The other day, I asked you to participate in a community project. The polling was both simple and very complicated — there was one poll for every team, and I asked each of you to issue a rating for your favorite team, based on basically everything. There were six options, going from 0 to 5, with 0 being the worst, and 5 being the best. I wanted to end up with a landscape of organizational health. Ratings were to be based on both short-term and long-term considerations, and while I know that crowdsourcing doesn’t always suss out the truth, we can’t know the *actual* truths. So we might as well see what the community thinks.
The polling and ensuing conversation is always fun, but there’s nothing quite like the analysis, whenever I run a community polling project. For this one, this morning, I collected all the votes and calculated all the necessary numbers. Below, your FanGraphs community organizational ratings, as of this very week in January 2017.
The plot shows average ratings for all 30 teams, and for those of you who are curious, I made some minor adjustments to wipe out very obvious trolling. I’d always prefer that trolling not exist in the first place, but at least the trolls make themselves stand out. My adjustments did basically nothing to the final order of things. The adjustments were more for me than for you.
Unsurprisingly, according to the audience, the Cubs organization is in the best position in the game. Now, the Cubs just won the World freaking Series, so maybe there’s a little recency bias in there, but they’re clearly in excellent shape. The Cubs are one of the most valuable organizations, with very competitive resources, and although the farm system has been partially drained, the major-league roster is maybe the best in existence, and it’s young. Kris Bryant is under team control for five more years. Anthony Rizzo, five more years. Kyle Schwarber, five more years. Kyle Hendricks, four more years. Addison Russell, five more years. (Jason Heyward, seven more years!) On it goes. The Cubs have an enviable core, and they’re great today. No one’s surprised.
It’s maybe a little surprising to see the Indians in second, since they don’t have the Cubs’ money. They also have what’s probably an average farm system. But they’re also great today, and the roster has a good amount of youth, and I think there’s a lot of faith in what the front office has been doing. In any case, the Indians aren’t far from the Red Sox and Dodgers, two financial powerhouses with both youth and immediate title aspirations. Los Angeles, to me, is positioned better than Boston, but who am I to disagree with so many of you?
After the top four, there’s a healthy drop-off. Maybe that’s where you draw the line for Tier 1. I won’t go through every single team, but I will note that the overall average rating is 2.75. The teams on either side of the average are the Braves and the Orioles. The Braves definitely don’t look good right now, but Keith Law just gave them the No. 1 farm-system ranking. Pretty obviously, the Braves’ positive votes were made with an eye toward sustainable success a little down the line.
The lowest tier, to me, might or might not include the Angels. The Angels are one of seven teams with an average rating under 2, but there’s also a decent gap between them and the Marlins. If you leave the Angels out, you’re left with the Marlins, A’s, Twins, Diamondbacks, Padres, and Reds. None of those six teams are expected to be good right away, and only two of them have top-10 farm systems, according to Law. Which is interesting! Law gave the Padres farm his No. 3 ranking. Still, they’re 29th here, as an organization. The Reds come out ever so barely worse, with the worst organizational rating on FanGraphs. Law ranked their farm eighth. He put the Diamondbacks farm dead last, but I guess their superior big-league roster for today helped keep them out of the FanGraphs basement.
Cubs organization: best in baseball, according to you. Reds organization: worst in baseball, according to you. Padres organization: basically as bad as the Reds. Maybe San Diego has the superior farm system, but they also have an insane general manager. I’m just the messenger, in this case. You all put together the messages.
The top eight teams, by rating, all have top-10 projected 2017 records, according to Steamer. The highest rating for an average team belongs to the Yankees. Which, yeah, they have money, and they have a terrific farm system. The highest rating for a bad team belongs to the Braves. Meanwhile, the lowest rating for a good team belongs to the Angels. I’m going to guess this is in large part because the community doesn’t believe in the Angels’ Steamer projection. So then we’d be looking at the Mariners, who are 13th by rating, but 11th by projected 2017 record. Ehh.
For fun, I decided to run a very simple regression, trying to find an expected organizational rating based just on projected 2017 record, and Keith Law’s farm-system rankings. It actually worked pretty well, with an ultimate R-squared value of 0.78. Note that this only indirectly considers front-office identities and financial resources. By weight, when it came to the community ratings, projected 2017 record was 2.74 times more important than Law’s farm rankings. That might surprise you, or it might not. Here’s a plot of it all!
The team with the biggest positive difference between actual rating and expected rating: the Brewers, at +0.85. We’ve probably played a role in this, since we’ve been fairly positive about the Brewers’ rebuild. The Cubs are second, at +0.76, and I bet that has to do with all the team control remaining on the big-league roster. Then you get the Orioles, at +0.67. They have neither a strong farm nor a strong roster, but at some point you just get used to a ballclub overachieving.
The team with the biggest negative difference between actual rating and expected rating: the Angels, at -1.15. They take this running away, as it sure seems like people don’t trust their 2017 roster at all. Second-worst is the Reds, all the way up at -0.60. The big-league team seems real bad, and there might not be a lot of trust in the prospects or in the front office. Then the Padres are there, at -0.56. That roster is also quite bad, and much of the farm system’s best talent is in the lower levels, which means there’s a lot that could go wrong. Padres fan spirits aren’t high.
I don’t have anything left to say, for the moment. Thank you again for allowing me to run this project. I love you, and you are great.
Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.