BtB Power Rankings: Through Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

Welcome to our weekly ranking of all the MLB teams!  In this ranking, we use aggregate team hitting, pitching, and fielding statistics--not team wins, losses, runs scored, or runs allowed--to evaluate the performance of teams to date.  You can think of the estimated winning percentage (eW%) below as how we'd expect things to fall out if we threw teams with these aggregate statistics into one big league and let them battle it out for thousands of games.  They don't replace your actual standings, but they give you something different to consider when thinking about teams to date.

The table is sortable if you click in the header.  All data are park-adjusted when possible.  A legend is below the table, followed by commentary. There is also a table comparing actual vs. expected run scored and run allowed totals, as well as actual vs. expected winning percentages.

BtB Power Rankings

Rank Chg Team wOBA eRS tERA tRns Fld eRA eW%lg LgAdj eW%
1 +1 NYA 0.363 676 4.45 548 3.2 544 0.606 14.2 0.628
2 -1 TB 0.351 621 4.43 537 28.8 508 0.595 14.2 0.619
3 0 BOS 0.340 573 3.89 472 -25.0 497 0.567 14.1 0.592
4 0 LAN 0.337 584 3.91 493 18.3 474 0.597 -14.3 0.572
5 0 TOR 0.332 548 4.18 513 7.8 505 0.539 14.1 0.564
6 +1 COL 0.328 519 3.57 432 2.7 430 0.586 -14.2 0.559
7 -1 CHA 0.324 505 3.81 465 -10.0 475 0.528 14.3 0.555
8 +1 TEX 0.331 515 4.37 523 32.1 491 0.522 13.9 0.548
9 -1 LAA 0.351 604 4.85 580 3.4 577 0.522 13.9 0.545
10 +5 ARI 0.323 519 3.83 478 12.5 465 0.551 -14.3 0.524
11 0 CLE 0.341 580 4.70 566 -18.4 584 0.496 14.1 0.520
12 0 ATL 0.327 525 3.82 469 -10.6 480 0.542 -14.2 0.516
13 0 MIN 0.336 557 4.53 547 -22.9 570 0.489 14.1 0.513
14 -4 PHI 0.338 562 4.44 537 14.4 523 0.534 -13.8 0.510
15 -1 DET 0.327 507 4.57 549 11.8 537 0.473 14.1 0.498
16 +1 OAK 0.319 490 4.16 509 -10.9 520 0.472 14.2 0.498
17 -1 CHN 0.317 488 4.04 491 8.0 483 0.504 -13.9 0.478
18 +1 STL 0.325 513 4.12 509 -6.8 516 0.498 -14.4 0.471
19 +1 SEA 0.317 478 4.72 580 41.3 538 0.445 14.2 0.471
20 +1 FLA 0.330 537 4.39 539 -12.7 551 0.487 -14.2 0.462
21 -3 BAL 0.324 506 4.63 558 -24.6 583 0.433 14.2 0.458
22 0 SF 0.304 420 3.89 473 36.3 437 0.482 -14.2 0.453
23 0 KC 0.314 457 4.13 493 -42.9 535 0.427 14.1 0.453
24 0 MIL 0.331 534 4.87 581 9.7 571 0.468 -14.1 0.444
25 +3 HOU 0.324 506 4.41 540 -18.1 558 0.454 -14.2 0.429
26 -1 NYN 0.323 502 4.39 530 -25.2 556 0.452 -14.2 0.427
27 0 WAS 0.334 550 4.94 591 -22.3 614 0.447 -14.2 0.424
28 -2 PIT 0.316 467 4.59 547 17.8 530 0.442 -14.1 0.416
29 0 SD 0.319 488 4.64 573 -13.8 587 0.413 -14.3 0.388
30 0 CIN 0.301 417 4.61 560 15.6 545 0.379 -14.1 0.353

Offense = wOBA (park-corrected), eRS (estimated runs scored; wRC from FanGraphs, then park adjusted)
Pitching = tERA and tRns are a home-brew version of Graham MacAree's statistic.
Fielding = Fld: average of bUZR (from FanGraphs) and THT's batted balls statistic (converted to runs)
eRA (estimated runs allowed) = Pitching - Fielding
eW%lg = estimated winning percentage within the specific league (AL or NL)
LgAdj = league adjustment (bonus to AL teams, penalty to NL teams, because the AL has superior level of play)
eW% = estimated winning percentage if all teams were in one league (after league adjustment)
Methods provided in more detail in the first post in this series

Team Leaders (asterisks indicate teams improving in specific ranking):

American League
Offense (wOBA): Yankees, Angels*, Rays
Pitching (tERA): White Sox*, Red Sox, Royals
Fielding (Fld): Mariners*, Rangers, Rays

National League
Offense (wOBA): Phillies*, Dodgers, Nationals
Pitching (tERA): Rockies, Braves, Diamondbacks
Fielding (Fld): Giants, Dodgers*, Pirates

"On Paper" Playoff Leaders (asterisks indicate new leaders):

American League: E=Yankees*, C=White Sox, W=Rangers*, WC=Rays
National League: E=Braves*, C=Cubs, W=Dodgers, WC=Rockies


This Week's Movers

The biggest story is that for the first time since our June 23rd update, we have a new leader in the NL East--at least on paper.  The Phillies had a fairly tough week, losing 6 of their last 10.  Meanwhile, the Braves won 7 of 8, and it's those underlying performances that helped the Braves pull ahead of the Phillies in eW%, 0.516 vs. 0.510.  They make an interesting contrast.  The Phillies have had the best offense in the National League thus far (by wOBA).  The Braves, on the other hand, have had the second-best pitching (by tERA)--behind only the underrated Colorado Rockies staff.  In reality, they're 4.5 games apart--a decent cushion for the Phillies, but I wouldn't be surprised to see that race go down to the wire.

Two other races are tight on paper--the Rays vs. the Yankees and the Angels vs. the Rangers.  The Rays and Yankees have been flopping back and forth on the top of our rankings for about a month now.  They are another interesting combination, in that their pitching is almost equally matched (4.45 vs. 4.43 tERAs).  The Yankees have an edge in offense, while the Rays are the better fielding team.  Unfortunately, the reality for the Rays is that they're a full 10 games back in real life, which makes most of this on-paper stuff kind of irrelevant.  So let's not forget that the pitching-strong Red Sox are holding steady in the #3 slot.  If the Red Sox can get another starter healthy, they could be right back in this.

As for the Angels and Rangers, they continue to bounce back and forth with every update on paper.  Again, it's an interesting combination.  The Rangers have been a pitching and especially defense kind of team, while the Angels have been much more of an offensive club than in recent years.  In the real standings, the Angels have a five-game lead.  If you believe that eW% is starting to get at a team's true talent level, then it may be hard for the Rangers to make up that kind of lead against such an equally-matched team. 


The last team to mention, despite being apparently hopelessly out of it, are the Arizona Diamondbacks.  They finally seem to be putting something together.  Since July 4th, they have gone 20-14, and have slowly been inching up our rankings.  This week marks the biggest improvement I can remember seeing from them, as they surged all the way to 10th in our ranking--one of just three NL teams in the top 10.  Last week, we labeled them the opposites of the 2007 team, which probably overperformed to win its division title.  I can't help but wonder what would have happened this year had Brandon Webb been healthy.

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