2022 Positional Power Rankings: Summary

Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Over the past week and a half, we’ve published our annual season preview, ranking the league’s players by position and team based on a blend of our projections (a 50/50 split between ZiPS and Steamer) and our manually maintained playing time estimates courtesy of Jason Martinez. If you happen to have missed any of those installments, you can use the navigation widget above to catch up.

Today, I’m going to summarize the results. We’ll look at some tables and pick out a few interesting tidbits in a moment, but first, it’s important to remember that this exercise captures a snapshot of how we project teams to perform now. Teams aren’t static. Since we’ve published our rankings, Austin Meadows, AJ Pollock, Reese McGuire, and Zack Collins have been traded. The Mets’ starting pitcher situation continues to deteriorate. A number of top prospects, including Spencer Torkelson, Julio Rodríguez, and Bobby Witt Jr., officially made their respective teams’ Opening Day rosters, but Oneil Cruz was sent down to Triple-A to game his service time get reps in left field.

This being baseball, players will tweak elbows and hamstrings, lose playing time to underperformance, and get traded for prospects. That’s why we maintain a Team WAR Totals page, which lists projected positional WAR by team and updates regularly throughout the season as we learn more about who is likely to take the field every day and what shape they’ll be in when they do. It’s important to note that the WAR numbers you see there may vary from what you see on the positional power rankings, mostly because those figures are aware of the injuries and transactions that have altered our playing time estimates since the rankings went live; the Z-Scores I’ll include later also use the WAR from the Team WAR Totals page.

But before we get to the Z-Scores, let’s take note of some general trends and fun factoids. First, we’ll look at each team’s positional ranks as of Tuesday at 12:30 PM ET. There are 11 positions, with each team’s overall WAR rank in the last column. This table is sortable, so feel free to poke around:

2022 Projected Positional Ranks
Team C 1B 2B 3B SS RF CF LF DH SP RP WAR
Yankees 15 6 10 8 21 2 17 1 3 1 1 1
Dodgers 2 2 11 11 2 3 9 28 4 10 5 2
Astros 26 16 5 2 19 4 23 5 1 8 12 3
Blue Jays 6 1 25 7 6 21 7 25 8 9 13 4
White Sox 1 13 26 9 9 12 4 4 12 7 3 5
Braves 10 3 4 10 20 19 3 12 10 11 4 6
Mets 29 4 14 16 7 9 5 9 23 4 7 7
Phillies 3 8 19 24 23 5 29 6 6 3 15 8
Angels 14 9 28 6 24 27 1 21 2 14 6 9
Red Sox 17 22 3 3 8 24 13 14 9 12 9 10
Rays 7 15 1 14 4 16 19 7 13 15 10 11
Padres 20 27 8 4 5 26 8 29 11 5 11 12
Brewers 23 26 12 19 10 17 18 3 21 2 2 13
Twins 21 21 7 17 1 8 2 22 20 20 8 14
Mariners 16 7 18 22 16 6 10 8 14 16 19 15
Cardinals 28 5 13 5 12 10 6 2 30 23 21 16
Marlins 8 19 22 20 18 14 16 13 15 13 16 17
Guardians 25 28 21 1 15 18 14 18 5 19 20 18
Giants 27 10 20 21 13 15 20 19 19 6 22 19
Rangers 5 11 2 18 3 23 25 27 17 27 29 20
Tigers 24 12 23 15 14 13 15 10 27 17 18 21
Royals 9 23 15 12 11 22 28 11 18 21 14 22
Reds 18 18 6 28 25 28 24 16 28 18 17 23
Cubs 13 24 17 25 22 7 21 15 25 25 23 24
Nationals 19 14 27 30 30 1 26 30 7 28 28 25
Orioles 11 20 30 29 29 20 11 24 16 26 27 26
Athletics 4 30 16 26 26 11 27 26 29 24 26 27
Pirates 22 29 29 13 17 30 12 17 22 29 24 28
Diamondbacks 12 25 9 27 27 25 22 23 24 30 25 29
Rockies 30 17 24 23 28 29 30 20 26 22 30 30

A few things jump out. The Dodgers and Yankees each have eight top-10 finishes; the Blue Jays, Braves, Mets, and White Sox have seven; the Astros and Phillies six; and the Angels, Cardinals, Padres, Rays, Red Sox, and Twins five. The Dodgers have six top-five rankings, and the Yankees and Astros each have five, though only the Yankees boast multiple first-place finishes with three (left field, starting rotation, bullpen).

The Cardinals, Mariners, and Mets rank in the top 10 in all three outfield spots, and the Blue Jays and Braves have top 10 finishers at four of the five infield spots. Five teams have both a rotation and a bullpen that project in the top 10 (Brewers, Dodgers, Mets, White Sox, and Yankees), and nine (A’s, Cardinals, Cubs, Diamondbacks, Nationals, Orioles, Pirates, Rangers, and Rockies) place in the bottom 10 for both sets of hurlers.

It’s interesting to look at how the top 10 teams by projected total WAR have constructed their rosters. Some teams, like the Dodgers and the Yankees, are very good at just about everything. Some spread competence around. The Braves don’t have a first-place finish, but they do have four top-five showings to go with their eight in the top 10, as opposed to just two of their position groups (shortstop and right field) in the bottom 15 and no position ranked lower than 20th. Others are very good where they’re good, bolstering more middling positions elsewhere on their roster. The Angels rank first in center field (though not by as wide a margin as in years past), second at DH, and sixth at third base, but 28th at second base, 27th in right field, 24th at shortstop, and 21st in left. Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, and Anthony Rendon give you a hell of a tailwind, and their rotation and bullpen grade out decently, but as the team showed last year, concentrating a lot of your production in a few spots leaves you vulnerable if your stars go down.

It isn’t all good news. This is an exercise in ranking, which means someone has to be last, and unfortunately, a few clubs are bringing up the rear at multiple positions. The Diamondbacks and Rockies each have nine (!) bottom-10 finishes, with only the D-backs’ second base ranking (ninth) and the Rockies’ first base showing (17th) saving them from an even worse finish. The Athletics and Orioles, meanwhile, each rank in the bottom 10 eight times, though there is optimism to be found for fans of both teams at catcher (the A’s rank third, the O’s 11th), with second base and right field also giving Oakland a boost, and center field and DH helping Baltimore.

The Nationals and Rockies have three 30th-place finishes (third base, short, and left field for Washington, catcher, center field, and the bullpen for Colorado); the Nats are the only team to have both a 30th- and a first-place ranking. Colorado and Washington join the Athletics, Diamondbacks, Orioles, Pirates, and Reds in having an average positional ranking of 20th or higher, with the Cubs (19.73) barely escaping.

Ordinal rankings do have their limitations, as some positions cluster tightly together. Thirteen teams fall between 2 and 3 WAR in left field, with tiny fractions separating them on the backend. The White Sox and Dodgers flipped spots in the catcher rankings this week, but first and second place are separated by 0.3 WAR. At shortstop, the Twins and Dodgers are essentially tied at the top, as are the Rangers and Rays in third and fourth place. As I mentioned in my introduction, it is important to look at the magnitude of the differences between the rankings, as well as the rankings themselves. Thinking about whether a team falls above or below league average, and by how much, might be a more useful way of approaching things than obsessing over where your favorite team ranked. To that end, I calculated the Z-Scores of each team’s projected positional WAR (again, using the figures on Team WAR Totals page) to show you the number of standard deviations away from league average each team is at each spot:

2022 Projected Positional Z-Scores
Team C 1B 2B 3B SS RF CF LF DH SP RP WAR
Yankees -0.25 0.72 0.46 0.82 -0.67 2.14 -0.31 2.96 1.38 1.60 2.12 1.81
Dodgers 1.95 2.05 0.30 0.10 1.69 1.88 0.52 -1.10 1.32 0.62 1.04 1.71
Astros -1.05 -0.22 1.18 1.89 -0.31 1.55 -0.75 0.85 2.56 0.89 0.52 1.18
Blue Jays 1.14 2.71 -0.81 0.86 1.26 -0.52 0.64 -0.72 0.51 0.86 0.46 1.11
White Sox 2.35 0.07 -1.22 0.66 0.22 -0.17 1.42 0.91 0.23 0.97 1.41 1.08
Braves 0.32 2.04 1.35 0.37 -0.39 -0.47 1.64 0.07 0.27 0.54 1.12 1.04
Mets -1.30 1.21 0.09 -0.22 1.26 0.09 0.85 0.28 -0.66 1.44 0.84 0.94
Phillies 1.40 0.43 -0.37 -0.85 -0.77 1.52 -1.16 0.57 0.77 1.47 0.19 0.70
Angels 0.02 0.42 -1.31 0.90 -0.82 -0.84 2.88 -0.39 2.42 0.26 0.99 0.67
Red Sox -0.27 -0.64 1.60 1.38 1.12 -0.71 0.26 -0.02 0.27 0.38 0.70 0.63
Rays 0.95 -0.21 1.97 0.02 1.57 -0.37 -0.36 0.44 0.18 0.00 0.60 0.60
Padres -0.34 -1.03 0.76 1.30 1.29 -0.79 0.59 -1.60 0.23 1.12 0.53 0.60
Brewers -0.85 -0.93 0.24 -0.38 0.22 -0.41 -0.35 1.24 -0.61 1.55 1.54 0.46
Twins -0.53 -0.62 0.77 -0.33 1.72 0.30 1.70 -0.52 -0.51 -0.54 0.72 0.32
Mariners -0.26 0.49 -0.29 -0.55 -0.11 0.61 0.48 0.43 0.15 -0.15 -0.48 0.03
Cardinals -1.25 0.91 0.19 1.02 0.04 0.03 0.65 2.51 -1.45 -0.87 -0.66 -0.08
Marlins 0.67 -0.35 -0.71 -0.40 -0.24 -0.33 -0.28 0.06 -0.06 0.28 -0.05 -0.18
Guardians -1.02 -1.09 -0.70 2.52 -0.11 -0.44 -0.21 -0.26 0.97 -0.31 -0.58 -0.22
Giants -1.23 0.19 -0.67 -0.55 0.00 -0.35 -0.61 -0.36 -0.48 1.07 -0.67 -0.25
Rangers 1.22 0.18 1.93 -0.33 1.58 -0.60 -1.00 -0.91 -0.28 -1.26 -1.55 -0.45
Tigers -0.94 0.12 -0.76 -0.04 -0.04 -0.30 -0.25 0.19 -1.18 -0.18 -0.37 -0.53
Royals 0.40 -0.77 -0.05 0.08 0.10 -0.59 -1.12 0.13 -0.48 -0.77 0.34 -0.58
Reds -0.30 -0.33 1.02 -1.24 -0.96 -0.87 -0.92 -0.13 -1.34 -0.29 -0.32 -0.92
Cubs 0.11 -0.82 -0.22 -0.89 -0.75 0.49 -0.66 -0.07 -0.81 -1.05 -0.73 -0.97
Nationals -0.34 -0.11 -1.29 -1.67 -1.84 2.84 -1.09 -1.87 0.54 -1.33 -1.35 -1.15
Orioles 0.28 -0.37 -1.61 -1.62 -1.38 -0.51 0.40 -0.63 -0.13 -1.19 -1.27 -1.40
Athletics 1.35 -1.68 -0.14 -1.09 -1.13 -0.02 -1.11 -0.88 -1.40 -0.95 -1.26 -1.40
Pirates -0.85 -1.21 -1.57 0.03 -0.12 -1.28 0.32 -0.25 -0.66 -1.39 -1.06 -1.41
Diamondbacks 0.16 -0.87 0.67 -1.23 -1.18 -0.72 -0.68 -0.57 -0.78 -1.91 -1.12 -1.62
Rockies -1.53 -0.31 -0.80 -0.59 -1.24 -1.15 -1.49 -0.36 -0.98 -0.85 -1.68 -1.74

This table is also sortable, which makes it easy to spot the outliers, good and bad. I won’t narrate the whole thing except to point out the top five positions, by Z-Score:

  • +2.96 – Yankees left field
  • +2.88 – Angels center field
  • +2.84 – Nationals right field
  • +2.71 – Blue Jays first base
  • +2.56 – Astros DH

As well as the bottom five:

  • -1.87 – Nationals left field
  • -1.49 – Rockies center field
  • -1.28 – Pirates right field
  • -1.68 (tie) – A’s first base, Rockies bullpen
  • -1.45 – Cardinals DH

This season will no doubt contain its surprises. We don’t know how the abbreviated ramp up to the season will affect player injury rates, or how unvaccinated players being unable to take the field in Toronto could shift the balance of the AL East. The Mets could have a great rotation, or be in real trouble. Detroit and Seattle could take a step forward. The Giants could prove they’re an NL West powerhouse; the Phillies could prove that where they’re going, they don’t need defense. Freddie Freeman is a Dodger! Carlos Correa lives in Minneapolis! There are 12 playoff teams!

The positional power rankings are always a strange exercise because for as precise as we try to make them, we’re always wrong, at least a little. But after an acrimonious offseason and a rushed close to free agency, tomorrow is Opening Day. We get to spend the next seven months figuring out who is good and just how wrong we were. The FanGraphs staff will be there for the whole thing, and I hope you’ll join us. I can’t wait.





Meg is the managing editor of FanGraphs and the co-host of Effectively Wild. Prior to joining FanGraphs, her work appeared at Baseball Prospectus, Lookout Landing, and Just A Bit Outside. You can follow her on twitter @megrowler.

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TimBrownUmember
5 months ago

Is there a reason that the WAR orderings don’t match up with the ordering of the projected win percentages under 2022 Standings? I was under the impression that 2022 standings were assuming every team played a 500 schedule.

Is the reason just I’m misunderstanding what 2022 Standings show..?

Last edited 5 months ago by TimBrownU