FanGraphs Power Rankings – 5/2/11

Welcome to the latest feature here at FanGraphs – our take on the Power Rankings that nearly every website in existence publishes, only with our own little twist.

In an effort to make this quantitative (that’s what we do around here, after all), we’re combining objective measures of 2011 performance with some subjective wisdom from our FanGraphs crowd. To this end, we’ve created a weighted system based on three factors — a WAR-based 2011 winning percentage (essentially, WAR/G shown as a winning percentage, or WAR% for short); the preseason Fan’s Standings determined from readership input ( which we’ll call FAN% for short); and the number of games each team has played. The two winning percentages are combined to create TOTAL%, on which the Power Rankings are based.

A team’s WAR% is given weighting equal to the percentage of 2011 season that the team has played. Right now, teams fall in the 15-18% range, as they have played between 26 and 29 games. As the season progresses — and we learn more about each team’s true level of talent — the WAR% will receive a greater weight with the FAN% receiving less weight. This system essentially acts as a built-in regression for current performance so that we don’t overreact to small samples of data, but it also allows for how teams have done to influence our evaluations of their abilities.

We think that our system can avoid doing crazy things like anointing the Indians the third-best team in baseball (where they score this week in WAR%), when the crowd initially thought Cleveland would be the 27th best team in the game. We’ll still acknowledge that the Indians’ performance has improved over the team’s expected performance going forward.

Our week will be Monday through Sunday, so expect each new installment on Monday afternoon. As always, we want to know what you think, so be sure to let us know in the comments.

1. New York Yankees: WAR% – .682 (2), FAN% – .580 (2), TOTAL% – .596
Despite quietly getting off to a great start — thanks to some unlikely contributions — those covering the Yankees still want you to think that the sky is falling.

2. Boston: WAR% – .525 (12), FAN% – .605 (1), TOTAL% – .592
The first proof that this isn’t your grandpappy’s power rankings. Despite his hitting streak being 20 games fewer than Andre Ethier, Adrian Gonzalez was worth just as much as the Dodgers’ right fielder this past week (0.4 WAR), which is something to keep in mind when that guy at the office who loves to talk baseball with you comments about how amazing Ethier’s streak is.

3. Philadelphia: WAR% – .616 (4), FAN% – .556 (3), TOTAL% – .566
Everyone who thought Placido Polanco would be the Phillies’ best hitter one month into the season raise your hand. Put your hand down, Mrs. Polanco.

4. Colorado: WAR% – .557 (9), FAN% – .556 (3), TOTAL% – .556
Saturday night, the BABIP Gods relented long enough to allow Chris Iannetta to slam a three-run homer and push the Rockies past the Pirates. He’ll need to keep it up, because when your manager focuses on your weaknesses instead of your strengths, you’re one slump from a demotion.

5. St. Louis: WAR% – .702 (1), FAN% – .512 (12), TOTAL% – .545
Since April 11, Lance Berkman has hit 31-for-65, with 8 homers and a 1.482 OPS. Guess which day I decided to drop him from my fantasy team?

6. Tampa Bay: WAR% – .548 (10), FAN% – .537 (5), TOTAL% – .539
Last week, Ben Zobrist compiled the same WAR (0.8) that the entire Twins, Mariners and White Sox offenses have combined for the whole season. Amazing what a freed Zorilla can do.

7. Florida: WAR% – .599 (5), FAN% – .525 (7), TOTAL% – .537
Fantasy owners breathed a sigh of relief on Sunday, when Hanley Ramirez finally homered — passing Alcides Escobar on the shortstop leaderboard. Next stop: Maicer Izturis.

8. Texas: WAR% – .548 (11), FAN% – .525 (7), TOTAL% – .529
Last week, Yorvit Torrealba was the most valuable catcher in the game (0.4 WAR), which has to make the Rangers feel pretty good. Until you realize that he was also last week’s most valuable Ranger.

9. Milwaukee: WAR% – .573 (7), FAN% – .519 (9), TOTAL% – .528
Shaun Marcum is well on his way to beating his initial ZiPS projection for the season, which is welcome news in a rotation where Yovani Gallardo has been getting cuffed around and Zack Greinke has yet to throw a Major League.

10. San Francisco: WAR% – .488 (18), FAN% – .519 (9), TOTAL% – .513
Madison Bumgarner’s first quality start of 2011 attracted a lot of attention in Eno’s Friday RotoGraphs chat, which should be on your to-participate in list every week (right after breathing).

11. Atlanta: WAR% – .508 (15), FAN% – .506 (14), TOTAL% – .507
Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens are the latest examples that the best thing for an ailing pitcher is a shot of San Diego’s offense. Well, unless you’re Hong-Chih Kuo.

12. Cincinnati: WAR% – .566 (8), FAN% – .494 (17), TOTAL% – .506
In news that will surprise no one not named Dusty Baker, Jonny Gomes has turned back into the guy he always has been — a platoon player (at best). In his last 10 games, he is just 3-for-31. Last week, he struck out in more than 40% of his at-bats.

13. Los Angeles of Anaheim: WAR% – .577 (6), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .503
Turns out, the only player who can stop Jered Weaver is Jered Weaver.

14. New York Mets: WAR% – .421 (26), FAN% – .519 (9), TOTAL% – .502
Ike Davis is a man, even though he’s not 40.

15. Chicago Cubs: WAR% – .469 (21), FAN% – .506 (14), TOTAL% – .500
Matt Garza has been brilliant this season, and last week was no exception. He racked up 0.7 WAR, which made him the co-most valuable pitcher of the week, along with Ian Kennedy. Still, Cubs fans have to be upset that they missed out on the Legend of Sam Fuld.

16. Minnesota: WAR% – .310 (30), FAN% – .537 (5), TOTAL% – .499
The Twins have had such a rough go of things that it seems almost cruel to label Jason Kubel’s early success against southpaws a small-sample-sized fluke. Even though that’s probably what it is.

17. Detroit: WAR% – .434 (23), FAN% – .512 (12), TOTAL% – .499
Yes, Max Scherzer is 4-0, which is peachy keen and all, but this was his second straight April with a FIP in the “completely unacceptable” range. And last year, Scherzer’s May was worse than his April.

18. Toronto: WAR% – .516 (13), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .493
While the demotion of Travis Snider shows that even the Blue Jays aren’t immune to overreaction, Jose Bautista and his continued Barry Bonds imitation (.350/.594/.800, 11 walks to 1 strike out last week), will cure a lot of problems.

19. San Diego: WAR% – .466 (22), FAN% – .494 (17), TOTAL% – .489
Brad Hawpe has strung together hits in five straight games, and perhaps has popped a few nails off his coffin in the process.

20. Cleveland: WAR% – .673 (3), FAN% – .451 (27), TOTAL% – .488
Just when you thought the Indians couldn’t get any hotter, Shin-Soo Choo decided to do a week-long Jack Hannahan impression. Wait, what?

21. Los Angeles Dodgers: WAR% – .470 (20), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .485
Hiroki Kuroda — tied for the 14th most valuable pitcher last week — keeps quietly producing for the Dodgers. In other words, he’s the complete opposite of his team’s owner.

22. Oakland: WAR% – .495 (17), FAN% – .481 (23), TOTAL% – .484
Conor Jackson started in Oakland’s last five games and had himself a nice week in the process. With a 0.8 WAR and a .371 wOBA this season, Jackson is showing flashes of his 2008 self. If Jackson’s run continues, the A’s might have to find a permanent lineup spot for him.

23. Baltimore: WAR% – .384 (29), FAN% – .500 (16), TOTAL% – .481
After watching President Obama’s press conference last night, I wondered: “How is Luke Scott celebrating?” Scott tied for the fifth-best hitter WAR last week at 0.6.

24. Chicago White Sox: WAR% – .418 (27), FAN% – .488 (19), TOTAL% – .475
Philip Humber is starting to inspire some “remember that guy?” stories with his hot start. Unfortunately, if his .212 BABIP regresses to the mean, it might not be long before he is forgotten again.

25. Arizona: WAR% – .506 (16), FAN% – .463 (25), TOTAL% – .470
Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson win this week’s most valuable teammates award. Unfortunately, the D-backs only managed to win one game that the duo didn’t start last week.

26. Seattle: WAR% – .432 (24), FAN% – .469 (24), TOTAL% – .463
While rookie pitchers can be fickle, Michael Pineda’s updated FIP projection of 3.29 is a full ¾ of a run lower than his preseason projection of 4.05.

27. Washington: WAR% – .484 (19), FAN% – .457 (26), TOTAL% – .461
After a 0.5 WAR week and 1.1 WAR start to the season, the question we’re asking is, “Has Jason Marquis managed to pull himself completely from his grave, or is part of him still subterranean?”

28. Kansas City: WAR% – .516 (14), FAN% – .420 (29), TOTAL% – .436
Jeff Francoeur continued his annual April game of throwing-it-in-statheads faces. The pill would be more bitter going down, however, if we didn’t know how the story would end.

29. Pittsburgh: WAR% – .423 (25), FAN% – .438 (28), TOTAL% – .436
Despite being just 9-7 on the road, Pittsburgh has won four of its five road series to start the season. Last weekend, Garrett Jones and Andrew McCutchen did plenty of damage in Colorado, going 10-for-25 combined, with a double and three homers.

30. Houston: WAR% – .405 (28), FAN% – .370 (30), TOTAL% – .376
Congratulations to Brett Wallace, the inaugural FanGraphs Power Rankings BABIP’er of the week. Wallace’s .786 BABIP was more than 200 points higher than his closest competitor.

Paul Swydan used to be the managing editor of The Hardball Times, a writer and editor for FanGraphs and a writer for and The Boston Globe. Now, he owns The Silver Unicorn Bookstore, an independent bookstore in Acton, Mass. Follow him on Twitter @Swydan. Follow the store @SilUnicornActon.

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Thanks for taking the time to put this together.