2017 Positional Power Rankings: Summary

Over the last couple of weeks, we published our annual season preview series by going position by position around the league. If you missed any of the posts, they can be accessed by that helpful widget up above. Today, we’re also going to summarize the results of the series. Let’s start by diving right into the results of the ordinal ranks, which we’ll break into three tables for easier digestion. Infield first!

2017 Infield Positional Power Rankings
Rank C 1B 2B SS 3B
1 Giants Cubs Astros Astros Blue Jays
2 Rangers Diamondbacks Mariners Indians Orioles
3 Dodgers Reds Twins Dodgers Cubs
4 Yankees Tigers Red Sox Nationals Rockies
5 Astros Braves Indians Cubs Mariners
6 Athletics Giants Tigers Giants Rangers
7 Cubs Indians Cubs Red Sox Dodgers
8 Blue Jays Cardinals Nationals Angels Nationals
9 Cardinals Orioles Giants Blue Jays Rays
10 Royals Padres Dodgers Cardinals Astros
11 Mariners Mets Blue Jays Rockies Pirates
12 Marlins White Sox Mets Mariners Indians
13 Pirates Yankees Rangers Athletics Royals
14 Tigers Dodgers Cardinals Yankees White Sox
15 Indians Astros Rays Reds Phillies
16 Red Sox Brewers Orioles Braves Twins
17 Nationals Royals Padres Tigers Yankees
18 Mets Twins Rockies Rangers Marlins
19 Orioles Angels Pirates Rays Padres
20 Padres Rangers Marlins White Sox Cardinals
21 Twins Red Sox Yankees Pirates Giants
22 Reds Blue Jays Phillies Twins Diamondbacks
23 Angels Marlins Reds Mets Athletics
24 Rays Athletics White Sox Phillies Reds
25 Brewers Mariners Athletics Orioles Angels
26 Phillies Phillies Braves Brewers Brewers
27 White Sox Rockies Brewers Royals Mets
28 Braves Pirates Angels Diamondbacks Tigers
29 Diamondbacks Rays Diamondbacks Marlins Red Sox
30 Rockies Nationals Royals Padres Braves

There’s a reason we use projected value and not just average ranking by position when talking about a team’s strength, since the margins between ranks can be deceptive. But this also gives you a decent idea of the amount of balance a team has across positions, and right away, it’s hard not to notice the Astros. Not only are they at the top of both middle-infield lists, but they’re No. 5 on the catcher list, No. 10 on the third-base list, and No. 15 on the first-base list.

Houston projects to get average or better production at every infield spot, something that can also only be claimed by the Cubs, Dodgers, and Indians, three of the very best teams in baseball. The Giants are close to joining that group, with only third base falling a little bit short, and the Blue Jays would be in this mix if they had a real first baseman.

On the other end of the spectrum, there’s the Phillies, who only rank in the top half of the infield spots at third base, where they appear at 15th. They ranked 26th at catcher and first base, 22nd at second base, and 24th at shortstop. Among other reasons, this is why the Phillies aren’t going to win this year.

2017 Outfield Positional Power Rankings
Rank LF CF RF DH
1 Mets Angels Red Sox Indians
2 Tigers Rays Nationals Mariners
3 Indians Pirates Marlins Yankees
4 Cubs Marlins Pirates Blue Jays
5 Royals Astros Astros Orioles
6 Pirates Dodgers Dodgers Red Sox
7 Red Sox Diamondbacks Blue Jays Angels
8 Orioles Red Sox Cubs Rangers
9 Brewers Royals Angels Astros
10 Athletics Blue Jays Giants Twins
11 Yankees Phillies Tigers Athletics
12 Marlins Nationals Cardinals Tigers
13 Rays Twins Twins Rays
14 Cardinals Rangers Rockies Royals
15 Mariners Cardinals Rangers White Sox
16 Reds Braves Mariners
17 Dodgers Mets Yankees
18 Padres Orioles Indians
19 Giants Mariners Rays
20 Rockies Reds Diamondbacks
21 White Sox Rockies Reds
22 Phillies Yankees Athletics
23 Astros Indians Phillies
24 Twins Giants Orioles
25 Blue Jays Brewers Mets
26 Angels Padres Royals
27 Rangers Athletics Brewers
28 Nationals Cubs Braves
29 Braves Tigers Padres
30 Diamondbacks White Sox White Sox

There’s no better reminder of why you shouldn’t just average ordinal rankings than the fact that the Angels have the best outfield in baseball, even though they rank 26-1-9 from left to right. But because Mike Trout is so much better than every other center fielder, and because left field is a barren wasteland, having Trout and any random Triple-A player would be better than having the next-best center fielder and the best left fielder. And the Angels have someone better than a random Triple-A player in left, if only slightly so.

But if you wanted the most balanced strong outfield, you’d probably take the Marlins. They rank 12th in left, fourth in center, and third in right, the only team with above-average ranks at all three spots. That strength across the board grades them out as the second-best outfield in baseball by projected value, and the best among teams who don’t have an alien unfairly patrolling center field.

This table isn’t as fun for White Sox fans, who ranked 21st in left, 30th in center, 30th in right, and then 15th out of 15 at DH. And Rick Hahn has basically admitted that they’ll trade Melky Cabrera — the guy keeping them out of last in left — the first time anyone makes him an offer they like. So, yeah, the worst outfield in baseball might actually be even worse than this makes it seem.

2017 Pitching Power Rankings
Rank SP RP
1 Dodgers Dodgers
2 Mets Indians
3 Nationals Yankees
4 Indians Cubs
5 Red Sox Cardinals
6 Cubs Astros
7 Giants Orioles
8 Astros Mariners
9 Rays Mets
10 Cardinals Nationals
11 Tigers Rockies
12 Pirates Red Sox
13 Yankees Rangers
14 Phillies Athletics
15 Mariners White Sox
16 Blue Jays Blue Jays
17 Angels Marlins
18 Diamondbacks Padres
19 Rangers Giants
20 Athletics Pirates
21 Orioles Rays
22 White Sox Brewers
23 Royals Phillies
24 Rockies Angels
25 Brewers Reds
26 Twins Tigers
27 Braves Royals
28 Marlins Twins
29 Padres Braves
30 Reds Diamondbacks

This one’s easier to read, since there are only two columns. The Dodgers ranked at the top in both starting and relief pitching, so, yeah, this is a good pitching staff. The Mets, Nationals, Cubs, Cardinals, and the Astros also have top-10 rankings in both spots, as teams that have good pitching tend to be strong in both areas. Or, maybe more accurately, teams that want to win don’t let themselves go into the year with a bad rotation or bullpen, because neglecting either is a great way to miss the postseason.

Neglecting both is how you get to be the Reds (#30 SP, #25 RP) or the Twins (#26 SP, #28 RP), who both are in rebuilding mode despite some interesting position players because they’re expected to give up a lot of runs this year. And if you wonder why our forecasts aren’t that high on the Royals, look no further than their pitching (#23 SP, #27 RP) ranks. While they’ve been carried by a great bullpen in recent years, our forecasts aren’t particularly sanguine about this group of relievers, and the rotation remains a weak spot.

Now, as I’ve mentioned, you don’t really just want to look at rankings, and helpfully, we maintain an updated total of projected future value by position right here on the site. While the numbers on that page, and in the table below, will be a little different from the numbers in the PPR — mostly because injuries and transactions have changed the playing time allocations slightly since those posts were published — you can get a pretty good idea of the relative strength and weakness of every team by looking at this table and sorting to your heart’s content.

2017 Projected Value by Position
Team C 1B 2B SS 3B LF CF RF DH SP RP Bat Pit WAR
Dodgers 3.6 1.6 2.6 4.7 4.1 1.1 3.5 3.0 0.8 20.3 5.7 25.2 26.0 51.2
Cubs 2.8 4.9 2.9 3.8 5.7 2.5 1.1 3.0 0.8 16.8 5.0 27.4 21.8 49.2
Indians 2.1 2.9 3.2 5.1 2.3 2.5 1.7 1.5 2.7 17.5 5.3 24.0 22.9 46.9
Astros 3.1 1.5 4.4 5.4 3.4 0.7 3.7 3.0 1.1 15.1 4.3 26.3 19.4 45.7
Red Sox 2.1 1.2 3.3 3.5 1.1 2.0 3.5 5.5 1.2 17.1 3.6 23.4 20.7 44.1
Nationals 1.9 0.3 2.9 3.9 3.9 0.2 2.6 5.2 0.5 18.4 3.7 21.5 22.2 43.7
Giants 4.7 3.4 2.7 3.6 2.1 0.9 1.7 2.3 0.6 16.3 3.1 22.1 19.4 41.5
Blue Jays 2.8 1.1 2.2 3.2 6.1 0.6 2.9 3.0 1.6 13.4 3.3 23.5 16.7 40.2
Mets 2.0 2.1 2.6 1.6 1.3 3.2 2.3 0.9 1.0 18.6 4.1 16.8 22.7 39.6
Mariners 2.5 0.8 3.7 2.3 4.1 1.4 2.2 1.6 2.3 13.3 4.2 20.9 17.5 38.3
Cardinals 2.7 2.8 2.4 2.8 2.1 1.6 2.5 2.1 0.7 14.1 4.5 19.7 18.6 38.3
Angels 1.6 1.3 0.9 3.5 1.6 0.5 8.3 2.9 1.1 13.5 2.3 21.7 15.9 37.6
Yankees 3.6 1.8 1.4 2.2 2.2 1.8 1.9 1.6 1.7 13.8 5.2 18.3 19.0 37.3
Orioles 2.0 2.8 2.0 1.4 6.0 2.0 2.3 1.1 1.5 11.1 4.3 21.1 15.4 36.5
Rays 2.2 0.5 2.4 1.9 3.6 1.4 4.6 1.3 0.4 14.5 2.4 18.2 16.9 35.2
Rangers 3.8 1.2 2.6 1.9 4.1 0.4 2.5 1.5 1.2 12.5 3.4 19.2 15.9 35.1
Pirates 2.2 1.1 1.7 1.3 1.6 2.2 4.1 3.5 0.7 13.6 2.8 18.5 16.4 34.9
Tigers 2.2 4.0 3.0 1.9 1.3 2.5 0.5 2.1 0.5 14.2 2.0 17.9 16.2 34.1
Rockies 0.6 0.9 1.9 2.5 4.5 0.9 2.1 1.9 0.0 11.0 3.7 15.4 14.7 30.1
Marlins 2.5 1.1 1.6 0.6 2.2 1.7 4.1 3.8 0.4 8.6 3.1 18.0 11.7 29.7
Athletics 2.9 1.0 1.1 2.3 1.7 1.9 1.5 1.3 0.6 12.0 3.5 14.2 15.5 29.7
Twins 1.8 1.3 3.4 1.6 2.6 0.6 2.6 2.0 0.9 10.3 2.0 16.8 12.3 29.1
Phillies 1.4 1.0 1.5 1.5 2.6 0.7 2.7 1.0 0.3 13.7 2.4 12.6 16.0 28.7
D-backs 1.1 4.3 0.4 0.8 2.0 -0.3 3.7 1.1 0.1 12.9 1.6 13.2 14.6 27.7
Royals 2.7 1.4 0.5 0.9 2.8 2.3 3.0 0.8 0.3 10.8 1.9 14.9 12.8 27.6
Brewers 1.6 1.6 1.1 1.0 1.6 1.8 1.5 0.8 0.7 10.5 2.3 11.8 12.7 24.5
Reds 1.8 4.2 1.1 2.1 1.7 0.9 1.9 0.5 0.6 6.9 2.2 14.8 9.1 23.9
Braves 1.1 3.8 1.0 2.2 0.4 -0.1 2.5 0.4 0.1 10.3 1.7 11.3 12.0 23.3
Padres 2.0 2.7 1.9 0.0 2.2 1.0 1.5 0.4 0.6 7.7 3.2 12.2 10.9 23.1
White Sox 1.1 2.1 1.1 1.9 2.6 0.8 -0.2 0.2 -1.0 10.8 3.6 8.6 14.4 23.0

(The values at DH for NL teams reflect expected value from pinch-hitters)

The Dodgers are good. The Cubs are good. The Indians are good. The White Sox are not as good. We have some limbs we’re really going out on around here. And for those who ask, projected WAR won’t line up exactly with projected wins, because wins aren’t perfectly linear; there are interactions between players that lead to higher or lower levels of run-scoring or -prevention, and then quality of opponents also play a factor into a team’s expected win loss record.

As always, we hope you enjoyed the series. It’s a huge effort to produce, but hopefully you found it useful in preparing you for the 2017 season, whether providing confirmation bias for your existing excitement or causing you to buy a bulk shipment of brown paper bags to wear to the games.

We hoped you liked reading 2017 Positional Power Rankings: Summary by Dave Cameron!

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newest oldest most voted
clance
Member
clance

the Red Sox also have above average rankings at all three outfield spots and have a higher average rank in the outfield than the Marlins

JimmieFoXX
Member
JimmieFoXX

“the Red Sox also have above average rankings……”

And the Red Sox are in a smaller market than the Phillies, yet they’ve won three World Series in the past dozen years while the Phillies have won just two in 130 years. While the Phillies are rolling into Year Six of a rebuild the Red Sox haven’t been in a rebuild since World War Two ended, yet the Red Sox are a favorite to make it to the World Series again after winning their division last year and their lineup is very good and populated with young stars the likes of which the Phillies do not have even one of and none on the way from their floundering farm.

The first name of the Red Sox owner is John and likewise the first name of the Phillies owner is also John. Phillies fans have been cursed with the wrong John as owner.

Shauncore
Member
Shauncore

The first name of a Giants outfielder is Mike (Morse) and likewise the first name of an Angels outfielder is also Mike. Giants fans have been cursed with the wrong Mike as an outfielder.

Brock244
Member
Brock244

Not to mention, all three of their OFers are probably a bit undervalued by the rankings.

Mookie Betts? Last season he posted +10.6 DEF and +9.8 BSR (8.6 year before that). Steamer has him at +3.8
BsR and 4.9 DEF. Probably safe to take the over on both totals.

JBJ? Last season posted a 118 wRC+ and 219 ISO. Season before that, 120 wRC+ and .250 ISO. Steamer is projecting a 104 wRC+ and .178 ISO. Obviously their favoring in his early career struggles. If you want to meet what he did in 2015/2016 and the projections in the middle and call him a 110 wRC+ hitter, that adds at least 1 WAR.

Benintemdi? Obviously he’s a rookie so not fair to expect an instant star, but I think most would take the over on nos 1.8 win projection.