FanGraphs Power Rankings: April 15–21

We’re a little more than 10% of the way through the regular season and some of the hottest teams to start the year have cooled off. It’s far too early to pass any judgment on any of the starts just yet; there’s still plenty of games to play.

This season, we’ve revamped our power rankings. The old model wasn’t very reactive to the ups and downs of any given team’s performance throughout the season, and by September, it was giving far too much weight to a team’s full body of work without taking into account how the club had changed, improved, or declined since March. That’s why we’ve decided to build our power rankings model using a modified Elo rating system. If you’re familiar with chess rankings or FiveThirtyEight’s defunct sports section, you’ll know that Elo is an elegant solution that measures teams’ relative strength and is very reactive to recent performance.

To avoid overweighting recent results during the season, we weigh each team’s raw Elo rank using our coinflip playoff odds (specifically, we regress the playoff odds by 50% and weigh those against the raw Elo ranking, increasing in weight as the season progresses to a maximum of 25%). As the best and worst teams sort themselves out throughout the season, they’ll filter to the top and bottom of the rankings, while the exercise will remain reactive to hot streaks or cold snaps.

First up are the full rankings, presented in a sortable table. Below that, I’ve grouped the teams into tiers with comments on a dozen of them. You’ll notice that the official ordinal rankings don’t always match the tiers — I’ve taken some editorial liberties when grouping teams together — but generally, the ordering is consistent. One thing to note: The playoff odds listed in the tables below are our standard Depth Charts odds, not the coin flip odds that are used in the ranking formula.

Complete Power Rankings
Rank Team Record Elo Opponent Elo Playoff Odds Power Score Δ
1 Braves 14-6 1616 1486 98.4% 1615 0
2 Yankees 15-7 1572 1513 88.6% 1572 0
3 Orioles 14-7 1556 1499 77.4% 1556 2
4 Dodgers 13-11 1553 1501 90.1% 1550 -1
5 Brewers 14-6 1550 1510 54.1% 1550 -1
6 Guardians 16-6 1548 1479 50.3% 1550 2
7 Phillies 14-8 1545 1467 71.3% 1545 2
8 Mets 12-9 1534 1528 37.1% 1532 11
9 Blue Jays 12-10 1530 1514 54.6% 1528 4
10 Cubs 13-9 1524 1489 50.5% 1523 -3
11 Padres 12-12 1521 1532 43.6% 1518 -1
12 Rays 12-11 1520 1491 55.9% 1518 -6
13 Mariners 11-11 1514 1485 54.3% 1512 10
14 Red Sox 13-10 1513 1498 27.7% 1512 2
15 Rangers 12-11 1512 1515 40.5% 1511 7
16 Reds 12-9 1502 1466 27.8% 1501 1
17 Diamondbacks 11-12 1501 1490 46.7% 1499 -2
18 Royals 13-9 1495 1479 28.6% 1495 0
19 Tigers 12-10 1492 1473 26.2% 1492 1
20 Giants 10-13 1491 1498 32.1% 1488 4
21 Astros 7-16 1489 1519 53.2% 1483 -9
22 Cardinals 9-13 1484 1506 28.6% 1480 -1
23 Twins 7-13 1482 1515 34.1% 1478 -9
24 Pirates 11-11 1473 1492 16.9% 1472 -13
25 Angels 9-13 1458 1503 7.8% 1456 0
26 Marlins 6-17 1450 1526 2.2% 1445 1
27 Nationals 10-11 1435 1504 0.4% 1435 1
28 Athletics 8-14 1426 1497 0.7% 1424 -2
29 Rockies 5-17 1360 1512 0.0% 1358 0
30 White Sox 3-18 1354 1512 0.0% 1352 0

Tier 1 – The Braves
Team Record Elo Opponent Elo Playoff Odds Power Score
Braves 14-6 1616 1486 98.4% 1615

The Braves torched the two most recent World Series winners last week, sweeping the Astros and taking two of three from the Rangers. Marcell Ozuna hit another pair of home runs, and now leads the majors in that category, and Ronald Acuña Jr. finally hit his first of the season. Their depth is being tested with Spencer Strider out for the season and now Ozzie Albies hitting the IL with a fractured toe, but they seem to have weathered that storm for now.

Tier 2 – On the Cusp of Greatness
Team Record Elo Opponent Elo Playoff Odds Power Score
Yankees 15-7 1572 1513 88.6% 1572
Orioles 14-7 1556 1499 77.4% 1556
Dodgers 13-11 1553 1501 90.1% 1550
Brewers 14-6 1550 1510 54.1% 1550
Guardians 16-6 1548 1479 50.3% 1550

While Jackson Holliday has had a rough time adjusting to the big leagues, another rookie is powering the Orioles offense right now. Colton Cowser hit another home run on Sunday, bringing his season total to five and pushing his wRC+ up to 239. And don’t forget about Gunnar Henderson, or Adley Rutschman, or Jordan Westburg, each of whom has contributed offensively in big ways over the past week. Also, there’s the resurgent Craig Kimbrel, who is leading the bullpen with his best Félix Bautista impression; his easy one-two-three inning and save he collected on Saturday actually raised his FIP from negative (-0.27) to positive (0.12).

The Guardians boast the best record in baseball after sweeping the A’s at home over the weekend. They’ve lost just a single series, and they’re tied for the second-most runs scored and the second-fewest runs allowed. They have another series against the Red Sox this week, followed by a six-game road trip through Atlanta and Houston. That’s a pretty big early-season test — despite the Astros’ woes — and should provide them with an opportunity to show if they’re for real.

A brilliant outing from Tyler Glasnow and a 10-run outburst helped the Dodgers avoid a sweep at the hands of the Mets on Sunday. It also gave them just their third win over their last 10 games, though they’re still leading the NL West by a game over the Padres. Even with an encouraging bounce-back start to the year from Teoscar Hernández, Los Angeles outfielders have been a pretty significant drag on the team. Mookie Betts, now at shortstop, and Shohei Ohtani, have been better than ever at the plate, but it feels like the team overall just isn’t as dominant as everyone expected at the start of the season.

Tier 3 – Solid Contenders
Team Record Elo Opponent Elo Playoff Odds Power Score
Phillies 14-8 1545 1467 71.3% 1545
Mets 12-9 1534 1528 37.1% 1532
Blue Jays 12-10 1530 1514 54.6% 1528
Cubs 13-9 1524 1489 50.5% 1523

Despite having their six-game win streak snapped on Sunday in a blowout loss to the Dodgers, the Mets are playing fantastic baseball right now; they still haven’t lost a series since they dropped two of three to the Tigers during the first week of the season. They’ll have to keep the good times rolling without the services of Francisco Alvarez for a while; he tore a ligament in his thumb on Saturday.

With Seiya Suzuki temporarily sidelined because of an oblique injury, Michael Busch has stepped up to lead a Cubs offense that’s started off a little sluggish. Last Monday, he tied a franchise record by hitting home runs in five consecutive games. Cody Bellinger is beginning to heat up a bit as well, and Justin Steele is ramping up his rehab from his hamstring injury.

Tier 4 – The Melee
Team Record Elo Opponent Elo Playoff Odds Power Score
Padres 12-12 1521 1532 43.6% 1518
Rays 12-11 1520 1491 55.9% 1518
Mariners 11-11 1514 1485 54.3% 1512
Red Sox 13-10 1513 1498 27.7% 1512
Rangers 12-11 1512 1515 40.5% 1511

The Mariners climbed back to .500 with a sweep of the Reds at home and a series win at Colorado last week. Over their last 10 games, Seattle starters have allowed just 12 runs total, with nine of their outings registering as quality starts. The offense is starting to wake up too, especially Julio Rodríguez, who broke out with 13 hits last week. The M’s have a big series against the Rangers on the docket this week.

Tier 5 – Waiting for Launch
Team Record Elo Opponent Elo Playoff Odds Power Score
Reds 12-9 1502 1466 27.8% 1501
Diamondbacks 11-12 1501 1490 46.7% 1499
Royals 13-9 1495 1479 28.6% 1495
Tigers 12-10 1492 1473 26.2% 1492
Giants 10-13 1491 1498 32.1% 1488
Astros 7-16 1489 1519 53.2% 1483

The Twins’ slow start has given the other teams in the AL Central a wide open path to claim the division. No team has benefitted more from Minnesota’s misfortune than the Royals. Even after losing its weekend series to the Orioles, Kansas City has the second-best run differential in the AL and has allowed the fewest runs in baseball.

Things did not get much better for the Astros last week. They were swept by the Braves and then lost a three-game set against the lowly Nationals. Just as soon as Justin Verlander made his season debut off the IL, Cristian Javier was placed on it with a neck injury. Slow starts are nothing new for Houston, but this one feels like it’s lingering longer than normal and there are fewer reasons to hope it will turn around quickly.

Tier 6 – No Man’s Land
Team Record Elo Opponent Elo Playoff Odds Power Score
Cardinals 9-13 1484 1506 28.6% 1480
Twins 7-13 1482 1515 34.1% 1478
Pirates 11-11 1473 1492 16.9% 1472
Angels 9-13 1458 1503 7.8% 1456

The good vibes of the Pirates early-season hot streak have all but disappeared after they were swept in back-to-back series against the Mets and Red Sox. They’re heading into a huge four-game series against the Brewers this week, and it really feels like this could be a hinge point for the rest of their season. For whatever reason, they’re choosing to play without their best pitcher, as they’ve elected to keep Paul Skenes in Triple-A for now.

There are a few reasons to be excited if you’re an Angels fan: Despite going 1-for-12 in this weekend’s series, Mike Trout is playing mad and looks as dangerous as ever at the plate, and Reid Detmers has been one of the best starters in baseball. That’s pretty much where the list ends. Anthony Rendon is back on the IL after playing just 19 games, Jo Adell has been an absolute disaster on the basepaths, and high leverage reliever Robert Stephenson, their big free agent signing over the offseason, is out for the year with an elbow injury.

Tier 7 – Hope Deferred
Team Record Elo Opponent Elo Playoff Odds Power Score
Marlins 6-17 1450 1526 2.2% 1445
Nationals 10-11 1435 1504 0.4% 1435
Athletics 8-14 1426 1497 0.7% 1424
Rockies 5-17 1360 1512 0.0% 1358
White Sox 3-18 1354 1512 0.0% 1352

The A’s have played a little better than expected to start the season, but they won just once last week and were just swept by the Guardians in pretty convincing fashion. That said, their pitching staff is worth keeping an eye on; Paul Blackburn allowed the first runs of his season in his fourth start on Wednesday, and Mason Miller has become appointment viewing when he makes it into a game.





Jake Mailhot is a contributor to FanGraphs. A long-suffering Mariners fan, he also writes about them for Lookout Landing. Follow him on Twitter @jakemailhot.

30 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
TKDCmember
29 days ago

Feels like if the Braves deserve to be in their own tier for being 43 points up on 2nd place, which feels fair to me, perhaps the Rockies and White Sox, who are way further behind 28th place than that, maybe should be in a separate tier, named “Complete Dog Shit.”

Last edited 29 days ago by TKDC
Jason Bmember
29 days ago
Reply to  TKDC

Dog shit is offended by this insinuation

PC1970
29 days ago
Reply to  TKDC

Even before your post, I was thinking “If you have no hope, how can it be deferred?” in regards to Colorado & CWS.

Complete Dog Shit would work as a tier for those 2.