FanGraphs Power Rankings – Week 2

Another week of the 2021 season is in the books and it was a wild one. The A’s finally lost a game, the Reds couldn’t win one, and the Dodgers and Padres played playoff-esque baseball in a drama-filled four-game series over the weekend. Here’s the second 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 will 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 14-9 0 121 ↗ 91 ↗ 80 ↘ 179 ↗ 53.8% 1
Dodgers 15-7 1 114 ↘ 75 ↘ 95 ↗ 163 ↘ 99.5% -1

The same two teams sit atop the rankings but they’ve switched positions. Neither team had an outstanding week — both teams split a series against the Mariners but the Dodgers lost their four-game set against the Padres after a wild Sunday night game that went to 11 innings.

The Red Sox now have the best offense in baseball and Eduardo Rodriguez has turned in two fantastic starts to help their rotation gain ground in the rankings. After developing a case of myocarditis — an inflammation of the heart muscle — brought on by contracting COVID-19, there was no way to know what to expect from Rodriguez this season but he’s picked up right where he left off after his breakout season in 2019.

The Dodgers and Padres played seven times in the last 10 days, and San Diego came out on top with four wins. Los Angeles shouldn’t take that early season hiccup to heart. They were missing Cody Bellinger, Gavin Lux, and Zach McKinstry for some or all of this first matchup against their fellow NL West heavyweights.

Tier 2 – Solid Contenders
Team Record “Luck” wRC+ SP FIP- RP FIP- Team Quality Playoff Odds Δ
White Sox 12-9 -1 117 ↗ 82 ↘ 93 ↘ 170 ↘ 68.0% 3
Royals 13-7 3 96 ↘ 91 ↗ 101 ↗ 124 ↗ 23.8% 4
Padres 13-11 0 94 ↘ 75 ↗ 93 ↘ 140 ↘ 94.5% 0
Mets 9-8 2 100 ↘ 62 ↗ 74 ⏹ 174 ↗ 87.2% -2
Athletics 14-8 3 105 ↗ 104 ↘ 107 ⏹ 105 ↗ 51.8% 9

Three teams in this tier stayed the same from last week but the two new additions are among the hottest teams in the majors. The Royals made up for a pair of losses to start the week with a five-game win streak that included a sweep of the lowly Tigers. They possess the best record in the American League, and as Dan Szymborski pointed out last week, they’re no longer such a long-shot to sniff the playoffs this year.

Right on their heels in the American League standings are the Athletics. They had put together a 13-game win streak before losing to the Orioles on Sunday afternoon. That run of play helped them dig out of the early season hole they’d found themselves in, and their playoff odds now stand at 51.8% after dipping as low as 10.9% on April 8.

The White Sox completed a three-game sweep of the Rangers over the weekend and pushed their run differential up to +21, the best in the American League. Michael Kopech has stepped into the rotation to fill in for the injured Lance Lynn and has dazzled in two starts. His five inning gem on Sunday more than made up for the ugly start from Lucas Giolito on Monday against the Red Sox. The White Sox also possess the second-best offense in baseball with the marvelous Yermín Mercedes and his incredible 217 wRC+ leading the way.

Tier 3 – The Hopefuls
Team Record “Luck” wRC+ SP FIP- RP FIP- Team Quality Playoff Odds Δ
Giants 14-8 2 89 ↗ 80 ↘ 113 ↘ 89 ⏹ 17.7% 5
Mariners 13-9 2 96 ↘ 121 ↗ 89 ↗ 101 ⏹ 2.9% 1
Astros 10-11 -2 116 ↗ 95 ↗ 119 ↘ 112 ↗ 62.8% 4
Rays 11-11 1 102 ↗ 88 ↘ 105 ↘ 131 ↗ 18.0% 0
Angels 10-10 2 114 ⏹ 91 ↘ 96 ↘ 149 ↘ 47.1% -9
Brewers 13-8 0 85 ↗ 66 ↗ 121 ↘ 78 ↗ 66.5% 4
Cardinals 11-10 0 94 ↗ 104 ↗ 103 ↘ 92 ↗ 25.4% 8

The Mariners managed to go 3-3 against the Dodgers and Red Sox this last week, no small accomplishment for the young team. Their bullpen has been fantastic this year (3.50 FIP, 0.7 WAR), allowing them to stay in close games and give their bats a chance to sow some chaos. Kyle Seager leads the league in clutch hitting and light-hitting J.P. Crawford is right behind him at No. 9. They face off against a revitalized Astros team this week in a four-game series in Houston. Getting Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez, and Martín Maldonado back last week definitely helped the Astros and Jose Altuve looks like he’ll rejoin the team this week.

The Giants have taken advantage of a pretty soft early schedule to start the year on a strong note. All the additions they made to their starting rotation this offseason have resulted in the fifth best staff in the early goings. Their bats are starting to come around as well, with Mike Yastrzemski looking like he’s over an early season wrist injury and the rejuvenated pair of Buster Posey and Evan Longoria supplying plenty of production.

This tier also includes two of the biggest movers: the Angels dropped nine spots after losing five times last week, and the Cardinals jumped eight spots with a series sweep against the Reds over the weekend. Despite the fantastic performance put up by Shohei Ohtani, the Angels have really struggled to score runs at a consistent clip. Anthony Rendon has been sidelined with a strained groin and Mike Trout missed a few games after an errant pitch hit his elbow on Friday. Their roster just isn’t built to withstand the loss of their best players and they saw the immediate ramifications of that lack of depth last week.

Tier 4 – On the Fence
Team Record “Luck” wRC+ SP FIP- RP FIP- Team Quality Playoff Odds Δ
Yankees 9-12 0 91 ↗ 92 ↗ 73 ↘ 133 ↗ 77.5% 6
Blue Jays 10-11 -2 87 ↘ 109 ↗ 93 ↗ 82 ↘ 44.0% 3
Reds 9-12 -3 110 ↘ 101 ↗ 122 ↘ 94 ↘ 14.0% -10
Pirates 11-11 1 89 ↘ 118 ↗ 89 ↗ 82 ↗ 0.8% 6
Diamondbacks 11-11 -1 102 ↗ 114 ↗ 120 ↘ 66 ↗ 2.3% 7
Phillies 10-11 1 97 ↗ 102 ↘ 116 ↘ 87 ↗ 14.9% -2
Twins 7-13 -2 100 ↘ 104 ↘ 98 ↗ 112 ↘ 32.0% -9
Orioles 9-12 -1 86 ↗ 107 ↗ 92 ↗ 85 ↗ 0.0% 1
Cubs 10-11 0 95 ↗ 117 ↗ 105 ↘ 71 ↗ 16.2% 4

The Yankees managed to dig themselves out of the basement with four wins against Atlanta and Cleveland. Their offense still isn’t firing on all cylinders, so it’s their pitching staff that’s carrying the load right now. They were replaced in the dog house by the disappointing Twins. Their COVID-19 issues didn’t affect as many of their star players as the Astros’ issues did, but Minnesota has definitely struggled to start the season. They’ve won just twice in their past 13 games, and if you ignore their 12 run outburst in a losing effort on Wednesday, they’ve scored just 2.25 runs per game during this stretch.

The Reds have now lost seven in a row after getting swept by the suddenly strong Diamondbacks and the Cardinals. Their offense, which was so potent at home early in the season, is suddenly struggling to score runs. As for the D-backs, Arizona shutout Atlanta over 14 innings in a doubleheader on Sunday; the first game featured a phenomenal start from Zac Gallen and the second game featured a “no-hitter” by Madison Bumgarner that may or may not go down in history as an official no-hitter.

The Cubs have gotten their offensive issues somewhat under control but their week was still filled with extremely inconsistent play. They scored 16 and 15 runs in two games but couldn’t score more than four in any of their other games last week. With the Brewers rotation looking like the one of the best in the majors right now, they’re threatening to pull away in the NL Central. Meanwhile, the Cubs, Cardinals, and Reds are playing at about the same level as the Pirates. To their credit, Pittsburgh has played much better than expected this year, but that won’t be good enough for any of these teams unless they start to make some real improvements.

Tier 5 – Hope Deferred
Team Record “Luck” wRC+ SP FIP- RP FIP- Team Quality Playoff Odds Δ
Braves 9-12 0 93 ↘ 128 ↘ 91 ↗ 82 ↘ 46.8% -9
Marlins 9-12 -2 89 ↘ 93 ↘ 110 ↗ 78 ⏹ 0.6% -5
Cleveland 9-11 -1 82 ↘ 109 ↘ 105 ↘ 50 ↘ 17.7% -17
Rockies 8-13 -3 82 ↗ 101 ⏹ 111 ↗ 57 ↗ 0.0% 2
Rangers 9-13 0 95 ↗ 105 ↘ 119 ↘ 66 ↗ 0.2% -3
Nationals 8-11 2 82 ↘ 130 ↘ 104 ↗ 34 ↘ 13.6% -1
Tigers 7-15 1 74 ↘ 110 ↗ 136 ↗ 14 ↘ 0.1% 0

Atlanta took a huge dip in the rankings this week after that dismal performance against Arizona yesterday. The pitching staff still has plenty of issues and after a fantastic start to the season, Ronald Acuña Jr.’s has been largely sidelined with an abdominal strain; he returned to action Friday and went hitless against the Diamondbacks. Cleveland had the biggest fall in the rankings, a product of having just a single win last week and an offense that’s continued to struggle to score runs consistently.

It surprised me to learn that every team in the NL West has a positive run differential. The Rockies won four of their five games last week, and a huge 12-2 victory against the Phillies on Sunday pushed their run differential to +6. They still have the worst record in the National League but they showed some pluck last week.


Overall Power Rankings
Rank Team Record “Luck” wRC+ SP FIP- RP FIP- Team Quality Playoff Odds Δ
1 Red Sox 14-9 0 121 91 80 179 53.8% 1
2 Dodgers 15-7 1 114 75 95 163 99.5% -1
3 White Sox 12-9 -1 117 82 93 170 68.0% 3
4 Royals 13-7 3 96 91 101 124 23.8% 4
5 Padres 13-11 0 94 75 93 140 94.5% 0
6 Mets 9-8 2 100 62 74 174 87.2% -2
7 Athletics 14-8 3 105 104 107 105 51.8% 9
8 Giants 14-8 2 89 80 113 89 17.7% 5
9 Mariners 13-9 2 96 121 89 101 2.9% 1
10 Astros 10-11 -2 116 95 119 112 62.8% 4
11 Rays 11-11 1 102 88 105 131 18.0% 0
12 Angels 10-10 2 114 91 96 149 47.1% -9
13 Brewers 13-8 0 85 66 121 78 66.5% 4
14 Cardinals 11-10 0 94 104 103 92 25.4% 8
15 Yankees 9-12 0 91 92 73 133 77.5% 6
16 Blue Jays 10-11 -2 87 109 93 82 44.0% 3
17 Reds 9-12 -3 110 101 122 94 14.0% -10
18 Pirates 11-11 1 89 118 89 82 0.8% 6
19 Diamondbacks 11-11 -1 102 114 120 66 2.3% 7
20 Phillies 10-11 1 97 102 116 87 14.9% -2
21 Twins 7-13 -2 100 104 98 112 32.0% -9
22 Orioles 9-12 -1 86 107 92 85 0.0% 1
23 Cubs 10-11 0 95 117 105 71 16.2% 4
24 Braves 9-12 0 93 128 91 82 46.8% -9
25 Marlins 9-12 -2 89 93 110 78 0.6% -5
26 Cleveland 9-11 -1 82 109 105 50 17.7% -17
27 Rockies 8-13 -3 82 101 111 57 0.0% 2
28 Rangers 9-13 0 95 105 119 66 0.2% -3
29 Nationals 8-11 2 82 130 104 34 13.6% -1
30 Tigers 7-15 1 74 110 136 14 0.1% 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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sadtrombone
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sadtrombone

Rockies, Brewers, Marlins, and Nationals all have had pretty good defense. Teams that have good defenses are going to outperform this metric all season long.

Seamaholic
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Seamaholic

More importantly, all of those teams have good to great starting rotations, which is probably more the reason they look better in this metric than their records (although the Brewers have a fine record too). The correlation of records so far, and starting pitching quality, is unusually poor right now. Unless something weird has happened in baseball this year, that should right itself.

newsense
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newsense

Aside from Robles, I don’t see anyone on the Nats who is much above average defensively and several starters who wouldn’t make it to average.

sadtrombone
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sadtrombone

Fun fact: The Nationals are 5th in UZR on the year and first in DRS, as of mid-day on April 26th.

I agree with you that this makes no sense, but the fact that that this makes no sense is immaterial.

alden
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alden

citing 4 weeks of UZR and DRS data to compare team defense? cmon bro I know you know better than that

ed-ott
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ed-ott

But it was 1) fun, and 2) fact. Whimsical, maybe.

Kevbot034
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Kevbot034

Nationals aside, I don’t know why anyone would be downvoting you. Teams with good defenses often outperform their metrics like this.

sadtrombone
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sadtrombone

Yeah, probably because they think I’m being mean. I don’t think that’s true, though. I think it’s a factual statement that if your measure of run prevention is FIP (which is extremely good at isolating pitcher performance from fielding) and fielding is something we can predict going forward and not random that this is going to understate some specific teams.