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.
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.