MLB Power Rankings Update: Week 14
Although the A's do still have the highest playoffs and World Series odds, they've also got two division rivals in the top five of our power rankings. No sweat, though, right?
There's more than just the A.L. West, though. Below is the top five in the numberFire Power Rankings, but you can see the whole list by clicking here.
For each team, we'll be talking about a couple of things. First, nERD is a numberFire-specific stat that stands for the expected run differential between that team and an average team at a neutral-site game. You can read more on nERD here. Playoffs is the odds that a team makes the playoffs, and championship is the odds they win the World Series. Duh. Just figured I'd explain it to be safe. And previous ranking is the ranking of the team in our previous edition of power rankings two weeks ago. Now let's get it rolling.
1. Oakland Athletics
nERD: 1.32 | Playoffs: 97.7% | Championship: 19.0% | Previous Ranking: 1
I stand by my assessment that the A's locked up the pennant with the trade, but it'll just be a bit tougher than that. They currently sit 3.5 games ahead of the Angels and seven games up on the Mariners, so if they keep playing like they have, they should keep the top spot on lock. And I don't see them falling off any time soon.
After the trade for Samardzija and Hammel, the A's now have five starting pitchers with a nERD of 1.86 or higher. That means their entire rotation is at worst 1.86 runs per game better than an average starting pitcher. I mean, Chris freaking Sale has a nERD of 1.81. How ign'ant is that?
I know I've mentioned the A's run differential in here before, but it's worth repeating because it's so dumb at this point. Their run differential is 140 runs through 89 games. That means that they have outscored opponents by an average of 1.57 runs per game. No other team has a ratio like that higher than 0.84 runs per game. Which team is that? The Angels, of course.
2. Los Angeles Angels
nERD: 1.11 | Playoffs: 78.7% | Championship: 6.2% | Previous Ranking: 2
They're 3-0 with a plus-14 run-differential in the three games since Oakland made their trade with the Cubs. If we expand that out, the Angels are 5-0 over their last five games, 7-1 over their last eight, and 14-3 in their last 17. They just love winning, mayne.
It's not as if the Angels are winning a bunch of piddly one-run games; they're slurping that offensive silly sauce across the board. They currently rank second in the league in runs scored, fourth in batting average, third in on-base percentage, fourth in slugging percentage, and third in weighted on-base average (wOBA). Oh, and they're also fourth in ERA, so they're not too bad there, either.
The only problem for the Angels has been their division. Right now, the Angels would own the lead in five of the six divisions; they just happen to reside in that sixth division. That's a round-about way of saying they have the second best record in the league, but concisement (that's def not a word) is overrated, brudduh.
3. Los Angeles Dodgers
nERD: 0.92 | Playoffs: 77.6% | Championship: 10.9% | Previous Ranking: 4
Dag gum numberFire with their West-Coast bias! Hipster loserz, foh sho.
You don't make up a 9.5-game deficit in 21 days without doing something right. The Dodgers are doing a lot of things right. Chief among them is sending players that are good at this baseball sport onto the field each day.
After 91 games, the Dodgers already have seven position players that have a WAR of 1.2 or higher. Four of their pitchers are above 1.0. The pitching staff has allowed three runs or less in 14 of the last 19 games. And the team is still getting better..
Over that stretch where the Dodgers caught the Giants, that was despite a horrendous slump by Yasiel Puig. From May 26th to June 23rd, Puig hit .245/.339/.340 with a .309 wOBA. Since then, he has bumped that up to .300/.364/.475 for a .369 to get sort of close to the production we had become used to. If he can hit where he has been of late and the pitching staff keeps doing their thaang, the Dodgers are going to make a serious run for the rest of the year.
4. Detroit Tigers
nERD: 0.51 | Playoffs: 84.3% | Championship: 15.5% | Previous Ranking: Not Ranked
The pre-season favorites are finally back in the top five. I was starting to get worried because I (not yet being enlightened to the mojo of the A's) had picked them to win the World Series prior to the season. The metrics say that's still not a bad bet with a 15.5 percent shot at winning it, but that doesn't mean I wasn't worried for a bit.
On June 18th, the Tigers lost their third consecutive game to the Kansas City Royals. The Motor City Kitties were back in full force. Since, then, though, somebody done lit a fire under their behinds.
Detroit proceeded to win its next seven games and 12 of the next 14, including a three-game sweep of the top-ranked A's. Yes, they have lost three straight since, but it's just the Rays' time of the year, so get up outta the way. They begin a two-game set with the Dodgers tonight and then have a four-gamer with the Royals to head into the All-Star break. If they can take care of business against Kansas City, they could head into the break up by more than five games. And we were worried. Pshaw.
5. Seattle Mariners
nERD: 0.46 | Playoffs: 42.3% | Championship: 1.7% | Previous Ranking: Not Ranked
This is one of those, "Where in the world did they come from?" situations. The Mariners came out of no-where to jump into the top five of our power rankings, and they're ascending the real-people rankings, too.
The Mariners are 12-4 over their last 16 games. That's grand, right? Well, on its face, yes. But the problem here is that they've gained a total of one game over that time because the A's are just destroyers of worlds. Since June 20th, the top three teams in the A.L. West are a combined 35-12, a .745 winning percentage. How do you make up ground when you're mired in the illest of the ill? The A.L. West is a cruel, cruel world, and we're all just witnessing it.