To round out this inaugural year of the BtB Power Rankings, I'm going to do team-by-team reviews of each division, as seen through the lens of the BtB Power Rankings. First up, the division that dominated the rankings all year: The American League East. Below, W% = true winning percentage, pW% = pythagenpat winning percentage, and cW% = component W% (the basis of these rankings). You can see all of the data I will reference in the final Power Rankings post of the year.
1. New York Yankees. TQI = 0.643
I'm a dedicated Yankees hater, but that doesn't mean I can't admire this year'd edition of the Bronx Bombers. Their expected runs scored total is 100 higher than any other team in baseball. And their defense (pitching & fielding) is solidly average. The result is a extremely powerful club that dominated our power rankings over the final months of the season. The difference between the first first and second place teams in TQI is more than the difference between second and fifth. Overall, our estimated cW% matches up well to their true W%, despite the fact that pW% is a fair bit lower (0.594 vs. 0.620 cW% & 0.634 W%). They're not unstoppable, but they have to be favored to go all the way this year. Last night, they took the first step toward that goal.
See the rest of the teams below the jump!
2. Tampa Bay Rays. TQI = 0.601
The Rays were consistently at or near the top of the power rankings all season long, which is something that caused more than a few raised eyebrows. Early in the season, this occurred despite their having a sub-0.500 record! That they surged mid-season and became, at least for a time, a legitimate threat in the East was a modest vindication--but even so, we have a 0.519 W% team as our #2 overall team. Why? We're estimating that a team with the Rays' component stats should score 24 more runs than the Rays did as well as allow a whopping 53 fewer runs. Offensively, the Rays do rate as a below-average "clutchy" team by FanGraphs' clutch measures (-23 runs), which makes up to the offensive shortfall very well. On defense, though, I think they were just unlucky. ERA was very much in line with FIP & tERA, despite the Rays having an extremely good fielding team. Somehow, despite the good fielding, those extra runs were still scoring.
3. Boston Red Sox. TQI = 0.593
Despite missing out in our "on paper" wild card berth, the Red Sox are clear ly a deserving playoff team. Their sweep at the hands of the Angels is only surprising when you remember that anything can happen in a 5-game series. Our cW% is a tad below their actual winning percentage due to a 23 run disparity between actual and estimated runs allowed. tERA is actually substantially below the team's true ERA, which speaks to the Red Sox main weakness: only the Royals rated as a poorer-fielding team. FWIW, there's a large spread between the two fielding measures I use for non-catchers: -17 runs by bUZR, but -42 runs by THT's team stat. When there's a dispute, I tend to lean towards bUZR, as it has more info to work with...so perhaps we're underrating them?
6. Toronto Blue Jays. TQI = 0.554
The Blue Jays had an early lead in the BtB Power Rankings as well as their own division, but began drifting downward by mid-June. Ultimately, the team fell well short of 0.500, leading to the ouster of their general manager. But they never quite fell that far according to either their pythagorean record (pW%) or our cW%. As pW% and cW% are both PythagenPat-based methods, I wonder if fairly severe changes in team quality from one part of the season to the next aren't handled appropriately when you're just looking at aggregate runs scored & allowed. Or, perhaps, the Blue Jays just got unlucky in the end. I'm not sure what to think of them looking to next year. They're not an especially young team, and I'm skeptical about whether break-out players like Scutaro or Hill will repeat.
24. Baltimore Orioles. TQI = 0.439
The power rankings rate the Orioles as the worst team in the American League. There's good agreement across all of our different win "measures," from reality to cW%. Breaking them down is simple too: the Orioles were below average in hitting, pitching, and fielding. But I'll say this: if there's one team that stands to benefit the most from a proper strength of schedule adjustment, it's the Orioles. The Power Rankings think that the AL East contained the three best teams in baseball this year, and four of the top six. That's absurd, but those are the teams that the Orioles have to face in...what, half of their games thanks to the unbalanced schedule? Since their opposition is the toughest in baseball, their players' numbers suffer more than any team in baseball. So cut the poor birdies some slack.