FanGraphs Power Rankings: June 28–July 11

With the first half of the season in the books, the first round of the MLB Draft wrapped, and All-Star festivities underway, now is the moment teams can take a breath and start evaluating their strategy for the stretch run. There’s been some significant movement in these rankings since I last posted them, with a handful of teams moving into and out of the bubble during the last two weeks. That should make for a very exciting trade deadline that’s just a few weeks away.

One note: from here on out, these rankings will appear every other week. With most teams sorted into their tiers, there probably won’t be as much week-to-week movement in the rankings as we’ve seen earlier in the season.

A quick refresher: my approach takes the three most important components of a team — their offense (wRC+), and their starting rotation and bullpen (50%/50% FIP- and RA9-) — and combines them to create an overall team quality metric. I add in a factor for “luck” — adjusting based on a team’s expected win-loss record — to produce a power ranking.

Tier 1 – The Best
Team Record “Luck” wRC+ SP- RP- Team Quality Playoff Odds Δ
Giants 57-32 -1 110 84 96 159 ↗ 91.0% 0
Dodgers 56-35 -5 111 82 98 166 ↗ 99.5% 0
White Sox 54-35 -3 112 82 92 176 ↗ 97.1% 0

The Giants maintained their grip on the top spot in these rankings by going 7-5 over the last two weeks. Their bullpen, which had plenty of question-marks heading into the season, has been an unexpected strength and a big reason why they’ve continued to hold onto the best record in baseball. They’ll face a stiff challenge after the All-Star break; they play the Dodgers seven times in the first two weeks of the second half, taking them right up to the trade deadline.

After the Dodgers were no-hit by the Cubs a few weeks ago, they responded by winning nine straight. Three consecutive losses to the Marlins, which included two walk-offs, interrupted that stretch of quality play but a date with the Diamondbacks and a 22-run outburst on Saturday helped them get back on track. That 22-1 demolition of Arizona helped Los Angeles take the best run differential in baseball mantle from the Astros.

The White Sox suffered another major injury to a staple in their lineup; this time it was Yasmani Grandal’s knee that was the victim. At this point, their injury luck is pretty laughable. They’ve lost one key member of their lineup in each month of the season so far. It’s not all bad news on the Southside however; Eloy Jiménez started a rehab assignment last week and could be back in late July or early August, while Luis Robert was cleared for baseball activities recently and could start a rehab assignment soon. There’s no urgency to rush either Jiménez or Robert through their rehab since Chicago has opened up a commanding lead in the AL Central. Our odds give them a 96.4% chance of winning their division.

Tier 2 – On the Cusp of Greatness
Team Record “Luck” wRC+ SP- RP- Team Quality Playoff Odds Δ
Astros 55-36 -5 119 85 105 141 ⏹ 96.2% 2
Red Sox 55-36 4 104 96 89 151 ↗ 87.8% 2
Rays 53-37 -2 101 92 86 143 ↘ 70.1% -2
Padres 53-40 -2 101 97 86 138 ↘ 91.0% -2

Every team on the top of these rankings has had stretches where they look unbeatable followed by stretches of listless play. No team has embodied that streakiness more than the Astros. During their 11-game win streak back in mid-June, they looked like they were going to run away with the best record in the American League. They ran cold again when they were swept by the Orioles but quickly bounced back with a sweep of Cleveland and a series win against the A’s. They ended the first half by barely avoiding a sweep at the hands of the Yankees. Through the first 26 innings of their series against New York, they had scored just twice, getting shutout in back-to-back games for the first time since May 2018. They scored six times in the ninth inning on Sunday for the walk-off win.

The Rays have been just as streaky as the Astros recently. Since June 15, they’ve suffered through alternating streaks of seven losses, four wins, five losses, and six wins. Despite that streakiness, they’ve kept pace with the Red Sox atop the AL East standings and have put some room between them and the third-place Blue Jays.

On July 5, Boston had opened up a 4.5 game lead in the division but they’ve seen that crumble to just 1.5 games in a week’s time. They lost both of their series last week and face an extremely intimidating schedule to start the second half. They have alternating series against the Yankees and Blue Jays for the first two weeks after the All-Star break and then play the Rays to end the month. They’re actually playing a division rival in 29 of their next 32 games, taking them all the way into mid-August.

The most exciting thing to happen to the Padres during the last two weeks was without a doubt Daniel Camarena’s two-out grand slam off Max Scherzer on Thursday evening. San Diego would go on to win that game in the ninth inning, completing the epic comeback. Beyond that excitement, they’ve sort of limped into the All-Star break with just four wins in July and a spate of injuries to their pitchers. They’re still heavy favorites to reach the postseason but it’s looking more and more like it’ll be a Wild Card spot and not the division crown.

Tier 3 – Solid Contenders
Team Record “Luck” wRC+ SP- RP- Team Quality Playoff Odds Δ
Athletics 52-40 2 102 90 101 133 ↗ 49.2% 2
Yankees 46-43 1 100 90 87 147 ⏹ 39.8% 0
Brewers 53-39 1 90 83 96 121 ↗ 83.1% 2
Blue Jays 45-42 -6 110 101 96 132 ⏹ 33.7% 0
Mets 47-40 2 93 83 102 120 ↘ 76.6% -4

The three American League teams in this tier are likely going to find themselves fighting over one playoff spot down the stretch. The A’s, Yankees, and Blue Jays just haven’t done enough to keep up with the top teams in the league, and each of them faces real questions about their playoff chances heading into the second half.

The A’s won their first series since mid-June with two wins against the Rangers to close out the first half. Like so many other teams around baseball, Oakland’s bullpen has been the main culprit behind their recent struggles. A disappointing step back from Jesús Luzardo and a hip injury that has sidelined Mark Canha since late June haven’t helped matters either. They still have a healthy lead in the AL Wild Card race, but they’ve seen that gap quickly tighten over the last few weeks.

A week ago, it seemed like the Yankees had finally fallen apart and had seen their playoff dreams dashed after losing their third consecutive series and falling to just a game over .500. They won both of their series last week, thrusting them back into the playoff conversation, but their walk-off loss on Sunday afternoon has to have left them with a sour taste in their mouth as they head into the break. Like the A’s, their bullpen — Aroldis Chapman specifically — has been their Achilles’ heel recently.

The Brewers won 19 games in June, including an 11-game win streak on account of an extremely soft schedule that saw them face the Diamondbacks, Rockies, and Pirates twice in the past month; they won 17 of their 20 games against those three teams. They’ve fallen back to earth a bit with series losses against the Mets and the surging Reds last week. Still, their red hot June combined with the woes of the Cubs have earned them a sizable lead in the NL Central.

Tier 4 – Running Out of Time
Team Record “Luck” wRC+ SP- RP- Team Quality Playoff Odds Δ
Reds 48-42 2 101 95 115 84 ↗ 23.2% 4
Cleveland 45-42 3 88 111 84 86 ↘ 6.9% 0
Braves 44-45 -3 101 101 105 89 ↗ 7.5% 5
Angels 45-44 3 108 107 108 93 ↗ 14.7% 2
Marlins 39-50 -8 89 93 86 122 ↘ 0.2% -1
Nationals 42-47 -1 98 108 95 102 ↘ 3.0% -3
Phillies 44-44 1 95 97 112 84 ↘ 18.7% 2
Mariners 48-43 8 89 111 92 81 ↗ 3.3% -1

This tier combines two groups of teams: those hanging out on the fringe of the playoff race and the rest of the teams in the NL East.

No two teams have done more for their dwindling playoff hopes in the last two weeks than the Mariners and the Reds. Cincinnati has won nine of their last 11 games and gained a handful of games on the division-leading Brewers after winning a tightly contested four-game series in Milwaukee. They’re now a season-best six games over .500 and just four games behind in the NL Central.

Meanwhile in Seattle, the Mariners have won all but one of their series since the middle of June. They’re not stringing together long win streaks, but they’ve been slowly creeping up the standings as the rest of the AL Wild Card field falters. Their success this year has been built on a weird formula that leans heavily on their excellent relief corps. They’re 19-8 in one-run games and 10-1 in extra innings, but when their opponent has scored more than five runs against them, they’re just 4-29.

Things have really come crashing down for Cleveland. They ended the first half with a three-game sweep of the Royals that required two walk-off wins to secure. Prior to that, they had won just three of their previous 15 games, including a nine-game losing streak that featured sweeps at the hands of the Astros and Rays. They face a pretty stiff challenge to start the second half, with series against the A’s, Astros, Rays, White Sox, and Blue Jays lined up. They recently got Zach Plesac off the IL and Shane Bieber and Aaron Civale could be back by the end of the month. By then, however, it might be too late.

In the NL East, both the Braves and the Phillies have stuck around, lurking behind the Mets. The Nationals’ climb up the standings hit a huge snag once their schedule filled up with the best of the NL West. Unfortunately for Atlanta, Ronald Acuña Jr. tore his ACL on Saturday and will be out for the rest of the season. With Marcell Ozuna out of the picture indefinitely as well, the Braves had two converted infielders manning the outfield corners on Sunday. It might be time to call 2021 a lost cause and give Cristian Pache or Drew Waters an extended run at the major league level to see what they have in those two prospects.

The Phillies wrapped up the first half with series wins against the Padres, Cubs, and Red Sox. That helped them push their record back to .500 for the first time since mid-June. They’ve got plenty of issues on their roster but they’re only 3.5 games behind the Mets in their division. They’ll need a lot of help if they want to overcome New York down the stretch.

Tier 5 – Hope Deferred
Team Record “Luck” wRC+ SP- RP- Team Quality Playoff Odds Δ
Cubs 44-46 2 92 120 92 79 ↘ 4.1% -8
Twins 39-50 0 105 113 112 76 ↗ 0.9% 0
Rockies 40-51 0 77 94 109 54 ↗ 0.0% 5
Cardinals 44-46 4 88 111 104 49 ↘ 2.3% -1
Tigers 40-51 3 90 101 119 58 ↗ 0.0% 2
Rangers 35-55 -3 90 105 104 71 ↗ 0.0% -1
Pirates 34-56 3 85 124 99 51 ↘ 0.0% -1
Royals 36-53 2 88 114 110 37 ↘ 0.0% -4
Orioles 28-61 -3 92 128 107 51 ↗ 0.0% 0
Diamondbacks 26-66 -5 84 126 127 7 ↗ 0.0% 0

Over the last two weeks, the Cubs playoff hopes have completely collapsed. On June 24, the day they no-hit the Dodgers, their playoff odds sat just a bit over 33%. They immediately lost 11 in a row and have won just twice since that date. Their odds now sit in the single digits at 4.1%. The bullpen, at one point a strength of the club, has allowed 56 runs since June 24 and was directly responsible for at least seven of the Cubs losses during this stretch. With a group of big name players all headed for free agency this offseason, Chicago could be big sellers at the trade deadline to restock their organization for their next big competitive window.

It’s a lost cause at this point, but the Rockies have actually played rather well over the last two weeks. They swept the Pirates and won series against the Cardinals and Padres and now get to be the focus of all of baseball for the next few days. The situation in the front office is still a huge question mark, though, and it doesn’t seem like they’re in a position to make any major moves this month.

If you thought the Diamondbacks month of May was bad — they won just five games — just wait until you see what they did in June! I don’t know how it’s possible, but they won just three games last month. Amazingly, they’ve already won four games this month, including their first series win since the end of April. The only thing keeping them above the level of ineptitude of the 1962 Mets is their winning record in April.


Overall Power Rankings
Rank Team Record “Luck” wRC+ SP- RP- Team Quality Playoff Odds Δ
1 Giants 57-32 -1 110 84 96 159 91.0% 0
2 Dodgers 56-35 -5 111 82 98 166 99.5% 0
3 White Sox 54-35 -3 112 82 92 176 97.1% 0
4 Astros 55-36 -5 119 85 105 141 96.2% 2
5 Red Sox 55-36 4 104 96 89 151 87.8% 2
6 Rays 53-37 -2 101 92 86 143 70.1% -2
7 Padres 53-40 -2 101 97 86 138 91.0% -2
8 Athletics 52-40 2 102 90 101 133 49.2% 2
9 Yankees 46-43 1 100 90 87 147 39.8% 0
10 Brewers 53-39 1 90 83 96 121 83.1% 2
11 Blue Jays 45-42 -6 110 101 96 132 33.7% 0
12 Mets 47-40 2 93 83 102 120 76.6% -4
13 Reds 48-42 2 101 95 115 84 23.2% 4
14 Cleveland 45-42 3 88 111 84 86 6.9% 0
15 Braves 44-45 -3 101 101 105 89 7.5% 5
16 Angels 45-44 3 108 107 108 93 14.7% 2
17 Marlins 39-50 -8 89 93 86 122 0.2% -1
18 Nationals 42-47 -1 98 108 95 102 3.0% -3
19 Phillies 44-44 1 95 97 112 84 18.7% 2
20 Mariners 48-43 8 89 111 92 81 3.3% -1
21 Cubs 44-46 2 92 120 92 79 4.1% -8
22 Twins 39-50 0 105 113 112 76 0.9% 0
23 Rockies 40-51 0 77 94 109 54 0.0% 5
24 Cardinals 44-46 4 88 111 104 49 2.3% -1
25 Tigers 40-51 3 90 101 119 58 0.0% 2
26 Rangers 35-55 -3 90 105 104 71 0.0% -1
27 Pirates 34-56 3 85 124 99 51 0.0% -1
28 Royals 36-53 2 88 114 110 37 0.0% -4
29 Orioles 28-61 -3 92 128 107 51 0.0% 0
30 Diamondbacks 26-66 -5 84 126 127 7 0.0% 0





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.

newest oldest most voted
cnewty
Member
Member
cnewty

Those AL wild cards are gonna be interesting

CoryMC
Member
CoryMC

It really feels like whoever can stay healthy and fix their bullpen will get the final spot.