I've currently established a temporary base for writing back in New Jersey, so these rankings are certainly a bit later than I'd like. The calculations are current as of Thursday, and the comments are as of Friday.
- Cardinals (1) - The first clincher! Congrats on back-to-back titles to the Cards, who withstood injuries by simply being the best-constructed team in the division. Well-done, Walt Jocketty.
- Indians (2) - These days, they're sexier than (pick your typical sexy male/female) in terms of "love" from the mainstream and the "sexy pick." Everybody's in love with that bullpen anchored by... Bob Wickman? It's a good bullpen and has statistically been fantastic, but Bob Wickman just doesn't inspire fear. Sorry.
- Red Sox (4) - I'd like to have been a fly on the wall in the meeting in which the Red Sox decided that they were going to sign Edgar Renteria. Where was Theo Epstein's stathead judgement? He's due $33 million after this season. He's currently sporting a .277/.333/.381 line in Fenway Park and a Rate of 84, and he's locked up for 3 more years. Signing Edgar Renteria was not a bad decision, seriously... but locking him up for 4 years was.
- Yankees (4) - Not giving A-Rod the MVP award, at this point, is really just sour grapes. Pick your metric - A-Rod leads the league... OPS, RC, RCAA, Win Shares, VORP... there's not much of a case for anyone else, at this point.
- White Sox (2) - At "press time," the Indians were 4 games behind, pending the results of the ongoing White Sox game. Don't look now, but the laws of averages seem to be back with a vengeance. Since August 1, they're 20-22 and they seem to be playing a lot more like everyone expected. (Over that stretch, they're averaging 4.10 R/G.) The question is: can they hold on for another couple of weeks?
- A's (4) - Currently ranked #10 in the AL in ERA: Joe Blanton, at 3.57. Raise your hand if you saw that one coming, and if I see one freaking hand... anyway, this is one of those years to give the Cy Young to a reliever, in the AL... there's just no pitcher who really deserves it this year.
- Braves (7) - Jeff Francoeur's numbers have crashed back to Earth recently... he's now only hitting .316/.352/.587. Temper that enthusiasm a bit, everyone. His .220/.293/.366 line since August 21 makes me think that teams have just stopped throwing him strikes, and that he's taking some more pitches as a result of that. Either way, no one can ever take away his .370/.389/.717 from 7/7-8/21.
- Angels (8) - You wouldn't be surprised, I'm sure, to know that Vladimir Guerror leads the Angels in Runs Created, with 102.5. Number 2? That would be Chone Figgins, who has created 84.9 runs in spite of a .397 slugging percentage. Figgins would be an ideal leadoff hitter if he brought up his walk rate just a bit, but his .082 BB/PA is actually slightly above the league average. The Angels need a lot more from Chone if they're going to hold off the A's, though.
- Mets (9) - One aspect with these standings is that, because so much of them is based on statistical formulas, the amount of potential variance goes down as more of the sample is accumulated. That's how the Mets have held onto the #9 spot in spite of a 3-12 month. For what it's worth, the Mets' 3rd order Pythagenport record is fully 9.5 wins better than what it is now. That would put them as the second best team in the NL. I don't know what exactly is causing that discrepancy... but Met fans can take solace in the fact that they're a better team than their record indicates, and that they're closer to the 2006 playoffs than most, provided that they make the right offseason moves.
- Phillies (12) - With Francoeur's current slide in mind, a serious ROY contender has to be Ryan Howard, who has put up a .290/.354/.548 line in Thome's absence. These aren't "Jim Thome in his prime" numbers, but they're nothing to sneeze at. I've underestimated Ed Wade... it seems that holding onto Howard defied my predictions and has actually increased his trade value. We'll see in the offseason.
- Astros (10) - Biggio, Ensberg, Berkman have accounted for 134.5 VORP, and the rest of the team is pretty punchless. Essentially, my dire prediction of 75 wins was right. Except for the fact that Clemens, Oswalt, and Pettitte have been historically good and Ensberg has had a career year. No, I was pretty wrong about these guys, but if I were making forecasts about teams in 2006, no one would have a higher "collapse rate" than Houston.
- Marlins (13) - Dontrelle Willis and his 21-8, 2.49 ERA aren't disappearing from the Cy Young race anytime soon, especially with the Marlins hanging in contention. It's truly amazing. If I had gone up to you at the beginning of the year, and told you, "Dontrelle's going to have a sub-2.5 ERA, Delgado and Cabrera are going to get 1300 plate apperances and hit a combined .314/.392/.576 on the season," you would have told me two things: 1 was that I was a hopeless optimist, and 2 was that the Marlins would have run away with the division. Both would have been wrong. Gotta love it.
- Rangers (11) - Everybody has seemed to cut Hank Blalock some serious slack, but he's been downright bad this year. His .272/.326/.445 line is OK, but when you consider that it's at Ameriquest Field and that he's hit .238/.283/.342 away from it, something is seriously up. The real problem, in my eyes, is the decline in plate discipline. His BB/PA has plummeted from .105 in '04 to a below average .074 this year. That's not the way to go.
- Twins (13) - Torii Hunter is second on the club in VORP, and that's all you really need to know (he's been hurt for a while). This team is the league's worst hitting club, and it's a shame, too, because they're wating 4 pretty solid seasons from their pitchers.
- Cubs (15) - A conversation between The God of Statistics and Neifi Perez, c. June 7:
"But please? I'm hitting .325/.348/.485 and I'm playing everyday! I like this!"
The God of Statistics chuckled and said, "Oh, ho, ho, ho, ho... you won't lose your job! You play for the Cubs! But the math must be secure."
"I understand, my lord."
"Now, return to the diamond, so I may fix all that is inconsistent. And summon Brian Roberts!"
Since that day, Perez has hit .252/.279/.334, and he remains in the lineup.
- Blue Jays (16) - To me, this team remains just one bat short of serious contention... but the lineup is just too... average, across the board, to compete with the US and Soviet... I mean Yankees and Red Sox. Ricciardi has reearned my confidence, however.
- Brewers (19) - Wins are a taboo subject for a stathead and are not supposed to be discussed, but Chris Capuano has quietly won 17 games (while poor Doug Davis stayed at 9 for an entire half of the season, it seemed). Those peripherals, though (27 HR, 74 BB, 158 K, 4.50 FIP) just don't portend too well.
- Nationals (16) - Handicapping the Gnats for this offseason will be a bit difficult until we know about the new ownership and how much it'll be willing to spend. Either way, their priority is offense this offseason... I don't really know where they'll add it, though. Johnson, Vidro, Guzman are all locked up... Zimmerman's probably going to take 3rd, and there's a surplus of OFs here already. It's an interesting dilemma to face, to be sure. We'll see what kind of deals are in the works this offseason.
- Orioles (18) - There's a problem in Baltimore... Bruce Chen has been their best pitcher by VORP. And BJ Ryan, who ranks #3, probably will be chasing $$ this offseason. The pitching's a big problem here and it could just get worse this offseason.
- Padres (21) - Marc's usually all over the Brian Giles stuff, but I may as well throw this in... Giles leads the Padres in VORP with 61.7. The second best hitter, by VORP, is Mark Sweeney, and he's also tied for the league lead in pinch hits. That's a problem. You want a darkhorse MVP candidate? He's toiling away at Petco Park...
- Reds (22) - Wily Mo Pena's 2005 is so similar to his 2004, it's scary:
- Tigers (20) - Big time prospect Joel Zumaya: born 11/9/84. In 2005: Struck out 199 batters in 151 innings in the high minors. Keep him on your radar screens... his control isn't great, but those K-rates at that age have to make anyone smile.
- Mariners (23) - Insert weekly comment about King Felix here.
- Dodgers (24) - Insert weekly comment about how unlucky the Dodgers are here.
- Devil Rays (26) - Scott Kazmir ranks 16th in the AL in ERA. If you see a lot of people in blue and orange clothing hang themselves on streetlamps in New York in a couple of years, it's because Kazmir won the Cy Young. But we're not there yet.
- Giants (24) - EXTRA! EXTRA! BONDS WENT DEEP ENOUGH ALREADY! ESPN put it in big letters on their baseball page. Seriously, it's fun to have Bonds back, but, to quote Apollo 13, "I am sick and tired of the entire Western world knowing how [Barry Bonds'] kidneys are functioning!"
- Diamondbacks (28) - "If you wake up and don't want to smile, If it takes just a little while, Open your eyes and look at the day, You'll see things in a different way..." All those offensive prospects... just not yet.
- Pirates (27) - There's some potential here and a nice base of talent with Duke and Bay, but the supporting cast is pretty awful. Some ingenuity from the front office could go a LONG way this offseason... adding role players would help here, a lot.
- Rockies (29) - I did a radio show with my friend Craig (who is equally or more of a baseball fan as I am), and one of the things we talked about for a while was the Rockies. We both agreed that they could use this season to figure out which of the minor leaguers might have a future with the team... and Matt Holliday is our winner, so far, but his road stats are terrible (.231/.292/.395). It was a good idea, in principle, unlike the Royals...
- Royals (30) - ... who are hopeless, at this moment. We don't even have Alex Gordon to cheer about yet.