BtB Power Rankings
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.