FanGraphs Power Rankings: September 19–25

This week, as the playoff picture becomes clearer and the best teams continue to jockey for seeding, we have another abbreviated power rankings. The only real drama over the next week and a half will come from the two Wild Card races and the battle over the NL East. These rankings will return for a special playoff edition once the field is set.

A reminder for how these rankings are calculated: first, we take the three most important components of a team — their offense (wRC+), and their starting rotation and bullpen (a 50/50 blend of FIP- and RA9-, weighted by IP share) — and combine them to create an overall team quality metric. New for this year, I’ve opted to include defense as a component, though it’s weighted less heavily than offense and pitching. Some element of team defense is captured by RA9-, but now that FanGraphs has Statcast’s OAA/RAA available on our leaderboards, I’ve chosen to include that as the defensive component for each team. I also add in a factor for “luck,” adjusting a team’s win percentage based on expected win-loss record. The result is a power ranking, which is then presented in tiers below.

Tier 1 – The Best of the Best
Team Record “Luck” wRC+ SP- RP- RAA Team Quality Playoff Odds
Dodgers 106-47 -4 121 81 79 8 185 100.0%
Astros 101-53 0 111 83 77 25 181 100.0%

The Dodgers clinched the top seed in the National League yesterday, ensuring that the NL road to the World Series goes through Los Angeles, and will play six of their final nine games against the Rockies at home. If there’s something to be worried about, it’s their pitching staff; Dustin May was placed on the IL with a lower back strain and Craig Kimbrel was removed from his ninth inning role after his persistent troubles became too much to handle. Tony Gonsolin should be returning from his own injury soon, and it’s possible May will heal quickly enough to be a factor in the postseason. Still, there are a lot of questions surrounding the best team in baseball as it coasts into October.

Tier 2 – On the Cusp of Greatness
Team Record “Luck” wRC+ SP- RP- RAA Team Quality Playoff Odds
Mets 97-57 3 116 88 95 9 171 100.0%
Braves 95-58 1 110 88 82 4 156 100.0%
Yankees 94-58 -6 115 89 84 10 174 100.0%
Cardinals 89-65 -1 114 99 96 18 151 100.0%
Blue Jays 86-67 2 117 95 100 5 148 100.0%
Guardians 86-67 3 98 99 85 18 121 100.0%

The battle for the NL East continues to be hotly contested, with the winner determining seeding now that both the Mets and Braves have clinched playoff spots. The two clubs will face off in a three-game series in Atlanta this weekend; the Braves have the opportunity to gain half a game in the standings since they play one more game than the Mets to start the week. The winner of that series will likely emerge as the division champion, barring any setbacks during the final few games remaining afterwards. The Braves will have to manage without one of their rookie phenoms, however, as Spencer Strider was placed on the IL with a strained oblique on Saturday.

After teetering on the edge of disaster for most of August, the Yankees have come roaring back in September. They completed a tightly contested four-game sweep of the Red Sox over the weekend, pushing their win streak to seven games. All told, they’ve won 15 of the 21 games they’ve played this month and are finally looking more like the team that dominated the American League in the first half of the season. Aaron Judge didn’t hit his 61st home run at home over the weekend and will take his pursuit of history to Toronto to start the week before returning home to face the Orioles this weekend.

Judge might not have reached 61 (or 62) yet, but on Friday, Albert Pujols became the fourth player in baseball history to slug 700 home runs after blasting two in Los Angeles. Incredibly, since August 1, Pujols has hit 14 home runs on his way to making history; only Eugenio Suárez and Judge have hit more during that span. The Cardinals are on the verge of clinching the NL Central and their fourth straight postseason appearance; a two-game series against the Brewers this week is their final hurdle before closing out the season with six straight against the Pirates.

The Guardians opened up the month with a five-game losing streak and a three-game sweep at the hands of the Mariners, dropping them into a tie atop the AL Central standings. Since then, they’ve lost just three times and clinched a division championship with a win on Sunday afternoon. They can’t change their playoff seeding, so their main goal this week will be to maintain this hot streak and get into the postseason with a healthy roster.

Tier 3 – Solid Contenders
Team Record “Luck” wRC+ SP- RP- RAA Team Quality Playoff Odds
Padres 85-68 3 102 98 95 19 131 92.4%
Rays 84-69 0 103 92 100 7 127 99.8%
Mariners 83-69 -1 106 99 92 5 130 99.8%

The Padres have put a little breathing room between themselves and the Phillies and Brewers in the NL Wild Card race; they’ve won seven of their last 10 games and lead Philadelphia by a game and a half and Milwaukee by three. Their last three opponents aren’t going to be easy, however, as they prepare to face the Dodgers, White Sox, and Giants. The only consolation is that all nine games are at home, where their pitching staff is a massive asset.

On September 1, the Mariners and Rays were separated by a half a game atop the AL Wild Card standings. Both of those teams have produced matching .500 records this month and seem to be limping into the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays have gone 16-8 and now lead the Wild Card race by two and a half games. Both Toronto and Tampa Bay have a tough schedule to close out the season while the Mariners face three teams below .500 in a 10-game homestand. Of course, strength of schedule is only part of the equation — you have to actually beat those teams when it comes down to it. Seattle couldn’t do that in a 10-game road trip versus the Angels, A’s, and Royals, going 3-7 against those teams.

Tier 4 – The Melee
Team Record “Luck” wRC+ SP- RP- RAA Team Quality Playoff Odds
Phillies 83-69 0 107 89 97 -27 121 86.9%
Brewers 82-71 2 104 97 98 0 114 20.7%
Orioles 79-73 3 97 105 92 1 87 0.3%

The battle for the final NL Wild Card spot will be the one of the few drama-filled chases over the season’s final week. The Brewers sit a game and a half behind Philadelphia but arguably have an easier path to a postseason berth; they play nine games at home against the Cardinals, Marlins, and Diamondbacks to close the season. They’ve been far better within the friendly confines of American Family Field this year (.583 win%). Meanwhile, the Phillies will head out on the road for their final 10 games, traveling to Chicago, Washington, and Houston. They currently control their destiny, but that road trip will surely put them to the test.

Tier 5 – Better Luck Next Year
Team Record “Luck” wRC+ SP- RP- RAA Team Quality Playoff Odds
White Sox 76-77 2 101 98 101 -14 89 0.0%
Twins 74-79 -2 107 105 101 -7 102 0.0%
Giants 75-78 -2 100 91 103 -25 85 0.0%
Diamondbacks 71-83 -3 92 102 109 34 86 0.0%
Red Sox 72-80 -7 102 104 107 -9 81 0.0%
Angels 67-86 1 92 92 109 4 82 0.0%
Rangers 65-87 -8 100 112 101 -6 73 0.0%
Marlins 63-90 -2 88 99 105 3 70 0.0%
Cubs 67-86 1 97 108 108 -21 48 0.0%
Rockies 65-88 3 87 110 100 -2 53 0.0%
Royals 63-90 2 93 117 115 6 54 0.0%
Tigers 60-92 2 80 117 92 10 63 0.0%
Reds 60-93 -3 86 112 106 -13 34 0.0%
Nationals 53-99 -2 94 133 102 -38 38 0.0%
Pirates 56-97 3 83 110 114 -17 22 0.0%
Athletics 56-97 1 85 122 114 -6 22 0.0%

Want to know if a team eliminated from the playoffs can affect the postseason picture over the final stretch of the season? Here’s a handy table to refer to:

Spoiler Alert
Team Series 1 Series 2 Series 3 Spoiler%
Nationals 3 ATL 4 PHI 3 NYM 100%
Marlins 2 @NYM 4 @MIL 3 ATL 100%
Red Sox 4 BAL 3 @TOR 3 @TBR 100%
Rangers 3 @SEA 3 @LAA 4 NYY 70%
Royals 3 @DET 6 @CLE 67%
Rockies 3 @SFG 6 @LAD 67%
Pirates 3 CIN 3 @STL 3 STL 67%
Diamondbacks 2 @HOU 3 @SFG 3 @MIL 63%
Orioles 4 @BOS 3 @NYY 3 vTOR 60%
Tigers 3 KCR 3 MIN 4 @SEA 40%
White Sox 3 @MIN 3 @SDP 3 MIN 33%
Athletics 3 @LAA 3 @SEA 3 LAA 33%
Giants 3 COL 3 ARI 3 @SDP 33%
Cubs 3 PHI 3 CIN 3 @CIN 33%
Twins 3 vCHW 3 @DET 3 @CHW 0%
Reds 3 @PIT 3 @CHC 3 CHC 0%
Angels 3 OAK 3 TEX 3 @OAK 0%

Fans of the Nationals, Marlins, Red Sox, and Rangers will be happy to know that the games their team plays over the next week and a half could have major implications for the remaining playoff races. Sadly, the same can’t be said if you’re a fan of the Twins, Reds, or Angels.

Complete Power Rankings
Rank Team Record “Luck” wRC+ SP- RP- RAA Team Quality Playoff Odds Δ
1 Dodgers 106-47 -4 121 81 79 8 185 100.0% 0
2 Astros 101-53 0 111 83 77 25 181 100.0% 0
3 Mets 97-57 3 116 88 95 9 171 100.0% 0
4 Braves 95-58 1 110 88 82 4 156 100.0% 0
5 Yankees 94-58 -6 115 89 84 10 174 100.0% 0
6 Cardinals 89-65 -1 114 99 96 18 151 100.0% 0
7 Blue Jays 86-67 2 117 95 100 5 148 100.0% 0
8 Padres 85-68 3 102 98 95 19 131 92.4% 2
9 Rays 84-69 0 103 92 100 7 127 99.8% 0
10 Guardians 86-67 3 98 99 85 18 121 100.0% 2
11 Mariners 83-69 -1 106 99 92 5 130 99.8% -3
12 Phillies 83-69 0 107 89 97 -27 121 86.9% -1
13 Brewers 82-71 2 104 97 98 0 114 20.7% 0
14 Orioles 79-73 3 97 105 92 1 87 0.3% 2
15 White Sox 76-77 2 101 98 101 -14 89 0.0% -1
16 Twins 74-79 -2 107 105 101 -7 102 0.0% -1
17 Giants 75-78 -2 100 91 103 -25 85 0.0% 2
18 Diamondbacks 71-83 -3 92 102 109 34 86 0.0% -1
19 Red Sox 72-80 -7 102 104 107 -9 81 0.0% -1
20 Angels 67-86 1 92 92 109 4 82 0.0% 0
21 Rangers 65-87 -8 100 112 101 -6 73 0.0% 0
22 Marlins 63-90 -2 88 99 105 3 70 0.0% 1
23 Cubs 67-86 1 97 108 108 -21 48 0.0% 1
24 Rockies 65-88 3 87 110 100 -2 53 0.0% -2
25 Royals 63-90 2 93 117 115 6 54 0.0% 1
26 Tigers 60-92 2 80 117 92 10 63 0.0% -1
27 Reds 60-93 -3 86 112 106 -13 34 0.0% 0
28 Nationals 53-99 -2 94 133 102 -38 38 0.0% 0
29 Pirates 56-97 3 83 110 114 -17 22 0.0% 0
30 Athletics 56-97 1 85 122 114 -6 22 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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sadtrombonemember
2 months ago

Here’s a fun factoid: Since August 1st, the Top 3 performers for the Nationals have been Ildemaro Vargas, Joey Meneses, and Lane Thomas. Together, this truly uninspiring trio has somehow managed to combine for 3.6 fWAR. That’s not exactly superstardom or anything (there are 19 players with fWARs above 2.0 since then), but there are a whopping 7 teams that don’t have that much fWAR since August 1st across all their players. The Marlins and Rockies have less than 1/3rd that (1.1 fWAR), and none the Tigers (2.1), Pirates (2.7) or Reds (1.3) are particularly close either.

Of course, the Nationals have balanced that with an amazing 0.2 fWAR from their pitching staff. You win some, you lose some…or in this case, a lot.

NATS Fanmember
2 months ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

It’s been fun to watch them hit. I think most of the players just got better after Soto left. Who knows why?