2011 Power Rankings In Graphs

The inaugural edition of the FanGraphs Power Rankings was a bit of a labor of love for me. So, I thought it fitting that we take a look back at how they all played out in graphical view to put the finishing touches on the season.

Let’s start with the timeline of the Rankings for all 30 teams:

Click to embiggen.

In this, a couple of things stick out. First, we can see that there were very few outliers — which I suppose, is the nature of outliers. Bud Selig wants a game where any team can earn a playoff bid, and if you take a look at that thick concentration of lines around the trade deadline, you can see that he is about as close to that goal as he possibly can be. Second, if you mouse over the Cardinals line and then the Braves line, you will notice that the Cardinals were better than the Braves for nearly the entire Rankings season. Perhaps the bigger mystery isn’t why the Braves collapsed down the stretch, but why it took the clearly superior Cardinals so long to grab the conch?

That chart gives us a nice global view, but what about how each team did week to week? Have no fear, I have a fun multi-colored bar-graph for you:

If you don’t need to click to embiggen this one, chances are you’re an ant.

I will leave most of the observations on this team-by-team chart to you, fair reader, but I do have a few of my own. First, the Blue Jays had a bad final month. I’m sure Toronto is cooking up all sorts of goodness to contend in 2012, but it is interesting to note that they didn’t have the best September. Their season took a sharp downturn at the end of August, and they never really recovered. Elsewhere, the Brewers, Diamondbacks and Rangers all had sharp upturns with few downturns as the season progressed, but the Royals weren’t far behind. They got better and better as the season progressed, and finished on a really positive note. Finally, colors are pretty.

If you’re like me though, you find yourself scrolling from team to team trying to compare them to each other all over again. If so, I have one more chart for you:

Once again, click to embiggen. And thanks to Tableau for such awesome software.

In this chart, we can once again see all 30 teams side by side, but in a much cleaner format. Here, we can see the entire range of each team, and if you mouse over, you can see at which dates they hit their highs and lows (and everything in between). A couple things to note here:

Some teams never reached .500, and some teams never fell below .500. In a chart that I wasn’t quite able to pin down, I noticed that there were only four teams that were in the top 10 all season — the Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies…and Cardinals. That might be a bit of a surprise in looking at this chart, as they never hit .600, but the Cardinals were lurking all season.

Also of note is that the teams that were the most consistent were fairly average. Teams like the Athletics, Blue Jays, Indians and Padres that had a very small data range were either straddling the .500 line or drowning beneath it. The one team that was good and had a fairly small cluster of points was the Rays. On the other side of the coin, the Twins collapse is still pretty stunning. Forecasted to be a .500 team, they had one of the largest variances, but unfortunately, it was all downhill from the start.

How about you? What sticks out to you in these graphs?

I will conclude the Power Rankings next week by compiling some of the more cromulent suggestions so that we can crowdsource potential changes to next year’s edition.

We hoped you liked reading 2011 Power Rankings In Graphs by Paul Swydan!

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

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I’m just gonna sit here and wait for someone to comment that you have their team ranked to low. That should be enlightening.


I think at this point everyone understands the sys- aahhhh, almost said something stupid.