Power Rankings and Defensive Efficiency

MLB Power Rankings


It’s time for another edition of the Talk Back Fans Major League Baseball Power Rankings.  Here we go.


#30 Kansas City Royals (14-32, -84 run differential, Last Week:  29)

It seems like it’s been eons since the Royals won the World Series, but it was just three years ago.  A team that was built on a dominant bullpen and amazing fielding are now 12th in the league defensively (more on this later).  We’ll see if Dayton Moore can rebuild them over the next few years.


#29 Chicago White Sox (13-30, -75, LW:  30)

#28 Toronto Blue Jays (22-25, -9, LW:  21)

#27 Miami Marlins (17-29, -88, LW:  28)

#26 Baltimore Orioles (14-32, -68, LW:  26)

The Orioles have had problems on the mound for a few years now, but the offense has been able to bail them out for a couple of seasons.  This season?  Not so much.  They are 12th in the league in runs scored despite being in the top half of the league in homeruns.  They don’t walk a lot, ranking 13th, and that combined with a low batting average has given them a next-to-last ranking in OBP (.297).  A quick look at their regular lineup explains a lot.  Four of the six regulars have an OBP below .300.  Factor in the horrible job by the pitching staff and you have the mess that is right now.  Buck Showalter has his hands full.


#25 Texas Rangers (18-30, -58, LW:  25)

#24 Cincinnati Reds (16-32, -59, LW:  22)

#23 Arizona Diamondbacks (25-21, +12, LW:  14)

What happened to Paul Goldschmidt?  At the All-Star Break last season his career stat line was .300/.400/.531.  There are only 21 hitters in Major League history who can stake claim to a .300/.400/.500 career stat line; not even all-time greats like Barry Bonds and Mickey Mantle barely missed out on those numbers.  Goldschmidt was an unheralded superstar.


Since then, though, he has hit only .248/.354/.472 – still a respectable .826 OPS, but that’s over 100 points lower than his career up to that point.  This year he is hitting a miserable .205/.323/.367.  It’s still mid-May and he might come out of it, but if not the D-backs could have some problems maintaining their lead in the NL West.


#22 Detroit Tigers (20-26, -18, LW:  17)

#21 Los Angeles Dodgers (20-26, +12, LW:  24)

#20 Minnesota Twins (19-23, -21, LW:  20)

#19 San Diego Padres (20-28, -37, LW:  27)

#18 Cleveland Indians (22-23, +18, LW:  16)

#17 New York Mets (23-19, -9, LW:  23)

#16 San Francisco Giants (24-24, -24, LW:  15)

#15 Los Angeles Angels (26-21, +21, LW:  11)

Lost in Mike Trout’s typical brilliance and Albert Pujols’ milestone achievements is how Andrelton Simmons has matured these last couple of seasons as a hitter.  After posting an 86 OPS+ in his first five seasons last year he actually posted an OPS+ above the league average.  This season he has put up an .865 OPS (140 OPS+) to go along with his otherworldly defense.  He may not make many All-Star Games because shortstop is such a loaded position, but he has become one of the best of a strong crop.


#14 Colorado Rockies (25-22, -24, LW:  13)

#13 St. Louis Cardinals (25-19, +27, LW:  12)

#12 Oakland Athletics (25-22, 0, LW:  18)

#11 Pittsburgh Pirates (26-20, +24, LW:  9)

#10 Washington Nationals (24-21, +26, LW:  3)

#9 Tampa Bay Rays (22-23, -9, LW:  19)

#8 Philadelphia Phillies (26-18, +35, LW:  6)

#7 Seattle Mariners (27-19, +7, LW:  10)

#6 Milwaukee Brewers (28-19, +15, LW:  8)

#5 Chicago Cubs (25-19, +72, LW:  7)

Kris Bryant is once again playing like one of the ten best players in the NL.  In some ways he was better last year than in his MVP season.  This season he’s got an OPS over 1.000, leading the league.  You have to love all of the young talent reigning throughout Major League Baseball today.


#4 Boston Red Sox (32-15, +75, LW:  5)

#3 Atlanta Braves (28-17, +65, LW:  2)

Has anyone else noticed that Freddie Freeman fourth in batting average, first in OBP, sixth in slugging, second in OPS+, second in total bases, fourth in walks, seventh in wRC+, and seventh in wOBA?  The Braves talk this season has been about the rejuvenated Nick Markakis, and promising youngsters Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna, but their best player has been their 28-year old first baseman.


#2 Houston Astros (30-18, +98, LW:  4)

#1 New York Yankees (30-13, +76, LW:  1)


Today’s TBF Stat is one for fielding.  Fielding has been a dilemma for baseball analysts for years, but they have made tremendous strides over the last 10-20 years.  I don’t want to get everyone’s head into a massive fog just yet, so today’s is a simple one called Defensive Efficiency Record.  DER is just the percentage of balls that are put in play that are converted into outs.  This is a much better way of measuring a team’s defense than fielding percentage because it takes everything into account, not just “errors”.  I used quotes because errors are more of a subjective measurement than anything else.  Remember the Royals?  In 2015 they were second in the AL in DER behind only their ALCS opponent Toronto.  They have over the last few years lost guys like Lorenzo Cain and as a result balls that were sucked up are now starting to drop in safely.


The other part that I like about DER of fielding percentage is that there is a bigger deviation from the league average.  With fielding percentage, even the highest percentages are only about one percent above the league average.  Defensive Efficiency has a broader range.  If you want to know the formula it is a little lengthy, but not overly complicated:


(BFP – H – BB – SO – HBP – SH – SF – ROE) / ((BFP – HR – BB – SO – HBP – SH – SF)


In the American League DER ranges from Houston (.732), Cleveland (.705), and Tampa Bay (.701) to the poor ones like Toronto (.664), Texas (.660), and Baltimore (.658).  Over in the Senior Circuit it ranges from Arizona (.717), Chicago (.715), and Milwaukee (.711) to San Diego (.672), Cincinnati (.677), and Los Angeles (.679).


Next week I’ll get to something a little deeper, but for now enjoy the rankings . . .

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