MLB Power Rankings Update: Week 18
Do you hear that? That, my friends, is the sound of all of the frightened baseball fans emerging from their crawl spaces after the bomb-fest that was the MLB trade deadline. The sonic boom unleashed tremors that shook up the shape of basically every race across the league.
Now, barring injury and some waiver trades, rosters are pretty much set for the stretch run. At the same time, there's still plenty of time for changes at the top of the standings, especially when you consider how tight the standings are. These power rankings can help project who will emerge victorious from these conglomerations of coolness.
In order to rank the teams, we'll be using numberFire's nERD statistic. A nERD of 1.22 means that the team is 1.22 runs per game better than a league-average team. You can read more about that by click here.
I'll also be showing the "Playoffs" and "Championship" odds for each of the teams. This is what the algorithms have calculated to be the odds that the team will make the playoffs and win the World Series, respectively. Previous ranking shows where the team ranked in our last edition of the power rankings from July 9th. You can also check out the full numberFire Power Rankings by clicking here. Doing so is not recommended for Rangers or Rockies fans, but highly recommended for fans of schadenfreude. Now, let's get to the standings.
1. Oakland Athletics
nERD: 1.18 | Playoffs: 99.7% | Champs: 19.2% | Previous Ranking: 1
Considering some dummy (me) wrote that the A's won the pennant on July 4th, the Jon Lester trade would make them seem like a video-game team with fair trades turned off. I think it gives the A's the best rotation in baseball, even after the David Price trade. The algorithms don't seem to disagree too vehemently, giving the A's the best shot to win the World Series at 19.2 percent.
The issue for the Yoenis Cespedes-less Athletics would obviously be the stick work. One one hand, the team is still third in the league in runs scored since the All-Star break. On the other, if we shorten that time-frame a bit, the A's rank only ninth in the A.L. in weighted on-base average (wOBA) over the last 14 days. This is even with Josh Reddick going ign'ant over those games, which he certainly can't sustain. It may be time to worry just a smidge.
Then there's that Sonny Gray guy, who doesn't exactly demand a whole ton of offense. The last time he allowed more than one earned run in a game, the Tampa Bay Rays were 15 games below .500, the Brewers had a 6.5 game lead in the Central, and the Boston Red Sox were still pretending to have hope. In his six starts since, he has allowed five total earned runs for a 1.07 ERA. And he still found a way to lose Friday because the offense dropped a deuce right on home plate. #KillTheWin. Even the A's staff occasionally needs some support, and they'll especially need it if they're facing the Tigers' offense in the post-season.
2. Los Angeles Angels
nERD: 1.03 | Playoffs: 99.0% | Champs: 11.9% | Previous Ranking: 3
The walk-up song for every single batter in the Angels' line-up should be the Jaws theme music. They're like these creepy predators that have been tracking and stalking the A's for the last month. Even though they should be able to make the playoffs without winning the division, they have got those A's square in the cross-hairs.
Since the start of June, Calhoun has sneakily been a bit of a beast. He's hitting .302/.360/.493 with a .374 wOBA. This breakout has coincided with the surge of the Angels. At the start of June, they were just four games above .500 and 4.5 games behind Oakland. Since, they are 19 games above .500, and they have trimmed Oakland's lead to just one game. If they could get Hamilton and Pujols on Calhoun's level, they'd be in business, baby.
3. Los Angeles Dodgers
nERD: 0.71 | Playoffs: 93.6% | Champs: 13.3% | Previous Ranking: 3
The Dodgers are starting to look like the run-away best team in the National League. They are the only team with a playoff percentage above 90, and they are the only team with a World Series percentage above 10.1. The only other team that comes close to those totals would be your Washington Nationals, who also have the highest run differential in the N.L.
I've already decided that I'm going all-in on the Clayton Kershaw for MVP campaign. Like I mentioned, I'm a huge #KillTheWin guy, but the Dodgers as a team are holymegasugarrushbatman awesome when he's on the bump. They haven't lost a game that Kershaw has started since May 28th. Over those 11 starts, opponents have scored three runs twice, two runs once, one run thrice, and zero runs five times. The Dodgers have a .824 winning percentage in games Kershaw starts; that number is .510 when anyone else starts. I don't care if he plays in one-fifth of the games or one-fiftieth, that sounds like an MVP to me.
4. Tampa Bay Rays
nERD: 0.48 | Playoffs: 7.2% | Champs: 0.7% | Previous Ranking: Not Ranked
It hurts so ridiculously much to see the Rays here. They had worked so long to climb their way back into the race, and now staying there without their ace will be nearly impossible.
The immediate reaction to the Price trade was that the Rays were giving up and didn't receive enough in return. I thought Gabe Kapller of Fox Sports wrote a wonderful counterpoint to that contention. Gabe essentially wrote that the Rays' track record should instill trust that they will get the best out of each trade. Sure, it wasn't the haul they got for James Shields, but it's not as if Tampa'd trade the face of its franchise for a scrap heap.
The question now becomes which situation would be more painful for Rays fans: to fall out of the race without Price or to make it to the playoffs only to be eliminated early? The former would be an anti-climactic ending to what would have been one of the greatest comebacks ever. The latter would present the "What if?" questions for the indefinite future.
5. Seattle Mariners
nERD: 0.45 | Playoffs: 23.5% | Champs: 1.0% | Previous Ranking: 5
Things haven't exactly gone as planned for Seattle lately. They're 6-10 since the All-Star break and are the second worst in the A.L. in wOBA, batting average and on-base percentage. That's not normally a good thing.
The team traded for Kendrys Morales in an attempt to reverse these woes, a move that seemed necessary at the time. Now, we're 38 plate appearances into his magical return, and dude has six hits for eight total bases. Even his wOBA (.198) is below the Mendoza line. His offensive ineptitude is making Corey Hart blush, and that guy is slugging .314 this year.
Despite the Austin Jackson acquisition, the team still needs at least another nine or so bats to compete. Right now, their pitching is keeping them in the top five of these power rankings and within striking range of the second wildcard spot, but that can't last. If something doesn't magically click, the Mariners will bounce up outta here faster than a Mike Zunino plate appearance.