numberFire MLB Power Rankings: Week 2
We are now over two weeks into the 2014 MLB season, and everything is how we said it would be! The Red Sox are last in the AL East, Chase Utley leads the league in wOBA, and Chris Colabello has 3.5 times as many runs batted in as Miguel Cabrera. If only the rest of the world were as predictable as baseball.
You can find the same lack of coherence between preseason predictions and reality in numberFire's Power Rankings. Prior to the season, we ranked the top five teams based on their projected nERD ratings. If you want to check those out, you can click here. If you don't know what nERD is, click here. Or click both. Live on the edge.
Now that we've actually played some real games, things are just a teency bit different. Below are the top five teams in nERD, but you can also find the entire list by clicking here. Spoiler alert: the Mets are as bad on the computers as they are on the field.
1. Oakland Athletics
nERD: 2.03 | Playoffs: 80.3% | Champs: 9.0%
Is it a shock to anybody that a team that has a Sabermetric junkie as a GM leads the league in a category called "nERD?" Well, it shouldn't be.
The A's have three starters (Scott Kazmir, Sonny Gray, and Jesse Chavez) who have made three starts this year. The highest ERA of those three is Kazmir at a whopping 1.40. Kazmir also has the lowest K/9 of those three at 8.84. The team as a whole has the lowest ERA in the American League by a full 0.56 runs over the Seattle Mariners.
Although the offense hasn't really gotten going yet, it really hasn't had to. Josh Donaldson has a 16:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio, Josh Reddick has the sixth lowest WAR of any qualified player, and Coco Crisp has been dealing with a wrist injury. But the team is still 9-4. That's scary awesome.
2. Milwaukee Brewers
nERD: 1.63 | Playoffs: 23.8% | Champs: 0.7%
Again, just like we all thought! This is just further proof that a team can't truly succeed until it brings in a tots adorbs puppy to have around the ballpark.
The Brewers were actually at the top of this list up until their loss 4-0 loss to the Cardinals last night. I still stand behind my prediction from yesterday that the Brewers are legit playoff contenders.
Carlos Gomez is unconscious with a .438 wOBA. Yovani Gallardo has made more starts (3) than he has allowed runs (2). And Ryan Braun still hasn't fully hit his stride post-suspension. Once he gets back to form, Hank the Puppy's WAR is going to be unfathomable.
3. Washington Nationals
nERD: 1.61 | Playoffs: 91.6% | Champs: 9.2%
Are you looking for a fun stat? Here's one. Stephen Strasburg averages twice as many strikeouts per inning as the Minnesota Twins. Strikeouts are still fascist, and Strasburg lives in the land of democracy. Go figure.
Bryce Harper has a .406 wOBA through his first 51 plate appearances, validating the pre-season MVP predictions many had for him. A reduction of his strikeout rate (31.4 percent) and improved defense would do wonders for Harper, but the man is swinging a good stick so far.
It's not all sunshine and daisies in the nation's capital, though. Denard Span is on the concussion DL, which is a sentence I was really hoping to never type again. A head injury almost cost Span his career in 2011, and any allusion to another injury is frightening to say the least. Hopefully he's okay because he and the Nats have big things ahead of them.
4. Los Angeles Dodgers
nERD: 1.47 | Playoffs: 94.2% | Champs: 13.7%
If I'm ever cool enough to even pretend to have a celebrity hot tub (highly unlikely - stats are for losers), Dee Gordon is on the permanent invite list. In 11 games, Gordon has a .400/.457/.525 slash with nine stolen bases. Four of those came Sunday. He has only been caught once. Grab your snorkel and swim trunks, Dee. I promise this won't be weird.
When you add in the fact that Adrian Gonzalez is partying like it's 2009, you get a pretty ill team at the moment. Yasiel Puig hasn't replicated the magic from his rookie season yet, but he hasn't had to. This team is currently the computer's favorite to win the National League even without his gaudy numbers.
5. Atlanta Braves
nERD: 1.23 | Playoffs: 52.1% | Champs: 3.3%
Seeing the Braves at the top of the NL East only raises one question - how? They have had basically every injury possibly imaginable. I'm pretty sure their bat boy got typhoid and Homer has gangrene. They shouldn't be in the top five of the power rankings.
This is all due to the stupid-filthy pitching the Braves have shown so far this year. Yeah, I know. Shocking that the Braves would be good at pitching, right?
On March 20, 2014, I astutely predicted that Ervin Santana would be a complete flop in Atlanta. Now, through two starts, he has a 0.64 ERA, 10.93 K/9 and 1.29 BB/9. The depths of my own stupidity surprise even me sometimes.
For the Braves, it'll be interesting to see if they can maintain this hot start as the season continues, and keep pace with the other teams where the injury bug has been less of a buzzkill. But for now, this team is playing some quality baseball.
So, there are the computer's rankings. But what say you? Feel free to tweet us your thoughts on who should be higher or lower. Or if you have a suggestion for a system to determine the WAR of a mascot-puppy, let us know that, too. We stick to the hard-hitting analysis here at numberFire.