MLB Power Rankings Update: Week 24
Remember how the A's were the best team in baseball for the whole freaking year until August started? That was neat. That time has come and gone, amigos, in case you hadn't noticed. And now, finally, there time at the top of the power rankings has come and gone as well.
This is our final edition of the power rankings of the regular season. Next time we chat at y'all, we'll be breaking down which team is primed to make a run at the World Series trophy. That is just a teency strange.
For now, we'll be ranking these teams based on nERD. That's a numberFire stat that works as a predictor of a run differential between a team and a league-average team on a neutral field. To read more about nERD, you can click here. Let's get these rankings popping and see which teams are in the best position heading into post-season play.
1. Los Angeles Dodgers
nERD: 0.99 | Playoff Chances: 100.0% | World Series Chances: 19.6% | Previous Ranking: 3
Obviously, any discussion about the Dodgers' playoff chances will start and end with Clayton Kershaw, as it should. He's okay at this pitching thing. But the entire Dodgers' rotation has been dealing over the last 30 days.
Over the last 30 days, Kershaw, Dan Haren, Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu have combined for a 1.87 ERA, 8.62 strikeouts per nine and only 1.87 walks per nine. This is all without Josh Beckett. How do you send one of these guys to bullpen once October starts?
As far as their playoff scenarios, they're pretty simple. They own a four-game lead over the Giants in the West, and the magic number to clinch a Wild Card is nine. They'll be there. It's all over but the handshakes and the champagne. Then we get to see what this rotation can do when it truly matters.
2. Los Angeles Angels
nERD: 0.94 | Playoff Chances: 100.0% | World Series Chances: 17.9% | Previous Ranking: 2
If you'll notice, the Angels' playoff chances are 100 percent. Because they already clinched a playoff berth. On September 15th. I'm no expert, but that's usually a good thing for a team to do.
The Angels have won 11 of their last 12 games, but that's not the most impressive part about that stretch. That would, instead, be that only two of those victories were by less than three runs. And those two games were both at the beginning of the streak. Over this span, the Halos have outscored opponents, 95-41. That's a bad college basketball game score, not baseball.
Outside of the offense being dope as all get-up, Matt Shoemaker has been straight dealing. numberFire's John Stolnis wrote up a piece about Shoemaker's silly August that is definitely worth your perusal. If it weren't for Shoemaker, you'd have legit concerns about the rotation heading into the post-season. Those concerns still very much exist, but they are tempered a bit by his dominance and luscious facial hair.
3. Oakland Athletics
nERD: 0.90 | Playoff Chances: 97.4% | World Series Chances: 8.3% | Previous Ranking: 1
This is why I never should be allowed to make predictions. The A's have gone from my drool rag to a team that is actually below .500 on the road. The rapidity with which this occurred is absolutely stunning.
As you can tell, though, all is not yet lost for the A's. Their playoff odds are still very good; however, that number has only been going down. A month ago, they had a 17.1 percent chance at winning the World Series. Now, their odds just at making the playoffs have slipped to 97.4 from 99.3 in the span of two weeks. That's the wrong direction.
In order to not make the playoffs, the A's would need to get passed by both the Royals and the Mariners. Their victories over Seattle on Saturday and Sunday have given them a three-game cushion for that second Wild Card spot. That's not safe when a team is playing as poorly as the A's, but it's still significant.
Luckily for Oakland, their scheduled is favorable. Of their final 13 games, seven are against the Rangers, the worst team in numberFire's Power Rankings, and three are against the Phillies, the 24th best team. The other three are against the Angels, who will have clinched the division as well by that point. The A's should be able to back into October. But they also should have been able to hold onto their divisional lead, and we saw how that went.
4. Washington Nationals
nERD: 0.61 | Playoff Chances: 100.0% | World Series Chances: 13.3% | Previous Ranking: 4
Has there been a team that has been more fun to watch in the second half than the Nationals? Two months ago, Washington and Atlanta were tied at the top of the N.L. East. Now, the Braves are .500 with only 2.4 percent chances at the playoffs, and the Nationals have a plus-120 run-differential and a 100 percent chance at the playoffs. What happened?
Since the All-Star Break, the Nationals lead the N.L. in ERA, FIP, xFIP and fWAR. They have been worth 7.1 Wins Above Replacement; second is the Cubs (the Cubs?!?!) at 6.4 with the Marlins third and the Phillies fourth. Those are obviously the teams you'd expected to be there.
They have coupled this stifling pitching with an excellent offense that has ranked fourth in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage in the second half to go with the second best wOBA in the senior circuit. This is why they have 13.3 percent odds at winning it all. The Angels have questions with their rotation, and the A's can't hit. If the Nats can get past the Dodgers (although that's one big finger-licking 'if,' my brothers and sisters), this team has the firepower to make some magic.
5. San Francisco Giants
nERD: 0.54 | Playoff Chances: 99.5% | World Series Chances: 6.1% | Previous Ranking: 5
Saturday was a bad day for the Giants. They were coming off of a 9-0 victory over Los Angeles the day before and were within a game of the division lead. Then everything got off the heezy rull quick.
The Dodgers scored four runs in each of the first two innings and proceeded to tack on nine additional runs to blank the Giants by two touchdowns and a field goal. Since then, the Giants have lost their next two games as well, dropping them four games out and essentially ending their chances at winning the West. Sad face.
Thankfully, as long as they get a proper kick in the rump some time today, their playoff spot should still be secure. The Giants have a four-game cushion over the third-place Brewers in the Wild Card race and would need to be jumped by both the Brew Crew and the Pirates. Additionally, there's still plenty of time for the Giants to right the ship prior to the playoffs so they don't just show-and-go once October rolls around.