MLB Power Rankings Update: Week 20
I guess you could say that a couple of things have happened since the last time we discussed these power rankings two weeks ago. The Los Angeles Angels have surpassed the Oakland Athletics, the Washington Nationals have doubled their lead over the Braves, and the Kansas City Royals went from being 4.5 games behind the Detroit Tigers to a pair of games up. Very minor things.
Now, as we are in the final quarter of the season, things finna get kicked up a notch. With all of these big battles, it's good to know which teams the algorithms favor. That's what numberFire's power rankings show.
The rankings are based on numberFire's nERD stat. This is the expected run differential in a game against a league-average team. A nERD of 0.50 means that a team would be expected to beat an average team by 0.50 runs on a neutral site. They'd also probs be investigated because scoring a half run is kind of suspicious.
If you want to see the full rankings, you can click here. If you're a fan of the Rangers, you probably shouldn't. Let's check out which teams the algorithms adore as we head into the stretch run.
1. Oakland Athletics
nERD: 1.04 | Playoff Odds: 99.1% | World Series Odds: 17.1% | Previous Ranking: 1
The world is coming to an end! The British are coming, Houston we have a problem, I'm all jacked up on Mountain Dew! What in the world happened to the A's???
They're fine. Chill out, bromigo/bromiga. But credit to the San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser for retweeting all of the loons declaring the A's dead in the water because those are awesome. One tiny cold streak, and everybody gets their britches in a bunch.
All of that isn't to say that the A's haven't struggled recently. Since the Yoenis Cespedes trade on July 31st, the A's rank 12th in the American League in weighted on-base average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. Bad? Yes. Irrevocably bad? Not even close. They still have a 55.2 percent shot at winning the division. Cool your jets, y'all.
2. Los Angeles Angels
nERD: 0.97 | Playoff Odds: 97.7% | World Series Odds: 13.3% | Previous Ranking: 2
The Angels have won five of their last six games to take the lead in the West, making those dumb-dumbs like me that called the race over in July look like dumb-dumbs. Thanks, guys. Really appreciate it.
The Angels have done this through winning a boatload of tight games. Eight of their last nine and ten of their last 12 games have been decided by two runs or less. On the one hand, this means the Angels are going to regress (they have a 71-52 Pythagorean Win-Loss compared to Oakland's 79-45 Pythagorean Win-Loss). On the other hand, it means their bullpen is finally not sucking.
Since the All-Star break, the Angels have the highest bullpen fWAR in the American League at 2.9. They have a 2.38 ERA and a 2.30 FIP over that span. Prior to the break, those numbers were at 0.1, 3.89 and 3.94 respectively, the second worst totals in the junior circuit. Here's to you, Huston Street and Fernando Salas, you beautiful chaps.
3. Los Angeles Dodgers
nERD: 0.80 | Playoff Odds: 97.6% | World Series Odds: 16.8% | Previous Ranking: 3
The Dodgers just got swept at home, and Clayton Kershaw lost a game. Finally, some evidence that Clayton and his mates could be mortal (though the evidence is inconclusive in Kershaw).
The team as a whole has sputtered a bit as of late (10th in the N.L. in wOBA in August). One guy that hasn't is Adrian Gonzalez.
Gonzalez's season has had more up-downs than a delinquent seventh grade football team. He started off white hot, dumpster dove for a few months, and now he's torquing leather again. Check out the monthly splits for him this year:
4. Seattle Mariners
nERD: 0.66 | Playoff Odds: 56.2% | World Series Odds: 3.6% | Previous Ranking: 5
Huh, I think the A.L. West might just be a good division. No official word from the league office, but I'm going to go ahead and run with this one.
While all of us have been focusing on those other teams along the Pacific this one has put in some serious work. The Mariners are 10-3 over their last 13 games with one of those losses coming in extra innings. They have outscored their opponents 70-28 to bring their playoff odds to 56.2 percent from 23.5 percent over that span. Yowza. Heat check, son!
One of the big concerns for the M's this whole season has been the offense. They've gotten better, posting the sixth highest wOBA in the A.L. in August, but they really haven't had to; their pitching is that good. In that two-week span we just discussed, they allowed more than three runs a grand total of two times and allowed two runs or less eight times. For the season, they have the lowest staff ERA in the A.L., three of the 12 lowest individual starters' ERA's, and the lowest bullpen ERA. So gross. All they need is a passable Major League offense to make it into the playoffs, and then watch out from there.
5. Washington Nationals
nERD: 0.52 | Playoff Odds: 97.0% | World Series Odds: 13.2% | Previous Ranking: Not Ranked
"Hey, Atlanta. Your four-game win streak is cute. We had one of those once. Three games ago." - the Washington Nationals, that annoying, one-upping, prissy co-worker everybody hates.
And it's not as if the Nats can just do this quietly - no, that would not garner enough angst from their rivals in the N.L. East. They decided to take the most recent three games all via the walk-off. Just let it rest. Everybody gets it. You're good at baseball.
There have been a lot of contributors that have made this happen. Anthony Rendon and Denard Span have a higher combined WAR than the entire Houston Astros offense. Half of the team's current 12-man pitching staff has a sub-3.00 ERA and at least 40 innings pitched, including three starters (and not Stephen Strasburg). And if Wilson Ramos can stay healthy, they have one of the best all-around catchers in the game. Title contenders? Algorithm don't lie, homie.