FanGraphs Power Rankings: July 1–7

These next few weeks should go a long way towards separating the wheat from the chaff in the postseason race. For the teams on the fringe of the playoff picture, a timely hot streak could convince them to upgrade at the trade deadline, while a cold snap could push them into seller mode. With the All-Star break looming, it’s time for some serious introspection as teams gear up for the stretch run.

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 handful of clubs. 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 Orioles 57-33 1577 1499 98.8% 1599 0
2 Phillies 58-32 1559 1479 99.9% 1585 0
3 Guardians 56-32 1560 1484 93.1% 1584 1
4 Dodgers 55-36 1550 1484 99.4% 1575 1
5 Yankees 55-37 1535 1513 98.0% 1559 -2
6 Twins 51-39 1549 1489 85.1% 1558 2
7 Brewers 53-38 1529 1490 87.6% 1553 -1
8 Braves 49-39 1538 1500 92.3% 1550 -1
9 Red Sox 49-40 1550 1508 48.7% 1549 4
10 Astros 46-44 1550 1501 56.4% 1535 0
11 Cardinals 47-42 1533 1490 49.9% 1532 1
12 Padres 49-45 1529 1507 56.6% 1525 -1
13 Mariners 49-43 1508 1498 61.5% 1517 -4
14 Mets 44-44 1526 1514 36.1% 1511 1
15 Diamondbacks 45-45 1514 1494 35.7% 1500 2
16 Royals 49-43 1493 1500 27.6% 1489 -2
17 Giants 44-47 1498 1500 22.5% 1478 1
18 Rays 44-46 1497 1496 13.5% 1472 -2
19 Rangers 42-48 1488 1509 10.2% 1463 5
20 Reds 42-48 1481 1501 6.3% 1458 1
21 Pirates 42-47 1477 1498 6.1% 1456 -2
22 Blue Jays 41-49 1480 1514 2.6% 1450 0
23 Nationals 42-48 1466 1505 1.0% 1445 0
24 Tigers 42-48 1467 1494 4.2% 1441 3
25 Cubs 42-49 1457 1500 6.6% 1434 0
26 Angels 37-52 1451 1503 0.2% 1425 -6
27 Marlins 32-58 1436 1511 0.0% 1410 -1
28 Rockies 32-58 1410 1504 0.0% 1388 0
29 Athletics 34-58 1410 1506 0.0% 1387 0
30 White Sox 26-66 1365 1507 0.0% 1349 0

Tier 1 – The Best of the Best
Team Record Elo Opponent Elo Playoff Odds Power Score
Orioles 57-33 1577 1499 98.8% 1599
Phillies 58-32 1559 1479 99.9% 1585
Guardians 56-32 1560 1484 93.1% 1584

The Orioles solidified their grip on the AL East lead by winning series against the Mariners and A’s last week. And while a 19-8 loss on Saturday won’t do their actual run differential any favors, their BaseRuns run differential is the best in the American League by a pretty wide margin. They’ll have an opportunity to put some serious distance between themselves and the Yankees in a huge three-game series this weekend.

The Guardians bounced back after their series loss to the Royals a couple of weekends ago with a pair of series wins against the White Sox and Giants last week. They’re outperforming their BaseRuns record by the widest margin in baseball — a whopping nine wins — and their absolutely elite bullpen and fantastic clutch hitting are the big reasons why. One of those things seems more sustainable than the other, and both the Twins and Royals have done well to mostly keep pace in the AL Central. It’ll be interesting to see what kinds of upgrades Cleveland pursues at the trade deadline to help ward off those two challengers.

The Phillies have gone a respectable 5-4 since putting both Bryce Harper and Kyle Schwarber on the IL a week and a half ago, though they did lose their series against the Braves over the weekend. Much of that success is thanks to the other star in Philadelphia’s lineup, Trea Turner; he collected nine hits and four home runs last week. Thankfully, Schwarber should be coming off the IL this week, with Harper likely be right behind him.

Tier 2 – On the Cusp of Greatness
Team Record Elo Opponent Elo Playoff Odds Power Score
Dodgers 55-36 1550 1484 99.4% 1575
Yankees 55-37 1535 1513 98.0% 1559
Twins 51-39 1549 1489 85.1% 1558
Brewers 53-38 1529 1490 87.6% 1553
Braves 49-39 1538 1500 92.3% 1550
Red Sox 49-40 1550 1508 48.7% 1549

After a brief hiccup against the Giants and Diamondbacks, the Dodgers got back to winning this past weekend, taking two of three from the Brewers at home. They’ll face a tough challenge with a three-game set in Philadelphia this week.

The red-hot Astros ran into the almost equally hot Twins this past weekend and their three-game set was filled with drama. Seven batters were hit by pitches in the series, forcing Jose Altuve, Yordan Alvarez, and Carlos Correa to miss at least a game. Though none of the injuries seemed serious, there was certainly no love lost between these two teams. As for the games themselves, there was the slugfest on Friday in which Minnesota scored seven times in the ninth inning only to fall one run short of completing a comeback. And while Saturday’s game was pretty run-of-the-mill, the Twins completed the series victory with a walk-off win on Sunday in which Christian Vázquez knocked in all three runs, including the game-winning home run.

Facing a challenge from the Cardinals in their division, the Brewers didn’t wait around to make an upgrade to their patchwork rotation, trading for Aaron Civale last week. He should provide some league-average innings for Milwaukee. The Brewers could still use another starter or two to feel really good about their chances of hanging on to the division lead — Dallas Keuchel just isn’t the solution for a playoff-bound team — but it’s unclear how much more prospect capital they’re willing to part with.

The Red Sox continued their ascent up the standings with five wins last week, including two in New York in a huge series win over the struggling Yankees. As you’d expect, Rafael Devers has been the centerpiece of their surge, blasting seven home runs over the last two weeks, including two on Sunday night. He can’t do it all, though, and Boston again finds itself in position to be aggressive at the trade deadline to acquire some offensive help.

Meanwhile, things have gotten pretty dire in the Bronx. The Yankees were swept by the Reds before falling to the Red Sox, and they couldn’t score more than four runs in any of their five losses last week. They did score 14 in their lone victory, led by a trio of home runs from Ben Rice, but this is a ballclub that’s sorely in need of some sort of spark. They’ve got a pretty big road trip this week to finish off the first half the season, with three against Tampa Bay followed by three in Baltimore.

Tier 3 – Solid Contenders
Team Record Elo Opponent Elo Playoff Odds Power Score
Astros 46-44 1550 1501 56.4% 1535
Cardinals 47-42 1533 1490 49.9% 1532
Padres 49-45 1529 1507 56.6% 1525
Mariners 49-43 1508 1498 61.5% 1517
Mets 44-44 1526 1514 36.1% 1511

The three National League teams in this tier are fighting over the last two Wild Card spots — though the Cardinals have a shot at the NL Central division lead, too — and right now the Mets are on the outside looking in. They won four games last week, keeping pace with the rest of the field. More importantly, they welcomed Edwin Díaz back from his sticky stuff suspension on Saturday and he promptly secured a save in a 5-2 victory. His return was particularly important because the bullpen had allowed a whopping 35 runs while he was away.

The Padres lost their first series in two and a half weeks last weekend, dropping two of three to the Diamondbacks. The Friars have greatly benefitted from Jackson Merrill’s midseason breakout — he was one of four rookies selected to the All-Star game this year — and he’s been a big reason why San Diego has been able to weather the loss of Fernando Tatis Jr. for the last few weeks.

The Mariners’ loss on Sunday was a microcosm of their now three-week slide: George Kirby fired six solid innings of one-run ball, the bullpen blew a three-run lead in the seventh, and the offense left the bases loaded in the eighth, ninth, and 10th innings in a 5-4 loss. Earlier in the week, they held the high-powered Orioles offense to just nine runs in three games but walked away with just one win in the series. Things just aren’t going their way right now, and they’re really feeling the effects of their razor thin margins.

Tier 4 – The Fringe
Team Record Elo Opponent Elo Playoff Odds Power Score
Diamondbacks 45-45 1514 1494 35.7% 1500
Royals 49-43 1493 1500 27.6% 1489
Giants 44-47 1498 1500 22.5% 1478
Rays 44-46 1497 1496 13.5% 1472

Three straight series wins — two against division rivals — have the Diamondbacks suddenly back in the NL playoff picture. They made it back to .500 with their victory on Sunday, bringing them within two games of the last NL Wild Card spot, and have a pretty big four-game series against the Braves on the docket this week.

The reason the Rays had the luxury of trading Civale despite being on the fringe of the AL playoff picture is because Shane Baz has returned to the big league rotation after completing a long rehab process from Tommy John surgery. The team will also welcome Jeffrey Springs back soon, giving the pitching staff even more help for the stretch run. Of course, as soon as the Rays worked their way into the playoff picture, they were swept by the Rangers over the weekend, dropping them below .500 again.

The Royals lost both of their series last week and are now a game and a half back in the AL Wild Card race. They’ve got a huge series in Boston this weekend that could shape the course of the rest of their season. They’ve indicated they’re willing to buy at the deadline to help bolster their surprising run this year, but they’ve got plenty of players who would be enticing for other teams should they want to improve their long-term outlook. This final week before the All-Star break could push them one way or the other.

Tier 5 – No Man’s Land
Team Record Elo Opponent Elo Playoff Odds Power Score
Rangers 42-48 1488 1509 10.2% 1463
Reds 42-48 1481 1501 6.3% 1458
Pirates 42-47 1477 1498 6.1% 1456
Blue Jays 41-49 1480 1514 2.6% 1450
Nationals 42-48 1466 1505 1.0% 1445
Tigers 42-48 1467 1494 4.2% 1441
Cubs 42-49 1457 1500 6.6% 1434
Angels 37-52 1451 1503 0.2% 1425

This tier of middling squads has grown a lot bigger as the teams in the Wild Card races pull ahead of this group. It’s possible one or two of these clubs can play their way back into the playoff picture — the Rangers’ sweep of the Rays last weekend shows they still have a bit of juice left in them — but I’d expect most of them to slowly realize they should sell as the trade deadline approaches.

Texas has one big shot to get back into the playoff race over these next two weeks; the team will finish off the first half with a three-game series in Houston and then open up the second half with a series against the Orioles. If those games go well, the Rangers could be set up for a second half surge; if they don’t, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them sell at the deadline. The Blue Jays and Tigers are in essentially the same position as Texas, though their schedules aren’t as favorable to producing the big swings in the standings needed to get back into the race. All three of those teams have a bit of momentum after winning their weekend series last week.

After the high of sweeping the Yankees in New York, the Reds returned home and were promptly swept by the Tigers in three games. That dropped them to five games back in the Wild Card race, behind four other teams vying for that final playoff spot. The Pirates, Nationals, and Cubs didn’t do much better than Cincinnati last week, with the latter two winning three times while the former won just twice.

Tier 6 – Hope Deferred
Team Record Elo Opponent Elo Playoff Odds Power Score
Marlins 32-58 1436 1511 0.0% 1410
Rockies 32-58 1410 1504 0.0% 1388
Athletics 34-58 1410 1506 0.0% 1387
White Sox 26-66 1365 1507 0.0% 1349

The Rockies’ one saving grace during their extended run of ineptitude has been a pretty solid record at home. Maybe that’s part of why they’ve always enjoyed pretty good attendance numbers despite posting losing records in six straight seasons. For whatever reason, they’re just 20-27 at home this year, lightyears better than their record on the road, but still a disappointment compared to the success they’ve enjoyed in recent seasons. They just completed a seven-game home stand in which they scored 3.29 runs per game, were shutout once, and still managed to win four games. Maybe the Coors magic is still alive, even if it’s a little diminished.





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.

75 Comments
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wheelhousemember
16 days ago

Does Brian Cashman stealth edit these rankings to keep the Yankees perpetually three tiers above where they should be?

sadtrombonemember
16 days ago
Reply to  wheelhouse

Does wheelhouse not know that this is based on a formula?

rickdugo3000
16 days ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

The formulas dumb as hell then and clearly hasn’t watched the Red Sox embarrass the Yankees in two series in the last month. The Sox are CLEARLY the better team. Games are played on the field; not on a computer or a spreadsheet. If the formula knew the Yankees were managed by a buffoon and only have two good players, they would not be ranked this high. The Yankees have been the worst team in baseball for a month.

xero
16 days ago
Reply to  rickdugo3000

It’s almost like two series don’t mean as much to a formula as an entire half season or more! How ridiculous!

Anyone who thinks the Yankees don’t deserve to be in the top two tiers here after putting up one of the best records in baseball despite playing one of the hardest schedules is incapable of understanding how their bias is impacting their judgement.

rickdugo3000
16 days ago
Reply to  xero

Things change fast. They are not a good team anymore. 5-15 in their last 20. If the power rankings are a retrospective summary of the entire season (which would be weird when we have standings), then sure, they get credit for banking wins. If it’s supposed to be a useful reflection of the current state of MLB, the Yankees are wildly overrated.

xero
16 days ago
Reply to  rickdugo3000

Now see, that’s a more viable argument than trying to call out 6 games of their first 90. But still, if there’s any consistency in baseball it’s that teams are inconsistent over 162 games. Discrediting them more for a 20 game stint compared to the previous 70 while they faced one of the toughest schedules in the league shows a lack of awareness that during the season one loss is not more important than any other loss, especially halfway through a season.

They have a 4.5 game lead in the WC standings despite going 5-15 their last 20 games. That’s not the worst team in baseball.

Last edited 16 days ago by xero
rickdugo3000
16 days ago
Reply to  xero

This is where watching the games comes into play… no shit one loss in April is the same as one on July, but when the team that can’t stop losing in July has Oakland castoffs batting cleanup and gets booed in their own stadium maybe we should consider that the team is not the same.

PressXToJason
16 days ago
Reply to  rickdugo3000

They aren’t the same! That’s why they are in tier 2 and not tier 1!

david k
15 days ago
Reply to  PressXToJason

stop feeding the TROLLS

sadtrombonemember
15 days ago
Reply to  xero

The rational version of this argument is that this should be based much more on Elo and much less on the playoff percentage weights, which involves both past performance and a prediction of future performance. But then there would be other things that would make less sense, so it’s not like that’s even a guarantee that it would make the whole rankings more intuitive overall.

david k
15 days ago
Reply to  xero

It’s called TROLLS.

Spahn_and_Sain
14 days ago
Reply to  rickdugo3000

Games aren’t played on a spreadsheet, but power rankings are!

wheelhousemember
15 days ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

I got a formula for you:
yankees = bad team

sadtrombonemember
15 days ago
Reply to  wheelhouse

That’s not a formula!

david k
15 days ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

For a TROLL it is.

bglick4
15 days ago
Reply to  wheelhouse

Talent = Money
Yankees=(Talent)( Money)
Yankees =Money^2
Money = root(evil)
Money^2 = evil
Yankees = evil

cowdisciplemember
14 days ago
Reply to  bglick4

I approve of this formula.

didace
16 days ago
Reply to  wheelhouse

I find it amusing that I can’t tell if the posts complaining about where the Yankees and Red Sox are ranked come from New York fans or Boston fans.

Morlandmember
15 days ago
Reply to  didace

I have plenty of New York friends. If the Yankees aren’t in first place and winning two thirds of their games, then as far they’re concerned they suck!

Estebanmember
15 days ago
Reply to  Morland

I’m a Yankees fan from NY and that is sadly pretty representative of Yankees fans