FanGraphs Power Rankings: September 4–10

We’re getting to the point in the season where the majority of the teams in these rankings aren’t going to budge. There was a bit of movement at the top of the rankings where three teams are battling for two spots in the AL Wild Card race.

A reminder for how these rankings are calculated: first, we take the three most important components of a team — their offense (wRC+), their pitching (a 50/50 blend of FIP- and RA9-, weighted by starter and reliever IP share), and their defense (RAA) — and combine them to create an overall team quality metric. 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
Braves 93-49 1 124 92 84 -5 167 100.0%
Rays 88-56 -3 117 87 95 9 165 100.0%

The Braves became the first team to secure their postseason berth this season with a series win over the Pirates on Sunday. The man who delivered the game-winning hit? National League MVP candidate Ronald Acuña Jr. Atlanta now has a huge opportunity to affect the NL Wild Card race over the remainder of the season; the Braves play the Phillies seven times over the next ten days and have series against the Marlins and Cubs on the docket, too.

Tier 2 – On the Cusp of Greatness
Team Record “Luck” wRC+ SP- RP- RAA Team Quality Playoff Odds
Dodgers 87-55 1 118 102 89 5 149 100.0%
Blue Jays 80-63 0 108 90 85 2 158 79.1%
Mariners 79-64 -3 108 91 91 9 157 69.4%
Rangers 78-64 -6 114 92 108 12 153 51.5%

All of a sudden, the Dodgers are facing some real questions on their pitching staff. Julio Urías was placed on Administrative Leave last week after he was arrested and charged with felony domestic violence charges; he’s unlikely to pitch again this season. The team also announced that Walker Buehler won’t return from his Tommy John rehab this year, pushing his return to 2024. Clayton Kershaw seems to be feeling the ill effects of his shoulder injury; his last two starts featured a significant dip in fastball velocity, and his next start was pushed back to Friday in the hopes that he can bounce back physically. At least the Dodgers dodged a bullet after Mookie Betts fouled a pitch off his toe on Thursday; there was no major damage, and he was back in the lineup on Sunday.

With both the Mariners and Rangers faltering to begin September, the Blue Jays have taken advantage of their soft schedule to win seven of their nine games this month and vault themselves over those two teams in the AL Wild Card race. Davis Schneider has continued his surprising assault on big league pitching, and Bo Bichette came off the IL last weekend. They’ve got a huge four-game series against the Rangers this week, which should prove to be a test of how competitive they really are.

There’s nothing like a series win against the A’s to wipe away the memory of allowing 39 runs to the Astros. The Rangers were completely outclassed against Houston, another huge wakeup call amidst a protracted slide down the standings. To make matters worse, Adolis García hit the IL with a strained patellar tendon, though he’s expected to be back on the field before the season ends if everything goes well.

Tier 3 – Solid Contenders
Team Record “Luck” wRC+ SP- RP- RAA Team Quality Playoff Odds
Orioles 90-52 8 107 98 83 -9 122 100.0%
Astros 82-62 -2 112 102 95 3 129 98.7%
Phillies 78-64 0 107 90 90 -8 131 96.1%
Cubs 77-67 -5 103 96 91 12 133 85.6%

I understand: It’s weird that the Orioles, the team with the best record in the AL, sit behind four other teams in their league and in the third tier in these rankings. But no matter how you slice it — base runs, pythagorean record, or this team quality metric — they’re continuing to outperform their underlying stats by significant margins. Yes, they just rattled off a seven-game win streak that was finally broken on Sunday; yes, they’re getting contributions from all over their roster right now; and yes, they’ve barely skipped a beat since losing Félix Bautista a few weeks ago. But on paper, they’re not as strong as some of the other teams in the AL playoff picture, even if they’ll probably end up with the top seed and a first-round bye when the playoffs officially start.

Surprise, Trea Turner hit another home run on Sunday, his ninth over his last ten games. Unfortunately, the Phillies lost that game and the series to the Marlins. They’re still 4.5 games ahead of Miami and in control of the top Wild Card spot in the NL, but their schedule gets tough over the next two weeks; they won’t have an off day until the final week of the season, and they play the Braves seven times over the next ten days.

Tier 4 – The Melee
Team Record “Luck” wRC+ SP- RP- RAA Team Quality Playoff Odds
Twins 75-68 -4 106 87 98 -6 123 99.6%
Brewers 79-63 4 89 94 91 24 114 98.6%
Diamondbacks 75-69 4 99 100 103 24 109 42.8%
Giants 73-70 2 95 98 94 10 111 31.7%

The Twins stood pat at the trade deadline, banking on the already assembled talent on their roster rather than trying to find marginal upgrades at the cost of future value. Their gamble has largely paid off, as they lead the AL Central by 7.5 games and have easily weathered a last-minute rally by the Guardians. The man leading the charge on offense has been oft-injured former top prospect Royce Lewis. He blasted three grand slams in an eight-game span and has been on fire since returning from an oblique strain in mid-August with a 170 wRC+.

In the midst of battling for an NL Wild Card berth, the Diamondbacks called up their top prospect, shortstop Jordan Lawlar, on Thursday. They’re hoping that infusion of youth can give them the boost they need to secure a playoff spot. While he collected just a single hit over his first three games, Arizona won a critical four-game series against the Cubs over the weekend. Those two teams will battle again this weekend in another three-game series.

Tier 5 – Spoiler Alert
Team Record “Luck” wRC+ SP- RP- RAA Team Quality Playoff Odds
Yankees 71-72 2 93 105 86 6 95 0.1%
Red Sox 73-70 0 103 106 98 -40 71 1.1%
Guardians 68-76 0 90 96 94 11 100 0.3%
Padres 67-77 -11 106 92 99 20 142 0.1%
Marlins 74-69 7 93 97 99 -14 70 31.1%
Angels 67-77 1 103 105 112 -6 72 0.0%
Reds 74-71 5 96 109 94 -21 66 13.9%

In a disappointing turn of events, Yankees top prospect Jasson Domínguez tore his UCL and will require Tommy John surgery. The recovery period for position players is significantly shorter than for pitchers, as Bryce Harper proved this year, but it still cuts short a promising start to his big league career.

The Marlins have won eight of their last 10 games, including series wins against the Dogders and Phillies, to stay hot on the heels of the Diamondbacks in the NL Wild Card race. Unfortunately, they’ll be making their postseason push without Sandy Alcantara and Jorge Soler, who were both placed on the IL last week. There’s no clear timeline for either, but it’s certainly possible they’ve both played their final innings this season. Those are some pretty significant hurdles Miami will have to overcome to continue playing baseball in October.

Tier 6 – No Man’s Land
Team Record wRC+ SP- RP- RAA Team Quality Playoff Odds
Mets 65-77 -2 101 103 111 -6 72 0.0%
Cardinals 63-80 -2 107 111 104 -4 93 0.0%
Pirates 66-77 4 88 106 96 5 71 0.0%
Tigers 66-77 6 86 100 100 -2 65 0.1%
Nationals 64-79 5 93 113 115 2 51 0.0%

Things haven’t gone very well on the field for the Nationals, though probably better than expected since there’s a shot they’ll wind up ahead of the Mets in the NL East standings by the end of the season. It makes things all the more frustrating when off-field events reflect poorly on the organization on top of all the losing. That’s what happened last week, when a retirement ceremony for Stephen Strasburg was walked back by the team with the details apparently still being worked out. It was a bad look for the organization and a poor way to treat the superstar pitcher who almost literally gave his arm to win a World Series back in 2019.

Tier 7 – Hope Deferred
Team Record wRC+ SP- RP- RAA Team Quality Playoff Odds
Royals 44-100 -10 84 113 114 19 46 0.0%
Rockies 51-91 -1 76 120 105 -6 23 0.0%
White Sox 55-88 -1 84 110 109 -13 21 0.0%
Athletics 44-99 1 90 131 122 -13 21 0.0%

After a sweep by the Blue Jays over the weekend, the Royals entered play on Monday with the worst record in baseball. Somehow, they’ve slipped behind Oakland with just eight wins under their belt since August 5. Thankfully, there are a few positive signs as the season winds down. Cole Ragans had a 26-inning scoreless streak snapped on Sunday, and in a particularly odd manner, too. He’s been dominant for Kansas City since coming over in the Aroldis Chapman trade and looks like a key building block.

Complete Power Rankings
Rank Team Record “Luck” wRC+ SP- RP- RAA Team Quality Playoff Odds Δ
1 Braves 93-49 1 124 92 84 -5 167 100.0% 0
2 Rays 88-56 -3 117 87 95 9 165 100.0% 0
3 Dodgers 87-55 1 118 102 89 5 149 100.0% 1
4 Blue Jays 80-63 0 108 90 85 2 158 79.1% 3
5 Mariners 79-64 -3 108 91 91 9 157 69.4% -2
6 Rangers 78-64 -6 114 92 108 12 153 51.5% -1
7 Orioles 90-52 8 107 98 83 -9 122 100.0% -1
8 Astros 82-62 -2 112 102 95 3 129 98.7% 1
9 Phillies 78-64 0 107 90 90 -8 131 96.1% -1
10 Cubs 77-67 -5 103 96 91 12 133 85.6% 0
11 Twins 75-68 -4 106 87 98 -6 123 99.6% 1
12 Brewers 79-63 4 89 94 91 24 114 98.6% -1
13 Diamondbacks 75-69 4 99 100 103 24 109 42.8% 1
14 Giants 73-70 2 95 98 94 10 111 31.7% -1
15 Yankees 71-72 2 93 105 86 6 95 0.1% 0
16 Red Sox 73-70 0 103 106 98 -40 71 1.1% 0
17 Guardians 68-76 0 90 96 94 11 100 0.3% 1
18 Padres 67-77 -11 106 92 99 20 142 0.1% -1
19 Marlins 74-69 7 93 97 99 -14 70 31.1% 0
20 Angels 67-77 1 103 105 112 -6 72 0.0% 1
21 Reds 74-71 5 96 109 94 -21 66 13.9% -1
22 Mets 65-77 -2 101 103 111 -6 72 0.0% 1
23 Cardinals 63-80 -2 107 111 104 -4 93 0.0% -1
24 Pirates 66-77 4 88 106 96 5 71 0.0% 0
25 Tigers 66-77 6 86 100 100 -2 65 0.1% 0
26 Nationals 64-79 5 93 113 115 2 51 0.0% 0
27 Royals 44-100 -10 84 113 114 19 46 0.0% 0
28 Rockies 51-91 -1 76 120 105 -6 23 0.0% 0
29 White Sox 55-88 -1 84 110 109 -13 21 0.0% 0
30 Athletics 44-99 1 90 131 122 -13 21 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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filter2member
7 months ago

lol

birdland93
7 months ago
Reply to  filter2

Orioles are 41-17 since the 4th of July. But yes the Rays are definitely two tiers above them. Makes sense!

goat
7 months ago
Reply to  birdland93

someone needs a fresh diaper

McPontiff
7 months ago
Reply to  goat

No, the rest of the league is just suffering from massive denial and needs a REALITY CHECK. And those who don’t watch our games have no idea how good we are at every facet of the game (which is NOT played “on paper”)