FanGraphs Power Rankings – 9/12/11

If you listened to people like David Ortiz or the “Curly-Haired Boyfriend,” you would think that the Red Sox season was mere seconds from hitting the iceberg. But that is hardly the case. Despite their pitching woes — the Red Sox rotation has compiled a 6.43 ERA in the past 30 days, the next-to-worst mark in the game — the Red Sox aren’t in any real danger of missing the playoffs. The Red Sox’s TOTAL% didn’t drop at all last week, and is higher than it was a month ago. Nearly everyone on their offense is performing well right now, and the one player who isn’t — Dustin Pedroia — won’t be cold for long. In addition, the Sox still have seven games left with their whipping boys, the Baltimore Orioles. A story of the big, bad Red Sox choking would whip the mainstream media into a frenzy the likes of which we rarely see, but in a month devoid of easy storylines, the “Boston’s rapid demise” story will almost certainly amount to little more than media wishcasting.

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

1. New York Yankees: Last week – 1, WAR% – .676 (1), FAN% – .580 (2), TOTAL% – .665
I can’t be sure given the dearth of news on the subject, but I think the Yankees finally promoted Jesus Montero. Is that right? Can someone double check that for me?

2. Boston: Last week – 2, WAR% – .668 (2), FAN% – .605 (1), TOTAL% – .661
The key for any player trying to make his way in the big leagues is how they adjust after the competition adjusts to them. In July and August, the league adjusted to Josh Reddick, and his performance dipped. He has bounced back somewhat in September, and though his latest hot streak is BABIP-fueled, it’s still an encouraging sign.

3. Philadelphia: Last week – 4, WAR% – .622 (3), FAN% – .556 (3), TOTAL% – .614
Ryan Howard may be overrated by those outside sabremetric circles, but give him credit for one thing — he hits for power. Howard’s ISO from 2006-present of .288 is trumped only by Albert Pujols’ .290 clip.

4. Texas: Last week – 3, WAR% – .620 (4), FAN% – .525 (7), TOTAL% – .610
Congrats to Mike Napoli, who tallied a .750 BABIP last week to become the BABIP’er of the Week.

5. Milwaukee: Last week – 5, WAR% – .581 (6), FAN% – .519 (9), TOTAL% – .575
The Brewers actually didn’t do that bad covering for Rickie Weeks while he was out, as their second basemen as a group posted positive WAR’s in both August as well as thus far in September. But getting Weeks back, even at less than 100 percent, will give the Crew that much more depth in October.

6. Arizona: Last week – 6, WAR% – .583 (5), FAN% – .463 (25), TOTAL% – .571
J.J. Putz was tough before he got injured at the end of June, but since his return, he’s been tougher than leather. He has only allowed two runs and walked only two batters in his 18 appearances since his return, and hasn’t allowed a run in his last 10 outings.

7. St. Louis: Last week – 7, WAR% – .570 (7), FAN% – .512 (12), TOTAL% – .564
Chris Carpenter may have given the Cardinals a discount on his contract extension, but if it paves the way for the RedBirds to resign Pujols, Carpenter will never pay for another meal in St. Louis as long as he lives. Which is nice.

8. Los Angeles of Anaheim: Last week – 9, WAR% – .560 (8), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .5522
Mike Trout had a rough go of it last week, striking out in six of his 17 plate appearances and posting just a .127 wOBA…and he was still more valuable than Vernon Wells.

9. Tampa Bay: Last week – 8, WAR% – .553 (10), FAN% – .537 (5), TOTAL% – .5516
This worked well last time, so let’s try it again: Matt Moore, hurrah!!!

10. Detroit: Last week – 10, WAR% – .556 (9), FAN% – .512 (12), TOTAL% – .551
Intriguing idea for the Tigers this offseason — take the $26 million coming off the books from Carlos Guillen, Magglio Ordonez and Brad Penny, and give it to Jose Reyes on a four year, $100 million deal (with the idea that you pay more for less years given his injury issues). Then you move Jhonny Peralta to second base, stick Brennan Boesch and Ryan Raburn in the platoon that they’ve always been destined to share out in right field, and ka-boom! — championship offense.

11. Chicago White Sox: Last week – 13, WAR% – .549 (11), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .542
Though this may be Mark Buehrle’s last season with the White Sox, the Pale Hose will have good options to replace him in Zach Stewart and Chris Sale, who may make the transition back to starter next season.

12. Cincinnati: Last week – 11, WAR% – .546 (12), FAN% – .494 (17), TOTAL% – .541
In any of the past five seasons, Mike Leake’s 2011 K/BB of 3.22 would be for anywhere from 15th – 22nd best in the game. This year, it ranks 27th. Tough break for Leake (well, not really, he probably doesn’t care) but don’t let it deter you when you go looking for cheap pitchers next fantasy season.

13. Atlanta: Last week – 12, WAR% – .544 (13), FAN% – .506 (14), TOTAL% – .540
Atlanta’s brooming in Philly last week raised the question of can Atlanta hang with the tougher teams (a question that didn’t go away this weekend in St. Louis). Against the other 14 teams in the top half of the Rankings, Atlanta is 28-33 and has been outscored by 23 runs. Contrast that to Philly, who is 38-20 against those opponents, and has outscored them by 64 runs. Ruh roh Raggy!

14. Colorado: Last week – 14, WAR% – .523 (15), FAN% – .556 (3), TOTAL% – .526
Given Wilin Rosario’s widely varying offensive performance in the Minors, it is important that the Rockies get a good look at him this month, but that doesn’t mean it should come at the complete expense of Chris Iannetta, whose OBP and wOBA both rank in the top five among catchers this season (min. 300 PA).

15. Los Angeles Dodgers: Last week – 15, WAR% – .526 (14), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .522
If Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley finish the year strong as hitters, they could end up with higher wRC+’s than Rafael Furcal did in his time with the boys in blue this summer.

16. Florida: Last week – 17, WAR% – .516 (16), FAN% – .525 (7), TOTAL% – .517
Astute fantasy owners are already looking forward to next year, and Matt Dominguez — who finally made his Major League debut last week — is one of a number of young players to watch for next season.

17. San Francisco: Last week – 16, WAR% – .515 (17), FAN% – .519 (9), TOTAL% – .515
Since 2009, only five qualified relievers have a better xFIP than Sergio Romo.

18. Toronto: Last week – 18, WAR% – .507 (18), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .505
After more than three years on the shelf, Dustin McGowan once again toed the rubber this week for the Blue Jays. The results weren’t overwhelming, particularly in his start yesterday, but that’s not really the point — the victory was that he made it back at all.

19. New York Mets: Last week – 19, WAR% – .495 (20), FAN% – .519 (9), TOTAL% – .497
On a day where most everyone in the country paid a loving tribute to both the heroes and victims of 9/11, Major League Baseball, who wouldn’t let the Mets wear FDNY, NYPD and/or first responder hats last night, will be remembered best for once again having less common sense than Lindsay Lohan. Owners are always quick to defend Bud Selig because of all the money he has made them, but completely avoidable PR disasters like this one under his watch — which are only exacerbated when you flip over to NBC and see Rex Ryan and Jason Garrett wearing the same hats the Mets wanted to wear (not to mention the NFL relaxing its uniform rules so that players could wear red, white and blue cleats and gloves yesterday) — continuously tarnish the game.

20. Chicago Cubs: Last week – 20, WAR% – .490 (22), FAN% – .506 (14), TOTAL% – .492
Between Tim Collins and Bryan LaHair — whose .663 wOBA with the Cubs last week was second in the Majors only to Napoli — Worcester, Mass. is enjoying some long overdue time in the spotlight. When does Tanyon Sturtze make his comeback?

21. Kansas City: Last week – 21, WAR% – .498 (19), FAN% – .420 (29), TOTAL% – .491
With a 3.72 FIP and 3.87 xFIP, Felipe Paulino has been the Royals’ best starter this season, which is pretty sweet when you consider that they didn’t have to give up any players in return to acquire him in trade from the Rockies.

22. Washington: Last week – 24, WAR% – .491 (21), FAN% – .457 (26), TOTAL% – .487
Must…avoid…temptation…to…gush…about…Strasburg……hey, did you hear that the Nats moved Ivan Rodriguez to a bench role? Ha, there, I did it!

23. San Diego: Last week – 22, WAR% – .47642 (24), FAN% – .494 (17), TOTAL% – .478
Driven by ridiculous .450+ BABIP’s in August and September, Nick Hundley is now the second-most valuable position player on the Pads this season. Depending on your persepective, that’s either good for Hundley — who spent a good chunk of the season on the disabled list — or bad for the Padres.

24. Oakland: Last week – 25, WAR% – .47636 (25), FAN% – .481 (23), TOTAL% – .477
So, when Angelina Jolie showed up to the Moneyball premiere wearing a handcuff, was it merely a fashion statement, or was she trying to symbolize what it’s been like to be an A’s hitter this year?

25. Cleveland: Last week – 23, WAR% – .479 (23), FAN% – .451 (27), TOTAL% – .476
Two weeks ago, Shelley Duncan’s season looked like one to forget, but he erased any concern by bashing five homers in his last eight games.

26. Seattle: Last week – 26, WAR% – .433 (26), FAN% – .469 (24), TOTAL% – .437
With 28 K’s and just four walks in his last four starts (26 innings), Michael Pineda is back to flashing the dominant form that he did at the season’s outset.

27. Pittsburgh: Last week – 27, WAR% – .432 (27), FAN% – .438 (28), TOTAL% – .432
Now that Jeff Locke has graduated to the Majors, the Pirates could conceivably credit 40% of their starting rotation next year to the Nate McLouth trade. That’s pretty tasty, and stealth trades like that likely helped Neal Huntington get his contract extension.

28. Baltimore: Last week – 28, WAR% – .415 (29), FAN% – .500 (16), TOTAL% – .424
In what might be his final full season in the Majors, Vladimir Guerrero — never a patient hitter to start with — is walking at a career low rate, and is not hitting the ball as far when he makes contact. As a result, he has been the very definition of replacement level, and at a salary of $8 million, a very poor investment for the O’s.

29. Houston: Last week – 30, WAR% – .423 (28), FAN% – .370 (30), TOTAL% – .417
From April ‘til July, the Astros were outscored by 1.20 runs per game. Since, they’ve only been outscored by .87 runs per game. It’s not much, but it’s progress, and the better play of late has pulled the ‘Stros out of the Rankings basement for the first time all season.

30. Minnesota: Last week – 29, WAR% – .396 (30), FAN% – .537 (5), TOTAL% – .411
Forgive me, but when I think of Twins management possibly going “all in,” I think more of “The Situation” than I do Mike McDermott.

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Paul Swydan is the co-managing editor of The Hardball Times, a writer and editor for FanGraphs and a writer for ESPN MLB Insider and the Boston Globe. Follow him on Twitter @Swydan.

15 Responses to “FanGraphs Power Rankings – 9/12/11”

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  1. k-dogs homie says:

    damn oakland is good at home but bad at road. 7 games at home this week!

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  2. 123 says:

    ooooooooommmmmg colorado 14th… they could make a run for NL WEST! google jack moore buster posey injury opens door for colorado!!! best read on fangraphs. you will thank me!

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  3. Jeff says:

    I don’t know about Brennan Boesch platooning with Raburn. Last year Boesch had a massive reverse split. This year he’s back to having a standard platoon split, but he’s still hitting lefties a good deal better than Raburn.

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  4. RC says:

    The problem with all the things predicting that the redsox have an 80%+ chance of making the playoffs, is that they assume the Red Sox are still a .580 team.

    They’re not that right now. With 1 starter, they’re probably a .300 team, and they’ve only got a 3 game lead.

    Its really hard to win games when your starters are all gving you 4IP, 3ER type starts. And thats pretty much what they’re going to continue to get from John Lackey, Wakefield, Miller, and the guys they’re pulling up from AAA that aren’t ready. Their best option of winning some games is to move Aceves back to the rotation.

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    • Ben says:

      True, the predictions and computer models that make them are flawed in their reliance on past performance. But another big factor is that there are only 17 games to play, and the Rays are still 3.5 games back. 7 of Boston’s remaining games are against the Orioles, 11 of the Rays’ remaining games are against the Red Sox or Yankees, and most of those games are on the road. This makes the Rays’ keeping up their current hot streak, and the Sox keeping up their current cold streak, less likely.

      Let’s say, though, that it’s a best case scenario for the Rays and they win 70% of their remaining games, finishing the season 12-5. So Tampa finishes 93-69. In that case, all Boston would have to do is finish 9-7 against a cupcake schedule. If the Rays had caught fire last month, it would be a different story, but there just isn’t enough time for them to catch the Sox at this point. At least, it’s very unlikely.

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      • Aaron (UK) says:

        But the pact Tampa Bay are at Boston helps, because then that means their results are (perfectly) correlated for those 4 games i.e. a continued hot streak for the Rays necessarily continues the Sox’s cold streak. Isolating that series (which TB almost certainly need to win), if the Rays take it 3-1 (maybe a 20% chance) they are only 1.5 behind and if they can sweep (say 4%) they are 0.5 ahead.

        On top of that, if the Rays do pull it back the Yankees will probably be well clear and might start resting starters, especially in the season finale @ TB. They might also (subconsciously or otherwise) play a bit harder against Boston and softer against TB – logically if they think the Sox are the bigger postseason threat why not try to eliminate them before they get there?

        Of course, Baltimore complete suckitude probably renders all of the above moot.

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      • RC says:

        Honestly, at this point, if I was a truly neutral team, I’d rather play the sox than the orioles.

        If you can keep the sox to less than about 8 runs, you’re going to win.

        As to “All the redsox have to do is finish 9-7 against the cupcake schedule”, they’ve gone 2-9 this month, so that might be a tall order.

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      • Rex Manning Day says:

        I think the chances of Tampa overcoming Boston are better than the numbers make them seem, but still a far cry from the general media consensus of an imminent collapse. Basically, the chances of TB making the playoffs are equal to the chances that Tampa sweeps Boston this weekend. If they sweep, they have an excellent shot. If Boston can win just one game, though, things will be pretty difficult for Tampa.

        Let’s say Boston only wins one game each against Toronto, New York, and Tampa. As long as they can win both series against the .397 Orioles (against whom Boston is .727 this year), they’ll end the year with 8 more wins. That means that in addition to taking 3/4 from Boston, Tampa needs to go 8-4 against Baltimore and Toronto (ok, easy enough) and New York. New York, mind you, is the only team in the AL East against whom TB has a losing record this year. And if they do that, they’ll still only be tied, and would have to play a 1-game playoff to grab the WC.

        Of course, if TB does manage to sweep Boston, they only need to play .500 in their other games to force Boston to go 8-4 to secure a playoff shot. Which means Boston has to win each of its remaining series–tough, but not all that bad when you consider those 7 games against Baltimore.

        Anyway, you can come up with all sorts of hypotheticals for both sides, but the upshot is always that either Tampa needs to sweep Boston or Boston needs to collapse against everyone else if Tampa’s going to have a serious shot. It’s certainly possible, but a lot of things have to go right for Tampa, and a lot of things have to (continue to) go wrong for Boston, for it to work out.

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      • RC says:

        Again, the idea that these orioles series are going to be gimme’s just isn’t realistic.

        The Redsox have one starter who is above replacement level. They’re likely to be trotting out 2 starters with 6+ ERAs, and two more who might even be worse. They’re getting 4IP per start. The bullpen is shredded.

        The Red Sox, in starts other than by Lester (and Bedard/Beckett if they come back), won’t be a favorite in any of their games, past performance be damned.

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  5. Ila Smeltz says:

    Many thanks for taking the time to write down this article. It’s been very useful. It couldn’t have arrive at a better time for me!

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  6. Caveman Jones says:

    You weren’t kidding about Pedroia not being cold for long. 4 for 4 tonight with 2 doubles and 2 HRs with 5 RBIs.

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  7. CDI says:

    Wow. nice. From now on, I’m listening to *only* David Ortiz as my fantasy analyst. In retrospect, he completely nailed it, and this author was 100% wrong.

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