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FanGraphs Power Rankings: June 27–July 3

We’ve hit the halfway mark of the season, and two teams are really pulling away in the American League. The Wild Card races are filled with intrigue, however, and there are plenty of divisions still up for grabs in the National League.

A reminder for how these rankings are calculated: first, we take the three most important components of a team — their offense (wRC+), and their starting rotation and bullpen (a 50/50 blend of FIP- and RA9-, weighted by IP share) — and combine them to create an overall team quality metric. New for this year, I’ve opted to include defense as a component, though it’s weighted less heavily than offense and pitching. Some element of team defense is captured by RA9-, but now that FanGraphs has Statcast’s OAA/RAA available on our leaderboards, I’ve chosen to include that as the defensive component for each team. I also add in a factor for “luck,” adjusting a team’s win percentage based on expected win-loss record. The result is a power ranking, which is then presented in tiers below.

Note: All stats are through Sunday, July 3.

Tier 1 – The 100 Club
Team Record “Luck” wRC+ SP- RP- RAA Team Quality Playoff Odds
Yankees 58-22 -1 116 78 75 6 188 100.0%
Astros 51-27 0 116 87 77 17 189 100.0%

Both the Yankees and Astros have left the rest of the field in the American League far behind, leading their respective divisions by double-digit games and all but clinching playoff spots with three whole months to go. Of these two, Houston has been playing a bit better than New York recently, extending its winning streak to seven games yesterday afternoon on a Yordan Alvarez walk-off blast. The fact that he was in the lineup at all was a bit of good fortune after his ugly collision with Jeremy Peña last week. They ended up missing just a handful of games, with both helping the Astros demolish the Angels in a three-game sweep over the weekend.

Outside of their struggles against the Astros over the last two weeks, the Yankees have taken care of business against the A’s and Guardians as they continue to pad their lead in the AL East. And while it won’t tip the scales all that much if they falter, they’ll play the Red Sox seven times heading into the All-Star break. A strong showing against their biggest rival would give them even more breathing room as they head into the second half of the season. Read the rest of this entry »


The Mariners Add Some Much Needed Depth in Carlos Santana

Carlos Santana
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Last Friday, the Mariners placed Ty France on the Injured List with a flexor strain in his left arm, the result of a collision at first base the day before. This was just the latest blow to a Seattle lineup that’s been wracked by injuries, with France joining Mitch Haniger, Kyle Lewis, Tom Murphy, and Evan White on the IL. With very little minor league depth to turn to at first base, the Mariners turned to the trade market to address their sudden need. On Monday morning, they acquired Carlos Santana and cash considerations from the Royals for a pair of pitching prospects, Wyatt Mills and William Fleming.

In the four games since France’s injury, the Mariners used Dylan Moore and Kevin Padlo at first base twice apiece. Neither can replicate France’s critical offensive contributions (a 157 wRC+), and Moore is better suited to fill a super utility role anyway. Enter Santana, who gives the Mariners some insurance in case France’s recovery takes longer than expected. This is actually the second time Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto has acquired Santana; the first was back in 2018, when he was part of the return for Jean Segura along with J.P. Crawford. He was flipped to Cleveland just 10 days later in a three-way trade that included Edwin Encarnación and Yandy Díaz.

The switch-hitting first baseman signed a two-year deal with the Royals last year but has been unable to stop a late-career decline that began in 2020. Over the last three seasons, he’s posted a .211/.331/.343 slash line, good for a 90 wRC+, with his 104 wRC+ this year standing as a high water mark. His excellent plate discipline is still intact — he’s one of nine batters with at least 200 plate appearances this season to have walked more than they’ve struck out — but he’s struggled when putting the ball in play.

Last September, Ben Clemens looked into Santana’s issues on contact and found that a lot of it could be explained by his poor results when swinging at fastballs.

Over the course of Santana’s career, he’s been a fearsome fastball hitter. That’s partially because he does an excellent job making pitchers throw him strikes, but it’s also because he knows what to do with them: swing frequently, rarely whiff, and do damage when he connects. He still saw a good number of heaters, because he does a great job of getting into favorable counts, but pitchers were simply choosing their poison. Better to meet him in the zone and take your chances with a ball in play than miss and give him a walk.

That trend no longer holds. He’s having his worst season against fastballs since 2015, one of his worst pre-decline seasons. What’s gone wrong? Pretty simply, everything. His swinging strike rate on fastballs is the highest of his career (excluding a partial 2010 rookie season). His whiff rate when he does swing is a ghastly 17.5%, even with his 2011 season and worse than any effort since. We only have barrel data since 2015, but his barrels per swing mark is quite poor too: 3.4%, ahead of only his 2018 season and in the bottom third of the league.

Santana started this season with the same problem. In April and May, he posted a .220 wOBA against fastballs and looked like he was on track to finish his time with the Royals at a supreme low point. Something clicked in June, however, and suddenly his bat came alive again. He’s slashed .357/.478/.554 (198 wRC+) this month and looked a lot more like his old self again. And as you’d expect, his performance against hard stuff has been the key. Read the rest of this entry »


FanGraphs Power Rankings: June 13–26

It’s been an eventful two weeks as teams continue to jockey for position heading into midseason.

A reminder for how these rankings are calculated: first, we take the three most important components of a team — their offense (wRC+), and their starting rotation and bullpen (a 50/50 blend of FIP- and RA9-, weighted by IP share) — and combine them to create an overall team quality metric. New for this year, I’ve opted to include defense as a component, though it’s weighted less heavily than offense and pitching. Some element of team defense is captured by RA9-, but now that FanGraphs has Statcast’s OAA/RAA available on our leaderboards, I’ve chosen to include that as the defensive component for each team. I also add in a factor for “luck,” adjusting a team’s win percentage based on expected win-loss record. The result is a power ranking, which is then presented in tiers below.

Tier 1 – The Best of the Best
Team Record “Luck” wRC+ SP- RP- RAA Team Quality Playoff Odds
Yankees 53-20 0 117 78 77 3 187 100.0%
Dodgers 45-26 -5 115 78 83 -3 168 97.3%
Astros 45-27 1 113 91 81 15 182 99.8%

In a preview of a potential ALCS matchup, the Yankees and Astros played a highly entertaining four-game series this weekend. Houston would have held the advantage if it weren’t for some dramatic come-from-behind wins on Thursday and Sunday. In between those two walk-off wins, the Astros put together 16.1 consecutive hitless innings, including a combined no-hitter on Saturday. The Yankees actually didn’t lead at any point during any of the four games until the final batters on Thursday and Sunday, with Aaron Judge delivering the decisive hit both times. That four-game set against Houston wrapped up a tough stretch of games that saw the Yankees also face the Rays six times and the Blue Jays three; they exit this gauntlet with a 9-4 record against some of the best the American League has to offer. Read the rest of this entry »


There’s No Clear Favorite in the NL Rookie of the Year Race

MacKenzie Gore
Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, I took a look at the fascinating race for the American League Rookie of the Year award, where four of our top five preseason prospects who have made their major league debuts — three of them on Opening Day — are making for a packed and compelling competition. In the National League, the race is just as crowded, though there isn’t a clear-cut favorite. And while the race in the AL is filled with top prospects, there are far more surprises and underdogs in the NL.

Before we get into the details, here’s some important context from that previous article:

When Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association signed a new Collective Bargaining Agreement this offseason, it included some interesting provisions designed to combat service time manipulation. Top prospects who finish first or second in Rookie of the Year voting will automatically gain a full year of service time regardless of when they’re called up, and teams that promote top prospects early enough for them to gain a full year of service will be eligible to earn extra draft picks if those players go on to finish in the top three in Rookie of the Year voting or the top five in MVP or Cy Young voting. The goal was to incentivize teams to call up their best young players when they’re ready, rather than keeping them in the minor leagues to gain an extra year of team control. So far, the rule changes seem to have had their intended effect: three of our top five preseason prospects, and 11 of our top 50, earned an Opening Day roster spot out of spring training.

Of those 11 top 50 prospects who started off the season in the major leagues, just five of them were in the National League. The highest-ranked player in that group was CJ Abrams (15), with the four others falling below 30th on our preseason list. That’s not to say that there’s a lack of highly regarded prospects making their debuts in the senior circuit; there have been a few more big call-ups since Opening Day, including our No. 8 prospect, Oneil Cruz, just a few days ago. Still, the differences between the two leagues are stark when you pull up the rookie leaderboards.

With that in mind, here are the best rookie performers in the NL through June 22:

NL Rookie of the Year Leaders
Player Team PA wRC+ OAA WAR Overall Prospect Rank
Brendan Donovan STL 180 148 -2 1.4 Unranked
Michael Harris II ATL 91 151 4 1.3 Unranked
Alek Thomas ARI 157 119 1 1.1 23
Luis Gonzalez SFG 180 129 -3 1.0 Unranked
Jack Suwinski PIT 173 116 1 0.9 Unranked
Nolan Gorman STL 107 136 -1 0.7 53
Christopher Morel CHC 151 117 -5 0.7 Unranked
Seiya Suzuki CHC 163 114 -1 0.6 Unranked
Geraldo Perdomo ARI 215 78 -1 0.5 83
Oneil Cruz PIT 14 37 0 0.0 8
CJ Abrams SDP 76 59 0 -0.1 15
Bryson Stott PHI 147 36 -1 -0.5 34
Player Team IP ERA FIP WAR Overall Prospect Rank
Spencer Strider ATL 47.2 3.40 2.38 1.2 Unranked
MacKenzie Gore SDP 54.1 3.64 3.28 1.2 Unranked
Aaron Ashby MIL 55 4.25 3.64 0.7 46
Graham Ashcraft CIN 33.1 3.51 3.88 0.5 Unranked
Roansy Contreras PIT 37.1 2.89 4.12 0.4 41
Hunter Greene CIN 65 5.26 5.30 0.1 31
Nick Lodolo CIN 14.2 5.52 4.63 0.1 51

Where the AL had a trio of top prospects leading the way, the NL has seven players firmly in front with plenty of others close behind. In that group, just Alek Thomas was ranked on our preseason top 100; the others were a mix of the unheralded, the very young, or those who had already lost their prospect sheen. Read the rest of this entry »


The AL Rookie of the Year Race Is as Interesting as Ever

© Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

When Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association signed a new Collective Bargaining Agreement this offseason, it included some interesting provisions designed to combat service time manipulation. Top prospects who finish first or second in Rookie of the Year voting will automatically gain a full year of service time regardless of when they’re called up, and teams that promote top prospects early enough for them to gain a full year of service will be eligible to earn extra draft picks if those players go on to finish in the top three in Rookie of the Year voting or the top five in MVP or Cy Young voting. The goal was to incentivize teams to call up their best young players when they’re ready, rather than keeping them in the minor leagues to gain an extra year of team control.

So far, the rule changes seem to have had their intended effect: three of our top five preseason prospects, and 11 of our top 50, earned an Opening Day roster spot out of spring training. The three prospects in the top five all play for American League teams, and with many others putting together impressive performances in the majors, the competition in the junior circuit for the Rookie of the Year award is quite compelling. Below is a table of the best rookie performers in the AL through June 15:

AL Rookie of the Year Leaders
Player Team PA wRC+ OAA WAR
Jeremy Peña HOU 211 133 6 2.5
Julio Rodríguez SEA 255 122 5 1.8
Bobby Witt Jr. KCR 246 106 2 1.6
Steven Kwan CLE 185 113 0 0.8
Jake Burger CWS 144 135 -3 0.7
MJ Melendez KCR 146 123 1 0.5
Adley Rutschman BAL 86 69 0.2
Spencer Torkelson DET 199 67 -1 -0.8
Player Team IP ERA FIP WAR
Joe Ryan MIN 48 2.81 3.75 0.9
Jhoan Duran MIN 28.2 2.51 3.00 0.4
George Kirby SEA 43 3.56 4.07 0.4
Reid Detmers LAA 53 4.25 5.16 0.1

Jeremy Peña (ranked 30th on our preseason Top 100) has raced out ahead of the three top prospects referenced above to accumulate 2.5 WAR in just 54 games. That mark is the second highest among AL shortstops, and is the result of his phenomenal up-the-middle defense and his prowess at the plate. He’s slashed .277/.333/.471 (133 wRC+) so far this year with a solid if aggressive approach and some good power. The thump is a recent development after Peña filled out last year. He’s already blasted nine home runs and his peripherals support a profile that could reach 20 homers by the end of the season; his max exit velocity and barrel rate both sit above league average, with only his hard hit rate falling below. Read the rest of this entry »


FanGraphs Power Rankings: June 6–12

Win streaks and losing streaks across baseball have resulted in some major movement in the power rankings this week.

A reminder for how these rankings are calculated: first, we take the three most important components of a team — their offense (wRC+), and their starting rotation and bullpen (a 50/50 blend of FIP- and RA9-, weighted by IP share) — and combine them to create an overall team quality metric. New for this year, I’ve opted to include defense as a component, though it’s weighted less heavily than offense and pitching. Some element of team defense is captured by RA9-, but now that FanGraphs has Statcast’s OAA/RAA available on our leaderboards, I’ve chosen to include that as the defensive component for each team. I also add in a factor for “luck,” adjusting a team’s win percentage based on expected win-loss record. The result is a power ranking, which is then presented in tiers below.

Tier 1 – The Best of the Best
Team Record “Luck” wRC+ SP- RP- RAA Team Quality Playoff Odds
Yankees 44-16 -1 121 74 75 -1 178 99.9%
Astros 37-23 1 112 93 79 17 174 98.6%
Dodgers 37-23 -5 114 81 87 -2 158 94.9%
Mets 40-22 2 116 97 96 1 151 94.2%

I considered putting the Yankees in their own tier at the top of these rankings this week; that’s how well they’ve been playing recently. They absolutely crushed the Cubs during a three-game weekend series, launching 11 home runs and outscoring Chicago, 28–5. Matt Carpenter has collected eight hits since joining the Yanks in late May, and six of them have been home runs, including two on Sunday. Oh, and their pitching staff has been one of the best in the majors, too. They’re firing on all cylinders at just the right time; their schedule gets tough over the next two weeks, with a pair of series against the Rays, a series in Toronto, and a four-game set against the Astros.

After handling the White Sox earlier in the week, the Dodgers traveled to San Francisco over the weekend and scored just four runs in a three-game sweep at the hands of their division rival. To make matters worse, Walker Buehler left his start on Friday after just four innings with elbow discomfort. The next day, the Dodgers announced that he’ll be shut down for two months with a flexor strain. Clayton Kershaw returned from his own Injured List stint over the weekend, and Andrew Heaney is on the mend and should be activated sometime this week. Still, with the Padres and Giants breathing down their necks in the NL West, the Dodgers’ margin for error just got a lot thinner without Buehler in the rotation for a while.

The Mets wrapped up a long West Coast road trip with a series win against the Angels over the weekend. That gave them a 5–5 record during the trip, a perfectly acceptable outcome based on the tough opponents and travel they faced. Since Max Scherzer went down with his oblique injury in mid-May, New York has gone 15–8 and maintained a strong grip on the NL East. The Braves’ recent hot streak may cause some concern, but the Mets have proven they’re a good enough team even without their two best pitchers. Read the rest of this entry »


FanGraphs Power Rankings: May 30–June 5

With two months of the season in the books, the various tiers of teams have mostly sorted themselves out. Anything can happen over these next four months, but it does seem like the best teams have separated themselves from the pack.

A reminder for how these rankings are calculated: first, we take the three most important components of a team — their offense (wRC+), and their starting rotation and bullpen (a 50/50 blend of FIP- and RA9-, weighted by IP share) — and combine them to create an overall team quality metric. New for this year, I’ve opted to include defense as a component, though it’s weighted less heavily than offense and pitching. Some element of team defense is captured by RA9-, but now that FanGraphs has Statcast’s OAA/RAA available on our leaderboards, I’ve chosen to include that as the defensive component for each team. I also add in a factor for “luck,” adjusting a team’s win percentage based on expected win-loss record. The result is a power ranking, which is then presented in tiers below.

Tier 1 – The Best of the Best
Team Record “Luck” wRC+ SP- RP- RAA Team Quality Playoff Odds
Yankees 39-15 -1 117 68 79 -1 180 99.7%
Astros 35-19 2 111 89 79 17 180 99.2%
Mets 37-19 1 116 96 87 0 156 95.5%
Dodgers 35-19 -4 110 80 84 -5 143 97.7%

The Yankees are back on top after winning six straight last week, sweeping the Angels and Tigers at home. Aaron Judge has continued to mash baseballs on a nearly daily basis, adding three more home runs to his league leading total last week; the big bet he placed on himself when he turned down the Yankees’ preseason extension offer seems to have paid off. New York also welcomed Giancarlo Stanton and Josh Donaldson back from the Injured List last week, bringing their lineup back to full strength. The pitching staff has been even more impressive. Over their last 11 games, the Yanks have allowed a total of 16 runs, and they held the Angels and Tigers to just seven runs in those six victories.

Don’t look now, but the Astros have opened up a huge 8.5-game lead in the AL West. Some of that is due to the Angels’ free fall, but Houston has also played some excellent baseball since the calendar turned over to May; they’ve gone 24–9 since then, tied for the best mark in baseball with the Yankees. They also signed their slugging superstar Yordan Alvarez to a huge six-year extension last week.

A week after reclaiming the top spot in these rankings, the Dodgers had another week to forget and tumbled to the back of this tier, getting swept at home for the first time since August 2018 by the scrappy Pirates and then splitting a four-game series against the Mets over the weekend. The continuing struggles of Walker Buehler are a concern, as he couldn’t get out of the third inning in his last start against the Mets on Saturday. Luckily, Tyler Anderson has picked up a lot of the slack, and Los Angeles should be getting Clayton Kershaw back from the IL this week. Read the rest of this entry »


Tyler Anderson, Agent of Change

Tyler Anderson
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Dodgers once again have one of the best pitching staffs in the major leagues. That’s nothing surprising; the last time they allowed more than four runs per game was back in 2010, when they finished fourth in the NL West. This season, they’ve been better than ever, allowing just 3.14 runs per game through nearly a third of the season. Their park- and league-adjusted ERA is 30% under the league average, easily the best in the majors. And they’ve accomplished this despite missing Clayton Kershaw, Andrew Heaney, and Blake Treinen for large chunks of the season. The man leading the pitching staff in WAR through the first two months of the season isn’t who you’d expect either: Tyler Anderson.

In an offseason headlined by Freddie Freeman, Anderson was an under-the-radar acquisition. Brought in to provide some depth to their pitching staff, the aforementioned injuries to Kershaw and Heaney thrust him into a key role in the Dodgers’ starting rotation. And outside of a seven-run blowup against the Phillies on May 12, he’s been absolutely dominant, allowing two runs or fewer in all of his other appearances and currently on a 20-inning scoreless streak.

Prior to this year, Anderson had put up a 4.62 ERA and a 4.43 FIP across more than 600 innings in six seasons. Both of those marks were a bit inflated, since he started out his career with the Rockies; his park- and league-adjusted ERA and FIP sat a hair above league average at 101 and 102, respectively. That sort of production was what the Dodgers were probably expecting from him when they brought him in without a clear spot in the rotation. His first two outings came out of the bullpen in a piggyback role paired with Tony Gonsolin, but when Heaney went down with a shoulder injury, he was inserted into the rotation and hasn’t looked back.

Anderson has been pitching better than ever, even including that one bad outing against the Phillies, posting career bests in ERA, FIP, xFIP, and strikeout and walk rates. The biggest difference maker for him has been one single pitch: his changeup. He’s always possessed a good one, but it’s been leaps and bounds better this year, and it starts with his pitch mix.

He’s throwing his changeup 31.2% of the time this season, though that’s not the highest rate of his career; that came in 2020 when he threw it 33% of the time while with the Giants. More importantly, he’s reduced the usage of his four-seam fastball to just 30%, making his changeup the featured pitch in his repertoire. Read the rest of this entry »


FanGraphs Power Rankings: May 23–29

An eventful long weekend of baseball led to some changes at the top of the power rankings, with the teams toward the middle of the pack continuing to jostle for position.

A reminder for how these rankings are calculated: first, we take the three most important components of a team — their offense (wRC+), and their starting rotation and bullpen (a 50/50 blend of FIP- and RA9-, weighted by IP share) — and combine them to create an overall team quality metric. New for this year, I’ve opted to include defense as a component, though it’s weighted less heavily than offense and pitching. Some element of team defense is captured by RA9-, but now that FanGraphs has Statcast’s OAA/RAA available on our leaderboards, I’ve chosen to include that as the defensive component for each team. I also add in a factor for “luck,” adjusting a team’s win percentage based on expected win-loss record. The result is a power ranking, which is then presented in tiers below.

Note: All stats are through Sunday’s games.

Tier 1 – The Best of the Best
Team Record “Luck” wRC+ SP- RP- RAA Team Quality Playoff Odds
Dodgers 33-14 -3 120 76 82 -6 165 98.9%
Astros 30-18 1 108 91 79 14 165 97.9%
Yankees 33-15 0 111 74 81 -4 154 97.5%
Mets 32-17 1 115 95 94 0 149 94.5%

The Dodgers have come roaring back into the top spot of these rankings with 13 wins in their last 16 games. Mookie Betts has blasted nine home runs in his last 17 games, and Trea Turner is in the midst of a 22-game hitting streak. If there’s something to be concerned about, it’s their team defense. A misplayed grounder cost them a game against the Phillies a couple of weeks ago, and it happened again last night against the Pirates.

Even though the Astros just lost a three-game series to the Mariners in which they were outscored 13–3, they’re still high up in these rankings and in the standings. The Angels’ recent struggles give them a bit of breathing room in the AL West, and Houston’s schedule lightens up over the next couple of weeks, with trips to Oakland and Kansas City before home series against Seattle and Miami.

The Yankees are really beat up. They’ve lost Giancarlo Stanton, Josh Donaldson, Aroldis Chapman, Chad Green, and Jonathan Loáisiga to the Injured List all within the last two weeks. They even had to call on Matt Carpenter to help fill the gaps in their lineup. A trio of high-leverage relievers going down at the same time would normally give teams nightmares. Luckily, New York already has two excellent replacements ready to step into late-inning roles: the king of sinkers, Clay Holmes, and fireman Michael King.

After losing an epic, back-and-forth contest against the Giants on Tuesday, the Mets went out and swept the Phillies in three games over the weekend, then dropped 13 runs on the Nationals on Monday night. They’ve barely missed a beat after Max Scherzer hit the IL and are currently running away with the NL East. Read the rest of this entry »


FanGraphs Power Rankings: May 16–22

We’ve hit the quarter-mark for the season and some of the early-season disappointments are finally turning things around. Not much has changed at the top of the rankings, however.

A reminder for how these rankings are calculated: first, we take the three most important components of a team — their offense (wRC+), and their starting rotation and bullpen (a 50/50 blend of FIP- and RA9-, weighted by IP share) — and combine them to create an overall team quality metric. New for this year, I’ve opted to include defense as a component, though it’s weighted less heavily than offense and pitching. Some element of team defense is captured by RA9-, but now that FanGraphs has Statcast’s OAA/RAA available on our leaderboards, I’ve chosen to include that as the defensive component for each team. I also add in a factor for “luck,” adjusting a team’s win percentage based on expected win-loss record. The result is a power ranking, which is then presented in tiers below.

Tier 1 – The Best of the Best
Team Record “Luck” wRC+ SP- RP- RAA Team Quality Playoff Odds
Yankees 29-12 0 119 78 80 -2 173 97.9%
Astros 27-15 0 116 87 82 11 177 97.5%
Mets 28-15 1 111 85 94 0 152 87.8%
Dodgers 27-13 -3 116 83 83 -9 144 97.2%

There’s no love lost between the Yankees and White Sox these days. After tensions rose during a four-game set two weekends ago, they tipped past the breaking point after Josh Donaldson’s racially charged comments to Tim Anderson on Saturday. That storyline understandably dominated the headlines, overshadowing a week in which the Yankees went 5-3 to maintain the best record in baseball. Aaron Judge is currently locked in and blasting everything in sight. He launched his league-leading 15th home run during the day game on Sunday; it was the third long ball he hit last week. Read the rest of this entry »