FanGraphs Power Rankings: May 3-9

One month down, five more to go! The final week in April saw the top teams in the American League and National League fall back towards the pack. The standings are pretty compact around the middle, which is as much an indicator of parity as it is a reflection of a wild month of baseball. Scoring is down. Pitching is dominant. Here’s the third week of the FanGraphs Power Rankings.

A quick refresher: my approach takes the three most important components of a team — their offense (wRC+), their starting rotation (SP FIP-), and their bullpen (RP FIP-) — 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. Since we’re so early in the season, teams can move up and down the rankings pretty dramatically if they have a particularly good or bad week.

Tier 1 – The Best
Team Record “Luck” wRC+ SP FIP- RP FIP- Team Quality Playoff Odds Δ
Red Sox 17-12 0 112 ↘ 83 ↗ 82 ↘ 176 ↘ 51.7% 0
White Sox 15-12 -2 114 ↘ 81 ↗ 93 ⏹ 173 ↗ 66.3% 1
Dodgers 17-12 -3 112 ↘ 77 ↘ 101 ↘ 160 ↘ 98.6% -1

A new challenger approaches! Despite going 3-3 last week, the White Sox leapt into the top tier behind the best offense in baseball and a stellar starting rotation. They also have an incredibly soft schedule over the next two weeks. But their rise has more to do with the other two teams in the tier than any success they had last week.

The Dodgers are mired in a terrible slump. They’ve won just five times in their last 15 games and a 16-run outburst on Sunday awoke an offense that had otherwise scored just 3.3 runs per game during that stretch. Unfortunately, they’re facing more injury woes. Dustin May left his start on Saturday with arm discomfort — the severity of the injury is still unknown. He joins Cody Bellinger, Tony Gonsolin, David Price, and a handful of other Dodgers on the Injured List.

The Red Sox offense cooled off a bit last week too. They won a two-game set against the Mets in which four total runs were scored by the two teams, and then lost a four-game series to the Rangers.

Tier 2 – On the Cusp of Greatness
Team Record “Luck” wRC+ SP FIP- RP FIP- Team Quality Playoff Odds Δ
Astros 15-13 -3 110 ↘ 96 ↘ 106 ↗ 125 ↗ 63.8% 6
Padres 16-13 0 94 ⏹ 81 ↘ 91 ↗ 139 ↘ 95.1% 0
Cardinals 16-12 0 93 ↘ 98 ↗ 95 ↗ 109 ↗ 34.3% 8

The Cardinals have lost just twice in their last 10 games and have pushed themselves close to the top of the NL Central standings. Their pitching staff has led the way during this stretch, allowing just 2.6 runs per game, a massive improvement after a rough start to the season. They just got Kwang Hyun Kim back from the IL, Jack Flaherty has been as good as expected, and Carlos Martínez has found a way to be successful without his best stuff.

The Astros have gotten their season back on track after a COVID mini-outbreak sidelined half their lineup. They’ve won eight of their last 11, with series wins against the Angels, Mariners, and Rays. Alex Bregman and Yordan Alvarez have been on a tear since coming off the IL, though Jose Altuve has really struggled since his positive test.

Tier 3 – Solid Contenders
Team Record “Luck” wRC+ SP FIP- RP FIP- Team Quality Playoff Odds Δ
Yankees 14-14 -2 101 ↗ 84 ↗ 70 ↗ 157 ↗ 82.8% 8
Athletics 17-12 3 104 ↘ 105 ↘ 100 ↗ 116 ↗ 40.0% -1
Blue Jays 14-12 -2 102 ↗ 113 ↘ 97 ↘ 104 ↗ 54.5% 7
Angels 13-13 2 114 ⏹ 96 ↘ 92 ↗ 162 ↗ 49.4% 2
Giants 17-11 0 92 ↗ 79 ↗ 127 ↘ 81 ↘ 17.5% -3
Mets 11-11 2 97 ↘ 65 ↘ 69 ↗ 164 ↘ 85.7% -6
Royals 16-10 3 97 ↗ 98 ↘ 111 ↘ 83 ↘ 21.7% -9

There’s nothing like series against the Orioles and the Tigers to help a team get right. The Yankees took advantage of those two bottom-dwelling teams to get their offense firing on all cylinders. More impressively, their pitching staff threw three shutouts last week, with Corey Kluber pitching a gem on Sunday afternoon. Their rough start to the season is quickly growing smaller in the rear view mirror.

Toronto swept Atlanta over the weekend as George Springer made his debut in a Blue Jays uniform and Teoscar Hernández returned from the COVID IL. Their lineup is finally fully healthy and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is crushing the ball right now. They have some issues in their pitching staff — Hyun Jin Ryu was sidelined with an injury to his glute — but they should have no problems scoring runs aplenty.

The Giants and the Brewers are tied atop the NL, and the two teams are built rather similarly. The Giants rotation has been a surprising success but their bullpen has plenty of issues and their offense looks relatively lackluster after a strong showing last season. The Brewers are also benefiting from an elite starting rotation and are hoping they can score just enough runs to win.

Kansas City had the biggest drop in these rankings after a wild series in Minnesota with huge margins of victory for each winning team. Unfortunately, the Royals were the victims of eight and nine run losses, dropping their run differential into negative territory for the first time this season.

Tier 4 – The Hopefuls
Team Record “Luck” wRC+ SP FIP- RP FIP- Team Quality Playoff Odds Δ
Rays 14-15 1 98 ↘ 85 ↗ 99 ↗ 127 ↘ 15.5% -3
Brewers 17-11 3 87 ↗ 76 ↘ 122 ↘ 76 ↘ 67.0% -2
Mariners 16-13 2 93 ↘ 120 ↗ 87 ↗ 88 ↘ 2.7% -7
Diamondbacks 15-13 0 104 ↗ 106 ↗ 117 ↗ 83 ↗ 4.7% 2
Reds 13-14 -1 110 ⏹ 106 ↘ 122 ⏹ 90 ↘ 19.3% -1

I split out these five teams from the tier above because they’re on the cusp of either falling further down in the standings or rising up into the upper tiers. The Rays look like the best of this bunch, with a strong pitching staff making up for an average offense. The Mariners bullpen has legitimately been one of the best in the majors so far this year, but they were one bullpen meltdown away from splitting their series with the Astros last week.

The Diamondbacks have come alive, with 10 wins in their last 13 games. The most encouraging thing has been seeing their offense thrive despite missing key contributors in Ketel Marte, Christian Walker, and Kole Calhoun. They’ll have a hard time chasing down the Dodgers, Padres, and the upstart Giants in a stacked NL West, but if they can identify some young bats who can contribute in the near future, their season will have been a success.

Tier 5 – On the Fence
Team Record “Luck” wRC+ SP FIP- RP FIP- Team Quality Playoff Odds Δ
Cleveland 13-13 0 87 ↗ 110 ↘ 99 ↗ 69 ↗ 20.8% 7
Marlins 11-16 -3 88 ↘ 98 ↘ 102 ↗ 88 ↗ 0.5% 5
Twins 10-16 -3 109 ↗ 112 ↘ 106 ↘ 97 ↘ 30.4% 0
Phillies 13-15 1 88 ↘ 90 ↗ 113 ↗ 72 ↘ 15.5% -2
Rangers 13-16 0 98 ↗ 116 ↘ 103 ↗ 76 ↗ 0.3% 5

Cleveland’s dip in these rankings last week was probably a little harsh, though I was only relaying what the data revealed. They climbed out of the basement with series wins against the Twins and White Sox last week. Their offense still looks rather impotent, but their pitching was much improved.

The Twins have to be considered this season’s biggest disappointment so far. They came in with a 63.3% chance to make the playoffs, the highest in the AL Central, and they’ve seen those odds dip to 30.4%. They’ve had no problems scoring runs but they’ve been betrayed by some really poor pitching luck in critical situations. They should be fine in the long run, but they have a big hole to climb out of now and that’ll be harder with the Royals lucking their way to the top of the AL standings.

Tier 6 – Hope Deferred
Team Record “Luck” wRC+ SP FIP- RP FIP- Team Quality Playoff Odds Δ
Nationals 12-12 2 94 ↗ 125 ↗ 108 ↘ 48 ↗ 18.5% 5
Orioles 13-15 0 87 ↗ 112 ↘ 102 ↘ 58 ↘ 0.0% -3
Pirates 12-15 2 87 ↘ 119 ↘ 90 ↘ 72 ↘ 0.5% -8
Braves 12-16 0 104 ↗ 123 ↗ 110 ↘ 67 ↘ 32.7% -3
Cubs 12-16 -1 98 ↗ 139 ↘ 105 ⏹ 62 ↘ 10.1% -5
Rockies 10-18 -3 81 ↘ 102 ↘ 108 ↗ 55 ↘ 0.0% -2
Tigers 8-21 1 67 ↘ 109 ↗ 133 ↗ 23 ↗ 0.0% 0

There is no way a team as talented as the Braves should be stuck this far down the rankings but they’ve really struggled to put that talent to use on the field and have been really inconsistent. Their pitching staff shutout the Cubs twice last week but allowed 8.4 runs per game in the other five games they played. After collecting just one hit across 14 innings of a doubleheader last Sunday, they scored 23 runs in the next three games and then just 15 in the next four. Luckily, every team in the NL East looks pretty weak right now, and there’s still plenty of time to find a groove.

The Nationals have climbed to the top of that division without their best player in the lineup. They swept the Marlins over the weekend, capped off by a walk-off home run by Kyle Schwarber on Friday and a vintage performance by Max Scherzer on Sunday. Jon Lester made his Nationals debut in Friday’s game, but their starting rotation that was once such a strength is a shadow of its former self.


Overall Power Rankings
Rank Team Record “Luck” wRC+ SP FIP- RP FIP- Team Quality Playoff Odds Δ
1 Red Sox 17-12 0 112 83 82 176 51.7% 0
2 White Sox 15-12 -2 114 81 93 173 66.3% 1
3 Dodgers 17-12 -3 112 77 101 160 98.6% -1
4 Astros 15-13 -3 110 96 106 125 63.8% 6
5 Padres 16-13 0 94 81 91 139 95.1% 0
6 Cardinals 16-12 0 93 98 95 109 34.3% 8
7 Yankees 14-14 -2 101 84 70 157 82.8% 8
8 Athletics 17-12 3 104 105 100 116 40.0% -1
9 Blue Jays 14-12 -2 102 113 97 104 54.5% 7
10 Angels 13-13 2 114 96 92 162 49.4% 2
11 Giants 17-11 0 92 79 127 81 17.5% -3
12 Mets 11-11 2 97 65 69 164 85.7% -6
13 Royals 16-10 3 97 98 111 83 21.7% -9
14 Rays 14-15 1 98 85 99 127 15.5% -3
15 Brewers 17-11 3 87 76 122 76 67.0% -2
16 Mariners 16-13 2 93 120 87 88 2.7% -7
17 Diamondbacks 15-13 0 104 106 117 83 4.7% 2
18 Reds 13-14 -1 110 106 122 90 19.3% -1
19 Cleveland 13-13 0 87 110 99 69 20.8% 7
20 Marlins 11-16 -3 88 98 102 88 0.5% 5
21 Twins 10-16 -3 109 112 106 97 30.4% 0
22 Phillies 13-15 1 88 90 113 72 15.5% -2
23 Rangers 13-16 0 98 116 103 76 0.3% 5
24 Nationals 12-12 2 94 125 108 48 18.5% 5
25 Orioles 13-15 0 87 112 102 58 0.0% -3
26 Pirates 12-15 2 87 119 90 72 0.5% -8
27 Braves 12-16 0 104 123 110 67 32.7% -3
28 Cubs 12-16 -1 98 139 105 62 10.1% -5
29 Rockies 10-18 -3 81 102 108 55 0.0% -2
30 Tigers 8-21 1 67 109 133 23 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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Joseph Meyer
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Joseph Meyer

I don’t understand how tiers are determined. Shouldn’t the rankings just be an ordinal list of “team ranking”? Why is this not the case?