Archive for Power Rankings

Here’s Who Will Win the Next Five World Series

Pending a healthy return, Corey Seager will resume his role at the heart of the Dodgers’ roster.
(Photo: Arturo Pardavila III)

On a recent podcast episode, Eric Longenhangen and I discussed the premise for this article, which is another way of asking which organizations are healthiest in the short-to-medium term. The factor that goes furthest towards answering that question is present on-field talent, although salary, controlled years, the presence of impact minor leaguers on the horizon, and front-office quality are all relevant — as is payroll ceiling, which serves as a proxy for margin for error. With the World Series starting tonight, it seemed like the right time to look ahead at the favorites for the five World Series beyond this one.

I’ve experimented with some objective ways of measuring organizational health. I think it’s ultimately possible to produce an algorithm that would do a solid job, ranking teams objectively in a number of key categories. It would also require considerable time. Eager to arrive at some kind of answer, I’ve settled for subjective assessment for this version of the post, but I intend to work on something more systematic in the winter.

Here are the criteria I’ve considered to produce these rankings: short-term MLB talent, long-term MLB talent/upper-minors prospects, lower-minors prospects/trade capital, payroll ceiling, MLB coaching/front office, and amateur signings (draft and international). You could quibble and combine or separate a few of those groupings, or argue some of these can’t be quantified properly. You may be right, but we’ll keep tweaking things until they are.

I had originally intended to limit this list to five teams for purposes of symmetry, but the top tier looked like seven teams to me, and the sources by whom I ran this list agreed. In the same way that the I approached the Trade Value Rankings from the point of view of a medium-payroll, medium-term-focused team, I’ve undertook this exercise by asking which team would be most attractive to a prospect GM if his or her only interest is to win the most World Series possible (and not have low state income tax, run a childhood team, or live in a cool city) over the next five seasons.

Without further explanation, here are the organizations most likely to win the 2019-23 World Series.

1. Los Angeles Dodgers

The top-three teams on this list all have some reasonable claim to the top spot, but I ultimately went with the Dodgers, as they have a little more certainty in terms of on-field personnel than the Yankees possess, while both clubs feature similar built-in financial advantages. (Houston lags behind on the second count.)

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FanGraphs Power Rankings — Crowdsourcing Changes

When we created the FanGraphs Power Rankings this year, we didn’t know how they would play out. At the outset, there was scorn over the Indians’ ranking. As the season wore on, that changed to scorn about the Rockies’ ranking. By the end of the season though, things seemed to work out pretty well. Eight of the top nine teams — with the Red Sox being the one exception — reached the postseason. That in and of itself is not a justification for the Rankings mind you, but it seemed to show that we were on the right track.

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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.

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FanGraphs Power Rankings – 10/3/11

Welcome to the 23rd and final edition of the 2011 FanGraphs Power Rankings! As Dean Pritchard would say, it’s been quite a journey. We’re going to close out the season in three parts — one today, two after the postseason. First, your final end of the regular season Power Rankings, with some end of season awards sprinkled in (note — awards are totally made up by me and may or may not be prestigious (read — are not at all prestigious)). One quick note on the Rankings this week — in the final three games of the season, 20 teams moved up or down, including the Rangers, who vaulted over the Yankees and Red Sox with an incredible finishing kick.

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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.

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FanGraphs Power Rankings – 9/19/11

The end of the season has been exciting times here in Power Rankings-land. This past week, five teams jumped two or more spots in the standings, with San Francisco’s jump from 17th to 13th the biggest. As a result, 14 teams slid backwards, the most of any week all season. Heading into the final two weeks of the season, the real pennant races may lack drama — outside of the Red Sox potential collapse that is — but there is some real juice in the Rankings’ races. Six sets of teams are separated by .002 or less — Tigers and Cardinals, Angels and Rays, Braves and White Sox, Rockies and Marlins, Indians and Padres and Pirates and Astros. We often hear that baseball is a game of inches, and the fact that these teams are grouped so closely both up and down the rankings really illustrates that point.

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FanGraphs Power Rankings – 9/12/11

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?

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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:
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FanGraphs Power Rankings – 8/29/11

I was Hurricane Irene’d yesterday, which killed any chance I had to write up the cool intro I had planned. On the plus side, it gives me another week to test my theory. What is it? Well, you’ll just have to check back next week to find out.

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FanGraphs Power Rankings – 8/22/11

Last week’s Power Rankings stagnation did not hold, as there was movement up and down the Rankings this week. The two biggest movers, in terms of percentage points, were the two New York teams — with the Yankees moving up and the Mets moving down. For the better part of the first 16 weeks of the Rankings, the Mets slotted in a comfortable 100 points below the Yankees, but with this past week’s separation, the gap between the two teams is now 153. Still, while the Mets have endured second-rate status in New York for the better part of the past decade, they haven’t fared all that poorly in Sandy Alderson’s first year in charge. While the pitching and defense have left much to be desired, the Metropolitans wRC+ of 104 has been sixth-best in the game. Still, Alderson will face some tough decisions this offseason, as he must both resign Jose Reyes and find some quality pitching, and may not have the budget for both. One possible solution could be trading one of their corner guys for pitching, but those types of deals are becoming harder and harder to pull off. Either way, with the trial against the Mets owners not set to begin until March 5th, there is a decent chance that Alderson will have the entire hot stove season to focus on making the Mets better on the field. If he can continue to make things better, it might not be long before the playoffs return to Flushing.

(As always click here to check out the methodology behind the Power Rankings.)
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FanGraphs Power Rankings – 8/15/11

This week, the Power Rankings were more stagnant than ever before. A total of 18 teams remained in the same spot that they were a week ago. One of those teams was the 10th ranked San Francisco Giants. As the season progresses and first-half media darlings like the Indians and Pirates fade from the spotlight, the Arizona Diamondbacks have captured the baseball world’s attention, and rightfully so — they play not only a good brand of baseball, but also an entertaining one. But it would be folly to sleep on the Giants. Since (arbitrary endpoint alert!) running off five wins in their first six games after the All-Star break, they are just 9-14. Carlos Beltran has done little to help the offense, which recently set a Major League record with 21 consecutive solo home runs. Despite all of this though, they still are just two games behind Arizona. With three of the 14 best pitchers in the game, a shut down bullpen and the hope that Brandon Belt gets more playing time in his fourth stint in the Majors this year, it’s not all doom and gloom for the Giants. They may not be the “it” team at the moment, but we shouldn’t forget about them either.

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

1. Boston: Last week – 1, WAR% – .674 (1), FAN% – .605 (1), TOTAL% – .656
John Lackey was the sultan of suck over his first 14 starts this season, allowing 61 runs in 78 innings for a RA of 7.04. Since, he has allowed “just” 21 runs in 43 2/3 innings, for a less-sucky-but-still-kind-of-sucky-considering-his-salary 4.33 RA.

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FanGraphs Power Rankings – 8/8/11

As we enter the meaty part of the dog days of summer, divisional races are beginning to crystallize. Outside of the eastern divisions, where the Phillies are running away and hiding and the Red Sox and Yankees both have iron grips on playoff spots, things should get very interesting. Milwaukee, St. Louis, Arizona, San Francisco, Texas and Anaheim are six of the top 11 teams in this weeks’ Rankings. And in each team, there’s something for every fan. You like hitting? The Rangers, Cards and Brew Crew comprise three of the seven best offenses in the game. If you are drawn more so to pitching, then the top five staffs of the Giants and Angels have you covered — Ervin Santana has allowed just three runs in his last 34 innings, and he’s only the Angels’ third-best pitcher! And let’s not forget about the D-backs, who have a Major League-best 44.6 UZR, thanks in large part to the range of their glovely outfield trio of Gerardo Parra, Chris Young and Justin Upton. If this sounds a bit like a baseball infomercial, it’s because it sort of is. I know I’m likely preaching to the choir with this audience, but this is a really great time for baseball, and I hope we can all step back and appreciate how strong the game is right now. Read the rest of this entry »

FanGraphs Power Rankings – 8/1/11

My stars, what a trade deadline we just had. With all the fascinating deals and hard-hitting analysis that came with it, both here and elsewhere (but especially here!) over the weekend and today, there has been so much trade-deadline talk that I tried as hard as possible to ease up on that score (though it’s just so hard…must…talk…about…trades!!!!). There were some big movers this past week, and one series in particular seems to have been key — the Reds whitewashing of the Giants over the weekend in Cincinnati. Entering the series, the Giants had won two of three for the week, and the Reds had lost their four for the week. But after the dust settled from the sweep, the Reds had vaulted six spots and the Giants had dropped six, the two nearly exchanging spots in the Rankings. Part of that has to do with the fact that the seven teams that occupy spots seven through 13 in the Rankings are only separated by .008, and part of it is due to the fact that the Reds so badly laid the smackdown on the G-men. Even after the series, where they outscored the Giants by 15 runs, the Reds are still thoroughly underperforming this season, but it’s still too early to write them off completely.

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FanGraphs Power Rankings – 7/25/11

This past week may have represented the eye of the cyclone. No team moved more than nine percentage points in TOTAL% from where they were last week or more than two spots in the rankings. It was nice that nothing too major happened in the Majors this past week, as we here at FanGraphs all had the wind knocked out of us when we learned that Dave Cameron was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. We are all very hopeful that Dave is going to beat this, but if you wouldn’t mind taking a minute out of your day to say a prayer for him or wish him luck as he embarks on this new journey, we here at FanGraphs would all greatly appreciate it.

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

1. Boston: Last week – 1, WAR% – .673 (1), FAN% – .605 (1), TOTAL% – .646
Depending on what type of player you feel qualifies for the award, Jacoby Ellsbury may or may not be the American League Comeback Player of the Year, but he definitely does embody the spirit of Massachusetts.

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FanGraphs Power Rankings – 7/18/11

In the Power Rankings’ third week, the Texas Rangers’ TOTAL % had dipped to .511, and their rank was a middle-of-the-pack 15th. In other words, they were starting to look like a one-and-doner, a team that might get branded for being lucky that Joe Girardi forgot how to manage his bullpen for a few days last October. Since then, they have turned it around in a big way, particularly in the past four weeks. They have currently logged 11 straight wins, and after a pivotal three-game set this week with the Angels, the schedule gets awfully easy for the Rangers. For nearly a month — July 22 to August 14 — they don’t play one team currently residing in the top half of the rankings. Aside from a series with the Yankees, the Angels path doesn’t appear to be much more difficult in terms of where teams are in the rankings, but the Rangers — who own the best home record in the American League — will play 14 of the 22 games at home. The Angels meanwhile, will have to play 16 of their 22 on the road, and all 16 will be played in the eastern time zone. The Rangers, with a .608 WAR% and a .574 TOTAL%, have pulled away from the AL West competition in the rankings, and during this upcoming stretch, they have an opportunity to run away and hide from the Angels and the rest of the west in the standings as well. (As always click here to check out the methodology behind the rankings.)

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FanGraphs Power Rankings – 7/11/11

In the past couple of weeks, commenters have pointed out that the Rockies have been ranked too high and the Pirates too low in the Power Rankings. This week, the readers proved ever-prescient, as the Rockies fall a Power Rankings-record seven spots, and for the first time, they landed outside of the top ten. The Pirates meanwhile, climbed out of the bottom five for the first time. That’s still likely too low for some reader’s tastes, as they were ranked 14th by ESPN this week. The Bucs have been one of the best feel-good stories of the first half, and seeing the electric atmosphere at PNC Park this weekend was a sight to behold. But outside of Andrew McCutchen, no Pirate finished the first half with a WAR higher than 1.7. Part of that is due to numerous injuries that have forced the team to look for contributions from a number of different players, but that’s certainly not all of it. None of that takes away from the fact that the Bucs are four games over .500 and have a legit shot at the playoffs, but it’s important that we temper expectations, even in July.

1. Boston: Last week – 2, WAR% – .682 (1), FAN% – .605 (1), TOTAL% – .648
At the break, three of the top seven position players in the game are Red Sox, and Kevin Youkilis isn’t far behind (tied for 22nd place). The quartet may need to keep up that pace if guys like Kyle Weiland end up being responsible for too many second-half starts.
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FanGraphs Power Rankings – 7/4/11

You have to love that we live in a time where thanks to the impossibly convoluted All-Star selection rules, we will see an All-Star Game next week that will be without — by 2011 WAR — the third-best pitcher and position player in the game. In any other country, we’d have starved to death long ago for deploying such Homer-ish logic, but not here. God bless America! Read the rest of this entry »

FanGraphs Power Rankings – 6/27/11

For the second time in three weeks, the Brewers sport a higher WAR% than do the Phillies. At this point, the difference between the Phillies and the Brewers amounts to the weight of preseason expectations, which were somewhat muted for the Bierbrauers. They have few glaring weaknesses — a reliever or two would be nice, and they could stand to get better performance from their third baseman and shortstop, not they are alone in that respect. They even match up well with the Phillies, as while the Halladay-Hamels-Lee trifecta is still better on paper, the Greinke-Marcum-Gallardo trio is more than capable of besting them on any given day. And the righty-heavy Brewers also don’t lose any performance against lefties (105 wRC+ vs. RHP, 104 vs. LHP). Now at fourth place overall in the rankings, the Brewers are threatening to put some distance between them and the 26 teams below them, and if they can, the conversation moving into September may not be “can the Brewers win the National League Central,” but “can the Brewers beat the Phillies.” The answer to both questions very well could be “yes.”

1. Boston: Last week – 1, WAR% – .653 (2), FAN% – .605 (1), TOTAL% – .628
With 20 walks against just 7 strike outs, Dustin Pedroia has had a June to remember — just like last year. His wOBA of .471 last June and .463 this June (assuming it holds up in this last week) are two of his three best monthly marks.
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FanGraphs Power Rankings – 6/20/11

This past week was all about positivity, as more teams than ever — 13 — moved up in the rankings. The most notable of those teams was the Detroit Tigers, who cracked the top ten for the first time. This is a bigger deal than it would seem to be on its face. Before this week, the eighth, ninth and tenth spots in the rankings have been occupied by eight different teams, but they have more or less been the same eight teams each week. The Tigers are the first new team to crack the top 10 since Cincinnati did so back in the fourth week. Alex Avila and Jhonny Peralta are among the top players at their respective positions, Brennan Boesch has played well, and Al Alburquerque and his 1.74 FIP has been a big surprise, making the Tigers more than just a three-man show. And that’s to say nothing of the below-expectations-but-still-positive contribution from Max Scherzer. In other words, it took Detroit eight weeks to crack the top ten, but they may make themselves comfortable.

1. Boston: Last week – 1, WAR% – .656 (2), FAN% – .605 (1), TOTAL% – .627
Josh Beckett may not be better than he was last season, but Jacoby Ellsbury and David Ortiz certainly are, and that’s just fine with the Nation.
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FanGraphs Power Rankings – 6/13/11

This week saw the most movement to date, as all but eight teams slid up or down the rankings. There was still no movement at the top or the bottom, but while teams on the bottom are threatening to uncongeal, the Red Sox and Yankees are moving further and further from the pack. The two have been first or second in each iteration of the Power Rankings (you can see the first week, and methodology here), but where in previous versions the margins were narrow due to each team’s slow start, they have widened considerably as they have picked up the pace. Last week, Boston’s position players were more valuable as a unit than anyone else’s entire team. These differences are showing up in the rankings. The difference between second and third has expanded from 17-18 percentage points, to the 30-point range, to 40 points last week and 51 points this week. In third once again, the Phillies are sort of floating by themselves in what we’ll call tier 1A. Below Philly, we have roughly four more tiers of teams, with lines drawn in faint pencil after the Rays, White Sox and Padres. But just as in the past few weeks, teams are jumping a lot from week to week in both WAR% and rank, be it positively (Atlanta, Baltimore) or negatively (Toronto, Chicago Cubs), and we will likely see those lines redrawn each week for the forseeable future.

1. Boston: Last week – 1, WAR% – .639 (2), FAN% – .605 (1), TOTAL% – .619
Last week, I noted that the Red Sox were pretty much running on all cylinders. They haven’t lost since, putting together a perfect week that included their second sweep in the Bronx, and are now most definitely running on all cylinders.

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