2015 Positional Power Rankings: Wrap-Up

Hello, friends. After what would feel like an eternity of work to an ordinary fruit fly, we’ve arrived at the end of this year’s edition of the FanGraphs Positional Power Rankings. If you’re looking to have access to every post in one convenient place, here you go — that’s a link to the post category page. Browse, if you’ve missed anything. Browse, even if you haven’t missed anything. Maybe there’s a note you forgot about. Maybe you just want to further submit things to memory! The important thing is to click on our pages as many times as possible. Have you tried refreshing this post? I’ll wait.

This post is a simple wrap-up of the other posts. By now, you know what this series is about. You shouldn’t need any explanation. What’s going to follow are all of the numbers, in one convenient if slightly overwhelming sortable table. Note that these numbers might differ slightly from what shows up in earlier PPR posts — baseball is nothing if not a constant stream of transactions and injuries, and shown here is the latest data, as far as updates to the depth charts are concerned. Get ready to click feverishly on column headers!

Team C 1B 2B SS 3B LF CF RF DH SP RP Bat Pit WAR Proj. W
Dodgers 3.5 3.4 3.2 2.8 3.2 2.7 3.4 5.0 1.1 16.9 2.3 28.2 19.2 47.4 91
Nationals 3.5 2.8 1.4 3.6 3.9 2.9 2.9 4.6 0.8 17.9 1.9 26.2 19.8 46.0 93
Cardinals 4.2 1.7 2.4 3.5 3.5 2.9 2.9 5.0 1.2 13.9 2.6 27.5 16.5 43.9 88
Angels 2.8 2.8 1.5 3.1 2.0 2.3 8.8 3.2 0.8 10.8 1.4 27.2 12.1 39.4 87
Indians 4.3 2.9 2.8 2.2 2.5 3.2 2.5 2.0 1.5 13.4 1.4 24.0 14.8 38.8 85
Red Sox 2.8 2.9 4.6 2.9 3.9 3.4 3.6 2.4 2.7 7.2 1.3 29.3 8.5 37.7 86
Mariners 2.4 1.3 5.1 3.0 4.1 1.9 2.3 1.7 1.5 12.3 1.8 23.4 14.1 37.5 88
Pirates 2.0 1.2 3.4 2.2 3.3 3.3 6.4 1.7 1.3 10.4 2.0 24.8 12.4 37.2 85
Yankees 3.4 2.0 1.5 1.8 4.2 3.4 4.2 1.8 0.5 11.4 3.0 22.8 14.4 37.2 82
Tigers 2.8 5.0 4.0 1.5 1.7 3.5 1.8 2.1 2.6 11.0 1.0 24.8 12.0 36.8 84
Cubs 2.6 4.1 1.8 2.7 3.9 0.5 2.1 2.2 1.0 13.1 2.1 21.0 15.2 36.2 84
Mets 3.0 2.8 1.6 2.3 4.1 1.2 3.1 1.9 0.8 13.4 1.2 20.7 14.6 35.3 81
Blue Jays 4.4 1.8 1.3 2.9 5.6 2.1 1.6 5.4 2.5 7.1 0.4 27.6 7.5 35.1 82
Rays 2.6 1.6 1.9 2.3 4.9 2.3 3.4 2.2 1.0 9.4 3.0 22.2 12.4 34.6 81
Athletics 3.0 1.7 3.5 3.4 3.8 1.9 2.3 3.4 1.0 7.9 2.3 24.1 10.1 34.2 83
Padres 2.9 1.7 1.6 0.9 1.3 3.1 2.2 1.9 1.1 13.7 3.0 16.8 16.8 33.6 83
Orioles 3.4 3.1 1.7 2.9 5.1 1.8 4.0 2.2 1.0 6.4 1.5 25.1 7.9 33.0 79
Giants 5.7 3.2 1.5 2.5 1.3 1.4 2.0 2.5 0.4 10.8 1.2 20.7 12.1 32.7 81
Royals 4.0 2.5 1.6 2.2 2.6 4.7 3.1 1.8 0.7 5.4 3.4 23.2 8.7 31.9 78
Brewers 3.9 2.2 1.4 1.9 1.9 2.1 4.9 2.5 1.7 8.2 0.9 22.5 9.1 31.6 79
Astros 3.0 1.7 3.4 2.2 2.5 1.1 2.7 3.1 1.7 7.6 1.5 21.2 9.2 30.4 79
Marlins 1.6 0.6 1.6 0.3 2.6 3.3 3.4 6.0 0.5 9.5 1.0 19.8 10.5 30.2 80
Reds 3.4 3.2 1.9 1.7 2.8 1.1 2.2 1.4 1.6 7.4 3.1 19.4 10.4 29.8 76
White Sox 1.8 3.7 0.8 2.4 1.4 1.9 2.5 0.8 2.5 10.2 1.0 17.8 11.2 29.0 78
Twins 2.4 2.2 2.9 2.1 2.5 1.7 1.2 1.2 0.8 9.1 1.0 17.0 10.1 27.0 74
Rockies 2.4 1.5 0.9 5.3 3.8 2.0 1.9 2.1 0.6 5.3 1.0 20.6 6.3 26.9 75
D-backs 0.5 5.0 1.3 2.0 1.9 1.2 3.7 1.3 0.9 7.1 1.1 17.8 8.3 26.1 75
Braves 1.6 3.8 0.6 3.9 0.7 0.3 1.0 1.2 0.6 8.7 2.6 13.7 11.4 25.1 73
Rangers 2.2 2.0 1.9 2.7 5.1 0.2 3.0 2.2 0.3 5.6 -0.3 19.6 5.3 24.9 74
Phillies 2.8 0.0 3.0 0.8 2.0 0.8 1.2 0.4 0.8 7.0 2.5 11.7 9.4 21.1 68

That is a very big table, but it’s also a simple table to understand. Teams, positions, and WARs. Some individual WARs; some summed WARs. The final column shows current projected wins. Now, importantly, somewhat, this isn’t projected wins based on team WAR. This isn’t showing team WAR + replacement level. These win totals are taken from the projected-standings page. Obviously, there’s a super tight relationship between team WAR and projected record, but the projected record is founded upon BaseRuns, not WAR, and there are some contextual things that can make little differences. Don’t worry too much about this — the differences are small, far smaller than our margins of error. By WAR, the Dodgers would get 95 projected wins. By BaseRuns, they’re at 91, and that’s the biggest difference in baseball. It’s not worth a ruckus.

Some of the drama, I think, has been removed from this post. True, these are 2015 projections up to the minute, but unlike some times in the past, nothing here comes as a surprise. All offseason long, we’ve tracked team depth charts and projected WAR. We’ve written countless articles based on this information for the front page, so you’ve been aware of the numbers all along. We’ve discussed what they mean. We’ve talked about potential exceptions. We’ve talked about, say, the projections maybe underrating the White Sox a bit. Because we’ve never stopped talking about the projected standings, as we’ve gone along, it adds little to look at the projected standings again today.

But, whatever, here we are. Spring training is just about up. The regular season begins on Sunday. Our numbers love the Dodgers and Nationals. They hate the Phillies, and the Rangers, and the Braves. Numbers support the idea that the Mariners look like title contenders. Numbers support the idea that the Red Sox are primed for a major bounce-back. Numbers support the idea that the Tigers are becoming increasingly vulnerable. The Astros, now, are a real baseball team. The Cubs might absolutely be the best team in Chicago.

For the hell of it, how about a comparison between our projected standings and the Baseball Prospectus PECOTA projected standings? Unsurprisingly, the relationship is strong: comparing the win totals for teams yields an r-squared value of 0.81. Projection systems tend to be very similar, and it’s not like our depth charts are going to differ in any meaningful ways. Compared to PECOTA, we like the Indians and Royals more, by five wins. We like the Dodgers, Rangers, and Rays less, by seven, six, and five wins, respectively. PECOTA quite likes the Rays. It is what it is and I’m not going to tell you who’s right or wrong, because, what do you think I am?

Let’s look at some of the more granular PPR data for a bit. The strongest group of position players: the Red Sox, at 29.3 WAR. They have an edge of more than a win over the Dodgers, owing to both high quality and outstanding positional depth. The weakest group of position players: the Phillies, at 11.7 WAR. They trail the Braves by two wins. There exists a zero-percent chance that Chase Utley will finish with more home runs than RBI, but if ever that were to be possible as an accomplishment, Utley might be positioned to pull it off. The Phillies have the worst projected outfield, and the third-worst projected infield. (The worst being the Marlins, since we’re still not sold on Adeiny Hechavarria.)

Of course, the strongest group of pitchers: the Nationals, at 19.8 WAR. They hold just a slim lead over the Dodgers, but then there’s a more sizable gap between them and third place. Nobody would reasonably disagree with this. Bringing up the rear: the Rangers, at 5.3 WAR, trailing the Rockies by a win and the Blue Jays by more than two wins. The Rangers have the partial excuse of having lost Yu Darvish. The Blue Jays have the partial excuse of having lost Marcus Stroman. The Rockies have Opening Day Kyle Kendrick on purpose. I don’t want to be mean, but sometimes facts can make someone come off that way.

By position, the biggest differences between first and second place:

  • Center field (Angels by 2.4 WAR)
  • Shortstop (Rockies by 1.4)
  • Catcher (Giants by 1.3)
  • Left field (Royals by 1.2)
  • Rotation (Nationals by 1.0)

Mike Trout is great, and Andrew McCutchen is great, and the Pirates actually lead third place in projected center-field WAR by another 1.5 wins. Pirates center fielders have the second-highest positional projection of anyone. It just so happens that the Angels have their guy, and he’s not fair competition. As consolation for Pirates fans, Trout was worth 8.0 WAR last season, a figure McCutchen topped in 2013. As additional consolation for Pirates fans, you have Andrew McCutchen. You have literally nothing to feel bad about.

Troy Tulowitzki is by far the best shortstop in baseball. By the numbers we use, Buster Posey is by far the best catcher in baseball, and it’s not like he scores poorly in pitch-receiving. Alex Gordon is by some distance the best left fielder in baseball. The Nationals’ rotation doesn’t have room for Tanner Roark, who just posted a lower ERA than Madison Bumgarner. Everything here, you’ve known.

Flipping it around, the biggest differences between 30th and 29th place:

  • Catcher (Diamondbacks behind by 1.1 WAR)

Lots of teams look pretty bad in places, but no one looks as particularly bad as the Diamondbacks do behind the plate. The Marlins and Braves also project poorly, but they’re separated from Arizona by more than a win, since Arizona will be leaning on these people. Said GM Dave Stewart when he named Tuffy Gosewisch the starter:

“I don’t know which other way we could go.”

It’s sad, but it’s sports-sad, not life-sad, and sports-sad is one part sad and two parts funny. Because there’s no reason to be actually sad about this stuff, consider that a real team in the highest level of baseball in the world is going with Tuffy Gosewisch and, seemingly, Gerald Laird. Arizona State University gets to claim that it’s responsible for the regular local major-league backstop, but that note deserves an asterisk, and perhaps by midseason, the school will try to make less of the connection.

Or maybe Gosewisch will be great. He wouldn’t be the first 31-year-old with his profile to experience a sudden breakthrough! Or actually, maybe he would. Maybe he literally would be. I really don’t want to fact-check this.

No need to dwell on this much longer. No need to dwell on anything much longer. So long, 2015 Positional Power Rankings. So long, offseason dialogue concerning 2015 season projections. Hello, meaningful baseball. I know you’re not here quite yet, but I can see you. This journey’s almost finished. Time for another journey.





Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.

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Well-Beered Englishman
7 years ago

Readers!
For almost all of the 2015 Cool Name Power Rankings, please click the link in my username. Next week I’ll wrap up the series with a Cool Name March April Madness bracket so you can decide your own champion from among such illustrious entrants as Lancelot Lynn, Cheslor Cuthbert, and Sir Julius Gregorius.

Immature Gen-Xer
7 years ago

Lancelot Lynn, Secret Chimp?