HomeTrending MLB NewsFanGraphs Power Rankings: April 8–14

FanGraphs Power Rankings: April 8–14

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What’s gotten into the Central divisions? Often an afterthought behind the big market clubs on either coast, it’s the Central teams in both leagues that are providing the most surprising starts, and most entertaining baseball, so far this season.

This season, we’ve revamped our power rankings. The old model wasn’t very reactive to the ups and downs of any given team’s performance throughout the season, and by September, it was giving far too much weight to a team’s full body of work without taking into account how the club had changed, improved, or declined since March. That’s why we’ve decided to build our power rankings model using a modified Elo rating system. If you’re familiar with chess rankings or FiveThirtyEight’s defunct sports section, you’ll know that Elo is an elegant solution that measures teams’ relative strength and is very reactive to recent performance.

To avoid overweighting recent results during the season, we weigh each team’s raw Elo rank using our coin flip playoff odds (specifically, we regress the playoff odds by 50% and weigh those against the raw Elo ranking, increasing in weight as the season progresses to a maximum of 25%). As the best and worst teams sort themselves out throughout the season, they’ll filter to the top and bottom of the rankings, while the exercise will remain reactive to hot streaks or cold snaps.

First up are the full rankings, presented in a sortable table. Below that, I’ve grouped the teams into tiers with comments on a handful of clubs. You’ll notice that the official ordinal rankings don’t always match the tiers — I’ve taken some editorial liberties when grouping teams together — but generally, the ordering is consistent. One thing to note: The playoff odds listed in the tables below are our standard Depth Charts odds, not the coin flip odds that are used in the ranking formula.

Complete Power Rankings

RankTeamRecordEloOpponent EloPlayoff OddsPower ScoreΔ
13Blue Jays8-81512137543.9%15104
16Red Sox9-71504148327.0%1503-7
30White Sox2-13136514970.0%1364-1

Tier 1 – The Best of the Best

TeamRecordEloOpponent EloPlayoff OddsPower Score

A dramatic ninth-inning comeback victory on Sunday salvaged a pretty poor week for the Braves. They lost their series to the Mets earlier in the week and were a strike away from losing their weekend series to the Marlins before Marcell Ozuna blasted the go-ahead home run. But the losses on the field pale in comparison to the loss of Spencer Strider, who underwent an internal brace procedure on his injured elbow that will sideline him for the entire season.

It’s a good thing Mookie Betts is playing like an early MVP frontrunner, because the Dodgers’ already thin starting rotation has been hit with yet another injury. This time it’s Bobby Miller, who was placed on the IL with a shoulder injury, though it doesn’t sound too severe. Fortunately for the Dodgers, reinforcements are on the horizon, as they should be getting Walker Buehler back from his rehab assignment within a week or two.

Tier 2 – On the Cusp of Greatness

TeamRecordEloOpponent EloPlayoff OddsPower Score

After a few weeks of additional minor league seasoning, the Orioles called up Jackson Holliday, the game’s top prospect, last Wednesday. His debut this season was inevitable, and it’s good that Baltimore recognized that their offense needed a boost sooner rather than later. It took him a while, but Holliday’s first big league hit sparked a rally that turned the tide in Sunday’s victory.

It’s still very early, but the most hotly contested division in baseball is the National League Central. The preseason projections didn’t have the Centrals’ five teams separated by all that much, and their respective ceilings weren’t thought to be all that high either. Well, after a few weeks of play, the Brewers hold the best record in the NL, the Pirates are hot on their heels, and the Cubs and Reds have looked solid as well. All four have won at least 60% of their games and boast a positive run differential — the NL Central is the only division with four teams that can claim both of those marks. Surprisingly, the Brewers is winning not by preventing runs, as has been their modus operandi in the recent past, but by leading the league in runs scored per game.

Tier 3 – Solid Contenders

TeamRecordEloOpponent EloPlayoff OddsPower Score
Blue Jays8-81512137543.9%1510

The Padres climbed back to .500 this week by winning their series against the Cubs and Dodgers. Because they’ve faced Los Angeles twice already this season, their “strength of schedule” — based on their average opponent Elo rank — is among the highest in baseball.

This past weekend’s series against the Rangers looks like it could be the early turning point for the Astros. They lost a slugfest on Friday, but scored seven runs in the seventh inning on Saturday to secure the win, and then blew out Texas on Sunday behind a pair of home runs from Jose Altuve. Justin Verlander is on the mend and could make his season debut this week, and it sounds like the Stros avoided the worst-case scenario with Framber Valdez’s elbow injury.

Tier 4 – The Melee

TeamRecordEloOpponent EloPlayoff OddsPower Score
Red Sox9-71504148327.0%1503

The Red Sox have cooled off after their excellent 7-3 west coast road trip to start the season. They were swept by the Orioles in their first home series early last week, though they managed a series win against the Angels over the weekend. A season-ending shoulder injury to Trevor Story and an elbow injury to Nick Pivetta have put a damper on Tyler O’Neill’s hot start and the better-than-expected starting rotation.

The Reds managed to keep pace in the NL Central with a sweep of the White Sox over the weekend, highlighted by a fantastic start from Nick Lodolo in his first appearance off the IL. Elly De La Cruz looks as electric as ever and Spencer Steer is proving that it doesn’t matter where he plays defense as long as he’s mashing.

The Royals cooled off a bit against the Mets over the weekend, but that came after they swept the Astros in three games at home earlier in the week. In that series, they outscored Houston by 20 runs. Of course, they followed up that offensive outburst by scoring just a single run in two of their games in New York, and Salvador Perez was forced to leave Sunday’s game with an injury, dousing their weekend with even more bad vibes.

Tier 5 – No Man’s Land

TeamRecordEloOpponent EloPlayoff OddsPower Score

The Jordan Hicks experiment seems to be working out so far. That’s good news for the Giants because Blake Snell has really struggled in his first two starts of the season. For those worrying about the reigning NL Cy Young winner, remember that he didn’t really pitch like an award-winner until mid-May last year. Jung Hoo Lee has been a little slow to acclimate to big league pitching, too. It all adds up to a team that just doesn’t seem like it’s firing on all cylinders yet.

Tier 6 – Hope Deferred

TeamRecordEloOpponent EloPlayoff OddsPower Score
White Sox2-13136514970.0%1364

With Dylan Cease traded away, and Luis Robert Jr., Eloy Jiménez, and Yoán Moncada all injured, there are astonishingly few compelling reasons to watch the White Sox. I doubt there are many people excited by the idea of Gavin Sheets, cleanup hitter (no matter how good he has looked to start the season). At least Garrett Crochet’s transition to the starting rotation has been successful so far — he’s looked pretty electric in his four starts, with nearly eight strikeouts for every walk he’s allowed.


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