FanGraphs Power Rankings: May 17–23

Injuries continue to wreak havoc on nearly every team in baseball. With the shortened season still close in the rear-view mirror and the realignment and delayed start to the minor leagues, teams have had to scramble to fill their major league rosters. Some teams have been able to weather these issues with extraordinary depth while others have been forced to scrape the bottom of the barrel to find replacements for their injured regulars.

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 26-19 -4 113 80 92 169 ↘ 76.0% 0
Padres 30-17 -3 102 82 79 157 ↗ 98.0% 1
Red Sox 29-19 0 111 87 88 167 ↘ 61.1% -1
Dodgers 29-18 -2 112 75 104 155 ↗ 99.0% 1
Rays 29-19 0 107 88 93 154 ↗ 55.6% 4

The top tier got a lot bigger this week. The Red Sox continued to play well last week but the White Sox stumbled a bit. They were swept in New York over the weekend and won just two of their six games. The real reason this tier has grown so large is because the other three teams are playing out of their minds right now. The Rays, Padres, and Dodgers have won 10, nine, and six games straight, respectively.

Both the Padres and Dodgers have dealt with plenty of injury issues this year. The Padres have had the highest number of days lost to injury in baseball, while the Dodgers have the fifth most; based on Baseball Prospectus‘ new Injured List Ledger, Los Angeles have missed the most projected WARP this season while the Padres come in fourth. But because of their incredibly deep organizations, both teams have thrived despite their challenges.

The Padres just completed a perfect nine-game homestand during which they scored 66 runs and allowed just 18 to score. Since returning from the COVID IL last Wednesday, Fernando Tatis Jr. has collected 11 hits in four games, including four home runs, four doubles, and three stolen bases. Meanwhile, the Dodgers allowed just 15 runs to score in their seven games last week with brilliant pitching performances from their entire starting rotation. But perhaps the best part of their recent stretch of success has been the joy Albert Pujols has been playing with since joining the Dodgers.

In the American League, the Rays have won 10 straight to move into a tie with the Red Sox for the best record in the league. Their offense has been absolutely on fire during this stretch, scoring 8.1 runs per game during their win streak. Randy Arozarena and Austin Meadows have led the charge but they’re getting contributions from nearly everyone on their deep roster. And with their trade with the Brewers on Friday, they added a couple of quality arms to a depleted bullpen while opening up room in their middle infield for some of their fantastic young prospects.

Tier 2 – On the Cusp of Greatness
Team Record “Luck” wRC+ SP- RP- Team Quality Playoff Odds Δ
Yankees 28-19 1 99 80 81 151 ↘ 90.4% 0
Astros 26-21 -4 117 93 108 132 ↘ 68.6% -3
Giants 28-19 -1 100 76 114 116 ↗ 33.3% 0
Athletics 28-20 5 108 101 103 120 ⏹ 60.1% 1

The Yankees have also been playing extremely well recently, winning six of their seven games last week. Beginning with Corey Kluber’s no-hitter on Wednesday, Yankee starters have gone five straight games without allowing a run. Three of those games ended up being shutout wins while the other two were walk-offs after New York’s bullpen coughed up the lead.

The Astros had been playing well too, until they stumbled against the Rangers over the weekend. They had worked their way into first place in the AL West after winning 11 of 14 entering their series in Arlington. They lost twice in extra innings, with their third loss was the result of a third bullpen implosion.

Tier 3 – Solid Contenders
Team Record “Luck” wRC+ SP- RP- Team Quality Playoff Odds Δ
Blue Jays 23-22 -3 105 107 95 113 ↘ 38.4% -3
Cardinals 26-20 2 94 102 98 97 ⏹ 39.6% 1
Mets 21-19 3 87 86 88 123 ↗ 72.7% -1
Cubs 24-22 -1 99 123 83 96 ↗ 29.2% 5
Marlins 22-24 -3 87 94 88 113 ↗ 1.6% 1
Cleveland 24-20 2 84 105 78 92 ↗ 24.3% -2
Braves 23-24 -2 104 111 106 90 ↗ 38.2% 8

The Cubs and Cardinals just wrapped up an extremely entertaining series over the weekend. Don’t let the 12-3 scoreline from Friday fool you, all three of the games were tightly contested. For the Cubs, their recent success has been driven by a much improved pitching staff. Most of the names are the same ones that made up the group that was among the league’s worst in April, but they’ve finally started playing to their true talent level in May. And with a good offense to pair with their serviceable pitching, they’ve pushed themselves back into the race for the NL Central crown.

The Mets have lost the second most projected WARP to injuries per Baseball Prospectus (you can see more on their players’ timelines for return using our Injury Report). Indeed, you’d be hard pressed to name a player on their roster who isn’t injured right now; Francisco Lindor is essentially the only lineup regular who isn’t currently sidelined. Luckily, Jacob deGrom looked healthy during his rehab start last week and is on track to be activated from the IL this week. The Mets are barely holding onto their lead in the NL East.

The Braves have made a charge up the standings with three straight wins against the Pirates to end the weekend. An offensive outburst on Friday might be the spark their lineup needed to find some consistency. Atlanta and Miami are the only two teams in the NL East that have a positive run differential and all five teams in the division are within two and a half games of New York. Both eastern divisions are shaping up to be dramatic races, though for potentially very different reasons.

Tier 4 – The Hopefuls
Team Record “Luck” wRC+ SP- RP- Team Quality Playoff Odds Δ
Rangers 22-27 -1 95 106 98 92 ↗ 0.5% 3
Phillies 23-24 1 92 96 109 85 ↘ 18.1% -2
Nationals 20-23 0 99 114 94 86 ↘ 13.7% -2
Brewers 23-23 2 82 84 110 83 ⏹ 45.9% -1
Royals 22-23 2 89 103 102 84 ↗ 7.6% 2
Reds 20-25 0 105 113 118 84 ↘ 10.3% -8

The Reds started off the season with a fantastic record at home, where they were scoring ridiculous numbers of runs. They went 8-5 at home in April and scored 7.8 runs per game while playing in Great American Ballpark. That home field advantage has completely disappeared in May. They’ve lost eight of 11 games at home this month, capped off by a four-game sweep by the Giants and a series loss against the Brewers last week. They’ve scored just 3.7 runs per game at home this month and even that number is propped up by a 13-run win on May 2; otherwise, they’ve scored a pitiful 2.8 runs per game at home.

The Rangers became the third team to be no-hit twice this season last week, but that embarrassment was eased by one of the most surprising rookie performances of 2021. During their sweep of the Astros, Adolis García launched three home runs and is now tied with Shohei Ohtani for the American League home run lead with 14 dingers. His emergence has been a pleasant development for an organization that’s still figuring out their direction.

Tier 5 – On the Fence
Team Record “Luck” wRC+ SP- RP- Team Quality Playoff Odds Δ
Angels 20-27 1 102 113 119 70 ↘ 8.0% 2
Twins 17-29 -4 103 112 120 73 ↘ 8.9% 3
Mariners 21-26 3 83 121 99 51 ↘ 0.4% -4

This tiny tier is filled with disappointment. Things went from bad to worse for the Angels last week. Mike Trout strained his right calf on Monday and is likely out for at least a month or two. The Angels already had a huge hole to dig out of if they had any hope of making the playoffs this year, and with the best player in baseball sidelined for a big chunk of the season, their chances are essentially shot. Since losing Trout to the IL, they’ve dropped five of seven, with a late-inning comeback salvaging their series against the A’s on Sunday. Shohei Ohtani is breaking baseball on a nightly basis but the Angels have failed to build a roster good enough to even sniff the postseason again.

The Mariners also joined the no-hit-twice-this-season club last week. Injuries to a number of their lineup regulars have absolutely decimated their ability to score runs. They’ve had to cobble together lineups on a nightly basis, and as a result, scored just 1.7 runs per game in their six games last week. The loss of several relievers to the COVID IL hasn’t helped matters on the other side of the ball. But at least they can celebrate seeing the 20,000th player in Major League history make his debut over the weekend.

Tier 6 – Hope Deferred
Team Record “Luck” wRC+ SP- RP- Team Quality Playoff Odds Δ
Orioles 17-29 -1 92 118 98 69 ↘ 0.0% -4
Diamondbacks 18-30 -2 90 110 122 47 ↘ 0.2% -1
Rockies 18-29 -3 77 104 114 39 ↗ 0.0% 1
Pirates 18-28 4 80 122 99 48 ↘ 0.1% -1
Tigers 18-28 2 84 99 131 43 ↗ 0.1% 0

On May 2, the Diamondbacks were 15-13, two games back in the NL West, and had just wrapped up a stretch where they had won 11 of their last 14 games. Since then, they’ve won just three games; they’ve won just four times in the month of May. They were just swept in Los Angeles and in Colorado last week to push their current losing streak to eight games.

The Tigers have continued to play well, sweeping the Mariners in Seattle and coming within a Carlos Santana walk-off home run from winning their series against the Royals. They still have the worst run differential in the AL but some of their youngsters are starting to come around. Casey Mize has allowed two or fewer runs in his last four starts and Michael Fulmer looks like he’s found new life as a high-leverage reliever, Sunday’s walk-off home run notwithstanding.


Overall Power Rankings
Rank Team Record “Luck” wRC+ SP- RP- Team Quality Playoff Odds Δ
1 White Sox 26-19 -4 113 80 92 169 76.0% 0
2 Padres 30-17 -3 102 82 79 157 98.0% 1
3 Red Sox 29-19 0 111 87 88 167 61.1% -1
4 Dodgers 29-18 -2 112 75 104 155 99.0% 1
5 Rays 29-19 0 107 88 93 154 55.6% 4
6 Yankees 28-19 1 99 80 81 151 90.4% 0
7 Astros 26-21 -4 117 93 108 132 68.6% -3
8 Giants 28-19 -1 100 76 114 116 33.3% 0
9 Athletics 28-20 5 108 101 103 120 60.1% 1
10 Blue Jays 23-22 -3 105 107 95 113 38.4% -3
11 Cardinals 26-20 2 94 102 98 97 39.6% 1
12 Mets 21-19 3 87 86 88 123 72.7% -1
13 Cubs 24-22 -1 99 123 83 96 29.2% 5
14 Marlins 22-24 -3 87 94 88 113 1.6% 1
15 Cleveland 24-20 2 84 105 78 92 24.3% -2
16 Braves 23-24 -2 104 111 106 90 38.2% 8
17 Rangers 22-27 -1 95 106 98 92 0.5% 3
18 Phillies 23-24 1 92 96 109 85 18.1% -2
19 Nationals 20-23 0 99 114 94 86 13.7% -2
20 Brewers 23-23 2 82 84 110 83 45.9% -1
21 Royals 22-23 2 89 103 102 84 7.6% 2
22 Reds 20-25 0 105 113 118 84 10.3% -8
23 Angels 20-27 1 102 113 119 70 8.0% 2
24 Twins 17-29 -4 103 112 120 73 8.9% 3
25 Mariners 21-26 3 83 121 99 51 0.4% -4
26 Orioles 17-29 -1 92 118 98 69 0.0% -4
27 Diamondbacks 18-30 -2 90 110 122 47 0.2% -1
28 Rockies 18-29 -3 77 104 114 39 0.0% 1
29 Pirates 18-28 4 80 122 99 48 0.1% -1
30 Tigers 18-28 2 84 99 131 43 0.1% 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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jbrynsvold
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jbrynsvold

Love these posts! Thanks for the breakdown.