FanGraphs Power Rankings – 9/26/11

Over the past two weeks, baseball fans have really pricked their ears up, as Wild Card battles that were seemingly in the bag suddenly became heated battles. As we enter the season’s final three days, both Wild Card leaders maintain slim one-game leads. What’s most interesting from a Power Rankings perspective is that if the Rankings hold as they are today, and the Red Sox and Cardinals come away with the two playoff berths, the eight teams in the playoffs will be the teams that rank one through eight in the Rankings. It’s not completely out of the question. While the Orioles have played hard down the stretch, they are still the Orioles, and anyone would rather play them than half of the Yankees’ lineup. In the National League, the Cards get to play the Astros, who suffered one of the worst defeats in their team’s history yesterday, while the Braves have to deal with the Phillies. The Phillies will throw a bullpen game on Wednesday, but before that, Atlanta has to deal with Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt. That would be a tough test at any time, but could be especially so at the moment, as Atlanta’s .296 wOBA ranks 26th in the game this month.

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

1. New York Yankees: Last week – 1, WAR% – .666 (1), FAN% – .580 (2), TOTAL% – .665
Congrats to The Captain, Derek Jeter, who tallied a .667 BABIP last week to become the BABIP’er of the Week.

2. Boston: Last week – 2, WAR% – .657 (2), FAN% – .605 (1), TOTAL% – .656
Daniel Bard is a good reliever, and some day he may be a great one, but he has had his struggles in pressure situations this season — his Clutch score of -1.17 is 13th worst among qualified relievers, and his four September meltdowns are tied for second in the Majors (only Antonio Bastardo has more).

3. Texas: Last week – 3, WAR% – .651 (3), FAN% – .525 (7), TOTAL% – .648
The magic of counting stats, lesson #576 — it seems that Michael Young, on the strength of a 200-hit campaign, is being talked up for MVP. Young has been no better than the fifth-best player on his own team, and you could knock down him further than that, depending on how you feel about the contributions of Josh Hamilton, Elvis Andrus and Matt Harrison, all of whom are within 0.5 WAR of Young.

4. Philadelphia: Last week – 4, WAR% – .603 (4), FAN% – .556 (3), TOTAL% – .603
Now that John Mayberry has cut down on his strikeouts and turned into a useful player, Charlie Manuel is now sitting three more capable outfielders — Mayberry, Domonic Brown and Ben Francisco — so that he can keep the corpse formerly known as Raul Ibanez in his lineup.

5. Milwaukee: Last week – 5, WAR% – .595 (5), FAN% – .519 (9), TOTAL% – .593
Tonight’s matchup of Charlie Morton versus Shaun Marcum has the lowest Pitcher NERD total, and is tied for the lowest Game NERD total. And that’s just fine with Brewers fans, who need an uneventful next three days so they can focus on trying to come up with a nickname for their fighting 2011 Brewers that is as cool as Harvey’s Wallbangers.

6. Arizona: Last week – 6, WAR% – .581 (6), FAN% – .463 (25), TOTAL% – .579
Chris Young is certainly playing better than he did in his initial 20-20 season, but his 2.6 batting runs is the lowest among the 13 players to put up 20-20 seasons this year.

7. St. Louis: Last week – 8, WAR% – .573 (7), FAN% – .512 (12), TOTAL% – .572
In extending Lance Berkman, the Cardinals have again taken a step to show Albert Pujols that they will be aggressive in trying to keep a good team around him. The timing of the deals for both Chris Carpenter and Berkman tell me that the Cards are going to try to do everything in their power to lock up Pujols while they still have exclusive negotiating rights with him.

8. Detroit: Last week – 7, WAR% – .571 (8), FAN% – .512 (12), TOTAL% – .570
This season, Alex Avila became the first Tigers catcher to have a five-win season since Mickey Tettleton in 1992.

9. Tampa Bay: Last week – 10, WAR% – .559 (9), FAN% – .537 (5), TOTAL% – .558
I have mentioned Detroit as a good destination for Jose Reyes, and I still think that is a good fit, but might the Rays be a stealth candidate for his services? The only team to receive a lower wOBA from its shortstops than Tampa this year has been the Giants, and the Rays could add Reyes and still probably stay under their all-time high in payroll. Yeah, it probably won’t happen, but such a move would make the Rays awfully tough to beat.

10. Los Angeles of Anaheim: Last week – 9, WAR% – .558 (10), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .557
There have been many good comeback stories this year, but Jerome Williams may have them all beat. Before this season, he hadn’t pitched professionally since 2009, and hadn’t pitched in the Majors since 2007, and has come back to put up a respectable 3.82 FIP this month for the Angels.

11. Chicago White Sox: Last week – 12, WAR% – .536 (11), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .535
Juan Pierre has shown this year that he no longer deserves an everyday role, but he still has a number of situational factors working in his favor that could make him valuable off the bench. He is still near impossible to strike out, he still hits lefties pretty well, and he still has speed, though he doesn’t always apply it an efficient manner.

12. Los Angeles Dodgers: Last week – 14, WAR% – .535 (12), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .533
Even though RBI have near-zero meaning, it would be cool to see Matt Kemp win the Triple Crown. Having said that, is there some sort of sabremetric triple crown that we can create (or has been created) so that we can stop following RBI altogether?

13. Cincinnati: Last week – 15, WAR% – .532 (13), FAN% – .494 (17), TOTAL% – .532
Drew Stubbs became the first Reds’ player to swipe 40 bags in a season since Deion Sanders in 1997. I don’t have anything terribly interesting to say about Stubbs (ok fine, he is one of only two qualified position players with a K% greater than 30% this year) I just wanted to note that I miss Neon Deion. If you grew up in the ‘90’s, and didn’t cock your hand to your head as you high-stepped past the parked cars or orange cones that served as your playground goal line…well, I can’t finish that sentence, because you did. You know you did. Don’t lie to me! Ok, right, back to baseball.

14. San Francisco: Last week – 13, WAR% – .529 (t-14), FAN% – .519 (9), TOTAL% – .5290
The Giants are the only team in baseball this season to not have any qualified position players (among players who played with one team for the entire season) with a positive WAR, as the only such qualified position player on the Giants is Aubrey Huff and his -0.8 WAR.

15. Atlanta: Last week – 11, WAR% – .529 (t-14), FAN% – .506 (14), TOTAL% – .5288
Everyone who thought that Alex Gonzalez would be carrying the Braves’ offense in September, raise their hand!

16. Kansas City: Last week – 18, WAR% – .521 (16), FAN% – .420 (29), TOTAL% – .519
If Luis Mendoza is good — and despite back-to-back starts with WPA’s of .228 and .463 I’m nowhere near prepared to say that he is — two members of the 2012 Royals rotation (the other being Felipe Paulino) could have been acquired in trade for just cash. Remember that when some team pays Joel Pineiro six million a year in free agency.

17. Colorado: Last week – 16, WAR% – .515 (17), FAN% – .556 (3), TOTAL% – .516
Eric Young Jr. has had a lofty BABIP this month, but as a slap hitter that will happen sometimes. What bears watching is his BB%, because while it has improved slightly this season, his swing percentages remain virtually the same, which makes me wary about any real improvement. Either way, it’s something to build on for next year, which is more than he could say last year at this time.

18. Florida: Last week – 17, WAR% – .512 (18), FAN% – .525 (7), TOTAL% – .512
In Anibal Sanchez, Ricky Nolasco and Chris Volstad, the Marlins are one of two teams to have three qualified starters in the top 35 in xFIP. The other is the Phillies.

19. Toronto: Last week – 19, WAR% – .492 (19), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .492
With all of the positive moves the Blue Jays have made to shape their roster throughout 2011, it somehow doesn’t seem fair that they will win less games than they did last year.

20. New York Mets: Last week – 20, WAR% – .489 (21), FAN% – .519 (9), TOTAL% – .490
If there’s one person that Jose Reyes should be taking advice from as he enters free agency, it’s Daryl Strawberry — he has all the answers.

21. Washington: Last week – 22, WAR% – .490 (20), FAN% – .457 (26), TOTAL% – .489
Ross Detwiler has set himself up as an intriguing candidate for the Nationals rotation next season, as he has allowed three earned runs or less in eight of nine starts to close out the season, and you could do a lot worse from your fifth starter than the 106 xFIP- that Detwiler has compiled this year.

22. Cleveland: Last week – 23, WAR% – .485 (23), FAN% – .451 (27), TOTAL% – .485

23. Chicago Cubs: Last week – 21, WAR% – .480 (23), FAN% – .506 (14), TOTAL% – .481
Alfonso Soriano feels slighted by having to hit seventh, and he has a case, sort of. The average 7th-hole hitter is hitting .248/.310/.386 this season, while Soriano is hitting .244/.288/.466 overall, and .258/.294/.498 in 221 plate appearances in the 7-hole. So congrats to him, for finding the one way in which his season could be cast in a favorable light.

24. San Diego: Last week – 24, WAR% – .473 (24), FAN% – .494 (17), TOTAL% – .474
Even if it is just small sample sized ridiculousness, how delicious is it that Kyle Blanks is the Padres’ third-best fielder by UZR (and fourth-best by DRS)?

25. Oakland: Last week – 25, WAR% – .464 (25), FAN% – .481 (23), TOTAL% – .464
The danger of giving out contract extensions to interim managers without interviewing potential alternatives is that you may be overrating the effects of a small sample, which can lead to suboptimal decisions (see: Tracy, Jim). And there isn’t even a ton of evidence that Bob Melvin has done all that spectacularly — the A’s were outscored by 0.24 runs per game under Bob Geren this year, and have been outscored by 0.27 runs per game under Melvin. Melvin simply had the good fortune to not be at the helm during a nine-game losing streak.

26. Seattle: Last week – 26, WAR% – .436 (26), FAN% – .469 (24), TOTAL% – .436
Justin Smoak had at least 60 plate appearances in five different months this season. He had a wRC+ of better than 100 in four of them, and he may have been injured during the fifth.

27. Baltimore: Last week – 27, WAR% – .426 (28), FAN% – .500 (16), TOTAL% – .4275
If the Rays or Angels come back to overtake the Red Sox for the AL Wild Card, one of the men they’ll want to send a thank you note to is Robert Andino, whose bases-clearing double off of Jonathan Papelbon on Tuesday led the O’s past the Sox. For the game, Andino had a WPA of .517, which is his career-high for a single game.

28. Pittsburgh: Last week – 28, WAR% – .427 (27), FAN% – .438 (28), TOTAL% – .4269
With the Pirates slide, people stopped paying attention to Andrew McCutchen, but he has posted above-average wRC+ marks in July, August and September, and is poised to become the first Pirates player in the top 20 in position-player WAR since Jason Bay in 2006.

29. Houston: Last week – 29, WAR% – .420 (29), FAN% – .370 (30), TOTAL% – .419
Yes, there is little real significance to Major League Baseball’s 200,000th game, which was played in Houston on Saturday. But it is cool to go back and look at the games played over the years. Back in 1876, only 260 games were played. 1,500 games a season didn’t occur until the Astros and Mets joined the National League in 1962. The advent of the Mariners and Blue Jays pushed MLB past the 2,000 games per season plateau, and these days we’re pushing past 2,400 games a season. That’s a lot of baseball. Can we has more?

30. Minnesota: Last week – 30, WAR% – .414 (30), FAN% – .537 (5), TOTAL% – .416
The Twins are the only team in baseball without at least one three-win player this season.

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Paul Swydan is the managing editor of The Hardball Times and a writer and editor for FanGraphs. He has written for the Boston Globe, ESPN MLB Insider and ESPN the Magazine, among others. Follow him on Twitter @Swydan.

28 Responses to “FanGraphs Power Rankings – 9/26/11”

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  1. A Whit says:

    Boston currently at 2 is a joke.

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    • Brian S. says:

      Didn’t you see their gritty victory yesterday against half of the Yankees regular lineup and all of thier mop up relievers?

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      • Hank says:

        Calling Scott Proctor a mop up reliever is an insult to mopup relievers everywhere.

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      • Will you people just stop?

        Per NY fans, if Laffey (who sucks immensely) was left in and things didn’t work out – oh, the worst. And if Proctor did well and was then yanked – oh, the worst. Or if anyone else was put in and they failed, this or that guy doesn’t know what the hell they’re doing.

        Look, you turds, your team is on the cusp of 100 wins, and that with an opening day rotation of CC, AJ, Hughes, Garcia and someone other slop. Stop your insistent bitching, for crying out loud.

        You don’t know better than Girardi, nor Cashman, nor that kid with acne chasing foul balls. You know nothing, Act like it.

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      • Hank says:

        SoS…. Thanks that’s helpful. Scott Proctor is great and it was clearly the best decision with a guy with a 1.76 ERA watching (and lower FIP/xFIP if you prefer)

        Not a Yankees fan either, but hey might as well call me one so you can just making sweeping generalizations.

        Must be a Red Sox fan who thinks anything anti-Boston must be coming from a NY fan (hey look sweeping generalizations are fun!) Now I just need to work in the phrase “you people”…..

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      • Andrew says:

        Nice generalized assumptions and insults there SoS. I’m sure that it takes decades of experience in the baseball realm to deduct that Scott Proctor is perhaps not a very good relief pitcher, especially at present. The Yankees obviously weren’t going to treat the game like it was game 7 of the World Series, which is fine. They gave it a shot, but there’s no point in overtaxing their bullpen in a meaningless game. Bringing in Proctor was obviously a move made in recognition of that fact.

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    • Steve says:

      This writer is obviously a fan of the redsox. Last week he was called out on this. Him and his redsox certainly are a # 2.
      redsox are a 6 and 18 team for the month, and if he had a vote for MVP it would be 1. ellsbury, 2. pedroia, 3. ortiz, 4 – 10 who cares.

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      • Matt says:

        Every week he posts the methodology behind the rankings. They are not at all based on his own opinion. At this point, they are almost entirely based on WAR, and that’s it. So whether or not they are accurate, they are definitely not a product of the writer’s bias.

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      • Tom B says:

        You been posting this nonsense on multiple articles now.
        You clearly have no idea how those leaderboards were constructed, despite a link at the top of every single one of them explaining how they work.

        The original list was the fans expected winning percentage for each team. Not the authors.

        Over the course of the year the list was progressively weighted by actual WAR %. Not by the author’s opinion.

        At this point the list is constructed almost entirely by WAR %.

        The authors opinion never, ever comes into play.

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      • The system obviously does not work but just as obviously, there’s no favoritism involved. The fallacy is with Wins over Replacement. Just like a team that scores 18 in one game and 2 in another 4 is not a 5+ runs per game offense, a team decimated by injury and ineffectiveness should not be judged by what they did yesterday.

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    • James says:

      Go back to ESPN

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  2. ecp says:

    The Royals AAA pitching coach reworked some points of Mendoza’s delivery this year. I know it’s the same old cliche (He changed something! He’s in the best shape of his life!), but having watched both of his starts he is definitely NOT the same pitcher he has been in the past. Cautious optimism? My concern is that he doesn’t get a lot of Ks and didn’t in AAA either; not sure how that will play up in the long run at the major league level. But anyway, if he’s usable, with Paulino that makes two nifty pieces of scouting.

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  3. TC says:

    Sabermetric triple crown:

    League Leader in:


    I feel like each is pretty much a “sabr” analog to a traditional triple crown statistic…?

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    • Scott says:

      Sabermetric triple crown would be:


      I mean, the individual components of WAR should be the triple crown, right?

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      • TC says:

        Probably, but I just looked for something that would mirror the actual triple crown, in a way. I just thought it would be three offensive-only pieces of data rather than any defense/baserunning only because thats how the real triple crown is.

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    • gdc says:

      To avoid any evaluative stats such as WAR, RC, any park/league adjusted ones but simply numbers, which favor players in good hitting environments and good teams (even if not getting more RBI opps, just getting more PA), we have the well-regarded OBP and SLG. To add a counting one to add value to players who get in more games instead of all rate stats, try TB. So this might be a “more valuable traditional triple crown” instead of a SABR one but the winners are:
      2009 Albert Pujols   (STL) 0.443/0.658/374
      2000 Todd Helton *  (COL) 0.463/0.698/405
      1997 Larry Walker *  (COL) 0.452/0.72/409
      1993 Barry Bonds *  (SFG) 0.458/0.677/365
      1981 Mike Schmidt+   (PHI) 0.435/0.644/228
      1965 Willie Mays+   (SFG) 0.398/0.645/360
      1948 Stan Musial+ *  (STL) 0.45/0.702/429
      1943 Stan Musial+ *  (STL) 0.425/0.562/347
      1933 Chuck Klein+ *  (PHI) 0.422/0.602/365
      1925 Rogers Hornsby+   (STL) 0.489/0.756/381
      1924 Rogers Hornsby+   (STL) 0.507/0.696/373
      1922 Rogers Hornsby+   (STL) 0.459/0.722/450
      1921 Rogers Hornsby+   (STL) 0.458/0.639/378
      1920 Rogers Hornsby+   (STL) 0.431/0.559/329
      1915 Gavvy Cravath   (PHI) 0.393/0.51/266
      1910 Sherry Magee   (PHI) 0.445/0.507/263
      1909 Honus Wagner+   (PIT) 0.42/0.489/242
      1908 Honus Wagner+   (PIT) 0.415/0.542/308
      1907 Honus Wagner+   (PIT) 0.408/0.513/264
      1904 Honus Wagner+   (PIT) 0.423/0.52/255
      1970 Carl Yastrzemski+ *  (BOS) 0.452/0.592/335
      1967 Carl Yastrzemski+ *  (BOS) 0.418/0.622/360
      1966 Frank Robinson+   (BAL) 0.41/0.637/367
      1951 Ted Williams+ *  (BOS) 0.464/0.556/295
      1949 Ted Williams+ *  (BOS) 0.49/0.65/368
      1947 Ted Williams+ *  (BOS) 0.499/0.634/335
      1946 Ted Williams+ *  (BOS) 0.497/0.667/343
      1942 Ted Williams+ *  (BOS) 0.499/0.648/338
      1938 Jimmie Foxx+   (BOS) 0.462/0.704/398
      1934 Lou Gehrig+ *  (NYY) 0.465/0.706/409
      1926 Babe Ruth+ *  (NYY) 0.516/0.737/365
      1923 Babe Ruth+ *  (NYY) 0.545/0.764/399
      1919 Babe Ruth+ *  (BOS) 0.456/0.657/284
      1917 Ty Cobb+ *  (DET) 0.444/0.57/335
      1906 George Stone *  (SLB) 0.417/0.501/291
      1901 Nap Lajoie+   (PHA) 0.463/0.643/350

      This takes out the slap-hitting no walk batting champs and reveals many MVP’s and dominating hitters and, well, <a href=" Stone. Yeah, 20 triples certainly helped but that was a short but excellent career of someone I wouldn’t have heard of otherwise.

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      • Andrew says:

        Using TB and SLG is pretty redundant. If you lead the league in one, you probably lead the league in the other as well, as long as you played the full season. Also, SLG is not especially well-regarded among sabermetrician because it improperly weights the value of certain events (i.e., a home run is worth something like 3 singles, not four). I think that OBP and ISO are good stats to start with. ISO does a good job of measuring power and nothing else despite the improper weighting of SLG%. I believe that an article here on FG recently tackled the under/overrating of certain hitters’ powers by replacing the weights in SLG% with the proper weights. As for the third stat, I’m not sure – perhaps some contextual stat such as WPA would add a useful dimension.

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    • Eminor3rd says:

      Can’t use wOBA because it’s a measure of everything. The SABR triple crown would be leader in just wOBA.

      Maybe OBP, ISO, WPA? That correlates well I think, even though it’s less advanced.

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      • Torgen says:

        Who says we need three crowns?

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      • don says:

        Because there’s a wOBA leader every year, so it’s less exciting. You need three things that are quasi-related so getting all 3 happens very rarely but *seems* possible.

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      • juan pierre's mustache says:

        why not just make it something irrelevant but highly unlikely then? go for clutch score, WAR in winning efforts only, and fewest number of swinging strikes. All of the rarity with none of the anyone caring!

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      • gdc says:

        Could substitute ISO for SLG. WPA is subjective since a leadoff solo HR really added more WPA in 1906 than 2006 and adjusting the formula would make it difficult to see during the year who were the leaders.
        SLG and TB are similar but the winner of TB can be a leadoff hitter with more PA, and the big SLG guys often draw more walks (Barry Bonds only led the league in TB once).
        In 111 years from 1901 to 2011 (current) there were 59 NL and 43 AL TB/SLG dual crowns (including a tie). That is about as common as HR/RBI (since you get one RBI min per HR) 48 NL and 51 AL.
        So avoiding outs (OBP) and power (SLG or ISO) are two keys to scoring runs. The third should somehow value durability and be a counting stat, even though that is also team-dependent.

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  4. Torgen says:

    WRT “With all of the positive moves the Blue Jays have made to shape their roster throughout 2011…”, when you consider the negative moves they made between 2010 and 2011, why doesn’t it seem fair? Two months of Colby Rasmus is going to have a hard time outweighing 4 months of Corey Patterson, even if Rasmus doesn’t get hurt. Have you forgotten how many plate appearances Jayson Nix got before they were even considering calling up Lawrie?

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  5. MK says:

    One thing that has bothered me about the power rankings is that it does not reflect the best team NOW. By using WAR, which is closey tied to wins, we shoud not be surprised that the teams with the most WAR get into the playoffs. A thought for next year, what if it were the cumuative WAR of players on the active roster, instead of accumulated WAR by the team. So when the Phils trade for Hunter Pence they get his WAR in there power rankings. Or when Cay Buckholtz goes down for the year, the Red Sox lose his WAR. Obviously, there are flaws with the system as well, but I think it would be an interesting take (at least for the second half of the season).

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    • Flip says:

      Problem is that the majority of Fangraph readers are Boston fans, so anything with a fan vote will likely have a Boston bias. Just look at the Fans Scouting Report for defensive stats. Any poll that has Darnell McDonald getting 4x more votes than Troy Tulowitzki, obviously has a problem.

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      • The Nicker says:

        Forget the Boston bias, the FANS projections had the Mets as the 9th best team in the majors at the start of the year.

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  6. dave in GB says:

    “27. Baltimore: Last week – 27, WAR% – .426 (28), FAN% – .500 (16), TOTAL% – .4275
    If the Rays or Angels come back to overtake the Red Sox for the AL Wild Card, one of the men they’ll want to send a thank you note to is Robert Andino….”

    And as I read this, Robert Andino hit a 3 run inside-the-park HR against Josh Beckett, which allows the Rays to tie Boston for the wild card.

    One thing about Andino; he does nothing that great, but he proved he can do just about everything you need. I’ve always pulled for him for some reason and I’m glad he finally put it all to together. He’d be OK as a starter, but he would be great as a super-sub.

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