The 2018 Major League Baseball season is well underway. We are a month and a half into the season, and the league is finally beginning to take shape. At M-SABR, we wanted to briefly recap the week in baseball. This is the third edition of our bi-weekly power rankings, which will run for the entire season. This week, 11 voters ranked all 30 teams based on their season so far and how they look going forward. Teams were then sorted by their mean score. We also recapped teams in the AL West and NL West. Here are the M-SABR Power Rankings. Team’s record on May 14th and average ranking are in parentheses.
The Yankees received 7 out of 11 first-place votes. The Astros received the remaining 4 #1 votes. The following teams have been voted in first place this year:
Red Sox (35%)
The White Sox received ten 30th place votes. The only other team to receive last place votes was the Marlins (1). The following teams have been voted in last place this year:
White Sox (27%)
Apart from the first and last place teams, the team with the lowest standard deviation was the Athletics at 0.688. The team with the highest standard deviation was the Phillies at 2.284, with voters ranking them as high as 7 and as low as 15.
1. New York Yankees +3 (28-12) (1.364)
2. Houston Astros -1 (26-16) (1.909)
3. Boston Red Sox +0 (28-12) (2.727)
4. Los Angeles Angels +1 (24-16) (5.091)
5. Arizona Diamondbacks -2 (24-16) (5.273)
6. Atlanta Braves +4 (25-15) (6.545)
7. Washington Nationals +7 (24-18) (6.818)
8. Chicago Cubs -3 (21-17) (7.545)
9. Cleveland Indians -1 (20-19) (9.091)
10. St. Louis Cardinals -1 (22-16) (10.455)
11. Milwaukee Brewers +5 (24-17) (11.000)
12. Philadelphia Phillies +0 (23-16) (11.273)
13. Pittsburgh Pirates -2 (23-17) (13.364)
14. Seattle Mariners +1 (22-17) (14.000)
15. Colorado Rockies +3 (22-19) (14.273)
16. Toronto Blue Jays +1 (21-20) (16.545)
17. New York Mets -10 (19-18) (17.091)
18. Los Angeles Dodgers -5 (16-24) (18.182)
19. Minnesota Twins +3 (17-19) (18.636)
20. San Francisco Giants -1 (20-21) (19.273)
21. Oakland Athletics +0 (19-21) (20.545)
22. Detroit Tigers +2 (17-22) (22.727)
23. Tampa Bay Rays -3 (16-22) (22.818)
24. Texas Rangers -1 (16-26) (24.091)
25. San Diego Padres +0 (16-26) (24.818)
26. Cincinnati Reds +4 (14-27) (25.909)
27. Baltimore Orioles -1 (13-28) (27.636)
28. Kansas City Royals +1 (13-27) (27.727)
29. Miami Marlins -1 (14-26) (28.364)
30. Chicago White Sox -3 (10-27) (29.909)
Division Recap: The Wests
The Astros are 26-16. Gerrit Cole leads all pitchers in fWAR with 2.8 (that’s a pace of about 10, just for the record), Justin Verlander is third with 2.3, and Lance McCullers Jr. and Charlie Morton are also inside the top 25 for pitcher fWAR. Entering Sunday, the Astros starting pitchers had put together a 2.30 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, and 10.79 K/9. And that’s as an entire pitching staff. There was only one individual starter who bested each of those marks in 2017: Corey Kluber. And he won a Cy Young. The Astros pitching staff has been ridiculous and the offense features Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, and George Springer. Can someone say “Back-to-back champs?”
Los Angeles Angels:
Anybody reading up on the Astros and their rotation over the past few weeks might assume that the AL West is a foregone conclusion at this point. Not so fast though: The Angels are only one game back, Mike Trout is having his best year yet (on pace for a ludicrous 12.5 fWAR and sporting a career-high 195 wRC+), and M-SABR favorite Shohei Ohtani continues to electrify on both the mound (11 K on Sunday) and at the plate (5 HR). Yet Andrelton Simmons has been the one to help take this line-up from 22nd in MLB in runs per game to 6th so far this season, as he ranks 8th in MLB in WAR coming into the new week with a .345/409/.511 triple slash line. With that type of star power to rival Houston, watch out for these Angels of Anaheim!
Editor’s Note: Ohtani is Max’s favorite, not the M-SABR favorite
The big story in Seattle this week has been the continued emergence of James Paxton on a national stage. In his next start after fanning sixteen Oakland Athletics over seven innings, the Big Maple threw the third no-hitter of the season against the Toronto Blue Jays. After Paxton, however, the rotation is a motley assortment of converted long relievers, various reclamation projects, and the hope that Felix Hernandez can be an effective #3 starter. Though somewhat balanced by a potent lineup, the Mariners’ lack of pitching depth has caused the team to lose several winnable games and may ultimately be what costs them a shot at the playoffs.
The Athletics are pretty much the definition of an average team. They have a record of 19-21, they are 13th in the MLB in runs scored with 178, and they are 18th in ERA with 4.31. Jed Lowrie continues to surprise everyone by being the best player on the team with a .340 batting average and 2.0 fWAR, tied for 13th in the league.
The Rangers have continued their early season struggles, losing eight of their last thirteen games, including three of four series. The offense has continued to struggle, having the fifth-lowest batting average and third-lowest wRC+ in the majors. The starting pitching hasn’t been much better, having the seventh-worst ERA and the third-worst FIP. In the bullpen, reliever Jose Leclerc has been dominant, with a 2.03 ERA and a 12.15 K/9, while closer Keone Kela has had an up-and-down season so far. Looking on the bright side, Adrian Beltre and Rougned Odor have returned from the DL, which will hopefully kickstart the offense. Plus, Bartolo Colon has continued to defy the baseball gods and has pitched well in his age-45 season, while Cole Hamels has begun to look more like his former self, outdueling Justin Verlander in his last start. Things are starting to look a bit better for the Rangers, but it’s highly unlikely they will be able to make up all the ground they’ve lost.
Their stretch of 12 straight series without a series loss came to an end this weekend, after being swept by the hot Nationals. The offense struggled to gain much traction throughout the series. After their recent skid at the plate the past couple weeks, the D-Backs have dropped their team batting average to .225, the worst in baseball. Players such as Paul Goldschmidt, Steven Souza Jr., and Alex Avila will need to pick up the pace to get off their icy-cold starts. The Diamondbacks will play the Brewers twice, Mets, and Athletics over the next two weeks.
After a 6 game winning streak, including a sweep of the Mets to start the month of May, the Rockies have fallen back to earth, losing 4 of their last 5 games. They have only scored 15 runs in those 5 games, with 10 of them coming in one game. One of the biggest reasons for their recent offensive struggles is $70 million-man Ian Desmond. Since signing his big contract with the Rockies, he has posted an abysmal .244/.294/.369 line, with a .170/.213/.355 line in 2018 alone. If he doesn’t turn it around soon, he could find himself firmly planted on the bench. Luckily, with matchups against the struggling Padres, Dodgers, Giants, and Reds over the next 2 weeks, Desmond and the rest of the Rockies offense will have some nice opportunities to turn it around.
– Sahil Shah
San Francisco Giants:
Things have not been in the Giants’ favor these past two weeks, as they are currently on a six-game losing streak and have some tough series going forward (@Astros, @Cubs, Rockies). To make matters worse, Johnny Cueto has been placed on the 60- Day DL with a strained right elbow, and he is expected to rejoin the rotation by late June at the earliest. They are currently third in the NL West, but the final wild card spot is becoming increasingly out of reach for them. On the bright side, Madison Bumgarner is expected to throw a bullpen session within the next week and should return by the beginning of June.
Los Angeles Dodgers:
The Dodgers just got swept in a 4 game series by the Reds. Yes, the same Reds who last week were on pace for the worst record in MLB history. They scored 9 runs in the entire series. Clayton Kershaw is on the disabled list for the third consecutive season with biceps tendinitis. Corey Seager is out for the year after undergoing Tommy John Surgery. Rich Hill and Hyun-Jin Ryu are dealing with their own injuries. They are off to their worst start since 1958, a season after finishing as the NL champions. Can things get any worse for the Dodgers?
San Diego Padres:
The Padres have struggled put runs on the board this year, scoring only 3.7 runs per game. Since his call-up at the end of April, Travis Jankowski has been on a mission to change that. In 12 games, Jankowski has posted a 182 wRC+ and a 0.6 fWAR. Eric Hosmer has been one of few other Padres to produce at the dish this season slashing .261/.360/.825. The rotation has also struggled to prevent the opposition from scoring with an ERA of 5.16 which is fourth worst in the Majors. The bullpen, on the other hand, has been very good. The Padres 3.14 bullpen ERA is the sixth best in the Majors. Phil Maton, Kirby Yates, Craig Stammen, Robbie Erlin, Adam Cimber, and Brad Hand have combined to throw 113.2 innings in relief giving up 25 earned runs while striking out 134 batters. News broke last night of the Padres calling up minor league home run leader Franmil Reyes. The Padres hope his torrid start to the season can continue up in the Majors. Being only one game back of the Dodgers means the Padres have a chance to climb out of the cellar in the coming weeks.
For the sake of transparency, here are the votes from each member.