FanGraphs Power Rankings – 9/5/11

Last week, I mentioned I was working on a theory, but didn’t have the time to flesh it out. This week, I present to you conclusive proof that the introductions I write for the Power Rankings have cooling properties. I haven’t written about specific teams every week in the intro, but when I have, the results have been jarring:

Date Team Rank Next Wk Rnk Current Rank
May 2 Indians 20 20 23
May 9 Indians 20 20 23
Jun 6 Indians 22 21 23
Jun 20 Tigers 9 11 10
Jun 27 Brewers 4 5 5
Jul 11 Pirates 25 26 27
Jul 18 Rangers 4 4 3
Aug 1 Reds 7 8 11
Aug 15 Giants 10 14 16
Aug 22 Mets 17 17 19

In the week after I wrote about a specific team, nine of the 10 teams either stayed the same or fell in the Rankings. In addition, nine of the 10 teams are doing worse today than when I wrote about them. The effect has been worse as of late, as the last three teams specifically mentioned in the intro have all fallen multiple spots in the Rankings. Now perhaps you’re saying to yourself, “But Paul, those teams were never that good anyway, and you were probably just stretching so you could talk about different teams.” But can you really take that chance? My advice to you would be to start bribing me so that I don’t write about your team in the intro next week!

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

1. New York Yankees: Last week – 1, WAR% – .690 (1), FAN% – .580 (2), TOTAL% – .674
Derek Jeter’s superhuman second half has taken his season from career-worst range to almost-career-worst range.

2. Boston: Last week – 2, WAR% – .670 (2), FAN% – .605 (1), TOTAL% – .660
The Red Sox have a rotation xFIP of 4.27, which is the third-worst mark in the game. It will easily be the worst mark among the eight playoff teams this year, and the question of who should be the club’s fourth starter in the playoffs is very much open for debate.

3. Texas: Last week – 4, WAR% – .619 (3), FAN% – .525 (7), TOTAL% – .607
For just the second time this season — and first since June 6 — a team has unseated the Phillies as the third-best team in the Rankings. This is certainly as high as Texas will climb in the Rankings, but after putting up 28 runs over the weekend in Fenway, you can bet that neither the Red Sox or Yankees want to face Texas in the playoffs.

4. Philadelphia: Last week – 3, WAR% – .615 (4), FAN% – .556 (3), TOTAL% – .605
This season, Carlos Ruiz is sporting a .374 on-base percentage, which is the third best mark in the game amongst catchers (min. 300 PA), trailing only Alex Avila and Mike Napoli.

5. Milwaukee: Last week – 5, WAR% – .592 (5), FAN% – .519 (9), TOTAL% – .583
Shaun Marcum is more solid than spectacular, but he has turned it on recently, allowing three runs or less in 10 of his past 11 starts.

6. Arizona: Last week – 8, WAR% – .576 (6), FAN% – .463 (25), TOTAL% – .5607
With their postseason odds up to 98%, it looks as though the D-backs are set to once again go from worst to first. Who’d have thunk it?

7. St. Louis: Last week – 7, WAR% – .568 (7), FAN% – .512 (12), TOTAL% – .5606
As Joe Posnanski pointed out the other day, Albert Pujols really had just the one bad month.

8. Tampa Bay: Last week – 6, WAR% – .557 (9), FAN% – .537 (5), TOTAL% – .554
What will be higher, the number of Most Valuable Player votes cast for Ben Zobrist or the number of bullets fired by McBain during his shootout with Mendoza’s associates?

9. Los Angeles of Anaheim: Last week – 11, WAR% – .560 (8), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .550
The normally punch-and-judyish Angels lineup has really turned up the power as of late — their .200 ISO as a team over the last 30 days is the third-best mark in the Majors, trailing only the Yankees and Blue Jays.

10. Detroit: Last week – 12, WAR% – .550 (t-10), FAN% – .512 (12), TOTAL% – .545
Congrats to Austin Jackson, who with a mark of .667 was this past week’s BABIP’er of the Week.

11. Cincinnati: Last week – 9, WAR% – .550 (t-10), FAN% – .494 (17), TOTAL% – .54270
After posting a .374 wOBA in his second tour of Louisville this season, Reds’ number-two prospect Devin Mesoraco should be an interesting guy to watch down the stretch.

12. Atlanta: Last week – 10, WAR% – .549 (12), FAN% – .506 (14), TOTAL% – .54266
Craig Kimbrel may have the National League Rookie of the Year Award in the bag already, but what is more surprising is that if it wasn’t for Brian McCann, Kimbrel would also have the unofficial distinction of being the Braves’ Most Valuable Player. For the season, only Kimbrel and McCann have a WAR greater than 3.0.

13. Chicago White Sox: Last week – 13, WAR% – .539 (13), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .531
We rarely talk about Mark Buehrle — in fact no one on the site has written about him since May. But he keeps grinding out successful season after successful season — he is now the 49th most valuable pitcher of the WAR era, and has an opportunity to move up several more spots on that list by the end of 2011.

14. Colorado: Last week – 14, WAR% – .517 (16), FAN% – .556 (3), TOTAL% – .522
After all the talk of how Dexter Fowler was regressing earlier this year, here we are in September and Fowler has piled up just as much WAR as he did in his first two seasons combined.

15. Los Angeles Dodgers: Last week – 16, WAR% – .525 (14), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .520
The recent outburst from James Loney has really set him back on his quest to win the Kim Kardashian wedding special DVD, which is the Power Rankings prize for worst offensive first baseman in the game. Too bad, I hear there’s going to be deleted scenes and everything!

16. San Francisco: Last week – 15, WAR% – .518 (15), FAN% – .519 (9), TOTAL% – .518
While the Giants finally put Aaron Rowand and Miguel Tejada out to pasture this week, their offense is still being dragged down by seven other players who sport a wRC+ under 80.

17. Florida: Last week – 18, WAR% – .503 (18), FAN% – .525 (7), TOTAL% – .506
Ricky Nolasco’s strikeout rate has dipped significantly this season, but he is also generating far more ground balls than he has in the past as well. The two elements have nearly balanced each other out in his overall line — his FIP- and xFIP- were 96 and 85 last year, and are 89 and 92 this year.

18. Toronto: Last week – 19, WAR% – .504 (17), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .502
The BABIP Gods have smiled upon Kelly Johnson in his first handful of games with the Blue Jays, giving the saber community the opportunity to say, “Aha, told you so!”

19. New York Mets: Last week – 17, WAR% – .495 (20), FAN% – .519 (9), TOTAL% – .498
Over the past three seasons, David Wright has the fourth-worst DRS among third basemen, and the worst UZR. But with the Mets already having a logjam at the other corner spots, is it even possible that the Mets can move Wright off of the hot corner?

20. Chicago Cubs: Last week – 21, WAR% – .4875 (23), FAN% – .506 (14), TOTAL% – .4901
The only shortstops in the past 20 years with more WAR through their age-21 seasons than Starlin Castro are Alex Rodriguez, Edgar Renteria and Elvis Andrus.

21. Kansas City: Last week – 23, WAR% – .500 (19), FAN% – .420 (29), TOTAL% – .4898
Luke Hochevar is still prone to the occasional shelling, but he has turned in the good outings more frequently this season. For 2011, he has almost as many starts with a WPA north of .200 (nine) as he did in the past three seasons combined (11).

22. San Diego: Last week – 20, WAR% – .4882 (22), FAN% – .494 (17), TOTAL% – .489
You really have to wonder if the difference between the Giants making the playoffs and not making the playoffs in 2009 was the decision to play Travis Ishikawa and the abominable Ryan Garko instead of Jesus Guzman, who put up a .383 wOBA at Fresno that season. Oh well, Padres fans aren’t complaining!

23. Cleveland: Last week – 24, WAR% – .4883 (21), FAN% – .451 (27), TOTAL% – .483
Jeanmar Gomez pitched much better in his second go-round at Triple-A this season, raising his K% while keeping his BB% constant. After allowing just one run in each of his last two starts with the Tribe, the still just 23-year old righty has once again become an intriguing possibility for the Indians’ 2012 rotation.

24. Washington: Last week – 22, WAR% – .484 (24), FAN% – .457 (26), TOTAL% – .480
Stephen Strasburg Stephen Strasburg Stephen Strasburg Stephen Strasburg STEPHEN STRASBURG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

25. Oakland: Last week – 25, WAR% – .475 (25), FAN% – .481 (23), TOTAL% – .476
Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of the A’s offseason will be what the team does with Daric Barton. If his injury heals and the A’s think he will bounce back, they could slide Brandon Allen to designated hitter. If not, and the A’s choose to cut him (I can’t imagine he would have much trade value) he could be an interesting flier.

26. Seattle: Last week – 26, WAR% – .429 (27), FAN% – .469 (24), TOTAL% – .435
The only keystone sackers with at least 250 plate appearances this season that have a better wRC+ than Dustin Ackley are Dustin Pedroia and Robinson Cano.

27. Pittsburgh: Last week – 28, WAR% – .433 (26), FAN% – .438 (28), TOTAL% – .433
The Pirates have quietly played some very good defense at the hot corner this season. According to UZR, the Pirates are tied for sixth-best in the Majors at third base, and that figure could improve in 2012 if Pedro Alvarez is permanently moved elsewhere.

28. Baltimore: Last week – 27, WAR% – .411 (29), FAN% – .500 (16), TOTAL% – .425
As a pitching staff, the Orioles have accumulated 0.7 less WAR than Roy Halladay.

29. Minnesota: Last week – 29, WAR% – .405 (30), FAN% – .537 (5), TOTAL% – .424
The numbers won’t blow you away, but in the first year of his two-year contract with the Twins, Carl Pavano has been worth the money — he will earn $8 million this year, but has already provided $10.4 M in value.

30. Houston: Last week – 30, WAR% – .421 (28), FAN% – .370 (30), TOTAL% – .414
For the second consecutive week, the Astros have posted a season-high in TOTAL%, and are threatening to climb out of the Rankings’ basement before season’s end.

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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.

8 Responses to “FanGraphs Power Rankings – 9/5/11”

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  1. MikeS says:

    Since you didn’t write about a specific team, maybe you can take credit for retrospectively jinxing Buehrle who had his worst outing of the year yesterday.

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  2. Naveed says:

    Courtesy of McCovey Chronicles, the reason the Giants didn’t play Jesus Guzman:

    Count how many mistakes he makes on that one play!

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. gnomez says:

    Why, WHY couldn’t you have written about the Brewers?

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  4. R. Johnston says:

    Derek Jeter’s career worst WAR is 2.6, and his almost-career-worst WAR is 3.8. Jeter’s vastly overrated if you consider the top seasons of his career or the average seasons of his career, but if you look primarily at his worst and almost-career-worst seasons he’s Honus Wagner.

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  5. Nick says:

    Jeter’s peak seasons per WAR actually match and beat out Manny Ramirez’s top peak seasons, to choose just one great player at random. Actually their careers sort of match each other in terms of WAR, which makes sense. Both were incredibly consistent and very good to great throughout much of their careers.

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  6. I think Alvarez is going to be a credit at third base. He’s certainly got a cannon. While I don’t think that his head is in the right place yet a good start would be to not come into camp next year over weight like this year.

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