FanGraphs Power Rankings: May 3–9

After three weeks of these rankings and plenty of feedback — both positive and constructive — I’ve decided to change the way pitching factors into overall team quality. I had been using FIP to assess pitching performance, but using only peripherals undervalued some teams who were actually quite good at preventing runs and overvalued other teams who couldn’t keep runs off the board despite good pitching fundamentals. So instead of using straight park- and league-adjusted FIP as the pitching metric, I’ll be using a straight 50/50 split of FIP and RA9- beginning this week. This gives us a way to evaluate a team’s pitching staff with a blend of actual run prevention (including teams who may or may not benefit from good defense) and pitching talent. This 50/50 composite is shown below as SP- and RP-. The rest of the factors remain the same — offense is represented by wRC+ and combined with the two pitching factors to create an overall team quality metric. Then a team’s expected win-loss record (“luck”) is factored in to produce a power ranking.

Tier 1 – The Best
Team Record “Luck” wRC+ SP- RP- Team Quality Playoff Odds Δ
White Sox 19-13 -3 110 72 95 170 ↘ 68.9% 1
Red Sox 22-13 1 115 88 90 162 ↘ 62.8% -1

There’s a new team on top of the rankings this week. Despite losing Luis Robert for months on Sunday, the White Sox rose to the highest spot in the rankings after allowing just five total runs to score last week. Their starting rotation has been the best in baseball by a wide margin — the runs allowed by Lucas Giolito on Sunday were the first a White Sox starter had allowed in a week. There are certainly some concerns about their outfield, with two of their young stars now out for extended periods of time.

The Red Sox beat up on the Tigers and Orioles last week, scoring 49 runs in six games. Their offense continues to impress, with a huge bounce back season from J.D. Martinez and fantastic performances by Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers. They do have some holes on their roster, particularly in the outfield, but they’re out to prove that their disappointing season in 2020 was just a fluke.

Tier 2 – On the Cusp of Greatness
Team Record “Luck” wRC+ SP- RP- Team Quality Playoff Odds Δ
Padres 19-16 -1 92 84 82 139 ⏹ 90.7% 2
Yankees 18-16 -1 102 86 76 160 ↗ 84.7% 3
Astros 18-16 -3 114 99 105 129 ↗ 62.9% -1
Cardinals 21-14 1 97 100 91 117 ↗ 44.9% 0

The Cardinals have played 14 of their last 17 games at home and have gone a major league-best 13-4 during that stretch. They’ve launched themselves into first place in the NL Central with the best record in the National League. Nolan Arenado’s bat has started to come alive after a slow start to his time in St. Louis.

Despite plenty of concerns with their pitching staff, including eight pitchers currently on the Injured List, the Astros’ offense looks plenty capable of carrying the team to the top of the AL West. Yordan Alvarez collected five multi-hit games this week, including a pair of home runs off Gerrit Cole on Wednesday and another dinger on Saturday. The knee issues he dealt with last year seem to be completely resolved and he’s showing the league just how potent his bat is when he’s healthy.

Tier 3 – Solid Contenders
Team Record “Luck” wRC+ SP- RP- Team Quality Playoff Odds Δ
Dodgers 18-17 -3 111 78 116 139 ↘ 94.7% -4
Mets 16-13 2 96 82 80 140 ↘ 86.9% 4
Giants 20-14 0 102 79 117 114 ↗ 21.0% 2
Athletics 21-15 4 103 102 99 122 ↗ 51.3% -2

The Dodgers have fallen far from their initial perch atop these rankings. They won one game last week and have won just five games in their last 20. Five of those losses have come in extra innings and a number of others have been given away by the bullpen. On Saturday, they built a 13-0 lead over the Angels through the fifth inning but their relief corps allowed 11 runs to score in two innings to make the game much closer than it needed to be. Their offense has been okay considering the injuries they’ve sustained and their starting rotation has been solid, but they really need to figure out the issues they’re having closing out games.

The Mets have had all sorts of issues scoring runs but they’ve been buoyed by a pitching staff that has been one of the best in baseball. The issues Jacob deGrom has dealt with over the last week have been concerning — back tightness held him out of a scheduled start early last week and he was just placed on the injured list after exiting his start on Sunday with side tightness. Losing him for any amount of time would be a blow, but Marcus Stroman, Taijuan Walker, and David Peterson have all pitched excellently and Carlos Carrasco should be back from the Injured List by June.

Tier 4 – The Hopefuls
Team Record “Luck” wRC+ SP- RP- Team Quality Playoff Odds Δ
Cleveland 18-14 0 86 98 83 100 ↗ 33.1% 8
Rays 19-17 1 97 89 100 119 ↘ 25.4% 2
Blue Jays 17-16 -2 99 114 88 106 ↗ 44.8% -4
Marlins 15-18 -4 91 90 88 117 ↗ 0.9% 6
Rangers 18-18 0 104 110 95 111 ↗ 1.3% 8
Brewers 19-16 2 85 85 99 93 ↗ 55.6% -1

Cleveland continued their ascent through these rankings with a four-game sweep of the Royals and a series win against the Reds last week. Their offense has finally started scoring runs consistently and this new composite model of pitching evaluation really likes their bullpen now. Their relief corps has the widest gap between their ERA and their FIP in the majors.

The Brewers have been a constant source of conversation in the comments over the last few weeks. Their record indicates that they’ve played well this year but the underlying quality of the team has been lacking as these rankings have shown. They scored just 21 runs in six games last week and that really underscores their issues. Their excellent rotation can only carry them so far and now serious injury issues are piling up. They managed to squeak out a win against the Marlins on Sunday but face the Cardinals and Braves at home this week.

It’s a bit surprising to see the Rangers rise so high but they’ve put together a string of series wins against the Red Sox, Twins, and Mariners. During this stretch, their pitching staff has allowed just 3.1 runs per game and their offense has been surprisingly potent.

Tier 5 – On the Fence
Team Record “Luck” wRC+ SP- RP- Team Quality Playoff Odds Δ
Angels 15-18 1 111 108 116 100 ↘ 34.1% -7
Mariners 18-17 2 91 123 89 73 ↘ 1.3% -2
Braves 17-17 1 100 122 104 79 ↗ 38.6% 8
Phillies 18-17 1 88 91 114 68 ↘ 22.5% 2
Reds 15-16 0 101 103 121 87 ↘ 15.7% -3
Twins 12-20 -4 107 99 124 93 ↘ 20.0% -1
Cubs 17-17 1 95 129 96 67 ↗ 16.2% 5
Orioles 15-19 0 89 109 94 72 ↗ 0.0% 1

The Angels released Albert Pujols in an attempt to resuscitate their spiraling season but their issues aren’t on the offensive side of their roster. They’ve been able to score runs with or without Pujols in the lineup. Their real problem is their team defense and the negative effects it has had on their pitching staff and their ability to prevent runs from scoring. They’ve allowed the most runs in the majors and none of the new additions to their pitching staff appear to be working out.

The Braves have shot up the standings after a sweep of the Nationals and a series win against the Phillies last week. They’ve continued to be plagued by an inconsistent pitching staff, allowing just six runs in three games in Washington but then allowing 12 in their first game against the Phillies. Their wild walk-off win in extra innings on Saturday is the kind of momentum-building win they needed as they look to take advantage of a lethargic NL East.

Tier 6 – Hope Deferred
Team Record “Luck” wRC+ SP- RP- Team Quality Playoff Odds Δ
Royals 16-17 3 92 107 112 62 ↘ 9.3% -12
Pirates 14-19 1 84 112 90 72 ⏹ 0.3% 0
Nationals 13-17 0 91 117 92 69 ↗ 10.6% -3
Diamondbacks 15-19 0 97 111 122 60 ↘ 1.4% -11
Rockies 12-22 -3 78 110 110 39 ↘ 0.0% 0
Tigers 10-24 1 77 104 145 24 ↗ 0.0% 0

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. The Royals have lost eight straight games and have fallen from having the best record in the AL to below .500 in just a week’s time. They managed to score just 21 times in those eight losses. Salvador Perez and Carlos Santana have been the two lone consistent contributors but they really need to figure out what’s wrong with Jorge Soler and Hunter Dozier. Those two sluggers were supposed to be key contributors in their lineup but they’ve been totally disappointing so far this year.

Following them down the rankings are the Diamondbacks, losers of six straight. They were one of the biggest risers last week; now they’re one of the biggest fallers. Things aren’t completely doom and gloom for Arizona yet. Madison Bumgarner has been lights out over his last four starts and youngsters Carson Kelly, Pavin Smith, and Josh Rojas are putting together encouraging seasons. A bad bullpen isn’t the worst problem for a team like the Diamondbacks to have. It’s one of the reasons they’ve swung so far back and forth in these rankings, but they’re still trying to figure out which players can be counted on during their next contending cycle.


Overall Power Rankings
Rank Team Record “Luck” wRC+ SP- RP- Team Quality Playoff Odds Δ
1 White Sox 19-13 -3 110 72 95 170 68.9% 1
2 Red Sox 22-13 1 115 88 90 162 62.8% -1
3 Padres 19-16 -1 92 84 82 139 90.7% 2
4 Yankees 18-16 -1 102 86 76 160 84.7% 3
5 Astros 18-16 -3 114 99 105 129 62.9% -1
6 Cardinals 21-14 1 97 100 91 117 44.9% 0
7 Dodgers 18-17 -3 111 78 116 139 94.7% -4
8 Mets 16-13 2 96 82 80 140 86.9% 4
9 Giants 20-14 0 102 79 117 114 21.0% 2
10 Athletics 21-15 4 103 102 99 122 51.3% -2
11 Cleveland 18-14 0 86 98 83 100 33.1% 8
12 Rays 19-17 1 97 89 100 119 25.4% 2
13 Blue Jays 17-16 -2 99 114 88 106 44.8% -4
14 Marlins 15-18 -4 91 90 88 117 0.9% 6
15 Rangers 18-18 0 104 110 95 111 1.3% 8
16 Brewers 19-16 2 85 85 99 93 55.6% -1
17 Angels 15-18 1 111 108 116 100 34.1% -7
18 Mariners 18-17 2 91 123 89 73 1.3% -2
19 Braves 17-17 1 100 122 104 79 38.6% 8
20 Phillies 18-17 1 88 91 114 68 22.5% 2
21 Reds 15-16 0 101 103 121 87 15.7% -3
22 Twins 12-20 -4 107 99 124 93 20.0% -1
23 Cubs 17-17 1 95 129 96 67 16.2% 5
24 Orioles 15-19 0 89 109 94 72 0.0% 1
25 Royals 16-17 3 92 107 112 62 9.3% -12
26 Pirates 14-19 1 84 112 90 72 0.3% 0
27 Nationals 13-17 0 91 117 92 69 10.6% -3
28 Diamondbacks 15-19 0 97 111 122 60 1.4% -11
29 Rockies 12-22 -3 78 110 110 39 0.0% 0
30 Tigers 10-24 1 77 104 145 24 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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David Klein
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Member

Stroman and Walker have pitched excellently not so much Peterson, whose traditional and advanced metrics mostly matchup well so far this season. The bullpen has been fantastic though with Barnes being the only weak link.

Tulkas
Member
Tulkas

I think if you consider Peterson a 4th starter that will eventually get displaced by Syndergaard and Carrasco, he’s fit his role well. a 3.15 xFIP for someone that will be your sixth starter is pretty nice. He’s just miscast as a guy you want 7 quality innings from every 5th day.

David Klein
Member
Member

I’m more of an expected e.r.a guy and it hasn’t been pretty there his first two years though the walks are down a little from last year and the K’s are up so those are good signs.