FanGraphs Power Rankings: Trade Deadline Edition

The July 30 trade deadline is just days away, making this week the last opportunity for teams in the middle of the postseason hunt to improve their roster. Most of the true contenders are simply looking to solidify their rosters for the playoffs but there are a handful of surprising clubs that are still on the bubble between buying and selling.

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. All of the below stats are through July 25.

Tier 1 – The Best
Team Record “Luck” wRC+ SP- RP- Team Quality Playoff Odds Δ
Giants 62-37 -1 108 86 93 163 ↗ 94.3% 0
White Sox 59-40 -3 111 81 97 172 ↘ 99.2% 1
Dodgers 61-40 -5 110 82 99 162 ↘ 99.4% -1
Astros 61-39 -4 117 86 105 144 ↗ 97.6% 0
Rays 60-40 0 103 96 84 153 ↗ 86.1% 1
Red Sox 61-39 4 104 94 90 155 ↗ 94.7% -1

The Giants have had an up-and-down start to the second half. They lost a pair of series to the Pirates and Cardinals but won three of four against their biggest rivals, the Dodgers. They still hold the best record in baseball and are the only team on pace to win more than 100 games this year. They face a stiff challenge this week as they host the Dodgers and the Astros.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles is powering through a bunch of bad injury luck. They were fortunate to face the Rockies six times in the past two weeks, with four wins against Colorado helping offset the three losses they suffered against the Giants. On Saturday, they rolled out a lineup that looked more like a spring training split squad than the team that’s scored the most runs per game in the National League — Albert Pujols was slotted in at cleanup, followed by light-hitting catcher Austin Barnes, with a handful of other depth pieces getting starts too. Gavin Lux has been sidelined since the All-Star break and Mookie Betts hit the Injured List Sunday, though Corey Seager could be making his return soon. Luckily, Chris Taylor has nearly single-handedly powered their offense, blasting five home runs last week.

The best teams in the American League continue to pull away from the rest of the pack, with the Rays opening up a 4.5 game lead in the AL Wild Card race. They just added Nelson Cruz to a lineup that desperately needed a jolt of power — he’s already blasted two home runs in a Rays uniform — and traded away Rich Hill to open up a spot in their rotation for Luis Patiño. Those reinforcements arrived just in time as they’ll host the Yankees and Red Sox this week.

The Red Sox are in the middle of a stretch where they play an AL East rival in 29 of 32 games. They faced the Yankees seven times since the All-Star break, with Boston winning four of those games, and won two more against the Blue Jays. They started off a second series against the Blue Jays yesterday with a win. This gauntlet has the potential to determine the fates of the top teams in the AL East.

The White Sox came up short in the battle of the two best starting rotations last weekend, losing two of three against the Brewers. Despite getting outscored 14-5 in that series, it was their bullpen that let them down, not the starters. Their relief corps has allowed a matching 5.10 ERA and FIP over the last 30 days; they’re likely in the market for an upgrade there. There is some good news on the Southside: Eloy Jiménez made his triumphant return from the Injured List on Monday. He went 0-4 and the White Sox dropped their game against the Royals 4-3, but his presence in the lineup should provide some lift for a team that had been struggling to score runs consistently with so many injuries to key players.

Tier 2 – On the Cusp of Greatness
Team Record “Luck” wRC+ SP- RP- Team Quality Playoff Odds Δ
Padres 58-44 -4 102 98 87 141 ↗ 91.1% 0
Yankees 51-47 1 101 88 90 152 ↗ 35.5% 1
Athletics 56-45 1 102 89 98 138 ↗ 40.9% -1
Brewers 58-42 0 90 80 94 119 ↘ 92.6% 0
Blue Jays 49-46 -8 112 100 100 130 ↘ 28.9% 0
Mets 52-44 2 97 86 102 119 ↘ 77.4% 0

The Padres look like they’re going to be one of the most aggressive teams heading into the trade deadline. They’ve already acquired Adam Frazier and will likely try to add to a pitching staff that’s been ravaged by injuries. They’ve gone 5-4 during a long road trip to open up the second half but play 12 of their next 14 games at home. They’re 5.5 games behind the Giants and 3.5 behind the Dodgers in the NL West. A division title seems like a long shot, but chasing the Dodgers for the top spot in the Wild Card seems like a reasonable goal.

The Brewers have opened up a pretty wide lead in the NL Central after sweeping the Reds in three games to open up the second half. Their offense has slowly climbed towards league average with Willy Adames the unlikely hero. Since being acquired from the Rays on May 22, he’s put together an astounding 149 wRC+, the 20th best mark among qualified batters during that period, and accumulated 2.7 WAR, the fourth most in baseball. But there are still a few too many black holes in the Brewers lineup, so they’re probably looking for help there this week.

The Mets started a five-game series against the Braves yesterday with a split doubleheader. With Atlanta acting like buyers to make a push for the division lead and the Phillies hanging around in the standings, the Mets are facing a lot of pressure to maintain their tenuous hold on the NL East. To make matters worse, Francisco Lindor went down with an oblique strain in the first game after the All-Star break and Jacob deGrom hasn’t pitched in the second half yet. Carlos Carrasco will likely make his season debut this weekend but the Mets look extremely vulnerable right now.

After this four-game series in Boston, the Blue Jays are set to make their return to Toronto. They have a 11-game homestand scheduled from July 30 through August 8 and I’m sure Blue Jays fans will be delighted to take in the team’s first, true home games since 2019 in person. The Jays have stumbled a bit out of the break, losing two to the Red Sox and dropping their series against the Mets last weekend, but the prospect of playing the rest of their home games in Toronto has to be a lift to their spirits.

Tier 3 – The Bubble
Team Record “Luck” wRC+ SP- RP- Team Quality Playoff Odds Δ
Braves 48-50 -5 99 98 102 98 ↗ 7.3% 2
Mariners 54-46 10 90 112 92 84 ↗ 5.2% 6
Angels 49-49 3 107 104 109 96 ↗ 9.3% 1
Cleveland 49-48 4 87 112 87 84 ↘ 2.6% -2

There’s something brewing in Seattle. Since the beginning of June, the Mariners are 26-18, good for the fourth-best record in the American League over that stretch. They just won three of four versus the A’s, the team right ahead of them in the standings, and staged a dramatic 11-8 comeback against the Astros last night. They’ve closed the gap in the AL Wild Card race to just one game and might have put themselves in a position to buy heading into the trade deadline. They were in on Adam Frazier before he was dealt to the Padres and have been connected to Whit Merrifield recently. It’s still hard to tell if the Mariners are just really lucky or actually good, but they’ve played their way into the middle of the playoff race with some fantastic results the past two months.

Despite losing Ronald Acuña Jr. for the year, the Braves are acting like contenders. They brought in Joc Pederson and Stephen Vogt to fill holes in their lineup and it seems like they’re not finished adding yet. One other reason to be encouraged: Freddie Freeman has finally broken out of his early season slump. In July, he’s posted a 211 wRC+ with six home runs, powering the Braves to within five games of the Mets.

The Angels and Cleveland are barely hanging on to the fringes of the AL Wild Card race. Both teams are severely beat up and desperately need to get healthy to have any hope of making a run in the second half of the season. Their biggest acquisitions will likely be their star players — Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon for the Angels and Shane Bieber and Aaron Civale for Cleveland — returning from the IL sometime in the next month or so.

Tier 4 – Running Out of Time
Team Record “Luck” wRC+ SP- RP- Team Quality Playoff Odds Δ
Marlins 43-57 -7 88 96 88 108 ↘ 0.0% 0
Phillies 49-49 3 94 97 112 79 ↘ 19.3% 1
Nationals 45-53 -1 100 108 102 93 ↘ 1.3% -1
Reds 51-48 3 99 99 117 70 ↘ 11.5% -7

These four National League teams are barely hanging on in the standings. With the NL Wild Card all but locked up by the three best teams in the NL West, the path to the playoffs for these four teams goes through their divisions. The Phillies are the closest to a playoff spot, sitting just 3.5 games behind the Mets in the NL East. But unlike the Braves, they’ve seemed hesitant to make any big moves to improve their club this season. Washington and Miami are probably all out of time, especially after they both lost seven of their 10 games since the break. The Nationals had a nice run in June, but ran into a stretch against the Dodgers, Giants, and Padres in early July and couldn’t handle that firepower. They’re starting to talk about tearing everything down in Washington.

Cincinnati went into the All-Star break with wins in eight of their last 10 games of the first half, moving them to within four games of the Brewers. In their first series after the break, they were swept by Milwaukee and lost a series to the Mets. They lost a tightly contested walk-off to the Cubs on Monday and have now fallen seven games behind the Brewers. With such a disappointing stretch coming out of the break, they’ve probably played themselves out of buying at the deadline and will hope to make some noise in the playoff race with what they’ve got currently.

Tier 5 – Hope Deferred
Team Record “Luck” wRC+ SP- RP- Team Quality Playoff Odds Δ
Cubs 49-51 1 90 116 94 67 ↘ 2.4% 0
Tigers 47-54 3 93 99 114 75 ↗ 0.0% 3
Cardinals 50-50 4 90 107 104 62 ↗ 3.4% 1
Twins 42-58 -1 102 113 111 72 ↘ 0.0% -2
Rockies 43-56 0 75 95 107 56 ↗ 0.0% -2
Royals 42-55 3 90 112 106 51 ↗ 0.0% 2
Orioles 34-64 -2 92 124 104 59 ↗ 0.0% 2
Pirates 38-61 2 86 124 100 47 ↘ 0.0% -1
Rangers 35-65 -2 85 115 103 41 ↘ 0.0% -3
Diamondbacks 31-70 -5 87 124 122 11 ↗ 0.0% 0

Instead of throwing in the towel on the season, both the Cubs and Cardinals have hung around .500 for the past couple of weeks. That makes them both extreme long shots to make a run in the second half. Despite being in a similar place in the standings, the Cubs look like they’re going to be selling while the Cardinals will probably hold pat with what they’ve got and hope for better next year.

The Tigers have played increasingly better baseball as the season has gone on. After an ugly 8-19 record in April, they’ve gone 39-35 since May 1 with a +3 run differential. They won seven straight coming out of the break but were swept by the Royals over the weekend. They have a few players they could move before the trade deadline but they have to be encouraged by the steps forward their youngsters have made this season. They look like they’re closer to contention than many thought heading into this year.

The Rangers have won just four games in July, haven’t won a game since the All-Star break, and are in the middle of an ugly 12-game losing streak. Nothing seems to be going right down in Arlington. They’ve scored just 15 runs and allowed a whopping 68 in their 10 games since the break.


Overall Power Rankings
Rank Team Record “Luck” wRC+ SP- RP- Team Quality Playoff Odds Δ
1 Giants 62-37 -1 108 86 93 163 94.3% 0
2 White Sox 59-40 -3 111 81 97 172 99.2% 1
3 Dodgers 61-40 -5 110 82 99 162 99.4% -1
4 Astros 61-39 -4 117 86 105 144 97.6% 0
5 Rays 60-40 0 103 96 84 153 86.1% 1
6 Red Sox 61-39 4 104 94 90 155 94.7% -1
7 Padres 58-44 -4 102 98 87 141 91.1% 0
8 Yankees 51-47 1 101 88 90 152 35.5% 1
9 Athletics 56-45 1 102 89 98 138 40.9% -1
10 Brewers 58-42 0 90 80 94 119 92.6% 0
11 Blue Jays 49-46 -8 112 100 100 130 28.9% 0
12 Mets 52-44 2 97 86 102 119 77.4% 0
13 Braves 48-50 -5 99 98 102 98 7.3% 2
14 Mariners 54-46 10 90 112 92 84 5.2% 6
15 Angels 49-49 3 107 104 109 96 9.3% 1
16 Cleveland 49-48 4 87 112 87 84 2.6% -2
17 Marlins 43-57 -7 88 96 88 108 0.0% 0
18 Phillies 49-49 3 94 97 112 79 19.3% 1
19 Nationals 45-53 -1 100 108 102 93 1.3% -1
20 Reds 51-48 3 99 99 117 70 11.5% -7
21 Cubs 49-51 1 90 116 94 67 2.4% 0
22 Tigers 47-54 3 93 99 114 75 0.0% 3
23 Cardinals 50-50 4 90 107 104 62 3.4% 1
24 Twins 42-58 -1 102 113 111 72 0.0% -2
25 Rockies 43-56 0 75 95 107 56 0.0% -2
26 Royals 42-55 3 90 112 106 51 0.0% 2
27 Orioles 34-64 -2 92 124 104 59 0.0% 2
28 Pirates 38-61 2 86 124 100 47 0.0% -1
29 Rangers 35-65 -2 85 115 103 41 0.0% -3
30 Diamondbacks 31-70 -5 87 124 122 11 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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DLHughey
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DLHughey

Not sure how the 4th place, barely over .500 Blue Jays aren’t a bubble team. They have pretty much no reliable pitching behind Ryu and Ray. Run differential and luck be damned, if you’re blowing late leads and Tyler Chatwood was your primary RP acquisition in the winter, this should be expected. This isn’t luck, this is a half-baked roster construction and a waste of a great lineup.

Matheson Moore
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Matheson Moore

Some might say Kirby Yates was their primary offseason RP addition.