there is more goodness to come from the Golden Domer?

22. Washington: Last week – 24, WAR% – .495 (21), FAN% – .457 (26), TOTAL% – .484
I know he doesn’t claim the Nationals as his team, but this seems as good a spot as any to wish #1 Expos’ fan Jonah Keri well, as he heads over to Grantland after today to join Rany Jazayerli to provide what will surely be some of the best baseball coverage on the planet.

23. Oakland: Last week – 25, WAR% – .476 (25), FAN% – .481 (23), TOTAL% – .478
Before this season, Brandon McCarthy had seen action in five different Major League seasons, but over the weekend he set his career-high for innings pitched (108.2), hurling eight shutout innings against the Rays.

24. Cleveland: Last week – 26, WAR% – .488 (23), FAN% – .451 (27), TOTAL% – .476
Jason Kipnis has had a memorable introduction to big-league ball. Last week, he not only tied for the Major League lead in homers, but he also tied for third in the game in WAR at 0.7.

25. Kansas City: Last week – 23, WAR% – .499 (20), FAN% – .420 (29), TOTAL% – .475
The Royals, Giants and White Sox are the only three teams who have five relievers (min. 30 IP) with a K% of 21% or better.

26. Minnesota: Last week – 22, WAR% – .421 (28), FAN% – .537 (5), TOTAL% – .455
After finishing 13th (or tied for 13th) in reliever WAR each of the past three seasons, the Twins’ bullpen corps ranks dead last this year, at -0.8.

27. Seattle: Last week – 29, WAR% – .437 (27), FAN% – .469 (24), TOTAL% – .447
If you’d said at the beginning of the year that the more valuable part of the Mariners’ Cliff Lee bounty this season would be Blake Beavan and not Justin Smoak, I would have … well, I guess it’s not that farfetched. On Saturday, Beavan became the first Mariners’ hurler to start his career with six straight quality starts, and his 0.6 WAR now trumps Smoak’s 0.3.

28. Pittsburgh: Last week – 27, WAR% – .443 (26), FAN% – .438 (28), TOTAL% – .442
Well, that was fun while it lasted. Still, this wasn’t really supposed to be the Pirates’ year, and they did have a positive run differential over a three month span (+20 from May-July). That’s something to build on for next year, and was certainly more excitement than the Bucs have produced in a long time.

29. Baltimore: Last week – 28, WAR% – .409 (30), FAN% – .500 (16), TOTAL% – .438
One of the silver linings of moving Derrek Lee and Koji Uehara was getting Chris Davis regular playing time. Though he is hampered by a potentially bum right shoulder, it will be interesting to watch and see if Davis produces down the stretch now that he is slated to get some regular playing time.

30. Houston: Last week – 30, WAR% – .413 (29), FAN% – .370 (30), TOTAL% – .400
While playing for Houston means he’s unlikely to get too much shine on the national radar, Houston outfielder J.D. Martinez — who was #8 on Marc Hulet’s Astros’ Top 10 Prospects list before the season — is having a pretty nice start to his Major League career.