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MLB 2019 Power Ranking: Mid-September

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The Oakland Athletics ascend to the top of the MLB Power Rankings as we head down the stretch

 

For the fourth straight period, my hometown Philadelphia Phillies find themselves at 14th overall in the 2019 MLB Power Rankings as we reach the stretch run in the middle of September.

The club also remains ranked in the 7th position among teams from the National League. Sitting at four games behind the 9th-ranked Chicago Cubs in the actual race for the final NL Wildcard playoff berth, the Phillies 2019 season is now officially on life support. They still have not won five games in a row all year long.

The Phillies embark on a three-city, 11-game road trip taking them to Atlanta (3), Cleveland (3) and Washington (5) leading up to a season-ending series at Citizens Bank Park against the Miami Marlins. The Fish have the worst record in the National League, but sport a winning 9-7 mark against the Phillies this season.

As stated each period, my own  feelings have no input into these MLB Power Rankings. Instead, each team’s position is all about actual performance: their results in the standings, as well as key statistical categories.

RANKINGS METHODOLOGY

My formula for compiling the rankings is always being researched to see if it can be improved upon.

Currently, that formula is made up of the following categories: winning percentage, runs-per-gameOPS against, and “Defensive runs saved” as measured at Fangraphs.

However, as the current season has unfolded, some teams have improved dramatically while others have slipped. So, here in September, overall winning percentage has been replaced by each team’s win percentage over their most recent 30 games.

The ‘Win-Loss’ component reflects each team’s ability to actually win ball games. ‘OPS against’ reflects a pitching staff’s ability to control the game and limit damage.

The runs-per-game component acknowledges that teams play various numbers of games as of the time of each ranking. For example, it wouldn’t be fair to consider a club that had scored 100 runs over 50 games as effective as a club who scored 100 runs over just 45 games.

Each club’s place in the four component categories gets them assigned a 1-30 numerical value. Those are added up to determine a final ranking points total.

Where there are any ties, those are broken using each team’s winning percentage over the last 30, and then by their current overall winning percentage since, in the end, winning is what it’s all about.

2019 SEPTEMBER 16 –  MLB RANKINGS

The Oakland Athletics have made a dramatic surge up the Power Rankings over the course of the summer. At 8th place in the first rankings back on June 1, Oakland fell to 12th on June 15.

But then by July 1, the A’s had risen to become the 5th-ranked ball club. They have remained in the top five ever since, finishing as runners-up to the Houston Astros on Labor Day.

Houston ranked first back on both June 15 and July 1, then returned to the top on Labor Day, and now flip places with Oakland.

The Los Angeles Dodgers were the National League’s top team for most of the summer. But on Labor Day they were passed by the Atlanta Braves. Now, both Atlanta and the red-hot Saint Louis Cardinals are ahead of the Dodgers among the NL ball clubs.

The Dodgers, however, have clinched their seventh consecutive NL West Division crown. The following are the “Magic Number” for each team to clinch their respective division title:

AL East: New York – 3, AL Central: Minnesota – 9, AL West: Houston – 5, NL East: Atlanta – 4, NL Central: Saint Louis – 12. Teams have between 11 and 13 games remaining on their 2019 regular season schedules.

In addition, each league’s Wildcard race features three teams within three games of one another in the loss column in the battle for two available spots. In the AL those are Oakland (60), Tampa Bay (62) and Cleveland (63), while in the NL the teams are Washington (66), Chicago (68) and Milwaukee (69).

In parentheses below are each team’s total ranking points this period, as well as their place in the last Power Rankings back on Labor Day.

  1. Oakland Athletics (15-2)
  2. Houston Astros (23-1)
  3. Atlanta Braves (28-3)
  4. Saint Louis Cardinals (33-6)
  5. Minnesota Twins (33-5)
  6. Los Angeles Dodgers (35-4)
  7. Washington Nationals (37-7)
  8. Tampa Bay Rays (37-11)
  9. Chicago Cubs (37-12)
  10. New York Yankees (39-9)
  11. Boston Red Sox (42-13)
  12. Cleveland Indians (42-10)
  13. Arizona Diamondbacks (42-8)
  14. Philadelphia Phillies (52-14)
  15. Milwaukee Brewers (65-19)
  16. New York Mets (65-15)
  17. San Diego Padres (68-16)
  18. Los Angeles Angels (70-17)
  19. Cincinnati Reds (71-18)
  20. Texas Rangers (74-20)
  21. San Francisco Giants (74-21)
  22. Kansas City Royals (80-23)
  23. Colorado Rockies (81-24)
  24. Pittsburgh Pirates (89-22)
  25. Seattle Mariners (90-28)
  26. Toronto Blue Jays (95-25)
  27. Miami Marlins (95-26)
  28. Chicago White Sox (99-27)
  29. Baltimore Orioles (107-29)
  30. Detroit Tigers (113-30)

The next MLB Power Rankings will be the final for the 2019 regular season. They will be released here following the final game of the regular season.

However, if there are any play-in games for a Wildcard berth, the final rankings will include and be released following any such game(s) played.

MLB 2019 Power Rankings: Minnesota Twins take over the top spot

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The Minnesota Twins outfielders celebrate another victory

The Philadelphia Phillies have sat pretty much right in the middle of the MLB Power Rankings since I began producing them for 2019.

From June 1 (15th), through June 15 (14th) and on to July 1, when they ranked in the #18 slot the last time around, the rankings have not revealed much movement at all.
The Phillies currently sit in the #16 spot, buoyed by their defensive play, which ranks fourth in all of baseball. With a middling (15th) offense, what is truly weighing the club down and keeping them from seriously competing is their 25th ranked pitching staff.
As always, my own personal feelings have nothing to do with the MLB Power Rankings published here at Phillies Nation. Instead, the rank is all about actual results and statistical performances.
There is never any subjectivity on my part. I always take key statistics and rank each of the 30 teams in Major League baseball on their ability to actually win ball games as well as their performance on offense, on the pitching mound, and in the field.
The MLB Power Rankings are going to be updated at Phillies Nation on roughly the 1st and 15th of the month for the remainder of the regular season using the following methodology.

RANKINGS METHODOLOGY

Introduced and then upgraded during the course of last season, my formula for compiling the rankings is always being researched to see if it can be improved upon. That formula carries two categories over from the 2018 season: winning percentage and OPS against. The first is simple, reflecting each team’s ability to actually win ball games. The second reflects a pitching staff’s ability to control damage.
As of my first ranking in this 2019 season, runs-per-game replaced simple “runs scored” in order to get the offensive component. This acknowledged the fact that teams play various numbers of games as of the time of each ranking. It wouldn’t be fair to consider a club that had scored 100 runs over 50 games as effective as a club who scored 100 runs over just 45 games.
There has now been a new update to the methodology. The new defensive metric will be the “Defensive runs saved” as measured at Fangraphs, replacing simple “fielding percentage” to gauge a team’s defensive competence.
I then assign each of those component category team rankings a 1-30 numerical value and simply add those values up to determine an overall final ratings score. Where there was a tie, it is broken by win-loss percentage, then by runs-per-game, followed by pitching OPS.

2019 JULY 15 –  MLB RANKINGS

The new team at the top of the rankings are the Minnesota Twins, who were my Spotlight Team accompanying the June 1 rankings piece. The Twins are MLB’s surprise team this season. Many predicted they would be a playoff contender. I had them finishing second in the AL Central Division in my own 2019 MLB preview and predictions back in late March.
The hot risers are the Cleveland Indians, who have moved into a tie for an AL Wildcard playoff slot, and the Los Angeles Angels, who have rallied together in the wake of the tragic sudden death of starting pitcher Tyler Skaggs to win seven of their last 10 games to move back over the .500 mark.
On the down side, the Colorado Rockies have lost nine of 11, fallen below the .500 mark, and plummeted eight spots in the rankings from the start of July. The Milwaukee Brewers have lost eight of 10 to drop out of first place in the NL Central. The Brew Crew also have slipped in every one of my Power Rankings, a troubling sign for a team still sitting in contention for both that division crown and an NL Wildcard berth.
In parentheses are the team’s positions from the June 1, June 15 and July 1 rankings, shown in that order from left to right.
  1. Minnesota Twins (2-2-3)
  2. Los Angeles Dodgers (1-3-2)
  3. Oakland Athletics (8-12-5)
  4. Tampa Bay Rays (4-4-4)
  5. Houston Astros (3-1-1)
  6. New York Yankees (5-8-9)
  7. Chicago Cubs (10-13-11)
  8. Boston Red Sox (6-6-10)
  9. Arizona Diamondbacks (9-5-6)
  10. Cleveland Indians (18-18-15)
  11. Los Angeles Angels (19-17-19)
  12. Atlanta Braves (12-9-7)
  13. Washington Nationals (24-19-13)
  14. Saint Louis Cardinals (14-15-14)
  15. Texas Rangers (16-11-8)
  16. Philadelphia Phillies (15-14-18)
  17. San Diego Padres (17-20-20)
  18. Cincinnati Reds (13-16-17)
  19. Milwaukee Brewers (7-10-16)
  20. Colorado Rockies (11-7-12)
  21. San Francisco Giants (29-27-25)
  22. Kansas City Royals (21-21-22)
  23. Miami Marlins (23-26-21)
  24. Pittsburgh Pirates (20-25-23)
  25. New York Mets (22-23-24)
  26. Seattle Mariners (26-22-27)
  27. Chicago White Sox (25-24-28)
  28. Toronto Blue Jays (28-28-26)
  29. Detroit Tigers (27-29-29)
  30. Baltimore Orioles (30-30-30)

SPOTLIGHT TEAM: OAKLAND ATHLETICS

Previous spotlight teams: Minnesota (6/1), Atlanta (6/15), Texas (7/1)
The Oakland Athletics are currently tied for the second American League Wildcard playoff berth with a 53-41 record, and are five games behind the first-place Houston Astros in the AL West Division race.
After three straight last place finishes, the A’s rose to become a 97-win team a year ago. They were bounced out of the AL Wildcard Game by the New York Yankees in a 7-2 defeat in the Bronx.

Bob Melvin has been at the helm in Oakland since the 2011 season.(Keith Allison)
Managed by Bob Melvin, now in his ninth season at the helm (687-640), the A’s are a team without a true weakness. They show up at 4th in my pitching category, 6th on defense, and as the 10th-ranked offensive attack. It all adds up to the 8th-best record in Major League Baseball and their current playoff contending status.
The A’s offensive attack is led by one of the top young stars in the game today, Matt Chapman. The 26-year-old third baseman made his first AL All-Star team this year after finishing 7th in AL MVP voting a year ago during a season in which he won a Gold Glove at the hot corner.
Other key players are 24-year-old center fielder Ramon Laureano, 25-year-old first baseman Matt Olson, 28-year-old shortstop Marcus Semien, and veteran DH Khris Davis.
On the mound, 34-year-old veteran right-hander Mike Fiers tossed his second career no-hitter earlier this season and is having a strong overall year. Righty Chris Bassitt and lefty Brett Anderson have also been solid in a rotation that could get better in September with the return of talented 26-year-old right-hander Frankie Montas. He was lost to an 80-game PED suspension.
Liam Hendricks has taken over the closer role from Blake Treinen and proven lights out with a 1.21 ERA, 2.06 FIP, 1.000 WHIP and 35 hits allowed over 52 innings across 44 games. He has registered a half-dozen saves in the game-end role with a 65/17 K:BB ratio. A trio of veterans in right-handers Joakim Soria and Yusmeiro Petit and southpaw Ryan Buchter have been strong in setup roles.
The A’s are typically little known by many baseball fans. But team president Billy Beane of “Moneyball” fame has helped the organization put together another legitimate playoff contender on the cheap. They will be a difficult out for any opponent in a one-game Wildcard match-up, should they get there again.
Originally published at Phillies Nation as 2019 MLB Power Ranking: July 15

MLB 2019 Power Rankings: Astros, Dodgers remain at the top of each league as July opens

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Texas Rangers have been a surprise AL contender in 2019

This is a Philadelphia Phillies site, and so the team’s place on my MLB Power Rankings always needs to be highlighted. When I debuted the 2019 rankings on June 1, there were fans upset that the first-place club was in the #15 slot.

By the June 15 rankings, the Phillies had moved up a spot to #14, although by then the team had dropped to second place. Still, I heard complaints from fans who believed the club should be ranked higher.
Maybe now they can admit that the rankings were on to something? The Phillies have now slipped to the #18 spot. They have the 12th-best record in MLB overall, and are buoyed by their defense, tied for 8th in the game. But their hitting attack has been mediocre (15th) and they are seriously weighted down by a pitching staff rated just 25th in baseball.
Fans are allowed to be unrealistic about their team based on pure emotion. My own personal feelings have nothing to do with the MLB Power Rankings published here at Phillies Nation. Instead, it’s all about each team’s actual results and statistical performances.
There is never any subjectivity on my part. I take key statistics and rank each of the 30 teams in Major League baseball on their ability to actually win ball games as well as their performance on offense, on the pitching mound, and in the field.
The MLB Power Rankings will be updated here at Phillies Nation on the 1st and 15th of the month for the remainder of the regular season using the following methodology.

RANKINGS METHODOLOGY

Introduced and then upgraded during the course of last season, my formula for compiling the rankings received another tweak to begin this year. By the end of 2018, I was researching each of the 30 MLB teams current position in the four categories of winning percentageruns scoredpitching OPS, and fielding percentage.
This year, runs-per-game has replaced that simple “runs scored” category in order to get the offensive component. I then assign each of those component category team rankings a 1-30 value and simply add those values up to determine an overall final ratings score. Where there was a tie, it is broken by win-loss percentage, then by runs-per-game, followed by pitching OPS.

2019 JULY 1 –  MLB RANKINGS

The Houston Astros repeat at the top of the Power Rankings. But the top four teams remain the same, just with a slight juggling of the order.
The hot risers are the Washington Nationals, who have shot up 11 places since June 1. In the American League, the Texas Rangers are up again, this time from 11 to 8 after going from 16 to 11 in the June 15 rankings. And the Oakland A’s burst up from 12 to 5 this time around.
On the down side, the Milwaukee Brewers have dropped from the top ten down to 16. Meanwhile, the San Diego Padres, who like the Phillies landed a huge off-season free agent in Manny Machado, have been struggling along in the lower half. The Friars are 20th for a second straight ranking.
In parentheses are the team’s positions from the June 1 and June 15 rankings, shown in that order from left to right.
  1. Houston Astros (3-1)
  2. Los Angeles Dodgers (1-3)
  3. Minnesota Twins (2-2)
  4. Tampa Bay Rays (4-4)
  5. Oakland Athletics (8-12)
  6. Arizona Diamondbacks (9-5)
  7. Atlanta Braves (12-9)
  8. Texas Rangers (16-11)
  9. New York Yankees (5-8)
  10. Boston Red Sox (6-6)
  11. Chicago Cubs (10-13)
  12. Colorado Rockies (11-7)
  13. Washington Nationals (24-19)
  14. Saint Louis Cardinals (14-15)
  15. Cleveland Indians (18-18)
  16. Milwaukee Brewers (7-10)
  17. Cincinnati Reds (13-16)
  18. Philadelphia Phillies (15-14)
  19. Los Angeles Angels (19-17)
  20. San Diego Padres (17-20)
  21. Miami Marlins (23-26)
  22. Kansas City Royals (21-21)
  23. Pittsburgh Pirates (20-25)
  24. New York Mets (22-23)
  25. San Francisco Giants (29-27)
  26. Toronto Blue Jays (28-28)
  27. Seattle Mariners (26-22)
  28. Chicago White Sox (25-24)
  29. Detroit Tigers (27-29)
  30. Baltimore Orioles (30-30)

SPOTLIGHT TEAM: TEXAS RANGERS

Few people had the Texas Rangers as a serious contender entering the 2019 Major League Baseball season. But the Rangers have bashed the ball around the yard, ranking 5th in runs-per-game, and have also played solid defensively.
Unfortunately for the Rangers they play in the same division, the American League West, as the top team in our rankings, the Houston Astros. As of today, the Rangers trail their Texas rivals by six games in the loss column. The Rangers are tied with the Cleveland Indians in the loss column in the race for the second AL Wildcard playoff berth.
The big bats in the Texas attack have been a trio of hitters who have rotated the left field and designated hitter positions: Joey GalloShin-Soo Choo, and a rejuvenated Hunter Pence. Shortstop Elvis Andrus is also enjoying a strong first half. Both Gallo and Pence, who is currently on the IL, were selected for the AL squad in the 2019 All-Star Game.
What has held Texas back is their pitching staff, which factored at just 23rd in the rankings category of OPS-against. One bright spot has been AlLAll-Star Mike Minor, a 31-year-old left-hander who could become a big trade chip should Texas fall out of the playoff race later this month.
Credit first-year manager Chris Woodward for keeping the team believing in themselves. Now, does GM Jon Daniels believe enough to go out and try to bolster that rotation for a genuine playoff run? Or will the Rangers actually become sellers as that July 31 trade deadline approaches?
(Previous spotlight teams: June 1 – Minnesota Twins , June 15 – Atlanta Braves)
Originally published at Phillies Nation as “2019 MLB Power Rankings: July 1

Labor Day 2017 MLB Power Rankings

For a third consecutive month, the Los Angeles Dodgers sit at the top of the MLB Power Rankings. The Dodgers hold an 11.5 game lead on their nearest pursuers in all of baseball.
Following games of Friday, September 1, the Dodgers ‘Magic Number’ is down to just 13 in order to clinch the NL West Division crown. It will be the franchise’ fifth division title in a row, their seventh in the last decade.
The Washington Nationals have established themselves as the second-best club in the National League. The Nats ‘Magic Number’ is now down to only 14 for their second straight NL East crown, their fourth in the past six seasons.
The defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs have now run off five straight wins to open up a 3.5 game lead in the NL Central. However, the Milwaukee Brewers have won three in a row, and remain tough to shake for the Cubbies.
In the NL Wildcard race, what was once a two-horse race between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies has become a bit more interesting over the last month. The Brew Crew are now just 1.5 games back of the Rockies, with the Cards just four back.

DIVISION LEADERS SOLID IN JUNIOR CIRCUIT

Over in the American League, the Houston Astros continue to hold the best overall record. However, the Cleveland Indians have been on the warpath over the last month. The Tribe have now moved within 2.5 of the Astros in the race for the league’s top overall mark. The Boston Red Sox are just four games out in that race.
The Astros now lead by a dozen games in the AL West. Their ‘Magic Number’ is down to 17 entering Saturday action. The Indians have pulled away to an eight-game cushion in the AL Central. The Bosox currently hold a 5.5 game lead over their historic rivals, the New York Yankees, in the AL East Division.

AL WILD WILDCARD RACE

Just as a month ago, the American League Wildcard race is the most exciting in baseball. There are currently eight teams within 3.5 games of one another in the battle for the two available playoff berths.
The Yankees sit on top of that race, with the Minnesota Twins holding the second berth into Saturday games. Both the Baltimore Orioles and Los Angeles Angels are just 1.5 games behind the Twins. The Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers are just three games out, while the Seattle Mariners and Kansas City Royals are only 3.5 games off the pace.

12 OUT, 18 IN RACE FOR POSTSEASON POSITIONS

At this point, I’m prepared to rule a dozen teams out of the race for any type of postseason consideration. But the other 18 clubs are in for a dramatic final few weeks to the regular season. For 10 survivors of the six-month long battle, the drama will continue into October.
With the Dodgers still planted at the top, let’s take a look at where each of the 30 teams of Major League Baseball rank as of this Labor Day Weekend in 2017.

Dodgers remain atop 2017 MLB Power Rankings

Dodgers add Yu Darvish to help end 30-year title drought
My first MLB Power Ranking in early June found the Houston Astros of the American League at the top. In early July, the Los Angeles Dodgers of the National League had taken over the top spot.
Now in early August those two ball clubs have clearly established themselves as still the top teams in their respective leagues. They were 1-2 overall a month ago, and they remain in those positions today.
Los Angeles has captured the NL West Division crown in six of the last nine years and the last four straight. But the Dodgers have not fared well in the postseason. The club has not even reached the World Series in nearly three decades, since last winning the Fall Classic back in 1988.
As the July 31 trade deadline approached, GM Farhan Zaidi took steps to give his ball club a better chance this coming October. Zaidi did so by acquiring starting pitcher Yu Darvish and lefty relievers Tony Watson and Tony Cingrani to plug holes in the LA pitching staff.

HOUSTON CONTINUES TO DOMINATE IN AL

Meanwhile over in the AL, Houston GM Jeff Luhnow also brought in some help. He acquired lefty Francisco Liriano, who has been a starting pitcher for much of his career, to bolster the Astros bullpen.
Houston has emerged over the last three seasons as one of the top teams in baseball, but has reached the postseason just once. Still a young team on the upswing, the Astros are looking to capture their first AL West Division crown since the 2001 campaign. They remain one of just eight MLB teams to never win the World Series.
Following games of Saturday, August 6, the Dodgers lead the NL West by 14.5 games. Just 15-14 after the first month of play, manager Dave Roberts‘ squad has fashioned a ridiculous 63-18 records since.
Manager A.J. Hinch and his Astros shuffled out of the gates to a 4-4 start, but have gone 66-36 ever since. Houston also leads their division, the NL West, by that same 14.5 game margin that the Dodgers have built.

FOCUS TURNS FROM TRADES TO PENNANT RACES

While teams can still make deals during the month of August for players who have cleared waivers, that July 31 deadline can cause anxiety, even for contenders.
“I think July has turned into month where everybody pays attention to outside the clubhouse,” said Hinch per Tony DeMarco of Fanrag Sports. “Now that this has passed, I’m glad we can get back to focusing on who’s here, and what lies ahead.’’
Roberts team has been so good that they have become the team that all others need to measure themselves against this season. It appears that come October, the NL pennant will have to go through Los Angeles.
“We’ve got no problem being a target,” said Roberts per Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports. “And I think our record speaks for itself.”
His team’s record does indeed speak for itself. That 78-32 record and .709 winning percentage mark the Dodgers as the best team in baseball as we move through the dog days of summer. And once again, they are at the top of my MLB Power Ranking.
Now, after the Dodgers and Astros, where do the rest of Major League Baseball’s 28 teams rank? Who might emerge to challenge these two front-runners by the time the September ranking is released? Let’s take a look.