FanGraphs Power Rankings: May 10–16

We’re now a quarter of the way through the season and the biggest storyline has been the remarkable parity throughout baseball. A few pre-season favorites have continued to disappoint and some early season surprises have proven they’re for real, but with the standings so bunched up, anything could still happen. No team is on pace to win more than 100 games right now, and there are a gaggle of teams sitting just below or just above .500. With more teams sitting on the bubble between holding fast and selling, it should make for a dramatic summer.

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
White Sox 24-15 -2 115 80 91 175 ↗ 78.6% 0
Red Sox 25-17 -1 113 85 89 168 ↗ 53.6% 0

These two teams barely budged in the rankings this week. The White Sox crushed the Twins in a three-game series and then split a four-game set with the Royals that ended with a wild, walk-off win on Sunday. They now possess the best record in baseball backed by the best run differential in baseball. The concerns about how their offense and defense will perform without Luis Robert are still present — Billy Hamilton has been nearly as good in the field though definitely not with the bat. They’ll need to lean on their fantastic pitching staff even more to carry them through the season.

Tier 2 – On the Cusp of Greatness
Team Record “Luck” wRC+ SP- RP- Team Quality Playoff Odds Δ
Padres 24-17 -2 96 86 83 141 ↗ 93.3% 0
Astros 24-17 -2 119 93 104 139 ↗ 77.8% 1
Dodgers 22-18 -3 112 78 107 150 ↗ 96.2% 2

The Padres haven’t slowed down despite a COVID outbreak that has meant the absence of several key contributors. On Tuesday, Fernando Tatis Jr. and Wil Myers tested positive for COVID, while three others — Eric Hosmer, Jurickson Profar, and Jorge Mateo — were placed on the Injured List because they were close contacts with the other two. They’ve had to dig deep into their depth to fill the holes in their lineup; a handful of minor-league free agents have been pressed into duty on the major league roster. They responded by winning five of their six games last week with their lone loss an extra-innings walk-off in game two of a doubleheader in Colorado.

The Dodgers showed some signs of life last week, winning four straight before losing on Sunday. They made headlines on Saturday when they announced they agreed to a contract with Albert Pujols. He may be pressed into service sooner than expected after Corey Seager fractured his hand on the same day. He’s expected to miss at least a month, pushing Gavin Lux into an everyday role at shortstop. Zach McKinstry is on the mend and should be activated from the IL soon, providing some relief to their injury strained roster.

Tier 3 – Solid Contenders
Team Record “Luck” wRC+ SP- RP- Team Quality Playoff Odds Δ
Yankees 22-18 1 102 84 81 158 ↘ 85.4% -2
Blue Jays 22-17 -1 104 108 89 121 ↗ 51.5% 6
Giants 24-16 0 98 74 114 114 ⏹ 26.3% 1
Rays 23-19 0 100 86 97 135 ↗ 36.1% 3
Athletics 25-17 5 104 103 99 120 ↘ 52.0% 0

It took a while but the AL East is shaping up to be exactly as competitive as expected heading into the season. Four teams are vying for the top position and the Blue Jays, Yankees, and Rays are now all within two games of the Red Sox. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has nearly singlehandedly carried Toronto up the standings of late. He crushed four home runs last week, including dingers in three straight games over the weekend. Boston and Tampa Bay travel to Toronto (Florida) in what should be some dramatic intradivisional action this week.

The Yankees are in the most precarious position of the four teams right now. They’re also dealing with a small COVID outbreak that has sidelined Gleyber Torres. They also lost Aaron Hicks to a wrist injury and Giancarlo Stanton was sidelined with a quad issue over the weekend. Like the Jays, their offense has been carried by a single man over the last week: Aaron Judge. He one upped Guerrero with five home runs last week, and he too hit one out in three straight games over the weekend.

Despite some serious issues with their bullpen, the Giants possess the best record in the National League and hold a half-game lead over the Padres in the NL West. The two losses they suffered last week were both due to bullpen meltdowns. The first, on Friday, came in extra innings after Jake McGee blew a phenomenal start from Kevin Gausman in the ninth. The next day, they lost another walk-off after the bullpen allowed six runs to score from the seventh inning on. The Giants have the best starting rotation in baseball right now but they really need some relief help if they want to stay near the top of the standings throughout the summer.

Tier 4 – The Hopefuls
Team Record “Luck” wRC+ SP- RP- Team Quality Playoff Odds Δ
Mets 18-16 2 92 85 88 121 ↘ 84.9% -3
Cardinals 23-18 1 94 105 94 97 ↘ 39.3% -6
Cleveland 21-17 1 83 100 83 90 ↘ 25.2% -2
Reds 19-19 0 106 109 112 94 ↗ 18.9% 7
Marlins 18-22 -3 87 99 85 107 ↘ 0.5% -1
Phillies 21-20 1 91 97 105 86 ↗ 23.2% 4

After making a huge jump up the ranking last week, the Cardinals fell flat after getting swept by the Padres in San Diego. Before that weekend series in Southern California, they had won a three-game set against the Brewers. That helped them stay on top of the NL Central for now.

The Marlins have graded out surprisingly well by my team quality metric. Their offense hasn’t been that impressive, but Jazz Chisholm looks like a budding star and he just returned from the IL on Sunday. Their pitching staff has looked quite good even if they’re still trying to figure out which of their mid-level prospects can fit into the back of their starting rotation. They’ve been quite unlucky to post a losing record despite a positive run differential. They’re one of the bubble teams that could make some noise during the summer if no other team starts to run away with the NL East.

Right now, the Mets and Phillies have battled for the top spot in that division, but neither team has looked particularly good. The Mets have their excellent pitching staff but a disappointing offense. The Phillies starting rotation has come on strong recently but they too have had trouble scoring runs. Since no one in the East has played all that well, the disappointing Braves are within shouting distance of the division lead. Even the last place Nationals are only three games behind the leader; they had the largest jump up the rankings this week.

Tier 5 – On the Fence
Team Record “Luck” wRC+ SP- RP- Team Quality Playoff Odds Δ
Nationals 16-20 -1 96 111 93 87 ↗ 12.9% 10
Cubs 19-20 0 97 124 91 86 ↗ 17.9% 5
Brewers 21-20 3 83 82 108 83 ↘ 51.5% -3
Rangers 18-24 -1 100 110 102 86 ↘ 0.2% -5
Mariners 21-20 2 91 118 92 71 ↘ 1.7% -3

Speaking of the Nationals, they enjoyed a vintage performance by Patrick Corbin this week to avoid a sweep by the Phillies. His fastball was hitting 93 on the radar gun and his slider looked as good as it has all season long. His resurgence would go a long way towards giving Washington a shot at rising up the standings.

After just a week of minor league games, the Mariners called up Jarred Kelenic and Logan Gilbert to make their major league debuts. Their first game in the big leagues was spoiled by a Zach Plesac no-hit bid that reached the eighth inning, but the Mariners wound up taking the other three games in their series against Cleveland. Kelenic featured heavily in their win on Friday, hitting his first major league home run and a pair of doubles. But their biggest offensive contributor recently has been Mitch Haniger. He blasted two home runs over the weekend and holds a share of the major league home run lead with 12 on the year.

Tier 6 – Hope Deferred
Team Record “Luck” wRC+ SP- RP- Team Quality Playoff Odds Δ
Orioles 17-23 0 89 113 90 80 ↗ 0.0% 2
Royals 18-22 1 92 106 106 74 ↗ 6.4% 2
Braves 19-21 1 97 116 110 66 ↘ 33.9% -5
Angels 17-22 2 104 113 121 79 ↘ 21.9% -8
Diamondbacks 18-23 0 96 108 123 58 ↘ 1.0% 2
Twins 13-25 -4 106 111 123 79 ↘ 9.7% -5
Pirates 17-23 2 83 112 93 71 ↘ 0.3% -2
Rockies 15-26 -3 82 105 120 33 ↘ 0.0% 0
Tigers 14-26 2 82 102 140 32 ↗ 0.0% 0

Things have gone from bad to worse for the Angels. They were outscored 36-16 in their six games last week and barely staved off a sweep in Boston after Shohei Ohtani hit his 12th home run of the season in the ninth inning on Sunday afternoon. Things aren’t going to get any easier this week, either. They’re playing eight games in seven days, with a Thursday makeup doubleheader against the Twins slotted in between series against Cleveland and Oakland.

After getting swept by the White Sox and losing their series against the A’s, the Twins now have the worst record in baseball. That would have been totally unthinkable heading into the season. Their playoff odds have fallen from 63.3% on Opening Day to just 9.6% in a month and a half. The gigantic hole they’ve dug for themselves combined with the strong play from the White Sox may have put the postseason out of reach already. Quite a disappointment after back-to-back division titles.

The Tigers don’t have the worst record in baseball anymore! They’ve won six of their last 10 games and have climbed out of the cellar in the American League. Their offense has started to show a pulse and Matthew Boyd looks like he’s finally taken that big step forward. Make no mistake, this team isn’t good by any stretch of the imagination, but after five years of rebuilding, any signs of life have to be taken as a positive.


Overall Power Rankings
Rank Team Record “Luck” wRC+ SP- RP- Team Quality Playoff Odds Δ
1 White Sox 24-15 -2 115 80 91 175 78.6% 0
2 Red Sox 25-17 -1 113 85 89 168 53.6% 0
3 Padres 24-17 -2 96 86 83 141 93.3% 0
4 Astros 24-17 -2 119 93 104 139 77.8% 1
5 Dodgers 22-18 -3 112 78 107 150 96.2% 2
6 Yankees 22-18 1 102 84 81 158 85.4% -2
7 Blue Jays 22-17 -1 104 108 89 121 51.5% 6
8 Giants 24-16 0 98 74 114 114 26.3% 1
9 Rays 23-19 0 100 86 97 135 36.1% 3
10 Athletics 25-17 5 104 103 99 120 52.0% 0
11 Mets 18-16 2 92 85 88 121 84.9% -3
12 Cardinals 23-18 1 94 105 94 97 39.3% -6
13 Cleveland 21-17 1 83 100 83 90 25.2% -2
14 Reds 19-19 0 106 109 112 94 18.9% 7
15 Marlins 18-22 -3 87 99 85 107 0.5% -1
16 Phillies 21-20 1 91 97 105 86 23.2% 4
17 Nationals 16-20 -1 96 111 93 87 12.9% 10
18 Cubs 19-20 0 97 124 91 86 17.9% 5
19 Brewers 21-20 3 83 82 108 83 51.5% -3
20 Rangers 18-24 -1 100 110 102 86 0.2% -5
21 Mariners 21-20 2 91 118 92 71 1.7% -3
22 Orioles 17-23 0 89 113 90 80 0.0% 2
23 Royals 18-22 1 92 106 106 74 6.4% 2
24 Braves 19-21 1 97 116 110 66 33.9% -5
25 Angels 17-22 2 104 113 121 79 21.9% -8
26 Diamondbacks 18-23 0 96 108 123 58 1.0% 2
27 Twins 13-25 -4 106 111 123 79 9.7% -5
28 Pirates 17-23 2 83 112 93 71 0.3% -2
29 Rockies 15-26 -3 82 105 120 33 0.0% 0
30 Tigers 14-26 2 82 102 140 32 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.

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Jason Bmember
1 year ago

Nationals were a vintage Corbin performance away from being swept and moved up 10 spots? Can you say a little bit about the factors that propelled them so much higher when the results were middling (3-3 on the week)?