BtB Power Rankings: Week 18 -- Entering the Dog Days

This week, we enter the "dog days" of summer: August.  This is a time when we'll likely see the last of the pretenders fade away...

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On Paper Playoff Leaders

American League: E=Rays, C=Twins, W=Rangers, WC=Yankees
National League: E=Braves, C=Cardinals, W=Padres, WC=Rockies

This Week's Feature: The Chicago White Sox

The ChiSox didn't move a lot this week in the rankings, but they currently do sit atop the actual AL Central despite trailing the Twins significantly in the power rankings.  Why the disparity?  

White Sox fans would be quick to point out that their actual winning percentage (.566) is very close to their Pythagorean record (.557).  However, our estimated component winning percentage is substantially lower, at .522.  What gives?

The answer comes on both offense and defense.  On offense, we estimate that the White Sox "should have" scored 19 fewer runs than they actually have.  This is a fairly average offensive team.  They have some hitters having excellent years--Konerko, Rios, and Quentin (when healthy).  But they also are starting players who have either severely underperformed (e.g. Gordan Beckham, .289 wOBA, -11 wRAA), or just aren't very good hitters at this point in their careers (Pierzynski .273 wOBA, Pierre .305 wOBA).  They've average on the basepaths as well.  

On defense, we estimate that they've allowed 15 fewer runs than expected.  Again, not a huge difference, but it again moves our estimated w% down.  Pitching-wise, there's a lot of disagreement here in how good these guys are.  I haven't checked carefully, but the gap between their park-adjusted FIP (3.54 FIP) and their xFIP (4.13) is about as enormous as it comes.  The White Sox play in a home run friendly park, and yet amazingly, their HR/FB% is the best in baseball.  That hints at some HR/FB "skill" on this team, though it's hard to say for sure.  This is why I like the change we instituted last week: we split the difference between FIP and xFIP to calculate our pitcher runs allowed estimate.  That average "FIP" (3.84) is very close to the team's actual ERA (3.91)...which means that the gap here could be said to come down to fielding.

Fielding-wise, the team rates as below-average (-10 runs by my methods).  I think it's a pretty solid estimate, too, because we're getting these measures across the board: UZR and DRS both have them at -16 runs, while a fielding estimate based on FIP and Base Runs puts them at -5 runs.  Catching has been plus thus far (+4 runs), but that's the only good news.  It's not the worst fielding team in baseball, but it doesn't look particularly strong.

So what we have here is a modest bit of overproduction on both offense and pitching/fielding, which adds up to a fairly big gap between actual vs. expected team performance.  On top of all of that, the White Sox also have had a fairly weak schedule: we estimate their average opponent cW% at .487, which is the third easiest in the AL.  Adjusting for this weaker competition pulls their cW% down from .522 to just .502.  As a result, despite leading the AL Central in reality, we rank them as being significantly behind the second place Minnesota Twins.

Under the Hood

Converting Runs to Wins

Team G RS eRS RA eRA W% pW% cW% SoS cW%s xtW LgQ TPI
ARI 107 458 456 561 524 0.374 0.405 0.433 0.523 0.449 64 0.482 0.432
ATL 106 487 493 411 417 0.566 0.577 0.577 0.502 0.573 92 0.482 0.555
BAL 106 385 422 576 563 0.311 0.319 0.368 0.519 0.379 54 0.518 0.396
BOS 107 538 549 471 482 0.570 0.563 0.562 0.501 0.556 92 0.518 0.574
CHW 106 478 459 422 437 0.566 0.557 0.522 0.487 0.502 89 0.518 0.520
CHC 107 431 447 503 468 0.430 0.428 0.479 0.481 0.454 72 0.482 0.436
CIN 108 507 512 436 467 0.556 0.570 0.543 0.481 0.518 89 0.482 0.500
CLE 107 437 445 527 517 0.421 0.413 0.430 0.517 0.440 69 0.518 0.458
COL 106 471 476 440 435 0.519 0.532 0.541 0.506 0.541 85 0.482 0.523
DET 106 460 476 484 486 0.500 0.476 0.490 0.491 0.474 80 0.518 0.492
FLA 106 483 473 470 460 0.500 0.513 0.513 0.519 0.526 82 0.482 0.508
HOU 106 411 402 510 476 0.443 0.401 0.422 0.503 0.418 71 0.482 0.401
KCR 107 444 445 554 558 0.430 0.396 0.394 0.506 0.394 68 0.518 0.411
LAD 107 480 477 479 467 0.514 0.501 0.510 0.503 0.507 83 0.482 0.489
LAA 108 489 452 511 517 0.500 0.479 0.437 0.498 0.428 77 0.518 0.445
MIL 108 515 545 581 539 0.463 0.442 0.505 0.486 0.485 77 0.482 0.467
MIN 107 524 520 435 435 0.551 0.586 0.583 0.489 0.566 91 0.518 0.583
NYY 106 577 550 445 459 0.623 0.621 0.586 0.493 0.573 98 0.518 0.590
NYM 107 463 469 440 480 0.505 0.524 0.489 0.518 0.501 81 0.482 0.483
OAK 106 451 449 433 444 0.500 0.519 0.504 0.484 0.481 81 0.518 0.499
PHI 106 484 475 434 450 0.547 0.551 0.526 0.512 0.532 88 0.482 0.514
PIT 106 370 387 577 552 0.349 0.303 0.339 0.502 0.335 56 0.482 0.320
SDP 105 504 475 400 399 0.590 0.606 0.580 0.501 0.575 95 0.482 0.558
SEA 107 354 364 477 475 0.374 0.369 0.383 0.505 0.381 61 0.518 0.398
SFG 107 479 472 385 441 0.579 0.598 0.531 0.501 0.525 91 0.482 0.507
STL 107 496 498 424 450 0.551 0.572 0.547 0.488 0.529 89 0.482 0.511
TBR 106 541 522 407 422 0.632 0.631 0.598 0.504 0.595 100 0.518 0.612
TEX 106 516 509 428 468 0.575 0.586 0.539 0.475 0.508 90 0.518 0.525
TOR 107 506 513 462 441 0.523 0.543 0.571 0.501 0.566 87 0.518 0.583
WSN 107 433 435 481 478 0.439 0.451 0.457 0.505 0.456 72 0.482 0.438

G=Games
RS = Actual Runs Scored, after a park adjustment
eRS = Estimated Runs Scored, after park adjustment (see table below)
RA = Actual Runs Allowed, after a park adjustment
eRA = Estimated Runs Allowed, after park adjustments (see table below)
W% = Actual Winning Percentage
pW% = PythagenPat Winning Percentage, based on actual runs scored and run allowed totals
cW% = Component Winning Percentage, using estimated runs scored and estimated runs allowed totals.  If you don't like the league adjustments or strength of schedule adjustments, click in the header and sort by this column to get an "unsullied" ranking.

SoS = Strength of Schedule.  This is an iterative weighted average of the component-based winning percentages of a team's opponents.  Described in this post.
cW%s = Schedule-adjusted Component Winning Percentage.  Calculated by applying SoS to cW% with the log5 method, as described in this post.
xTW = Extrapolated wins.  Based on current real wins to date, and extrapolated wins over the rest of the season.  Extrapolations are based on an average of cW% and cW%s, as justified in this post.

LgQ = League Quality.  The AL has superior talent to the NL (justification here and here, and modified most recently here).  The number shown is an estimated true talent level (in winning percentage) of the two leagues were they to be able to play one other for a large number of games.  It's based on the last two years of interleague, with a small adjustment toward 0.500 to account for the fact that the leagues do play one another and thus have already had a small effect on one another's performance.

TPI = Team Performance Index, a hypothetical winning % based on cW%s, after adjustment for league quality. Think of this as the W% we'd expect teams to have if they were all in one big league and were allowed to play 10,000 games vs. every team.

 

Team Offenses and Defenses

Team RS eRS wOBA OBP SLG HitRns EqBRR RA eRA ERA FIP* xFIP PitRns Field BABIP
ARI 458 456 0.321 0.329 0.420 464 -8 561 524 5.21 4.72 4.57 504 -4 0.314
ATL 487 493 0.331 0.343 0.397 492 1 411 417 3.59 3.81 3.96 430 14 0.294
BAL 385 422 0.311 0.316 0.385 425 -3 576 563 5.16 4.59 4.82 523 -46 0.317
BOS 538 549 0.346 0.347 0.461 552 -3 471 482 4.17 4.24 4.46 499 14 0.293
CHW 478 459 0.321 0.328 0.422 458 1 422 437 3.91 3.54 4.13 449 -10 0.306
CHC 431 447 0.318 0.322 0.409 451 -4 503 468 4.40 4.05 4.19 459 -7 0.319
CIN 507 512 0.336 0.336 0.436 512 0 436 467 4.04 4.17 4.52 509 30 0.291
CLE 437 445 0.318 0.323 0.380 445 0 527 517 4.48 4.64 4.68 510 -2 0.304
COL 471 476 0.326 0.340 0.427 471 4 440 435 4.19 3.73 4.09 447 2 0.304
DET 460 476 0.326 0.338 0.412 476 -1 484 486 4.41 4.18 4.56 495 -3 0.306
FLA 483 473 0.325 0.321 0.399 464 9 470 460 4.04 3.79 4.18 455 -15 0.311
HOU 411 402 0.305 0.304 0.363 396 6 510 476 4.32 3.79 4.15 449 -37 0.326
KCR 444 445 0.318 0.334 0.400 453 -8 554 558 5.09 5.08 4.69 516 -15 0.311
LAD 480 477 0.327 0.328 0.389 473 4 479 467 4.01 3.78 4.11 454 -21 0.303
LAA 489 452 0.320 0.317 0.400 465 -13 511 517 4.41 4.31 4.39 485 -29 0.311
MIL 515 545 0.345 0.335 0.434 544 0 581 539 4.91 4.22 4.33 480 -56 0.331
MIN 524 520 0.338 0.351 0.433 524 -4 435 435 3.96 3.89 4.11 452 15 0.307
NYY 577 550 0.347 0.350 0.439 549 1 445 459 3.94 4.03 4.24 461 1 0.287
NYM 463 469 0.324 0.316 0.388 457 12 440 480 3.84 4.04 4.37 488 -1 0.311
OAK 451 449 0.319 0.325 0.381 443 6 433 444 3.72 4.24 4.23 461 26 0.285
PHI 484 475 0.326 0.328 0.418 474 1 434 450 3.97 4.26 4.11 449 17 0.295
PIT 370 387 0.300 0.304 0.364 392 -5 577 552 5.07 4.86 4.68 503 -33 0.313
SDP 504 475 0.326 0.323 0.376 473 2 400 399 3.28 4.00 3.76 413 37 0.286
SEA 354 364 0.294 0.301 0.338 367 -3 477 475 4.02 4.24 4.47 492 12 0.293
SFG 479 472 0.325 0.329 0.410 475 -2 385 441 3.38 3.88 4.29 480 25 0.291
STL 496 498 0.332 0.336 0.414 504 -6 424 450 3.44 4.08 4.09 456 15 0.300
TBR 541 522 0.339 0.340 0.406 508 14 407 422 3.58 3.96 4.12 454 32 0.281
TEX 516 509 0.336 0.340 0.421 500 9 428 468 3.81 4.34 4.45 493 27 0.284
TOR 506 513 0.337 0.313 0.460 516 -3 462 441 4.09 3.87 4.17 459 10 0.299
WSN 433 435 0.315 0.324 0.397 444 -8 481 478 4.13 4.14 4.46 487 0 0.306

RS = Actual Runs Scored
eRS = Estimated Runs Scored: HitRns + EqBRR
wOBA The Book's statistic, but park adjusted, and using data from both HitRns and EqBRR
OBP = On Base Percentage (Times on Base / Plate Appearances)
SLG = Slugging Percentage (Total Bases / At Bats)
HitRns = Base Runs-estimated runs scored, ignoring all base running, using the equation in this post.
EqBRR = Dan Fox's composite baserunning statistics from Baseball Prospectus, minus stolen bases since they are included in wRC.

RA = Actual Runs Allowed, after park adjustment
eRA = Estimated Runs Allowed: PitRns - Field
ERA = Straight-up Earned Run Average
FIP* = Fielding-Independent Runs, based strictly on K-, BB-, and HR-rates.  HR/FB rates are park adjusted using these park factors.
xFIP = Expected Fielding-Independent Runs from FanGraphs.  Like FIP, but with HR/Outfield Fly Ball rates regressed completely to league average.  xFIP is as predictive as any other DIPS-like stat.
PitRns = Pitching Runs Allowed, the expected runs allowed based on the average of FIP and xFIP.  Described in this post.
Field = Described in this post.  It is essentially an average of team UZR, DRS (minus rSB since I calculate catcher fielding separately), and BsRFld.  BsRFld is just difference between FIP-based runs allowed and park-adjusted Base Runs, and is a less direct approach of measuring fielding.  The fielding number also includes a catcher fielding statistic, based on SB's, CS's, WP's, PB's, E's, and this year catcher interference.  The catching methods are essentially those described here.  But I'm using B-Ref data this year, and so there are slight tweaks to the methodology, generally in ways that should lead to greater accuracy.  If you want to know, feel free to ask!
BABIP = Batting Average on Balls In Play.  Fluctuates at the team level with fielding, although park effects and chance events can have effects as well.

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