HomeTrending MLB NewsFanGraphs Power Rankings: April 29–May 5

FanGraphs Power Rankings: April 29–May 5

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There were a ton of fascinating matchups last week — Dodgers-Braves, Brewers-Cubs, and Orioles-Yankees — and the victors of those series set the tone for what could be very interesting playoff races over the next few months.

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 coinflip 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 some of the 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.

All power rankings stats, including team records, are updated through Sunday’s games. The information included in the comments are current as of Tuesday morning.

Complete Power Rankings

RankTeamRecordEloOpponent EloPlayoff OddsPower ScoreΔ
12Red Sox19-161518151028.1%1515-2
18Blue Jays16-191490151024.8%1484-3
29White Sox8-26137115080.0%13650

Tier 1 – The Best of the Best

TeamRecordEloOpponent EloPlayoff OddsPower Score

In a battle for the top spot in these rankings between the Braves and the Dodgers, Los Angeles emerged victorious in a three-game sweep last weekend. Without having to split his attention between pitching and hitting, Shohei Ohtani is in the midst of his best offensive season, with an astonishing .484 wOBA (219 wRC+) that leads all of baseball by a wide margin. He contributed three home runs in that big weekend series and hit another on Monday night, his third game in a row with a dinger.

For Atlanta, it was a pretty bad week overall. Before getting swept, the Braves lost a tight series to the Mariners and have now fallen out of the top spot in the National League. Looking up at the Phillies in the NL East is unfamiliar territory for them.

Tier 2 – On the Cusp of Greatness

TeamRecordEloOpponent EloPlayoff OddsPower Score

Speaking of the Phillies, they continued their hot streak with a series victory over the Angels last week and a four-game sweep of the Giants that wrapped up Monday afternoon. They’ve now won 16 of their last 20 games and possess the best record and third-best run differential in the majors. Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola are leading a group of starters that has been the league’s most valuable rotation (5.1 WAR) thanks to the fantastic contributions of Ranger Suárez and Spencer Turnbull. Bryce Harper has improved his play at first base in his first full season at the position and has continued to lead the offense. The only concern is the hamstring injury that shortstop Trea Turner suffered last weekend; that injury will keep him sidelined for more than a month.

Just like in the National League, two of the top teams in the American League met in a big series last week. The Orioles took three of four from the Yankees and then went to Cincinnati and swept the Reds for good measure. Baltimore might be running out of lineup spots to fit all its young talent, but that’s not exactly a bad thing. On the pitching side, Kyle Bradish and John Means both made their season debuts last week, and each start went swimmingly. Also encouraging is that Grayson Rodriguez’s injury does not appear to be serious. The O’s placed him on the 15-day injured list with right shoulder inflammation following his April 29 start, but he has already resumed his throwing program. It’s unclear whether he’ll need to make minor league rehab assignment, but it looks like he will be back not long after he is eligible to return. The O’s are really good now, but a fully healthy rotation — with Bradish, Means, and Rodriguez slotting in behind ace Corbin Burnes, plus either Cole Irvin or Dean Kremer — would be a big boost as they battle for the AL crown.

Tier 3 – Solid Contenders

TeamRecordEloOpponent EloPlayoff OddsPower Score

The Guardians slipped a bit last week, losing back-to-back series to the Braves and Astros before taking two of three from the Angels over the weekend. Cleveland finally called up Kyle Manzardo to reinforce its offense, but that move came because Steven Kwan hit the IL with a hamstring injury.

The Mariners and Twins have been two of the hottest teams in the AL recently. Despite a lackluster lineup, Seattle’s pitching staff has carried the team to six straight series victories, most recently against the Astros over the weekend. The Mariners’ streak of consecutive games with a starting pitcher allowing no more than two earned runs was snapped Sunday, at 21 games, one short of tying the major league record. Meanwhile, Minnesota had a streak of its own end Sunday, when it finally lost a game after 12 straight wins. Over the last two weeks, its offense has gotten its mojo back … thanks to a sausage? These two clubs began a four-game matchup with each other on Monday, with the Twins taking the first game, 3-1.

The top two teams in the NL Central played each other over the weekend at Wrigley Field, with the Cubs winning two of the three games against the Brewers to pull into a dead heat for first place in the division. Chicago is getting healthy at just the right time too; Justin Steele was activated off the IL on Monday and Cody Bellinger is expected back at some point during the team’s current three-game set with the Padres.

Tier 4 – The Melee

TeamRecordEloOpponent EloPlayoff OddsPower Score
Red Sox19-161518151028.1%1515

This tier is a little smaller this week, but it includes all the teams that are still straddling that line between competing and retooling. The Royals wrapped up the first month of the season with a franchise-best 17 wins in April, but their bullpen that had been so good coughed up a lead on Sunday to lose a series against the Rangers. The Tigers were swept by the Yankees in the Bronx over the weekend. Meanwhile, with their sweep of the Mets, the Rays finally seem to have bounced back after their debacle against the lowly White Sox two weekends ago.

The Red Sox have managed to stick around in the competitive AL East thanks something nobody could have expected when the season began: a superb rotation that leads the majors in ERA (2.10) and FIP (3.17) and ranks second with 4.3 WAR. Boston’s injured list is littered with big names, but the team is getting contributions on offense from lesser-known guys Wilyer Abreu and Connor Wong.

Unsurprisingly, the Padres made the first blockbuster move of the regular season when they traded for Luis Arraez on Friday night, and he’s already provided a spark for the offense, collecting five hits in his first three games with his new club. Because the rest of the NL West hasn’t been as competitive as expected — San Diego took two of three from the Diamondbacks last weekend, further burying Arizona in the standings — the Padres right now look like the team behind the Dodgers with the most staying power. Getting Arraez integrated into the lineup in early May instead of late June or July gives San Diego that much more time to make its push for the postseason.

Tier 5 – Waiting for Launch

TeamRecordEloOpponent EloPlayoff OddsPower Score
Blue Jays16-191490151024.8%1484

This tier grew a little larger this week as so many of these teams have continued to disappoint. The Blue Jays, Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Giants, and Reds all lost both of their series last week, and it’s getting close to crunch time if these teams are going to turn things around.

The Astros managed a series win against the Guardians before losing their weekend set with the Mariners. Josh Hader, Houston’s big offseason acquisition, suffered another loss on Sunday, his third of the season to go along with an ERA that’s now over six. Houston’s offense has been good for the most part, but the team took drastic action when it demoted the struggling Jose Abreu to Triple-A to address one of its weak links. (Yes, the 37-year-old who won the 2014 AL Rookie of the Year and 2020 AL MVP could still be optioned.) The Astros surely won’t do the same with Alex Bregman, but his struggles at the plate have been pronounced as well.

And then there’s the plucky A’s. They had a six-game win streak snapped on Sunday and then their vaunted bullpen, one of the biggest reasons why they’ve overachieved this season, blew a lead against the Rangers on Monday. Oakland — yes, still Oakland — is getting contributions from a mix of veterans, journeymen, and prospects. That doesn’t necessarily bode well for the team moving forward, but it’s certainly fun to see the A’s surprise everyone in their final season in the East Bay.

Tier 6 – Hope Deferred

TeamRecordEloOpponent EloPlayoff OddsPower Score
White Sox8-26137115080.0%1365

The Nationals climbed their way to .500 with a sweep of the Marlins two weekends ago and managed to maintain that record with a series win over the Blue Jays last weekend. Nick Senzel and Jesse Winker are both finally healthy and contributing, Luis García Jr. looks like he’s finally breaking out, and MacKenzie Gore is leading a starting rotation that’s been much better than anticipated.

As if the Angels didn’t already have enough problems, Mike Trout tore his meniscus in his knee and will be sidelined for the majority of this season. That’s a major bummer for an organization that’s been beleaguered by mediocrity for far too long.


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