Welcome to the 2019 positional power rankings! As is tradition, over the next week and a half, we’ll be ranking every team by position. This is always something of a funny exercise. You read FanGraphs every day (thank you!) and are well-versed in the goings on of the offseason, glacial though they may have been at times. You probably know that Bryce Harper is on the Phillies, and that Manny Machado is a Padre, and that Brian McCann found his way back to Atlanta. You probably recall that Craig Kimbrel, who was tied with Kenley Jansen for the best individual reliever projection in last year’s iteration of this series, is still unsigned. You almost certainly do not remember every 30-something free agent who ended up on the Texas Rangers, but that’s ok. I’m the managing editor of FanGraphs, and I’ve been surprised by a few of those guys while watching spring training action. All of that is to say, you know what’s going on. And yet the anticipation of the season, the sound of wooden bats, and those clear, sunny days, makes you want to read even more about baseball and what it might look like over the next seven months or so. This is our answer to that impulse.
This post serves as an explainer for our approach to these rankings. If you’re new to our rankings, I hope it helps to clarify how they are compiled and what you might expect from them. If you’re a FanGraphs stalwart, I hope it is a useful reminder of what we’re up to. If you have a bit of time, here is the introduction to last year’s series. You can use the handy nav widget at the top to get a sense of where things stood before Opening Day 2018.
Unlike a lot of season previews, we don’t arrange ours by team or division. That is a perfectly good way to organize an exercise like this, but we see a few advantages to the way we do it. First, the positional rankings allow us to cover a team’s roster top to bottom, with stars and role players alike receiving some amount of scrutiny, while also placing those players (and the teams they play for) in their proper baseball context. By doing it this way, you can easily see how teams stack up against each other, get a sense of the overall strength of a position across the league, and spot places where a well-deployed platoon may end up having a bigger impact than an everyday regular who is just ok. We think all of that context helps to create a richer understanding of the state of things and a clearer picture of the season ahead. Read the rest of this entry »